I wanted to start off with a little introduction, of who I am and what I do, and why I started this podcast. Personally when I find a new podcast, I love to scroll back to the first episodes for this exact reason.
I also find it incredibly inspiring to hear the stories of how other women started their own business. No two stories are ever the same. There are always different hurdles to overcome. And different ways things came to be.
I also want to give you a little spoiler because I think oftentimes we hear success stories and think it was easy or happened rather quickly. My business grew very, very slowly. It was hard and I wanted to quit so many times. It honestly wasn't that long ago that I was sitting in a bar (of all places) with my two business best friends, sobbing because it was too hard, I was so stressed out, and I was thinking about applying to be a substitute teacher.
I think we want success to come easy, I think we want to believe that some people just have a natural talent for this kind of thing. But No. It takes hard work, perseverance, and a support system who has your back, whether they are listening to you vent in a bar, or watching your kids so you can focus, or cleaning your house because it’s one less thing you need to do.
Maybe there are people who have a natural inclination for running their own business, but I still believe they go through their own struggles and difficulties.
So back to starting this business.
I was working at a local print shop. It was a great job and I really did enjoy working there but I just didn’t feel fulfilled. I felt really torn as a mother, my daughter was two at the time. Fortunately we weren't paying for daycare, I just bounced her around between different family members. Which was a blessing but I also hated the constant juggling. But it didn’t feel like enough.
I had started to wonder what-if I had my own business. What would that look like? I had dabbled in different business-y type things. I was a blogger for several years, I had made a little money and had a few brand partnerships but motivation ran low after I had my daughter. I had tried out a direct sales company for a few years. I even had a fairly decent Etsy shop for a few years.
I had this underlying idea that I could make money online but hadn’t really committed to anything.
Then a dear friend of mine, who I will have on this show later, asked me to come aboard her handmade jewelry company and help her manage her business. I can 100% tell you that I wouldn’t be here today without her. It was an incredible opportunity that I just knew I had to take.
From there it gave me the chance to see what could happen and start a business of my own.
And then the universe flipped upside down. Or at least my universe did.
One month later, my husband who had been the main breadwinner since our daughter was born lost his job. And surprise, turns out I was pregnant with our son. Which for the record we had literally just started trying so it was a shock.
Suddenly things were very very different. We were broke. My husband ended up getting two part time jobs to make due while he searched for something stable. I was sick all the time. I had the worst morning sickness with my son, I actually lost more weight than I gained my entire pregnancy. We were also dealing with a private family crisis.
It was a lot. In fact, I almost went back to my job right away but I decided to think about it over through the weekend. In the end, I knew that if I didn’t give this a shot, I’d regret it.
So I buckled down and did whatever I could. Including selling random things on Facebook. I was determined to figure it out.
In those first few months, I discovered Squarespace and professional Squarespace designers. I built my own website on Squarespace and immediately fell in love! I was reminded of years of learning HTML in high school, creating fun MySpace pages for my friends, re-designing my blog over and over again, because it was never perfect.
It turns out I was destined to be a web designer, I had just forgotten about it. I mean, I had taken three years of web design in high school.
I also knew that I could charge more money for a website than social media graphics or a logo. So I started marketing myself as a Squarespace designer and celebrated like crazy when I booked my very first Squarespace client!
The rest of the story is maybe not as interesting, but maybe the part that most people need to hear. I just kept going. I did everything I could to book new clients. There were plenty of times when I wanted to give up and walk away. I’ve checked out job listings on monster.com more times that I care to admit.
I made a lot of mistakes, I sucked a lot. In the beginning, I spent hours and hours learning how to be a better designer, teaching myself to use Adobe Illustrator, learning how to run a freaking business. Saying yes to things I wasn’t sure I could do, but knowing I would figure it out anyway.
At home, things were still pretty rocky. We still didn’t have any more money. I was stressed out and still super sick.
One particular moment that still makes me cringe… I literally checked my email while in the hospital after giving birth to my son, answering client emails. Honestly, I was desperate to keep us afloat.
I’m going to tell you the last four year have been exactly that, me constantly doing whatever it takes to keep going. Thankfully these days it's not out of desperation, but more out of passion for my work and helping my clients.
Eventually, I started working on WooCommerce and Shopify. Since I’m not the type of person to say no to challenge. Eventually, I booked my first fully custom WordPress e-commerce site that rocked my world.
It was 100% different than working with the clients I had been previously working with, who were mostly bloggers and coaches who sold services, coaching packages, or digital products.
Seriously, for the first two and a half years, I really worked to find a place in the online business space where I felt like I was contributing and supporting other businesses. For a long time I didn’t feel like I was ever going to find my own voice.
When I found myself digging into the world of e-commerce and working with store owners, it finally felt like I was no longer just a part of the noise and could make an impact. It finally felt like finding the place where I belonged.
This is also when I started to realize that all of the entrepreneur gurus in the online space give out blanket advice that really doesn’t apply to shop owners and product-based businesses.
Running a store is a totally different ball game. There’s so much more that gets glossed over. Let me tell you what, service based businesses don’t have to deal with coordinating shipping, packaging, manufacturing, prototypes, …. The list goes on. There’s so much more to YOUR business model than other people realize.
That’s why I wanted to start this podcast. To support your product-based business. Whether it’s a handmade product and you’re the only team member, to building your company with 15 employees and an intern and office dog. This podcast is for you.
We’ll be focused on sharing specific strategies and tips for product-based businesses. We’ll also be hearing from shop owners, just like you, who are going to give us a peek behind the scenes of things that work really well in their own businesses.
I hope you will learn a lot and find the support you need to keep your dream going, even when it feels impossible.
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