RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Who would have ever thought that making a plaster cast of an expectant mother’s belly could be turned into a work of art, let alone a business?

Leave it to a female entrepreneur to conceive the idea.

Tisha DeShields of Atlanta is one of 200 working mothers who have built successful businesses that topped the voting in StartupNation’s 2009 “Top 200 Leading Moms in Business” competition. “Original Belly Works” is one of 16 mom-owned ventures from the Carolinas (four in the Triangle) and Georgia that cracked the list. came in at 126, but it’s the favorite of The Skinny.

Regional winners include sites focused on social networks to welcome neighbors, a record label to scrapbooking, custom furniture covers and much, much more.

A whopping 620,000 people voted in the competition, according to the web site that focuses on entrepreneurs and new businesses. What Tisha had to say in her online profile about conceiving, creating and launching Original Belly Works is a roadmap for other entrepreneurs to follows:

“Original Belly Works was born out of a desire to make my own contribution to the family budget while being a stay-at-home mom. I also wanted to create something tangible that would forever keep me connected to that special time in my life. I am a mother of 4 who has turned her hobby into a business. I have found that I am most innovative and productive when I am being stretched to my limit. Keeping with the extremely busy schedule that comes with raising children, like so many mothers I felt a deep need to experience something of my own. I always had a creative craving and have always been trying to find my own artistic voice. My company has taken a fairly new concept and revolutionized it. Original Belly Works takes belly casting to a whole new dimension. . We provide kits for pregnant women, so they can create a plaster mold of their pregnant tummy. We can fiberglass the plaster molds of the pregnant mommy’s tummy, decorate them and create lasting keepsakes for the mother and child. I began casting to create a lasting heirloom for each of my children. In so doing, my friends and family were so amazed at the detail, the artistry, and the overall concept that they suggested I create a business doing what I’d been so passionate about and Original Belly Works was conceived. I am proud to announce that I have officially given birth to ‘My Baby.’ Like all proud mothers, I am enjoying watching my ‘Baby’ grow and develop.
It hasn’t always been easy, but who said ‘Motherhood’ was. But it has been very rewarding.

“I never imagined that I would make my career as an artist. But inspiration and ‘LIFE’ has a funny way of giving us wings and courage! I am grateful to my family and to God for such a rich and rewarding opportunity.”

Check out the profiles of other winners. These women offer much wisdom about the moxie it takes to create and launch a business, turning hobbies and opportunities into successful ventures.

Rich Sloan, writing at StartupNation , described them as “superb multi-taskers, cool-headed, wise and all-knowing.”

By looking at the variety of winners just from the Carolinas and Georgia, it’s easy to see why Sloan would be so effusive in his praise.

No. 23: (Mary Beth Reeves, Atlanta; launched 2007)

No. 34: (Amy Nelson, Athens Ga.; launched 2005)

No. 55: (Sherri Morris, Chapel Hill, N.C.; launched 2007)

No. 67: (Suzanne Meyer, Mooresville, N.C.; launched 1999)

No. 80: (Lisa Edwards, Rome, Ga.; launched 2008)

No. 85: (Kitty Rosu, Matthews, N.C.; launched 2007)

No. 93: (Kim Ashley, Holly Springs, Ga.; launched 2008))

No. 97: (Lori Poyner, Atlanta; launched 2006)

No. 114: (Brenda Berg, Raleigh, N.C.; launched 2002)

No. 117: (Karen Nadler Sachs, Dunwoody, Ga.; launched 2005)

No. 125: (Kerry Foster, Asheville, N.C.; launched 2007))

No. 132: (Kimberly Rowell, Atlanta; launched 2007)

No. 149: (Beverly Mahone, Durham, N.C.; launched 2007)

No. 153: (Leanne Stevenson, Concord, N.C.; launched 1998)

No. 186: (Chaundra Smith, Durham, N.C.; launched 2007)

No. 193: (Amy Cousin, Rock Hill, S.C.; launched 2007))