Posted on May 16 2014
Hey there fans & followers! I recently discovered that this week is National Small Business Week. I had never heard of such a Holiday (or Holiday week), but from multiple social media posts and emails I received, I was sure to pay attention. Owning my own business is one of the most rewarding parts of my life, but the price does not come cheap. Contrary to popular belief, I do not get to just sit around and play dress up all day every day. To get to where I am today has taken endless hours of work and lots of dedication and determination. When people ask me what the most challenging part of owning and building a business is, my go-to answer is always "Well, there is no manual or how-to book to teach me the way. It takes lots of trial and error with a never-give-up attitude." It's crazy to look back a couple years ago to where I am now. While I was in school at Texas A&M, my degree was in Animal Science and I just knew I would work in marketing or public relations of a cattle breed association. And now here I am years later (still with my Ag degree hung proudly in my pink office decked out with a chandelier and black & white checked floors) running this business that just blossomed and boomed over the years. Even though I'm still a small town girl at heart with a herd of Brangus cattle, my life is anything besides what I expected and I wouldn't trade it for anything. And as much as you might think managing all females under the age of 25 might be dramatic, it is actually very rewarding. Every girl that works for me is talented beyond belief in certain aspects. It takes a team that truly complements each other and has an underlying respect for each other to make ANY business successful. This business has grown far beyond where I would be able to run it myself, so people management is a huge part of my life. And I say people management instead of just staff management, because I believe that the customers, supporters and mentors become a part of the equation as well. That's why I do things like special thank-you sales, tailgate parties, wine tastings, a charity fashion show, attend other store openings, etc. You see, this business is not only a business for me, but it's actually a complete lifestyle. The life of a JEWL! Over the past year Southern Jewlz has accomplished so very much! We were named Best Boutique & Best Accessories by the Best of the Brazos as well as Best Boutique by Best of BCS. We also won best first year booth at the Roper Cowboy Marketplace in conjunction with the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada. And we just wrapped up our 2nd Annual If The Crown Fits, Wear It! Fashion Show where all proceeds benefit the Boys & Girls Club of the BCS. These are all things I could have never imagined happening in my life, moreover these are accomplishments I could have never received without the help and support of my entire SJ family! And for that I would like to Thank YOU! Because if you are reading this, I know you have contributed to the success of Southern Jewlz Boutique in some way. I get e-mails and phone calls from women (and sometimes even men) who want to open their own business or boutiques fairly often these days and I am always happy to answer them the best I can. I figured with it being National Small Business Week, I should share some insight that I have from personal experience when it comes to growing and building a business. And again, these fundamentals that I stick to are not all limited to the fashion industry or just an all-female work environment. - Stay humble. -Work hard. - Be good to others. -Lead by example. It pushes someone to WANT to work for you! - Pray Often, especially to lead the company in the right direction and on the correct path. - Brand. Brand. And Brand some more. Branding is so important. Get a logo you like and stick with it. And if you're like me, you'll put it on everything! - Be sure to have a good attorney and accountant on board. - Let those who try to mimic you not affect you in a negative way. Instead, keep yourself legally protected and use them as fuel for your fire to keep moving forward. I always try to be friends with my competitors because I think that if there are other people who love what they do and the industry they are in as much as I do, then I want them to succeed, to know them, and to be inspired by them. And maybe I would even want to collaborate with them! - Be firm but fair. - Approach conflict and confrontation sooner than later. Communication is key. -Say thank you when needed. And mean it. And show it. Hand written thank you cards NEVER go out of style. - Push yourself. And equally as important, push others. Especially your staff. - Keep the circle positive. Be happy in your work environment. End your emails with nice words and smile whenever you answer the phone. - Learn something new every day. - Be innovative and stay up to date with the latest when it comes to new products, technology, social media, trends, marketing tactics, etc. - Take time off to rest and rejuvenate. It will make you more energetic and charismatic to work when you return. - Travel. Both to promote your business and for personal trips. You never know who you may meet and what you may learn or gain from them. - Understand as much of every single aspect of your business that you can. And if it's past of beyond you, hire very well. You can't be the best at everything, but you CAN hire the best in different aspects to create the BEST team and work environment possible. - At the end of the day, running a business is about people and relationships just as much as it is about products, price, and quality. So stay true to yourself and those who have helped you climb the ladder and you will continue to rise. There is no quick way to success, especially if it is success that you want to be sustainable. So if you're thinking about starting your own business, there is no better time than now! Get a good group of cheerleaders, find your passion, put on your overalls (meaning, be prepared to work) and make it happen! (If you need an extra person in the rooting crowd, contact me!) Some small business stats that I thought were worth sharing are as follows: - Small Businesses employ more than 130 million Americans each year. - Small Businesses pay 44.3% of private payroll. - Small Businesses create 60 to 80% of new jobs each year. - Small Businesses are the backbone of our economy and our country continues to progress because of entrepreneurs who have taken risks. I have an all new appreciation for those people who have successfully built small businesses. Because the ones who think they are crazy enough to change the world are able to do just that! And as a Thank You for your support of Southern Jewlz, we are doing a 15% off sale BOTH in the Boutique & Online. We truly appreciate our customers and their continued business. For without you, our jobs wouldn't exist. To share some favorite moments along my life span of growing SJ, see the pictures below: The ribbon cutting to the 1st SJ Boutique! The Little Pink House: The first time I got bags with the business name on them! This was at the kiosk in the College Station Mall. My goodness, I would put in a good 70-80 hours a week at that little stand! Road show memories with my Ruth Ann. She scooped me up at my first ever event to sell Southern Jewlz and taught me so much. Our 1 year anniversary at the little pink boutique. Our 1st ever billboard! Group shot after a fun photo shoot with Luke & Cat photography. The opening of the New & Current Southern Jewlz Boutique: Ribbon cutting: My grandparents <3 Literally freaked out when I went to go see the sign for the boutique!!! Beyond excited to cut the ribbon! My staff pic from Fall 2012. Before we lost precious Chandler. Southern Jewlz Staff & Model Group pic before the 1st Annual If The Crown Fits, Wear It Fashion Show! My family. SJ Staff Pic May 2013. In memory of Chandler Small Inspired Look at our 1st ever Fashion Show. Presenting our donation to the Boys & Girls Club! My 26th birthday spent at the Texas FFA Convention. Pictured here with the crew from Trailer Park Trinkets! Packing away to head to Vegas! #VivaLasSJ What a journey! Can't wait to see where the future takes us!!!