Hey friends and happy Monday! On this week’s Meet Your Maker, I’m super excited to introduce another awesome girl boss that I have done events with, but haven’t actually connected with in real life. It’s only a matter of time—we’ve done two events together already this year, and at least my mom got a chance to talk with these girls in Richmond at Junk in the Trunk. That kind of counts, right?
I’m talking with Danielle today, who runs her business along with her sister, her husband, and her dad. I’m so inspired by her philosophy of just jumping in and trying things out without looking back or second-guessing—as someone who is constantly overthinking things (I have a bed frame in the garage that I’m so scared to ruin I haven’t touched it in three months), I definitely aspire to be more like Danielle in this area!
I can’t wait for you guys to meet her and get to know more about her shop and process. Here’s Danielle Lee of Tillie Jean Market:
#mdm: Let’s start off with the dreaded question. What do you do?
Tillie Jean (TJ): I’m a mama – girl boss – business owner who LOVES the creative side of our business.
#mdm: How did you get started doing what you’re doing?
TJ: I used to work full time (45+ hours/week) at a corporate job. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was laid off in March. This jump-started our business. My sister, Mallory, and I started Tillie Jean Market earlier this year.
#mdm: Why do you do what you do?
TJ: I didn’t realize how static my mind was until I was laid off. It was almost like someone finally turned the light on. My creative juices started flowing and I was REALLY excited about my work! I was motivated to start THRIVING in life and not just SURVIVING.
#mdm: What does your typical day look like?
TJ: We are usually up at 7am, have breakfast, play a little (my husband and I have a 3 year old daughter), then we go to the workshop and work on projects. My daughter has her own table where she works on her projects. She loves to paint with watercolors. It’s fun to have her there because she tells me she wants to paint like mama when she gets “big big”. Some days when I really want to push out some product, my dad will watch our daughter. He retired when I went back to work, and after she was born he watched her full time. He is a huge help and will frequently contribute his carpentry skills to our projects!
#mdm: Do you have a dedicated workspace? What is it like? How is it different from your ideal workspace?
TJ: Our dedicated workspace is our garage! It works … for now. Ideally we will have a storefront with a workshop in the back.
#mdm: What is one short-term goal that you have?
TJ: Our current short-term goal is to rent space from a local business owner. We would like to be able to have larger pieces of furniture such as; tables, chairs, and dressers available for our customers. It is hard to do that just at vendor shows. Having a presence in a shop will help move the ball forward for us.
#mdm: What is one long-term goal that you have?
TJ: Our long-term goal is to open our own brick and mortar store. We love helping others pick out the perfect décor for their homes!
#mdm: How do you go about setting goals for yourself?
TJ: I really just see what I want to do and start doing it. I never really look back or second-guess it. I figure if I “fail” then I can learn something and change it. There really isn’t anything you can ruin, just opportunities to make something different. Don’t get me wrong…I do get frustrated if something doesn’t turn out just right, but it’s short lived.
#mdm: What is your favorite part of being a creative entrepreneur?
TJ: Being creative is very freeing! YOU get to decide what works for you and what works for your business. It takes a lot of dedication and time but you are not limited. If you don’t get in your head too much and just let the creative side happen, it’s very rewarding. I felt so blessed when I was laid off. I know it sounds weird someone saying they were happy to be laid off, but I was! I was limited in my corporate job and I wasn’t allowed to use my creative side to its fullest potential. Being a creative entrepreneur gives you the freedom to do what YOU think is best. It is like therapy!
#mdm: What is your least favorite part of being a creative entrepreneur?
TJ: My least favorite thing about being a creative entrepreneur is that you don’t have a magic ball. Everything is trial and error in the beginning. You have to find your niche and keep working it. Don’t give up! It can be a bit discouraging when you go to a vendor show and don’t sell a single thing…believe me…it happened!
#mdm: What has been your most successful product, post, event, strategy, or interaction? How do you celebrate your successes?
TJ: Our Facebook page has been really successful. Most everyone has Facebook page and we have a QR code on our business cards. Our customers can go right to our business page and like/follow us. It’s a fast, easy way for people to follow and make comments. I had a piece once that I wasn’t totally in love with, but someone gave it to us and it was REALLY heavy. I thought “oh great! Now I have to lug this thing to all these shows”. I quickly reminded myself that the Lord sent this piece to me for a reason…someone would LOVE it. Wouldn’t you know it, the next show we had someone come back twice to look at it and just HAD to take it home. She loved it and has become a repeat customer! We celebrated a LOT with that sale. I was so happy that someone loved it and loved our work!
#mdm: What was the least successful product, post, event, strategy, or interaction? What did you learn?
TJ: Our least successful event was one that we thought was a no brainer. It was in a big city at a huge event. We were so excited! It was our first two day event and thought it was going to be awesome! It was a BUST…I mean a BIG BUST. We didn’t sell a single thing the first day, and there was a huge thunderstorm at the end of the day, so we had to pack everything up as quick as possible. It was horrible. I almost cried. I knew it was an opportunity to learn something, so I kept it together. We learned not every show is for everyone…we have to be selective; we have to ask questions… “What advertising is being done for the event?” “What signage will you have for the event?” KNOW what you are paying for in your vendor fee. For example, if you are paying $100 for a 10 x 10 space, you should expect advertising, marketing on social media, signage by the entrances to let customers know the event is taking place, etc.
#mdm: What is your top piece of advice for a #metrodetroitmaker just starting out who does what you do?
TJ: Don’t give up! It’s not easy or for the faint of heart. I’m sure anyone can paint a piece of furniture so you have to accept that not EVERYONE is going to LOVE your work. It’s ok. They don’t have to. Someone WILL love it.
#mdm: What is something that scares or intimidates you about being a creative entrepreneur?
TJ: I’m not really scared or intimidated by anything. I’m not saying that because I think I can do anything, but because I am not afraid to fail. There is not ONE SINGLE piece of tangible item that I cannot live without. I’m only ever scared of losing my loved ones. I can replace or redo any of our products…they just aren’t that important to be scared by. I certainly don’t want to fail in our business…but it doesn’t scare me…it drives me.
#mdm: What is something that inspires you?
TJ: My inspiration comes from many places; my family, faith, flowers, an awesome display in a shop, farm houses, barns, owls…
#mdm: How would your best friend describe you in one word?
TJ: Oh boy…let me call her…either “organized” or “loyal”.
#mdm: You have one hour of “me” time, and, miraculously, every goal you’ve set in your business for that day is complete. What do you do?
TJ: Probably read or write. I love to do both.
#mdm: What is one thing that you wish you could tell every customer, reader, or student of yours about?
TJ: We love to help you enhance your home décor, if you don’t see something you love we can custom make something for you. Most people assume that what they see is what we have. We want them to know we can do anything they want!
#mdm: What is the question that you are asked most often in your creative business?
TJ: We are often asked where our store is. Unfortunately, we aren’t quite there yet…hopefully it’s in our near future.
#mdm: Where are you online (or what events do you have coming up)?
TJ: Our website and Facebook page are great ways to find us or get in touch. We will also be at Shed 5 Flea at Eastern Market on Aug 13, and Finders Keeper’s Vintage Market on Aug 27 at the Wayne County Fair Grounds!
#mdm: What is the best way to get in touch with you?
TJ: Message us on Facebook or send us an email at email@example.com.
#mdm: Tell the readers one last thing about you, your business, or your philosophy that is a consistent part of how you conduct your life or business.
TJ: Don’t be afraid to do something wrong. What is literally the WORST thing that could happen? You have to do it over? You have to try something different? It is not the end of the world and it will hold you back if you live in fear. If you are afraid to fail then you are afraid to learn and grow. Don’t be afraid to learn and grow!
Thanks for reading everyone! Catch last week’s Meet Your Maker here.