Emily Thompson 0:01
From Being Boss, this is Making a Business.
Kathleen Shannon 0:05
A podcast about starting a business from scratch and overcoming the obstacles face when pursuing your dreams. I'm Kathleen Shannon.
Emily Thompson 0:13
And I'm Emily Thompson.
Kathleen Shannon 0:22
In this miniseries, we're following Emily's journey as she jumps into life as a maker and retailer with her new creative endeavor Almanac Supply Company.
Kathleen Shannon 0:37
In the last episode of Making a Business, Emily shared four ingredients of business that helped her show up and do the work. In this episode, we're looking at how Emily and David are planning growth in their new business now that the rubber is hitting the road. Alright, Emily, I'm really curious to hear how you're growing Almanac and its online presence and ecommerce.
Emily Thompson 1:05
So like I said, in a couple of couple of episodes ago, it's all about Christmas, it is all about Christmas. And so whenever it comes to online, one of the great things is that the websites built, like it's there, we did that first and foremost, because I'm in online business and have been for a really long time. That was, that was priority number one for me. So in a lot of ways, the infrastructure is there. And we're kind of it probably appears that we're being quiet at the moment. So it probably doesn't look like we're doing a lot of like online business growth. Because what we're really doing is focusing on having everything in place and strategize and planned out and like stocked up and all of these things for the holidays. So whenever it comes to how it is that I'm growing online, I'm preparing for the holidays, and really making sure that whenever you know Black Friday, Cyber Monday comes around, that the website is stocked. It's easy to use that we have email marketing in place that we have, you know, customer service templates written and ready to go so that we can reply to emails swiftly and efficiently. All of these things so whenever it comes to going online in this season, so right now we're in late summer, when we're when we're recording this is we're preparing for the holidays, which on the outside doesn't look like a whole lot. But on the inside, we're scurrying.
Kathleen Shannon 2:31
And what's going on with your social presence right now? And maybe even your newsletter, I know that Instagram and newsletter have been your main strategies, whenever it comes how you're showing up? Is that still your main strategy and what's going on there?
Emily Thompson 2:44
Yes, we're still focusing on Instagram. Instagram is my favorite places, the only social media platform that I am active on. And you know, we've said a couple of times, whenever it comes to starting a business, you don't have to be on every social media platform, just choose your favorite and do it well. So that's really what I'm focusing on with Almanac is focusing on Instagram and having a beautiful feed and you know, engaging with people and doing some Instagram stories. One of the things that I'm doing that I'm having a ton of fun with are my crystal party Instagram stories, or we're doing some were selling crystals via Instagram stories. So I'll show up with like a theme, where I think soon we're doing one for these tourmalinated crystal quartz points that we got in and the idea is giving people an accessible way to shop for crystals that they can't see and touch. So it's using video as a way for people to really see what's going on with the rock, so that they can choose the one that's for them. Whereas if you just go to our website and buy it, I'm going to choose one for you, you're just going to buy one and I'm going to choose the closest one to my hand at that moment, probably and stick it in a box for you. But Instagram Stories gives us a way to nurture that community on Instagram and also give a more accessible rock buying experience to the people who want to show up and buy rocks in that way. But I will also say I'm building some Pinterest boards sort of behind the scenes. I haven't like told anyone that Almanac has a Pinterest account there. But Pinterest is a place that I've always enjoyed. I have a healthy personal account that I love and I just use it for like recipes, basically. But I have a lot of boards and a good amount of followers and some good traffic and I don't really care about all of those things. But I do love Instagram. I do love Pinterest and I have been really active on the personal side. I want to try some things that I've been wanting to try for a really long time for Almanac on Pinterest. And so I'm just starting to get some of that geared up and we'll probably have some sort of release or start talking about that in the coming weeks.
Kathleen Shannon 4:49
So is it beyond really leveraging Pinterest as its own search engine and doing something extra special there.
Emily Thompson 4:57
It's really just leveraging it as a really great search enginge. But I also want to use it as a space to inspire people. That's really what Almanac is for. So again, I think of, so I guess this is kind of twofold. And one, it's bringing the customer into the environment that I feel Almanac is. So really creating, if I could create a massive Almanac mood board, this is what it would be, it'd be the Pinterest account that I'm creating more so than just the website, like the website is just some like products that you can go buy. But whenever I think about what seasonal living is, what it's like to really embrace autumn or winter, or you know how it is that I want to show up for holidays, or the things that I want to cook and eat and those sorts of things. That's what I'm really curating there. So I'm creating is like a big mood board for people who are on Pinterest who want to come see what I feel Almanac is, but then it is also very strategic in then I want to play with some of those Pinterest algorithms and see what it's like and what it takes to use Pinterest to feed a business as it were. It's something that I've seen other makers and shop owners and things do before and it's never been something that I could do because I always run informational businesses. But it's something that I'm really excited to test out and try with Almanac. Maybe in season three or four, I can come back and let people know how it goes. But I do want to try it for the purpose of supporting a brand and see what that looks like.
Emily Thompson 6:28
Alright, there's something here that I want to bring to the forefront to really make sure you're hearing it and it's twofold. First, don't go crazy with social media. We hear small business owners all the time waffling around social media, where should I show up? How do I manage it all? What should it look like? Here's a couple of tips. As I said, pick your favorite platform and do it well. There's no need to start and account for all of them. And it doesn't have to be Facebook, if you hate Facebook, eight months in by someone who knows a thing or two about online business and Almanac supply company is still not on Facebook. Am I missing business here? Maybe, but maybe not. What matters most is that I've chosen a platform, Instagram, that I like it can show up enthusiastically there. Next up, let's talk about my move into Pinterest and even go back to a topic that came up in Episode Two of this season, test and change. I'm not moving into Pinterest because I think I'm supposed to be there or because I took a course that said if I do A, B and C then I'll get x results. So I must do what I'm getting on. Because one I love the platform and two, I want to play with it. I want to see what I can do, I have no expectations though I will likely set a few goals to help me steer my ship and measure my efforts. I'm entering into it as an experiment and one that I will have fun trying out. By going out social media in this way, I'm taking out all of the requirements and strategies and gross stuff that will bog down what excites me and engages others, because and I suppose this is actually point number three, I'm not here to be a social media marketer. I'm here to use social media to market my business, there's a bit of a difference there. I will use social media to find my customers and engage with them while keeping my focus on all the other parts of what I'm here to do. Like making products, designing some cool shit, and creating an incredible customer experience. I'm not here to figure out social media at all costs.
Kathleen Shannon 8:44
I want to talk about the podcast a little bit because we have the being boss podcast, it is kind of popular.
Emily Thompson 8:52
It's kind of popular.
Kathleen Shannon 8:53
It's kind of a big deal.
Emily Thompson 8:55
Kathleen Shannon 8:56
And it has the original vision for the podcast was us having our business bestie conversations even like we're having here and hitting publish on them, kind of giving people a peek behind the curtain of what it goes into the struggles and the victories and the mindsets and habits and routines and systems and all the things that go into creating a business. And so I wanted to talk about Being Boss as a marketing channel even for this venture. How's that going?
Emily Thompson 9:30
Well, you know, you know, Kathleen, that was always the goal of Being Boss was to use it as a platform. It was the original goal, I guess, of Being Boss was to be a marketing platform for our individual businesses. It's just when we started it. I was doing websites while you were doing branding. My thing that I want to market has changed a lot. Where I'm not offering business services anymore. I am now offering product so I think we're obviously still using it more or less the same way though Being Boss has grown into something significantly larger than us just trying to sell branding and websites, for sure on every level. But I am still consistently amazed and grateful for how much the Being Boss community has shown up to support me and Almanac. So, I mean, and guys, I see you, I see you placing orders, and I certainly see you when you show up for pop up shops. For several of the pop up shops that we've had locally, we've had people drive in, bosses have driven in from out of state to come shop Almanac or to bring their book and let me sign it which has been the most heartwarming experience and makes me love you guys so terribly much. So um, so yes, Being Boss definitely is a marketing channel for Almanac. I am continued, I continue to be surprised by how much you guys show up for Almanac and how much of a part of Almanac you have become. But then there's also this podcast. So Making a Business. So whenever we started this one, there was a couple of purposes there, one of which was to finally serve the maker community which fell under represented, even though Kathleen and I have always seen the Being Boss podcast as being just as applicable to makers, it has been really great to really talk specifically to makers and retail shop owners in this space. We also did season one as a way to promote the book. And so it came out at the time that the Being Boss book was coming out. And we shared some excerpts in there hoping that you guys would go buy the book. But then it has also I think grown some awareness for Almanac as well. So we continue to use those podcasts as ways to share with people how they can support us in other places, whether that be Braid for you, or Almanac for me back in the day or excuse me Indie Shopography for me back in the day or Almanac now, Being Boss is absolutely a large or Being Boss community members make up a large pool of the support that we get from Almanac for at Almanac all those words or prepositions are difficult for me today. Sorry.
Kathleen Shannon 12:20
Well, two things to really point out here. One, we are content creators, I think I would almost say first and foremost, that might not be true for you. Okay.
Emily Thompson 12:32
Whether or not I like it, and I do like it.
Kathleen Shannon 12:35
We are content creators. We love doing it. We love expressing ourselves in this way, and really blending what's personal and what's professional, whenever it comes to our businesses and our podcasts. And before podcasting, it was blogging, and on social and in our newsletter and all the places. But we have a lot of makers and retailers saying, Well, I don't have a service. I don't know how to create content around my expertise. And I think that Being Boss and Making a Business is just one example of how you can continue to capture, shape, and share what it is that you are doing to run your product business. And it doesn't have to be just like this, it can be in a multitude of ways. And another thing I wanted to point out is that our customers aren't just showing up at Almanac or previously Indie Shopography or Braid Creative to support us. We have some really good stuff to offer and we're just making them aware of it. Yeah, Does that makes sense?
Emily Thompson 13:38
For sure, for sure. That's definitely the other way of looking at it. We're Yes, people are definitely coming because they want some well curated rocks to buy. They want access to some quality crystals, or some you know handmade candles that are going to make their life more pleasant to live all of those things. For sure. They are definitely here to show up for the thing, but they're also here to hang out with us too.
Kathleen Shannon 14:05
All right, I want to talk about corporate gifting because this is something that I've always felt a little maybe even guilty around.
Emily Thompson 14:14
It feels a little sleazy even to say the word corporate gifting I think I just had to throw that out there.
Kathleen Shannon 14:21
Okay, I don't think it's sleazy at all. I think that, I mean but maybe I just haven't thought about it. But one thing that I have never been good at is sending out thank you cards or Thank you gifts to my clients. I feel like my previous stance on it was I just gave you my very best my very best amount of time, talent, attention, everything I've got I gave to you right in the in the engagement in the where I was being hired and doing the work. But since working with you and being able to systemize how it is that we thank our own guests on the show and people we collaborate with and work with. I'm like, Oh, it's not that. I didn't like saying thank you. It's not I'm allergic to the post office, one.
Emily Thompson 15:09
That is true guys, Kathleen, and like packages don't mix.
Kathleen Shannon 15:14
No, if you're expecting a package for me, it's going to be months before you get it, because I just have a hard, hard time going to the post office. And so it's almost like I just needed an easier, more systemized way to say thank you, and it's still genuine. And so I'm actually going to be working with Almanac through Braid to send my lovely clients who I adore so much this final, thank you as a send off, and as even closer to the engagement, and I'm so stoked about it. So can you talk a little bit about that sending thank you gifts on behalf of other companies?
Emily Thompson 15:54
Absolutely, this is something that I wanted to do like from the beginning, basically, I always knew this would be a part of the model, because as a service provider who loves sending gifts, so whether that's, you know, christmas gifts, or you know, final end of project final gifts, and thank you cards, those sorts of things like those are always things that I've taken great joy in, you know, curating these really great packages that are all branded, and juicy and all of these things. I've always loved doing that. So I knew that that would be part of this business model. And partly because I know how difficult that is, like sourcing several items that are all similar enough and in the right price range. And you know, then you have to go get boxes. And then what about the thank you cards? And then you know, how do you just do it, and then going to the post office, like all of that is can be very difficult, especially when you're trying to run a business. So I always knew that I wanted to do it, because I've always had a need for it. And I know how to make it work because I've made it work in my other businesses. And it was something that even before I started talking about it at Almanac, I had friends asking me about it. So I had people emailing me or messaging me on instagram saying, but what about corporate gifting? Can I get you to send my clients candles or crystals, or even do subscription boxes, those sorts of things. And I'm like omg yes, but let me figure that out first, because I actually have to lay some things, some things out. So one of the things that we've been really focusing on over the past month or two, has been figuring out pricing and systems and all of those things for doing corporate gifting. And it's also just another unexpected way for me to support the Being Boss community. And that giving them a resource for giving their clients or their vendors or their collaborators this heightened experience without adding much more to their to do list. So one of the things that we do for Being Boss, for example, just to give people an idea of what this can look like is, every time we have you know, 10 guests on the Being Boss show will sit will collect all of their information in a spreadsheet, it gets sent over to David at Almanac, and he goes through and creates packages for each one, each one of those people send them out and we send Being Boss a single invoice for all of those things. It's such an easy way for us to streamline that process. And in a way where it doesn't take a lot of time for the Being Boss team to do that. It's just part of the onboarding process to collect those addresses, that gets sent over to Almanac. Almanac sends them out because we have everything here that we need to do it. Corporate gifting has been a very huge part of Indie Shopography and of Being Boss for the entirety of you know, both of them being alive. And it's one of those things that just elevates that experience for a client. And it is my pleasure and with great excitement, am I able to give access to other creative service providers and even your product if you want to get crazy business owners the ability to nurture their client relationships in this way. So if anybody needs some corporate gifting, shoot us an email.
Kathleen Shannon 19:12
And can I share with you a little behind the scenes on also why we decided to start doing this? Yes. So I was doing my chalkboard and there were a few open spots for clients in let's say the fall and I just started thinking okay, I could send out an email, I could offer some free pre- and post-coaching as incentives to get some clients because we always get asked this with the chalkboard method which you can check out on our website. But we always get asked okay, but how do you actually fill the spots? And this is a concrete example of how I thought what could I do to help fill more spots and on an energetic level, I felt like thanking my past customers would make us top of mind again, and if any of their friends needed a recommendation or referral we would come first to And so it's a very roundabout, nuanced way to drum up new business. It's also very instagrammable. And so any, I think all experiences online and offline are leading toward how can this be a shareable experience? And of course, I want everyone to know like, I'm not just back here like, evil mastermind, thinking like muwha How can I get more clients? How can I get this more shared? It's not that at all. But it is something that will be a delight.
Emily Thompson 20:31
It is a real world like result of this sort of thing.
Kathleen Shannon 20:34
It is it is, and I think that we're all friends here. So we can just share this stuff openly and candidly, but it is this delightful thing to get a nice little gift in the mail. And then a lot of people end up do sharing it on Instagram, it's not something I expect, at all. But if it's a nice little side product, and then they're tagging you and saying, Oh, I loved getting this package, it's something I love seeing on the Being Boss side, whenever our guests are tagging us, even sometimes a few months later, whenever they get their gift in the mail, it's this unexpected surprise, it's not something that all podcasts are doing. And they're saying, oh, thank you so much for the candle. I mean, it's just, it's just nice.
Emily Thompson 21:14
It is. it is. it's energetically nice. It's physically nice. It's all of it, like everyone should be doing it. So I am really excited to have that be a part of how it is that we're growing our business online, because it is such an important part of every one running a business. And it's also a way for us to do some like b2b business, whenever we get right down to like the bottom line of it. How can we sell 10 candles instead of one candle, how it is that we can really scale growth and, and supply a service that I think is a little under a little bit under, under represented. But also, I also have to point out here how important it is to find a company to do corporate gifting who has their systems in order like nothing can be more disastrous than having someone send out your client gifts in the wrong way. And that's something David and I have been very excited to really get those systems super in order because this is what we do guys. And also being able to incorporate like branded pieces. So for the Being Boss gifts, we incorporate Being Boss stickers, and thank you cards, we'll be doing something similar for Braid as well. And for some of the other accounts that we're getting to, we want to make this a really pleasant experience for everyone, but also keep it really on point for everyone's brand.
Kathleen Shannon 22:35
And I also love how personal it feels whenever it's coming from another indie business versus one of those I don't know websites that set up specifically for this kind of gifting process. It just feels like there's that little extra touch because I know I could actually get you to write me a thank you card for that client.
Emily Thompson 22:54
Kathleen Shannon 22:55
I know. I know. Yes. Okay. Well, let's keep going. What are some of the hurdles whenever it comes to growing your business and your presence online?
Emily Thompson 23:04
I think it's the same as everyone's. And although I don't think everyone realize that this is their hurdle. And that is building something that doesn't rely on algorithms. So I don't want my business to rely on the current Instagram algorithm or whatever it may be, I want to build something that really has a strong community of return buyers, which we do, we definitely have a very high return customer rate, which is fantastic. We want to make sure that we are relevant to regardless of whatever Instagram or Facebook is doing. And that comes from us focusing on things like building community and that engagement, but also our email marketing like that will always be the constant and my business is email marketing.
Kathleen Shannon 23:47
And even whenever your email list isn't huge, right? Like how are you, I'm sure that you started small and you're building it up from the ground up, right?
Emily Thompson 23:54
Our email list is still very small and keeping it so cleaned out, guys, I mean, we're still less than 500 people on our email list. Like it is still really, really small. And but I'm also treating it the exact same way I would if it were 10,000 people for sure.
Kathleen Shannon 24:11
I love it. Okay, I just want to point that out. Because I think that some people feel so guilty or bad or inconsistent around their email marketing, specifically, if they have a product.
Emily Thompson 24:21
If I were doing nothing else. Or if I were doing nothing what how would you say that? I'm doing email marketing, even if I'm doing nothing else. Email Marketing is the thing that I'm doing.
Emily Thompson 24:37
Now I'm jumping in to reiterate this all day long, because a we see small business owners get bent out of shape, every time Facebook or Instagram, it changes their algorithms. If you're putting all of your eggs into the social media basket, you're playing a losing game, period. In fact, we'd venture to say you're not building a business. You're building a social media hobby that's going to pay you for a while, until it's not. So focusing on building a business that operates and is profitable, separate from social media algorithms is a priority. And what does that look like? Foster community, foster community that goes beyond your social platforms. Also make your deliveries so good that people share with friends and come back for more. And please, oh, please be building it and nurturing an email list.
Kathleen Shannon 25:37
Alright, want to talk about how you're growing offline? Because that was a big part of the original vision, where are you at with it?
Emily Thompson 25:44
I'm about the same place honestly. So less focus on pop up shops, and more focus on sort of building some relationships and those sorts of things. We're still testing, we're still watching the Chattanooga economy is odd, and I think a bit slow. And I'm making sure that I'm not too biased in that opinion. I'm having lots of conversations with other shop owners and entrepreneurs in the area. And also watching neighborhoods and things to see which ones are growing, which ones have shops that are coming and going easily versus have some staying power. I'm also keeping a really good eye on real estate. So still, just in a very serious watching and researching phase. We do have some holiday things coming up. So some holiday markets and whatnot. So we're thinking about how it is that we can, how it is that we can make the most of those like more in person opportunities for still just in a watching, watching and waiting phase.
Kathleen Shannon 26:46
And what are some of your hurdles that you're experiencing growing offline?
Emily Thompson 26:50
Girl, this is the hardest part being taking seriously.
Kathleen Shannon 26:54
Emily Thompson 26:55
Yes, absolutely. So um, it's funny too, because I'm spoiled to being in the online space and having a book and a podcast and, you know, Instagram account all of these like little pieces of clout that I have in the online space. Offline, no one knows who I am. Nor do they care whatsoever. They just think I'm a cute girl, he started a cute little candle business and look at her go. And I just want to punch some people in the face with my boo.
Kathleen Shannon 27:25
Do you feel like any of this is you projecting? Do you feel like maybe some of your own insecurities and starting at square one?
Emily Thompson 27:32
Kathleen Shannon 27:33
You know, maybe not making as much money pouring candles as you would business coaching? Truly, do you feel like in some weird way you're attracting that energy? Because you're not taking yourself seriously?
Emily Thompson 27:47
I love that perspective. And I'm sure on some level, probably. But also this is fact where like, I've had enough conversations with people who think that candles are adorable, or that or that David is the one who is like really driving the horse, or all of those things were like I, I'm just in an arena where my experience is not. Or no one is aware of my experience, where you know, there's the fact that I've been working for myself for 10 years. People think that my business is only eight months old, were like, No, I have plenty of experience under my belt. And I know what the expectations are. And this has come from conversations that we've had with people who have hosted pop up shops where the reaction and the welcome has not been as warm as I has I have had from people who do know, the work that I've done and the experience that I have, like there's definitely, there's definitely a difference between the two. Definitely a difference between the two.
Kathleen Shannon 28:49
It's so interesting. I kinda want to dig into this more, but we're running out of time. But it is interesting going back to you talking about building relationships, whenever it comes to offline. And then really thinking about here's where I'm going with this is sometimes I find that people who are already familiar with my work at Being Boss and at Braid are typically dreamy or clients or even whenever I'm giving a talk to an audience of people who are mostly familiar with who I am, versus people who have no idea who I am. It's just it goes better all around. And I don't know if it's because I'm more confident going into it. Or if they're more excited because they already know me. But it makes me think whenever it comes to your strategy of building relationships and developing those out, it really isn't about trying to cold call, get your way into different stores, but really looking at okay who is aware of the experience that I have, who respects who I am as a person or as a professional or both.
Emily Thompson 29:48
Or who's open to learning because I don't expect anyone honestly to know who I am at all. There is a difference between the people who are interested in hearing who I am and like what I've done and what I'm capable of doing and how I'm going to show up for them versus the people who just take it for face value. And they're like, Oh, well, you need to be cleaned up by this time, or whatever like, and that's just sort of a small example. But there is a, there is a difference. And I agree, I'm much more, I'm much more excited about the relationships, where people are open and excited, and you know, down for a collaboration, and again, that's where it really is about building relationships that can turn into something more versus just expecting to jump in with something more, which is all good and fine. But that's also really led me to another big hurdle, just finding where my people are, which is coming from having all of those conversations, and really finding of finding where they're eating and where they're shopping, and really what neighborhoods that's happening in because as we start thinking about offline, we want to invest in an area that is ready for that investment.
Kathleen Shannon 30:59
And then I want to talk more about the opportunities of building this business has such an offline component. Where are you seeing that happening?
Emily Thompson 31:08
It's all about Christmas. That's become my new mantra, basically. And you know, like, Christian holiday, like practicer, practitioner or not, that season is the season of buying gifts. And so I will continue just calling it Christmas for my own personal sake. But that holiday is the one that I have to be preparing for. So it's looking at how is it that we can make a more of an offline presence around the holidays? And we've been thinking about doing some more a little more permanent pop up shops. So we have a couple of options around here. Or is it getting involved with some of the markets, which is something we could have a day long conversation about how Chattanooga markets work. Or is it finding a shop owner who will partner with me for you know, a month or two so that I can have a more permanent placement in their store, whatever it may be. We're exploring those but it's all centered around the holidays.
Kathleen Shannon 32:08
Bring it Christmas.
Emily Thompson 32:10
I'm ready, or I'm getting ready, or I probably am not ready and don't even know it.
Kathleen Shannon 32:19
In the next episode of Making a Business.
Emily Thompson 32:24
It's funny someone on Instagram asked like what all has changed is the last time I did product business. Not a whole lot. Not a whole lot like product and like real world businesses don't change very quickly. I think in the online space. We're all so used to you know, things being different every day. But offline, they're all basically the same. So a lot of the places that I sourced things from 10 years ago, I'm able to continue sourcing things from now especially boxes.
Emily Thompson 32:57
Mindset, boundaries, habits, and routines. These are what turn a creative into a boss. These foundations and more makeup, our new book, Being Boss, Take control of your work and live life on your own terms. A guide slash workbook slash sleep with it under your pillow book filled with what we've learned over the years as a working, thriving creative entrepreneurs. Plus what we've picked up from the hundreds of conversations with industry leaders and experts on the Being Boss podcast.
Kathleen Shannon 33:30
And it's all so that you can cultivate confidence in your work. make good money doing what you're best at and live a life you'd love. To learn more about our book and order one for yourself. Go to beingboss.club/book.
Emily Thompson 33:43
And to check out Almanac Supply Company head on over to AlmanacSupplyCo.com get 15% off of your first order with discount code being boss at checkout.
Kathleen Shannon 33:55
Do the work.
Emily Thompson 33:56