Archive of ‘Small Business Feature’ category

Small Business Love: Home Decor

I love finding new businesses to shop at and especially if they are women owned!  I just feel like a connection to other women entrepreneurs and love to support them in any way I can.  I’m obsessed with decorating my walls with unique prints so I’m always on the hunt for pretty prints and paintings.

One of my latest finds is Parima Creative Studio whose paintings are so bright and beautiful.  You can buy her original paintings or prints of them which cost a fraction of the price but are just as beautiful!

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I love all things girly so when I stumbled upon The Elephant In The Room I instantly fell in love with all her prints.
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I’m also a fan of cute sayings and I know I’m not the only one that misses Gossip Girl!  I spotted one of The Trendy Sparrow‘s mugs on instagram and instantly clicked over to her profile and died over everything!  One thing that I love about as much as prints?  Mugs!  I love cute mugs to drink my coffee in, it just instantly brightens up my morning.
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I’ve been in love with Charm & Gumption for awhile now.  I have a few of her mugs and notepads and I adore them! I saw that she had new prints and mugs that I had to put on my wishlist!
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What are some of your favorite small businesses to shop at?

Outerwear and Fabulous Features on Lisa and Johanna

outerwear-sliderMy sis and I are proud to announce the launch of outerwear (under $100) on our site!  We finalized the products on our last trip and we are so excited that people are responding to our designs.  Each coat has details that we love (buffalo plaid, bow, floral trim) and the fit of them is perfect to wear with denim or dresses.

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I recently went to a blogger event and grabbed some of my favorite friends to join me in shooting these coats.  Lisa (in the buffalo plaid) blogs at Stilletos and Diaper Bags and owns two e-commerce businesses!  Johanna blogs at 101 Things I Love and recently launched her own business.  Read below for their takes on blogging, being an entrepreneur and balancing life with kids.

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LISA

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1) GIVE ME A BRIEF SUMMARY OF YOUR BUSINESS:

My partner, Kaitlyn of Sisters Marie and myself created two websites; Because I Shop Too Much (http://www.bistm.com) & Because They Grow Too Fast (http://www.btgtf.com). Both are marketplaces where you can buy, sell, and swap your clothing, shoes, and accessories.

2) WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE YOUR OWN BUSINESS

I have been blogging for five years now on Stilettos and Diaper Bags, and about four years ago readers started asking if they could buy my clothes. From there I began to sell them right off my blog. That got Kaitlyn & myself thinking. What if you are not a blogger and you want to sell your clothing with other like minded individuals who love fashion?

We created both sites from scratch, designing every page (which took well over a year), making it unlike anything else out there. Both sites are a place where you can ask the seller questions; how would you style this item? Is the fit standard or does it run small? We have found we have even made new friends along the way. I know I have a group of girls who I swap with and shop their closets on a regular basis. I may have created the site, but I think I use it the most too! I seriously check it daily to get first dibs on the newly uploaded items.

The elephant in the room, Poshmark. Simply put, they beat us to it! We were in production when their app came out. We are different though, they take 20% on the backend, we only take 6%. They are an app, we are on your computer. We have an adult and a children’s site, they do not. They also offer filters which can be misleading. I say go with the small business girls! 😉

3) WHAT’S THE HARDEST PART ABOUT OWNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?

The balance. I co-own my company, I am a stay-at-home mother to two amazing kids, and I contribute to two blogs. I have to use a daily planner and schedule my “working” hours and really try to stick to that. The first year I did not and I found myself answering emails on the weekends and at night. It’s just better to find your balance and stick with it.

4) HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE AND HOW HAS IT CHANGED SINCE HAVING KIDS?

My style has changed so much over the years. I was a giant hippie in college and then I went kind of glam after. My go-to has always been a maxi-dress or jumpsuit.

After my first child was born, I wore yoga pants, a lot! That’s actually why I started my blog, to get me in the habit of getting dressed even if I didn’t need to be dressed. I found that if I put effort into my appearance, I felt better about myself. Plus I’m showing my kids it’s ok to do things for yourself. Mom’s need time for themselves too! I’d describe my style as boho but also chic. I’m always in heels and I love me a great wool hat. As a parent it’s go, go, go, so I try to keep it simple and then jazz it up with great jewelry, shoes, bags, and/or hats.

5) BLOGGING – WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO CONTINUE DESPITE HOW BUSY YOU ARE?

Simply put, I love it. I love photography. I love styling outfits in advance so my mornings seem effortless. I love having a reason, even on the days that I’m home all day, to get dressed.

6) WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE LIFE QUOTE?

I have a few, but my all time fav: “I believe in manicures. I believe in overdressing. I believe in primping at leisure and wearing lipstick. I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.” – audrey hepburn

JOHANNA
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1) GIVE ME A BRIEF SUMMARY OF YOUR BUSINESS:

My company, Oak St. Social, is a boutique social media firm. We specialize in developing original content and strategy for lifestyle brands who are well aware they need social media but don’t know how to use it correctly. We help brands activate and gain new followers which in turn leads to a stronger bottom line.

2) WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE YOUR OWN BUSINESS

I’ve been in the start-up scene for over a decade which has been exciting and challenging. Throughout my career, I accrued so much freelance work that one day I had an epiphany – social media was my passion AND obsession! Why not make money doing it? You gotta do what you love to do and this was it. Now I choose who I want to collaborate with and on what terms. It’s liberating!

3) WHAT’S THE HARDEST PART ABOUT OWNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?

Work/life balance, hands down. As a wife and mother of two, it’s a struggle to disconnect from my phone…especially because so much of what I do revolves around it. It’s still a work in progress. I make myself very available to my clients. I’m slowly setting boundaries…key word being “slowly”

4) HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE AND HOW HAS IT CHANGED SINCE HAVING KIDS?

Ha, well…one thing is for sure – my denim has to have serious spandex in them. I’m constantly chasing or digging out toys from under the couch. I think my style has more so evolved due to my age vs. having children. I still wear dresses and skirts on the regular. Maybe more now. I enjoy dressing up…always have!

5) BLOGGING – WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO CONTINUE DESPITE HOW BUSY YOU ARE?

It’s a talk I have quite often with myself but there are two factors that drive me…networking. I’ve met amazing friends and potential clients through this hobby. I’ve found a circle of support and like-minded mompreneurs and that’s amazing! The second…I love to write. It’s my creative outlet. And this blog has served as a virtual scrapbook for my family.

6) WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE LIFE QUOTE?

“Successful people are not gifted; they just work hard, then succeed on purpose.”

Driven, passionate, and successful, these two women are amazing!  Thanks for being a part of my life, such huge supporters of t+j Designs, and taking the time to share your stories.  Find Lisa @stilettosanddiapersbags and Johanna @101thingsilove on instagram.

xoxo,
Jen

Fabulous Features: Corri McFadden

Inspiring founder and owner of EDROP-OFF, pioneer of luxury consignment, Chicago’s go-to style expert, star of VH1’s “House of Consignment” AND mother to beautiful little Zelda, Corri Mcfadden’s done it all – and she’s not stopping there. This driven and ultra-chic entrepreneur has proved that taking a risk can pay off, and she is sharing her success story, tips to owning a business and how she manages to balance it all with us below!

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TJ: What were you doing before you launched Edrop-Off and what inspired you to take the step to work for yourself and own your own business?
CM: I started eDrop-Off 10 years ago as of this past October. I went to school for Fashion Design and developed the business plan for eDrop-Off as my graduation portfolio project. I felt there was a void in the consignment market and knew that I could pioneer an innovative way to fill it. Not everyone felt that way, however. My program director thought it was a terrible idea, but I knew I had something and refused to be deterred. So, I skipped my graduation to go to eBay Live in hopes of finding software to help launch my business, and three months after I graduated, I opened the doors to eDrop-Off’s first retail space. Ten years later, here we are as one of the largest luxury consignment companies in the country with over 400,000 luxury items sold to date. We sell approximately 2,000 items per week, so the office is always bustling with new merchandise. I oversee two eDrop-Off locations, which house stylists, copywriters, and photographers, so a staff of 40+ fills my day and keeps me on my toes! Most recently, I extended the brand with our new e-commerce website and retail location, The Collection. We rotate 100% new merchandise in every 2-3 weeks at fixed prices and feature fun collections with fashion icons like Christian Siriano and Costume Designer Janie Bryant.  It’s exciting to branch out and create a new outlet for the company that gives our clients an extensive collection of amazing designer merchandise!

TJ: What has been the hardest thing about owning your own business?
CM: There’s been a lot of competition that’s come into this industry over the last 24 months. My motto is “Competition keeps you in condition” and it keeps you innovative and thinking outside the box. My wonderful client base is what has helped me through a lot of these challenges in the ever-changing market. We’ve helped so many clients through difficult times in their lives, whether they’re downsizing or they’re getting a divorce or dealing with a death, it’s fulfilling when you can help someone. We also have relationships with clients who have been with us since the beginning, and that’s really important, there’s a lot of loyalty.

TJ: What has been the best thing?
CM: I would have to say it’s the pleasure I get from watching both my business and brand grow.  At the end of the day, this is what keeps me motivated and on track. I wouldn’t be able to survive without my awesome staff on board! It’s also a lot of fun for me and I am constantly meeting new and interesting people and having the craziest experiences. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

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TJ: What has been your proudest moment in your career?  
CM: I think really just pioneering luxury consignment overall. We started doing this at a time when nobody had heard of it or thought of it. Consignment has been around forever, but we brought the consignment model to current times, and to e-commerce. Really pioneering this industry, and having people look to us for inspiration says a lot, because this is one of the most popular business models in the fashion industry right now, which is crazy. It’s going through a very popular phase, but we started that trend. We’ve been doing this for 10 years, and we can take credit for that and it’s something to really be proud of.

TJ: What advice would you give to others wanting to start or grow their business?
CM: Doing your own thing. Whatever it is you want to do, there’s room for everyone, you just need to find your own niche and how you can differentiate yourself. Look at how many people own dry cleaners, or look at how many people do nails, there’s room for everyone, but there’s a reason why you go back to the same person over and over again. It’s really about honing into your client base, and finding out what’s important to them and catering to that.

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TJ: You recently gave birth to adorable Zelda, has mommyhood changed how you view work or life?
CM: You really have to learn how to separate and draw a line between your business and your personal life, which is so important. Otherwise it can over-consume you in a way that you can’t even function. That took me a long time to learn, that balance, and I continue to learn it. I work all the time, but now I’m a mom. If I want to go do something or be somewhere, I have to take into account how it’s going to affect Zelda, and not just myself anymore. It’s hard to find that balance but that little smile of hers’ makes it easier everyday!

unnamed-2TJ: You have fabulous style, has having Zelda changed your style or how you dress?
CM: I define my style as Rocker Chic. I’ve kept with that during my pregnancy, and now as a mother, by incorporating a lot of black including black denim jeans, leather pants and graphic tees. My mission during my pregnancy was not to lose my sense of style during that ever-changing time and now that I am a mother, I am even more determined to rock those studded boots and leather jackets to the playground.

TJ: What’s your favorite accessory for the fall season?
CM: A good pair of heels (I adore my Christian Sirianos!) They finish off any outfit, and add a level of confidence to your stride!

Be sure to check out all things Corri on her personal site, shop EDROP-OFF, and most recently launched e-commerce site The Collection!

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