Happy Monday! This past weekend I went home, and it was wonderful! There is nothing that can quite compare to sleeping in your bed, having home cooked meals, and being in the town you are most familiar with. Even though at the end of high school I was ready to get out, I finally appreciate where I am from and love weekends at home.
I started following Heather on Tumblr a good while back on Tumblr, and have watched her successfully launch STM! Her dedication to her brand, and hard work are inspiring to me every day and I am so excited she is here to share today!
- Tell us a bit about yourself ...
I was born and raised in Richmond, VA and graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in Communication and Marketing. At the time of graduation, I never would have guessed that 3 years later I would be moving to Charleston, SC to start my own monogram and embroidery company. It was a huge leap of faith, leaving a great job and wonderful friends & family in Virginia, but so far I haven’t had any regrets!
- Tell us about your company ...
I’ve always loved anything and everything monogrammed so creating my very own monogram company is absolutely a dream come true! I have a very preppy, nautical, and Southern style which I’ve tried my best to incorporate into the company. When I was coming up with a name, I wanted it to be something that always made people happy and was like a symbol of Southern hospitality. I immediately came up with a vision in my mind of a mason jar filled with ice-cold sweet tea on a hot summer day- and that’s how Sweet Tea Monograms got its name! And thanks to the amazing artist, Amanda Bee, the logo for my company also conveys this “Southern, preppy, colorful” kind of style that I want my company to represent.
- When starting your company, what did you find the most helpful?
I read some articles, a book here and there, but honestly the most important resource along the way has been my parents. My dad has his own business, so he is very knowledgeable when it comes to the business and financial side of things. My mom is very creative and artistic, so I always love getting her options and bouncing ideas back and forth when I’m brainstorming new designs or products.
Luckily my parents are also there for support, which has been the most important thing for me. When you’re starting your own company, there are so many things that can happen that you could have never dreamed about so I it is crucial to have some kind of support system that will be there for you when all of these crazy twists and turns come up. My parents are also very practical, so while I can dream about all these wonderful ideas I have for my company, they make sure I am being realistic and staying within my means.
- How do you spend your day? What is a normal day/schedule for you?
My “normal” schedule seems to change every single day! There are some days that I’ll wake up and get right to work- start up my embroidery machine early and don’t stop until dinner time or later (before Christmas, this was the usual… I’d take a quick break for lunch but didn’t have time for much else because I had a crazy amount of orders coming through and was just learning how to manage my time.)
Now, I typically try and run errands or work out in mornings so I can spend the rest of the afternoon and evening in my studio. Once I start up my machine, the hours seem to fly by so it’s important to get everything done before hand.
After dinner, I work on all of the other dynamics of my company. I place product orders, prep orders for the next day, pack up all my finished products to be shipped out, answer emails, update listings, and organize my stock room… there’s always something to do!
I think one of the best things about being your own boss is that you also can create your own schedule. My desire to be successful keeps me going and working hard every single day, but I can also manage my time and spend it how I want to spend it!
- What is the best advice you have received/what is the best advice you can give to someone who wants to start their own company?
I think the quote- “find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” sums it up best. If you are passionate about what you do, it becomes a part of you. It is certainly scary and definitely not easy to start your own company, but I am really starting to see how it all pays off.
- Do you have any employees? If yes, what has worked best for you when hiring them? If you don’t, do you outsource any aspects of your business?
Right now, Sweet Tea Monograms is a one-woman operation (other than the consulting from my parents), which I think is the biggest pro and at the same time the biggest con of my company.
I love having my hand in every little detail, but sometimes I need to just get things done so I can spend my time wisely and productively. There are only so many things I can do in a day, so I definitely see myself hiring someone in the future to help me with some of the extra tasks that really cut into my monogramming time.
- What are your goals for your company?
One day I would love to have an actual storefront and a boutique where I can offer more than just monograms. I have a lot of ideas for the future but I know that for right now I need to start out small so I have room to grow!
- How do you stay focused/motivated during the day?
Like I mentioned, my own desire for success for myself to make a living as well as success for my business to grow is enough to keep me motivated since I can see actual results and outcomes. Some days are harder than others to keep focused, but if I’m not as productive as I should be one day- I know I’ll pay for it the next (usually this means working later at night and on the weekends!)
- What are three things on your desk or do you always have with you?
- My iPhone- so I can easily check all my social media accounts and stay connected throughout the day!
- Business cards- because you never know when you’ll have the opportunity to meet someone you want to stay connected with- plus it’s a great, easy way to promote the business!
- Colorful pens- I make notes on all the orders that come through so I can easily quickly see the important info and make lists for myself throughout the day, so of course color makes everything better!
- Any other things you want to share about yourself, starting your own company, any advice, resources etc? Pinterest has some great motivation and I surprisingly rely on it often when I just need that little extra boost. Here are two of my favorites pins that any fellow entrepreneur can relate to. Sometimes no matter what you do or how hard you try, there will always be someone that doesn’t like what you do or the way you do it. Don’t let this one person bring you down and blind you to all of the good that is out there! Just be the best version of you! I have this (below) framed next to my bed so it is the very first thing I see when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I see before I go to bed. This basically sums up how I try to live each and every day.
I want to thank Heather so much for sharing today! I absolutely love watching Sweet Tea Monograms grow and am truly inspired by her! These are my three favorite STM items, wouldn't they be just the best Valentine presents?
If you want to be featured on Entrepreneurship is the New Black, or want to hear from one of your favorite small business, let me know! kgillett8 (at) gmail.com