My story started years ago when my twins were little. I was a full time hairdresser and mom of three little kids. I did hair out of my house so that I could be home with my kids.
I loved having a clean home before starting work. The kids all had their own chores at the start of the day. My twins had recently gotten bunk beds because they wanted to share a room. I thought this was a great idea so it would also help save space in their room. After asking them to make their bunk beds, I noticed it wasn’t getting done. I got frustrated and decided to march up the ladder and show them how to do it. I quickly realized that you can’t make a bunk bed with traditional bedding. No wonder my kids couldn’t do it. So naturally I turned to Google. I typed in “how to make a bunk bed” because clearly there was something I was missing. After much searching I realized there wasn’t a hack. I started thinking of ways to make the bed without having to tuck around the rails. Luckily for me, my mom is a great seamstress and she helped me make my bedding. After creating my first prototype I showed several friends. They all loved it and wanted it for their kids. My friend Katie really encouraged me to patent the idea and start a business.
Angie is my business partner now, but before that, she was my running partner and sounding board. She listened to me vent about any issue I happened to have that day. One day she mentioned that she wasn’t sure what she was going to do since her youngest was in school all day. She talked about going back to school full time. She was almost finished with her degree and I somehow talked her into joining me with this new “hobby”, Beddy's Beds.
Here’s what we didn’t know. (This list is long, so I’m shortening it!)
1. Getting a patent is expensive and hard to get.
We hired an attorney and were on our way to getting our patent. Here’s my advice.
You need to really like your attorney! The first attorney we hired was fine, but I didn’t feel like we were on the same page. I was telling a friend this and she told me to talk to her friend who was also a patent attorney. The new attorney was GREAT!! I still am so grateful I switched. He has been so helpful with the process and also helping us understand the patent side of things.
2. Being a business woman without a business background is hard and super intimidating. But there are so many good people in this world that are willing to help. Just ask.
I remember getting a call from Angie. “Betsy, do you know who our customs broker is? Bob just called and asked who it is so I told him I would check and get back to him!” Me: “What is a customs broker and why do we need one?” Angie: “Don’t worry, I googled it and called someone. We now have a customs broker!”
That was just one of many instances we still laugh at. (On a side note, learn to laugh at yourself. I promise it makes life so much better. Everyone is screwing up somewhere in life. Don’t worry you’re not alone.) Everyone is making mistakes, own yours I promise it’s the only way to grow. Admit you made a mistake, fix it and move on. When Angie makes a mistake I actually am glad because then I don’t feel like such an idiot for all of my mistakes. But that’s what’s awesome about our partnership, neither of us blame the other person, we just think of the quickest and best way to fix it.
I think we’ve had so many people help us because they probably knew we couldn’t do it without their help. I’m sure we left meetings where the person we met with was probably shaking their head saying “Bless their hearts!”
About two years ago we discovered the Women’s Business Center. They are seriously there just to help you out and mentor you. They do this all for FREE! So make sure to contact them early on. There were so many times I talked with them and said “Where were you a few years ago!” That would have been so helpful to connect with them and their resources early on.
3. Money. Oh boy. Where do I start with this? I thought you could go to the bank and get a line of credit for your business easily. Both Angie and I had great credit so that should be easy right? WRONG. Guess what, it sucks. No one wants to loan a new business money. We ended up doing a Kickstarter and taking out loans on our homes, cars and savings. We were/are in debt up to our eyeballs!
Angie and I told each other that if we sold $100,000 we would go get lipo. It was kind of a joke, but I had no idea how expensive a business is. For the first several years I continued to work as a hairdresser just to help pay for the business I was starting. It was exhausting. I felt like I never stopped. I was working around the clock. I got Shingles twice. Apparently only senior citizens (and me) get them. I was just stressed out! Which leads to my next topic.
4. Being a mom and running a business is hard work!
If only I knew how hard it would really be! People would say that all the time. I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t realize the mom guilt that would come along with it. I had so many times that I would just break down and cry. I was sure I was failing in every area of my life. Especially at being a mom. My kids hated my phone and computer (well they probably still do). There were so many days I felt like it was business before kids and I was losing control. As hard as it is-and was, there are a few good things that did come from all of this. My kids all made their own home lunch. I remember my daughter saying “Did you know that so and so’s mom makes her lunch everyday?” Yeah, I felt like a complete loser mom. But then I said, “Well just think how much better you will be! You already know how to do it yourself!” Do you ever feel like kids don’t appreciate what you do for them? I really think my kids learned to be more independent. My son knows exactly what to bring to every audition he goes to....and it’s all because I forgot stuff when he got to an audition. I felt like I was the worst mom ever. Guess what, he decided he wanted to be in charge rather than let me drop the ball. He’s become so much more responsible because I was a crappy mom!
Having articles written about us, it’s fun to see all of our accomplishments. Especially because so often I look at what needs to be done and forget how far we’ve actually come. It’s like we are constantly looking up at this huge mountain we have to climb that we forget to look behind and see all that we have actually done! One thing the articles don’t usually say though, are the things you failed at. They didn’t say “they signed a terrible contract and lost a lot of money on that one!” Or “They should have gone to business school before starting and they would have avoided all of these stupid mistakes!” But that is the reality. I’ve made a million mistakes. I don’t know what I’m doing. I follow my “gut” and hope for the best. If I fail at something, I probably complain to my husband and Angie and then figure out how to get myself out of the mess I’m in. Do I have “mom guilt”? YES! Everyday! I worry that I’m doing everything wrong. But I actually tell my kids that. I tell them I’m trying my hardest. Sometimes they have to go with the flow and realize I can’t be there for something. We try really hard to spend time as a family when we can. Sunday is usually the day we spend together because they don’t have sports or other events taking them away from things. We also like to go on walks together. It’s a time where the kids like to tell me about their day or what’s going on in life. When we have dinner together (I try really hard to have dinner together but it doesn’t happen as often as I would like.) I make each person in the family take time to tell the best part about their day. I also make them tell each other two things they appreciate about the other person (this often comes after a few days of bickering with each other.) It’s not perfect. But it’s us. We are learning and growing everyday. Some days are more glamorous than others. But my advice is, own it. Be you, be perfectly imperfect.