Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Pelin Rohde, Founder of Fig & Moss, located in Maple Valley, WA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I sometimes like to say mine is the business of happiness - bows seem to make everyone happy! My business started out as an Etsy shop for hair bows. From the get-go, my vision was to create community, creating from an artisan mindset and a unique experience through various textures, prints, and colors. Once my following grew and I was able to drive my own traffic, I worked with a website design firm to create cohesive branding. Today, my online shop offers bows and headbands in hand-dyed multi-color silk velvet, curated linen, silk, cotton, merino yarn, and resin clips under my own brand, Fig & Moss, party supplies by Meri Meri, and baby blankets by Clementine Kids. I offer two types of monthly subscriptions for hand-dyed silk velvets. My customers are moms who love bows and headbands, fabric, design, color, and being connected to other like-minded moms through social media. They are almost like collectors in a sense, which makes the whole design process very fun and engaging.
Tell us about yourself
Fig & Moss was born out of my desire to find a creative outlet that tied into my background in museums and textiles and a need to stay home with my kids. I was a legal immigrant with a master's degree in museums and three kids under the age of six. I had just learned how to operate a sewing machine as a tribute to my grandmother, who was a seamstress. Facebook groups for children's clothing and bows inspired me to start making bows, and it grew into a full-time job, an online children's boutique, and a source of friendship and inspiration. Every day I go into my home office - a cozy atelier that houses tons of fabric, sequins, yarn, and merchandise - and start playing with colors and textures. While fulfilling orders, I visualize and hope that opening that package will make a mom's and her kiddo's day. Every day I strive to send magic someone's way, which keeps me going from moment to moment.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I'd say winning the hearts of my customers. I know this isn't quantifiable or proven, but I truly feel I'm a part of a community that shows up for drops and launches, of course, but also comes together for friendship and giving. Recently, I organized an auction/raffle to help the victims of earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. Within three days, 30 small shops were on board donating their products, 90 moms joined the auctions, and together we raised $8,195. Over the five years I've been in business, the "bow community" raised funds for many causes. I donated products to a majority of them, and when it was my turn to show up for those less fortunate than us, the community put their trust and hearts in my cause. Also, in April, we will be celebrating the first anniversary of the two bow subscriptions I offer. This is a big accomplishment in the handmade world, as it's a challenge to consistently come up with new designs and stick to a schedule to fulfill all the orders before the next sub comes along and the cycle begins all over again.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Work-life balance. My work disguises itself as a hobby, I'm always connected through e-mail and social media, and I work from my home office, and therefore it's hard to walk away from work and take time for myself. I have to be intentional about taking the time to walk my dog, hang out with my kids and husband, or pencil in time for meditation and yoga. Otherwise, I will just be knitting, designing, researching new materials, and enjoying it - but it's not me time or family time. Thankfully I've been better about it this past year, and hoping to sustain this pace that allows me to slow down every once in a while.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Jump in. When you have a good idea that makes your heart beat a little faster, jump in without thinking too much. You'll figure it out as you go.
- Take stock often. Every couple of months or so, look back, revise goals, and get inspired all over again. Each time you reflect on your business, treat it as if you're starting up for the first time and get excited about what is to come.
- Be personal, be real, and connect from the heart. People will know when you're genuine, and the creativity will flow more freely when there are heartfelt connections.
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.
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