Hi ladies, it’s Anna again from Fash Boulevard, bringing you another edition of my interview series, Ladies Who Laptop. This month’s spotlight is momtrepreneur, Susan Petersen, the genius behind the genuine leather baby moccasin brand, Freshly Picked. Susan started her company in 2009 after purchasing a bag of scrap leather at a yard sale and creating the first pair of baby moccasins for her son. Her home-based business grew from an online Etsy shop to a household name that’s now sold in Nordstrom and can be seen on little feet around the world. Today, Susan shares with us how she grew her business on a shoestring budget, the best advice she’s ever received and what it was like being featured on Shark Tank. Let’s dive in…
For those who aren’t familiar with Freshly Picked, can you tell us a little about what it is and how it came about?
The concept came about when I was trying to find a cute baby shoe for my son. When I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I bought some scrap leather and whipped up a pair of leather moccs. From there, people wanted them! I was selling them on my blog and at craft shows and I couldn’t keep up with the demand. It all just happened so fast!
How did you come up with the name Freshly Picked and the adorable logo?
I was up late one night and I was trying to make an Etsy account. I couldn’t find a shop name that wasn’t taken and finally I stumbled on the combo Freshly Picked and I’ve never looked back. The logo has actually changed from what it originally was… I started with a feather and then it just evolved into an arrow and then worked into the FP. It’s crazy looking back seeing the evolution of the brand!
Your business started on Etsy. How did you transition from an Etsy shop to the Freshly Picked brand?
Truthfully, it happened very gradually. I was selling on Etsy, Facebook and Instagram and moved over to FreshlyPicked.com, but it’s hard to just leave overnight. I didn’t want to leave customers behind, so I stayed in both places for a moment and finally committed to our website.
Did the company experience growing pains in the early years?
Of course! We still go through growing pains; I don’t know what company ever stops with growing pains. I like the growing pains because that means we are GROWING. We have moved offices, shared tight spaces, worn a lot of hats, but through it all we have grown and to me, that’s what is amazing.
Most people believe it takes money to make money, but you started your business on a shoestring budget. Can you share your experience with how you bootstrapped your business?
I made the money for my first piece of leather, by getting old windows, banging out the glass, taking out the aluminum, cashing that in and trying to stretch those dollars as far as they would go. I didn’t have a giant savings account to pull from, I didn’t have a big loan to work with, I just used what I had. That’s what I would stress to people… Get crafty with how to make money and stretch it. I asked for discounts, deals and help from the people around me. Asking for help and learning as I go has totally allowed me get to where I am!
You launched your very first Freshly Picked diaper bag last fall. How did you come up with that idea and design?
We asked moms for their input and honestly, moms around the country designed this bag. They told us what they wanted, and we brought it to life! The diaper bag was something that I wanted to do for a long time. People loved the diaper bag so much that we launched three new colors a couple months ago. We even launched a brand new diaper bag at the end of April.
You were on Shark Tank! Can you tell us about that experience and how it impacted your business?
It’s so cool, whenever the episode re-airs, we always see a little boost in sales that day! That was such a cool/overwhelming/amazing/scary experience. It felt like putting my heart on the table because I love this business of mine. I have worked so hard for so many years, it’s crazy the vulnerability it takes to get on that show. Being on Shark Tank was totally a fun perk and it helped with some awareness, but truthfully, I can’t hang my hat on that. We have an amazing team that comes to work every day and makes things happen!
What has been your biggest “OMG Pinch Me” moment since starting your company?
We just moved into a giant, new, beautiful office in Silicon Slopes. Like, what?! I have a corner office and a floor full of team members. I am currently in my “pinch me moment.”
Your products are sold at Nordstrom. What are some challenges that you have faced selling in retail vs. directly through your website?
Being in Nordstrom is amazing! SO many people have found us through Nordstrom, but they don’t carry all of our products. We launch products every week and have SO much online. I want everyone who buys our products at Nordstrom to also checkout our website and see our Disney collab and HelloKitty collab and the cute little fruit moccs that just launched.
What is your favorite part about owning your own company? What is the most challenging?
My favorite part is truly the customers. I have people who come up to me and want me to hold their baby, haha. Can you believe that?! My shoes are on kid’s feet all over. That blows my mind sometimes, just the crazy impact that we can have! The most challenging part is the extreme growth that we have had in such a small time. Sometimes that is super overwhelming. It’s amazing and so exciting but hiring at the rate we are growing is SO hard.
As a successful business owner and a mommy, how do you find a healthy and productive balance?
I don’t subscribe to the idea that there is balance. There just isn’t! I can’t be in two places at once, but I do try my best to schedule out everything. I have hired help that I love and trust. I have an amazing husband and parents that help, but it isn’t perfect. I also think it’s funny that working women get asked this question, while working men don’t.
What’s the best piece of business advice you have ever received?
“Trust yourself.” It’s such an easy and simple concept, but very hard to do at times.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since launching your company?
Hire smart people that know more than you. It’s easy to believe that if you aren’t doing something yourself, it’s not getting done. That’s not true! You can find amazing people that just know more than you do who will enhance your business.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who want to follow their dreams and start their own company?
My advice is to start today. Write down what you can, organize what you can, create what you can. You don’t need to wait for the “perfect moment” because that moment doesn’t exist, just do what you can now.
Who would you like to see me interview for my next Ladies Who Laptop?
Let me know in the comments below!