Small Business Spotlight: 10 Questions with Jessica from Mint & Birch

Mint & Birch is a true small business success story. Mom, maker and geniuniely cool lady Jessica has grown her customizable jewelry business to a 6-figure earning enterprise. #Goals, right? I’ve interviewed over 50 small business owners (!!), and each time, I learn something new from these ladies I talk with; even though I’ve been running my own business for 5 years, there’s always so much more to learn.

Small Business Spotlight: Mint & Birch. Learn how this mom grew her customizable jewelry business to six figures.

And that’s what I love about Jessica, and what she shares below. As an entrepreneur, you must constantly be learning — and my dad tells me that a lot — because as soon as you become complacent, both professional and personal growth come to a screeching halt.

Small Business Spotlight: Mint & Birch. Learn how this mom grew her customizable jewelry business to six figures.

I absolutely love what she says about her biggest challenges, and of course, her advice to other would-be entrepreneurs is inspiring. Read on to have your own entrepreneurial passion ignited.

Small Business Spotlight: Mint & Birch

Small Business Spotlight: 10 Questions with Jessica from Mint & Birch

Glad to chat with you! First, tell us where we can find you online.

My name is Jessica, and I own Mint & Birch! www.mintandbirch.com @mintandbirch and www.facebook.com/mintandbirch.

What inspired you to start your own business?

A few years ago, I started making nest necklaces for mother’s day. I wanted to create something customized and sentimental as gifts! The reaction I received was so sweet because everyone that I gave a necklace to was so touched. It made my heart so warm to know that something I created with my own hands could have such an effect on someone! I realized that I wanted to keep making customized pieces to tell each person’s story. Not before long, I started to receive orders from moms all over the world asking for pieces to celebrate their stories. I also received requests for pieces to memorialize lost loved ones. I am so touched to be invited to make sentimental pieces that represent so m any loved ones. Over the last 4 years, I have added several new designs and now work with gold fill and sterling! 

What inspires your work and what sets you apart from everyone else?

I opened up my business with one goal in mind: to create customized pieces and offer unique customizations to celebrate stories. I would say that I offer many customizations that are not available elsewhere. For example, I have a moon customizable option where I can match a moon phase to a requested date. I also work very hard to find unique designs and fonts that other shops don’t offer. I invest thousands of dollars into these designs. In fact, some of our designs are completely exclusive to Mint & Birch and have been designed exclusively for us and cannot be found elsewhere. I also have a soft spot for antique and vintage items, and some of my necklaces are also stamped with genuine vintage stamps dating back to the 1920’s. I even have a set coming from the 1880’s! We are slowly working on a blog section of our website that we started in April – we’re going to be gifting moms pieces and sharing their stories! .

What is your background and how did you develop the skills to start your business?

Haha. Never in a million years would I have imagined myself to be a business owner. I have a background in Psychology. I even completed my thesis in university and had plans to go on to graduate studies to become a counsellor. However, life took a fun little turn and we found ourselves expecting our first child in 2011. I guess what I’m trying to say is this: I didn’t start my business with any skills or business experience. I jumped in with two feet, and two things that have contributed to my success in learning how to run a business are: 1.) Openness to learn and to continue to do so 2.) Networking and information sharing with like-minded individuals.

What has been your biggest success to date?

Making 6 figures a year. I’m pretty proud of that :)

What has been your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge that I have faced is probably one of balance. Fist, there’s the work/life balance, and then there’s the internal business/passion balance. I think that behind every small business, there needs to be a driving passion. Without one, it’s hard to survive because running a business is simply a lot of work. It’s not easy and it’s like running a marathon everyday. Having said that, I think that during my growth spurt last year, I got caught up in the numbers game. I was occupied with marketing tools, sales goals, and all things measurable. Because of my growth and the need to meticulously track my income, expenses and sales, I got a little lost and forgot about why I opened up in the first place. I forgot why I was passionate about Mint & Birch. I saw that my business had really started to take off and I felt the need to run with it and I think I left my passion behind. I forgot why I loved making necklaces. I forgot to enjoy, converse and connect with customers. I forgot that I was supposed to be celebrating stories. I took a week long break to take the time to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. I think I am going to constantly going to be working hard to remind myself that I don’t need to be distracted by things that are measurable as long as I am executing my ultimate goal, which is to tell stories with beautiful jewelry. I remind myself daily that I don’t need chase success, but that I make it chase me through the work that I do from my heart. Successful businesses don’t need to be “business savvy, number crunching machines” but are ones that run from the heart, driven with passion. Oh, and of course, balancing the mom role with being a business owner is pretty difficult too!

Describe your typical work day.

A typical workday: I drop my eldest off at school at 9 AM. I’ll come home and nurse my 3 year old and 11 month old and settle them with snacks. Then, I cook dinner at 11 AM. This is the time that I’m 100% mom with the littlest two. My nanny arrives and I’ll go pick my eldest up from school and when he comes home I’ll settle him with a snack and spend some time talking with him about his day. Then, I will work until dinner, come upstairs and eat dinner with the kids and nurse the littles. I’ll go back downstairs and work until bedtime and come back upstairs to relieve my nanny and put the kids to sleep. After the kids are asleep, I’ll work on more emails and orders until I’m too tired and I go to bed. Lots of late nights for this mama. On days that my husband is off, I will dedicate a large chunk of time working early in the morning, but I will spend the rest of the day with my family. I couldn’t do it without my nanny. I also have two employees who help me package and do post office runs. I may start delegating a bit more to them as we approach the holiday shopping season. 

Which small businesses are you inspired by?

Natalie from Common Folke! I am inspired by Natalie because she has an unwavering dedication to originality, and most importantly, quality and craftsmanship. In the handmade business world, there comes a certain point where some handmade business will hit a growth plateau. There comes a point where a handmade business will reach a growth pattern where the volume of orders makes it incredibly difficult to continue hand making everything with craftsmanship. From what I’ve seen, Natalie has been able to keep growing and expanding while still being true to her product and being able to maintain the level of craftsmanship in her products. That inspires me greatly because I have hit the point where I don’t know if I can do everything myself anymore, but I know that there are certain tasks and processes that I cannot give up because I know that it’s what defines my business. In other words, I know that I must make sacrifices in order to ensure that all my jewellery stays at an artisanal value, and that it exudes high quality craftsmanship. These sacrifices may or may not involve sleep, but also involve scaling my business so that it does not grow too fast. Natalie inspires me because she is elegantly growing her business while still staying true and genuine to the values she has for originality and craftsmanship! It’s not easy for a handmade business to be able to do that!

If you could go back to the beginning knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?

Hire help for packaging earlier!!!

What’s your best advice for someone who wants to start her own creative business?

Find your passion, and stay true to it. Make success chase you, rather than chase success. Follow your heart and don’t try to impress anyone. Be who you are, let your products and your writing reflect who you are and your fans and followers will naturally follow!

Read more about Jessica and follow her journey at Mint & Birch. Follow her on Instagram at @mintandbirch

Tell us YOUR small business success story for a chance to be featured in the small business spotlight! For a chance to be featured in one of our small business posts, email info {at} cuteheads [dot] com & tell us about your business.

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About Esther

The Cuteness: sharing daily inspiration, kids fashion, work/life balance + small business how to's from mom & business owner Esther Freedman