Hey, I’m Courtney, I am an entrepreneur, a small business owner, a creative, a mom, a wife. I am going to share a little bit today about my new brand Rooney. It’s a sewing pattern line for women and children.
Having An Idea For A Sewing Pattern Line
I’m just going to start at the beginning. I had the idea for a sewing pattern line inSeptember. It came from just me coming into my studio, and getting to create while my daughter was sleeping. It really clicked when I made her a dress from a pattern. I got to make it and finish it in her nap time. It was actually something that I was proud of that she could wear. The process was so fun and I felt giddy afterwards! So from that I knew I wanted to make that for other people.
So that’s where the idea for for a sewing pattern line came from. And from there, I just didn’t know anything about patterns, or how to design a pattern. So I went to Google and started going down paths, taking notes on some kind of common themes. I was seeing terms that I’ve never heard of before. That started to educate me.
Finding a Pattern Maker
I reached out to pattern makers without any connections and that didn’t really lead anywhere. But I found my pattern maker when I reached out to a friend, and she connected me with someone she knew. That was just the connection that I needed to kind of start this whole process. So I reached out to her and it was just perfect timing. We started working together on the first patterns, which is the Betty dress and the Lois wrap onesie. From there, we just went back and forth on Zoom. She made edits, I made edits, I sent her a sketch. Then she did a mock up on my dress. I couldn’t believe that I had a photo of a potential dress that I could make and others could make!
So from the beginning, when that started evolving, it was the kick that I needed to keep going. And often I look back at that. That’s the energy that I need to keep going because after months, it’s easy to get a little overwhelmed and look at all the logistics and to do lists and understand that this is way above my head. But step by step. It’s happening.
Blue Sky Thoughts and Planning Out Rooney
To start building my brand, I just started with pen to paper in this notebook. I write all of my ideas on here, as I did with my other businesses. I started exploring blue sky ideas, which is just being able to dream about what this could become, what I want it to become and what I want it to be.
At first, I wanted it to only be PDF patterns. That is a pattern that the customer prints out at home. I don’t have to ship anything, I’m not handling paper or anything like that. The more I explored just this business, I really knew that I needed to offer print paper patterns to serve people best. That just kind of took me down a spiral of what this business is going to become. It seemed a little bit more overwhelming. But, it reminded me I could not do this on my own.
Why It’s important to collaborate with other creatives
In my other businesses, I’ve just kind of been the one girl show and I’ve done it all. I designed and made the product, I’ve done shipping, I did customer service. I’ve just handled it all on my own and it was really heavy. I always just saw that there was a ceiling that I was hitting. With Rooney, I really have made it a point to go about it differently and reach out to people and allow their gifts to shine.
In doing that, this brand is something that I’m insanely proud of because so many other hands have touched it. The giftings of other people being able to do what they do best photographers, makeup artists, pattern makers, designers, logo, just everything. I feel like I’ve been able to link arms with other people. That’s really what has brought this along.
So far, the answer to a lot of my problems have just been finding walls and then understanding I’m not the one to break through this wall, there is someone else that knows the way around better than me. I really think that that has made this process more enjoyable. It’s making Rooney something that I can never make it on my own.
Building a small business as a new mom
Now I’m in the thick of the logistics. And I would say to always compute extra months, maybe like two or three months for the logistics side of everything. A big part of building Rooney for me is learning my new balance as being a mom and also trying to build a business. My husband and I decided early on that this was something that we really wanted to focus on and give a lot of our attention to. Two days a week, we have someone come and watch Willow while I come to the shed and work. Then I work as she goes to bed after her bedtime. On the days we don’t have someone, I work during her nap time.
It has been sporadic and it’s been bumpy to figure out what’s working for us because every family is so different. But in this season, we feel like this is working for us. And it’s going really well. I never want to paint the picture that building a business while raising a child is easy. Because it’s not, your time is so different when you have a baby. We’ll be able to look back and show her what we built while she was young.
How to stay focused on what’s important
Some advice that I got from my friend Katie, a while back is when you’re building a business, write down every single thing that you feel like you need to do for that business. Anything you can think of write it down, and then go back and cut that list in half. Then you need to cut it in half again. There was a point where I was just feeling so overwhelmed with building Rooney, so I did what Katie said, I wrote down everything that I could think of that I needed to do. I cut it in half, and then I left those “shoulds” for later.
I feel like when you’re building a business, it’s easy to add fluff to make the process a lot harder than it really is. When you get down to the bare minimum, and then you can start building on top of that. So I’ve really had to do this a couple times, and kind of go back to refocus myself of what’s actually building this business. Is building my social media really important right now? Because I need a product first. It’s so easy to get yourself into just busy work that’s really not serving the purpose of your end goal.
Receiving the first pattern and making the first dress
Through the past six months, I’ve gotten the samples back that I designed on paper and the process was so enjoyable. It’s so fun to see something you draw it on paper come to life. While it’s in my pattern drafters hands, I’m doing the logistics of learning how to print things, how to print the PDFs, and make that a seamless process. I’m also doing the behind the scenes website, building social media, and figuring out what our brand story is.
The next big momentum push for me was our first brand photoshoot. This was a photoshoot where three models and then a baby beautiful model came in and we went to a studio and we had a photographer, makeup artist. I was able to just sit back and watch it all unfold before me. It was just a beautiful thing to witness and see these designs I made on paper come to life and made me even more excited to get these patterns in the hands of other people so that they can make these dresses themselves and the onesies for their babies.
That was a huge momentum push for me getting to see this brand that I’ve dreamt up in this little shed studio and see it come to life through other people’s eyes.
How to go about legal business aspects about building a brand or company?
There’s a lot of aspects about it, but the main thing is to research. Don’t be afraid of being a beginner. Because if you don’t ask questions, at the beginning, you might get yourself into a situation that you didn’t really see coming. So instead of giving you legal advice that I’m not qualified to give you, I’m going to point you to someone who is and her name is Paige from The Creative Law Shop. She has incredible insights. I would sign up for your emails, or read her blogs, and I know also purchase a lot of her templates. That’s where I get my privacy policies, contracts that I need, I would definitely go to her.
Is it better to build a custom site or use a platform like Etsy?
Right now, my answer for this is to do both. That’s what I’m going to do. I have done this in the past in my other businesses. In the past, I started on Etsy, and then I tried to get away from it. I cannot stress enough how amazing Etsy is when you’re first starting a brand, it is an invaluable resource.
The price to start is so cheap, 20 cents for a listing and then you’re paying a fee after you make a sale. I would just do the free version, I think they have some monthly memberships you can be a part of, but honestly, I have run all my businesses with the free version. A great reason to start on Etsy is because they have already built a platform full of trusted customers, and a search engine that is going to lead people to your product. Etsy does an amazing job of promoting your site on Google.
It’s also really important to have your own website and drive your own traffic and really dive into SEO. When you’re first starting out, I really think Etsy is where you should start. I used to maybe think you weren’t a real business if you were on Etsy only, but I I don’t believe that anymore. I really feel like it’s the right step for many of us.
I’m going to have my patterns on Etsy and also have them on my regular website by WordPress and Woocommerce. I would explore Shopify as well.
What are the things that are high priority and things that are not?
Surprisingly, your Instagram is not the highest priority. You might be bummed to hear that. But I can attest that I have a business that has only a couple hundred followers, and it makes far more money than any other business I’ve ever had with thousands of followers. So I really think you need to first focus on your product, focus on your branding, focus on your website, and SEO. Focus on the listings and focus on beautiful photography, that is something you cannot skimp on. I believe that once those things are built, it will make your Instagram so much better. It will make it so much easier to run because you’ll have a running machine and your social media will be a supplement. It won’t be something that you have to put all your focus on and waste time on it.
I think Instagram and your social accounts are great. I think they’re amazing tools. But I do think that they should should be secondary to your product, your website experience, your SEO, your photos, all the things that I just said before.
How do you utilize others to assist in building your brand?
I’ve talked about this a lot through telling my brand story earlier. The main thing is make a list of the must do’s that only you can do that will drive your business forward. Even though you can do something, it doesn’t mean you should. So if you can outsource it, I would highly recommend doing that. The second thing is to just make a list of things that you can outsource and ask questions and rely on other people.
I could spend an hour watching a YouTube video of how to edit this one file on illustrator, or I could outsource it to someone that has been working in that field for 10 years and just whip it out and probably 10 minutes or less. That’s something I’ve really leaned into is ask people for help. Set aside a lot of the budget for this because people’s time and their giftings are worth the investment! Of course, in the beginning, if you need to take a photo on your iPhone yourself, I think that’s a great way to start. Then once you start generating income, you can put that towards investing other people’s gifts. That is going to elevate your brand to a level that you can’t do it on your own.
Where do you start?
I hope this video and blog post has illuminated some places where to start. I think the first place to start is with what you can do right now. So if that’s building a vision, making a mood board, taking photos, making a list of things that you want to do in the future. Whittling that down into a must do list, like I spoke about earlier. See what is in front of you that you can work on. Then, how can you hand that off to someone else so that you can work on the next thing.
Hopefully this was helpful. I enjoyed looking back on the past six months and building Rooney which is now launched! If you have any more questions, just let me know. I’d love to answer them!