Happy Birthday to US !!! PLT by M is turning 2 on Thursday 8/10.
We want to start today by saying R-E-S-P-E-C-T to all of the boss ladies out there. Sure, this song is about a guy, but in our head it applies to all sorts people on the other end of frustrating emails, phone calls and super busy days. We're have a feeling Queen Aretha would be totally okay with women applying this general message to all areas of our lives! 😍
There is absolutely nothing glamorous about starting a business. While launching a start-up is super exciting, the organisation of it can be anything but a dream. Being an entrepreneur affects both your lifestyle and your state of mind because you are becoming more than a person, you are becoming your business.
There will be good days when we'll feel like Queen B and bad days when we won't even be able think about work for another second. The key is to never forget why you decided to become an entrepreneur in the first place. If you truly want to become a successful self-employed business owner who lives on her own terms, there is only one thing we can say to all you powerful ladies out there; you've got this!
Now remember to also give yourself time and some self-love because we women CAN do it all. From being a daughter and a sister, to being a wife and a mom, while keeping our friendships and being a boss-babe, all at the same time. We are each others inspiration and all we need is a solid support system! Let us know your story in the comments, we'd love to hear from you.
More about practising self-love next week 🔥💕
Continue reading for a little Q&A with Megan Akselrod, founder and CEO
Whats your story and how did you come up with the idea?
Aaah flashback to my baby’s bornday! So in the summer of 2018, during my last year of Uni at KU leuven, I was looking for ways to distract myself from the pressures of exams and papers. I really wanted to do something creative which was a total 180 from what I was studying at the time, Business Administration.
I started planning my own birthday party (thinking I’d become the next Martha Stewart) and I couldn’t find what I was looking for. You know - cute plates, napkins, fun birthday games, glittery cups, fun balloons. I went to so many different stores, googled everything party- and decoration related, but that didn’t do it for me. As I was doing some research about flower decorations, the idea sparked about creating my own piece and there it was ; the flower bear was born.
I created a few which sold out pretty fast once my first customer came in. With the full support of my family and friends (because we all need a little push sometimes) I decided to invest in a few things, and created more and more. And I haven't stopped since.
One thing led to another and next thing I know I have an office space, a few social media accounts and the business is up and running.
I am so proud of our pop-up store in Antwerp. It’s a really big accomplishment for me and I can’t wait to take Pretty Little Things by MOI to another level! 💯
What made it the perfect timing for you to start your own business?
University was coming to an end and the future was pretty uncertain. The only thing I was sure about, was the fact that a 9 to 5 job wasn't really what I was made for. I’m sure so many of you can relate? I knew I wanted to make my own hours, my own schedule and I had a bit of an 'its now or never' feeling and I just went for it. Looking back, it was the best decision I could have taken.
Has being an entrepreneur affected your personal/private life ?
Of course. Having your own business is like having a baby. This sounds like a cliché, but it's so true. Nobody will put in the work for you. If you're not doing it, it's not getting done. Your priorities shift because all of a sudden, you have this business you have to take care of if you want it to succeed. You're going to miss out on a few social events and you may not go on dinner dates that often. Having your own company takes a lot of time, a lot of effort and most of all, some sacrifices. But it is one of the most rewarding things I currently have in my life.
Where do you see PLT by M in 5 years ? And what is the end goal of the business ?
Keeping a healthy balance between career and personal life is not easy when starting a business. You feel like you're juggling a million thoughts in your head and things can fall through the cracks. You only have 24 hours in a day and a pair of hands. Especially in the beginning fase of it all. I hope that in 5 years I'll have found the perfect balance, hired a bigger team of wonderful people I can share the workload with and hope to be able to do it all. The end goal would be to have a fully oiled empire that works perfectly without me. I want to be able to still create and innovate. Most importantly, I hope to grow, so my products can bring more smiles to even more people. That is ultimately why I do what I do.
What's your favourite product ? And why ?
I love all of my products. My one rule is I don't sell anything I wouldn't want to receive as a present or buy for myself. But... my all-time favourite product has to be our best-seller; the 40cm flower bear, which happens to have been my first product. This bear makes everyone feel the way I felt when I first made it and that's what makes it so special. I love it and my customers feel the same way.
What motivates you to keep running a business with all the ups and downs?
There are two things that keep me going everyday. Firstly my father, he's
my number one who is always there for me no matter what. He motivates me
24/7 and gives me all the support I need.
Another motivator are of course my happy customers! It gives me such great
satisfaction to see how happy my products make other people. It warms my
heart, keeps me motivated and makes me want to grow as a company.
How did it feel to get your first customer like? Tell us the story!
Memories like these are things you never forget. I started with an instagram account and nothing else, not really knowing where it was going to take me. I started posting the products on IG to see if I could get some type of reaction. I only had 3 products at the time and very very few followers.
For two weeks, I checked my IG multiple times a day (OK let's be honest it might have been a little more than that 😂 ) but got very little response. It's a bittersweet feeling. You put yourself out there which is exciting but the lack of reaction can be frustrating at times.
But after a little while, I got my first order by my first local Belgian customer! They ordered a white flower bear with a pink heart.
I will never ever forget how happy I was on that specific moment, I couldn't
believe it and felt like all the hard work was finally going to pay off. One of the
most memorable days of my life.
What are some business challenges you’re facing now?
Every small business owner has their own unique story, and I think that throughout this pandemic all of our hopes for the future dramatically changed.
The biggest challenge we’re facing is literally everything — from running the business to following the local health regulations that change every other week. We have less walk-ins because people don't leave their house, and when they do come in, customers can’t touch or feel anything. Life has become a lot less personal which is what my products are all about.
It's about celebrating life's happy moments with your loved ones, which happens a lot less these days. We just have to find a new way of celebrating and remember that each day is a blessing, that in itself is already a big enough reason to celebrate.
It’s extremely challenging and my hope is that all small businesses' hearts keep beating strongly and survive this. All we can do is learn from in and grow stronger and find new ways to innovate and deliver smiles every day, even behind masks.
What are you currently learning about in business ?
Being independent has taught me how to manage my time, deal with
unforeseen events, find solutions to issues you never knew were even an
option and most of all not to give up! Give everything you have and don't
forget to have some fun while doing it.
How many hours a week do you work ?
Oh my, I work 24/7. If I'm not sleeping, I'm working and if I'm not at work, I'm
on social media, replying to emails, tracking down packages and making sure everything is the way it should be. The first and last thing I do everyday, is customer service. It's important to me that I go to sleep with all emails answered. I remember being one of those customers sending emails and waiting patiently for big corporations to get back to me. Fortunately, one of the good things about smaller business is that I can reply to all inquiries pretty fast.
Has your business made you happier and more fulfilled in life,
compared to how you felt before starting it ?
Starting a business has given me a sense of purpose. I feel happier and more fulfilled in the sense that I've built something from zero. I’ve created something based on ideas I had in my head. It's something I couldn't have dreamt of and fills me with a sense of pride and joy.
But sometimes when you run a business, the workload and the stresses get the best of you and you forget how amazing this achievement is. You think you could do better, do more, do it faster.
You constantly think of ways to come up with something new, something fresh and exciting and how to grow even more. I always have to remind myself that good work takes time and that great effort, determination and patience pays off. Look how far you've come.
And finally, do you have anything to say to your customers?
Most importantly, I would like to say thank you. Every one of my customers has changed me for the better. I have grown as a person, I have learned so much with every single order. I value their trust in me and hope they will continue to do so in the future. I would not be where I am today without them.