As the daughter of entrepreneurs, I have always had the itch to work for myself.
After attending college for broadcast journalism, spending a few years in the cutthroat field (and discovering it wasn’t for me), getting married, having a baby, and wanting to be a stay-at-home mom while still earning a little money of my own, I began looking into the world of freelance and haven’t looked back!
Truth be told, the thought of adventuring out on my own like this and trying to balance motherhood and work was completely daunting in the beginning, so I began reading interviews with smart businesswomen and/or fellow stay-at-home mammas who boldly ventured out into the world of working for themselves. Hearing straight from these smart and flat-out amazing women was exactly the inspiration I needed to kickstart my now thriving writing (and part-time marketing) career, which is why I set out to interview one of my girl boss heroes.
My hope in sharing this story is to inspire those of you who have a dream of owning your own business, working from home, earning a little extra money while raising babies, etc. to take a leap of faith and be your own boss, make your own hours, and do whatever it is you love to do!
Ladies (and gentlemen): Meet my sweet friend, Nicole.
I have known Nicole for almost 15 years now and am constantly WOW’d by her amazing creativity! As owner of The Blessed Branch, Nicole and her husband, Rick, make the most adorable signs, mugs, and other home decor that you will ever see! Nicole is not only a super-creative human being, but also one of the kindest women I have ever known. Check out what Nicole says about owning her own business, the ups and downs, and her advice for becoming a #MomBoss.
Tell our readers a little bit about yourself. Have you always been so creative? I have always been creative in some way. I pretty much went to school so I could go to art class and be in art club. I went to cosmetology school to do nails so I could work my way through college to become an art teacher. By the time I built a clientele doing nails, I was so busy doing nail art I changed my mind about the art teacher thing. My clients would challenge me with all kinds of crazy ideas. While doing nails, I would do projects on the side, like painting murals, making signs, making home decor. I always had some kind of project going.
When did you decide to go into business for yourself? Were you making and selling signs on the side before making it into a career? After doing nails for 20 years, the profession really changed when “walk-in shops” became popular. I knew I needed to decide what new path I should take but I just couldn’t get excited about anything. One day my friend called me and said she found something on Pinterest that she thought we should make for our own houses for Thanksgiving. They were cute wood tags to hang from our front doors. So we did and I posted it on Facebook. From that point I feel like it kinda went crazy. I had friends/family asking me to make the tags for them and then wanted to know if I could make Christmas ones too. By Christmas friends were sharing their front door pics on Facebook and friends of friends starting ordering too!
Once you started your business, how did you promote yourself and The Blessed Branch? Was it a slow start or were you crazy busy from the beginning? We made a business Facebook page and quickly gained likes. I remember joking about making (the signs) for a living. It just seemed so far fetched at that point, that I could actually make my designs and make a full-time living doing so. Well fast forward to May and that’s exactly what happened. Besides Facebook orders, I started selling in a couple stores in Kansas City and getting custom orders that way. I also did about 8 craft/holiday shows that first year which helped my “likes” on Facebook. I also had an Instagram account, but I feel like I was too late to the game for that.
Which social media outlets did/do you use the most for your business? I definitely suggest using Facebook AND Instagram AND Pinterest, if you can keep up. When it came to The Blessed Branch, you didn’t launch a website until a few years after beginning your business. Did you notice more business after creating a website? Do you wish you had done this sooner or did social media-only work fine for you? My website is beautiful and I don’t regret making it but I definitely didn’t gain any business from it. People are so busy they need reminders like when you pop up on Facebook and Instagram. People rarely visit the website, they just message me to order. I do regret not selling on Etsy sooner. I just started an account and it is way better than having my own website.
What is your favorite thing about being a #MomBoss and working for yourself? My favorite thing about being a #MomBoss is being able to have creative freedom. I think when someone else is telling you what to make it stifles your creativity. Being self employed artist lets me exercise all parts of my mind, which makes my final products have a special touch I don’t think they would have if I was being told what to make. What is on the horizon for The Blessed Branch? Retail is constantly evolving so we have to keep up. I feel like so many people are making wood signs now that it’s time to step up to the next level. We are opening a DIY Studio & Boutique in March. I get so many emails from people asking me what steps I do, products I use and how to do certain techniques, I thought ok…lets do some workshops and let people make their own art for their homes. We are getting a great response so far and are looking forward to opening.
What words of wisdom would you give to our readers either just starting their own at-home business or struggling to maintain one? Any tips? If you are just starting, RESEARCH your product/market. Chat with other #MomBosses by joining groups on Facebook. My favorite one is the Think Creative Collective. It’s a bunch of girls who are making it by empowering, inspiring and guiding each other in business. Also, be willing to take criticism. I know it’s cliche to say the customer is always right, but listen to them, they usually are. What is your favorite part of working for yourself? My favorite part of working for myself is the flexibility to set my own hours. This really makes it easy to get things done around the house, travel and cuddle with my fur babies whenever I want.
(Please note: I originally interviewed Nicole at the beginning of 2017 for another project I was working on.)