hi hi hi...hi hi!
now, let me share a thought - does anyone else think it's a little funky or hard or just something to make a new friend? and what i mean is - you're not making friends as a couple (your husband is friends with her husband or something like that)...but just a random girl you happen to meet. maybe it's a mom from a mom group or even a fellow blogger - and then all of a sudden you're like - i have all the heart eyes for this gal?
is this making any sense? am i crazy?
well...i thought it would be weird or hard or strange too. until i actually met a fellow blogger! you guys - jessica from the newly and Pearl & Monroe. like buddy says in elf - I KNOW HER!
and if you don't know her, you should want to know her. she's absolutely fantastic AND she has great style AND she has three darling kids. but let's get down to why she's being featured today for monday mama...scratch that...tuesday.
KARLI | where did your idea for your small business come from?
JESSICA | I’ve always loved fashion and styling. And it was always a dream of mine to be able to open a little boutique in which I could carefully curate unique pieces that can’t be found anywhere else. For a long time, I chalked it up to a “pipe dream” that just couldn’t happen - at least not until my husband was done with residency and well into his medical practice and our children were out of diapers. And then, I started seeing some businesses using IG for their selling platform on a smaller scale. And I thought, “Why not NOW?” The only thing stopping me was myself. So I got out of my own way. Changed my expectations. Embraced the mompreneur life. And decided to give it a go.
KARLI | how did you get started?
JESSICA | It took a lot of research for me to figure out what I needed to do in order to get off the ground. I Spent hours and hours hunched over my computer at the dining room table, reading article after article trying to learn the ins and outs of business nexuses, internet taxation laws, business licensing, wholesale relationships, shipping, sales and use, and more. Honestly, looking back at that now, I am pretty proud of how far I’ve come in the last year and a half. I can truthfully say that I started a business completely on my own and have built it every step of the way.
KARLI | who's your biggest support?
JESSICA | Without a doubt, 100% my husband. From the very beginning, he has been NOTHING but supportive and encouraging. Had he not been so supportive from the beginning, I may have given up on this venture before it even began. But he believed in me, and in turn, encouraged me to believe in myself. He’s my right hand man, and even though he complains about it, on most nights, you can find him sitting beside me in the office, carefully affixing labels to outgoing packages and weighing shipments for me. I’d be lost without him.
KARLI | what's been your biggest win?
JESSICA | There have been a lot of things I’d consider “wins” over the last year and a half. But cultivating an amazing following has been a huge win for me. I don’t have a huge amount of IG followers. But I can honestly say that the ones that I do have are GREAT customers. Repeat customers. People that support my business and come back again and again to buy from me. And that gives me the warm and fuzzies to the tips of my toes. Though I have definite plans for the future, and hopes for continued growth, I am absolutely thrilled with the loyalty and amazing support from the clientele I’ve got now. So thankful! Another win? Crossing fingers and toes that I am not jinxing myself, but in the last year and a half, I have only received one - just one! - email from a customer who was less than satisfied. Having mailed out over 2,500 packages and over 3,000 items at this point, I consider only having one negative response from a customer to be a pretty darn big win!
KARLI | what's been your biggest loss?
JESSICA | My biggest loss - and one that I think every business owner probably feels at some point or another - is my ability to fully relax at times. That probably sounds absolutely terrible - and maybe it is - but I struggle with knowing when to just shut down my business mind and let things go. I have a hard time just relaxing and not feeling like I should be doing something at all times.
KARLI | any valuable lessons you've learned?
JESSICA | I’ve learned that owning your own business sounds a lot more glamorous than it is sometimes. While there are definite positives, there are downsides to being your own boss all the time too. Your ability to earn income and grow and evolve and stay relevant rests squarely on your own shoulders, so the pressure can feel quite weighty at times. One of the biggest things I’ve had to learn to do is draw boundaries. It can be really hard to “turn off” when you are not clocking out at the end of each day. There was a time in which I found myself responding to customer emails during family dinners or on the weekends, and that quickly became something that my husband and I decided just wasn’t good for our family. Though I do work strange hours in order to mold my business to the needs of my small children (for example, doing my shipping in the evenings after they are in bed and incapable of ruining any packages, ha!) I try to keep my business confined to as “normal” of hours as possible. I don’t post new items in the evenings, so I am not interacting with customers at night very often. I don’t respond to emails or do any shipping on the weekends. And I have had to set my shipping time to 3-5 business days because it just got to be too much to try to ship faster than that (it’s not like I was ever going to be able to compete with Amazon Prime anyways, lol).
KARLI | what would you say to someone who wants to start their own small business?
JESSICA | Research. Research, research, research. And more research. Figure out your niche, and then research it to death. I knew the clientele I was hoping to speak to - young moms and women like myself who are looking to stay cute and comfy, but also be trendy. I chose a price range that I thought would work for most of the women I am attempting to reach. And I started testing out relationships with vendors to get ideas on quality, sizing, fit and more. And you know what? A year and a half later, I would never say anything is perfect, but I can say that I think I’ve carved out my niche. I am confident in my vendors. Confident in my customers. And confident in myself! And I hope that comes across. My business may be small, but it’s a gem!
KARLI | how do you balance your business and your kids?
JESSICA | This is something that I still struggle with daily. I am a very high energy person, and I think that helps with the insanely active life we live right now. But even so, I can’t always keep up. Some days, I feel like I am kicking butt and taking names. I fit in some work - place some new orders, speak with some vendors, process some new shipments, get photos of new items, etc - and still find time to play with my kids, make homemade meals, spend some time with my husband, and do a quick workout to keep myself sane. Other days, it feels like a total struggle just to make it to bedtime. The laundry piles up, the kids have chicken nuggets for lunch and dinner, I fall behind in shipping, my husband and I pass each other like ships in the night, and my rear stays planted in a chair for longer than I’d like. Those days make me feel like a total failure, and sometimes even make me question myself as a business owner. That’s normal! No one is perfect, so no business is perfect! I am learning to give myself some grace. Reminding myself to ALWAYS choose my children over the business, no matter what. Refusing to let the laundry piles stress me out. Getting as much done as I can, and then calling it a day. I still stay up way too late, but I am working on it. All that to say, I definitely don’t have it all figured out and still try to fit about 36 hours into every 24 I’m given. But I am getting better.
KARLI | do you work outside the home...for someone else?
JESSICA | Nope! My bosses are the three tiny little tyrants who call me “mommy” - and who sometimes make me wish I had an adult boss :) There’s still not always a lot of balance with three kids 3 and under. But it’s a whole lot of fun, that’s for sure. We laugh a lot. We scream a lot. We cry a lot. And we love a lot
KARLI | where do you see Pearl & Monroe in one and five years?
JESSICA | In one year, I see myself continuing on pretty much as I am now - with hopefully some continued growth, but nothing too crazy. Realistically, I know that I can’t personally manage a growth trajectory that is too dramatically different than where I am now. I’ve accepted the fact that I am just one person, and though I’d love to see an explosion in the business eventually, it needs to be in a time in which I can effectively manage it (i.e. hire people to help me). So for now, I am happy with where I am, and hope to just continue doing what I love to do. In five years, I do hope to see a good bit of growth. My husband will have a couple of years of experience in private practice under his belt by that time, our kids will all be in school, and life will be a bit less chaotic (well, maybe not less chaotic, but I’ll certainly have less demands on my time while the kids are in school). At that time, I hope to be able to devote more time and energy into growing the business and really expanding. So hopefully Pearl & Monroe will be something that more people will know about and be familiar with by that point!
KARLI | and lastly...how do you manage your day? is there a routine?
JESSICA | My youngest son is 8 months old now. Within just the last couple of months, as he has begun sleeping and eating in more regular patterns - i.e napping regularly - I have been able to get us into more of a routine. For the first couple of months after he was born, it was honestly just a s***show most of the time. I’d forget to place orders, forget to photograph items, and more. Looking back on that time, I’m rather amazed that we made it through that time with no major mishaps. But thankfully, we did. Our days look a little different depending on when the kids are in “school” (preschool and mother’s morning out”) and when they are not. The couple of hours a couple of times a week that they are in school are my golden hours. I can tear into shipments and not worry about leaving scissors laying around, take photos without worrying about anyone running off with the new merchandise, and talk to vendors without having little chatterboxes in the background. Naptime is also my time. I pretty much utilize every second I can while the kids are asleep to work. When they are awake, I’m not working. It’s just too hard. They are too demanding and it just makes all of us frustrated when I try to work while they are awake.
I’ve also realized that carving out a few minutes to myself daily is very important to me mentally. Over the last few months, since having Teddy, I began to feel like I was just drowning in the needs of others all the time. It was a very unhealthy way to survive. Even my body just felt frail, like I was just spread so thin, I was going to shatter into a million tiny pieces. So in the just the last 5 or 6 weeks, I’ve made a huge effort to get a little more physical. To take the time to do a workout video, get outside and run around with the kids, stretch, do a little bit of yoga, eat a little healthier, and try to relax. It’s the age old adage, “you can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself” - but I finally found the truth in that, and am trying to stick with it and take some time each day to do something good for myself.
see! i'm this totally weird creeper, fan girl. jessica is just so darling and genuine...it's no wonder Pearl & Monroe was such a success out the gate and continues it's success! and i guess we could mention that the clothing really is so cute and affordable. jessica picks really great pieces. i tried to snag some off of instagram to show you...but it wouldn't let me, so you should just go and have a look yourself!
and hey! are you a mama or know of a mama who wants to be featured on Sept. Farm for the Monday Mama series? i'd absolutely love that. the only criteria is that you have to be a mama AND have started your own business...you know, so you can share your wealth of knowledge on how you're keeping your sh*t together while simultaneously tending your children throughout the day AND working. hello power-multi-tasker. just send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.