Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sherri Blum, Founder and CCO of Bourbon Cowgirl®, located in Carlisle, PA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Bourbon Cowgirl® is a lifestyle brand I founded. I'm an artist, designer, and entrepreneur who wanted to create a place for other Spirited Women. Our store offers retail products, including hats, t-shirts, glassware, travel tumblers, campfire mugs, home decor, and other humorous gifts for her.
Bourbon Cowgirl is also a social gathering place for women of all walks of life to celebrate and support one another. Our blog features the "Bourbon Cowgirl of the Month" with a personal interview telling a tale of survival, triumph, and personal achievements of extraordinary women.
Tell us about yourself
I'm what one might call a serial entrepreneur. I'm a creative, and therefore I'm constantly brainstorming. Over 20 years ago, I pioneered the field of Nursery Design, and through my company, Jack and Jill Interiors, I designed high-end and celebrity nurseries nationwide as well as a brand for baby wall art and decor. As time went on, I had various other interests and decided to take what I had learned being a businesswoman, wholesaler, and retailer and wanted to create something more personal for myself.
I have witnessed women tearing each other down too often in business and decided I wanted to create a company that would instead help to build women up and celebrate one another's achievements and uniqueness. Bourbon Cowgirl was born. I joke that Bourbon Cowgirl is my "alter ego." But she's every woman who is a thriver, a survivor, and a woman who keeps getting back up when knocked down. She's a woman who celebrates and cherishes other kind-hearted and "spirited" women.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I truly feel that it's just realizing that anything is possible. When I was a child and young woman, I'd have never dreamed that I would someday own my own company, let alone found and own 4 companies and a patent. My father always taught my brothers and I to have a "can do" attitude, as he called it. "I can't" was not allowed to be in our vocabulary.
If I had to name one thing I'm most proud of, it's my latest venture, The Kayak Jack. I own a patent for a boat lift called The Kayak Jack, and we are beginning to work on a prototype this month. I love kayaking but struggle to lift one to my car's roof rack. So I decided to invent something to help others like myself to continue enjoying our beloved sport of kayaking.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
It's really disheartening when others infringe upon your copyrights or trademarks. I realize it's difficult to remain truly original, but in my design business, my nursery artwork and decor business, and more, I've had to deal with others who wish to take my designs and sell them as their own. It's the ugly part of business, and fortunately, I have an attorney who handles these things. But it doesn't make it any less heartbreaking to deal with it.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do your homework, of course. Research, research, and do some more research! Know your demographic and research their buying habits, for example. Research what others in your industry are doing and find a way to fill a void they might not be filling. Do it differently or "with a twist" to set yourself apart. For example, I was a standard interior designer back in the 90s and realized nobody else was designing only baby nurseries. So I found a niche, founded Jack and Jill Interiors, and began advertising. It took off quickly, and we were featured in many magazines because nobody else was doing what I was doing with Jack and Jill Interiors.
- Don't try to "do it all" yourself. When you're starting out, hire an agency or business attorney to help with things like incorporating and setting up contracts, etc.
- Be willing to evolve. It's absolutely necessary to avoid getting "stuck" when something might not be optimal within your business. Know when it's time to change your website or hire an assistant. Know when a product has become "tired" and create something more timely. Evolve and be open-minded, and always be searching for new and better ways to grow your business. Don't become complacent! There's always going to be competition so remember to constantly strive to set yourself apart from the rest.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.