Ang and I share a unique bond, our sons were born prematurely in different parts of the country on the same day (crazy right?). We connected through a video that was shared on my personal Facebook page of my sons journey in the NICU. Ang reached out expressing the similarities we had, and wanted to gift my son a shirt from her "Prematurity Awareness Collection" ( fellow preemie moms you should check it out) a portion of the proceeds give back to "The March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign" which is a campaign dear to my heart. Besides being a amazing person and mom to two boys, she designs and creates so many incredible products! Ok, now that I've rambled on, meet the mama behind Curly Q's Counter!
Meet Ang Disney.
Tell us a Little about yourself, your family and your business.
We are located in sunny Phoenix, AZ. After having my first son in 2013, I realized there was a void in the fashion market for baby boy's clothes. I wanted my son to still be able to wear stylish, trendy pieces so I began to make my own. I introduced my designs to Instagram that summer and they took off from there! I began growing my business and networking with everyone I could who was slightly interested in my products, in exchange for social media shout outs and promotions. Things were going well, but it wasn't until my second son, who was born in January 2015 at 34 weeks, that I shifted some of my focus in my business. I wanted to be able to give back in some way. Inspired by my preemie, I now have a successful preemie clothing line for those born too soon. I've established amazing connections with preemie parents all over the world. Along with this collection, every purchase of one of these items gives back to March of Dimes' Prematurity Campaign.
What did you do before starting your own business?
Prior to my babies and business, I was in the healthcare field. I was also working on completing my Master of Clinical Research around the same time. While I still feel very passionate about this work, I've realized that my ultimate passion is being at home seeing my kids grow up and building my handmade business.
How did you come up with your company name and why?
I have naturally curly hair... it is EXTREMELY curly. Like curls on curls on curls. My mom and others would lovingly refer to me as 'curly Q' so it only seemed fitting that it was incorporated in my business name. The 'Counter' part of my name comes from around the time I was getting started, I knew I didn't want to label my shop as versed in only one category (apparel, baby wear, etc). so 'counter' felt more encompassing.
What inspired you to start your own business and how did you start it?
I was super frustrated every time I went to the big box stores and saw the huge selection in the girls department. Once I'd arrive at the little baby boy/toddler boy area, it was slim pickings. Nothing original. Nothing overly unique, filled with personality and individualism. That's what I really strive to bring to my shop. I also knew that I wanted to still contribute to my family's income, especially after leaving a really good job in the healthcare field. I knew I had to work hard to make that possible.
Is there a specific tool you use that makes managing a business easier?
I am a total list maker. I probably use the 'Notes' app on my iPhone and my MacBook at least 15 times a day (no joke). I write everything down- from task items, inventory, new product ideas, you name it. It's a catch-all for me and helps me stay really organized. I use my Shopify & Etsy apps to manage my store's dashboard and listings. Being a busy mom of two constantly on the go, it's nice to have my shop's stats at my fingertips. I'm also able to answer customer questions from there too. Aside from my go-to social media apps (Instagram & Facebook for Business), I also recently started to use Co-Promote which will allow you to 'reshare' other businesses pages and products. It's a great breeding ground for promotion & marketing, and usually, whatever you promote for someone else will be promoted for you too.
What Were some of the learning curves of just starting out?
A huge learning curve for me was the fluctuation of sales. I learned that I can't get hung up if I have an amazing day with my stores, and then the next is five times slower. Taxes were also a scary learning curve for me. I had to cycle through a few bookkeepers until I finally found someone who could help me and get me caught up with what I need to do each month. I didn't realize all of the tax permits, penalties, and payments that went into owning my own business.
What's it like being a business owner and mom, how do you schedule both?
It is so chaotic! I feel so lucky that I get to do what I do, and love what I do, all while being with my babies each day. I'm constantly trying to balance. I try to work during nap time, and I've begun sending our 3-year-old to a 'pre-pre-school' two or three days a week so that I can get caught up with work. It's super exhausting to mom all day and then try to hand make + ship products at night. I felt like I was getting too burnt out, and I know my husband was being neglected too. Now, I try to get up earlier in the morning before the kids are up and get whatever I can done, even if it's just a small item on my to-do list. It frees up some area of the day and helps me not stress out all day over the rest. I've also tried to cut back on doing things at night unless it's just light admin work on my computer. Even then, I'll bring my laptop downstairs so I can hang out and be more present. A little over 2 years ago, my mom started helping me with my production too. It's been such a huge weight off of me to have help making things, and being that it's my mom makes me feel very comfortable with that decision. I think hiring more help with smaller tasks, such as social media and shipping, will definitely be happening the more my business grows.
What has been your greatest lesson in business/ motherhood?
That it's okay if I can't do it all. I've learned to take things day by day with both areas of my life. I used to be super hard on myself like, 'I NEED to do this because I'm the stay at home mom.' I was the only one putting that kind of pressure on myself and I realized it wasn't healthy and getting help when needed is okay.
Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs/mothers?
I guess my biggest piece of advice for entrepreneurs would just be something kind of cliche, but it's so true for me in everything that I do with my business. Just go for it! If you want it, go after it. Hard work does pay off. You can't chase your dream if you're sitting there not moving or doing anything about it. Make a plan and attack it. After my son started sleeping more and getting thru the majority of his health/preemie issues, I decided that 2016 was going to be my year to kick things into high gear for my business. Again, I made a list :) This list included all of the goals I wanted to reach within January to December 2016. I can thankfully say, I've been checking them off one by one. They range from tiny things to really big things... a few of them being to build my own website, establish my wholesale business and clientele, working on my websites SEO, have a rapper, an actress, and a singer's family member wear my item (all three have been checked off at least once or twice over!), appear on a local TV network or program for my preemie campaign to spread more awareness, on and on. I wouldn't be able to make these things happen if I didn't push myself to make them happen. My family continually surrounds me with support and without them and my loyal supporters/customers, I'm not sure I'd have as much persistence. Definitely surround yourself with positive people who believe in you! Don't let the naysayers get to you, there will always be some.
What does a “normal” day in your home look like?
I am the first one up in our house. I usually am up around 4:00-5:00am and start my day. I work on whatever I can before the boys are up and the day begins. I like to try to do things that are physically impossible to get done when they're both home with me or requires a lot of focus and time (such as hand-studding different denim pieces).
Around 7:30-8am, my husband and I work together to get both of our boys up. Our 3-year-old is very easy going and happy in the morning...our 18-month-old, not so much. We get them dressed and fed, and then my husband leaves the house for work. He is the Director of Operations of a locally owned restaurant and oversees 5 locations. He's such a hard worker and has a very busy schedule of his own...but he always makes it a point to be there for our boys each day. I love how hands-on he is.
For days both boys are home with me and my oldest isn't in his school program, we get our day started after breakfast. When my baby goes down for his morning nap, my 3-year-old and I will play trains, swing in the backyard, jump on the trampoline, play with puzzles or playdough, or have some quiet time play/reading. Once he begins some quiet time, we head into my office upstairs in our home and I'm able to ship some orders or finish up making a product from earlier in the morning or day before.
Once the baby is up, we will have lunch and play a bit inside more. We may venture off to the park, indoor play center, sometimes meet my husband for lunch or do errands before their joint afternoon naps. Once it's time for that, we head home and then I will work on emails and admin pieces.
When my husband gets home later that evening, we have family time and eat. My boys ADORE their daddy, and the second he's home they light up and race to the door. They're both in bed by 8pm and we will catch up on our days and just relax. Last year we had two under two and it was no joke, especially after our son's health battles and lack of sleep. These days things are a bit easier (thank goodness) but we still like to turn in early since the next day starts early all over again.
Besides business and your family, do you have any hobbies you love to enjoy (when you have the time)?
Living in Arizona, I love to lay by the pool & swim! My boys are turning into little fish too, so I think that's something they will really enjoy growing up just like I did. Recently, we've been updating our house and working on DIY projects to spruce things up. My husband is an excellent woodworker and we've enjoyed creating one of a kind pieces for our home. It's been fun to get more into interior design and really make our house feel like a home!
I’m a huge coffee lover, and I'm always looking for new types, do you have a particular favorite?
I'm addicted to Starbucks iced white mochas- if I get a bigger size I'll usually only opt for one shot of espresso, though. I love coffee, but I love coffee that's SWEET even more!
Who has been an inspiration to you in your life and why?
Definitely my own mama. She had three girls and was a single mom with no support from our dad. She beat every obstacle in her way and always made sure we didn't go without when it came to anything and everything. Being a mom now really makes me realize how much she sacrificed for us and worked so incredibly hard so that we wouldn't have to struggle, even if she was. I love her so much and wouldn't be where I am today without her love and guidance.
If you could travel anywhere or do anything in the world what would that be?
I'm such a homebody! But I would love to go to Hawaii some day (not super interesting, I know! haha)
If your children learn one thing from you what would you wish that to be?
I want them to know that no matter what, they are loved. I know that life will have its struggles for each of them, but I want them to feel loved and supported by us so that they are able to make their own decisions and good decisions at that. I love the old saying of, 'treat others how you want to be treated' and I feel like instilling that is very important too. I want them to have compassion for others and be willing to help whenever and however they can when someone is in need. I think that mentality is what we really need in this world today. I feel so grateful that they have my husband to look up to, as he is an amazing example of a husband, father, and provider. They will learn to know how to be 'real men' from him and the path that he is helping them lead each day.
Now that you just got your daily dose of awesomeness, make sure you check out her super cute shop!