In her book Scrappy: Use Everything You Have, Trust Yourself, and Press the Reset Button for Success, the Lolly Wolly Doodle Way, founder Brandi Temple tells the story of her unexpected rise from a mother of four sewing children's clothing to an online retail success story. In this edited excerpt, Temple describes the early days of her Facebook success and shares the 'ah-ha' moments she had along the way.
Once those first twenty invoices were paid, I had enough money to buy a whole bolt of fabric. I used the rest of the proceeds to hire more people to cut and sew quickly. Suddenly, my hobby had turned into a business, and within two weeks I took down the eBay store to concentrate full-time on Facebook. Because I didn't yet have a whole lot of items to sell, I announced that I would post new items at 9 p.m. It seemed like the ideal time for moms to go online shopping, when dinner was made, kids were bathed and put to bed, and they could sit in front of their computers with a glass of chardonnay and a credit card within reach. Even if they were early to bed, there was just enough time after the witching hour to have a little fun.
After I got everyone in the habit of being ready at nine, it became a kind of game to them. At 8:45, people would start posting:
"Who all is on here? Anyone I know?"
They'd start talking back and forth, saying:
"Oh my gosh, I'm soooo nervous."
"I can't wait."
"I got all my information saved and all I have to do is hit the button and paste."
"I'm gonna win tonight!"
It was such a competition I didn't even know if they cared what I was selling. They were fighting over these limited items, and the fact that they were so scarce and their friends wanted them too made them crazy. Once the first post was up, my brother Donnie would get on the phone with me, and we'd have the whole family on speaker, watching as the numbers went up and up and up.
"Wow, sis, look at that! You just got seventy-four comments in ten seconds!"
No matter what I put up, people bought it. Women even started creating fake accounts and squabbling with each other because their kids were the same size and they wanted the same dress.
The next thing that happened was that moms started posting photos of their own kids wearing our designs. A story began unfolding as I tried to deal with our rapid expansion. A mom posted a photo of the moment she brought her adopted daughter home from China--wearing Lolly Wolly Doodle. Another mom posted a photo of her baby son wearing Lolly Wolly Doodle to meet his dad for the rst time when he came back from Afghanistan. A mom would post that her daughter had just been rushed to the hospital, and the other moms would offer prayers. Or a mom would ask if we had anything yellow and purple for her daughter's school dance.
The women bonded, the way moms do, and formed a community, and it was all happening on the Lolly Wolly Doodle Facebook page. I didn't even need to ask why. I knew, because these customers were just like me. It was all about the kids. The moms might have been wearing sweatshirts with holes in them, they might have had spit-up in their hair, but none of that mattered if someone came up to them in a restaurant and told them how adorable their daughter looked in that outfit. My Doodle fans took such pride in their children and wanted them to look cute and special--at a reasonable price.
My 'Ah-Ha' Moments
If something doesn't exist on the market, make it yourself. Where there is a gap, you may well find an opportunity.
Just try. You can always minimize risk by putting something to the test on a manageable scale.
You are never out of options. You don't have to stay stuck in one identity; there is no limit to the number of do-overs you can have.
Having your back against a wall may be a blessing, because there is no time to check items off your wish list or linger over past regrets. You just do what you must to get your life back on track.
Look around you and use whatever you've got. Dig deep within yourself to solve a problem.
Sometimes it's a question of shifting your perspective and recalculating. You have to be willing to pivot and adapt to whatever challenges get thrown on your path.
Make a conscious decision to start over, even if that means cleaning up pieces of what you're leaving behind, or recycling them in a whole new way.
Reuse those scraps, and never quit. Keep searching for a way, even when it feels impossible to take another step.