My Small Business Success Story
Let's throw it all the way back to September of 2020. The height of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was working at a restaurant as a host as well as taking my prerequisites for nursing school online since all schooling became remote. Let's be honest, this time period was also the peak of Tik Tok which lead me to my primary source of inspiration. Every night after a long shift at work, I would get home around 10 pm and browse Tik Tok. On my FYP, I kept getting videos of small business owners and entrepreneurs delivering packages to the post office, telling their small business story ect. This sparked some inspiration inside of me and running my own business became my dream.
Let's throw it back even a little bit further. A lot of people don’t know this, but back in my early high school days around 2015, I ran an Etsy shop and made earrings, bath bombs, and other fun crafts. As social life became more of a priority and embarrassment rose when people would figure out I had an Etsy shop, I decided to back away only to never revisit my site again.
Fast forward back to 2020 when I was out of high school and over worrying about what people thought of me. Once I realized there was real potential out there to start my own business and be successful I went for it.
I watched hours and hours of Youtube trying to understand the t-shit world. I compiled a list of where to get all my supplies and I ran with it. I asked for a Cricut for my birthday which I ended up receiving and after that, I spent less than $100 on my other supplies. I just started off with the bare necessities. My Cricut, HTV, a heat press (which my dad already had and let me borrow!), and five blanks. No bags, no shipping labels no thank you cards.
Between work and school, I had limited time to dink around with my new toy (the Cricut), so it was in November that I uploaded my first product onto my Etsy. The month of October was dedicated to experimenting with designs and creating my Etsy shop and social media behind the scenes.
The first day I uploaded my very first product, I got an order for it just hours later. I was so stoked that someone actually wanted to order from me, I couldn't believe it. My desire to keep going only grew.
Throughout the months of November-January I was getting orders here and there but nothing consistent. Maybe about 2-3 orders a week.
FEBRUARY 4TH 2021 AKA THE DAY MY LIFE CHANGED:
I was determined to keep growing my business and knew uploading Tik Tok videos every day was vital. It was where all my orders were coming from and I had hoped that at least one of my future videos would reach at least a thousand people. I felt as if I was dreaming big, but I stuck with it and created a video every single day before I went to work. I worked the dinner shift at the restaurant so I would leave my house at around 3:30 pm to get there by 4 pm. Every day I would post at 3:20 pm because I researched and the internet said that was the best time to post a Tik Tok.
On February 4th, I recorded a video of a new shirt I released and as usual, posted it at 3:20 pm, and headed off to work.
Now the funny thing about this day is this is the ONLY day I forgot to wear my Apple Watch to work. I wore that thing religiously because I liked being able to see my notifications come in while I was at work without having to check my phone. For some reason, this night, putting on my watch slipped my mind.
I went to work and it was a very busy night. I had no time to even take a bathroom break let alone check my phone, so my phone was hidden away in my bag until the end of my shift.
As I helped close up and say my goodbyes, I was walking out of the restaurant when I pulled out my phone and I could not believe my eyes. Notification after notification was popping up. 200+ Etsy orders, email after email, thousands of Tik Tok notifications, and hundreds of followers on Instagram. I could not even believe what was going on. I checked Tik Tok and found out that in the seven hours, I was at work, the video I posted that day had reached over 500K views. I was not expecting this whatsoever so I was completely unprepared. I had my inventory unknowingly set at unlimited so orders just kept pouring in. I was in complete shock and utter panic mode. What were my next steps? I was so new to the t-shirt world and frankly the business world too, I had NO clue what I was doing.
At this time, I was still living with my parents so I made it home as quickly as I could to share the news and ultimately get their help in whatever came next. I spent all that night ordering blanks, more HTV, poly mailers, stickers ect.
Two days later and orders are STILL rolling in, my social media following is continuing to grow and by the third day, I had to freeze my shop completely so I could catch up on my outstanding orders.
LATE FEBRUARY 2021:
February consisted of nothing but working, working, and more working. I was working every single minute of every single day trying to get orders out as quickly as I could. My friends and family even came over to help me pack orders. Finally, I got everything out and opened my shop back up. This time I learned to set my inventory and I had five restocks selling out every single time in just a matter of minutes-hours.
I realized that is the life I wanted to live. As stressful as my initial blow-up was, I learned more than I ever have in just a matter of weeks. I enjoyed the research, the growth, and the reward. I knew a viral Tik Tok was rare and was not expecting anything like this to happen in the future.
I didn't want to be a one-hit wonder, so I focused on continuing to grow my social media posting every day on Tik Tok and Instagram reels. Consistency is key!
I came to the conclusion that yes, posting about my products is important to get them visualized, but most of my traction and engagement on social media was when I would post about my success story, my failures, and other things I learned along the way about being an entrepreneur. I transformed my page into a place where I can share my journey, help other small business owners and also sell my creations. It’s the perfect combination and I am so happy for the major growth I've had in just the past few years.
LET'S TALK ABOUT THE PRESENT: 2023
I could go on and on about the crazy ride it's been the past couple of years with my business, but the complete turning point which lead me to where I am today was because of that one Thursday on February 4th. Now I am going to let you in on a little secret. Viral Tik Toks should not be the focus of your business or your business strategy at all. They are so inconsistent and rare. Focus on being consistent with your content, sharing valuable things, and building relationships, and with that comes viral videos! Yes, my life was changed because of this single video, but my future success came with working hard, dedication, and passion for what I was doing.
In the past few years, I have had so many doors open and endless opportunities arise. I've worked with brands like Cricut, Shopify, Michaels, Rollo, and more! I am even featured in some Shopify commercials, how cool is that!? My shirts are selling in boutiques around the US, and I've also had the chance to take cool trips to other states with brands like Press Hall! On top of that I’ve grown my social media to over 100K followers. I am beyond thankful for these opportunities and I never thought in a million years I would be where I am today. Most importantly, I am thankful for the community that has been built and the friends that have been made. I appreciate all the love and it baffles me how supportive everyone is. Usually, creators who have a big following receive inevitable hate comments, and although there are some of those on occasion, the majority of feedback I receive is so positive. I will continue to create a safe space where we can learn, share our tips and trick, and collaborate with one another.
Thank you for being a part of my life and a part of my story! My business would be nothing without you guys and I am forever thankful for that.
I have really had fun watching you from your very early days. You are such an inspiration and a wonderful role model to young people around the world. I wish there had been people like you around when I first started my biz in 1967 when I was 18. (Yes…I am old enough for you to call me grandma or maybe even grandma-the-great!) Anyhow…thanks for just being you…I’ll keep on watching and admiring your biz know-how & learn from your small biz tactics. While I’m too old for TikTok…I’m striving to make IG work for me! 🐾💕🐾