It’s a bird, it’s a plane…it’s Karrie Mueller – Super Woman, Super Mom and Super Friend. I get to say these things about her, fully realizing that it will make her nervous-laugh as she reads this, because I know she personifies these forces first-hand. From multiple successful businesses, to three happy children and a soulmate connection with her husband, Chris, she has found a way to keep things simple and have a good time. This includes showing up, too, for other moms and missions across Tampa Bay.
TBPM: Share your story of how you came into business ownership.
Karrie Mueller: My first business was Webhead Interactive, a search engine and social media marketing company that started in 2008. I had recently moved to Florida after working for the big agencies in NYC and started to work for a local agency here. I was working for them for about six months when the owner asked me to write a team training manual using the book “SEO for Dummies” dated seven years back. I thought: I can do this better. Chris (who comes from a family legacy of business owners and entrepreneurs) encouraged me to put my money where my mouth was and open up my own agency. So, I did just that.
Through Webhead, Chris and I discovered new business opportunities and ideas. For example: while doing keyword research for a potential client in the baking industry, I realized there were thousands of searches per month for cookie cutters on Google but no good, user-friendly and easy to shop websites. For that reason, we decided to build a website that sells cookie cutters that started with reselling wholesale items we purchased. Because I knew how to optimize websites and market them on social media, our sales increased quickly. Today, we have a large warehouse in Ybor City, a team of eight people, and we make all of our cookie cutters in-house (Cheap Cookie Cutters).
The princess company started in a similar fashion. There was a need for quality children’s entertainment in Tampa Bay, and I had experience in the entertainment business and realized the opportunity. I put together the website, found the talent, and got the costumes made. Today, Parties With Character has a complete cast of entertainers that have been a part of so many little princesses’ big days and special events.
TBPM: How do your businesses represent you as a mother?
Karrie Mueller: I love all of our businesses for various reasons, but one that really captures my heart is Dairy Joy.
Dairy Joy was originally owned by the same family for 60 years before we bought it in 2018. Today, we are building family traditions with the business. We truly wanted to make Dairy Joy a family-friendly destination that transports you to a simpler time, where people hang out, relax and make memories together. It is a place that our three kids can be proud of and see what hard work can actually do within their community. On any given evening, they can find it packed with a line wrapping the property, with tables full of families enjoying themselves. They can watch us supporting our local schools and charities to help make a difference. Dairy Joy is one of our concepts that shows our children the most important things that we value most as a family.
And, knowing that we have something we can pass on to them; knowing that mom and dad work really hard and that it evokes great happiness…it’s just really cool.
TBPM: To what can you attribute your resilience over the past two years when other small businesses have had to make very permanent shifts? What is your best advice for other business owners who may be going through challenging times now?
Karrie Mueller: I have found that there is always a solution or answer to every situation. If you have a good product or service and listen to your customers, they will continue to come back, and you will continue to win new business. Sometimes that answer is closing a door all the way shut to focus on something else. I think it’s more about mindset and choice. I choose to have faith and accept what will be. Even when I pivot, even when I try to do what’s best, many things will still be out of my control, and that cannot take away from the choice to be happy and have fun.
TBPM: What is one thing you’ve learned over the past year that has made you feel like a more empowered mother?
Karrie Mueller: I have learned to never let any one person or business make you feel you don’t have a voice to speak up if something doesn’t feel right. I will never stand for bullying, and hope I am doing all I can to teach my children to never stand for it either. A business owner should always listen to the customer and never intimidate them. And I’ve learned that walking away from a toxic situation is the healthiest thing you can do no matter how hard it is. People are going to talk no matter what, but the way you carry yourself—your kindness and confidence—will speak louder than the gossip. Learning this has helped me be an example for my sweet, empowered daughters and son.
TBPM: What do your businesses have planned for families for the holidays?
Karrie Mueller: Dairy Joy has holiday specials throughout the month of December and photos with Santa on Dec. 4.
TBPM: What is your family’s favorite thing to do in Tampa this time of year?
Karrie Mueller: We like to do all things Christmas. From Christmas Town in Busch Gardens, to ice skating at Winter Village in Curtis Hixon, we try to fit it all in. I want our kids to grow up remembering how mommy and daddy were always there, how magical everything was, and how much fun we had as a family in Tampa Bay.
Photo Credit: Howie Mac Photo | Originally published in December 2022 of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.