Happy Birthday, June & January! Everyone’s favorite kids’ brand just recently celebrated its fifth anniversary (plus the launch of its newest 5T size) and the brand threw one extra-fun soirée to commemorate the occasion. Scroll on for lots of colorful kids’ party inspiration. Plus, hear from company founder, Amy Richardson, as she divulges a few of her best business tips.
The company I founded at the kitchen table back in the summer of 2011 was a far cry from an official “company.” As a one-woman show, I’d stay up late working after my day job, spent endless hours researching what made an Etsy business successful and took my own (subpar) product photos.
As I’ve grown and achieved more in the business, I’ve picked up some pretty valuable lessons along the way. We have a somewhat nontraditional business model, but it works for our company. And while growing pains are neverending, I am so proud of what we have accomplished over the past five and a half years! Read on for a few of the biggest lessons I’ve learned.
1. I’m really bad at some stuff (and really good at other stuff).
I learned quickly that while I was crushing it on the marketing side of the business, I was terrible at sewing, taking photos, customer service, shipping product, data entry—and about a dozen other things. One by one, I was able to outsource those responsibilities. I started with customer service (as this can be the fastest way to burn yourself out) and office tasks. Eventually, we hired staff to help us ship, then manufacture, distribute and help with administration and creative. That gave me the ability to focus on marketing and growing the brand in the ways I was best at. A lot of small business owners have a really hard time delegating tasks to other people. It’s a leap of faith that someone will love, live and breathe your business the way you do, but when you find a team that has the same goals in mind, it gives you time to focus on what your strengths are.
2. Actually, the customer is always right (even when they’re not).
As I mentioned above, customer service can burn you out fast. It’s hard to read negative feedback about something you pour your heart and soul into. But we quickly learned that excellent customer service is what sets you apart and makes your customers loyal. When you’re making something as basic as solid-colored baby pants, you really need to have something that makes your company incredible, and we really pride ourselves in the fact that 84 percent of our customers are return customers. Many have been buying since 2011!
3. There is no “right way” to run a business.
Our eight-person team all work remotely from different parts of the country, but we are able to manage a multi-million dollar business. We don’t have a single wholesale customer; all of our sales are direct-to-consumer. None of us has a master of business administration (MBA), and some members of our team don’t even have college degrees. I know that some companies raise millions of dollars to get their businesses off the ground, whereas I started this out of my own pocket. Some businesses have huge fancy offices, and some are run from a Starbucks. There are many paths that can lead to success, and it’s ultimately not your organizational structure that determines how well you’ll do.
4. Put your goals on paper.
Set a goal, write it down and figure out how you’re going to get there. Share it with anyone who will listen: your spouse, your mom, your babysitter, your team. Putting it into the universe makes you accountable for it. For the June & January executive team, everything from daily sales goals and monthly Instagram comments to Fresh Baby Box sign-ups gets written down. That way, everyone knows the goal, the whole team is working toward them and everyone is all-in for how we’re going to get there. This is a good way to limit chaos and straying to things that aren’t as important.
5. You can have it all.
One of the first things people often ask me is, “How do you balance motherhood with running a business?” (Funny how no one ever asks my husband, the editor in chief of a trade magazine, this question.) Balance isn’t easy, but much like setting business goals, setting personal goals and prioritizing your personal life makes it so much easier to focus on the things you care the most about. Sometimes you have to miss your kids’ Christmas concert because you’re traveling for work, but if you know ahead of time that you’re going to attend every single LEGO club meeting (sons are the best), then you will feel less guilty. I attended a conference once where a speaker said that rather than make a daily to-do list each day, write down just the one most important thing that needs to be done that day for your work and the one most important thing that needs to be done for your family. It’s stuck with me, and is something I still try to do daily.