A Working Mom’s Hero

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    Bonnie Collins sees opportunity in every challenge. Nearly 16 years ago, businesses were scrambling to develop websites and polish up their digital presence.


    Collins, being a skilled graphic designer, teamed up with her IT-guru next door neighbor, and launched a design firm in 1998 called Bonnie Collins Design that offers graphic design, web design, brand identity and packaging.


    “The choice for me was an easy one,” Collins says. “Freelancing would allow me the flexibility to work on my own schedule, and I loved being able to conduct meetings over the phone and work in my pajamas.”


    Collins’ favorite project thus far, and her claim to fame, was designing Pink’s very first website. She also created websites for the Atlanta Zoo, the Coca Cola Bottling Company and Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Que. “I’ve also done marketing material for Cincinnati Fashion Week, The Children’s Home of Cincinnati, Beacon Orthopedics and The Georgia Society of CPAs,” she adds.


    Collins says her most unusual job was to design a life-sized cow for “Cow Parade Atlanta.” She had to paint it in her garage and she laughs back at some of the looks her neighbors gave her when they saw a huge cow statue in her garage.


    The variety of projects is a true joy of the job. “One minute I’m working on a sports banner for a college and the next I’m designing a website for the zoo, which helps to keep the creativity flowing.”


    While she often finds herself working late at night after the house is quiet or juggling projects between lacrosse practice and doctor’s appointments, Collins ultimately enjoys the flexibility that the job offers. “Sometimes it can be challenging,” she says. “But I love that the only person I have to report to is me.”


    That flexibility became a necessity in April 2011 when Collins faced a challenge she never expected as her daughter Maya was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. “After four grueling months of intense chemotherapy, several infections, surgeries, procedures and a trip to the intensive care unite, she had a bone marrow transplant that September,” explains Collins. “Unfortunately, she relapsed the following summer and had a second bone marrow transplant in August 2012.”


    Collins and her daughters

    Collins turned to her friends and family to help her get through the long nights and scary setbacks. But, she says, you do what you have to do. “In a situation like what we’ve been through, you can’t pull the covers over your head and say, ‘I’m done!’ You have to move on and fight,” she says. “There were times when the doctors would shake their heads in sorrow and times I felt absolute terror that I would lose my little girl.”


    Collins knew she had to be strong for Maya’s sake and for her family because she never wanted her daughter to see her break down. Her husband was also there to keep her strong. “There were times when I’d be so frightened and sick with fear that he’d lift me back up and hold me steady, literally,” she recalls. “We’re a good team because I was there when he would crack and I was strong for him.”


    Today, Maya is in remission and is slowly getting back to her normal life, filled with school, family vacations and playing with her friends again. “Maya is a fighter,” Collins says. “She fought and won.”


    Now, any time Collins feels down, overwhelmed or frustrated, she looks at Maya’s smiling face and thinks about all that she’s been through. “If she can get through this fight for her life and come out smiling then I have absolutely nothing to complain about,” Collins adds. “She is truly my hero and my inspiration.”


    The experience also inspired Maya’s creativity. “Maya has created a few one-of-a-kind designs that are being applied to various ceramic pieces with the help of ceramic artist Pam Staun,” Collins says. “Proceeds from Maya’s artwork go to AML research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.”


    Collins and Maya are also working with Hoxworth Blood Center to offer her artwork in their Rewards Store. You can view some of Maya’s artwork and read more about her journey by visiting or her Facebook Page to receive updates about her newest projects and designs.


    Photo credit: live in love photography