Building your own Small business with Maria Laurin. Maria Lauren is the founder of snd host to the Handmade CEO. Maria discusses work-life balance, pulling the entire family into the business during busy times, and the ability for anyone with the desire and drive to create and successfully run their own small business.
Maria created Willow and Bee, in 2007. This small business started selling jewelry to friends and family, to now selling at boutiques and national retailer Von Maur. A few years ago, she was still homeschooling her kids and loving every moment. Maria should’ve known from the many “how-to” parties that she held with Nadia and friends, that teaching was in her bones. It’s through this small business journey and my love of teaching that Handmade CEO was born.
Building Your Own Small Business Transcript
Tim Kubiak 0:29
So many people dream of starting a business, creating their own career in their own future. Today I’m joined by Maria Lauren, and we’re going to talk about a couple of things we’re going to talk about her business, Willow and B, which makes the most amazing, beautiful creations. And we’re also going to talk to her about her podcast, the handmade CEO, which really takes people through the journey of small business ownership. So thanks for being here. Thanks for listening and watching if you haven’t already done so, please subscribe. As always, I’m your host, Tim Kubiak. And you can find me as Tim Kubiak just about everywhere. And you can find the show specifically at bow ties in business on Facebook and Instagram and bow ties and big on Twitter. So thank you so much for being here. Hi, Tim. Thank you. Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure. I’m so excited to get to talk to you. And one of the things that I really want us to explore is
how did you start Willow and B?
Maria Laurin 1:24
Yeah, well, we’ll be started as a, almost as a hobby. I helped.
My kids went to Catholic school, and I helped the kids in third grade. So you can imagine they were itty bitty, they were having to make some rosaries for a function. They were having a gallery, a gala. And they wanted the kids to create these beautiful rosaries, but they were so small, and they couldn’t quite get the gist of how to create them. So I was there to help them. And after creating these pieces, a lot of the parents, you know, asked if I could help them or create some pieces for them. So I thought, well, I can make the rosaries. Sure, and I customize them with birthstones, or whatever stones they like for their treatment. They’re the first communicant. And then from there, it kind of just grew into making jewelry for First Communion. And, you know, shortly thereafter, I started thinking, well, maybe I should just list some of these things on Etsy, because I think it was just starting out. And I had heard about it, but never really gone on there. So I opened up a shop and the next person that said, you know, would you buy? Would you make a rosary? I said, Absolutely. But will you buy it from me on Etsy? And they said, Sure, why not? So that’s kind of where I got the whole thing going. But the funny thing was, the picture was horrible. Like, it was like the worst picture in the world. This is before we had, I don’t even know we had cell phones, I’m sure maybe like horrible cellphone. So I uploaded this picture. And my friend purchased the Rosary. And from there really, I credit a lot of the success to that beautiful review that she left. And I started listing more pieces, and slowly but surely it started to grow. But I did find myself worried that at the end of like, I think it was like, May everything quieted down. Like it just my business was so super seasonal. Yeah. was over. Right. Yeah. And you know, I didn’t it was crazy, because, you know, it took a while to get it going. But once you have a couple of sales, you’re like, Oh, geez, I figured this out, you know. So I just felt like maybe I did the wrong thing. Or maybe I’m pursuing the wrong niche or whatever. So it wasn’t until I you know, I didn’t worry too much. But I thought, well, something’s wrong. And then the next year, you know, sure enough things picked up again. And then I’m like, Okay, I’m seeing a pattern. And then it dawned on me, Well, yeah, there’s only like a certain season that people have first communions. I mean, you do have like the one, you know, one or two throughout the year, maybe later in the year.
But it helped me to understand, first of all, that having a seasonal business gives you the opportunity to do other things throughout the year. And I really, really came to appreciate that this last year with the pandemic because they canceled the first communion season, for lack of a better term, I guess. But what happened was, there was a lot of first communions throughout the year. So I was not able to walk away from my desk for months at a time, because I knew that any day, I could get an order and I was getting two orders, three orders and they were daily orders. So that was not the way I had been used to doing this. It’s been like 10 years of me only working really, really hard from say February to May. And now all of a sudden last year, it was throughout the whole year, you know, it was just a couple of orders every single day. And it really made me appreciate, you know, that I that my business is super seasonal. And, and and now with, you know, a couple years back I did, I did get a retail account. And because there are a large national retailer, I do end up doing a lot of my work for them towards the end of the year. So it did shorten my free time in between the busy season and the retail season. But it really did, like I said, opened my eyes to the beauty of having a very seasonal business.
Unknown Speaker 5:43
It sounds like you’re still hand producing everything you make. Is that accurate?
Maria Laurin 5:48
Yes, yeah, well, so I have somebody that helps me create the pieces, what I do is I customize the pieces. So that was another big tip, that when I first started making these pieces, I was just making just bracelets or rosaries. And once I started adding a birthstone, to customize a bracelet or an initial I hand stamp initials to add as a charm to the bracelets, my sales just grew, I think they almost doubled just by adding the customisations. So those are the aspects that I really focus on is the customization. But you don’t have anyone like from my mom to a friend to my daughter or my son, you know, pitching into help to do little things that I need for my business just to keep everyone a little bit involved and to keep me focused on you know, the customizing part. I mean, I even have my husband running to the post office. So you know, it’s everyone pitches in but but yeah, I’m very hands on still.
Tim Kubiak 6:49
what you just described to me is the epitome of small business ownership, right? Yes, everyone in the family, and everyone’s round is involved, whether they know it or not.
Maria Laurin 6:59
Exactly. Yeah. But it’s, you know, I think it’s good to, to have the family get involved, if possible, because it does show show them what it looks like to have orders that need to be shipped out. And you have deadlines and how you plan, you know, for that busy season. So there’s a lot that goes into keeping it together, even if it’s a small venture.
Tim Kubiak 7:26
Yeah, I think there’s a beauty in it, I’ll say almost outside the system kind of way. But it’s something americans i find relate to more than Europeans and Brits, and that is, we are an entrepreneurial culture here. Right. And I think raising a family around a business, and seeing what it’s like to build a business, to manage customer expectations to deal with even some of the challenges in the business really sets them up for a broader view of what work can be and life can be, then people that are raised just to you do this, you maybe you go to a great university, get a good degree, and you get to work for a big company. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I mean, that’s a fine path. But the difference is, I think if you’re raised around it, it’s always a little bit in your blood.
Maria Laurin 8:15
Yes, yeah. When I and my hope is that if anything ever happens, where say the kids, they they do go and have this beautiful college, you know, career and then they end up in a great job, my hope is that at some point, if they ever decide, you know what, this is just not working, or I never want them to feel trapped. So have they have the opportunity to know that you can do something, anything, just to relieve some of the stress of having that full time job. You know, that’s a great thing. And, you know, you really can take something in this environment right now and grow it to something that’s substantial. It just takes a lot of dedication. So if you’re feeling disenfranchised with your full time job, I think it’s just amazing to be able to start with a concept, you know, develop it a little bit grow every single day. And before you know it, you have something that’s tangible, that maybe you could even rely on for income.
Tim Kubiak 9:14
Yeah, in something we talked about before I hit record that I’d like to just kind of come back to for the listeners. And that is you don’t have to leave your day job.
Maria Laurin 9:24
Right. Exactly. Right. Yes. Well, you know, my, my goal or my dream had always been that when I stayed home with to have my kids start my family that I would remain at home. You know, I I was a banker before and you know, it was a great secure job, but I always thought if I could just make money from home, I never have to go back to that. So having an idea and then developing it and maybe testing the market before you go out and actually create you know, big commitment or whatever. I think it’s important to see you know, If your idea is a good one, then why not continue to grow that even while you have this full time job that way, I feel like you’re not relying on this side hustle this business to be your everything. So if if you do start a business, no, you still probably want insurance you need, you know, that constant paycheck. So it’s good to start small and grow into something, you know, as opposed to just ditching your job. And going full force into something that may or may not work. I mean, it will overtime if you just keep tweaking it, but I would hate to, you know, maybe it’s sink or swim, and some people perform better in that way. You know, that is a bad scenario. I think it’s nice to kind of ease into it.
Tim Kubiak 10:46
And I think there’s a lot of things. And you mentioned insurance, that is certainly one of them, and not corporate insurance and liability insurance, that’s cheap. To give people who’ve never bought that comparison, million dollar general liability policy, anywhere from 400 to a couple 1000 bucks a year, depending on your turnover, assuming you have no employees. So if you’re solopreneur, right, so talk to your insurance broker, this is not insurance advice, just arrange for those listening health care insurance for a family of four. And I know this from my corporate life, because I was in the Benefits Committee. $36,000. Yeah, right out of the gate.
Maria Laurin 11:24
It’s pricey. Yes. And I think a lot of what happens is that you start to put so much pressure on your small business to perform and do everything for you that you’re disenfranchised with that. And then you’re also you know, unhappy with your full time job. So I think you can almost relieve the pressure on both ends, if you take it slow and watch your small business grow. And now your, you know, your nine to five isn’t having to provide your everything, it maybe isn’t the funnest job in the world. But you know, you’re there for the benefits and the perks that it brings. And I think at some point, hopefully growing that small business will, will relieve all the stress, and you can maybe leave there are a full time job.
Tim Kubiak 12:09
Do you find that people with their small businesses follow their passions?
Maria Laurin 12:15
I think more often than not they do. That’s another thing I’m really big on is I find that a lot of what happens in our society is you go to school, you end up getting a degree and sometimes you switch a couple of times while you’re in college. But what ends up happening a lot of time is you decide I don’t even like what I’m doing. But because I spent so much in college in so much time, I can’t possibly leave. So you almost, you know, force yourself to stay in that career, when it’s really not your thing. It’s not your passion. And that’s kind of where I’m getting at. But if it really isn’t, it’s okay to look for something that is. And even if you start just doing it at a small part time basis, I have a feeling that you’ll be a lot happier because you’ll be fulfilling that passion, something that’s really you and you really don’t know who you are usually when you’re 18 1920. So it usually takes all these years to figure out what you like to do what your passions are. So it’s so much pressure to put on yourself at that age, and then also to stick with it for a lifetime. So it just seems like like everybody should pursue something that they’re passionate about, and hopefully make that a career.
Tim Kubiak 13:34
Yeah. To your point. None of you maybe not know who you are. By the way, I had long dark haired in my 20s how much the world changes. But what you care about, in your view of the world changes, right? with life experience with travel experience with business experience. And you know, one of one of my favorite things is I’ve seen people that had full careers, and they started essentially side hustles as their careers were winding down. I’ve watched them build these amazingly fulfilling small businesses right around their lifestyle. And beauty that is, so I come traditionally from a tech background. And you would always see young ambitious manufacturers and solutions creators want all the small guys when they were starting in then they would sneer at them for being lifestyle lifestyle companies that they couldn’t dictate policy to. As they grew. These guys said, I’m running my business, I stopped at five o’clock or I do whatever and I’m not. I’m not doing this because you want me to and I really enjoy watching people who have then live their corporate lives, so to speak, whether it was a banker or a tech exactly whatever, and then go on and they do what they do something else.
Maria Laurin 14:59
Yes. Yeah, and it just feels like you’re actually, oh, I don’t want to see you’re not living before, but it actually feels like you’re waking up to do something that you enjoy. And honestly, I can, I can work from eight in the morning. I mean, I actually wake up super early, I wake up at 530. But I could work until 830 or nine at night, but it’s not out of that feeling of, I need to, it’s almost like you lose track of time. You know, it’s just enjoyable.
Unknown Speaker 15:26
You know, that’s, for anyone who’s in my personal life listening to this. See, I’m not the only one. I forgot to stop and built that o’clock last night, but I love what I was.
Tim Kubiak 15:38
And the other part of it is, and so I will joke, I’m a product of Catholic grade school, high school and university. So I will say that the difference is, is no one owns your soul when you own your business. You That’s true. But no one owns your soul. Like I woke up yesterday morning, my traditional industry that was a mega merger, and my phone went off the hook for six hours, people gossiping people ruminating. Guess what if I want to do a reorg I move the coffee machine now. Right? touch a better life.
Maria Laurin 16:09
They love that. Yeah. That’s so true. And you know, and the beauty of it is that, I mean, you’re you do have clients, you do have people to maybe you know, you have to answer to but at the same time, if you don’t want to take that on, you just say you know what, thank you for the opportunity, but you’re gonna have to pass. So I like that you do have so many more options. You it’s just it’s a different. It’s a whole different ballgame.
Unknown Speaker 16:34
It is. So let’s talk about what you do with your podcast, because I think they kind of go hand in hand, but not exactly right.
Maria Laurin 16:40
Yes, yeah. So of course, when you start your own business, I think you get a lot of people that are curious, they want to know, well, how did you do this? or Why did you start? And I always loved the stories of how people that started with small business, I wanted to know what made you start? Or what would what motivated you what drove you to do this. So in after all these years of having my own small business, and answering and helping friends out with starting their own or giving advice with, you know, selling on Etsy, or on Amazon handmade, I finally decided, Okay, why don’t I just do this podcast, I’m just gonna go ahead and go for it. You know, I talked about it for a good two years, before I finally went ahead and did it. But like I was saying, with a small business being so seasonal, I had a good amount of time to really, you know, think about it and develop it. And so the podcast is handmade CEO. And it really, the idea was that it was going to be basement CEO, because a lot of us start in our basement or in our garage. But for whatever reason, the name wasn’t available. So I went with handmade SEO, because a lot of the people that I talked to are artists, I do also talk to people that are experts in their fields that can give really great tips for those that are just starting out. So what I like to do is capture that motivation, you know, what it was that just that made you decide to start a small business? And what do you do to keep going because it’s not always as easy as people think it might be. So I love that whole aspect of it. And it’s just it’s been out since the end of January of 2020. So, way before when we didn’t know the pandemic was going to have the perfect time. Right, exactly. So it was kind of funny, I had no idea. You know, I’m like, Alright, getting excited that I thought oh, my word like, there’s so much going on now. And a lot of people, I think it was sad, but a lot of people lost their businesses, but so many started their businesses. And what I noticed was that a lot of the ones that were able to maintain their business had a lot of forward thinking with either saving or maybe not spending all of their money, kind of like you have to do when you have a seasonal business. And then the ability to pivot really quick, you know, there’s some people that were a brick and mortar store that then decided, well, geez, this isn’t working, I’m going to start a subscription service. So it’s that ability to pivot when, you know, when thinking is not an option. I think you just have to go for it. And it was really neat to be able to talk to a lot of people that were doing that during that time.
Tim Kubiak 19:19
So one of the things I observed with some people that I know in that space was the ones that did great are the ones that need to pivot and said I’m I’m going back into the workforce, I’m really going to go do this. The ones that kind of tried to tread water between the two are the ones that I saw struggle on the pandemic. So yeah, you know, and if they still had their job, and they still have their side business fine, but it was the ones that were well, I got pushed out and I think I want to go back here because x, but I’ve always wanted to do why and they didn’t do either one. Well,
Maria Laurin 19:51
okay, right. Yeah. And but you know, I think sometimes we need the perfect excuse and I really think this was The perfect excuse to go for it, you know, it’s it really almost put it this way, a lot of people I think are afraid of trying it and failing. So because you had such a drastic thing happening to all over the world, it was really the perfect time to say why I need to try it. So it’s almost like everybody got the excuse to just go for it. And you don’t really need that. But I’m hoping that people get motivated to at least try to, to do something, you know, that they enjoy, even if it’s just on a part time basis? And then really, you know, keep growing it, keep working on it. I mean, it does take time, but I think it’s it’s definitely doable. It is a big part of your audience is female. Yes. Yeah. Right.
Tim Kubiak 20:49
How do you dress? Because the reality is, is women approach business differently than men? Yes. Right? Not better, worse, just differently. How do you dress needs that you run into as a female entrepreneur, frankly, male entrepreneur might not?
Maria Laurin 21:03
Well, so what I’m trying to do is explain through I every so often, I’ll do solo episodes. And in those solo episodes, what I try to do is explain that it’s, I tried to talk about the fears that I had, and the difficulties that I’ve had. And I know not everyone’s the same, and maybe some women are a lot better than me at certain things. But I know for myself, I had a hard time picking up the phone and making a phone call. And for whatever reason, it just made me so nervous to think that I would have to call and ask somebody, you know, should I be an LLC, or sole proprietor? I mean, those, I don’t know what I expected them to do, you know, when the Secretary of State what were what were they going to say? Who knows? So I was so terrified. And so going through all of those things with some experts, really, I think has given not just my listeners, but myself, you know, the the okay to maybe you don’t have the answers. But, you know, we don’t want to be ridiculed on the phone. I don’t know if that’s what it boils down to. Even opening a small business account, for some reason felt like a real uphill battle. Right? I know. And so, you know, I don’t know, I what I think it boils down to is feeling like someone’s gonna be like, Are you kidding me? Like, you really think you’re starting this business, you know, like, I almost felt like, you were going to be judged, like you’re not quite ready, or, you know, those types of things. And my husband is also a banker, and he has clients that are, you know, very, very big clients. So, I think you compare yourself, you ask yourself, Am I ready? Am I there yet? Um, but you know, we’ve had, over the years, I’ve seen some really big months, where I’ve grossed quite a bit of income. And I think, you know, this is a legitimate business, you know, and I don’t know where that whole discomfort stemmed from. But I do think as women and or I should say, for myself, I’m more creative. And I don’t like the other aspects of business as much. So it’s nice to have a community, you know, where people can say, Hey, I’m not great at numbers, can you just give me some advice or some tips. So I think forming a community and having those resources available for people is really key so that we can maybe not approach business the same, but hopefully have that, you know, that vision where we can see, okay, I’m not that good at this, but there’s resources.
Tim Kubiak 23:42
He talked about, you know, you use the term community, you hear mastermind thrown around constantly. In a way, it’s the same difference, right? Yes, community might be a little more, I would say equal, right. Everybody brings their own talents. Right. So like, I joke, never let me write anything. I never let me publish anything I’ve written. Somebody else needs to prove it. Right. But numbers, I’m impeccable. Right? Fine. Find what you’re great at, bring it to a group and find people that compliment you is how I take community.
Maria Laurin 24:18
Right? Absolutely. Yes. Yeah. And you know, I think it’s important to because when you talk to some people that are not in your community, just people that might be interested in curious about what you’re doing. A lot of what I remember feeling was if someone would say, well, oh, what are you doing? I would say, Oh, this is what I make. And they’re like, Oh, that sounds fun. You know, kind of like, Oh, that’s a neat little hobby, you know, that’s cute. And I thought, Well, I mean, I’m making like, but you don’t want to just tell everybody like I’m making good money doing it, but it almost feels like people don’t really get it because they don’t. to them. It just seems like I’m crafting like I’m sitting in my office making crafts. So It’s nice to be able to speak to people that understand and that can really relate to you and who might just be sitting in their office doing their own business. But it’s a real legitimate thing. So it’s, it’s amazing to be able to speak to people that have that, that knowledge.
Tim Kubiak 25:18
Interesting that you said crafting crafting is a massive industry page of The Wall Street Journal. Right? Right. Not just a hobby, as you said, it is a major enterprise. And if you look, in my opinion, if you look at who has done well, regardless of economic cycle, it’s people in that space.
Maria Laurin 25:39
Yes. Yeah. You know, I was just in a group yesterday, and they were discussing a subscription service, and this woman she sells This is gonna like blow your mind. She sells napkins that she like paper napkins that you like cut out, and then you place them on things like on a candle or whatever. So I mean, with 800 clients, she’s got a subscription service. So 800 clients at $24 a month. She’s not doing too bad. So that’s a yes or no, Bobby? Exactly. So my point is, you know, you can, you know, you can talk to all the wrong people that make it seem like what you’re doing is not legitimate. But it really is important to find that right community to help you answer your questions. And like you said, we all approach business differently. So with a community, I think you’re able to get your answers and not feel silly for asking the questions.
Tim Kubiak 26:42
Yeah. So talk about some of your favorite guests on your podcast.
Maria Laurin 26:49
Oh, yeah. So, um, I would say the one that sticks out the most, because it was somewhere recent was he’s a gentleman who is out of Germany, and he made his fortune selling sea monkeys. Okay, so yes, and I’m talking like, he makes a good deal of money. And I believe he’s like the leading, you know, see monkey seller in the world, it is just, yeah. So when you think about that, that’s just fascinating. And, you know, he does also have now a different business where he helps people with virtual assistant. So he’s got a whole different model, it isn’t like, you know, the typical virtual assistant platforms that are out there. So I think that that was pretty interesting. And I found that once you’ve got the bug, and you enjoy having your own business, you tend to want to, you know, give another one a shot and see how you do with it. Excuse me, it almost feels like once you figured out the formula, if you just repeat it.
Tim Kubiak 27:49
Yeah, I think as long as you’re willing to work as hard as you did the first time. Yes, you can make it work, right. Yeah, you think I’m just gonna throw a shingle up? And it’s gonna happen this time?
Maria Laurin 28:00
I’m not exactly yeah, yeah. But I think if you if you repeat those efforts, and you take advantage of the resources that are available out there, my goodness, there’s so much out there that you could really just you can self educate, or you can plug into a community or purchase a course. And before you know it, you know, you’re you’re doing awesome.
Tim Kubiak 28:24
So how do you take that self education on as a small business owner?
Maria Laurin 28:30
Yeah, so I have to say that I probably go overboard with, for myself, what I like to do is while I’m working as I’m always listening to an audio book, that is teaching something or the other, I really, I am not a TV person. So when I have any spare time, what I like to do is watch a course learn a new whether it’s you know, about the Instagram algorithm, or whatever at social media things, but what I really enjoy doing is learning things like on on teachable, or you know, there’s a lot of other platforms like Skillshare I love love, just understanding a little bit more about photography or videography, or anything to do with business, you know, numbers, I love to sit down and watch it. And what I like is you can take it in bite sized pieces, you know, you don’t have to sit there and report back at you know, every Monday and Tuesday. You just go ahead and take it at your own pace. And I love having that available to you and even YouTube. My goodness, any question I have you just go to YouTube.
Tim Kubiak 29:35
Yeah, I’ve tried to fix cars on YouTube. In my case, it’s not a success. YouTube is amazing, right? Yeah, really world class advice. Absolutely out there for free on YouTube. If you get past the scam and nozzle for
Maria Laurin 29:50
exactly. Well, I saw I think what motivated me a lot to just kind of get up Get out of my way was I saw someone I put together one of those tools. Weren’t little like inspirational videos, and it was about a woman who built her own home, and moved out from a really bad situation with her kids. And, and she learned how to build her own home through YouTube. Like she learned how to frame her house. I mean, it was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. I’m like, Okay, if she can go the house, I can definitely, you know, insert whatever, because it’s just, it’s possible, you know, anything’s possible.
Tim Kubiak 30:30
It’s amazing. So you talked about the Instagram algorithm, there is an aesthetic that you have, to your website, to your logos, to your whole approach,
Unknown Speaker 30:41
how do you? How do you fit that inside?
Tim Kubiak 30:47
remaining authentic yourself to somebody else’s view of an algorithm or the world or things like that?
Maria Laurin 30:54
Yeah, so with with the podcast, um, you know, when, when Instagram first started, or when I first started on Instagram, you know, my personal page, it was just pictures of everything, you know, everything in anything with all the filters, and whatever. And I never really looked at it as a tool for business. And it wasn’t until, you know, many years later that I realized, Oh, that’s so funny, people are actually curating their pages. And I wasn’t doing any of that I was just using it to post everything and anything. So I really took a different approach, when I started the podcast page, on Instagram, and even with my Will I be page, I’m starting to go ahead and give that a little bit of a revamp, because I do want it to be true to the brand. But I feel like it’s important that, you know, usually when you have a brand you It reflects a lot of who you are. And I think it’s important to make sure that you ask people is this really fitting with what I’m selling. So in other words, I sell First Communion jewelry, if I was a really loud and you know, crazy kind of gal, and I liked fun colors, and whatever, that might not translate well. So you always want to make sure that what you’re putting out makes sense with the product that you’re selling. And luckily for me, you know, it’s a very subdued colors, and all of that really goes well with a brand. But I think it’s important to have, like, we were saying before a community or somebody that is well trusted, that knows what they’re doing that can say, you know, you’re a little off brand, by by going with this color or, or these topics, you know, if again, it’s my stuff is mostly faith based. So if I was, you know, really getting out there with really hot and heavy political topics, again, I don’t believe that that would be true to my brand. So the good thing is I’m rather conservative, and I kind of try to keep my views to myself, because that’s not I just I’m not, you know, out there in that in that way. So I think it’s important in order to really find your community to be true to yourself, but also make sure that you’re not, you’re not varying too much from the brand and know that you can always have something personal if it’s if you want to be a little bit more off brand, have something personal, but try and keep your business stuff related to your business.
Tim Kubiak 33:18
Yeah, you know, it’s funny, this one that I find a challenge with, right, so I’m pretty open, I listen to metal music I play. They’ll let me in the fourth group, I probably would have never played battle that might be alive. But it’s also partially true story. But I look at that in so for me, like I’m a nerd in a bow tie and a suit most often. But there’s that side of me. So it’s really an interesting balance. In many cases, to balance, the brand of the guy is going to come in and tear apart your financials with the guy who just went to the metal concert. Yeah.
Maria Laurin 33:57
But I love it. The bow tie shows your personality because you could just be wearing a tie. But you know what I mean? You’re you’re showing your personality, but it’s, it still fits.
Tim Kubiak 34:06
It fits. It’s I don’t get my lunch on it. And frankly, the most amazing sociological experiment that I never had did, because bow ties make me approachable in a way. When I’m traveling and when I’m in public that a regular Thai doesn’t it’s Yes. Fascinating. Who will start a conversation with me when I’m going through an airport or waiting for a cab or whatever,
Maria Laurin 34:29
right? No, I can. I had a I work with a friend once once a week and he’s a videographer. And we had a job we have a weekly I’m sorry yearly job that we do where we interview their dermatologist and out of all the people that we interview. I always remember that one doctor because he wears a bow tie. So it makes you very memorable. You know, and it’s I think it’s a really, again, you’re still dressing the part but you’re not, you know, going the tradition All right, which makes it that much more fun.
Tim Kubiak 35:02
One of the best places in the world to buy bow tie suits in Chicago. Perfect. So what did I ask you that I should have asked you in our conversations?
Maria Laurin 35:13
Oh, my goodness, I think we covered quite a bit. I, you know, I just, I think the most important thing I would love people to know is that with a small business, like I was mentioning earlier with the seasonal small business is that it’s easy to throw the towel in when it feels like things are not quite going the way that you want or when things are slow. But I think the the most important thing is to give it some time, it took me about two years to realize, Oh, this is a seasonal business. So had I quit, I would never have seen the potential that I you know, I’ve seen the Edit, you know, I’ve gotten a pretty large account. Now, like I said, with the National retailer, I would never have seen any of that growth had I thrown the towel in just after year one. And you know, again, with starting a podcast, it’s, it’s really touted as something like you just started, everyone just shows up, you just have to be consistent with it and show up every week or whenever you decide you’re going to show up as just be consistent with it. And it’s harder to do it than they actually say it because it does feel sometimes like you know, there is no written gameplan there’s no manual, you, you can’t say Oh, once I’ve done this, I’m going to like automatically be moved to this position. So it’s not like your traditional job, you don’t get merits and awards. So it’s important to stay with it and to make your own maybe deadlines and goals so that you understand, okay, once I have reached this many people that I know you’re making an impact. And now my next goal is to to grow by this much. Otherwise, you’re just kind of not sure. Am I growing or not? Am I improving or not? And it’s just important to stay with it for some time.
Tim Kubiak 37:04
Yeah, and I think that’s amazing advice. And the advice someone gave me to echo that was until you’ve done it for a year, you don’t know if it’s working, right? You can do all throughout the year. But if you give up before a year, you have no idea because that’s really when people realize, oh, wow, they’re actually doing this?
Maria Laurin 37:20
Yes, exactly. Yeah. Well, people start to find you or you actually you start to find yourself, you start realizing what your patterns are, you know, and I mean, honestly, if you started a business in 2020, it’s not going to look the same as 2021 or beyond. So it’s important, you know, to have a little bit of reference, you know, to go back to and say, Well, this is like, I would say 2020 was probably an off year for everybody. So you need to start cataloging all of those details so that you have something to refer back to to see what your progress looks like.
Tim Kubiak 37:54
Yeah, yeah. And the other thing, I think, is people don’t realize how often businesses are reinventing
Maria Laurin 38:01
themselves. Oh, yes, absolutely. Yeah, yeah. And it’s unfortunate when you see a really big business that doesn’t do that. And then they go out of business. You know, it just seems like everybody enjoys the change. I mean, I, I refuse to go to Target anymore, because they’re constantly like changing it. And I’m like, Oh, it’s exciting every time I walk in there, and I just feel like, I’m spending like, way too much money here. So now I don’t go in. And that’s, that’s the trick is to constantly excite your customer. Yeah,
Tim Kubiak 38:33
if you look, frankly, Chicago example. Is Sears failed to do that.
Maria Laurin 38:38
Exactly. Yeah. Kmart is another one that I thought well, cheese. That was huge. We were kids.
Unknown Speaker 38:44
Right. Yeah. Gone. Yeah. Right. Yeah. So thank you so much for your time. It’s been a real pleasure. Yeah. Thank you, Tim. This was a lot of fun.