Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Monica Ditsworth, Founder of ratbone skinny + the oddball club, located in Palm Desert, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
In 2013, burnt out by corporate culture, I founded Ratbone Skinny because I loved designing greeting cards and gifts that made people connect. Without prior business experience, I transformed it from a small greeting card company into a beloved brand and monthly subscription box, The Oddball Club. At its core, the brand is about inspiring joy, whimsy, and nostalgia. My customers are quirky and appreciate great design, witty humor, and kitschy treasures that make them smile. They celebrate individuality, independent artists, woman-run companies, and small businesses.
Tell us about yourself
I live by the punk rock ethos of D.I.Y. (do it yourself), advocating for mental health and supporting individuality. A few of my favorite things include feminism, Halloween, horror comic books/graphic novels, modern art galleries, mom-and-pop shops, independent coffee houses & any thrift or craft store. I am motivated to keep doing what I do because sharing my art helps people connect by inspiring joy, whimsy, sympathy, empathy, & nostalgia. I live in Palm Desert, California, with my husband and cat.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner has always been building my business from the ground up, funding myself with a "real world" full-time job, learning everything as I went, and finally passing the knowledge on to mentor and help build a second successful greeting card business with my husband.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The hardest thing about being a business owner is continuing to stay passionate about your brand, art, and company, as you mature, and your life changes. In the beginning, the hustle was easy because I was a spry twenty-something, motivated, and with so much to say about the world. I could work for hours on end, and it felt like I was always artistically inspired. As the years passed, my point of view as an artist changed, and I had to keep lightinng the business and artistic fire in different ways. For me, this came with evolving into a gift line with hand-poured candles, jewelry, etc., and eventually into a subscription box. I continue to search for ways to challenge, motivate, and grow my business to ensure I am excited and want to show up to keep going.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
The top three tips I would give to anyone who wants to start and grow a business today would be:
- If you aren't willing to "jump off a bridge" with your business idea, move on to something you feel excited about. There will be many days when the vision is the only thing driving you to get out of bed. If you aren't in love with the concept, move on until something keeps you up at night because you are excited about it.
- Don't wait, but keep your day job. Get your product listed on a marketplace platform to test the waters and see how it sells while you are working your day job. You can fund the business on some of that 9-5 cash, learn as you go, and be able to take more risks since your lively hood doesn't rely on the start-up idea.
- Social media is a long con, and followers do not equal sales. All social media platforms are free marketing but don't expect fruit from your labor overnight. Use them as a running business card or resume updated regularly to showcase your brand. It takes weeks, months, or longer to see a sale. Just know you are slowly gaining customers' trust with brand awareness. Eventually, that will lead to consideration and then a possible conversion. Also, I always preach that followers and likes do not equal sales because some accounts have tons of followers who can't make a sale and others a small following who sell out of goods. Remove the ego from the position and always stay neutral about the number of likes a post gets.
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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