Easily Set Up an Automated Welcome Sequence in Mailchimp

Wondering how to get started with email marketing for your small business? One of the first things you need to do is set up an automated welcome sequence for new subscribers to your list. Click through for an outline of what should be in each of your welcome emails, as well as a video tutorial showing you how to set it up in Mailchimp!

If you're new around here, I've spent the past few weeks covering the basics of starting an email list for your business. You can catch up below. Be sure to start with week one and work your way through all the lessons. Don't think you need an email list? Then week one is especially for you ;)

This week I’m showing you how to create an automated welcome sequence in Mailchimp.

What is a Welcome Sequence?

A welcome sequence is a series of 5-7 emails that are automatically sent out over a period of a week or so, after someone has signed up for your list. As I’ve mentioned before, the rule of 7 says that someone needs to come in contact with your business that many times before trusting you enough to make a purchase or hire you. A welcome sequence allows you to hit those seven interactions really quickly.

Why Do I Need One?

The first reason to setup an automated welcome sequence is to efficiently deliver your lead magnet when people sign up. When I first started my list I was manually sending my freebie to new subscribers, which was not very efficient! Save yourself the hassle and setup an automated delivery as soon as possible.

The next reason is to familiarize people with your business and show them your expertise. You can do this by providing free information and resources that will help them with a problem they have. It’s only after you’ve done this that you should try to sell to them.

What Should Be In It?

Below is an outline you can follow to set up your own welcome sequence. Make sure that each email serves a purpose and provides different content than the others. Feel free to adjust this for your own business as needed.

  1. The Welcome Email - Deliver your lead magnet and briefly introduce yourself. People are only opening this for the freebie, so keep it short, sweet, and to the point. (Timing: Immediately upon subscribing.)
  2. Set Expectations Email – Now that people have received what they came for, take the time to introduce yourself and your business a little more thoroughly. Tell them what to expect from your list, including frequency of emails and topics you’ll cover. (Timing: 1 day after previous email)
  3. Check-in Email – This is an opportunity to encourage people to use the freebie you’ve given them. Give them some tips for using it most effectively and invite them to reply with any questions they have about it. Include the link to download it again, in case they haven’t done so yet. (Timing: 1-2 day after previous email)
  4. Best Resources Email – You know all of those blog posts you’ve spent hours writing? Well they’re going to come in handy! Share your most helpful blog posts and free resources that show off your expertise. (Timing: 1-2 days after previous email)
  5. The Social Media Email - Invite people to follow you on social media to help strengthen your connection with them. Only ask them to follow you on the platforms that you’re active on. (Timing: 2-3 days after previous email)
  6. The Sales Email – It’s finally time to sell! Don’t assume that people know exactly what services/products you offer. Be sure to explicitly state how you can help them solve a problem they have. Direct them to a sales page on your site where they can learn more, and let them know how they can hire you. (Timing: 2-3 days after previous email.)

How Do I Automate It?

Mailchimp makes it really easy to setup an automated welcome sequence. Watch the video below to learn how.

As always, feel free to post your questions in the comments below!

Small Business Interview / Savan Photography

If you're a photographer starting your own business and are in need of some tips, check out this interview with small business owner, Savan Crutchfield. In it she gives some ideas and tips you can try out in your own business. from social media marketing to finding your style, Savan shares her insight. If you're a new entrepreneur, click through to read!

It's time for another small business interview! Today I'm chatting with Savan Crutchfield, owner of Savan Photography. She is a fine art film photographer specializing in weddings, lifestyle and editorial for the past four years. Savan is based in Orange County, California and always ready to travel. In her timeless and romantic work, she seeks raw and emotional moments. Aside from a few high school and college film courses, she is self-taught. 

If you're a new business owner, keep reading to learn some helpful tips from someone who's been there. AND take advantage of a special discount that Savan has generously offered to my readers at the end of this post.

How did you get started in your field?

I got my start by taking photos of my first daughter. Through friends and social media, I was referred to my first family session and wedding client.

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

I'm such a people pleaser and I HATE saying NO, but I wish I knew that earlier in my career I can't always say YES, and can't make everyone happy. It's going to be tough your first year and you have to give yourself a chance to learn and make mistakes along the way.

If you're a photographer starting your own business and are in need of some tips, check out this interview with small business owner, Savan Crutchfield. In it she gives some ideas and tips you can try out in your own business. from social media marketing to finding your style, Savan shares her insight. If you're a new entrepreneur, click through to read!

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

Being consistent with my brand and work has been the most important thing. I put out quality work and share on all social media sites daily. For social media, the two most important things are displaying quality work, and writing captions from the heart that your ideal client can relate to. 

If you're a photographer starting your own business and are in need of some tips, check out this interview with small business owner, Savan Crutchfield. In it she gives some ideas and tips you can try out in your own business. from social media marketing to finding your style, Savan shares her insight. If you're a new entrepreneur, click through to read!

What does it mean to be consistent with your brand and work?

This is a lot easier said then done for sure! I think we, as artists, struggle to find the right path for what our work should look like. Trying to be different and creating a brand that is wanted can take time. My suggestion for photographers is to shoot what you love and shoot where you love, and go from there. 

Once you find your niche start building that consistent look and don't stray from it, continue to build and tweak little by little if needed.  Creating a brand and work to be fully proud of is hard as an artist, but like anything success takes time. 

Success comes in time and it does not have to happen over night. One must be prepared to work hard and stay humble.
If you're a photographer starting your own business and are in need of some tips, check out this interview with small business owner, Savan Crutchfield. In it she gives some ideas and tips you can try out in your own business. from social media marketing to finding your style, Savan shares her insight. If you're a new entrepreneur, click through to read!

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

The best part is being my own boss and having creative freedom.

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

The most difficult part is also being my own boss because it means not having the support of a huge corporation when needed.

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

Success comes in time and it does not have to happen over night. One must be prepared to work hard and stay humble.

If you're a photographer starting your own business and are in need of some tips, check out this interview with small business owner, Savan Crutchfield. In it she gives some ideas and tips you can try out in your own business. from social media marketing to finding your style, Savan shares her insight. If you're a new entrepreneur, click through to read!

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

In our world of social media it is hard to not compare yourself to others, but comparison is the thief of JOY! Success is very dependent on the person, so as you build your business and brand, make sure to go at your own pace and enjoy the small and big successes along the way!

Thanks so much for sharing and for your generous offer to my readers, Savan!
See more of Savan's gorgeous work and follow her on social media: Website / Instagram / Facebook


Special offer for Letterform readers

Book a session with Savan in 2017 and receive 40 complimentary 4x6 proof prints!
Click here to send her an email and book your session.

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 / Penelope Duke

"There are no restrictions on what I can and cannot do unless I put them there myself." That is one of many great quotes from my interview with small business owner, Penelope Duke.  As an entrepreneur, she is no stranger to the challenges of the work life balance, being disciplined, and having many late nights. She also knows the great benefits of freedom. flexibility, AND INSPIRATION that come with being her own boss. INSTAGRAM HAS BEEN A POWERFUL TOOL IN THE GROWTH OF HER BUSINESS, AS ITS BEEN THE SOLE FORM OF marketing and advertising SHE USES FOR her beautiful ceramics. CLICK THROUGH FOR MORE SMALL BUSINESS IDEAS AND TIPS!

This week's interview is with Penelope Duke. She is a ceramicist based in the Dandenong Ranges on the outskirts of Melbourne in Australia. The pottery she makes is functional and practical, meant for use in everyday life. She's been in business only a couple of years, and admits she still has much to learn, but she graciously shared what she has learned so far.

I absolutely love the simplicity and organic nature of her pieces! Keep scrolling to take a look for yourself.

How did you get started in your industry?

I started a night class at a local pottery school one night a week where I was lucky enough to have Kevin Somerfield as a teacher. It was really hard waiting a whole week for the next lesson, but after about a year I was very fortunate to be gifted a wheel and kiln from a retired potter, so was able to set up my own studio at home.

"There are no restrictions on what I can and cannot do unless I put them there myself." That is one of many great quotes from my interview with small business owner, Penelope Duke.  As an entrepreneur, she is no stranger to the challenges of the work life balance, being disciplined, and having many late nights. She also knows the great benefits of freedom. flexibility, AND INSPIRATION that come with being her own boss. INSTAGRAM HAS BEEN A POWERFUL TOOL IN THE GROWTH OF HER BUSINESS, AS ITS BEEN THE SOLE FORM OF marketing and advertising SHE USES FOR her beautiful ceramics. CLICK THROUGH FOR MORE SMALL BUSINESS IDEAS AND TIPS!

Where do you find inspiration?

Everywhere in the natural world. I like elegant form and simplicity, and that can be found everywhere, from the texture of bark to sand, and the shape of hills, shadow and light.

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

How many late nights I was in for!

What has been the most effective strategy for gaining new clients and selling more products?

My only marketing tool is Instagram. I have not had to look for clients, they have found me through that. I suppose that being such a visual business it is really easy for people to see exactly what I am offering just by looking at my page. I make sure that I have a cross section of my work on display on my Instagram page at all times.

"There are no restrictions on what I can and cannot do unless I put them there myself." That is one of many great quotes from my interview with small business owner, Penelope Duke.  As an entrepreneur, she is no stranger to the challenges of the work life balance, being disciplined, and having many late nights. She also knows the great benefits of freedom. flexibility, AND INSPIRATION that come with being her own boss. INSTAGRAM HAS BEEN A POWERFUL TOOL IN THE GROWTH OF HER BUSINESS, AS ITS BEEN THE SOLE FORM OF marketing and advertising SHE USES FOR her beautiful ceramics. CLICK THROUGH FOR MORE SMALL BUSINESS IDEAS AND TIPS!
"There are no restrictions on what I can and cannot do unless I put them there myself." That is one of many great quotes from my interview with small business owner, Penelope Duke.  As an entrepreneur, she is no stranger to the challenges of the work life balance, being disciplined, and having many late nights. She also knows the great benefits of freedom. flexibility, AND INSPIRATION that come with being her own boss. INSTAGRAM HAS BEEN A POWERFUL TOOL IN THE GROWTH OF HER BUSINESS, AS ITS BEEN THE SOLE FORM OF marketing and advertising SHE USES FOR her beautiful ceramics. CLICK THROUGH FOR MORE SMALL BUSINESS IDEAS AND TIPS!

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

The freedom to keep being creative, and to allow my own ideas to form gradually. There are no restrictions on what I can and cannot do unless I put them there myself. Also the flexibility to work around my family.

There are no restrictions on what I can and cannot do unless I put them there myself.

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

As a mother I have found it a battle between wanting to be wholly there for my children, and wanting to throw everything into growing my business. It is such a juggle. Also finding that discipline to turn away visitors who might call in when I have set time aside to work, and putting my blinders on and just getting on with it when there are so many other things that would like my attention.

"There are no restrictions on what I can and cannot do unless I put them there myself." That is one of many great quotes from my interview with small business owner, Penelope Duke.  As an entrepreneur, she is no stranger to the challenges of the work life balance, being disciplined, and having many late nights. She also knows the great benefits of freedom. flexibility, AND INSPIRATION that come with being her own boss. INSTAGRAM HAS BEEN A POWERFUL TOOL IN THE GROWTH OF HER BUSINESS, AS ITS BEEN THE SOLE FORM OF marketing and advertising SHE USES FOR her beautiful ceramics. CLICK THROUGH FOR MORE SMALL BUSINESS IDEAS AND TIPS!

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

I would like to reach a point where I can be running a self-sufficient studio, and where my brand is recognised to the point that there is consistent work.

Thanks so much for sharing, Penelope! Purchase her pieces and follow along on social media hereWebsite / Instagram / Facebook

Small Business Interview / Free Label

"It just takes time to build the business—slow and steady, baby!" This is one of many great quotes from my interview with small business owner, Jess Sternberg.  Jess is the owner of Free Label, which produces ethically made clothing. As an entrepreneur she is familiar with the difficulties of running a start up, from the work life balance to the financial responsibility. She knows the value of starting small and making a personal connection with customers. In our interview she talk about INstagram as one of her favorite advertising and marketing tools. Jess encourages anyone who wants to start their own business that it's possible. You just need a lot of passion and motivation! Click throug for more ideas, tips, and inspiration!

Today's interview is with Jess Sternberg, co-owner of the ethical fashion brand, Free Label, with her partner Julian Hoyle. Free Label offers incredibly stylish, casual, everyday pieces that you will definitely want to add to your wardrobe. I sure do! 

Free Label was started in July 2015 in Toronto, then moved to Vancouver in March 2016 and is currently operating in its fourth season. Fun fact: the first piece, the Betty Tank, is named after Jess's mom and they've been making it ever since!

How did you get started in your field?

I'd like to think it was fate! At the time, I was the manager and buyer for an activewear boutique in Toronto called "Flow-Active" that specializes in Canadian and ethically made brands. I was constantly on the search for ethically made pieces that were great for both yoga and everyday use, and had fits to flatter the average woman; I was looking for what I would call "easy sell pieces."

I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for, so I thought why not make it myself? I was incredibly lucky that the boutique owner supported me 100% and bought a lot of stock in Free Label's first season, which made it possible to get the brand off it's feet. (Thanks, Chad :))

"It just takes time to build the business—slow and steady, baby!" This is one of many great quotes from my interview with small business owner, Jess Sternberg.  Jess is the owner of Free Label, which produces ethically made clothing. As an entrepreneur she is familiar with the difficulties of running a start up, from the work life balance to the financial responsibility. She knows the value of starting small and making a personal connection with customers. In our interview she talk about INstagram as one of her favorite advertising and marketing tools. Jess encourages anyone who wants to start their own business that it's possible. You just need a lot of passion and motivation! Click throug for more ideas, tips, and inspiration!

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

That it takes time to figure it all out. Starting a business is incredibly intimidating - the financial responsibility alone can be overwhelming. But after a couple season's you start to get the hang of the timing, you start to build a network of reliable suppliers and retailers, and you start to gain confidence in yourself and your business. Free Label started out with just one style (the Betty Tank) in two colour ways. This Spring we have 14 different skus.

It just takes time to build the business—slow and steady, baby!

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

Instagram and word of mouth from a repeat customer base. I think building a friendly and approachable brand that followers/potential customers can engage with on a public platform is really important in ethical fashion. It is still a small industry with a niche following, so interacting with those people, answering their questions, and gaining their trust through transparency is vital.

"It just takes time to build the business—slow and steady, baby!" This is one of many great quotes from my interview with small business owner, Jess Sternberg.  Jess is the owner of Free Label, which produces ethically made clothing. As an entrepreneur she is familiar with the difficulties of running a start up, from the work life balance to the financial responsibility. She knows the value of starting small and making a personal connection with customers. In our interview she talk about INstagram as one of her favorite advertising and marketing tools. Jess encourages anyone who wants to start their own business that it's possible. You just need a lot of passion and motivation! Click throug for more ideas, tips, and inspiration!

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

There is no better feeling than accomplishing something just for you. Of course its rewarding to do a great job at work and have your boss praise you, or get a raise. But to do a great job FOR yourself...it doesn't get better than that!

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

Taking the job home with you! Unlike most 9-5 jobs, you can't just "leave it at work." I'm constantly checking my phone, answering emails, and visualizing the next collection and mapping out the next steps. There really is no break from the mental and emotional connection to the business. (This is something I need to work on).

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

You can do it! All you need is a massive amount of passion, and the motivation to learn and do. Seriously...you can do it.

"It just takes time to build the business—slow and steady, baby!" This is one of many great quotes from my interview with small business owner, Jess Sternberg.  Jess is the owner of Free Label, which produces ethically made clothing. As an entrepreneur she is familiar with the difficulties of running a start up, from the work life balance to the financial responsibility. She knows the value of starting small and making a personal connection with customers. In our interview she talk about INstagram as one of her favorite advertising and marketing tools. Jess encourages anyone who wants to start their own business that it's possible. You just need a lot of passion and motivation! Click throug for more ideas, tips, and inspiration!

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

One of the biggest arguments against shopping ethically is the cost. To buy ethically made clothing is much more expensive than picking up a t-shirt at a big box store, but it truly truly is worth it. There are a lot of costs that go into consciously making a garment. We hire local pattern designers to draft our patterns, digitize them, grade them, and turn them into markers. Then we bring in fabrics made from natural fibres and coloured with eco-friendly dyes - you can imagine this is a much better alternative to buying synthetic fabrics treated with chemicals.

Next, the markers and fabrics are brought to a local factory where the sewers construct the garments in a safe and clean environment. These workers are all paid fair wages and receive benefits. When you buy an ethically made garment, the price is not marked up ten fold like in big box stores. In fact, the margins are really slim and your money is really going to the people that take part in making that garment. If you commit to buying fewer garments and choose high quality and ethically made pieces, you feel a much deeper connection to the things you wear.

There are a lot of amazing people and resources that go into making clothing ethically and sustainably in North America. The industry is quickly disintegrating so please please support your local economy so we can keep making clothes ethically! If you want to learn more or discuss, feel free to reach out at info@shopfreelabel.com :)

Thanks so much for sharing, Jess! Shop Free Label and follow along on social media hereWebsite / Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

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 / Cacao Sweets & Treats

"And then one day, you pause for a moment and look around you and see where you started and what you have." That's one of many great quotes form my interview with small business owner, Candice Hunsinger.  As the owner of a bakery, Candice is very familiar with the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. In our interview she talks about where she finds inspiration, her thoughts on advertising and marketing, and the elusive work life balance. If you're a start up owner, click through for helpful Tips and ideas on starting your own organization!

Ok, just a word of warning about this interview...you will have a major craving for carbs and sugar when you're finished reading it.

Now that that's out there, I'm so happy to introduce you to Candice of Cacao Sweets & Treats! Cacao is Illinois' first 100% natural, organic, from scratch bakery. It's located in Grayslake, IL and has been around for seven and a half years. Candice is the first business owner I've interviewed with a brick and mortar business and she has lots of great insight! But honestly if you scroll down for no other reason than her cakes it's totally worth it...

How did you get started in your field?

Total accident! Well, my background was restaurant start up and operations, but actually baking was just a late night obsession! I always thought that maybe "one day" I would open a bakery when I retired, but it was really necessity that started Cacao. My soon-to-be husband and I both lost our jobs in the same week three months before our wedding (we were only engaged for 5 total), so you can imagine the stress that puts on starting your life together.

When we got back from our honeymoon in Greece, Adam (my best friend since 8th grade and now husband) very calmly said, "you need to do something because your projects are becoming my projects". I'm a little type-A and don't do well sitting still.

So the 4th of July craft fair was coming up and Adam suggested I bake. We had bills to pay immediately and we decided it was something I was good at and that people love dessert. So about $10 worth of ingredients in my kitchen and some lovely handmade business cards started it all!

"And then one day, you pause for a moment and look around you and see where you started and what you have." That's one of many great quotes form my interview with small business owner, Candice Hunsinger.  As the owner of a bakery, Candice is very familiar with the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. In our interview she talks about where she finds inspiration, her thoughts on advertising and marketing, and the elusive work life balance. If you're a start up owner, click through for helpful Tips and ideas on starting your own organization!

Where do you find inspiration?

Nature. Always nature. I love a natural aesthetic. My goal is always to let the food speak for itself. I don't like making something look un-whatever it is. Why? Let it shine in it's realness!

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

HOW MANY HOURS WE WORK - I say we, because "we" all get it! You don't shut off. You can't slow down. Your brain is out of control. I'm super workaholic to begin with, but my own thing? Pfft, get in my way, dare you!

"And then one day, you pause for a moment and look around you and see where you started and what you have." That's one of many great quotes form my interview with small business owner, Candice Hunsinger.  As the owner of a bakery, Candice is very familiar with the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. In our interview she talks about where she finds inspiration, her thoughts on advertising and marketing, and the elusive work life balance. If you're a start up owner, click through for helpful Tips and ideas on starting your own organization!

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

I believe in word of mouth. I don't like paying for advertising - it's not authentic. Sure, it's a slow uphill battle, but it's quality over quantity!

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

It seems like you are constantly striving. Striving for the vision you have in your mind and something always gets in the way. And then one day, you pause for a moment and look around you and see where you started and what you have. That's when you have to be really proud of yourself for making stuff happen!

And then one day, you pause for a moment and look around you and see where you started and what you have.

That's when you have to be really proud of yourself for making stuff happen!

"And then one day, you pause for a moment and look around you and see where you started and what you have." That's one of many great quotes form my interview with small business owner, Candice Hunsinger.  As the owner of a bakery, Candice is very familiar with the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. In our interview she talks about where she finds inspiration, her thoughts on advertising and marketing, and the elusive work life balance. If you're a start up owner, click through for helpful Tips and ideas on starting your own organization!
"And then one day, you pause for a moment and look around you and see where you started and what you have." That's one of many great quotes form my interview with small business owner, Candice Hunsinger.  As the owner of a bakery, Candice is very familiar with the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. In our interview she talks about where she finds inspiration, her thoughts on advertising and marketing, and the elusive work life balance. If you're a start up owner, click through for helpful Tips and ideas on starting your own organization!

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

Time. I never have enough time! Never enough time or money. If only....

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

We all have the numbers we want to hit, but my goals are really to try to slow down a bit. Not in the how much I work necessarily, but to slow down enough to reflect and enjoy.

I am a full time baker before being a business owner, so it's a full day of work before all of the other stuff takes place - paperwork, employees, number crunching, sourcing, building projects, etc. My days are so busy I forget to look at everything from an aerial view, which is really the whole point of it all!

"And then one day, you pause for a moment and look around you and see where you started and what you have." That's one of many great quotes form my interview with small business owner, Candice Hunsinger.  As the owner of a bakery, Candice is very familiar with the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. In our interview she talks about where she finds inspiration, her thoughts on advertising and marketing, and the elusive work life balance. If you're a start up owner, click through for helpful Tips and ideas on starting your own organization!

Thanks so much for sharing, Candice! If you'd like to see more of her drool-worthy desserts visit her website and follow her on social media: Website | Instagram

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