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Monday, October 10, 2011

Q&A with a Small Business Heavy-Hitter: Heather from Just.Lovely.Things

So it's MONDAY here in Small Business Month land and that means...
And guess what?
Girlfriend is a total Small Business badass.
Well, everyone here is, but this entrepreneur has sent her goodies off to 
AND to the set of
{Uh, hello? Genius.}

Yep, she knows what she's doing, and she isn't afraid to take the leap.
So I think it goes without saying that this is one little lady you want to pay attention to.
{And start following, if you haven't already}
{Trust me, you will love her. I've been creepily obsessed ever since she revealed her SEVENTEEN MAGAZINE news.}
{Because I enjoy creeping on successful small business owners.}
{Because that's normal, right....?}

{Especially all the pictures! Oooh, how I love them!}

At what point did you realize that you could take your “hobby” and turn it into a legitimate business? In other words, when did you have your “Ah-Ha!” moment?

I've always been a driven person when it comes to setting goals, or having an idea I want to go after.  I've owned a couple salons and a photography business, but for some reason owning and operating those weren't as scary as this.  This was something I had a feeling that I could turn into something bigger, and to be honest it freaked me out!  I would like to consider myself a humble person who doesn't like a lot of attention, but when people started commented on my blog and business in a way that I knew was more then just 'being nice' and they were legitimately impressed with what I was doing and believed in me, I knew it was something I needed to look into further.  I jumped in with both feet and started advertising on blogs and I will never forget a post that my friend Ashley (aka Little Miss Momma) wrote about me {here} and I remember thinking that day, whoa a blogger I admire and only dreamed of working with one day, now believes in me?! It was that push from my family and friends, and the recognition from my peers that led me here.  As far as the 'ah-ha' moment?? Well one day I was sitting in my studio all alone, listening to music and packaging orders when this overwhelming feeling of 'this is where I need to be' just hit me.  The next day I decided to quit doing hair full time and to slow down my photography company.  I've never been happier!

You have written extensively about how important networking is to your small business. In what ways do you feel networking has allowed your business to grow?

I would like to think that what us bloggers and shop owners do means something to others.  All the effort I put out, sure its for me, but really I want to know that in some way what I'm doing is possibly meaning something to someone else as well.  So for networking, I love just visiting others shops or blogs and leaving just a little bit of love to tell them what they are doing is great too!  In return I have been able to meet some amazing people, build friendships (yes, online) and find other new and amazing finds that maybe I wouldn't have if I didn't take the time to network.  Its a great tool to have to keep in touch with my customers and readers, that way they get updates on new posts and new inventory.  Without the capability of online networking how would people outside of where I live know anything about my business?  I would like to think that when I'm shipping packages from Oregon to far away places like Australia and Italy,  that I can thank networking for that.

Speaking of networking, which avenues would you say have been most beneficial to your growth? Possibly craft fairs? Your blog? Facebook? Twitter? Face-to-face interactions?

When I first started, I think just having advertising on blogs got me a base of customers and readers.  Not only was I supporting my favorite bloggers by purchasing that ad space, but their readers were coming my way and becoming my fans too.   Now when I look back I'm so grateful they believed in me and pushed me, and its so fun to think that some of them are my friends now!  I participated in The Queen Bee Market back in May and I will be there again in November (eep!) and honestly I do that to see all the wonderful businesses and mingle with people who have the same interests and passions and myself.  With building those relationships, growing my business has been easy because they do mentions and link ups.  As far as building it myself though I think that the facebook fan page (which is linked directly to my twitter) has been the greatest thing for my shop, I know that when I find a new business if they have no social networking sites I get really bummed out!  

Let’s talk finances. In your August 30, 2011 post entitled “etsy 101,” you highlighted a few third-party organizational websites designed to assist etsy account owners. In what ways has the integration of these sites helped you to clarify your financial goals for Just.Lovely.Things? How important would you consider the utilization of these sites to the success of a small business?

I would consider that post more about they way to track your traffic and most popular items you sell.  Its great to see how people find you (which in turn you can decided how you want to advertise your business), all of that can help you.. but really its up to you to make your business successful.  Consider what your customers are buying, what they are asking for.  Follow current trends to keep up with new styles and keep your inventory fresh.  Also ask yourself, how can you make your customers happy?  They are what make your business stay open after all.  I like to make sure that my packaging is special to the, that its consistent and although the USPS has gotten a few of my packages wrong lately (boo!) ask yourself are they getting the items they paid for?  I would love to know that the quality of my product and the way I treat my customers is why they keep coming back, and you can use all the tools you want, but really you know if you are a good business owner or not.  If you are then no amount of statistics can make your business any better if you know you are doing your best!

You have recently discussed bringing your mother on to your “Just.Lovely.Things. team.” All too often, small business owners become overwhelmed with the responsibilities of organizing their team members, such as delegating duties, and providing a full day of work for someone other than themselves. Could you offer any advice when it comes to delegating duties to a team member? Have you faced any challenges throughout the “delegation” process?

From the get go I was doing everything myself and my mom and I used to hang out all the time.  I started getting so busy that it was cutting into our 'hang out time' so she asked if she could learn how to help me!  From there I ended up making her have her very own space in the studio and she is now in charge of finishing and inspecting each item and the packaging before we ship.  I felt so bad that she was helping me every day and she just thought that we were hanging out so I hired her!  She clocks in, gets a paycheck and we are a total team!  With our situation I'm sure its different then just hiring and employee, I actually have a difficult time telling my mom what to do because I don't want her to feel any less then me.  So I just talk to her, I present ideas and we discuss our plan of action for each day.  We both have an understanding that if there are things to get done and we do them then that's a successful business, at the end of the day we are still family and having fun doing this together!

As someone who works out of her home, do you ever have a problem with placing boundaries on the time you spend with your business? If so, how have you dealt with the on-going issue of “work time boundaries?” Do you have any advice for someone who is dealing with time-management issues?

I won't lie, right now I have a bunch of issues that I'm trying to find balance with.  Going to work dressed and not in pj's, spending less time online admiring others work, and deciding what my studio hours should be.  I won't lie, its easy to work out of my home.. but sometimes too easy.  I'm trying to work the same hours when my husband is gone so that way when he is home I'm off and don't have to work all day long.  This week I'm implementing a new rule that I have to be up, showered and cute (aka face & hair done) by 9am so I can report to work (& not in pjs!).  Another one of my biggest struggle is how much time I spend online.  I want to be able to keep in touch with the networking stuff, but it is so unhealthy to spend time online admiring how much others are doing.  Its one of my biggest insecurities that I blame on myself.  So this week I'm starting another new rule, that I can only network during studio hours and if I want to browse blogs it has to be on my own time.  I will let you know how that all goes =)

What has been the single most important piece of advice you have come across thus far in your small business journey (if you are even able to narrow it down!)?

This aspect of having this type of business has been different then the other businesses I have owned.  Its weird to come across jealousy (online & in real life) or people that may not understand what I'm doing.  I love when I hear comments like "oh are you still doing that little hair bow business", I wish people here in my own town understood me & what I'm trying to accomplilsh just a bit better.  But I'm grateful for the few friends that are supportive, honest and genuinely believe in me.  The other day after a bad incident with someone who decided to 'anonymously' email me a nasty email (someone that I know lives here and knows me since they knew personal things about me) I decided to get out of the house and go get a coffee & just drive. I was behind a car with a bumper sticker that said -be a GOOD person & GOOD things will follow- and that's all I want to do.  With business, with life, with anything I want to know I'm a good person and wherever that takes me I will accept it!


I told you you would enjoy all those lovely pictures and her
Honestly, so amazing.
Thank you so much, Heather, for joining us today!
Now, ski-daddle over there and check out her blog!

In other Small Business Month announcements!
Two things:

* Tomorrow is the first day of SBM's Three-Day-Long-Massive-Giveaway,
{well, the first of two Three-Day-Long-Massive-Giveaways!}
which will feature: Ashley from The Shine Project, Amy from One Artsy Mama and Dani from Me and My New Life
{Wednesday and Thursday will feature more incredibly lovely ladies!}

- and -
* Tomorrow marks our THIRD LINK UP CHALLENGE!
{And yes, it's a super fun one}
Here it is:
tell, in detail, about your first sale. Where were you, what were you doing, who did you tell first, did you jump up and down in excitement, did you call your mom, did you scream the news at your husband, what?! I know you remember!
{And if that first sale hasn't found it's way to your inbox yet, what will you do when you see those blessed words, "transaction complete?"}
{Don't act like you haven't thought about it!}

So I look forward to seeing you tomorrow with your giveaway guns blazin' and that I'm-a-savvy-small-business-owner post!

Grab a button!


You gotta do it!


  1. I love this post. There are some people you just feel a connection with when they speak and Heather is one of them for me. Love the thoughts that are honest, simple and really apply to any business level you're at.

    Haha..people around here talk about "my little craft business" Aren't we just so 'cute' ...punks.... :D Awesome start to my Monday!

  2. interesting :D

    my blog♥mfashionfreak

    Please follow me if you're not already. I'd love to get more followers! I'll follow you back.

  3. It was so great reading about how she has networked to grow her business. As a woman who hopes to one day launch her own custom clothing business, this post was extremely informative! =)
    Kristina J.

  4. awesome interview girl!
    you are going places fast!
    xoxo dana

  5. Heather - you are so awesome. I loved all of this. Be a good person and good things will follow....SO freaking true!


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