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.
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.
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!
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.