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ATLANTA -- Many people dream of being their own boss, but struggle to make the leap.

Twelve years ago, Atlanta native Dana Spinola gathered the courage to turn her lifelong passion into a profession and opened her first clothing boutique, fab'rik.

"I get up early. I stay up late. My mind is always working," she said.

And it's perfectly understandable. Spinola has had a lot on her plate since starting fab'rik. She has since opened 21 boutiques and franchises. Her mission has always been frugal fashion -- less than $100 -- in a fun, inviting boutique environment.

Being your own boss can seem liberating, but many who make that leap say they end up working even more.

"If you're an entrepreneur, you don't turn off on Saturdays or Sundays. It's every day, all of the time," Spinola explained. "I relate it back to being a parent. There are so many tough times, but there are so many incredible times."

The styles in her boutiques reflect the demands of her life.

"Light, airy, loose fitting ... I'm a mom. I want to be able to wear it to the playground and wear it out to dinner," she explained.

When Spinola isn't keeping track of trends, she's keeping track of her three young boys, who aren't into fashion.

"They're into bugs and frogs," Spinola laughed.

She, like so many moms, said balance is elusive -- finding success in a fickle industry and juggling a young family.

"If there was balance, this would all be working out perfectly. There's days I've dropped by son off at school on a Tuesday and it was supposed to be on Wednesday," she said.

But she's no longer beating herself up for making mistakes.

"At some point you just realize, I can just do one thing or I can try to do all of the things the best I've got. And that's really where I am now," she said.

Spinola tries to keep her focus on the present when it comes to matters of business as well.

"I don't think too long, too far in advance," she said. "Everyone wants to know the five- and 10-year plan. I think this year, and what we're doing this year."

Spinola is looking to continue expanding in 2014 and may add anywhere from a handful to two dozen franchise locations.

"We're going to pick the right people to expand with," she explained.

Also, at this stage in her life, grateful for everything she has and everything she's accomplished, Spinola wants to give back.

A few years ago, she created Free fab'rik with a friend. Several times a year, the event transforms her boutique for teens to enjoy a free shopping spree with stylists. Her customers are big supporters.

"I sent out an email and thousands of people just brought in bags of clothing," she said.

Spinola also has a lot of people asking for advice about starting their own businesses. The 39 year old encourages people to start early just like she did in her late 20's.

"If you don't try it when you're 26, you're going to get older, tired, stuck in what you're doing," Spinola said.

Still, she doesn't think it's ever too late, since with age comes wisdom. Spinola simply encourages everyone to do what you love.

"It's a shame to me if you spend so much of your life doing something and you get to the end of the road and it wasn't what your purpose was," she said.

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