Small Business Feature: Willow Crowns

Willow Crowns has probably been my favorite mama-made business I've watched grow over the last few years.  I started following Willow Crowns around the same time I launched my own Etsy shop and blog and Megan's hard work and resulting meteoric success has been such an inspiration!  Megan was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about how she got started, how she handles the work-mama balance, and where she hopes to take Willow Crowns in the future.  

BIRCH LANDING HOME:  Tell me a little about yourself and your business.  

WILLOW CROWNS (MEGAN):  I'm a lifelong New Englander living in Texas with my husband and three year old daughter, trying to keep it all balanced!  I love coffee (French press is my new addiction), hair and beauty products, and I honestly never thought I'd be an entrepreneur!  Willow Crowns in my second baby and over the past 2.5 years has grown into what I like to think is the premier destination for stylish, timeless hair accessories for ladies of all ages.  
Megan, the mama behind Willow Crowns.  

Megan, the mama behind Willow Crowns.  

BLH:  How did you start Willow Crowns?  Did you always make headbands and accessories or was this a new leap for you?  

WC:  When my daughter was ten months old we were newly relocated to Houston and I was struggling to find my groove.  Being alone in a new city with a little baby was stressful and I was looking for something to help me decompress and fill my time, something that could me "mine."  I was already (occasionally) making her some headbands and thought I'd give opening an Etsy shop a try!  I ended up enjoying it so much and found it so fulfilling that I kept trying to grow, improve, and ultimately make it a full-time business.  
Grow with me Willow Crowns headband set

BLH:  What does a typical day look like for you?  Do you set aside specific time for work and for family?  How do you handle the dreaded nap strike?  (okay.. that last question is mostly for me)

WC:  There's really no "typical" day around here, but I try to dedicate my mornings as much as possible to Olivia.  I'll schedule playdates, etc during that time.  During nap time (or "quiet rest time" with the iPad during nap strikes), I handle the bulk of my administrative work, which means replying to e-mails, preparing social media content, and getting orders filled.  Late afternoon is ideally earmarked as family time, prepping meals, folding laundry, etc. and I handle the rest (mostly production) after she goes to bed.  
I have a part-time production assistant who comes to the studio once a week and she helps keep our inventory stocked, and I'll do the rest while my daughter is at a Mother's Day Out program two days a week.  All this keeps my days pretty busy, but I wouldn't have it another way!  I love knowing that there's lots to be done and I find it really gratifying to check it all off my list as the day goes on.  
Headbands in the studio

BLH:  What is your favorite part about owning your own company?  And least favorite part?  

WC:  This is a tough one, and they're kind of the same!  The flexibility of being able to work from home and set my own hours is huge.  My family is my top priority and being able to adapt to changes in our life/schedule/whatever is going on has really helped me maintain a balance.  On the flip side, since I work from home, I'm never off the clock.  My mind is always racing with ideas, to-do's, and the studio sometimes calls to me late at night when I know there's work to be done.  Finally, I have to add in the personal satisfaction as another favorite.  When a collection does well, our customers are happy, and we continue to grow, it feels enormously satisfying to have my name attached to that!  
Ballet bow set

BLH:  What has been the most exciting moment for Willow Crowns since you started?  

WC:  So many to choose from!  The most recent one is the one I'd have to award "most exciting moment" to, though!  Over the holidays West Elm reached out and asked us to do a pop-up shop in one of their Houston stores.  I love West Elm and the idea to work with such an established and respected brand was a huge of highlight of WC's short life.  

BLH:  What advice do you have for people just starting out?  

WC:  I usually give two separate pieces of advice, the first of which is photography is critical.  If you have a great product, great service, and poor photography, your product just won't move.  Investing in a photographer or working a trade with a local photographer can put you at a huge advantage when marketing your product.  I've spent the two years working on my own photography skills so that I can combine my work with the photographer's we hire and have social media accounts and a website that always look top notch and the better our products look, the more they sell!  
Secondly, hang in there!  Growing a business can take time (lots of time sometimes depending on your market) and it's important not to compare yourself to others.  Staying focused on your product, your brand, your shop, and working persistently even when times are slow will serve you well.  Strike up friendships with other local creatives, be consistent on social media, be true to your aesthetic, and things will come together!  
Willow Crowns behind the scenes photos

BLH:  What is your long-term goal?  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  

WC:  I'm so excited to watch WC grow over the next few years!  A move into retail establishments is very much on my mind for the near future and I'd also like to grow our family in the next five years.  Hopefully five years from now I can follow up and have another baby, a few more employees, and lots more ladies wearing Willow Crowns!  

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All photos courtesy of Willow Crowns.  

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