I absolutely LOVE doing these small business interviews! It's so much fun to hear how other people started their business. There's also so much comfort knowing that there are other small business owners who have the same struggles.
That's how I felt after hearing from Amelia Clay, owner of Verão Sandals. Her sandals are absolutely gorgeous and timeless. The perfect sandal you'll want to live in all summer long and you can because Amelia has generously provided a discount to my readers!
Read on to learn more about Amelia's small business journey and to take advantage of that special discount.
How did you get started in your field?
I caught the entrepreneurial spirit at my first job. It was a daily deal website just for women and it was my job to bring on new small businesses.Working with these new business owners really inspired me to do it on my own one day!
Where do you find inspiration?
From traveling , I use traveling to challenge me, inspire personal growth and make some amazing friendships. I've lived in 8 different countries thus far. Additionally other business women. It's always nice to know that your not going through this alone and that other women have experienced the same!
What do you wish you had known when you were just starting your business?
Patience! I once believed everything would happen overnight and that if you threw up a website with a great product people would come and sales would fly in. I was wrong :) It takes a lot of dedication, consistency and patience to see success.
Really learn to enjoy the journey to the goal you've set out, celebrate the small wins, still make time for your personal life and keep at it!
Looking back it's a welcoming thought to see how far we've come.
What has been the most effective strategy for gaining new customers and selling more products?
Word of mouth and customer referrals. I wear the sandals everywhere and keep cards and a cute colored pen in my purse that have room to scribble a special discount code on, so it feels personal when I hand it out :) I try to start up a couple conversations a day! Also treating every sale with great care and include an easy way for them to pass on a referral discount to a friend.
What has been the best part of running your own business?
The personal growth tied to it, learning to be a true #ladyboss ! At the start I used to complain about it being so much work, and this and that was hard, I couldn't do it. I had lost a wholesale account or couldn't pay my bills on time. I was always very excited to have Verão and to be doing a dream, but I was not really stepping up to the plate and owning the situation. I wasn't really proud, if that make sense any sense at all. Sure, I had these beautiful sandals and was living a dream on the outside with this new brand, but behind the scenes I was dirt broke and really struggling to keep it going.
Once I learned to own the situation, everything changed. I was not a victim these were my choices and sacrifices I had made to reach a dream and if I was patient it would pay off. This simple change in outlook has made a world of difference and carried through to my personal life! I have a lot more confidence and it shows.
What Has Been The Most Difficult Part Of Running Your Own Business?
For me it was the financial part in two components.
1. Organizing Verao's Finances and still putting money aside for my personal life.
Looking back I could have planned this a lot better and been a bit more realistic about costs. I could have probably saved a larger nest egg before just going for it and hopping on a plane to Portugal. Quickbooks self employed app has done wonders to better organize this. It even tracks mileage and organizes all your receipts expenses so you are keeping proper track.
2. Having to stick to your guns about placing value on your work and charging for it respectively.
I was so excited in our first summer that people even wanted to wear the sandals and I think I could have been renamed "Miss Free Sandals". I was giving them away at $20 a pair and to anyone who did not want to pay the real price, I offered up a strong discount almost immediately. It took awhile for me to take off the owner hat and step into, I guess, a more sales role, putting the value in all the work it took for that finished of pair sandals to land into someone's hands.
What goals do you have for your business in the next 5 years?
100,000 happy pairs of feet in 5 years. To be a self-sustaining, profitable business in the next 2 years. To have Oprah or Ellen wear a pair of Verão's! Be a sandal on the shelves of Bergdorf and in Net-A-Porter by year 4.
Anything else you would like readers to know about you, your business, or being a small business owner in general?
Make a vision board! When you have a new business idea lay out the large goals yearly, quarterly and then start to break down from there. Try to find the absolutes smallest thing you can start with, to make it not seem overwhelming and commit to spending just a few hours on it a week. For example, buy the domain or make the logo. It seems so much more real after that small step. You will be surprised how much it grows over time :)
Build a mentor group of other business owners. A nice, open space where you can put your guard down and ask real questions you need help on. Keep an open mind we are not in competition with each other and we can all learn from one another's experiences.
Also, when you are starting out, don't have business FOMO, fear that starting something might lock you into that idea and maybe that was not the best business to build. You simply just need to start somewhere and during that time give it your all. Don't worry that you're missing out on a better idea. I promise you, you're not missing out on anything and the experience gained from building that first business that might not work, will only put you in a better position as you build the next one. Additionally, businesses can always pivot, evolve, grow. You have got to have a starting block though to be able do this :) Two years ago we started out selling Turkish towels until we found the right sandal manufacturer.
Thanks so much for sharing and for the generous discount, Amelia! Be sure to follow along with Verão on Instagram.