April 30, 2020
Today’s guest is the insanely talented, Erin E Hooley.
Married two weeks after her 19th birthday, Erin is the mother to 6 children, ages 5-13. She holds no degree. She has completed no formalized training. She doesn’t even know how to sew! And yet, she is the President and Founder of Bailey’s Blossoms, a multi-million dollar children’s e-commerce clothing line, and Peyton Bre, it’s sister brand for tweens and teens.
With a love for mentorship and coaching, she’s the creator and host of the “Conquering Chaos” podcast and is dedicated to developing a community of individuals who believe that business and motherhood are NOT enemies.
She’s the woman who refuses to take “no” for an answer. The woman who sees opportunity where others see failure. And the woman who is determined to help EVERY woman recognize their potential and find fulfillment in leading a life of balance.
Guys, today’s episode is FIRE. Every freaking word out Erin’s mouth is literal GOLD for entrepreneurs. We talk about balancing motherhood and a wildly successful career, your biggest pitfall waiting for you as an entrepreneur and how to avoid it, not feeling worthy or successful enough, building a team, leadership, and scaling. She even touches on ecommerce and inventory! If you want to walk away fired up and ready to take on the WORLD, this is where you wanna be. Grab some chocolate (inside joke, you’ll get it soon. 😉 ) and get ready to shout “AMENNNN PREACCHHH!!!” over and over today, listen up!
In 2008, Erin’s husband was in grad school in Arizona and got a job with Mercedes Benz financial services. He then moved to Michigan right after Erin had given birth to their third child. In the evenings, Erin was bored out of her mind so she began to make hair accessories. Erin found herself constantly heading to Hobby Lobby to grab flowers, supplies, and clips to create her accessories and decided to call it Bailey’s Blossoms (after her oldest daughter). She quickly realized that the dollar power proposition was the pits because she was manually making them all and selling them for $5-7 a piece. She started making tutus, birthday sets, and all sorts of things. After moving to Michigan and giving birth to her fourth child, Erin decided to shut down the in-home preschool she was running and go full time with Bailey’s Blossoms. Admittedly, Erin says she didn’t run it well and ended up getting overwhelmed.
When her husband got a job offer to take them to Brazil she was excited at the thought of shutting everything down. For two years, they moved abroad and she shut down her business. During that time she was able to consider what she really wanted the company to be. She had an audience of 25,000 people on Facebook and told them she was taking a two year break and would be back bigger and better than before (although she wasn’t sure what it would look like at the time).
Once they moved to Texas, she was ready to relaunch. After seeing how worn out Erin was the last time, her husband asked her how this time around was going to be different. Erin wanted to create DIY tutorials and put them on Youtube so that she could teach others to make it and she would supply the supplies.
They launched with this concept (after depleting their sales account) and it was super successful. People were loving it until someone said they didn’t actually want to make a tutu, they would rather Erin make it. Erin told them she was flattered they liked her designs but she couldn’t open that can of worms back up.
She started to consider what it would look like to put together a romper. This was when she drafted up the first romper kit complete with a hair accessory and a piece of jewelry and began to sell this. Over the course of a year or two they morphed into a full-fledged clothing line. They no longer do DIY and the company has changed since then, but they are now Bailey’s Blossoms that sells infant and toddler clothing, mommy and me clothing, and a subscription box that they just launched.
It has been a journey of trying to find balance. After six children, Erin continues to decipher how to run a business and balance motherhood. Ultimately, Erin loves being creative and loves being a mom. She knows she needs both because one day her kids are going to grow up and leave the house, and she wants to always remember who she is as a person: what her interests, gifts, and talents are. As she fills herself, she can more easily and more fully fill the people around her including her children and husband. Balance looks different for every person and every situation. For Erin, it looks like the ability to be present.
About three years ago, it got to the point where business was booming for Erin. They were growing their team, moving into a warehouse, and building a new warehouse.
Erin realized that something had to give. She knew her husband either needed to quit his job, or she needed to shut down her company in order to sustain some sort of balance. Her husband ended up quitting his job and now they work together. Because of this they have the degree to balance one another more easily. It is still hectic and chaotic, but it’s better.
Erin knows herself well enough to know what brings her joy. She knows what brings her joy in her work and her home and she is going to chase those things. When she is doing something that doesn’t bring her joy, that is when she is off balance.
Erin’s husband’s company held a yearly women’s leadership summit in the Dallas Fort Worth area and asked Erin to be a speaker. When she saw the speaker line up she started to compare herself to others with their massive accolades and impressive bios. She began to doubt whether she should even speak. Erin suddenly realized that her story is unconventional, and that is what makes it special. Everyone will always underestimate you and that is the biggest advantage you have.
Once that lightbulb went off, she gained confidence. She knew that ultimately she can teach others a thing or two about ecommerce.
Embrace being underestimated, having people question you, or being called “just a mom” because you can show them what is what later.
If you want the best of both worlds you can have the best of both worlds and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You create your own dream and that’s the truth.
We all get these big massive roadblocks in our way, but what we don’t realize is that we are the ones that put them there. In order to get over it, we need to break down why it is there in the first place and what is in our mind that is making us stop and let fear take over.
One of the things that has helped Erin the most is looking around to see who she spends the most time with. Make sure that the people you spend the most time with are not all cheerleaders. You need challengers too. It is the challengers that are going to push you to the next level. The cheerleaders will hold you when you cry, but the challengers are going to say get up and go do something about it.
It’s similar to standing under a shower of perpetual praise. It’s warm and comfortable so you aren’t going to step out of it by yourself. You need people to give you a little push or splash some cold water on you every once in a while.
Inventory management was one of the biggest learning curves that Erin has ever experienced. When it comes to ecommerce, getting a handle and understanding your cash flow needs is imperative.
If you sell something online, you are in the world of ecommerce. There are three levers that you can pull for more sales:
No matter what your sales goals are, the principles are still the same:
More traffic. How are you going to increase your traffic? You need to look at your social media presence, how often you post, the material you post, etc.
Better conversion rate. You need to look at your website. What are the top products you are showcasing on the homepage? Your top products need to take up prime real estate on your website. You should not be focused on if your website is pretty or not, you should care if it converts. If it doesn’t convert, it doesn’t matter how beautiful your website is.
Higher average order value.If you have 100 people come to your website and you have a 2% conversion value, meaning that 2 people out of every 100 are converting and making a purchase and your average order value is 50. This means that you make about $100 for every 100 people that come to your website. If you need to 10x that, you need to have 1000 people come to your website every day to make $1000. Or, you need to create your conversion rate to 3% or you need to increase your average order value to $60 or $70.
You need to be able to bake into your strategy to see which of the three levers you are making a priority.
Erin learned early on in her business the power of brand recognition. When she moved from Etsy to her own website, the sales started rolling in. Once she recognized that people were proud of her name, she knew that she should be too. Erin started to put her brand name on everything and stopped second-guessing if she was good enough to consider herself a brand. This changed everything for Erin. That year they grew 233%.
The biggest mistake Erin made was second-guessing herself. When she started Bailey’s Blossom she didn’t start it understanding what it could be, so it never felt like a risk. It started as a hobby that she downplayed.
With Peyton Bre, she understood business and the potential that was right in front of her and let this psych her out. Additionally, they were trying to enter into an industry that they didn’t fully understand, which was network marketing. They had such a successful launch and Erin allowed other people’s excitement and projections to cloud her own personal judgement. Instead of playing conservative, they feared they would have an inventory crisis and so purchased inventory like you wouldn’t believe! This is ultimately what did them in because she purchased so much inventory that the people who were actively selling product could only afford to buy 11% of every product. They didn’t break even until 50% was sold off and every time Erin launched a new product they went deeper and deeper into the hole. Sellers were saying they couldn’t succeed without new product and Erin knew they were not going to succeed if she kept launching new product. Ultimately it became a very harsh learning experience. Erin wishes she could go back and be more conservative and listen to her gut versus the voices telling her what it would or wouldn’t be, what she could or couldn’t do, and the rules she needed to follow. She knew she had always been a rule-breaker and marched to the beat of her own drum. That had always been her greatest asset but she forgot it in that moment and it did major harm.
Ultimately, it’s been mindset, leadership, cheerleaders and challengers, brand recognition, and understanding basic data points to drive her decisions.
Leadership. Whether it is surrounding yourself with people who lead you and mentor you or the way that you lead and mentor others, it’s really hard to go from a solopreneur mindset to a leadership mindset. When you’re suddenly empowering other people and you’re giving away the things that you thought only you could do, you have to allow other people to fail and treat it as a team effort.
As a perfect example, Erin shares about a recent mistake she made. She was in San Diego at a conference and she had gotten wind in the evening after the conference was over that something had happened on her social media page. Her marketing team had put together a model call for a photoshoot that said they were looking for girls sizes in 9-12 months and women size S and XS. No one thought to clarify why they needed those sizes and optically it looked really prejudiced towards the specific type of body type of women. People were very offended and said they couldn’t believe a woman owned company would support this kind of a stereotype. There was a lot of damage done and a lot of morale damage done before Erin was brought into the loop. By the time she was brought up to speed, she thought the whole situation was so embarrassing and wanted to fix it right away. She went on her VIP page without consulting her team to apologize and explain that those were the only sizes that samples are made in. She explained that this was not prejudice in any way, shape, or form and she personally apologized and guaranteed that they were going to do X Y and Z moving forward. Erin didn’t think anything of it and everybody expressed their gratitude for her going into detail to explain the situation.
The next morning, Erin’s team saw her post and they were devastated. Erin couldn’t imagine why until she got on the phone with them and they said, “Erin you said you’re sorry. You said that you would fix this.” Erin realized she spoke like a solopreneur. She had a team of 30+ people, and she spoke like she’s the only one behind her company. She didn’t acknowledge the fact that they were embarrassed, sorry, and had no malintent in this. She took the opportunity away from them. Erin ended up having to apologize to the Facebook group and then come home and apologize to her team. It was super emotional for her. She knew she had to stop thinking and talking like a solopreneur. When you have somebody on your team, it is a team and group effort. You don’t throw people under the bus, you need to be a true leader.
Leadership is the biggest lesson, it’s the biggest asset, and it’s the biggest growth potential. You are only one person and if you only attribute your success to just you, you are lying to yourself. If there are people behind you in the background and assisting in any way, then you need to give credit where credit is due. Ultimately, you can’t do it without your team.
If you want to think small, think solopreneur. If you want to think big, think leadership and team. You can not think big without it.
We are in such a great day and age, we have so much available at our fingertips from social media to podcasts. There are so many people out there that can help you.
Doing a little bit of homework and setting aside time to find one person that can help you level up. Keep yourself on track, and avoid going down a rabbit hole. Be concise and purposeful in the actions you are trying to take. Ask the right questions to the right people and find that niche.
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WASSUP FRIENDS. We’re Evie + Lindsey, co-founders of this wild partayyy called The Heart University. Our goal is to empower entrepreneurs to kick freaking BUTT in their businesses, dive down into the heart of their why and how, and serve you with all possible tools you’ll need to up-level your business game and CRUSH those goals of yours.
Whether you’re coming to an in-person workshop, joining our online course, or soaking up all the strategies via this blog or our podcast, we’re STOKED you’re here + can’t wait to see you out there kicking butt.
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