It’s Seller Community Small Business Month and we’re highlighting some of our fantastic Community members.
We recently connected with Linda, owner of Willow Sky. Linda makes unique ornaments and artwork, she has a full-time job in healthcare, and she’s a mom of two! She is also a Super Seller here in the Community, @willowsky. We are really grateful for the time Linda spends helping other business owners.
Read on to learn why Linda started her business, her tips for balancing work, family life and her business and why she thinks it’s important to have a ‘side-hustle’.
Why did you start your business?
During the pandemic I found myself making daily schedules for my kids and trying to juggle digital learning as well as working. I found myself doing lots of arts related projects with my children and it quickly became really something I loved to do. At the same time I also felt concerned about the stability of my Healthcare regular job. I know that sounds crazy to think how I possibly be at risk in a healthcare role. The thing is, no one knew at the beginning what was to come. Hospitals fell into massive financial losses with revenue and patients were becoming uninsured causing them to enter the hospital with no payer source for their bills. Outpatient non-emergency procedures were being canceled. Everything was happening at once and times were uncertain and I felt right in the middle of it all.
When I would get home from work or on the weekends I realized that art became a creative outlet for me. It took my mind off the struggles at work and I enjoyed it. So fast forward to today and that is how Willow Sky all began.
Why did you choose Square?
I did my homework and researched everything. I mean everything. Square was by far the most cost-effective way for me to start my business. I had never built a website and Square made it easy to begin and everything fell into place. My business would not be what it is today without Square.
What is your favorite thing about running a business?
I like not having to get approval before making any decisions. I love not having to state my reasoning for needing something or doing something. I have another full time corporate job where everything goes through an approval process that in the end really creates somewhat of a roadblock to innovation. With your own business your approval is all that is needed and that is a beautiful thing. My husband once was asking me why I needed this certain packaging that was a little more expensive than others available. What he does not realize is that unboxing a product is part of it. The look, the way it feels, and the customization all ties into the overall customer experience. Many of my items end up as gifts and they must be presented well. So the cheaper packaging idea was a "no" for me and that was the right decision for my business.
What is your least favorite about running a business?
My least favorite thing is social media marketing. People spend hours creating the perfect posts and I do not enjoy that part. I don't like the selling aspect. I just try to provide the best customer experience/product and hope it was memorable enough for them to want to share with others. I would say 65% of my business is from one person sharing with another or one person receiving a Willow Sky gift and them returning to my website to buy one for someone else.
Did you hesitate to start your business for any reason?
No, because I did not have any idea it would be what it is today when I started.
Linda's Signature Oyster Collection, available at https://willow-sky.square.site/
How do you balance work, your family life, and your business?
I am not sure I really balance it, but what I do is focus my attention on people first and everything else falls into place. I try not to get caught up in the "Comparison Trap". If you are not sure what the "Comparison Trap" is Sandra Stanley can enlighten you in her amazing book.
As the owner of seasonal business, how do you prepare in advance for the busy times of year?
Most all of my business happens around the holidays with my most popular items being the Willow Sky Signature Oyster Ornament. So I make most of my items throughout the year and use the down time in the non busy months for planning. I get everything done so when orders come in I am ready to quickly ship them out. People love getting their items fast so I try to do my best to turn orders around quickly.
Any advice for someone starting a business as a ‘side hustle’?
Everyone needs a side hustle today. After covid happened I realized that it is smart to have more than one income source. That way you are more prepared when something impacts a certain industry.
Do you have any advice for parents who might be considering starting a business?
Starting a new business is easier than being a parent! So if you are already a parent and managing ok, you will do just great! Just think about it... Parenting prepares you for the unexpected, fussy people, sleepless nights, expenses, multitasking, etc. Starting a business will be a piece of cake and if it isn't there are many of us to help you along the way
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
My hope is that other families will enjoy my work. I put a lot of love and careful attention in each item I create for Willow Sky. You never know what might come next, but I am so thankful to all who have decided to follow along on the journey!
Thank you Linda! To learn more about Willow Sky and browse Linda’s products, visit https://willow-sky.square.site.
Helen is a Seller Community Manager at Square and is the editor of the Seller Community Blog. She writes about small business and the owners & entrepreneurs that are a part of the Seller Community.
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