Lacie Cole enjoys creating things! Mother, Creator, Artist… she does a little bit of it all. She opened her first business, a children’s clothing and gift boutique specializing in monogrammed gift items while still in high school. With a small used embroidery machine, she spent hours upon hours learning, practicing and “destroying a few things” until it became a 2nd language. She had a brick and mortar store for 8 years before selling in 2010 and launching Monogram Madness.
Empowering Brands caught up with Lacie to talk about her business Monogram Madness, the challenges of being an entrepreneur and how she’s overcame those challenges to build a successful business.
Thank you Lacie for #sharingyourTuscaloosastory
What motivated you to start your own business?
A lot of things really but my mom was and still is my biggest advocate. She offered to help me start a business when I was in the 12th grade and that has allowed me to do what I love and turn that into a career.
I also learned a lot about the vastly growing online shopping market working part time for an Upscale Linen Boutique. They had a phenomenal online business and storefront and I learned a lot about the dynamics of e-commerce. I’m forever thankful for that opportunity and to that family for their generosity and teaching. It truly made an impact on who I am today.
Can you tell us a bit more about Monogram Madness?
Monogram Madness is an online based custom embroidery and monogramming service business. We can do almost anything for your customization project and specialize in large orders.
I opened Monogram Madness after selling my brick and mortar storefront business in 2010. Etsy was on the rise and I opened the shop to list hand painted Easter Baskets for some extra income while working for the linen shop. The items were a hit instantly so I slowly added more and more products to our shop and as orders began to grow every month it became a full-time job.
We’ve experienced exponential growth year after year and eventually grew from one embroidery machine in a spare bedroom makeshift production facility to an office/warehouse space. We produce and ship everything from there. The growth has been amazing and I’m truly humbled and grateful.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Just navigating through the growing pains of business growth; the bottle neck so to speak. We’ve been able to grow and operate with little to no debt. As consumer demand increases so does the need for more employees, equipment, advertising and web technology. Understanding where I need to invest my time and resources is an ongoing challenge.
Another challenge is just balancing the work and family time. Operating a business is an around the clock job. It’s not glamorous and is hard work. Switching my brain from work to family is difficult. What is personal time anyway? LOL!!
How have you overcome these challenges?
One way that I’ve overcome this or rather adjusted is by asking advice and talking with other business owners. I’ve found that almost every business owner struggles with the same challenges no matter how different the business is. Simply being able to sit down over coffee with another entrepreneur and bouncing ideas around has been the best thing for me. You’d be surprised how your wheels begin to spin with new ideas and we usually both leave the table with some insight and encouragement.
We were created to build each other up and to edify one another. This simple yet very important principal is so applicable in our professional lives.
One of my favorite quotes: “rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You can not serve from an empty vessel.” – Eleanor Brown
How do you distinguish yourself from competitors?
Our exceptional Customer Service set us apart in the online world of shopping. Myself, a frequent online consumer as well, am aware of the trepidation we sometimes feel purchasing something online vs. in a physical store. You can’t see, touch, or feel the item in person. You cannot try it on. Usually there are no returns/exchanges. That can deter a customer from ordering for sure.
We are very prompt in responding to customer inquiries and questions about our products and process. We provide full details, visual size charts, accurate descriptions/Images, and realistic completion timelines so that the buyer has more peace of mind when purchasing online.
We also handle order status inquiries, and sometimes even customer complaints/dissatisfaction with the same promptness.
I cannot tell you how many times I have read the phrase, “Thank you so much for your quick response.”
Our unique product line and attention to detail are attributing factors in the success of this company as well. I am very meticulous about what leaves our shop. I prefer a crisp, clean, and tightly sewn monogram on every product. We utilize advanced embroidery design software to create beautiful and legible lettering, as well as quality thread and backing to ensure a well-crafted and durable monogram.
What’s the best advice you’ve received lately?
“There is POWER in Positive affirmation”. -Tom Mullins
This resonated with me immensely. Obviously, we should declare positive affirmations over ourselves and our families, but also over our businesses. Our employees-a vital part of the business. The way we lead our team and the way we treat our employees yields either a positive or a negative harvest. I have found that positive affirmations not only show the employee how much they are valued and appreciated, but it also creates a positive work environment. I believe that providing a positive work environment enables an individual to grow and learn, which impacts job performance in such a positive way.
I compliment my employees on their hard work and we encourage one another on difficult days. When an error or a mistake occurs, I try to create a learning experience from it, for both myself and them. I am so thankful for past and present employees of Monogram Madness. You are valued and appreciated more than you know.
What advice would you give a fellow entrepreneur?
I am no expert. I believe trial and error are necessary for growth as a leader and as a company. Throw Pride out. Humble ourselves. Seek direction. We can’t possibly have it ALL figured out on our own.
Network with other entrepreneurs. Ask for advice. Ask what worked well for them. Share things that have worked for you. There is a plethora of beneficial information and tools for entrepreneurs to utilize and share with one another. It’s just a matter of discovery…
Listen to your staff! Brainstorm together. Ask them if they have ideas on how to improve the business process. What are their challenges in the workplace? How can we improve as a company and as a team?
Is there a good book or article you’ve read lately?
The Importance of “Six Degrees of Separation” in Business and Career Growth by Jennifer Lewis
Is there anything you’re actively looking for help with?
Our production needs continue to grow every year. We are always happy to find someone with any sewing or embroidery experience. We are also in need of an experienced graphics designer for various creative projects within the business.
And lastly, Product Ambassadors with an established social media presence and substantial following across all social media platforms. Ideal Candidates would also have an existing fashion/lifestyle blog with relevant and consistent content and active subscribers.
Any current promotions people should know about?
What’s the best way to reach your business?
Email Us: firstname.lastname@example.org
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