Five years is a major milestone in a small business's life. From the very beginning, our parents - who own Germean's Flower Shop, the oldest flower shop in our hometown of Marksville, Louisiana - told us to give it five years.
Five years to see what it takes to keep things going.
Five years to see how we really like working together.
Five years to hustle and try to achieve some kind of "balance."
Five years to build a brand people grow loyal to.
Well, here we are and we're not sure what to think about it. Here are five things we learned in five years:
Be genuine and true to who you are
It's easy to slide into the trap of comparison when running your own business. This can be debilitating and make you second guess every business decision made. But at the end of the day, you have to stay true to who you really are and stay focused on your goals. People will notice. Decisions made based on comparison never turn out the way you hoped.
Treat your team well
In order to keep a business running smoothly, you have to have good people to back you up. If they are doing a good job at something, praise them. Show them how much you appreciate them through your words and your actions. Surprise them with their favorite snack, a thoughtful note, flowers when you see they need it or simply offer a listening ear when they are having a bad day. These things seem so simple, but really go a long way to building great relationships with your team.
We are very fortunate to have trustworthy employees who would bend over backwards for us. This starts with our small team of two "real" employees, but it doesn't stop there. We can't discredit the people who show up to the plate at any given moment when asked. Several family members and friends have volunteered their time on weekends or days off just to help us out when we need. Family emergencies, vacations and out-of-store events are just a few instances when we've needed extra helping hands and they never hesitate to be here for us. You know who you are. ;)
Rhythm over balance
When you own your own business, there is no "clocking out" or "calling it a day." Often times, balance seems far fetched. Kids have after school activities? We have to make sure either the business is covered or your kids are where they need to be with help from family members. Need a "day off?" Better make sure your to-do list is complete the day before, even if it means you stay up until 1 a.m. tackling all the things. School projects, dress up days, personal doctor's appointments...the list goes on. We try to find a way to "balance" it all.
Emily Ley talks a lot about ditching the idea of "balance" and embracing a rhythm of life that is both intentional and flexible. Life happens. Know when to hire a babysitter to spend a few extra hours on a pressing work project, or when to take off work early to spend time spoiling your little one who’s had a rough week at school. Don’t be afraid of a little (or big!) change in schedule.
And sometimes, you may be throwing together an imperfect homecoming week costume the night before it's due. But hey, at least you did your best with what you have. At the end of the day, your kids won't remember how tacky of a tourist they were. They'll remember mom and the business she poured her heart into.
Learn how to say "no"
Understanding that saying yes to one thing means saying no to something else. "No" is not a bad word. Sometimes we need to say no to good things because we simply don’t have time for them.
“A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.”
- Lysa Turkeurst
Strep throat happens
Giving yourself some grace when everything seems to not go your way on any given day is something we are still working on. When strep throat hits the entire household, the business can wait.
Annie Claire's dress | Annie Claire's hat | Annie Claire's black velvet booties | Annie Claire's jewelry | Chelsey's lightweight sweater | Chelsey's black flare pants | Chelsey's shoes | Chelsey's jewelry
Yes, we admit, our first five years look a bit different than most with our first two being online only. But we've hit five nonetheless and we are ready for MORE!
Annie Claire's take on how to successfully work together as sisters
In 2014, I was bright eyed and eager to launch SoSis with such hope in my heart. I was pretty naive, if I'm being honest. Fast forward to year five and it's important to note that I am still bright eyed and eager, with just a little more caution and experience under my belt. Gosh, we have learned so much and try to treat every "failure" as a stepping stone to making our business better.
We get asked all the time, "How do you work with your sister and not kill each other?" And our answer is always the same. We truly love what we each one of us brings to the table and trust each other in our respective roles. For the most part, we stay in our own lanes. My lane is merchandising the store and making sure the day-to-day business deeds happen (i.e., quickbooks, payroll, ordering toilet paper, etc). If i'm second guessing a trend or style to introduce, I'll ask Chel for her opinion, which usually results in either nixing the idea or taking it on full force. Other than those few times, I really do hand select everything you see in our store and online, while she makes those things come alive on social media and digitally. Every once in a while, I may have a social media idea and she's always very open and willing to try it!
We are also very different in many ways and I think that's why we work so well together. Don't get me wrong, there are some days where we just need to take a breather from each other, but it's not often and we always end up meeting in the middle. Our sister bond is super strong...it would take something very tragic to break it.
So, I guess to really answer the question...
We don't get frustrated with each other because we respect what one another is doing to grow our brand. We both know that in our heart, we are doing all that we can to make it a great experience for our customers - in store and online. We hope that you feel that when you shop with us.
How Chelsey learns through failure
Perfection is overrated. So why do I constantly try to chase it? If you know me even a little, you know that I listen to way too many self-love podcasts, follow Emily Ley and Lara Casey on social media consistently, and constantly strive to spark some kind of rhythm in this crazy, fast, demanding life.
I fail every day.
Every. Single. Day.
This year has been extra tough learning to juggle toddlerhood with the need/want to work 24/7. No matter how much progress you think you make in one day, there is a never ending list of things that you could do to make your business better. Often times, if I'm being honest, it's suffocating.
This year, I've worked really hard to prioritize my never ending to-do list focusing on what matters most (preach Lara Casey). For SoSis that may be - what can I do today that will 1. produce sales or 2. set our brand up for success in the future. There are only so many hours in one day and we just can't do every single thing we'd love to do. So I have to prioritize.
At home that may be completely unplugging for the extremely short amount of time I have with Charlie Jo from school pick up to bedtime. For my own self love, it may be allowing myself take a long weekend with my college girlfriends guilt free.
At the end of the day, we are all doing our very best. Be proud of that. Celebrate the little wins because the grind is no fun if you never stop to be proud. Be present where you are now and focus on what matters most.
So year six will be a big one as we are adding one new baby team member to the mix. We're ready. Are you?