Colorful and creative toy storage solutions called mon-stors are made reality by Lu & Ed, an inspiring brand we love! Owner and maker, Cody shares her advice on building community, and staying motivated and organized, to help any small business owner reach their goals.
Storenvy: How did you get started running your own business? Where did the idea for Lu and Ed come from?
Cody: In 2009 I moved from the East Coast to the Midwest, downsizing from a three bedroom home to a one bedroom finished basement. I searched for weeks for toy storage solutions for my son and was disappointed with the amount of floor space they took up or how cheaply made they were. One night, I had this brilliant idea to sew a hanging storage solution in the shape of a monster that my son could “feed” his toys to! The next day I cut out and sewed the very first ever Mon-stor. After I posted photos on social media, the requests began to trickle in. Eventually I ended up with a list of custom requests that filled an entire page in a notebook, and so I made the choice to drop my day job and pursue monster making full time. Once I registered my business name and got my business licensing taken care of, I dived in head first, totally inexperienced and unprepared for the wonderful adventure being a small business owner is! And you know what? Easily the best career move I ever made!
What has been the most challenging part of running your own business?
Finding balance. I love every little part of running Lu & Ed. Sometimes I’ll get in the zone and do nothing but sew non-stop, falling behind on bookkeeping and managing my online channels. Other weeks I find it hard to tear myself away from my computer to get into the studio to sew. I consistently neglect myself, not taking days off and working past my set “quitting” time. Without good balance, it can get overwhelming.
Setting alarms on my phone really helps me maintain a schedule, and although it was really hard to stick to at first, it’s now an established routine that makes running Lu & Ed virtually stress free! I recommend that business owners evaluate their routine & process, and remove anything that you are not benefiting from. Streamline your processes as much as possible so you can increase productivity without feeling overwhelmed by things that won’t help your business grow. Once you really outline your priorities and identify what is and isn’t working for you, things just start to click into place and become easier to manage.
What has been the most rewarding part of owning your own business? Have you had any experiences that stand out?
I think the most rewarding thing for me is showing my son and other children they can truly do anything they want. They can even make up a job as silly as being a monster maker and turn that dream into a reality! I love how excited they are about the colorful monsters, and the awe in their faces when they find out that monster making really IS my job!
One of the most rewarding experiences I have had as a business owner is being able to donate my time to the Monster Makeover fundraiser for the past two years. Tuscaloosa public school children draw monsters, and then professional artists recreate the monsters from their drawings! The finished works of art are then auctioned off at a fundraiser with all of the proceeds donated to Tuscaloosa public schools for art education. It’s a huge honor for me to have been able to put my talents to good use, helping provide art education for children.
Running a small business can be overwhelming with so much to do. Where would you encourage entrepreneurs to focus their efforts that might benefit them?
The best investment I think any entrepreneur can make is joining various online and local communities! Not only is participating a free way to raise awareness about you & your brand, but by building your own local and internet connections you’re putting a plethora of potential opportunities at your fingertips. You can build your client base, lay the foundation for friendships, and you never know what connections you will make that can lead to collaborations and other opportunities.
Be active and ask questions; openly reach out to people. If you can’t find a community offering what you’re looking for, start your own! I think the word community is an umbrella term: it is simply a group of like minded people who help one another. When people band together to form a community of friends helping each other, great things happen.
What advice would you offer to other small business owners when they face their own challenges?
It will be the hardest thing you ever do, and you won’t find success overnight, or even in a few weeks or months. It could take years to get where you want to be. Strap in for the long haul because it will be difficult, especially if you don’t maintain a positive mental attitude when things aren’t going well for your business. Actively choosing to be positive and proactive is really difficult when you first start out, but it can make all the difference in how challenging your journey really is. When undesirable situations arise, diving into work to resolve them promptly will get you further than complaining about it. You have to be your biggest cheerleader, even when times are tough and sales are slow. Your confidence and excitement about your business, brand, and products are contagious!
Read more about Lu & Ed and shop the store here.