1 In Business

My Unconventional Journey Into Entrepreneurship

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Hey friends! As a busy mom, lifestyle blogger, and CEO of my own wine company (read more about my wine brand here!). I am a completely self taught female entrepreneur but with hard work and determination I landed on the Forbes 30 under 30 list and had my company land on the Inc. 500 list as #53 fastest growing company in the country. And I did that as a mom of 2!

I wanted to start with that because I’ve been getting countless questions lately from other moms who feel like they don’t have the time or energy to start their own company and I’m here to tell you… YOU CAN DO IT.

I gave a speech the other day about building a brand during a pandemic, and how to pivot in a smart way. I will go more into detail about that later, but I wanted to start with a backstory of how I went from Registered Nurse, to struggling young wife/mother, to global fashion designer, and then into the wine industry! And how I got to a point where I am even qualified to give advice to other female entrepreneurs!

Most of you have been around since I first started my entrepreneurial journey back in 2013, but for my few friends, WELCOME! I’m so glad to have you in this community of intelligent, creative, honest women (and men!) who are doing their best and getting the most out of life! So without further delay… lets jump in!

2011: My First Career

I went to nursing school right after high school and started my career as a Registered Nurse in 2011. I truly loved working in the hospital and helping people who needed me. People are always surprised to hear I made my jump into entrepreneurship after a career as a nurse. But I think nursing gave me the skills I needed to really succeed in the business world.

1: I learned that I had to be precise in my actions. One missed dose could be fatal so we are taught that even the smallest actions can have big outcomes. 

2: I learned to communicate with both a detail oriented surgeon and the family of a sick patient all in one breath. You encounter many different personalities, especially in business, and you have to be both strong and soft at the same time. I learned to stay calm under immense pressure while also having empathy and compassion for others. In regards to business, your customers are people, and your employees are people. If you don’t understand people, you won’t understand business. 

3: And finally, I learned that it’s not always what you say that makes a difference. It’s how you make people feel. You aren’t always going to have the perfect answer, I know I sure don’t! But if you know how to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and make them feel important, and valued, you will succeed. Much like in marketing and advertising, people don’t “read ads” they stop and read what interests them or catches their attention… and sometimes, when you do it right, that happens to be an ad. You need to always focus on your customer and the experience you’re giving them, instead of the words you’re trying to tell them.

2013: Starting My First Company

OK, back to 2013 when I was still working as a nurse, I was put on bed rest with my first son for the last 10 weeks of my pregnancy and I was EXTREMELY bored. I tried anything to pass the time. (this was before TikTok and Instagram stories that can keep me entertained for hours!)

I started looking through fashion magazines and making little changes to the dresses I saw on the celebrities. Changes that I would like if I were to wear that same outfit. This turned into a real passion for designing clothing and when my son was born, I decided to just go for it and try to start a line of my own! My husband said one sentence to me that really made me go for it. He said “why not just try? If it doesn’t work out you can always go back to nursing.” and that mentality of “just go for it” really stuck with me.

 It took a lot of research, and a lot of networking to figure out the apparel industry but after my first 3 years in business, we were officially the fastest growing clothing company in the country and the fastest growing company overall in Arkansas, where we’re from. 

We grew over 6,000% in 3 years which helped me land on the Forbes 30 under 30 list as well as my company on the Inc 500 list coming in at #53 overall. This was such a high point for all of us at the company!! We were on top of the world and seemingly untouchable! (And if there were Hollywood, this would be the time where everything would hit the fan) (lol) But in all seriousness, it did get much tougher after that. Extremely high growth isn’t something to take lightly. High growth means higher expenses, bigger challenges, and it’s almost like navigating aggressive waters with a ship you built overnight. And for us, it just got to be too much to do on our own so we brought in partners to help get our ship back on course. 

However, my husband and I learned that we are true entrepreneurs at heart. We don’t thrive when we’re held back, creatively. We love the start-up phase of building a brand and like to get our hands a little dirty, as opposed to doing things by the book.

2019: A New Chapter

In early 2019 we were working more than ever and just not truly happy so we decided to step down from our roles in our first company and move to Florida to focus solely on our growing family for once in our adult life! Afterall, we started our company so we could have flexibility but it turned out we had been busier than ever. 

In May of 2019 I was realizing that being a stay at home mom was not AT ALL easier than being a working mom. I was overwhelmed at times and finding myself so inspired by the seemingly perfect instagram moms who I had worked with for many years. They were working and still managed to have clean houses and throw fun birthday parties, they were doing it ALL! I decided to send them all little gifts and notes for mothers day to show my love and support and remind them that they’re KILLING IT and inspiring me everyday. The response I received back was truly (and literally) life changing. They all called me with tears in their eyes saying they constantly felt like failures or felt like they were letting their kids or their co-workers down somehow. The small gesture of sending them little notes that all started with “hey mama, you’re doing great!” could turn their whole week around. 

That’s when it hit me! We’re all just trying to survive this phase of motherhood and we spend all day long taking care of others, it’s so nice when someone takes the time to support us as well! I realized I wanted to create a product that made it easier for us to support other moms and show them that they’re doing a GREAT job! 

When my husband asked what one product I would want to receive after a hard week, I immediately thought… wine of course!

2020: Launching Hey Mama Wines

And Hey Mama Wines was born. It took almost a year of finding the right vineyards to partner with, tastings, design meetings, website building, and fundraising but we were officially set to launch in late March 2020…. And then the world shut down. We were a matter of days away from having everything completed when the factories shut their doors and production lines came to a halt. That was hard to swallow. We put everything we had into this new business and then it was all put on hold. But instead of sulking, we decided to pivot. We spent the next few months brainstorming different ways to reach our customers, how to be creative in our advertising, and how to be different from our competition. 

Because if you want to succeed in marketing yourself, your brand or your product, you need to be one of three things. You need to be helpful, entertaining, or different. 

Building a brand during a global pandemic was certainly new for me, as it was for everyone else. But if you have a basic understanding of your customer and how to get products in front of them in a creative way, you’ll realize it’s not as impossible as you think!

I could go on all day but I decided to make this a weekly series! I’ll continue next week with a more detailed post on how we started our current company, Hey Mama Wines, as well as some advice or more stories about how we managed to get where we are today. Let me know in the comments if you have a specific question for me and I’ll try to get those answered in future posts!

xo, Lauren

This is part 1 of my weekly Entrepreneurial Series. Continue on to part 2 HERE where I discuss building your brand and learning how to pivot in a creative way!

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