When I first started The Little Bra Company in 2007, I had no idea what to expect,and to be honest, no idea what I was really doing. I just believed in the product and wanted to share it with as many people as I could. So, I spent sleepless nights building the brand and business from the guest bedroom of my home selling and shipping one bra at a time. Back then, when people asked me when I was going to have children, I used to say that TLBC was my baby. After all, she required all of my unconditional love and attention. Day by day, I did everything I could to help TLBC survive and thrive. I cared and nurtured her until she grew up, and eventually, she grew out of the house.
I always thought one “baby” was enough, but then, a few years later, I was blessed to have another baby—a real one this time. Again, I had no idea what to expect, and to be honest, no idea what I was really doing. But, I moved this baby into the same guest bedroom where I started TLBC, and I soon realized that having a baby was much like starting my own business (including the sleepless nights). Like my “first-born,” day by day, I do everything I can to keep her alive and to thrive. She’s growing up so fast, she may be moving out of the house soon too—well, maybe not that soon!
Frankly, I never thought I would have the opportunity to become a business owner or a mother, or both for that matter, but through these experiences, I am humbled and honored to be able to give whatever I can to both of them now. I would be lying if I did not say that some days are harder than others, and sometimes the challenges seem insurmountable, but in the end, when I hear a little voice call me, “Mommy” or a customer say her new TLBC bra has changed her life, I know it is all worth it.
Today, I bow down to all the mommies out there—working or stay-at- home, who are making it happen every day. You are my role models! I am especially grateful for my own mother who worked full-time, and managed to keep my brother and I alive and kicking all these years. Today, she is now helping me do the same for my own daughter, and I could not be more grateful.
Four Lessons Learned…
1. Starting your own business is like one long all-nighter, and so is having a newborn. There were no office hours when I first started The Little Bra Company, so my office was open 24/7. I was employee #1 and the only one, so I had to sell, process and pack all the orders myself. Although it isn’t that way any longer, I became familiar with sleepless nights. Therefore, once I was faced with feeding my newborn every three hours, and through the night, I had the endurance to survive the never-ending all-nighters.
2. It takes a village to start a business, and raise a child. Although I was doing a lot of the work myself at first, there were times when I really could not do it alone. With the promise of some wine and some free panties, my girlfriends (and even my boyfriend) used to come over to be a part of my living room assembly line. Those same girlfriends still come over for wine, but now, they take turns holding and watching the baby while I cook dinner or take a long-needed shower. More than just an extra pair of arms, they have provided me with emotional support and laughter through some of the most stressful times.
3. Empathy, patience and kindness are key to successful customer service, as well as child-rearing. Sometimes there are situations beyond our control that make customers unhappy. I have learned that dissatisfied customers, firstly, want to be heard. When treated with patience and kindness, customers are more readily able to accept resolution to whatever their issue is. The same goes for children, especially toddlers. When my daughter doesn’t get her way, she also wants to first know that I understand her. And then, I can explain calmly, and with compassion, why she can or can’t have or do something.
4. The rewards are priceless. At first, launching a business or caring for a newborn seems like the longest night ever. When will this business get off the ground? When will she sleep through the night? Then, suddenly, poof, it happens! They grow up faster than you think. And, when you see the smiling faces of your customers, or your child, it is simply priceless.