Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Liz Leatherwood, Founder of MeMatita, located in Oviedo, FL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business, MeMatita, is a boutique-style nursery. We offer beautiful potted succulents and indoor plants that are, most importantly, low maintenance. Our name is a play with words rending homage to the cultural influence of Puerto Rico and the USA- it means "my small plant." In addition to potted plants, we offer- custom succulent arrangements, Workshops, weddings, and events decoration, wood care products, monthly subscription plans, and more!
Our customers range from kids exploring gardening to seasoned plant collectors, people that want to learn more about succulents, and those who want to connect with loved ones through meaningful gifts- to mention a few.
Tell us about yourself
My love for nature started in my early years. Some of my favorite childhood memories involved playing around my grandma's house, which had a beautiful garden with tall, luscious trees. In college, I took multiple Environmental Engineering courses to complement my Chemical Engineering degree. It was clear to me that my passion lay in finding ways to care for nature.
I was fortunate enough to marry an amazing, supportive man who also enjoys caring for plants. With our kids, we developed the habit of spending time outside, gardening, and playing. Led by our toddler, James, it turned into a beautiful family tradition that we had to share with others. We realized caring for plants is a fantastic way for kids to learn many important life skills in addition to all the known benefits of gardening in any life stage.
My main driver to continue growing MeMatita is the satisfaction that comes from helping our amazing customers! I can't accurately describe the joy we experience when customers tell us how much their matitas (plants) help them stay sane (same here!), seeing the wonder in kid's eyes when they realize they're caring for a little living being, hearing about customers sharing their plants with loved ones and feeling the amazing vibe from our Workshop attendants. Our community is full of kind people!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner has been to recover our initial investment into the business, plus expanding to offer different products prior to celebrating our first anniversary. Another big accomplishment has been attracting many repeat customers to our succulent Workshops. It is certainly gratifying when hard work leads to fulfilling goals.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Being a "one-man show" is the top challenge, which is amplified by running the business while also caring for my two toddlers, James and Nicholas. It has been a very humbling experience. I'm much more appreciative of the effort it takes to build something from scratch, how much time and planning go into being a pop-up vendor, and how important it is to have a strong mindset for the days where the net gain after working for 10 hours is $5.
Let alone balancing family time now that we're doing more Workshops and trying to expand! Being a small business owner means I'm the owner, planner, administrator, salesperson, photographer, content creator, website manager, order packer & shipper, designer, and maker- all while taking care of two energetic little toddlers. My husband, Michael, and my almost 13-year-old, Victor, have been instrumental in keeping me sane and ensuring we meet our goals.
My husband works full time and has taken on more household responsibilities in addition to providing feedback for MeMatita. Victor is the MVP of Farmers Markets! He's always with me setting up, talking to customers, giving me ideas on how to improve and writing blog entries. The little ones have learned to be gentle with the plants and not pull all their leaves out. We're still working to find the sweet spot where we balance it all, but in the meantime, we're making the most of working as a team.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Set clear goals. Make sure they're attainable and quantifiable, and you track your progress towards meeting them.
- Have a plan but be flexible. Sometimes what we love is not necessarily what our customers love. A successful business is driven by customer demand, so don't be afraid to iterate until you find the sweet spot between being profitable and staying true to your values.
- Place quality and customer service high on your priority list! Happy customers become repeat customers.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I'm beyond appreciative for the support of our family and friends, who were our first customers, reviewers of products, and the first to sign up for our Workshops. We have also met so many incredible people in our community! We're thrilled about what the future holds for MeMatita.
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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