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 / Treasured Peach

Hey Small business owner, are you in need of some ideas and inspiration? This interview with Mandy Leckie of Treasured Peach covers the importance of Niching down, finding your passion, social media, and SEO. She also Shares some  greate tips for  improving your product photography to up-level your marketing &  advertising efforts in a way that attracts clients and sells your product online.  Mandy loves the freedom of owning her own business, but knows the struggle of balancing work and life. CLick through for some small business insight from someone who's been there!

Today's interview will really make you glad it's spring! 

Mandy Leckie, owner of Treasured Peach, makes the most adorable felt flower items for children, from headbands, to garlands, to mobiles to name a few. As she put it in her own words, "I create items for magical childhoods and treasured moments with your littles".

Mandy's located in Alberta, Canada. She's been in business for just over a year, which is very impressive considering all of the high-profile places where her products have already been featured!

If you're a small business owner or interested in becoming one, keep reading to hear Mandy's advice on the topic.

How did you get started in your field?

I started sewing for my children and friends and family. It was really my daughter who started what Treasured Peach is today, when she asked me to make her flowers for her room.

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

I wish I knew that you can't confuse your clients by selling everything you make. I think as creatives we are so multi-talented that it's hard to narrow down to selling one of the mediums we use.

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

Quality photographs and a narrowed focus of what items to sell definitely changed my shop for the better. I saw an increase in sales, since clients could see how to style my items.

For photos, a white background photo is a must for listings, that is essential to learn.  Find a few tutorials on YouTube and practice all you can.

The other essential is a lifestyle photo so your clients can imagine how to use or style your piece. I started out with a non-existent budget. So I searched my area's community and mom Facebook groups for beginning photographers who needed to build their portfolio. I got free photos, they got samples of their work. Win-win!

And I kept getting free pro-styled photos because we held events for members of the community to model for me. If the client wanted the pictures, they paid a discounted rate to the photographer. All participants had to sign a release for both parties to use photos in marketing materials. Now, I don't have the time to plan those events. But it was a great way to start, low cost and so much fun! 

Hey Small business owner, are you in need of some ideas and inspiration? This interview with Mandy Leckie of Treasured Peach covers the importance of Niching down, finding your passion, social media, and SEO. She also Shares some  greate tips for  improving your product photography to up-level your marketing &  advertising efforts in a way that attracts clients and sells your product online.  Mandy loves the freedom of owning her own business, but knows the struggle of balancing work and life. CLick through for some small business insight from someone who's been there!

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

There are so many things I enjoy about running Treasured Peach, but the best part is the freedom to be a stay-at-home mom and be there for my family.

This is such a family business because my daughter models my accessories, everyone helps wrap orders for shipping, and my kids absolutely love mail day when get to drop off orders at the Post Office.

We live in a small town so the ladies at the Post Office are so sweet and great with my kids.

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

The great balance.

As much as it's awesome to stay at home with my kids and serve clients at the same time, it can be difficult some days.

Balancing time and my energy to give the best to my family and my best service to my clients, has taken the most time to learn a flow that works well.

Hey Small business owner, are you in need of some ideas and inspiration? This interview with Mandy Leckie of Treasured Peach covers the importance of Niching down, finding your passion, social media, and SEO. She also Shares some  greate tips for  improving your product photography to up-level your marketing &  advertising efforts in a way that attracts clients and sells your product online.  Mandy loves the freedom of owning her own business, but knows the struggle of balancing work and life. CLick through for some small business insight from someone who's been there!
Hey Small business owner, are you in need of some ideas and inspiration? This interview with Mandy Leckie of Treasured Peach covers the importance of Niching down, finding your passion, social media, and SEO. She also Shares some  greate tips for  improving your product photography to up-level your marketing &  advertising efforts in a way that attracts clients and sells your product online.  Mandy loves the freedom of owning her own business, but knows the struggle of balancing work and life. CLick through for some small business insight from someone who's been there!

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

Figure out your favorite thing out of all your talents that you could make over and over again, even late into the night. That passion will draw in clients and pull you through the rough days.

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

Never stop learning!

Things are always changing with SEO, social media, and trends. To stay at the top, you need to constantly be in a state of learning and working on improving yourself as much as improving your business.

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

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: 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