My office is a log cabin

I moved my firm to the mountains of Vermont after 9/11 - and changed my life for the better.


(FSB Magazine) South Newfane, Vt. -- Before I moved to the mountains, I spent years as an advertising and marketing exec in New York City and co-owned a firm that worked with financial services clients. After 9/11 my boyfriend in Vermont suggested it was time for a change. Four years later I decided to relocate there, marry him, and become a sole proprietor.

Now I run my firm, Green Apple Marketing (greenapplemarketing.com), from a 1,500-square-foot pine cabin in South Newfane, Vt. I work out of a small living room that is painted the color of a crisp Granny Smith. It has seven windows - the three in front of my desk overlook hills of pine, maple, and birch trees. Every day I try to have lunch on the deck, where I germinate ideas. My firm's annual revenues are nearly $1 million - less than my previous firm grossed in the city. But with no employees and lower taxes, I'm keeping more of what I make. My clients include Wachovia and Citigroup.

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The biggest challenge up here is the lack of DSL or cable service. So I bought a commercial-grade HughesNet satellite dish (hughesnetbiz.com). It's about three feet in diameter and cost $1,500 installed. I put it at my property's edge, so it's not visible from my windows or the road. I got the most expensive business package ($199 a month) because I need reliable service.

In case the satellite link goes down and I need to use dial-up Internet access, I've got two landline phones. I also keep an old analog phone, which doesn't require electricity. With no cell reception here, my portable phone is just for traveling.

My surge protector is from APC (apc.com, $18 to $32). It has a 15-minute power backup, which gives me time to log out and transfer files from my desktop, a G5 PowerMac (apple.com, now starting at $2,499) with a cinema display screen ($899), to my laptop, an Apple PowerBook G4 (now starting at $1,999).

The freelance designers, writers, and marketers I work with are based in Boston, New York City, and New Jersey. We "meet" through conference calls, using freeconferencecall.com. Each participant is charged for a regular long-distance call, and the bridge is free. The service allows as many as 96 lines on a call.

I'm in New York City at least once a month, and I travel frequently to visit clients elsewhere. Because of that, I joined the Regus Network Access Program (regus.com). For $300 a year I can use any of its 950 business lounges worldwide to check e-mail, work quietly, and return calls. I used to try to find Wi-Fi spots to use my laptop and make calls, but you can't have an important discussion with a client from a Starbucks.

When I left New York, I feared becoming irrelevant. But the opposite has happened. I've discovered that Vermont gives me a certain brand essence. - As told to Eilene Zimmerman  Top of page

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