I'm so excited to give you a tour of my new office and tell you about the elements that make it a space I love, but first, I thought this would be an excellent time to share with you a few things that have been on my mind, things I have learned during this wonderful crash course of becoming an entrepreneur. My hope is that this will give hope and direction to those just stepping into a similar role, and to tell you that you can do this thing!
Here are five important things I've learned while establishing my own small business.
1. Surround yourself with people who are better than you.
The biggest thing that has helped me grow my business and myself has been to gather other successful entrepreneurs around me who have been where I am. These people have learned important lessons along the way and are willing to mentor someone who is climbing the ladder a few rungs below them. Finding them isn’t difficult—they’re present in their business and active in their community, so the trick is to not be shy about approaching them for help and relationship. I look for people who are doing what they love, good at building their team, and have an excellent sense of what’s best for their business. Being intentional about who I surround myself with has changed my life the most.
2. Start small and build intentionally.
The very first frocks we designed were crafted from bedsheets and tablecloths I found at thrift stores. When I had the idea for a line of boho and shabby chic clothing for women of all sizes, I made a commitment to work within my budget and upcycle whenever possible. The support was incredible, the business took off, and my first show at Country Living Fair was just three weeks after the sale of my first frock. I remember freaking out back then because I found myself buying 20 yards of fabric. What a huge investment! Now I buy a bunch of 80-yard bolts at one time, and I’ve been able to generate a half million dollars in inventory over these two years. I’m very cautious about not investing more than I can afford at any one time. For me, as a business owner, that causes less stress and gives me the freedom to choose what I want to do as opposed to feeling the pressure of doing things just to pay debt. Having said that, I can also say the Lord has provided impossible things!
3. Team building is crucial.
Choosing a team to support your business should never, ever be an afterthought. The decision to bring someone into your dream should be done with much care and prayer. I’ve learned to not hire out of desperation. In other words, in times when you know you really need help, don’t just grab the first warm body who walks through the door, but seek just the right person and choose carefully. I look for team members who are not only qualified for the task at hand, but who are also emotionally healthy. I’ve learned through trial and error that simply liking someone might go a long way, but it does not mean they’re a good fit for the role I need filled, or maybe not for the team at all.
4. Be flexible, but know your brand.
In the early days of Farmhouse Frocks, we experimented with different designs and styles, and I had my mind set on a certain look. As we continued to develop our brand, the look expanded with the growth of the company and our customer base. Our mission from the beginning has been to bring forth beauty--the beauty of women, the beauty of texture, and the kind of elegant beauty that can only come from the farmhouse style. What we evolved into was a marriage of many styles--urban farmhouse, boho, shabby chic, cottage, and prairie style. Initially, many of those designs were sleeveless. Then we heard from our dear customers that they don’t want sleeveless tops, so now we feature a lot of 3/4 sleeve pieces for busy women who don’t want to bother with rolling up those sleeves but want to get straight to the task or tango at hand. On the flip side, I also know that I’m committed to our own signature color palette, so while people have requested black fabric, it’s just not true to our look, so it’s something I can say with confidence that we will not offer. That’s being true to our brand.
5. Set goals with the past, present, and future in mind.
When I set goals, I start big. First, I think of what my pie-in-the-sky dreams are. What do I want to accomplish in a year? And then I break those large goals into three-step goals. What do I need to do in a month to make that goal happen? What do I need to do next week? What do I need to do today? One goal I had for last year was getting Farmhouse Frocks into a major magazine. To break that down into smaller goals, I decided to use professional photos on social media, networked with people who knew publication contacts, worked to keep my brand very clean, and prayed for direction and guidance every day.
Because our primary focus was to reach out to people in the southern states, we aimed to create a relationship with a country music star. We intentionally sought out Ruthie Collins, sent her a package of frocks, and she loved them! Now Ruthie is part of our family. She flies in for photoshoots and we stay at her house when we’re in Nashville.
All of this helped to achieve the Farmhouse Frocks presence in Country Living magazine, MaryJanesFarm magazine, Sarasota magazine, Style magazine, and the Observer.
My next goal for the coming year is to ship 100 packages per day. To achieve that goal, I might need to continue to schedule photoshoots to represent my brand, continue updating the Farmhouse Frocks website weekly, develop a Farmhouse Frocks app to make mobile shopping more convenient, continuing crafting handwritten notes, create billboards for the south, continue to network with fashion bloggers, build a stronger following on social media, continue telling my story through a variety of media including publishing my own book.
Another goal I have had was to create a dedicated office for the business. That goal was realized, and I’ve been excited to show you the result! It’s so good to have a place to work from that is inspiring and free from distraction. Let me give you a tour!
The lamp is crafted from a vintage stadium speaker!
The beautiful lockers came from Millersburg Antique Emporium.