Boss Lady - Jen Holman

Several months ago, ok, maybe a year ago, I was inspired to start a blog series called "Boss Lady". The mission behind Boss Lady is to inspire young women (and men) to follow their instinct/talent/passion and become entrepreneurs. 
My team and I are reaching out to all the woman owned businesses that inspire and amaze us on a daily basis. We will start with a brief background, then dive in to the nitty gritty of running a business, what keeps them inspired, and everything else in between. 

Jennifer and I have been friends for the past 10 years. I inherited her from my husbands wonderful group of friends. I've mostly known Jen as a momma for the length of our friendship but over the past 2-3 years I've known her as a writer too. I'm so proud that she has followed her passion and has 3 published books, a monthly magazine article, and another book on the way. And I personally, can't wait for her to write that Western! Meet my friend, Jennifer Holman. --Brandy



I’ve lived in Little Rock for 17 years, but grew up in southwest Arkansas-- much of the time on working cattle ranches my father managed. He’s a vestige of a bygone era--a real cowboy, and he raised me like one, too. I had family in law enforcement, and somewhere along the way, I developed an interest in politics and a knack for writing, and in my twenties served as press secretary for a U.S. Congressman, living for a time in Washington, D.C.

I met my husband in Little Rock in 2003, and we had our first child in 2007. I chose not to go back to work right away, a decision I’m glad I made. When she was a toddler, I earned a Master’s degree from UALR and went into non-profits, ultimately serving as director of Arkansas Literacy Councils.

When our second child was born around the time of my 35th birthday, my husband encouraged me to pursue my dream to write a novel. The first book took a while—nearly two years since we threw another child in there somewhere—but the other books have come more quickly. I just finished my fourth, a young adult dystopian I’m very excited about, and I sometimes bare my soul and recount parenting mistakes in a monthly column for Savvy, a local family magazine.

While I think my life’s pretty great and am proud of my work, the cowboy father I mentioned won’t take me seriously until I write a “real” book, a western.

  1. Give us your elevator pitch. Life’s *too real* for nonfiction. I write stories with adventure, magic, and love to give readers a break from reality.

  2. What is your business? I write fiction novels and have just finished my fourth, a young adult dystopian about a girl who discovers a subterranean world. What, you didn’t know being an author was a business? It is. I have an LLC, a marketing plan, a business plan, an accountant, a website, inventory, and stress. Lots of stress.

  3. When did you start your business? In 2012. When our second child was born around the time of my 35th birthday, my husband encouraged me to pursue my dream to write a novel. The first book took a while—nearly two years since we threw another child in there somewhere—but the others have come more quickly. And, yeah. If you do the math, I turn 40 this year.

  4. What inspired you to make the leap? Storytelling has always been one of the few things I’m good at. A friend remarked I should write a book similar to the ones we liked to read. The more I thought about it, the more the idea called to me. So when my exceptional husband encouraged me to make the leap… I did.



  5. What helps you get started each morning? Coffee, diet coke, 10 mile jog, meditation?? I need coffeeee. Lots and lots of coffeeee with a little sugar and cream. I’ll add that if I ever run into a problem, if I’m stumped, it always seems to work itself out over a run.

  6. Tell us about a day in the life of running your business. My schedule has evolved over the years as my children have grown. They’re nine, five, and three now, the big kids in elementary and the little one at school three days a week. Three days a week I sit at my laptop and write from 8:30 to 2:00. To be creative, I need several hours at a time “in the zone.” That kind of time is hard to come by, so I treat it like it’s precious. But like any business, writing is more than just creating a product. There’s marketing, networking, research, bills, taxes. The list is exhaustive (and exhausting). I try to do those things at night, though, to preserve my alone time and get in the writing zone.

  7. What keeps you motivated? For me, writing is both a compulsion and a privilege. My business is a classic example of ‘doing what you love,’ and taking the privilege of doing what I love seriously keeps me motivated.

  8. Describe your dream day. I would love to wake up to the smell of coffee and a cool ocean breeze through the open doors of a beach cabana. My husband and I would explore a place unknown before a lunch of ceviche and tacos. And margaritas. I would work for a bit, take a quick swim, and then have dinner with good friends as the conversation flows easily. Simple enough.


  9. What is your greatest strength/super power? Occasionally, I manage to shave both legs in a single shower without juvenile interruption.

  10. Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat? I have a love/hate relationship with FaceBook. It’s great for business and for showing the grandparents pics of my kiddos. But, boy, sometimes it can be brutal. I love Instagram for both business and pleasure. I friggin’ hate those Snapchat deer ear (or whatever) filters.

  11. What do you do in your free time? (ha! What is free time?!) You’re right. I don’t have a lot of free time. I’m lucky to sneak off for an hour (or twenty minutes) to exercise. But I love to be outside, whether it’s working in the garden, hiking, or floating a river.

  12. If an investor gave you 1 million dollars to use toward your business, how would you spend it? What I do doesn’t take much money, only time and commitment. A million dollars would sure pay off my house and keep my family going well through college, though, and I’d take it.



  13. What’s the biggest risk you ever took; how did it go? Putting myself and my creative work out there to be judged by the world was scary as hell. I didn’t want to do it. But, I’d joined a writing group and received a lot of encouragement and support. Spending so much time working alone, the comradery of finding people with goals and struggles like mine was invaluable. After much research (and gnashing of teeth), in 2015 and 2016, I self-published three books in a fantasy romance series. To me, finishing the books was accomplishment enough.

    How did the risk go? I wrote the books I knew I could. I’ve sold over 40,000 of them--a pretty good run for a first-time author. I learned invaluable lessons and made mistakes I won’t make again. And I still love to write. I’m happy and fulfilled. I’d say the risk paid off!

  14. How do you handle discouragement? This is a tough one. Discouragement comes easy and often. Over time, I’ve learned not to rely on outside validation; not to value myself by what others think or say. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but once it’s learned… So liberating.

  15. Do you have a favorite, inspiring quote? I re-heard this quote by Theodore Roosevelt recently and just love it. "A soft, easy life is not worth living, if it impairs the fibre of brain and heart and muscle. We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage... For us is the life of action, of strenuous performance of duty; let us live in the harness, striving mightily; let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out."



  16. If you could choose anyone to pick as a mentor, who would you choose? Oh, wow. You know, I think I’ve already had some great mentors in my life—people who saw past a simple country girl to a greater potential. I’ve been given a lot of opportunities, and I always worked hard to make the best of them. That’s what life is, really: how one handles opportunities and complications.

  17. Who are you in your next life? Ack! Not Mother Hubbard reincarnate again, I hope. How about Gwyneth Paltrow? Her life seems serene and lovely.



  18. Any secrets on how you balance the ins and outs of running a small business? My best advice is to prioritize, and then complete each task accordingly—one at a time. Managing a small business can be completely overwhelming, but it helps to see more clearly if you narrow your focus.

  19. What’s the best advice you have for other women wanting to be entrepreneurs? My advice is to take a business class (or three). Don’t shy away from the things with which you struggle, conquer them. Taxes, for example. Even if a business owner plans to hire accounting and books out, a basic understanding of them is still necessary to operate a business. Choosing to remain ignorant about things may feel better at first, but will only cause problems down the road.

    Besides that, I say just go for it. Don’t know anyone doing what your heart tells you to do? Great! Less competition. The one thing I like about aging is the confidence I’ve found by accepting my essential self. As we age and come into our own, we embrace our quirks and realize they’re what made us special all along. I didn’t know I could write a book until I tried it. Was it hard work? You bet. Worth it? Totally. For any woman wanting to embrace what she loves and make it what she loves to do, take the leap!



Find Jen Online:

Work in Progress:

  • Sunscorched, a young adult dystopian.

Books:

  • Descended of Dragons series
  • Rare Form
  • Origin Exposed
  • Betrayal Foretold



All Photos by: Saira Khan


Read more

Boss Lady - Lara Kahler

   

Several months ago, ok, maybe a year ago, I was inspired to start a blog series called "Boss Lady". The mission behind Boss Lady is to inspire young women (and men) to follow their instinct/talent/passion and become entrepreneurs. 
My team and I are reaching out to all the woman owned businesses that inspire and amaze us on a daily basis. We will start with a brief background, then dive in to the nitty gritty of running a business, what keeps them inspired, and everything else in between. 

                                    Photo Credit: Elle Roman

I’m Lara. I’m from Little Rock and except for a short stint in rural Montana I’ve been here my whole life. I lived in West Little Rock as a child - - back when Reservoir Road backed up to a farm and the kids who lived there would sometimes ride their horses into my neighborhood - -and gradually migrated East. As a teenager my family lived mostly in Hillcrest and I graduated from Central High. My first apartment was at 10th and Scott and most of the folks in my sphere thought I was nuts for wanting to live downtown, and I was crazy for that old apartment building and the energy of the neighborhood. Flash forward more years than I like to count, and I’m still downtown. This time with a retail business on Main Street just five blocks from that first apartment and a warehouse project behind my old high school.

I’m sort of a late bloomer…didn’t start college with any seriousness until I had two young children and a full time job and even then I didn’t really mean to. I didn’t think that college was an option for me at the time, but working in the office of the president and CEO of Heifer International inspired me take a single UALR course on Sustainable Development. I loved taking that class so much I took another one. Then I took two. It took seven years, but I graduated with honors with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and a minor in Gender Studies.

Being in retail was also something I just sort of fell into. I started creating staff and VIP gifts for Heifer’s president, which led to work as the coordinator for the Heifer Gift Shops, which led to working with the Clinton Museum Store, which led to managing the Store at Esse Purse Museum, which led to Moxy…  (A fun aside is that my first real job in high school was working at MM Cohn Department Store which was THE swanky store in Little Rock at the time. My desk at Moxy is a rescued fixture from the MM Cohn lingerie department given to me by our friends at Good Stuff Auction.)

                      Photo Credit: Nancy Nolan

  1. What is your business?  Jon Estelita and I own Moxy Modern Mercantile in the SoMa district of downtown Little Rock. We offer vintage and industrial furniture and décor along with a fresh and often irreverent mix of gifts and stationery. We love the quirky and have a knack for finding things that others might overlook. Our approach to decorating at home is pairing the old with the new to find that just right blend of fun and function and we bring this approach to our retail mix, too.

    As a sideline, I’m renovating a biggo warehouse behind Central High. It’s 20,000 square feet of concrete and steel that houses a workshop and storage for Moxy and when it’s complete, will offer studio space for artists and artisans.

  2. When did you start your business? Moxy officially opened Feb 11, 2014. We got the keys to our space at the tail end of October 2013 and spent three months readying the space. We were both employed full time elsewhere, so we were squeezing in renovating time where we could.

  3. What inspired you to make the leap?  I got a call from a friend letting me know about an upcoming storefront vacancy on Main Street. She asked if I knew of anyone looking who’d be a good fit or “maybe you…” Well, she planted a magic bean with that phone call. Jon and I made an appointment to see the space and without a clue as to what we were going to do with it, decided to take it on the spot.
  4. What helps you get started each morning? Coffee, diet coke, 10 mile jog, meditation??  Gotta have the java in the a.m. and my daily call with my mother. We talk every day, usually in the morning, but if we miss our morning call we catch up in the evening. We talk about the events of the day and what’s on the horizon for the next. She is my partner in the warehouse project and a real inspiration to me. I come from a family with more than its share of strong, entrepreneurial women. My nana had a beauty shop in her basement where my cousins and I couldn’t resist spinning each other dizzy in the shampoo chair. All three of her daughters are business owners. My aunt, Susan Maddox owned a marketing firm in Dallas, before “retiring” to open Rosemont Bed & Breakfast here in Little Rock; and my mother and her other sister Sylvia Payne co-own Kahler Payne Antiques & Vintage in Hillcrest - - a sweet cozy shop, which coincidentally was once a beauty shop, and was where I learned the ins and outs of retail early. I spent my teenage years and young adulthood going to auctions with my mother and aunt and scouring estate sales on the hunt for great finds.

                                    Photo Credit: Hannah Carpenter

  5. Tell us about a day in the life of running your business.  I used to be a night owl but during the last few years, I’ve begun getting up earlier and earlier and find that I can make a lot happen before 10am. I typically am up around six and spend about an hour waking myself up, tending to pets (Fergus – a corgi, Mario – a terrier mix, and Stella, a highway kitty) and readying myself for the day. Then I spend time doing something around the warehouse. One of my current projects is removing carpet adhesive from a long corridor, so I might work on this for half an hour or so and then settle down for a quick chat with my mother. Before I leave for the store a little after ten, I work my list of phone calls that need to be made that day. I like getting these out of the way first thing to keep me from getting sidetracked by the day’s events. I hate remembering at 5 pm that I’d meant to get in touch with a contractor or vendor and have to wait for the following day to make the call. At the store, Jon manages the visual merchandising and customer service and I do all the behind the scenes business to support the store. On an average day, I’m sourcing new products, placing orders, entering inventory, paying consignors, balancing checkbooks...all the myriad odds and ins that it takes to run a business.
  6. What keeps you motivated?  I really enjoy the lifestyle we’ve created. I love that I almost never have to set an alarm clock and that I have a work partner who complements my skills so well and is so much fun to work with. And I love the response that our customers have to our store. It’s a terrific boost to overhear them laughing at some wacky thing and enjoying themselves. Jon and I both get a lot of positive affirmations from their comments. “This is my favorite store!” will keep us going for a long while.
  7. Describe your dream day.  Lounging in a posh hut set in a secluded tropical cove with an unending supply of fruity drinks and a loaded Kindle.

                      Photo Credit: Nancy Nolan

  8. What is your greatest strength/super power?  I’d say my greatest strength is being a can-do girl….sometimes I just don’t stop to consider that I’ve never done something before and have no experience, so not realizing that I “can’t” I just go ahead and do it. Having a knack for asking the right questions and finding the right people to ask is also a big help.

  9. Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat?  Instagram. I find lots of inspiration on Instagram, @hannahacarpenter, @bellavitajewelry are two of my favorites. I’m inspired by Hannah’s simple, perfectly compelling photography and aesthetic (I’m sure it’s not as easy as she makes it look) and Brandy is such an amazing business woman. She’s always got something new in the works. Her hustle makes me want to reach higher and work harder.
  10. What do you do in your free time? (ha! What is free time?!) Most evenings I take a half hour to sit on the loading dock at Moxy Warehouse (aka my back porch) with a mocktail. I enjoy watching the trains go by while I reflect on the happenings of the day. It’s a terrific reading spot, too and with a little over an acre I have my very own dog park.

    I really enjoy what I do. So my work is my also my play. In my “down time” I find inspiration exploring other stores online or in person, traveling to trade shows and flea markets. The same goes with the warehouse renovation - - chipping damaged plaster from a wall or painting a rusty railing are leisure time activities for me…so I’m really lucky.

                                        Photo Credit: Saira Khan

  11. If an investor gave you 1 million dollars to use toward your business, how would you spend it? Hire staff. Launch an online store. Open a Moxy in a major city or two. Design and produce a line of retro-inspired furnishings. And finish the warehouse renovations complete with solar panels. Okay, I might need 2 million.
  12. What’s the biggest risk you ever took; how did it go?  Jacking up my personal credit cards to open a store….we just celebrated our third anniversary with expanding our sales floor and are now operating with a line of credit.  So far, so good.
  13. Name something you hate doing but have to do for the good of your business. How do you make it tolerable?  Tooting my own horn. I struggle with posting on social media. I’m really most comfortable being behind the scenes, and it’s a little tough for me to even brag about the store. However, I understand that we have to get Moxy news out there. We can have an amazing store but if no one knows about it we won’t have it for long. Another thing I try to keep in mind, is how much I love seeing what others are up to. A glimpse inside a maker’s workshop or an artist’s studio is always fascinating to me, and I enjoy following my favorite shops - - so just maybe folks want to see what we’re doing, too.

  14. How do you handle discouragement? I take a nap and then go at “it” harder from a different angle. Unfortunately, for Jon, I may also vent to him before rallying to face something hard. He’s really good about listening even when he’s probably heard that vent before.

                      Photo Credit: Saira Khan

  15. Which iconic person inspires you?  I love Oprah Winfrey. I recently read her book “What I Know for Sure” and found inspiration on virtually every page.
  16. Do you have a favorite, inspiring quote?  “It doesn’t matter how deep the water is, as long as you keep swimming.”
  17. If you could choose anyone to pick as a mentor, who would you choose?  I’d really like to work with marketing guru Seth Godin. 

                       Photo Credit: Saira Khan

  18. Who are you in your next life? A Maine Coon cat.
  19. Any secrets on how you balance the ins and outs of running a small business?  I’ve learned that having two consecutive days off is important to me. I inevitably work during some part of both days but having the time to fill as I “want” to and not as I “need” to is a real gift.
  20. What’s the best advice you have for other women wanting to be entrepreneurs?  Acknowledge your fear and keep going.

                        Photo Credit: Nancy Nolan

Moxy Modern Mercantile social media:
Instagram: @moxymodernmercantile 
Facebook

Photographer social media:
Nancy Nolan
Hannah Carpenter
Saira Khan

 

    Read more

    Boss Lady - Stacy MacDonald

    Several months ago, ok, maybe a year ago, I was inspired to start a blog series called "Boss Lady". The mission behind Boss Lady is to inspire young women (and men) to follow their instinct/talent/passion and become entrepreneurs. 
    My team and I are reaching out to all the woman owned businesses that inspire and amaze us on a daily basis. We will start with a brief background, then dive in to the nitty gritty of running a business, what keeps them inspired, and everything else in between. 

     

    My name is Stacy MacDonald and I am the Owner, Designer, Miner and Maker of made. I am married to a pretty fantastic guy, who I actually started dating in the 7th grade, and we will celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary this August! We have three young children and as a family we love to regularly have dance parties, eat waffles and have Friday night- movie nights. I started making jewelry when I was about 17 years old after a few failed attempts to have my ears pierced. Finally resigning myself to clip-ons, I began making ones that suited my style as I headed off to college. I made jewelry off and on for the next ten years, evolving from selling clip-on earrings and necklaces to the girls in my dorm to eventually starting made. in the summer of 2014.

     

    1. Give us your elevator pitch. I make all of my jewelry with Quartz and Quartz crystals that I mine out of the Quartz mines in the Ouachita Mountains. I dig the stones out, clean them each by hand, and then turn them into jewelry that balances their unique, raw, organic characteristics with simple, minimalist lines. Hand mined. Hand made.

    2. What is your business? And how long have you been at it? My business is made. I have been making jewelry off and on since I was a teenager, but I started on this adventure the summer of 2014.

    3. What inspired you to make the leap?  Honestly, my third kiddo was about six months old and I was spiraling into an all too familiar black hole of postpartum depression. Having struggled with anxiety and depression since I was a teenager, I knew that I needed to get my hands to work doing something other than changing diapers. We didn’t have the funds to start up anything, but I had some leftover chain and wire from my last venture with jewelry making a few years prior. I got the thought during church one Sunday morning, “Quartz is a natural resource here. I wonder if I could make anything with it?” I shared my idea with my husband and a few days later we loaded up the kids and went on our first dig. I tell people all the time that as I was mining these stones out of the clay, Jesus was mining my heart. My process became like an object lesson of God’s grace, love and redemption because He pulls us out of the miry clay. He relentlessly pursues us. He cleans us up and admires us even in the clay and muck of life. He sees our potential even when we can't see it ourselves. Slowly but surely, the veil of depression began to lift. And to my surprise, these hands that I had nearly come to believe were worthless were making something that people actually liked! And my heart was being flooded with the love of Christ through it all.

    4. What helps you get started each morning? Coffee, diet coke, 10 mile jog, meditation??  I love this question because it wasn’t until I had baby #3 that I even started drinking coffee! But now, I don’t know how I ever functioned without it!



    5. Tell us about a day in the life of running your business.  My business is run in between making meals and changing loads of laundry. Sometimes it’s during a movie for the littles (let’s just be honest here) and other times it’s with them right next to me with their own strip of wire to bend into shapes and letters. It’s when they’re at school/preschool and after they’ve gone to bed. It’s between morning coffee with my husband at our dining room table and my weekly lunch date with my sister. I value the time I can spend on made. but I very much value my relationships.  

    6. What keeps you motivated?  It is so cool to me that I get to share the love of Christ with people through a piece of jewelry. made. for me is very much my redemption song and to see it resonate with others and encourage others is absolutely what keeps me going.

    7. Describe your dream day.  My dream day would definitely start with sleeping in and then a big yummy brunch (that I did not have to cook) at home with my family. The day would be fun and free of any pressures or timelines and then we’d finish it up with a fire and s’mores in the backyard with all of our friends.



    8. What is your greatest strength/super power?  I like to think I’m witty. Some may call me corny, but I’ll stick with witty.

    9. Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat?  I have actually gone against all small business advice here and decided over a month ago to completely sign off social media! You can read more about that on my farewell post here.

    10. What do you do in your free time? (ha! What is free time?!)  Someday I’ll remember what free time is… multi-tasking is my way of life for now.

    11. If an investor gave you 1 million dollars to use toward your business, how would you spend it?  Oh my! One of the biggest things I look forward to doing with my business is actually an extension of made. called Out of the Clay. I would love to work alongside an organization like Celebrate Recovery or something similar and be able to offer a place with all the tools and supplies for various art and craft forms available to people who are struggling with depression or addiction to come in and be able to make free of charge. If I were a therapist, I’d call it art therapy, but since I’m not we’ll go with “breakthrough crafting”. ;) I would then love to offer those makers the opportunity to sell their work and share their stories at a brick and mortar of made.



    12. What’s the biggest risk you ever took; how did it go?  I feel like life is one big risk after another. The old cliche really is true that if there’s no risk, there’s no reward. I tell my kiddos that sometimes taking a risk can end up hurting, but other times the payoff is so amazing and so exciting that it literally changes your life. We can’t be afraid to take risks for fear of the times it will hurt, because then we’re sure to miss out on some amazing things.

    13. How do you handle discouragement?  Discouragement is tricky. We all experience it and whether you’re pretty good about letting it roll off your back or not, it affects us all one way or another. I am not one of those people that finds it easy to just let things roll off my back. I don’t mean to dwell on discouragement, I just have trouble not taking it to heart. I have to regularly remind myself that I just can’t make everyone happy. Not everyone will be my customer and not everyone will love what I’m doing and that’s okay. *Cue Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off”* ;)



    14. Any secrets on how you balance the ins and outs of running a small business?  I think it’s important to keep in mind that an overall balance is probably better and less stressful than focusing on trying to achieve a daily balance. Some days, I’m all mom and absolutely no work gets done. Other days, I have to be in full out work-mode and willing to allow other people to help watch the kids. Some moments of working are all for production and other times the focus is heavily on administrative work. I do a lot, but I can’t do it all all the time. I’ve tried and it just makes me and everyone around me miserable. I sleep when I need to and stay up late when I can. I set goals and work very hard to achieve them, but I also forgive myself when life happens.

    15. What’s the best advice you have for other women wanting to be entrepreneurs?  To me, starting a business is a lot like trying to decide if you’re ready to start having kids. You’re never really and truly ready to start having kids and there’s never a really and truly an excellent time to start a business. We’re all busy and have commitments and throwing a business in the mix is certainly time consuming, to say the least. But why not?! If you have an idea for a product or service or for a business, don't convince yourself that it’s just a romantic notion to pursue it. Don’t listen to that voice that may try to get you to believe that you’re too naive to go after it. Silence that with action! To go after something with passion and dedication is bold and brave and inspiring! To sit on your idea and give into fear or to allow worry to halt you into inactivity robs all of the rest of us of what you have to offer. Go for it.

     

    All photos by: Saira Khan 
    Read more

    Boss Lady - Natalie Freeman

    Several months ago, ok, maybe a year ago, I was inspired to start a blog series called "Boss Lady". The mission behind Boss Lady is to inspire young women (and men) to follow their instinct/talent/passion and become entrepreneurs. 
    My team and I are reaching out to all the woman owned businesses that inspire and amaze us on a daily basis. We will start with a brief background, then dive in to the nitty gritty of running a business, what keeps them inspired, and everything else in between. 

     

    Hi, I’m Natalie! I live on a small hobby farm with my husband, Luke, in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

    I still can’t quite believe this is my story. And of course, my story wouldn’t be what it is without my life partner. I met my husband in a local park the third day of college. We both came to the University of Missouri from Arkansas & quickly became friends. That friendship grew into a lifelong admiration for one another & soon enough, we were hitched! We were 19 & 20 at the time, but we had a lifetime of shared goals & dreams.

    Throughout our dating & early years of marriage, I blogged. At first this was just a simple way of sharing my life with family & friends from my hometown of Cabot, Arkansas. Eventually this knack for writing & photographing our life grew into a lifestyle blog, Natalie Creates (www.nataliecreates.com).

    Once we graduated from college, we moved back to our home state & quickly found a plot of land we could call home. We lovingly called this place Freckled Hen Farm. With a small savings account, we slowly began renovating our ranch-style house into a cozy farmhouse (#freckledhenfarmhouse).

    As we renovated, I shared the process on my blog & Instagram (@nataliecreates). Folks began falling in love with our simple, approachable style & charming farm life. We decided to launch a new business, Freckled Hen Farmhouse, inspired by our life on the farm.

    Now we own & operate an online general store (www.freckledhenfarmhouse.com) and full-time brick & mortar shop in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It’s such a gift to wake up each morning & inspire folks to cultivate a richer, more meaningful life within their own homes.

     

    1. Give us your elevator pitch. Freckled Hen Farmhouse is a modern day general store brimming with refined home provisions & quality farm supplies.

    2. What is your business? Freckled Hen Farmhouse

    3. When did you start your business? In 2016, but it’s been a business in the making for many years before that.

    4. What inspired you to make the leap? I knew this was my life’s work. I had always wanted to own a shop that created a sense of community. And that’s what I am now doing.



    5. What helps you get started each morning? I cannot function without coffee & my to-do list.

    6. Tell us about a day in the life of running your business. I do a whole lot of everything. From shipping online orders to scrubbing the bathroom floor at the shop, there’s nothing I do not have my hands in. On my best days, you’ll find me balancing online commitments - creating newsletters, connecting with influencers - & responsibilities at the shop - helping customers & managing our small staff.

    7. What keeps you motivated? I love that there’s always a mistake to learn from & more work to do. While that might sound exhausting, I find it exhilarating. My work doesn’t just pay the bills. It refines me & teaches me daily. I also love the freedom of being my own boss. I’ve learned over time that I lead well.

    8. Describe your dream day. My dream day would always involve a beach.



    9. What is your greatest strength/super power? I can often see the good in just about any situation. My cup is always half full.

    10. Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat? Instagram forever. I’m a very visual person & I love capturing the beauty around me.

    11. What do you do in your free time? I love to travel with my husband. It keeps me inspired & broadens my world. We go on 2-3 large trips a year. We’re headed to Puerto Rico in May!

    12. If an investor gave you 1 million dollars to use toward your business, how would you spend it? I’d hire my husband full-time, start an artisanal bakery & build a barn to house our little general store & bakery duo.



    13. What’s the biggest risk you ever took; how did it go? We took out a small business loan to launch Freckled Hen Farmhouse. For months, I barely slept a wink, worrying that we made the biggest mistake of our lives. Thankfully, I’ve now learned that the risk of not acting on your dreams is far greater than the risk of failing.

    14. Name something you hate doing but have to do for the good of your business. How do you make it tolerable? I am not tech savvy & I would rather die than manage our finances. Thankfully, my husband & I are complete opposites. He loves numbers & is a whiz at problem-solving. He picks up my slack daily.

    15. How do you handle discouragement? Discouragement is just part of it. Keep moving forward, friend.

    16. Which iconic person inspires you? Elizabeth Gilbert. I’ve read every book she’s ever written & I loved her podcast, “Magic Lessons.” She’s brilliant.



    17. Do you have a favorite, inspiring quote? “Everybody needs beauty, as well as bread, places to play in & pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” - John Muir

    18. Who are you in your next life? Lorelai Gilmore. Stars Hollow, sign me up!

    19. Any secrets on how you balance the ins and outs of running a small business? Take time off for you & your family. I am a better boss, business owner & human when I’ve had time to rest & really live outside of my work life.

    20. What’s the best advice you have for other women wanting to be entrepreneurs? Ask lots of questions, don’t ever assume you know everything. Connect yourself with a community of fellow entrepreneurs, don’t go it alone.

     

    All photos by Nikki Toth

     

    Read more

    Boss Lady - Kim Doughty-McCannon

     

    Several months ago, ok, maybe a year ago, I was inspired to start a blog series called "Boss Lady". The mission behind Boss Lady is to inspire young women (and men) to follow their instinct/talent/passion and become entrepreneurs. 
    My team and I are reaching out to all the woman owned businesses that inspire and amaze us on a daily basis. We will start with a brief background, then dive in to the nitty gritty of running a business, what keeps them inspired, and everything else in between. 

    Hi, I'm Kim! I grew up in Benton, AR and graduated from Arkansas Tech University with a Biology degree in 2008. After graduating college, I moved to Little Rock, AR and worked as a microbiologist at the Arkansas Department of Health Public Health Laboratory for 6 years. I enjoyed my time working at the Laboratory but I was looking for a job that I was more passionate about. I missed being outside and using my creativity! I started volunteering at Little Rock Urban Farming soon after moving to the Hillcrest neighborhood in Little Rock and eventually quit my job in order to take an apprenticeship there. I loved working at LRUF and the community of people it connected me with. Around the same time I quit my job I also started doing more artwork and picking up graphic design jobs here and there. After working with LRUF I took an Arkansas GardenCorps service position at an educational community garden in Conway called the Faulkner County Urban Farm Project. While I was there I got the chance to take care of the garden while creating educational programing for the community. I finished my service term at the Urban Farm Project last fall and am now focusing all my attention on illustration, graphic design and farming. I finally feel like I have found my niche! I love how easy farming and art go together! I am always finding inspiration for my artwork while working outside in the garden and I can concentrate more on art in the winter, when gardening slows down.

    I live in Conway, Arkansas with my husband Zack, our two cats and small flock of backyard chickens. We are expecting our first child in April!

    Eggs

     

    1. Give us your elevator pitch. Still working on this one but it depends on who I am talking to and what we are talking about. My go to job description is that I am an “artist-farmer”.

    2. What is your business? And how long have you been at it? I guess I kind of have two different businesses! My graphic design/illustration business is called Azul Home and my farm is Bell Urban Farm. I developed Azul Home in 2013 and officially went full time with it in the fall of 2016. My husband had the idea for Bell Urban Farm a few years ago but it wasn’t until this year - Spring 2017 that it has become my full time job. Both art and gardening are things I have been doing since I was young, so I guess you could say I have been at them for a long time, but it wasn’t until now that they are my real jobs!

    3. What inspired you to make the leap? Art and growing food are things that make me happy and I enjoy doing… so I felt that I had to at least give them a try. I didn’t like the thought of looking back on my life and asking “what if…?” If you are going to spend your life working, why not do something you enjoy?

    4. What helps you get started each morning? Coffee, diet coke, 10 mile jog, meditation?? I love my morning coffee! I don’t drink a lot, but I really look forward to at least 1 cup of good coffee in the morning. Hot coffee in the winter and iced coffee all summer! I think exercise is important and I used to run every morning, but working in the garden is often all I need now. I like to do hot yoga, especially in the winter months when the farm work slows down.


    5. Tell us about a day in the life of running your business. It really depends on the season!! In the spring through fall I focus mainly on the farm, so I will be outside working all day. I like to get my coffee in the morning and take a walk around the garden and make notes about what needs to be done each day. Seed starting, planting, weeding, watering, taking care of chickens, collecting eggs, harvesting, washing, packaging and delivering orders are all things that happen during a typical farm day. This year we are selling our produce, flowers and eggs through an online market called Conway Locally Grown and next year we hope to sell at the Farmers Market in Conway as well. In the late fall and the winter, I focus more on my illustration and art projects, so I will begin and end most days at my desk, designing, sketching and painting. I design and illustrate new calendars each year, so winter is my busy season for Azul Home. I attend at least 3-4 art shows/sales per year, sell online and in a couple local shops during the holiday season.

    6. What keeps you motivated? New ideas and projects keep me motivated. Seeing people enjoy my artwork or the produce that we grow on our farm also keeps me motivated. Bell Urban Farm is on a busy road in Conway and people often stop by to see what is going on…I love this because part of our mission is to create community through the growing and sharing of food. Just talking to the people who stop by is super motivating!

    7. Describe your dream day. My dream day is a sunny and warm Saturday where I get to sleep in (hard for me!) and then I have a nice cup of coffee and walk to the farmers market or spend the morning reading. I spend the day working out in the garden with my husband and then we complete the day by cooking dinner, listening to music and eating outside around a fire with friends (and beers)!



    8. What is your greatest strength/super power? I work well with others but also enjoy working alone. I love to do all the graphic design, branding and marketing work for my businesses (which is nice so I don’t have to hire someone else to do it)!

    9. Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat? Facebook and Instagram. I like instagram the best. I know I should be on snapchat too but I feel like I have all the social media I can handle right now…also I feel like I am too old for snapchat!

    10. What do you do in your free time? (ha! What is free time?!) I like reading, camping, hiking and traveling!



    11. If an investor gave you 1 million dollars to use toward your business, how would you spend it? Wow! I would probably invest more money in our farm and finally start the restaurant that my husband and I always talk about. We would like to start a restaurant in Conway in an old farmhouse that serves all locally produced food. This restaurant would also have a coffee shop with locally roasted coffee and a bar serving local beer and wine plus cocktails using ingredients grown at Bell Urban Farm. The restaurant would also have an old timey general store and a space for workshops and events!

    12. What’s the biggest risk you ever took; how did it go? Probably the biggest risk I ever took was quitting my 9 to 5 job. It provided me with health benefits and financial stability so it was a pretty big risk to quit to pursue art and farming…neither of which are high paying or stable jobs! How did it go? I have never been happier in my life! I am not saying that it isn’t hard and I am working more now than I have ever worked in my life but I wouldn’t trade it for anything! Having a supportive family, husband and friends has made all the difference!



    13. Name something you hate doing but have to do for the good of your business. How do you make it tolerable? I hate accounting and budget stuff. My husband helps with the financial parts so that makes it more tolerable for me, but as we grow I fully intend to hire someone to help with our accounting and taxes.

    14. How do you handle discouragement?  I try to stay positive about things and surround myself with positive people. When I get discouraged about something, I try to remind myself that every failure is a learning opportunity (easier said than done). Farming involves a lot of things that are out of your control…like the weather or pest problems. At some point you just have to accept that things are going to happen every year that you have no control over.

    15. Which iconic person inspires you? As a farmer I am inspired by the writings of Wendell Berry and as an artist, female illustrators like Julia Rothman, Susie Ghahremani and Geninne Zlatkis are really inspiring!



    16. Any secrets on how you balance the ins and outs of running a small business? I am still learning all the time since my businesses are still so young! Sometimes it is hard to juggle the two of them at the same time. Right now I am just trying to get as much done as possible before the baby gets here because after that I know I am going to need some downtime. I treat my businesses like I would any other job. When you own your own business, you have the ability to make your schedule (which is the cool part)…but I still try to get in a full day’s work at the “office” every day even though the office that I am working at is my home. It really helps me to have a daily planner and write down what I need to do each day.

    17. What’s the best advice you have for other women wanting to be entrepreneurs? Surround yourself with supportive people and just give it a chance! Women are awesome business owners and the world needs more of them! Start small and then grow! Be prepared to work hard!

    Follow Kim on social media:

     

      Read more

      Boss Lady - Sally Mengel

      Several months ago, ok, maybe a year ago, I was inspired to start a blog series called "Boss Lady". The mission behind Boss Lady is to inspire young women (and men) to follow their instinct/talent/passion and become entrepreneurs. 
      My team and I are reaching out to all the woman owned businesses that inspire and amaze us on a daily basis. We will start with a brief background, then dive in to the nitty gritty of running a business, what keeps them inspired, and everything else in between.  

      Sally
      Photo by Jacob Slaton Photography


      Sally Mengel of Loblolly Creamery
      Sally and I met several years ago when I moved back to Little Rock. We have teamed up on several special events and have even collaborated on an ice cream cone charm exclusive to Loblolly! If you have ever met Sally, you know she is a treat to work with! Literally!!

      I think I was meant to make and sell sweets. One year for Halloween when I was a kid, I dressed up as a candy salesman and I have never turned away desserts, never. Sophomore year of college I started a student-run coffee cart. It still runs today and it has upgraded to a kiosk. I started to work at an ice cream store as well in Atlanta during that same time. These two jobs were the inspiration and foundation to start Loblolly Creamery. Loblolly did not start as an ice cream business. It kind of just snowballed into it. It started as an off-shoot of The Green Corner Store. The owner, Shelley Green, gave me the opportunity to start a small soda fountain in the front of the store. Thus birthed Loblolly Creamery. Oh yeah, I have two awesome parents. I grew up in North of Boston and Saint Louis for most of my life. I have a dog named Moo. 


      1. Give us your elevator pitch. Loblolly Creamery is a small-batch, handcrafted ice creamery based in Little Rock, Arkansas. Everything is made from scratch using local, seasonal, and fair-trade ingredients. We have a traditional soda fountain in the heart of the SoMa neighborhood, we cater with our solar-powered ice cream mobile, and we sell our ice cream at grocery stores, cafes, and restaurants around Arkansas. We also make handcrafted French macarons, marshmallows, and baked goods.

      2. What is your business? Ice Cream!

      3. When did you start your business? In November 2011 we made our first ice cream for the 1st Annual Arkansas Cornbread Festival. We purchased our ice cream machine the day before. It was Buttermilk Ice Cream that we topped on our caramel cornbread. We won the nontraditional cornbread category. We opened the Soda Fountain on April 1st, 2012.

      4. What inspired you to make the leap? There was no locally-made, locally-sourced ice cream and I love ice cream. The history of the Lincoln building also inspiring. The building was built in 1905 for Dawson Drug Store. It was a pharmacy and soda fountain till 1967. I wanted to bring the history back of the soda fountain with handcrafted ice cream and sodas.

      5. What helps you get started each morning? COFFEE, COFFEE, COFFEE and my dog, Moo.

      6. Tell us about a day in the life of running your business. I get to the Loblolly Kitchen around 9am at the latest. I get organized for the day with the kitchen crew, check our orders, and then I get to churning ice cream. I churn ice cream till 2pm and then I may have a team meeting, sales meeting, or event planning. I may have an event in the evening and work on the Loblolly ice cream truck.

      7. What keeps you motivated? Getting to be creative with flavors, collaborating with other businesses on events and pop-up menus, and my kick-ass team.

      8. Describe your dream day. Other than visiting another country or going on a road trip. An ideal day off would look like: Sleep in, putter around the house, maybe go for a long walk, hike, water hole swim, soccer game, or bike ride, a meal on a sunny patio with friends or my family, and then end the night with a movie with my boo Michael.

      9. What is your greatest strength/super power? My laugh, its loud.

        pint picture

      10. Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat? Facebook for events, Instagram for inspiration.

      11. What do you do in your free time? Play pick-up soccer, water my house-plant collection, visit other dessert shops (research), support my friends in local bands or art shows, hang with Moo and Michael.

      12. If an investor gave you 1 million dollars to use toward your business, how would you spend it? Yippeee! I would become a USDA dairy and start to pasteurize raw milk so I can make goat and cow milk ice cream with Arkansas dairy. Maybe even invest in a dairy farm and have our own Loblolly herd.

      13. What’s the biggest risk you ever took; how did it go? Besides starting this business with little food manufacturing, financial, and business know how? Hmmmm...probably purchasing a 20 year old food truck sight unseen. It was a huge risk to invest but I think it has paid off. We can be part of people's weddings and parties, vend at festivals, and take our ice cream all over Arkansas. But it took almost a year to renovate and fix up the truck. It was a learning lesson. Also, pay your taxes on time. That is a risk.


        ice cream truck

      14. Name something you hate doing but have to do for the good of your business. How do you make it tolerable? I hate book keeping, excel spreadsheets, food costing, basically anything with numbers other than a recipe. I needed help (badly) and I hate asking for help but I did. Now we have a CEO, a book keeper, and other Loblollians that keep up with food costs and sales numbers. Asking for help has gotten easier because I have a great team that wants to help Loblolly. Also listening to music and making fake deadlines help with any computer work that I have (most of the time).

      15. How do you handle discouragement? Deep breath

      16. Which iconic person inspires you? Badass women in the food scene inspire me like, Jeni Britton Bauer, Christina Tosi, Alice Waters and Nigella Laweson.  I love how they have bold and unique voices with their food. They have strong missions that they carry out with their food and they continue to innovate with their flavors. Also, Dominique Ansel is inspiring with his inventive desserts (i.e., creator of the cronut). For good reading about the food business, I look to Ari Weinzweig's books about his business, Zingerman's.  

      17. Do you have a favorite, inspiring quote? 'Diva' is a female version of a Hustler -Beyonce

      18. If you could choose anyone to pick as a mentor, who would you choose? Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream or Beyonce.

        scoop

      19. Who are you in your next life? A Toucan

      20. Any secrets on how you balance the ins and outs of running a small business? Find me time. Ask for help. Be flexible.

      21. What’s the best advice you have for other women wanting to be entrepreneurs? Start slow. Invest in a bookkeeper. Learn how to cost and don't charge too little for your services. Make sure it is a passion, almost an obsession and a love.

      Read more

      Boss Lady - Jill White

      Several months ago, ok, maybe a year ago, I was inspired to start a blog series called "Boss Lady". The mission behind Boss Lady is to inspire young women (and men) to follow their instinct/talent/passion and become entrepreneurs. 
      My team and I are reaching out to all the woman owned businesses that inspire and amaze us on a daily basis. We will start with a brief background, then dive in to the nitty gritty of running a business, what keeps them inspired, and everything else in between.  

      Jill White of Jill White Designs!
      Jill and I met in college while we were both pursuing degrees in Interior Design. We've remained friends to this day and I'm often guilty of running design ideas by her to get an outsiders approval. Check out one of her latest projects, The Waters, Hot Springs newest boutique hotel.

      I grew up in England, Arkansas... actually outside of England in the middle of a field in a town called Altheimer. My husband always corrects me and makes me say I am from Altheimer.

      My paternal family were all in the construction/carpentry business and my maternal family were farmers (hence the fields). I grew up working at my grandfathers hardware store/lumber company (Altheimer Lumber Company), running around, mixing paint, making keys, helping my grandmother with the books, and answering phones (like my grandfather who said every time he answered the phones, "Altheimer Lumber Company, Lovelace speaking"). My maiden name, Lovelace.

      I started college at UCA and soon decided that was not the place for me. After a brief stint in Dallas and then back to Little Rock, my high school boyfriend from England High School, Chris White (Market President for Simmons Bank in Central Arkansas), proposed and we were married in 2001. To date we have moved 9 times!!! Salina, Kansas; Hot Springs, AR (twice); England, AR; Fayetteville, AR; and Little Rock, AR. Our longest stay was in Fayetteville from 2005-2012. It was there that I visited the University of Arkansas Fayetteville Interior Design program and knew that was where I was meant to be all along.  

      As a non-traditional student, I was more focused and driven. I knew what I wanted to do and was ready to do it, even though I cried a lot and wanted to quit. Getting a Bachelors in Interior Design is not the easiest major! They tried to break us, but I powered through and am SO THANKFUL!!!

      After college, I began working for Perkowitz and Ruth Architects, a California architecture firm with a location in Rogers, Ar. Sadly we left Fayetteville in 2012 for Hot Springs. I had a lot of mixed emotions about leaving the town where I finally found myself. Looking back, I see now that it was the best choice for our family, as it brought me to my next job with Taylor Kempkes Architects and our sweet baby girl, Stella.

      We left Hot Springs in 2014 for Little Rock, and I swore to my husband I would never move again!!!

        1. Give us your elevator pitch. I am an Interior Designer who specializes in residential and light commercial design, big and small. I am currently doing projects from one room design of a bedroom, to a boutique hotel and an 8,000 square foot home. I thrive myself on listening to my client and making their space reflective of them, their families, and their lifestyle. Form follows function. A phrase I learned in design school and I try to remember in every project.

        2. What inspired you to make the leap to small business owner? After I had my beautiful baby girl, Stella, I couldn't imagine going back to an 8-5 desk job. I wanted time with her, on my on time. So that was it... In April of 2014, I designed a logo, ordered some business cards, started an Instagram page and somehow began my business!



        3. What helps you get started each morning? Coffee, diet coke, 10 mile jog, meditation?? A husband (who wakes up at 4:30 EVERY MORNING.... roll eyes) and a 4 year old who thinks 6:00 is late. Ohhhh &.....COKE. Not the drug, the cola. I mean, it might as well be the drug because I am addicted to them.

        4. Tell us about a day in the life of running your business.  I wish I could say unicorns, rainbows, and sunshine. Some days are, but most days are non-stop, messy desk, running like a crazy person, trying to do 10 things at once and raise a daughter and go to carpool, soccer, still have a life, run a business by myself, keep up with all of my projects, and maintain my sanity.


        5. What keeps you motivated?  I LOVE MY JOB!!!! My clients motivate me. My family motivates me. I motivate myself. I love what I do and do not want it to stop, ever. I can't explain the feeling when a project is completed, the client is happy, and I can see my hard work in real life.

        6. Describe your dream day.  Seriously? Spa, shopping, beach, lots of amazing food and drinks, 2 naps, and a nanny. Yep, I am the typical girl.

        7. What is your greatest strength/super power? Listening. You can ask my clients, but I hope that they feel I am a good listener. Oh, and MIND READER. You have to be to a godo mind reader to be a good designer ;)


        8. Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat?   INSTA!! All day, errrr day!

        9. What do you do in your free time? What. Is. Free. Time. Seriously?  I actually did finally carve out time for myself and started working out again for the first time since before I had Stella. Yep, she is four...

        10. If an investor gave you 1 million dollars to use toward your business, how would you spend it? AN OFFICE BUILDING and an ASSISTANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hands down, drop the mic.



        11. Name something you hate doing but have to do for the good of your business. How do you make it tolerable? Pay taxes. hahahahahahahhahahaaaaaaaaaaaaa. I tolerate it so I don't go to jail.

        12. How do you handle discouragement? It is part of it. In the world of social media in our faces, there will ALWAYS be someone cooler, with better ideas, and doing better than you. I choose to keep my head up, focus on MY clients, MY jobs, and take inspiration from colleagues and others I look up to. I am thankful EVERY SINGLE day for my clients!!


        13. Do you have a favorite, inspiring quote? Dory the fish:" Just keep swimming" Wait... that is Stella's... I am a screenshot, quote, meme, psycho. A few favs...... "You have to be willing to be bad at it in order to get good at it" - "How you make others feel about themselves says a lot about you" - "Prove them wrong" - "You know who is going to give you everything? Yourself." - "Work hard and be nice to people" - I have to stop myself here or I will keep going... 

        14. Who are you in your next life?  A professional surfer on some island. or a rockstar who sings 90s alt/grunge.... just call me Courtney Love. 

        15. Any secrets on how you balance the ins and outs of running a small business?  I will let you know when I figure it out.

        16. What’s the best advice you have for other women wanting to be entrepreneurs?  DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Life is way too short. If you want it, work hard and take the leap. Best thing I ever did.
        Read more

        Boss Lady - Brandy Thomason McNair


        Boss Lady Logo
        Several months ago, ok, maybe a year ago, I was inspired to start a blog series called "Boss Lady". The mission behind Boss Lady is to inspire young women (and men) to follow their instinct/talent/passion and become entrepreneurs. 
        My team and I are reaching out to all the woman owned businesses that inspire and amaze us on a daily basis. We will start with a brief background, then dive in to the nitty gritty of running a business, what keeps them inspired, and everything else in between.

        Since this is my project, I am going first! I hope you enjoy reading about me and all the other ladies we have lined up! And, if you know an amazing lady that is busting her ass, paving her way, let us know! We'd love to know more about her!

        Hi! I’m Brandy. I was born and raised in Harrison, AR. Completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Design from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville in 2007. After college I moved to Little Rock for a job at an architecture firm. I fell in love with Little Rock but I was very unhappy in my job. Fast forward a year and a half and another design job, I went back to my roots of waiting tables and making jewelry. I started making jewelry when I was 10 so I have 24 years of jewelry making experience! I know that sounds crazy, but it's what I love and I feel confident in my field. My husband and I live in the Governor's Mansion/SoMa neighborhood of Little Rock and I run a brick and mortar shop in the Lafayette Building on 6th and Louisiana Streets in downtown Little Rock. I work A LOT! But I work for myself and I love what I do so I am ok with it. I don’t have children yet and am still very undecided on whether or not I will someday have them. I can’t imagine throwing a kid into the mix of our busy lives.


        Bella Vita was born in December of 2008 and in July of 2013 I was able to make it my full time job. And then in October 2014 I opened our brick and mortar shop. We do 4 wholesale gift shows a year (2 in New York and 2 in Atlanta) and we still do retail art/craft shows in our region. As of now, we sell to about 200 different retail shops across the US and Canada. And we employee 2 part time women and two very very part time high school students. Our shop is open Thursday - Saturday and more during holidays.

        1. Give us your elevator pitch. I make artisan jewelry that tells a story.

        2. What is your business? And how long have you been at it? -- Bella Vita Jewelry, 8 years officially but really my whole life...

        3. When did you start your business? 2008

        4. What inspired you to make the leap? Major unhappiness in my 8 - 5 job. But, I worked two part time jobs for the first 4 years of my business. I went full time self employed in 2014. 

        5. What helps you get started each morning? Coffee, diet coke, 10 mile jog, meditation? As soon as I wake up, I drink hot tea or decaf coffee then a diet coke around 10. In Spring - Fall I like to start or end the day with a 3 mile walk. And maybe squeeze in some yoga here and there.

        6. Tell us about a day in the life of running your business. My days usually start very early. I am a morning person! Wake up between 4 and 5 a.m. scroll social media, answer emails, make breakfast and lunch, try to exercise, head to shop/studio around 7. Once I am at the shop, every day is different. Lately, we are working hard filling orders for our new wholesale accounts. I’m making most of the jewelry then I hand it off to one of my assistants. The afternoons are usually filled with shipping orders, answering emails, and powwowing with employees on their tasks. I try to head home between 5 and 6 p.m. -- at this point I’m spent. Drink wine, cook dinner, maybe a little tv or backgammon game with my husband then hit the bed to reset for the next day.



        7. What keeps you motivated? Successful days in the shop, new retailers calling, designing something special for a client, being recognized as an expert in my field... When these things aren’t happening and I really need a pick me up, I’ll go ‘treasure hunting” and look for inspiration in antiques, buy some new gemstones, visit an art exhibit… After 8 years, I’m still pretty motivated. I hope it sticks.

        8. Describe your dream day. Waking up without an alarm, yoga and a downtown walk, breakfast at Boulevard in SoMa, opening up my shop to a day full of my amazing customers, happy hour with friends at Bruno’s. My dream day also consists of getting all my tasks done in a timely manner, little distractions, and me not feeling rushed or overloaded!!!

        9. What is your greatest strength/super power? My attention to detail. It is a strength but can also at times be a crippling obsession :) I’m also pretty good at managing multiple tasks at once.

        10. Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat?  Instagram… but these days I have very little time for any of them. Facebook is a huge distraction to me. And, I’ve never quite figured out Snapchat.

        11. What do you do in your free time? (ha! What is free time?!) I work on my side hustle, Bella Vita Vintage. My husband and I love to collect stuff and curate a little booth at South Main Creative. My real hobbies are collecting antique buttons, cooking, and gardening. I make time for these things in the summer when our garden is in full bloom.

        12. If an investor gave you 1 million dollars to use toward your business, how would you spend it? I would invest in a commercial building in downtown Little Rock. We would expand our retail offering for our brick and mortar shop. Then I would invest money in online marketing of our website. Oh, and I’d hire out as much work as I could so that I could spend all my time on creative development and business planning.



        13. What’s the biggest risk you ever took; how did it go? Running a small business is all about risk. Everything is a risk… the biggest steps I’ve taken are opening up my brick and mortar shop and investing in new employees.

        14. Name something you hate doing but have to do for the good of your business. How do you make it tolerable? Probably updating our website. It’s so time consuming… I’ve started watching movies on the iPad while I update the website on our desktop computer. It's one of the most tedious tasks!

        15. How do you handle discouragement? Well that is tough… Start by taking a deep breath then I remind myself of all the good things that have happened to offset the bad thing I am dealing with in the moment.

        16. Who are you in your next life? A Restauranteur that grows and raises all meat and produce used in the restaurant.

        17. Any secrets on how you balance the ins and outs of running a small business? Iced tea and diet cokes and dark chocolate. Ha! No really, life is all about balance. I work hard and play hard and try to take care of my mind and my body. I do get up early in the morning but I go to bed early. The one thing I don’t sacrifice is my sleep. I try for at least 7 hrs a night.

        18. What’s the best advice you have for other women wanting to be entrepreneurs? GO FOR IT! Start small and grow slow and naturally. Big things will happen in time, be as patient as you can but don’t be lazy. Things don’t just magically happen if you aren’t trying. And don’t lose passion for what you do! If you feel burn out, take a break. Even if it's just a walk around the block. 

         

        All photos by: Saira Khan 

        Read more