In the spirit of Small Business Saturday, I’d like to share with you a little more personally about why I created PonyBabe. I appreciate your effort to support the growth of my business, and having this mode of communication is such an amazing way to keep a personal connection with the folks who believe in my work.
Some of you may know that I used to be a therapist; I worked with small children on the Autism Spectrum, and unfortunately I burned out completely. It became unsustainable (both emotionally and financially) for me to stay in the field, and I found myself longing to work on a creative project. My love of comfy clothes and beautiful things inspired me to start PonyBabe.
I honestly had no flipping idea of what I was getting myself into! I started out with a fun idea: making some magical pleated pants for yogis and loungers… As the ball got rolling, I found that my creative inspiration was solid: Folks loved the clothing! Yes!
However, I also discovered a swath of completely foreign languages that I needed to learn real quickly: financial management, marketing and advertising, social media, material sourcing, legal compliance, how to navigate New York’s online sales tax payment system (the numbers literally never add up. Someone, please redesign the entire system.) The list goes on…
It’s been a marathon, for sure, and I’m only a few miles in. The ongoing challenges are real and hard, and sometimes I feel foolish and naive for ever having thought I could just (*snapping fingers) start a business.
But at a certain point over the past 3 years of non-stop grinding, something really interesting happened: My fledgling business grew a teeny bit… and a teeny bit more. All signs began pointing toward PB’s potential to become a thriving business, all while holding true to the ethical parameters I chose from the beginning.
Another interesting thing I’ve learned along the way is that the main factor that leads to burn out in the Mental Health profession is the same factor that makes it a massive challenge for small businesses like mine to make it in the long run (and by “make it” I mean become a stable, sustainable source of income for owners and employees, while providing a high-quality, fairly-made product to customers.)
In my previous profession, a lack of funding meant no institutional support for my work, a lack of resources (ie toys, teaching tools, actual space in which to treat my caseload…) and a salary that kept me dead and buried under student loans. This meant that the majority of my time and energy was spent just trying to keep the vessel afloat, and the meaningful work I was trained to do became more of a momentary problem-solving exercise, and less about the long-term healing I wished to facilitate.
The correlation I see to my experience as a small business owner is the way in which money allows for risk taking and long-term strategizing. Without an investor or a bank loan, I’ve been hustling each month to meet sales goals which will allow me to move forward on a month-to-month basis. Because I have to stay hyper-focused on short-term survival, it’s hard to step back, plan for the future, and spend time in creative mode. It’s almost impossible to commit to next steps, when I’m not 100% sure I’ll have the money to take them. This keeps PonyBabe in slow-motion, and it’s frustrating.
The great news, in the midst of all this challenge, is that the clothes are selling really well. It is pretty thrilling to see my designs on so many different women, and to see the pleasure the clothes bring to all who choose them. I feel like my product has proven itself, and the business mentors I work with have confirmed that, yep, it’s working: just sell more.
Easier said than done, at the moment!
But I’m working on a plan. For 2019, I’ve developed projections and an ad budget that should allow me to grow more rapidly, and hopefully transition into a period of stable, reliable sales and customer acquisition. This should allow me more flexibility in developing new designs more often, which I hope will make everyone who has been with me from the beginning happy!
The key right now is selling enough during this holiday season in order to fund the next steps, which include a new collection in the Spring, and a media plan that will increase PB’s online reach.
Since I don’t have outside backing, I rely on each and every sale to move the business forward. It’s not an understatement to say that I need your help! Here’s what you can do to help PonyBabe keep going:
- Tell your friends! Send them a link to the website, and tell them how much you love your clothing.
- Post a picture of yourself in your PB clothes on Instagram or Facebook, and tell your followers where to buy them!
- Buy something! Surprise your loved ones with affordable luxury by stocking up on Multi Wraps. Use the code THANKS, and they’ll cost you $27.60 each.
PonyBabe has turned into a most unexpected adventure. I am pretty excited to see where it will take me over the next couple years. It means so much to me every single time someone chooses to invest in me and my dreams by buying the clothing I have designed. Thank you. THANK YOU.