Small Business Interview / Bell Mountain Naturals

"You HAVE to love what you do. That passion carries you through all the challenges of starting/running a business!" This is one of many great quotes in my interview with Sarah York, owner of Bell Mountain Naturals. If you're a small business owner be sure to check out this article! Sarah talks about the ups and downs of owning an online business from bookeeping, to brand marketing, to social media strategy. learn about her experience as an entrepreneur and gain some inspiration,  ideas, and tips for your own start up. Click through to take advantage of the free wisdom that Sarah has shared!

Say hello to Sarah York! Sarah is the owner of and maker at Bell Mountain Naturals, purveyor of all natural, sustainable soap and skin care.

She's located in Manasquan, NJ. Sarah started Bell Mountain as a side hustle in 2012, and it became a full fledged business in 2015.

A fun little fact about Bell Mountain Naturals is that it's named after the street her aunt lived on in Austin, where she started making soap. I love a name with a good meaning behind it!

If you're just starting a business of your own, keep reading to learn some helpful tips from someone who's been there. AND take advantage of a special discount that Sarah generously offered to my readers!

How did you get started in your field?

The first time I was introduced to soap making, was in a college chemistry class! I loved the idea of combining science and art. I revisited soap making as a hobby a few years later with my aunt (I come from a long line of women artists and makers). I fell in love instantly.

"You HAVE to love what you do. That passion carries you through all the challenges of starting/running a business!" This is one of many great quotes in my interview with Sarah York, owner of Bell Mountain Naturals. If you're a small business owner be sure to check out this article! Sarah talks about the ups and downs of owning an online business from bookeeping, to brand marketing, to social media strategy. learn about her experience as an entrepreneur and gain some inspiration,  ideas, and tips for your own start up. Click through to take advantage of the free wisdom that Sarah has shared!

What do you wish you had known when you were just starting your business?

Oh man! I could probably right a book! haha! Being the maker is the fun part, but such a small aspect of running a business. I wish I would have spent more time in the beginning with bookkeeping and other business related things. It would have saved a lot of headaches!

What has been the most effective strategy for gaining new customers or selling more products?

Our most effective strategy has definitely been using social media! Specifically Instagram. We've been able to meet customers both wholesale and retail that share our passion for natural and ethical skincare. Also, having a clear, strong idea of what our brand is. SO important!

What has been the best part of running your own business?

Best part for sure is watching it grow, It's like my baby!

"You HAVE to love what you do. That passion carries you through all the challenges of starting/running a business!" This is one of many great quotes in my interview with Sarah York, owner of Bell Mountain Naturals. If you're a small business owner be sure to check out this article! Sarah talks about the ups and downs of owning an online business from bookeeping, to brand marketing, to social media strategy. learn about her experience as an entrepreneur and gain some inspiration,  ideas, and tips for your own start up. Click through to take advantage of the free wisdom that Sarah has shared!
"You HAVE to love what you do. That passion carries you through all the challenges of starting/running a business!" This is one of many great quotes in my interview with Sarah York, owner of Bell Mountain Naturals. If you're a small business owner be sure to check out this article! Sarah talks about the ups and downs of owning an online business from bookeeping, to brand marketing, to social media strategy. learn about her experience as an entrepreneur and gain some inspiration,  ideas, and tips for your own start up. Click through to take advantage of the free wisdom that Sarah has shared!

What has been the most difficult part of running your own business?

Finding balance. Running your own business, you never clock out. Since we are small, I still wear all the hats, and there is always something that needs to be done.

What advice would you give to someone else starting a business?

You HAVE to love what you do. That passion carries you through all the challenges of starting/running a business!

Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom and offering a discount on your lovely products, Sarah!


Use Code: Letterform 
For 15% off your purchase through the End of the month

Visit the site here to purchase. Follow on Instagram here.

Small Business Interview / The Lemonade Stand

"It's hard to keep motivated sometimes...but every kind word from customers or cute photo shared in my gear makes it easier." This is one of many great quotes from my small business interview with Kim Sievers, owner The Lemonade Stand  In our interview Kim opens up about the some of the harder aspects of owning an online shop, like coming to terms with all of the competition out there and seeing them succeed on social media. SHe also talks about the perks of being an entrepreneur, such as the flexibility it affords her. Her advice to anyone wanting to start their own business is do your research! Click through for more great start up and business planing tips,  ideas, and Inspiration!

Today I have the opportunity to introduce you to small business owner, Kim Sievers. I didn't know this when I originally scheduled the interview for today, but it also happens to be her birthday! Happy Birthday, Kim!!

Kim is the owner, purchaser, and designer behind The Lemonade Stand, an online children's clothing store, with seriously adorable clothes! She is also a full time mom of a three year old and four month old, and a dayhome owner. She's located in Edmonton, AB, Canada. She started her business about two years ago. It was inspired by her daughter. Kim found it so hard to find unique, fashionable, and most importantly affordable clothes for her and wanted to change that.

I think she certainly has done that! Keep reading to learn more about her experience as a small business owner.

How did you get started in your field?

My shop first started with a small dream, a lot of research, and sending off a lot of emails. I had a few brands I loved that I knew I wanted to carry (a lot of which didn't end up doing wholesale), but aside from them I researched a lot of different brands, and made a lot of personal purchases so I could get a feel for quality and such.

What do you wish you had known when you were just starting your business?

The full extent of how much competition there is out there. I mean I knew it was a competitive field to get involved in, but it felt like once I committed and put money into it, ten new shops were popping up every week.

"It's hard to keep motivated sometimes...but every kind word from customers or cute photo shared in my gear makes it easier." This is one of many great quotes from my small business interview with Kim Sievers, owner The Lemonade Stand  In our interview Kim opens up about the some of the harder aspects of owning an online shop, like coming to terms with all of the competition out there and seeing them succeed on social media. SHe also talks about the perks of being an entrepreneur, such as the flexibility it affords her. Her advice to anyone wanting to start their own business is do your research! Click through for more great start up and business planing tips,  ideas, and Inspiration!
"It's hard to keep motivated sometimes...but every kind word from customers or cute photo shared in my gear makes it easier." This is one of many great quotes from my small business interview with Kim Sievers, owner The Lemonade Stand  In our interview Kim opens up about the some of the harder aspects of owning an online shop, like coming to terms with all of the competition out there and seeing them succeed on social media. SHe also talks about the perks of being an entrepreneur, such as the flexibility it affords her. Her advice to anyone wanting to start their own business is do your research! Click through for more great start up and business planing tips,  ideas, and Inspiration!

What has been the most effective strategy for getting new clients or selling more products?

I try to make a personal connection with my customers. I like my Instagram feed to be real. Lots of shops have these dreamy photos that look so magical and they are amazing, don't get me wrong, but I want my customers to see the items I carry being worn by real kids, doing real kid things.

What has been the best part of running your own business?

Being able to work from home and watch my kids grow up (cheesy I know).

"It's hard to keep motivated sometimes...but every kind word from customers or cute photo shared in my gear makes it easier." This is one of many great quotes from my small business interview with Kim Sievers, owner The Lemonade Stand  In our interview Kim opens up about the some of the harder aspects of owning an online shop, like coming to terms with all of the competition out there and seeing them succeed on social media. SHe also talks about the perks of being an entrepreneur, such as the flexibility it affords her. Her advice to anyone wanting to start their own business is do your research! Click through for more great start up and business planing tips,  ideas, and Inspiration!
"It's hard to keep motivated sometimes...but every kind word from customers or cute photo shared in my gear makes it easier." This is one of many great quotes from my small business interview with Kim Sievers, owner The Lemonade Stand  In our interview Kim opens up about the some of the harder aspects of owning an online shop, like coming to terms with all of the competition out there and seeing them succeed on social media. SHe also talks about the perks of being an entrepreneur, such as the flexibility it affords her. Her advice to anyone wanting to start their own business is do your research! Click through for more great start up and business planing tips,  ideas, and Inspiration!

What has been the most difficult part of running your own business?

Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. As a new(ish) shop in such a competitive field, it's sometimes disheartening seeing the success of other shops exceeding mine. Statistically a new business is in debt for the first few years of business, so I know I'm not alone. 

It's hard to keep motivated sometimes...but every kind word from customers or cute photo shared in my gear makes it easier.

What advice would you give to someone else starting a business?

Do your research!! In relation to my business; I THOUGHT I did a lot of research...researched other kids shops in my area and internationally, looked to see who carried what and what was popular, and even made a lot of personal purchases just to test out quality. But even after all of that, I found there were A LOT more shops, even within my own city, that didn't necessarily advertise a lot so I never came across them.

With certain brands I learned a lot of them (although great brands), just cared about their end of the business. So they didn't really care if they had six different stores within the same city selling the same stuff; which makes it really hard to sell things when you've got so much surrounding competition. 

Thanks so much for sharing, Kim! If you'd like to purchase from her shop or follow along on social media you can do so hereWebsite / Instagram

Small Business Interview / Verão Sandals

"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!" That is one of many great quotes from my interview with Small Business owner, Amelia Clay!  As a fashion Entrepreneur Amelia is familiar with the ups and downs of owning a business. She discusses some of her favorite marketing tips and ideas, discusses where she finds her inspiration, and opens up about the difficulties of financially backing a start up and pricing your product. She knows the value of mentorship, goal-setting, and making a vision board. Click through for more small business wisdom and insight!

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!

"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!" That is one of many great quotes from my interview with Small Business owner, Amelia Clay!  As a fashion Entrepreneur Amelia is familiar with the ups and downs of owning a business. She discusses some of her favorite marketing tips and ideas, discusses where she finds her inspiration, and opens up about the difficulties of financially backing a start up and pricing your product. She knows the value of mentorship, goal-setting, and making a vision board. Click through for more small business wisdom and insight!

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.

"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!" That is one of many great quotes from my interview with Small Business owner, Amelia Clay!  As a fashion Entrepreneur Amelia is familiar with the ups and downs of owning a business. She discusses some of her favorite marketing tips and ideas, discusses where she finds her inspiration, and opens up about the difficulties of financially backing a start up and pricing your product. She knows the value of mentorship, goal-setting, and making a vision board. Click through for more small business wisdom and insight!
"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!" That is one of many great quotes from my interview with Small Business owner, Amelia Clay!  As a fashion Entrepreneur Amelia is familiar with the ups and downs of owning a business. She discusses some of her favorite marketing tips and ideas, discusses where she finds her inspiration, and opens up about the difficulties of financially backing a start up and pricing your product. She knows the value of mentorship, goal-setting, and making a vision board. Click through for more small business wisdom and insight!

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.

"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!" That is one of many great quotes from my interview with Small Business owner, Amelia Clay!  As a fashion Entrepreneur Amelia is familiar with the ups and downs of owning a business. She discusses some of her favorite marketing tips and ideas, discusses where she finds her inspiration, and opens up about the difficulties of financially backing a start up and pricing your product. She knows the value of mentorship, goal-setting, and making a vision board. Click through for more small business wisdom and insight!

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.


Use code: Letterform for $26 off any pair of sandals!

Visit the site here to purchase.

Small Business Interview: Yuliya M. Photography

Yuliya M. Photography | Letterform Creative

I'm excited to have Yuliya back on the blog! You may remember her from a website review I did with her back in May. This time around she let me interview her about her experience as a small business owner. Yuliya is a wedding photographer based in Sacramento. She has a beautiful photography style that is moody and rich. She loves NYC, is a minimalist in many ways, likes pretty latte art, loves discovering new cities, and her perfect morning is with a book tucked in a favorite corner of a local coffee shop. 

Read on to learn from her experience being a small business owner for seven years!

Yuliya M. Photography | Letterform Creative

How did you get started in your field?

"Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life" a quote by Mark Twain that sits on my desk defines my passion for life, business, creativity and summarizes my journey as an entrepreneur. Business has not always come easy for me, but one thing does, and that's making the most of every day. I love fresh starts and I believe it's never too late for anything. I wanted to do something artistic all of my life, and I still can't believe that I get to do photography full time.

I studied abroad in Israel during college and wanted to recreate a lifestyle of traveling, taking photos, blogging and meeting new people when I got back to California. Wedding photography has given me just that! I started with landscape photography traveling around Egypt and Istanbul and when I saw a wedding photographer's blog, I had immense curiosity to try to capture photos like his.

Yuliya M. Photography
Yuliya M. Photography

Where do you find inspiration?

Any white space inspires me to dream, work and photograph. I also love J.Crew catalogues for ideas. A fusion of fashion and weddings is my happy place.

What do you wish you had known when you were just starting your business?

There are two things I wish I knew when I started a business, that there are rules and that there are no rules. Businesses have rules, and if you don’t abide by them, well you might not be in business for too long. Marketing, social media, referrals, client evangelists, profit margin, positioning and so on, are all important components of a business that need to be nurtured, constantly empowered, improved and evaluated.

On the other hand, there are also no rules when it comes to running your own business, because you get to make the calls. I used to think there are rules for what photographers should wear, when it’s appropriate to eat at a wedding, and how they handle themselves with clients... and yes, I believe in being extremely professional, yet my biggest asset is my personality and I want my clients to feel the care that comes through my tone of voice, my hand written notes, and on the days I’m super productive, my baked goods ;)

Yuliya M. Photography | Letterform Creative

What has been the most effective strategy for getting new clients?

Taking care of your current clients. I get many leads, but it's the clients that come to me from referrals that tend to book much more often. People typically use services their friends have used, so taking care of the clients you have only makes them talk about you more to their friends!

What has been the best part of running your own business?

The flexibility with my schedule. I get to do coffee dates mid day when most people are at work. I can also take my work anywhere. It's also so rewarding to hear thank you's from my clients, I've never experienced that when working for someone else.

What has been the most difficult part of running your own business?

Not knowing how to get to my goals. Doing too many unnecessary things that don't actually get me to where I want to go in my business. Also, standing out. There are so many amazing photographers with gorgeous pictures, what makes me different is really hard to articulate to a client.

sacramento_wedding_photographer_4.jpg

What goals do you have for your business in the next 5 years?

I'd love to become a larger company. Either outsourcing any task that is not photography related to other companies, or having a team of local creatives that will want to be a part of a bigger company. Also, working on projects that play best to my strengths so I can serve my clients better.

Anything else you would like readers to know about you, your business, or being a small business owner in general?

Being a business owner is not easy, but finding your skill set and creating even a small string of income from it, is very rewarding.

Yuliya M. Photography | Letterform Creative

Thanks so much for sharing, Yuliya! If you'd like to see more of her beautiful photography visit her website and follow her on social media: Website | Instagram | Facebook.

Small Business Interview: Al Barker of burdees

I'm excited to introduce you to Al Barker, owner of burdees. She makes GORGEOUS, minimalistic jewelry! She is a full time wife and mommy to four little ones, living in Louisville, Kentucky. Burdee's has been in business for four years. One of my favorite things I learned about her business is that her husband & her make all the pieces together. How sweet is that?

Small Business Interview: Al Barker of burdees | Letterform Creative

How Did You Get Started In Your Industry?

I had tried to find minimalistic, affordable pieces that I could wear every day, and I really couldn't find anything. It was a niche that I realized I could fill. I started just making earrings and then slowly branched out into necklaces and then rings after that.

What Do You Wish You Had Known When You Were Just Starting Your Business?

I wish I'd known what I really wanted to make. I spent the first year or so just figuring it out. On the other hand, I really enjoy the process of discovering what I like and what others like best.

Small Business Interview: Al Barker of burdee's | Letterform Creative

What Has Been The Most Effective Strategy For Gaining New Clients?

Partnerships and collaborations with instragram friends have been far and away the most effective ways of building our brand. It's been really fun to connect with women from all over the world in all different stages of life. It's really amazing how they integrate my pieces into their own lives. Then other people start seeing how the simplicity of burdees can go with pretty much any style.

What Has Been The Best Part Of Running Your Own Business?

I don't know that there's one best part for me. As a full time mommy, it's nice to have a creative outlet. I love that I can do this with my husband. It's another connection point for us in the midst of busy lives. A few nights a week, we get to slow down and spend time doing burdees things together. I also like that burdees gives our family a little extra income.

Small Business Interview: Al Barker of burdee's | Letterform Creative
Small Business Interview: Al Barker of burdee's

What Has Been The Most Difficult Part Of Running Your Own Business?

It can be difficult to keep up with everything between orders, shows, and social media demands...not to mention our little ones. It also takes discipline to set aside time for creativity. And then, it's pretty much all on me. If I don't do something with burdees, it won't get done.

What Advice Would You Give To Someone Else Starting A Business?

If you have a small starting budget, you should be prepared to do a lot by yourself. It's fine to hire someone to make a logo for you if that's not something you're good at, but expensive things like building your website shouldn't be outsourced. There are amazingly simple (and often free) tools on the internet. Also, when you launch, the public face of your business should look like you know what you're doing, even that you've been doing this for years. A small but important additional note is that it's best to have a business name that has an available .com domain name. An easy to remember web presence is pretty key to success.

Anything Else You Would Like Readers To Know About You, Your Business, Or Being A Small Business Owner In General?

Make things that you love. It's difficult to ignore what other talented people are doing on Instagram, but you have to stay true to your own vision.

Small Business Interview: Al Barker of burdee's | Letterform Creative

Thanks so much for sharing, Al! If you'd like to add some of her beautiful jewelry to your own collection, you can purchase it from the burdees website linked below. Be sure to follow burdees on social media for more minimalist eye-candy: Website | Instagram | Facebook

Small Business Interview: Marlene Srdic of Glitz & Grammar

Meet Marlene Srdic, owner of Glitz & Grammar! She creates stylish copy for stylish brands, specifically, ghost blogging and copywriting for entrepreneurs with a fashion, beauty, bridal or luxury lifestyle business. She's been in business for roughly six years. She live in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband and their two-year-old son. 

Marlene Srdic of Glitz & Grammar | Letterform Creative

How Did You Get Started In Your Industry?

I always knew I wanted to be a magazine editor and took a pretty traditional route: I studied journalism in college, freelanced for magazines and got an editorial internship my Senior year. Shortly after graduation, I landed a job as an editor at one of the largest luxury lifestyle magazines in Arizona where I eventually become the Style Editor. It was an amazing experience, but the economy crashed and magazines slowly started to wither away, which is when my first foray into freelancing happened. I hadn't planned on working for myself but I survived a good year freelancing for magazines and online blogs, including my own fashion blog. After a year or so, I went back to a regular 9-5 but my heart wasn't in it; I really missed writing for glossies and the variety I had working for myself. This time, I made a plan to quit and support myself solo full-time. A PR rep who was familiar with my magazine work approached me about blogging for a local shoe store, that's when I started thinking about all the business owners I knew in my industry (fashion, beauty, bridal, luxury lifestyle) who might need help with their blogs and copywriting. I still am a magazine editor and freelance journalist today, but the other side of my business, Glitz & Grammar, is focused on ghost blogging and copywriting for small biz owners and I love that I get to mix the two. I get to approach blogging and copywriting from an editorial perspective and bring in my expertise about what really resonates with a luxury lifestyle audience to help small business owners grow their brands. And they're all super happy to not just hire any writer, but hire a writer who understands style.

What Do You Wish You Had Known When You Were Just Starting Your Business?

It's really important to diversify your income streams, this was my very first lesson learned. Whether it's affiliate income, passive income or just a variety of product/service offerings at different price points, it's easier to grow your business when you look at your income as pieces of a pie.

Marlene Srdic of Glitz & Grammar | Letterform Creative

What Has Been The Most Effective Strategy For Gaining New Clients?

For me, it's been referrals with those in complementing industries. It's natural for someone who is hiring a graphic designer to need a copywriter. Likewise, I get a lot of clients who are seeking out a graphic designer or a social media person. It's important to make friends and relationships with other business owners so you can help each other grow!

What has been the best part of running your own business?

Flexibility. I love that I can take two weeks off during the holidays, 2-3 in the summer or a three-day weekend if I choose. In a way, it's harder because there isn't anyone to cover your shift, but having that freedom is the trade-off. Now that I have a toddler, it's become even more important to have that flexibility so I can be there for my family--I know he'll be little only for a moment! And I want to savor it. I'm not in business to make millions or get rich quick; I do it to support the lifestyle I want and to help other business owners support theirs.

What has been the most difficult part of running your own business?

It can be lonely. I write so I'm not doing a lot of meetings or phone calls and I work from home, so sometimes it's just me and the computer for hours. It's nice to have people to bounce ideas off of as well, which just isn't the same online as it is in person. Sometimes my husband gets home from work and I'm like "Hey! A grown up! Talk to me!" Hah.

What advice would you give to someone else starting a business?

Don't get stuck in learning mode, at some point you have to trust your gut and just get going! There is so much information out there that it's easy to keep signing up for the next newsletter and freebie and get overloaded, but this is all pointless if you don't apply the lessons you've learned and just start. It's scary, yes, but everyone has value to share and there's someone out there looking for your wisdom!

Anything else you would like readers to know about you, your business, or being a small business owner in general?

My favorite quote is "Comparison is the thief of joy" because it's so true. There is so much perfectly curated content online and so much noise that it can be overwhelming. I know it definitely happens to me at times. But this isn't good. There's room for everyone and if you find yourself getting sucked in by the overwhelm or comparing yourself, just unplug. We all have to start somewhere. Don't fall for those "Make $100k in 30 days" traps. It takes time, patience and a lot of hard work.

Thanks so much for sharing, Marlene! If you'd like to get in touch with her or follow her on social media, this is where you can find her: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

Small Business Interview: Meg Hollar of Bumblewood

I'm excited to introduce you to Meg Hollar, owner of Bumblewood! She handcrafts natural soaps and skin care in Bakersfield, CA. She started her business three years ago. Meg graciously agreed to let me interview her and now you get to benefit from her small business experience.

Small Business Interview | Letterform Creative

first of all I just have to ask, where did the name Bumblewood come from?

Ok, so that’s a weird story haha. We have a wood pile on the side of our house, and one day while picking out some wood for a BBQ my husband found a piece that was covered in bumblebee holes (they bore holes in wood for their homes). Being the dork that I am, I said “Hey, it’s a piece of Bumblewood!”. Well, the name burrowed it’s way into my head and when it came time to name my company, I knew immediately what it had to be. There was no other choice!

How did you get started in your industry?

I got started in 2007 when our twins were born prematurely. Their stay in the NICU meant scrubbing down multiple times a day with harsh hospital soap and it completely ate up my hands. They were cracked and bleeding for months. I tried for so long to find something on the market that worked, but I never could find relief. Eventually, after a lot of pain and a whole bunch of research, I started making my own lotions and balms with ingredients that finally healed my poor skin. That led me down the road of going natural for our family. I realized that a lot of other people were having the same problems I was and there was a huge need for natural skin care.

What do you wish you had known when you were just starting your business?

I wish I had known that just because you build, they won't always come! It takes a huge amount of work and putting yourself out there to build a business. Setting up a good foundation is a must! There are areas in my business that I'm so thankful I took the time to set up for success, and there are some areas I'm still struggling with and wish I had taken more care in from the beginning.

Bumblewood | Letterform Creative

What has been the most effective strategy for gaining new clients?

Definitely being present and active on social media! It's been a huge stepping stone in reaching the people who don't find me locally.

Can you expound on what being present on social media looks like?

I’ve found it’s really critical to be present in Facebook groups, and to be sure to comment back if anyone leaves a comment on your post (in groups or on your own pages/profiles), and to just talk and be conversational. This tends to be hard for me sometimes because I’m a SUPER private person and I’m not a huge talker and I second guess myself constantly if I’m saying the “right” thing or not, but I have seen the best things happen when I put in the effort to put myself out there. There are amazing people in this world, you just have to talk to them.

What has been the best part of running your own business?

I LOVE hearing the "after" stories! When my customers come back and tell me how a product literally changed their life after so long of suffering, it's the best feeling in the world.

What has been the hardest part of running your own business?

Time management! I'm also a stay at home mom of four boys, and we homeschool, so trying to be as effiecent as possible in both the business and home arenas has been a serious challenge. I live by my calendar!

Bumblewood | Letterform Creative

What advice would you give to someone else starting a business?

Take it slow at first. Take the time to do your research, set up your business and systems, and learn the best ways for you to market and reach your people. It doesn't all have to be done right now. There will be time for expansion later.

Thanks so much for sharing, Meg! If you'd like to get in touch with her or follow her on social media, this is where you can find her: Website | Instagram | Facebook

Product photography: Makenzie Photography | Headshot: Rachel Wolf Photography