Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sydney Sherman de Arenas, Co-Founder of Montie & Joie, Admin Boutique and Moon & Sun Hostal, etc., located in San Pedro la Laguna, Guatemala and New York City, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Montie & Joie is an ethical home goods and clothing brand that focuses on financially empowering women around the world. We pay fair wages, support traditional crafts, and use environmentally sustainable materials, believing that fashion can and should be positive for our planet. Our customers are women who like unique products and want to make a difference.
Admin Boutique supports entrepreneurs and busy individuals through administrative, marketing, and operations support. Our team of assistants from around the globe strives to give our clients their time back so they can focus on what they do best, further impacting the world with their unique talents. Our customers are small business owners that need fractional help in either marketing, operations, or finance.
Moon & Sun Hostal is an eco-hostel in San Pedro la Laguna Atitlán, Guatemala. We are committed to making a difference for the world and our communities through our environmentally friendly operations. We train and work with locals providing fair pay and opportunities for growth, and we hope our clients leave with us a new idea of how we can co-exist with nature. Our customers are eco-friendly travelers.
Tell us about yourself
Admin Boutique was my first business. I started it after noticing that many small business owners needed part-time help but didn't know where to find it. I was 23 and hardly had any work experience, so I learned much on the job. Before I even started Admin Boutique, though, I traveled extensively. I was interested in creating a business that supported artisan workers from all over the world. I saw beautifully made products and immense poverty simultaneously, and I felt a disconnect.
I started a business after getting an MBA called The Ethno that was based on this concept but has since failed. It is what inspired the start of Montie & Joie. I traveled to Guatemala to learn Spanish and connected with artisans who needed work and were immensely talented. My mom and I started Montie & Joie to support their hand embroidery. We then traveled to Kenya, where we met basket weavers with similar stories and added them to our product mix. We are about to move more into home goods, with 100% of our focus on ethically produced products that help artisan women.
I met my husband traveling to Guatemala for work, and we now live on a property where we built an eco-hostel called Moon & Sun. We also focus on giving back to the community and, specifically, lake cleanup. I have started or am involved in other businesses. My parents are entrepreneurs, so let's say it's in my blood! I love company despite the ups and downs that it brings. I am genuinely motivated every day to help people through my work.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Starting so many businesses has been an accomplishment. I have created 7 (4 currently operating, two more coming, and one failure. The Ethno was my biggest business accomplishment. I raised over $1.125mm and built impressive technology. I had 200+ artisans on our site who went through a thorough vetting process that we also developed.
The downfall was brutal, but I will say that I learned more through that failure than through any of my other successes. Admin Boutique has also been an accomplishment because I have kept it running throughout all other businesses, traveling to 40+ countries and having children. It has been my bread and butter for eight years now!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Failure is hard, but more importantly, what is behind that failure is even more challenging. I believe in knowing our weaknesses and planning around them, and The Ethno went down because I didn't do that well.
The fact is that every business is a replica of its founder(s) in one way or another. The personal growth that comes with success, failure, and running the company depends on knowing who you are and growing into the person you want to become, which asks much more of us than any other aspect of business operations.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Know your strengths and weaknesses and plan around them.
- Know where you want to go (goals).
- Focus on serving your customer time and time again.
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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