Interview with Linsay Chavez – Owner of Busy Mom Boutique

Interview with Linsay ChavezTell us a little bit about yourself and your entrepreneurial journey.

My name is Linsay and I live with my husband and 2 daughters (age 3 and 4) in sunny Tucson, Arizona.  My entrepreneurial journey actually started with a blog about 3 years ago.

In 2010, after my youngest was born, I started a blog to write about the daily chaos that was my new life as full-time mom with a full-time career.  At the time I was still working full-time from home as a Marketing Coordinator for a medical device manufacturing company based in Los Angeles. The name of my blog was appropriately named “Slippers & Stilettos”.  At that time, half of my days were spent in heels and the other half in pj’s and slippers… depending on the day.

In the fall of 2010 I started reviewing products on the blog and had received a few mom-invented products that I absolutely loved from the second I opened the boxes.  The first product was Teething Bling (beautiful for mom to wear, safe for baby to chew) and the second was the Smart Seat Dining Chair Seat Covers that were made to protect upholstered chairs from messy kids and pets (and some adults too, ha!)

These products and others that I started to stumble upon were invented by parents and not the typical products you would find at big box stores. I knew almost immediately that I wanted to start a site where moms could find all of these amazing solutions in a “one-stop-shop”.

In January of 2011, I quit my marketing job and began to use what I had learned during those previous 5 years to open The Busy Mom Boutique. My goal for the store is to establish an online storefront where moms from around the world can find solutions to their every day challenges.

The best part of my job now (and my favorite part) is that I spend my entire day helping other moms.  I’m essentially the middle-man between moms who need a solution and moms who have created one for them. I can honestly say that I work with the most amazing group of women and I have the most amazing customers as well.  It’s a dream come true!

What did you do before launching your own business?

Prior to opening the boutique I worked as a Marketing Coordinator for a medical device manufacturing company in Los Angeles for about 6 years.  I actually began working for the start-up as a secretary and as the company grew, I was allowed to grow with it.

I am forever grateful for the opportunity I had with that company because they believed in me and challenged me to succeed in areas that I had no prior experience in… like marketing! I had a boss who allowed me to be creative and valued my input.  I truly believe that God opened that door for me in order to prepare me for the vast range of skills I would need to run my own business.

How did you fund your business?

I started the business with $1,000 from savings.  I used that money to pay for web hosting, the e-commerce platform, a toll-free number and to cover the wholesale cost of my first 3 products (about 20 of each).

I was able to learn about website design and HTML over the course of a few months and customized the website design and initial logo on my own.  Gradually I also learned about Search Engine Optimization and online marketing and began to grow the business. 

For the first 18 months I put all of my profit back into the store.  I added products that could be drop-shipped and also started buying inventory of select products that I ship from home.  I hired a really talented friend to redo my logo that you see now and he is also going to be working on product demo videos for us in 2013.  And I hired another amazing friend to write content for me to improve SEO.

How many hours do you work a week and how much is spent is your home office?

Tough question! It totally depends on the week but I’d say on average I spend about 18 hours a week on the store from my home office.  When I’m adding new products and/or redesigning something then that number greatly increases but the average work-load is less than 20 hours when it comes to managing orders, customer service and order fulfillment.  The rest of my week is spent taking care of my family, which I have to admit is much harder work!

How would you rate your success?

I think if you would have asked me this question about 6 months ago I would have said “I’m not successful yet”.  For the first 18 months I was really caught up in the day-to-day struggle to increase sales and build brand awareness and even though the store was growing by leaps and bounds each month I just felt like I was spinning my wheels.  I realize now it was because I didn’t have a specific goal for my “success”.  I had never considered what I thought success would be for me and for my business.

Then this past September my husband was laid off from work for the first time in over 7 years.  But, surprisingly, the income from the boutique was able to support us during those 4 months.  It was tight, but I did it!  I think it was during that time when I realized that I have been successful in this.  I was able to support my family during a really difficult time.  I was so proud of my little store!

What has been your biggest business struggle as an entrepreneur?

I think the biggest struggle for me is not comparing my journey to someone else’s.  I’m a New England kid (before moving to the SouthWest) and I tend to want everything done quickly.  I know that growing a business doesn’t usually work that way, but I still often find myself comparing the store to others that have been open for 10+ years.  When that happens I get discouraged and feel in over my head and overwhelmed.  I try my hardest now to not even go to “that place” of comparison.  I am trying to practice patience and perseverance, but it isn’t easy!

What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?

Set achievable goals and then focus hard on those goals.  Don’t set your goals based on what someone else has done.  Set them based on what YOU want to accomplish.  Everyone’s story is different and every road to success looks different too…so don’t get side-tracked following someone else’s.  Focus on YOUR “what”, “why” and “how” and you’ll get there faster.

How do you manage all of your personal and business activities?

I think the only way I’m able to manage everything is when I keep things simple and I give myself grace.  I recently read a book that referenced “Imperfect Progress” and I’m constantly reminding myself of that goal each day – to make imperfect progress.  If something stresses me out, I choose to simplify it and make it easier for me to do.  I love to cook, but on some days it was becoming too time-consuming when I needed to handle something that was time-sensitive with the business so now I make about 15 freezer meals each month to use on those busy days.  I’m not going to say they are gourmet or anything, but they allow us to eat healthy without me having to be in the kitchen that day.  It gets the job done – imperfect progress.

I use the same principal with the business now.  If I don’t have time to complete a whole project that I really want to get done, I try to cross at least one thing off the list for the day.  Those little daily accomplishments add up. One day I will be able to work for hours at a time on big projects when my kids are in school, but right now I’m in a season of life when I have a toddler and a preschooler at home so I know it’s not the right time for that yet.

Busy Mom Boutique

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