Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mary England, Owner of Uncustomary, located in Baltimore, MD, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I run the business Uncustomary. I assist others with confronting their fears through a self-love approach I call Merriment Making. We embody, create, and spread joy, with play and mental health being the primary focuses in the formula. I am my own customer, so I know what we need.
Tell us about yourself
I started my business after I quit a psychiatric rehabilitation center I worked at for five years. I knew I wanted to use my background and degrees in understanding the human mind to help people grow but through a more fun and fanciful approach, including play and art. I'm motivated every day by the good the world has to offer. I believe we have everything that has infinite potential, and every person is as valuable as a glittering star galaxy. I'm inspired by the frivolous.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
One of my biggest accomplishments as a business owner has been writing two books and starting Operation Merriment. I will always be a writer at heart, but the dedication it takes to finish a book is something that doesn't come naturally to me, so I am very proud to say I have completed them! Operation Merriment is a project I started to spread Random Acts Of Merriment (Joy instead of Kindness), and I think it's the essence of who I am. It's a combination of celebration, silliness, art, kindness, play, and curiosity.
It took a lot of releasing what I thought I was "supposed" to do to get to a point where I began hosting Operation Merriment. I don't care if no one ever shows up again. I will continue to do this every week for the rest of my life for myself.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I am not a natural entrepreneur. Money, logistics, marketing, and the back end of almost everything don't make sense to me naturally. I genuinely want to help people, and I have lost a lot of money giving away too much for free over the years. I definitely encourage you to factor your time into your prices early on.
Besides that, I would say doing what you think you're "supposed to do" is difficult as a business owner. I wasted a lot of time transitioning into being a "Self-Love Coach" because I thought it made more sense for people to find me. Instead of carving my own space out in the world with what made sense to ME, I tried to fit the mold. That was a mistake. Just because there's no course to teach you how to do what you want to do doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. It means you should create it!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Ask yourself what you'd like people to say about you at your funeral, and make your business a way to create a solution for spreading joy about it. Ex: If you hope everyone says you were kind when you're gone, make your business a solution for people who need more kindness. Go spread joy with kindness as a business.
- Tell people why you matter. If I can't find you, it doesn't matter. There are a sea of tents at the vendor's market. Why should I walk into yours? Put up a sandwich board telling me why you're better than your competitors, why you're interesting, and what YOU'D want to hear. Blow bubbles. Make your business interactive. Even online.
- Always be your own customer first. If you have a question, so does someone else. If you answer it first, people will pay you for the information.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Physical products, in-person interactions, and personal touches are invaluable. Don't get lost in a world of digital doom. Remember to put your name on things and connect with people behind the screen.
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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