Something had to change.
It was late last fall, just when my Goat & Lulu Christmas pajama orders were rolling in, and I was clocking in 7-8 hours of solitary sewing time after the kids went to bed. Every night. Weekends too. And I had been doing it for three solid years, all by myself. As much as I loved my handmade children’s clothing business that I had built from scratch, from a few simple appliqued onesies into an etsy shop with over 120 unique items, something just had to change. I was exhausted, getting burned out, relationships were suffering, and though I was (and am :)) so proud of Goat & Lulu, the time and effort I was putting in just wasn’t paying off as much as we needed it to. I am a people pleaser by nature, and it seemed that I was saying yes to all my orders, my business, and my customers, but in turn saying no to my family, my friends, and to myself. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone, but I was, in fact, disappointing those few that mattered the most.
So after lots of tense conversations (by the way, I hate confrontational conflict, so these were especially uncomfortable) and lots and lots (and LOTS) of prayers, I stopped taking orders in my Etsy shop, effective January 1. Initially, I was heartbroken. I had worked so hard for nothing. All the time I had put into Goat & Lulu was simply a waste now. I was a quitter. I was a disappointment. I was terribly upset and didn’t know exactly where and how I fit in within our family dynamic anymore. Until January 11th.
I began helping Scott in his new role in his new company. While we were in Miami on New Year’s Eve for the Orange Bowl, Scott signed the papers selling his stake in his built-from-scratch business to his business partner (literally signed them on the back of our Honda and faxed them back at a UPS store before we headed out to tailgate for the Clemson game on December 31st!), and set out on a new opportunity. When we got back from the trip and the holidays were over, we dove into the new company head first. I started helping him with social media marketing, targeted email marketing, I created and sent out a monthly newsletter, I helped to redesign portions of the company webiste, I developed social media content, and pretty much did whatever he needed additional support with. Before long, the marketing work was paying off, and even a few of Scott’s colleagues were interested in expanding their social media presence, and hired me on, kind of freelance, to help them with their own efforts. Another opportunity arose that I was able to take advantage of, and all of a sudden, and kind of unintentionally, I had a (very) small marketing firm on my hands! I missed sewing for my Goat & Lulu customers and filling orders, but was still getting the chance to sew for myself, and for my own kids (which I hadn’t been able to do nearly as much as I’d wanted to), and a custom order here and there, and not under the immense pressure that I was managing before. And I was able to take on this new work that I could do during the day, even while the kids played in the same room, instead of having to work all night long sewing by myself. Maybe, I finally decided, this was indeed the change I really needed, but just hadn’t known what to do or how to do it. You know the saying, ” When God closes a door, he opens a window?” Well, I’m pretty sure in my case God shut a window and opened a big door.
I have since added a few more clients, made my new venture official, and The Magnolia Marking Group was formed a few months ago! What I have discovered over the last several months is that social media marketing is absolutely essential for all businesses in this day and age, but especially important for small businesses. The dilemma, however, is that if you are a small business owner, you are most likely caught up in the day-to-day priorities of your business activities, and have little room on your to-do list for time-intensive marketing campaigns! As anyone that has lost themselves into the black hole of Facebook and Instagram for two hours at a time can attest (guilty), social media can be time consuming! And that’s exactly where The Magnolia Marketing Group comes in. We build your social media platforms, create a well-rounded social media presence for your business that builds your brand and creates brand recognition, we grow your followers, encourage follower engagement, and work directly with the business owner to grow the business and reach their goals in a collaborative manner.
And social media marketing is only the beginning! We also design and build websites and blogs, design logos and other marketing materials. We develop marketing promotions and targeted email and newsletter campaigns. We develop blog and article content, and can collaborate creatively on other promotional events and ideas to build an online and real life community for your business. And with my background in merchandising, we can help retail businesses with store design, and in-store merchandising, and schematic plans to maximize retail real estate and increase merchandise turn over and sales. We are a multi-faceted markting firm, devoted to hands-on marketing campaign development, excellent customer service, and to taking your small business to the next level with a modern and creative take on marketing.
Though MMG has been taking up a lot of my time the last few months, it has been a welcome change. I am still a stay at home mom (work at home mom, I guess) and am so thankful to able to spend precious time with my kids (though they are all in school most days during the week!), and have a flexible schedule. I am not up all hours of the night and running on 4-5 hours of sleep anymore, hallelujah!! I used to have so many people say, “I don’t know how you do it!” and I used to think, I really don’t either. The way I had to work for Goat & Lulu (if I wanted to continue making everything from hand myself-which I did) just wasn’t sustainable long-term. I knew that at the time, I just didn’t know what I could do about it. Now I work with my husband (who also works from home) and collaborate daily on a business level, which has really been wonderful for our relationship. Thankfully, we work really well together! It has been an adjustment, no doubt, but we really respect each other and our individual business strengths, so we are able to bounce ideas off of each other and learn about each other in a completely different way. MMG is certainly a creative marketing firm, so I am satisfying my daily need to create, but it also satisfies a more structured, organized side of me that I have been missing out on for a while. I love that this business challenges me in new ways, but also allows me more freedom as a mom, a wife, and as a business owner than I have had in quite a while.
So…will I be reopening my Etsy shop? Probably not. Not like it was in the Goat & Lulu heyday, anyway. But am I still creating and sewing? Yes! Mostly for myself and my kids, but I also take custom orders from old customers, friends, and family! And I love being able to say yes, without stressing out, to those orders. I still have Insta-Sales on my other Instagram page (@shopgoatandlulu) when I come across old samples or sew up a bunch of new items for fun when I find some extra fabric, and I have a couple of fun promotions on the horizon in the next few months. I still have my Goat & Lulu Facebook page, and I’ll post on there from time to time. And of course, my blog is titled, Goat & Lulu! So the Goat & Lulu name won’t be going anywhere, it’s just that it has changed a bit.
Goat & Lulu will always have a special place in my heart, and helped me grow in ways that I wouldn’t have otherwise. It built my work ethic and made me appreciate the value of handmade goods, and also made me appreciate the work and heart that goes into being a small business owner. It also made me learn that it’s important to work hard, but, as Scott says, it’s even more important to work smart- and the smarter option for me and my family right now is The Magnolia Marketing Group.
I hope you’ll take a look at my website, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and support me (as all my friends, family, readers, customers and everyone ALWAYS have), as I take on this new venture. And of course, I am just one call, email, tweet, comment, or post away if you were to ever need marketing work! I look forward to this new venture and all the growth and challenges ahead!