Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mercedes Austin, Founder of Mercury Mosaics, located in Minneapolis, MN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Mercury Mosaics is a maker of tile, a creator of mosaics & (coming soon) a designer of home accessories leveraging our beloved brand. We work on B2C, stemming from our website & social media, as well as B2B from our 20+ years of building up a trusted name. Our work bridges the gap between functional building materials and art. We like to think we’re waking up your walls while tending to your daily, functional needs. Our shopping process is inclusive and allows the client, whether it’s a multi-room project or simply an accent, to be as hands-on as they would like.
Our friends in the trades (Builders, Architects, & Designers) thrive with our tile by curating uplifting, award-winning work for their clients by leveraging our in-house team of design experts. We like to think of ourselves as the ‘design within the design’ or sometimes like the earrings if the entire space is the outfit.
Tell us about yourself
I started Mercury Mosaics from an instant passion for tile & mosaics. I was a solo artist, and creating mosaic art was the first thing that I felt like I could focus on. Before tile, I was working in every medium and going nowhere in my creative career. Soon I began to favor the mosaic work created with only handmade tile. I knew that would be the key to differentiating my work in the market, so I set out to construct a supply chain for the best tile. After 18 years of building Mercury Mosaics, pouring my entire self into it, I slowly began to curate a team of directors to take over pieces of the company to diversify my time, so I could return to the art while keeping Mercury growing.
Mercedes Austin Art was launched as a home for my personal art and a blog to support monthly musings related to my art and entrepreneurship. Staying true to my roots as an artist first, entrepreneur & CEO second has allowed me to stay in the game as long as I have. Working on and prioritizing what I’m passionate about continues to fill my well – giving me the ability to pour this passion into building Mercury Mosaics into what it is today. By leading with joy in my life, I’m able to handle challenges in a way where they don’t break me but instead give me the knowledge and wisdom to keep my eye on the future. Coffee & strength training also come in handy!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
As a business owner, my biggest accomplishment is building something that is much more than tile. We’ve established supporting our community through our world-class mosaics into standard operations. I’ve always resonated and lived by paying it forward. Given I had a lot of guidance from mentors throughout the evolution of Mercury Mosaics, it balances out the world to pay that help forward to fellow entrepreneurs in the community. I used to let a lack of wealth hold me back from giving. It was in 2010 that I started to dream up ways I could spend my craft on uplifting community through collaboration.
What sealed it for me was asking: “what would it be like when I was first starting out in business to have something branded, well-marketed & beautiful in my space during those formative years?” My answer to this question was: “it’d bring me a lot of pride and ownership.” When this was my answer, and I began to experience what strategic gifts of our tile were doing for our community, it just grew from there. For over a decade, we’ve built incredible work to support entrepreneurs who are making a difference through their work, and now several have a sparkly Mercury Mosaic in the backdrop of their world.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
That I can never accomplish ‘all the things’ while making everyone happy, the work is never done. What I’ve brought about to address this is to be more humble with each year, to get something as great as I can, and identify when it’s time for someone else to take over. As a business owner, you learn that when others shine brighter than you and excel, this is what creates a sustainable path to growing a business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Start with your passion. This is what keeps you in the game & showing up when it gets tough.
- Dream big and learn to see the dream in parts, and dare to plan the parts into even smaller pieces so you can regularly build your dream with a team.
- Learn your numbers and lean into being comfortable in the discomfort. Numbers are a vital part of a business, and owning them keeps you in the driver’s seat.
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.