Meet Mom of Reinvention, Debra Cohen

Picture 001.jpgIf you’re like me and love “Extreme Home Makeover,” then you’re definitely going to want to find out about Debra Cohen, a former vice president at a magazine turned founder of Home Remedies, a business referral network and franchise for moms who have the inside track on the best home improvement specialists in their area!
Role Mommy: What did you do before you became a mom?
Debra: I was the Vice President of a Spanish language aviation magazine based in NYC. It was a very glamorous career. I traveled worldwide.
Role Mommy: When did you decide to reinvent your life?
Debra: After the birth of my first daughter, my whole life changed and I realized that a full time career and travel was taking too much time away from my new family. After a lot of soul searching (and with my husband’s support) I decided to leave my career in Manhattan for a much less glamorous pursuit–motherhood. After just a few months of full time motherhood, my self esteem began to plummet and our bills began to pile up. I missed the stimulation (and the income!) of a career.
At the same time, my husband and I had just purchased our first home–a 75 year old tudor–and we quickly realized how difficult it was to find reliable home improvement contractors. That was my “aha!” moment. I assumed that if I was having this problem than other homeowners in my community must face a similar challenge. I decided to do some research and over several months developed a business model for a Homeowner Referral Network (HRN) business that would pre-screen home improvement contractors (painters, plumbers, electricians, etc.) and refer them to local homeowners. I negotiated for contractors in my network to pay me a pre-negotiated commission for any work secured which meant that my service would be free to homeowners.
In 1997 I launched Home Remedies® of NY, Inc. and the response was tremendous!
Role Mommy: How have your children influenced your career path? How many do you have?
Debra: I now have two beautiful daughters and as many moms know, the birth of my first child changed my entire life. While I love to work and enjoy the stimulation of my career, I knew that I wanted to be at home to raise my children. As difficult as it was to leave a secure career (and a steady paycheck for that matter!) I knew in my heart that I was a “mom” first. The birth of my daughter forced me to make a radical change and, thanks to both of them, I now have a wonderful balance in my life.
Role Mommy: What’s your favorite “Time Out” tip for moms (taking time for yourself)
Debra: Learn how to walk away from your office. This is particularly difficult when your office is in your home but it’s essential to maintaining a balance in your life. Most moms put family and work responsibilities first which leaves little time for themselves. Whether it’s convenient or not, it’s important for working moms to dedicate at least a few hours each week to doing something purely selfish–exercise, spending time with friends, reading, etc.
My one hour at the gym each day is non-negotiable and it does me a world of good!
Role Mommy: What does your website offer moms or kids?
Debra: My website,, offers moms the inspiration and guidance on how to launch a Homeowner Referral Network (HRN) business of their own. After I started Home Remedies® I received calls from other moms who had heard about my business and were interested in duplicating the HRN business model in their area. I decided to document my business in a comprehensive manual so that others could benefit from my experience and hopefully enjoy the same rewards of working from home that I have.
To date there are 400+ independent HRN’s operating nationally and more than 90% of them are run by women!
Role Mommy: What do you hope for your own kids?
Debra: First and foremost, I hope that they grow up to be healthy and happy adults who have the power of their convictions and can remain true to themselves.
Second, I hope that they have learned from my example and know that–whether you work in your home or outside of your home–it’s possible to be a mom and enjoy a rewarding career at the same time.
Role Mommy: Who is your Role Mommy?
Debra: My Role Mommy is my mom. My mother never worked outside of the home–she was completely content being a homemaker and taking care of her family. Without her example, I never would have felt so strongly about changing my life to become a stay-at-home mom.
To find out more about the Home Referral Network, then click here.