When people find out that I own 2 small shops, they are usually shocked. What they don’t know is that I don’t JUST own 2 small shops. I run a Graphic Design business, Stylin Kids Official (yep, that’s me too) and I’m raising 3 kids… oh and let’s not forget about being the Mama of a couple of brand reps…. The question I get regularly is, “How do you do it all?” I thought it would be fun to share how this all came to be…
I was raised to work hard and I try to teach my daughters the same values. My first “job” was at our family restaurant as the hostess and cashier. I believe I was 8. My Papa paid me a whole $5 per day. (8 hour days) I didn’t realize it, but he was teaching me a lesson. When you own your own business, working hard and long hours doesn’t equal lots of money. Let’s face it… If small shop owners were paid by the hour, we’d probably all be billionaires, but sadly, it doesn’t work that way.
I have been legally employed since I was 15, usually working at least two jobs at a time, sometimes 3. In the last company I worked for, I worked my way up from Administrative Assistant to Operations Manager, before leaving in 2014. My anxiety issues made it difficult for me to find another job outside of the home, so I decided to take a leap of faith and become my own boss. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done.
My college degree is in Visual Arts – Graphic Design and while I had created some logos and designed some websites, I needed to jump in full time to help support our family. Pop 5 Design Studio was born October 1, 2014, just days after I left my job. In the last 2 and a half years, I have had the honor of working with lots of small shops, creating their logos, creating designs for their tees and designing their websites. I’ve also created a number of party invitations and chalkboard signs for some of our brand rep friends. Design is my passion and I love that I can use it to help other small shops!
iBetterAccessorize was launched in late 2011 as a supply company, selling all that you needed to create boutique hair accessories. It had always been a side business for me, but was something that I loved. Facebook was my main source of marketing at the time. When I realized that design alone wasn’t going to pay the bills, I made it a priority to get the word out about iBetterAccessorize to a bigger audience. Since Facebook traffic for business had declined so drastically, I turned to Instagram. It was the introduction to a world I never knew existed. This community of small shop owners, brand reps and small shoppers was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. I think at the time I had less than 100 followers on @ibetteraccessorize. I spent the time learning all about Instagram, held our first brand rep search and made lots of new friends. And that’s when my small shop began to transform. While I still have the supply shop on Etsy, at least until we sell out of all of the remaining inventory (you can use code SHOPCLOSING for 60% off orders $25+), the main site became a shop for all types of accessories. We now offer tons of accessories including hats, sunglasses, Ducky Street tattoos, jewelry, purses, tattoo sleeves, chains, bandanas, socks, and our signature item, “Hold Upz”, studded suspenders. We are also launching a new Edgy Hair Accessory line this month! It’s definitely our “fun” business, as our girls like to call it and the girls love helping to pack up the orders that come in!
Right around the same time, my 7 year old (then 5) wanted to try brand repping. We opened @thesmallfashionista which has slowly become more about Falynn since she’s not in school yet. What a wild ride that’s been! The life of a brand rep is crazy in itself. We usually try to shoot 2 outfits each day. Then there is the time it takes to style, edit the photos, upload them for each of the shops and posting and interacting on Instagram. Repping can be a full time job for a lot of people, depending on the number of shops they work with. Between the blog, photos, connecting with new shops, managing our social media and the entire process, I spend approx. 2 hours each day on brand repping.
In August of 2015, my husband and I decided to fulfill a dream of ours and open up a t-shirt shop. That’s Life Tee Co. started out as a fun little adventure and slowly turned into something we both love tremendously. My husband taught himself how to screen print, we invested in the equipment needed and almost 2 years later, we are still going strong. Most people know us for the Kindness is my Jam and Be Kind to Udders movements that we organized. There is so much negativity in the world and one of the things I think is so important is spreading messages of kindness. We are in the process of switching things up and will be offering screen printed, handmade tanks in time for Summer! Make sure to keep an eye out for those!
In December of 2015, my girls decided that they wanted to open up a small shop as well and launched their business, The Biggest Little Bead Co. It was wild watching a 10 year old and a 6 year old learning how to make necklaces, designing them, putting them together and then actually creating a business out of it. In the first year, they sold almost 250 necklaces and donated $149 from their profits to Make a Wish Foundation because they know how important it is to give back (could I be any prouder?). They offer bubblegum, teething, wooden and will be releasing their amazing punk beaded necklaces this month! While we will be closing the Etsy shop up this month, all of the girls necklaces will be available exclusively on iBetterAccessorize. Managing so many shops was taking a toll and I’m hoping their incredible designs will get more exposure this way.
And if this all wasn’t enough on my plate, I had been running a feature page on Instagram for about a year before a friend and I decided to take it to a new level. In April of 2016, we launched StylinKidsOfficial.com and @stylinkidspremier, a business dedicated to connecting small shops with experienced brand reps. I have had the absolute honor of working with some of IG’s best and it’s been incredible helping shops to take their businesses to another level! We also offer services to help those that are ready to take their photography and brand repping accounts to the next level.
So you can pretty much imagine what my day is like. Of course, you can add in cooking, cleaning (which I still believe is completely pointless when you have kids), driving the girls to and from school, grocery shopping and of course getting lost in social media while trying to catch up with family and friends…. I rarely have a moment where I don’t have something to do.
Small shop owners don’t have work hours. I start working right after my first cup of coffee, and continue working until my head hits that pillow (and sometimes I even dream about it). I’m constantly thinking about new designs, new items, inventory, shipping supplies, marketing, social media…. it never ends. We are a family business in every sense. Even Falynn chips in! She is my shipping assistant and my sole focus group. If she doesn’t love it, it doesn’t make it into the shop.
The truth is, as rewarding as it is, being a small shop owner is scary. There is no guaranteed paycheck. A lot of the money we make goes right back into our business expenses. It’s even more scary for our family because my husband’s full time job is in sales and like me, if he doesn’t make sales, he doesn’t make money. I think that a lot of people forget that there are real people behind these small shops. Real people with real families and real bills. Being on both sides of things, I understand how hard these small shop Mamas really work and appreciate every single one of our team members, our customers and our fans.
So when people ask me how I do it all, I answer, “I don’t sleep.” And while that’s not entirely true, with all that I have going on in my life, it’s no wonder I get any sleep at all. My secret weapon is my support system. I have the most incredible husband who is my biggest cheerleader. As crazy as my ideas are, he always encourages me to try. He is my Super Man. And as hectic as things can get, I wouldn’t change one thing. I love the small shop community. I love being my own boss. But most of all, I love the connections I’ve made and all of the people that I’ve met through this journey. Thank you so much for being a part of that.
Please check out our shops and enjoy a special discount for being a reader:
iBetterAccessorize.com (@ibetteraccessorize) – use code BLOG25 for 25% off
iBetterAccessorize DIY Supplies – use code SHOPCLOSING for 60% off orders $25+
That’s Life Tee Co (@thatslifeteeco) – use code BLOG25 for 25% off
Pop 5 Design Studio (@pop5design) – contact me for a small shop quote
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Heather is the Mom of three and a marketing professional. She enjoys graphic design, writing, photography and making new memories with her family.