How To Grow Your Online Business While You Have A Job With Veronica Jeans
So I'm so glad you could jump in on this with me because I'm so excited about us, although it would have been better if you were on Skype, but that is technology, right? So we're going to be talking about who you are, what you're doing. What did you succeed at? What are you plans to do? And then what would you do if you had to start again from scratch? There's always that - "When I start again, I should have done this". I had some really golden nuggets from people.
Veronica Jeans (01:18):
I want to introduce you to Meg Staples and she has Her Tribe Athletics, very successful business online with a ton of ambassadors and Meg tell us why you started this business because you are a teacher - an art teacher. Well qualified and now suddenly you started this business. Why did you start?
Meg Staples (01:53):
Well in 2010 I lost 70 pounds while I was running - training for a marathon. My first marathon. And one of the big issues that I had was finding sizes that fit me. So like bigger sizes - plus size. That was a big part of it. And then the reason the company started was because I was at this running store one night, they had a women's/ladies night and everything was so really, really expensive with a big discount. And so wheels just started turning. My background is an art. I got an art degree from MassArt in Boston and it just sort of started from there. I just was like, I can totally do this.
Veronica Jeans (02:45):
I love that. You do your own designs, right? Your own t-shirt designs. You do your own designs for your leggings and you have your mom that helps with stuff as well because you do the hat things and the Gator things.
Meg Staples (03:05):
Yeah. I design all the shirts and all the prints on the pants and they're made locally in New Hampshire, which is really, really cool. So I employ somebody that's also local. Two or three years ago, I was looking for a winter hat. I run outside in the winter time and all the hats that I had tried, kept riding up over my ears. So I would get home for my run or my walk or whatever it is, sledding that I was doing with my kiddos and my ears would be out of my hat and my ears would be freezing, freezing cold. And also my hair would be a mess because sometimes my hair isn't long like this. And so I had a shorter bob and I would take off my hat and my hair would be in a total rat's nest.
Meg Staples (03:53):
So I also wanted something that I could tie ponytail up and I could pull it through the top because a lot of times you see the ponytail down at the bottom - the little key hole - and I wanted something big and on the top, cause I have a lot of hair. So the hats kind of came from that. My mom is a big sewer. My grandmother has been sewing since she was seven. So she's kind of passed that along. And so we probably went through about 20 designs before we finally got it right. My cousin is a patent lawyer and they're patent pending. So that is being processed right now. But the big thing is that they're not gonna ride up. We make them with a lot of extra length. So once you pull that down over your ears, that's not going to budge.
Veronica Jeans (04:47):
I want to know what has made it successful. I mean, we all start with an idea. I know you're constantly selling, but how did you start? You put it all online and then what?
Meg Staples (05:11):
So the first thing that I did after I designed shirts was I had a big party at my house. So I invited all, I have a large running group - moms run in this town. So I don't know if any of your viewers are part of that group because there's chapters all over the country. We invited pretty much everybody to come out and there was about a hundred people that showed up. And so, yeah, it was crazy. We just built up the launch and we had a party at the house and we had about a hundred people show up and we sold out of almost all the shirts. I only had four designs when I started. And then what I did was after the website went live up until this past year, I went to a lot of races. So I think that has helped my growth tremendously. So I've been to the Boston Marathon expo, the Cape Cod marathon expo. I go to all the local races. So people are beginning to start to see me a lot. And I think that is a really huge part of the growth of my business is that I'm really putting myself out there.
Veronica Jeans (06:24):
So I know you're not the first person to say that. Susan, she has a retail store here in Houston, and I said to her "You don't just open your store doors and go, 'okay where are my people'" There's a lot of crickets in the beginning, but she also did the trunk shows and the mom shows and the whatever shows, but now she has her people. Right. Okay. I know you trying to grow more now, right? You're trying to be more up in the map and to sell to people more outside your group. So what are you doing?
Meg Staples (07:03):
So Ambassadors was a big thing that I started last year. So that's helped because even though I have an application - I don't care about followers or anything like that I care about how somebody fills out the application. And I also care about where they are on the map. So, because I know that I don't have a huge customer base in California or like the West Coast. And most of it comes up and down the new England coast because races that I am done in the past, most likely people travel on the East coast. So that's been a really big part of it and obviously social media. I really make sure that when I send out my emails or when I'm sending my packages, I put a giant sticker on the outside of the package and on the thank you note that says, "Tag us on Instagram and Facebook and we would love to feature you in your products". And I think that is really been a large part of it too, is just really telling people the best way to support a small business is just to share. So I think that's really been a huge part of it. So I think just between the ambassadors and really telling people to share. - that's a huge, huge thing.
Veronica Jeans (08:15):
And I think that sticker outside on the box - I said to one of my new clients, "You got to put that sticker outside on the box because he or she is carrying it around. And then she is showing it to people as she's walking past. And it goes through all the shipping people and they all buy". They are all earning money. They're not earning a lot of money, but they're all earning money.
Meg Staples (08:40):
Oh, actually the other thing I will say is, I know a lot of people have branded packaging. I don't have branded packaging yet. I'm like kind of working towards that, but I buy really, really fun packaging. So I send my stuff in like donuts and rainbows and kittens and fun things like pineapples in the summer. So people usually know that it's from me because of the really fun packaging that I use. So, like I said, I'm not there with the branded packaging yet, but I think that also helps when you put your items in something that's a little bit different than just like a Manila envelope that really helps also.
Veronica Jeans (09:26):
Yeah, I bet and that's part of your branding, right? You are fun and this is what you're doing. I'm dying to ask this question. What would you do differently if you started again? What would you have maybe thought of, I should have done this when I started out.
Meg Staples (10:00):
I think probably my pictures were not great when I started at the beginning. That I didn't know too much about. So pictures were just sort of meh. I look back at some of the ones I had, and I'm like, "Oh, it's so bad". And then the other thing too, is that because I have an art background, I don't have a retail background or retail marketing, anything like that. And so my background is in textile design, so like the fabric designing stuff. And I think that if I had been a little bit more informed about the money side of things and retail. All of my education that I've given myself on my business has been retail education and marketing education and things like that because the designing comes very naturally to me.
Meg Staples (11:04):
So that I think is huge. If you have some background in that - even a little bit - you can definitely do what I did and learn as you grow. I think if I had even some more of that going into it, it would have been really helpful. I would love to say that I could have just gone all into business right away. But you know, I'm a full-time art teacher right now. Hopefully I'll do it full time at some point. I've seen growth every year, so I'm just hoping that continues. I'm just really passionate about it. I love it. I love seeing women of all different backgrounds, doing different kinds of sports, being active in all different ways. It inspires me to keep creating. I'm really lucky that I can have such an awesome side thing, hopefully full-time thing. And that it's growing and that people are supporting me. Like my husband is really supportive, you know, the hours that I keep.
Meg Staples (12:26):
When I'm gone on the weekend - not this year, but in the past - when you do Boston, it's a four day commitment for the expo. So I mean, it's a lot of time away from the family too, but I think one thing that 2020 has really given me is like, I'm home all the time and I've been able to slow down. So even though my business is still been growing, I've been able to spend more time with my kids, spend more time with my husband, spend more time with my parents. And that's been really big. So it's been kind of a nice sort of take away from as crazy as 2020 has been. That's been really good. So you need that, Any business owner/entrepreneur knows, we burn that candle down.
Veronica Jeans (13:15):
Go, go, go, It doesn't matter what happens. And then if we're not going, then you go, "Something wrong, what shall I do? This is a good idea. Okay, let's go for it again". And I think that's why we're entrepreneurs as well. And I love your medals.
Those are all running - no medals for this year.
My husband did a lot of running in South Africa and we got the sticker - you can put it on your jacket, you know, and then eventually they got into the medal thing and I still have them and he hasn't run in 30/40 years. I've got to put it in a frame. It is an achievement. This has absolutely been what fabulous. I'm so happy you came on with us to talk about how you run your business, what you're doing with it. Your link is on the page but I will add it to this post as well, so that everybody knows how to connect with you. And then they can connect with you a little bit later if they have any questions in the group that can ask you and you will be answering them or I'll be tapping on your shoulder to answer them. So thanks again for popping in.
Meg Staples (14:37):
You're the best. I could not have redesigned my website without your help. It's unbelievable. It's beautiful.
Veronica Jeans (14:42):
Oh, thank you very much. I can't run at all because I have knee problems. I've always had knee problems. Somebody said to me the other day that you get that high. And I started running here in America when we came to America, I started running because I was walking and then shuffling and then running a little bit more and a little bit more. And I thought, Oh my God, I can run again. You know? Oh, this is so wonderful. I did triathlons. And then I turned 52. I decided you freaking crazy. This is three hour training that, okay, bye. Anyway I did a little bit extra damage to my knees. But anyway I I'll walk and I do power lifting. I totally believe in exercise. You've got to keep your body healthy. It doesn't matter what age you are.
Let's go. The next speakers is coming on. Thank you so much for popping in. I'm so glad we connected.
Meg Staples (Shopify owner of Her Tribe Athletics)
Meg is a passionate runner and yogi. She found her love of exercise through her weight loss journey of 70 pounds and has been hitting the pavement ever since. Her Tribe Athletics began with a vision to provide affordable, comfortable workout clothing for women of all shapes and sizes. Clothing that doesn’t move around and fits the way you need it to!