{MOM}preneurs em{POWER} women: Passions for Work and Family

Meet Jean Dwire, independent executive director of Thirty-One gifts; Jessica Amos, owner and manager of Hair Studio 52 and Day Spa; and Cara Petersen, owner and main photographer of Cheeky Monkey Studio. These women share a passion for their work and the lives they touch. 


Jean Dwire

In October 2010, Jean Dwire began working with Thirty-One, a direct sales company that carries a product line of purses, totes and organizational items. Jean decided to go for it because she felt she could make a difference for her family. “I’m doing something that I was once afraid to do,” says Jean. Because of her determination and work, her family was able to pay off a large amount of debt. A wife and mother of three daughters—Emma, 16, Alyssa, 13, and Ava, 7—Jean is teaching her daughters that they, too, can work hard and achieve their goals.

Through her work, Jean meets many women who are afraid to take risks, women who have forgotten who they are. Jean empowers her daughters and the women who are part of her team, and she also takes care of the women who host home parties. Empowerment comes in many forms. It can be offering positive reinforcement, showing kindness, caring for others or valuing relationships. Through empowerment comes personal growth, and that growth moves one away from fear to confidence. “Be fearless,” says Jean. “This has become a real theme for me.”

Jessica Amos    

In August 2000, Jessica Amos purchased a hair salon. An eternal optimist, she took a chance and Hair Studio 52 and Day Spa was born. Along with her husband, Tom, Jessica designed the studio’s current building, which opened in 2004. In February 2012, Tom died by suicide. Jessica’s life changed but did not halt. “Life is a choice,” Jessica says. “Are you going to find the negative, or are you going to find the positive? It’s your choice.”

A single parent to daughter, Courtney, 18, and son, Tyler, 14, Jessica feels overwhelmed sometimes. Life can get out of balance. The business runs on an even keel, but family life is fragile. Finding time is difficult because of expectations, but Jessica makes time for herself with a long quiet bath. The joy of laughing with her children over YouTube videos and getting away together is important. “Every family has unique challenges,” she shares. “We have had our share of tragedy, but we get through it.” Not only is Jessica’s family supportive, her fantastic staff and amazing clients help her too. 

In addition to her managerial responsibilities, Jessica works alongside her staff as a hair stylist. She has created a workplace where women are empowered to reach their potential. When one of the staff is able to buy her first home or a new car, Jessica knows that she is part of what made that possible.

Cara Petersen

Cara Petersen has natural artistic talent. For many years, she worked with acrylic paint and pastels and studied fine art at The Art Institutes International Minnesota in Minneapolis. When her brother died by suicide, she stopped painting. After her brother’s death, she began to photograph. Cara feels it was her brother’s gift to her. “Behind the camera, you can see people’s emotions; they can’t see yours,” says Cara, “Painting and pastels is very raw; everything is exposed.“

Cheeky Monkey Studio was born in June 2008. Cara photographs primarily on location for the comfort of her clients and natural light. Whether it is a wedding, family or portrait, Cara’s main goal is to capture the essence of joy. Photographing a moment that is unique and portrays the subject’s individuality is important to Cara. “I want them to feel absolutely beautiful, naturally beautiful,” she says.  

Cara employs a second photographer and editor, Kelsey, who has been working with her for almost five years. During the busy seasons, Cara hires four other photographers/editors.

For the last 13 years, Cara has been a single mother to her daughter, Maya, 14. Cara empowers Maya through encouragement that she can achieve anything through hard work. Cara and Maya find balance through traveling, relaxing at the family cabin, painting and making snuggle time together.    

These three women create opportunities, embrace adversity and are an inspiration to their children, their co-workers and the Rochester community.

Anne Scherer is a freelance writer and artist living in Rochester, MN.