I am super excited to launch the start of How She Did It! This is a Small Business Monthly Feature here on the blog! Each month we will hear from Small Business Owners who are rocking out their industry and leaving a legacy for their family!
This month, I am honored to have Ashley Bills join me as we discuss how she started a successful Online Children’s Boutique while keeping her family a priority!
I met Ashley through a Facebook Group I am a part of for Stay-At-Home-Moms. She is married to Chris and together they have three adorable kiddos!
My desire is that through these monthly features, you’ll gain some insight to owning your own Small Business, be encouraged to continue through the craziness of family and business, and maybe even be motivated to start something new and go after your dreams!
I hope that this interview with Ashley inspires you like it has me…
Hey Ashley! Thank you so much for being willing to be featured on the blog today! I am super excited to get to know more about you and your Small Business! Before we get started, would you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Ashley, I am 29, married and have three children who are my life! I am an Army veteran, a homeschooling mom, and an online boutique owner. I enjoy spending time with my family, bouncing back and forth between healthy eating and chocolate, and being outside!
Little Threads was started to provide boutique clothing at discount store prices. We currently carry sizes newborn up to 8. We plan to add bigger sizes and a mom shop in the future!
So what made you want to start a Small Business and create your Online Children’s Boutique?
I have always loved unique clothing that really represents my children’s’ personalities. Let’s be honest though, boutique shopping is expensive and not always practical. At the rate children grow, it’s not justifiable to spend 50 dollars on a shirt or 80 dollars on a dress.
After years of research and lots of prayers, I decided to take a leap of faith and start a children’s boutique. Little Threads is about finding unique pieces that kids can stand out in without breaking the bank!
How did you prepare to become an online small business owner? Did you take any courses, read any books, use skills from another job, etc?
I started by searching and reading nearly everything I could find online. I did start an MBA several years ago but realized you don’t really need a degree to be an entrepreneur, you just need the knowledge!
Instead, I spent my time talking with boutique owners and watching how other online stores were run.
My undergrad is in Graphic Design, that helps with the advertising side of it. Of course, you need to have a good understanding of taxes, website design, social media etc. For the most part, these things have been “Learn As You Go” for me. I’m a very hands-on person, so when I felt it was time to take the leap, I jumped in headfirst and never looked back.
How do you promote your boutique?
I primarily use Facebook. I have a Facebook community via Facebook groups, here I give sneak peeks, special discounts, and giveaways. This gets the brand out there and also drives traffic to my website. I plan to pursue other ways of promotion in the future as time allows.
What’s your favorite thing about owning a small business?
My favorite part is the people that I have met. I have made many new friends and reconnected with old friends through the process. It has also taught me how important it is to support small businesses.
What do you struggle with as an online small business owner?
My biggest struggle is time management. Since I work from home and homeschool, my time is tight. I have to be very productive in short amounts of time, like during nap/quiet time or after the kids are in bed. It is really easy for work to overflow into my personal life. However, my family is very supportive and I incorporate the kids as much as possible.
What do you wish you knew or did when first starting your online boutique?
My first mistake was investing in summer clothes too late in the season. You have to be a season ahead and sell a season ahead. Otherwise, you are too late and customers have already picked up items here and there at bigger stores such as Target and Walmart.
What’s your best advice for one of our readers who may be considering opening her own online small business?
Don’t invest money you don’t have! You don’t need a loan to start a business. Start small, very small, and reinvest your profits over and over. It’s amazing to watch such a tiny investment grow into a profitable business without ever having paid on a loan!
Okay, let’s get technical! What tools, apps, or programs are must-haves with running your small business?
I use Shopify and I love it. There are several apps and tools through Shopify for very good prices!
What’s your favorite trick for staying healthy (physically and mentally) as a small business owner?
I recently started running with friends. Friends help with accountability!
Mentally, the biggest thing is being able to shut it all off. You cannot think about your business 100% of the time, it is not healthy. When ideas pop into my head during dinner or while I’m playing with my kids, I jot them down and leave them for work time. It is hard when you first start, but the balance is a must have.
Do you schedule a time to continuing learning?
I do not! I should. However, I currently use my free time to read new books and research.
As a small business owner, could you share 3-5 tips for owning your own business that you’ve learned along the way?
- Don’t start a business with debt
- Have a support system
- Be willing to give up your free time
Do you have set business hours? If so, how do you stick to them? As a mom, it’s hard for me to set hours and stick to them because I can’t turn off motherhood. So I just kind of “work when I can”. But then it feels like I’m always working.
I work during nap/quiet time about an hour and usually an hour or two after the kids are in bed. During busy weeks I have my husband do something with the kids so that I can get more work in. I am not super strict with my schedule, when I see a good opportunity to work I take it!
Gotta know… What’s your go-to morning drink?
I prefer a smoothie! I make them with strawberries, bananas, and spinach! (You can’t taste the spinach, promise.)
I know all of the moms reading this want to know where we can find you! But what they don’t know is that you have something special you are offering just to our readers, right?
And yes! I’d love for all of the readers to take 10% off our already low prices. You can use Code: TAKE10
You can find us online: Little Threads
In our VIP Facebook Group: Little Threads VIP
Awesome Ashley, thanks so much for being here and for being willing to share your small business adventure with us! I’ve got one more question for you before we go…
When you’re not working, what could we find you doing?
Homeschooling or hanging with family and friends!
I really hope you enjoyed this interview with Ashley as much as I did! Don’t forget to check out her website and take advantage of the promotion she’s sharing just with us!
To conclude, if you’d like your small business to be featured on the blog, email me
[ firstname.lastname@example.org ] to be considered!
Share this post and let us know what inspired you in the comments below!