Does it seem early this year? Jingle bells, tinsel, decked aisles, sales flyers in Christmas red? We are about to be shoved into the largest marketing overdrive season ever. The corporations are revving their engines waiting for the flag to drop on Black Friday, giving them unfettered permission to unleash the onslaught.
Meanwhile, small business owners are preparing too. Carefully budgeting to buy high quality materials, creating premier products, and personalizing service; small business owners throughout the country are ready for the holiday season. But, how do we compete with the “big guys”?
We can’t compete – it’s impossible! The advertising budget this month for Toys-R-Us eclipses the entire revenue my company will gross in it’s lifetime. Small business grows through word of mouth – from client to client spreading the word. Small business owners help each other grow. We are not a marketing department, we are people and we ARE our brand, and we grow through happy clients.
In the Christmas spirit of sharing, I am showcasing four small businesses who would love to help you with your list this year. Oh – and each one of these featured business owners is also a military spouse.
If this post is helpful to you, or if you have questions, leave a comment! Enjoy.
Amber Card of Bloomin’ Thyme
I didn’t so much “meet” Amber as hear about her. Just after my husband’s first deployment with his new squadron at Dyess, rumors started circulating about a spouse, who, when her house flooded, had rented a jackhammer and had torn up the concrete flooring in her home. However, she couldn’t carry the concrete pieces out on her own, and of course, her husband was deployed as well, so the call had gone out to those men remaining in the squadron to assist with the clean up. After Amber had torn up the floor, she installed a new one. And I seem to recall something about a roofing project as well.
When I think crafty, I think Amber – she can make anything look amazing; so last year when I learned that her background is in floral design, I thought “How perfect!” She started her own business, “Bloomin’ Thyme”, and has done several weddings this year. She is also my husband’s florist of choice for Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, and any occasion bouquets. Amber always adds a personal touch to her deliveries, and I love looking at the beautiful designs on my table.
Are you hosting a holiday party? Bloomin’ Thyme can help with your floral arrangement. Need design tips? Host a girls night with Amber as the guest of honor – she teaches her awesomeness.
Laura Lange of British Made
Laura and I met at a bunco night I hosted in my home. When I heard her intoxicating British accent, I asked what probably everyone who meets her asks, “Where are you from?” Instead of replying with her instinctual response of “Kentucky” (at least, that would be my instinct if I had a thick British accent and someone asked me where I was from), she graciously said, “I’m from England.” During the course of the evening I learned that she was a school teacher, and she was expecting her first child in a few months. Interacting briefly at spouse functions, I didn’t see Laura much until after her daughter was born, when she started her business, “British Made”.
Choices abound when browsing through the British Made page. The tutus and hairbows are, of course, ADORABLE, but there is so much more. Do you know someone who could use a quiet activity (or two)? Laura stitches Crayon Rolls – a layflat strip with individual pockets for crayons and a small pad of paper; the strip, made out of beautiful fabric, rolls up and ties with a ribbon – pop it in a purse or diaper bag and pull it out when your Mr. Adorable starts to wander. Will you be traveling for the holidays? How many times will you hear, “Are we there yet?” If you’d like to break up the DVDs with a more intellectually stimulating activity, try an I Spy bag – a durable treasure hunt perfect for the car.
Jennifer Speer of Soaring Pride Designs
I discovered Soaring Pride Designs when Jennifer uploaded a new logo for a facebook group I’m part of. The first item on her page that caught my attention was a ladies t-shirt that said, “I slept with a fighter pilot last night”. How could she NOT be awesome?!? I ordered a Herk version, and then I asked her if she could design a bib for my business. Within a couple of hours, she sent me the first draft of what would become the most sought after fashion accessory among the nine months and under crowd.
Not only does Jennifer create custom designs, she also has many stock designs to choose from, and she carries items for babies, kids, and adults.
Amy Hughes of Sassy Brassy Charms
I have not personally met Amy (when she returned my request she was getting ready to leave for a mission trip), although I’ve heard her name several times, and I’ve seen Sassy Brassy Charms creations up close. Amy commemorates a special date, memory, or name with a custom jewelry creation. Sassy Brassy pieces are all hand crafted by Amy using various metals, beads, and fibers. When I browse through the items on her facebook page, I am amazed that every piece is so different, yet each has Amy’s style. There are some great Air Force charms, and I saw a C-130 on her page too – which would make a great gift for hubby’s mom.
These are just four small businesses owned by military spouses – there are tons more. Military spouse entrepreneurs face unique challenges in the business world, one of which is building a brand every time we move. Generally, business owners can gain the trust of the community and grow their roots in the first few years, but for military spouses that’s about the same time we get PCS orders (move). However, if we can build our brands nationwide, it will be easier to rebuild when we get to our next base. I encourage you to visit the facebook pages of the businesses listed here – leave some kind comments on their walls, and if you find an item that works for someone on your list – bonus!
Now, I don’t have a fancy Facebook share button, but if you enjoyed this post – share the link (from the URL box up top) with your friends.
With the exception of the Bloomin’ Thyme images and the bib, all images on this post were submitted by the vendors. I did, however, make Photoshop adjustments to the submitted photos.