WOMEN IN BUSINESS

Thriving in her second chapter

Life changes send Roswell businesswoman down new path

abby breaux photography
Stella Dowling and her dog Honey.
abby breaux photography
Stella's dog Honey.
abby breaux photography
abby breaux photography
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By CANDY WAYLOCK
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Stella Dowling never set her sights on being a trailblazer and entrepreneur, but today finds herself a successful businesswoman running three high-performing companies.

In the early 1990’s, Dowling was living what she considered her dream life as a wife and stay-at-home mom, happy and fulfilled, in her cottage home in downtown Roswell.

That life abruptly changed in 1995, sending Dowling down a new path in the second chapter of her life.

“I found myself single [and] trying to raise two young daughters,” said Dowling, an Alabama native who has lived in Roswell for more than 30 years. “It was then that I realized I needed to take the entrepreneurial path because it would allow me to spend more time with my children.”

She knew owning her own business would allow her to keep the flexibility and independence she needed as a mother, while earning an income that was tied directly to how hard she was willing to work.

Dowling reached back to her past work life in corporate America, and took a sales job with a telecommunications company. When the company was sold a few years later, she parlayed that experience to start her own telecommunications company, 1Source International, in 2001. The Roswell-based company specializes in helping businesses leverage their telecommuting and distance communications capabilities.

In 2017, she founded 1Source Events to help businesses create custom virtual event experiences.

“Today 1Source is a multi-million dollar company with over 5000 customers nationwide,” said Dowling, who earned her degree in Music Education from Florida State.

She always knew the entrepreneurial spark lay inside her, so Dowling was not surprised she had the temperament to take on the corporate world.

“As a young child my mother would refer to me as ‘The Little Crusader’,” laughed Dowling. “I always wanted to make a difference yet wasn’t sure that running my own business was the path that I would take.”

With 1Source established and successful, Dowling got the urge to launch a third company – one that had a more personal goal attached. An animal lover all her life, beginning with her first kitten at age 8, Dowling looked for a new venture that had an “altruistic focus.”

“I started thinking about [the idea of] Yuppy Puppy City Kitty about 10 years before I actually launched it,” said Dowling. “It haunted me for years until I finally took the leap to start it.”

In 2015, Yuppy Puppy City Kitty (YPCK) was founded in Roswell, providing premium pet care supplies through both direct and wholesale customers nationally. From the onset, helping animal welfare and rescue groups has been a key mission of the company.

“[Since its founding] YPCK has donated to charities not just in Georgia but throughout the United States,” said Dowling. “This has been an important part of
our company’s mission from the start and will continue to be a focus moving forward.”

In April, YPCK donated $80,000 to Atlanta-based FurKids Animal Rescue, Atlanta’s largest animal rescue and no-kill shelter which adopted more than 4,000 animals in 2016. Other organizations that have benefited from YPCK include Ahimsa House, Act 2 Pups, Oregon Humane Society, Georgia Canine Rescue & Rehabilitation Center, Mostly Mutts Animal Rescue & Adoption and Beagle Freedom Project.

Dowling is proud of the fact that the majority of her 30 employees and 11 contractors are women, and YPKC in particular has sales model that supports a flexible schedule – perfect for part time or stay at home moms. She knows how important that is, having juggled working and parenting when her two daughters – now 33 and 28 – were growing up.

Although she is well established now, Dowling never forgets the hard work required in the beginning to get to this point.

“Starting a company is not easy...people often think it’s all glamour and fun,” said Dowling. “There are times when you question why you did it...when you are exhausted.  Fear can overcome you.”

Unlike a 9 to 5 job, being a business owner means never clocking out, because the work never ends.

“Being an entrepreneur, taking the risk and facing my fears, definitely made me stronger and taught me to be self-reliant,” said Dowling. “My true passion is to mentor and assist others in becoming independent and strong as well.”

Looking forward, Dowling sees opportunities ahead, especially with YPCK since the pet industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States.

“People no longer view their pet as a pet but clearly as a member of the family,” said Dowling. “Offering quality, premium pet products for our furkids fits the [growing need].”

She loves that awareness about animal welfare has been growing in the past several years, and hopes Georgia will soon follow the national trend in passing stricter laws for animal cruelty. Dowling says she is pleased that she is able to support the groups on the front lines of animal rescue and welfare.

She looks back on her path to where she is now, and is grateful to be where she is.

“Entrepreneurship has taught me a tremendous amount about people,” said Dowling. “I believe the core of a company is simply about people and the lives it can impact.  Starting my own business has changed my outlook on failure. My favorite quote is ‘without the darkness, you cannot see the stars’”. ■

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