1. Tell me about yourself and your business.
My name is Andrea. I am a math major, lover of theatre and a corporate nine-to-fiver. I am the mom to two beautiful boys, 4 and 1, and the wife to a second-year medical student. I am also (and have been for several years) the sole breadwinner in our family. I've had a successful job with a large tech company for the last nine years. I spend my days doing business and sales analytics, which involves handling a great deal of data. I report metrics, manage sales forecasts, and ensure sales reps are paid their commission. I honestly love it. It's challenging, I get to work with a lot of awesome people, and I get to play with numbers all day. On the flip-side, my job is incredibly demanding and stressful, and with everything going on in life, I found myself longing for a creative outlet that was just mine. That is when Hedge & Mane was born.
Hedge & Mane is collection of shirts and prints, and I have plans to expand my product collection over the next year. Everything in my shop was designed and drawn by me. Each individual piece is inspired by something in my life; whether it be a passion of mine, a belief, a happy memory, or a nod to a rough patch I've survived. This business is my story, but I know my struggles and triumphs are not unique and it is my hope that each person who visits can find one piece that speaks to them. I want my shop to be a happy place, and all of my designs are either empowering or deliver a positive message.
I only use products that are made in the USA, and I utilize all local SLC companies for my printing. It is important to me to shop small and shop local, and I will ensure that my business is run this way.
2. What inspired you to start your business?
It has always been a dream of mine to open my own business. I've thought about it for the past 10 years or so, I just could never pin down a solid idea. I toyed with many things (all somehow related to design) but never felt confident in any of them, or in myself. When my husband started medical school in the fall of 2018, life became really hard, really fast. The transition was more difficult than I expected and I knew I needed something more for myself, and for my mental health. I finally got serious about opening a business. I knew I wouldn't be successful if I wasn't doing something that made me happy, so I decided to stick with my love of lettering and graphic design. I invested in a tablet, and several types of pens, bought a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, and got to work learning all I could. The rough start to my husband's second year of medical school was all the motivation I needed to finally take the plunge and officially open my shop.
3. Talk about challenges in your business and how you overcame them.
My business has been open for such a short time that it's hard to pinpoint any challenges I've overcome. I would say just opening the business was the biggest challenge yet. It took a great deal of time and research, as I knew very little about what I was doing. I leaned heavily on a close friend of mine with small business experience, as well as Google, my other close friend in this process. Since opening, my biggest challenge has been marketing and turning customer interest into sales. I've only had a handful of sales and the majority of them have been to friends and family. I've been working on growing my social medial following and researching marketing options. I've also taken every opportunity that has arisen to market myself for free. I have joined networking groups on Facebook, and responded to every inquiry for blog and social media shoutouts. Exposure is key, and I'll take any I can get right now.
4. What accomplishments have you experienced since starting your business?
I have learned so much about a world I knew nothing about. I was clueless about the day-to-day realities of business ownership, and now I am a business owner and actually know what I'm doing. I also never saw myself as artistic. I enjoyed making invitations and prints on my computer, but I would find designs and fonts online and combine them in an appealing way. I never thought I could create my own drawings, and do my own lettering. And not only am I now doing that, I have actually sold products with MY designs on them. It's honestly mind-boggling.
Lastly, I have gained self-confidence. It's something I've always struggled with, and producing items that I have designed and drawn has really forced me to step out of my comfort zone.
5. What would you tell others who want to start a business and don't know where to start?
Make a plan. You need a solid idea before you can do anything. Think about your strengths and passions, and play to those. If it's not something you love to do, you probably won't love owning a business that involves doing it. Keep your idea simple and focused. It's hard to be unique nowadays. Nothing is original anymore. There will most likely be hundreds of other business like yours, so try to find a way to stand out. Follow other small business owners on social media to learn from them. Take note of what it is you like about them, and what makes you want to buy their products.
Do your research. Figure out, legally, what it really takes to own a business. Even if it's just a one-person gig, you need to be registered and pay taxes. Get all of the boring stuff out of the way before you set up shop.
6. What are some of your 2020 goals? How do you plan to achieve your them?
Growing my sales is my number one goal for this year. I plan to invest money in marketing campaigns, and to increase my social medial presence. I want to network more, utilize the help of influencers, and potentially collaborate with other small business owners. I also hope to add a wider variety of products, and launch new designs more frequently. I opened my shop toward the end of 2019 and found myself rushing to finish designs in time for holidays. I want to allow myself more time to perfect my work, and not feel like I'm racing to meet a deadline.
7. Where can people find you?
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/hedgeandmane/
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/hedgeandmane/
Web - www.hedgeandmane.com