What does it take to go from business idea to lady boss? This new column features an entrepreneur, who happens to be a mom, each week—walking us through the process of how you too can take your ideas from dream to reality.
If you missed our last article featuring Cynthia and her daughter, Meera, from Devon's Drawer on how the value of tradition has impacted the supply chain of their heirloom children's clothing company, you can read it here. This week, we're discussing the fourth step every entrepreneur needs to make on her journey: branding.
Don't try to be someone else's brand. Find your lane and totally kick ass in it!
One hot summer day last year, on the shores of Tofino, Oregon, Paige Manning and her new husband, crazy in love and honeymooning, came up with an idea inspired by their daughter Finley or, “Bean," as she's affectionately known.
Paige had wanted to start her own children's retail company for a long while, but the red tape involved with setting up a brick and mortar store was making it difficult to get the business off the ground. It was time to think outside the box store.
So she and her husband decided to buy a Boler trailer—which are coincidentally known as “bean trailers" (is anything reaaaalllyyy a coincidence?), and turn it into a retail shop with the ability to “pop up" at any location. The trailer would stock children's goods made locally or from companies run by Canadian entrepreneurs (with very few exceptions).
So just 10 days after their honeymoon, the 1975 Boler was in their hands and being completely gutted with the help of friends and family.
It marked the beginning of their journey to make a dream into a reality.
Now, the Little Bean & Co. Boler is seen and loved up and down the west coast of Canada. In less than six months her Instagram following has grown to thousands of followers, with locals excitedly following her for the next market announcement. How did Paige go from idea to devoted fan base so quickly?
It's the branding.
Much of Paige's success comes from the incredible job she's done with branding. Not only is the concept of a retail store inside a trailer unique, but her execution and taste has set Little Bean + Co. apart. Everything from the specific color of the Boler to the curation of items that she carries is well thought out, targeted and branded.
In her own words, Paige shares what it is about her branding that customers are drawn to, and how a lady boss gets started with creating a brand that will be celebrated.
What makes Little Bean & Co. unique as a business?
First of all, there has never been a mobile boutique specializing in children's brands locally in BC, and as far as I know I'm the only Boler boutique in North America! Now, there are other mobile businesses, but what makes us unique on that front is the products we carry. Everything in the shop is made locally in the lower mainland, or nearby to where we are based in British Columbia, Canada.
How did you begin the process of deciding on a brand name?
My daughter's nick name has been 'Bean' since she was born, and the Boler travel trailers are nicknamed 'bean trailers' because of their shape, so I knew Little Bean was the one, and the + Co is because we are in company of amazing brands.
Once you had your name, what was your process to develop a logo, and all the other pieces that contribute to a “brand"?
Actually, I totally left the logo up to my friend and graphic designer. I sent her a picture of the trailer before it was even close to being done and said, “Just get creative!" I told her the color I was planning on painting the trailer, but other than that I just let her go crazy.
I believe in letting the pros do their job; I'm always happy to get out of their way instead of trying to tell them what to do.
She actually chose the turquoise Pantone color we used in the end, and we matched the trailer paint to it. It was hard to balance my own branding while carrying other brands in the shop. I wanted to stand out but also let them shine, so it was important to me that I chose something strong. When my logo first came back from the designer I knew it was perfect and the shape of the trailer could be carried through all aspects of our branding.
I had our business cards cut into the shape of the trailer, it makes it stand out, and is something fun for people to touch and feel. I get compliments on my cards every time I hand them out; people's eyes light up seeing the connection of real life and card.
I also had blanks made so that the logo card is our price tag on clothing in the shop. People post their 'shopping hauls' on social media and you instantly see our tag price card stand out. That right there makes it worth it.
What would you say captures people about your brand and what makes it memorable?
The Boler for sure. People are always in awe of what I've done with it. Even people without children to shop for just want to stop and look, tell me a story about how their dad had a similar trailer, or how they used to camp in one as a kid. I get moms that run over a gush at the products, and dads who come up and go “wow this is so cool," in awe at the trailer. It is truly eye catching, and that rings true for any brand I think.
Be unique. Stand out if you can.
When people hear Little Bean & Co. what immediately comes to mind?
Beyond the Boler, customers remember the brands, and the quality of the products we carry. Shopping local has a huge following here in the lower mainland, and that really sticks with people, knowing they can get all their favorite local brands in one place, no shipping required.
What values did you focus on when building your brand?
I focused on quality, and the brands I believed in as a customer before becoming a retailer. Brands my daughter wears and loves, brands that held up to her crawling, walking and hair accessory ripping ways. I believe in each and every brand in the shop on a personal level, and my customers appreciate that.
When developing a brand, what would you say is the most difficult part of the process?
Keeping things consistent is the most difficult part, and you need to get it right. I hired my friend and graphic designer to create my logo, and from there I pulled everything. Our colours, style, font, everything we use is pulled from our main logo image.
Being consistent is especially difficult in social media. I'm a mom and I don't have time to adjust everything perfect for every shot, and so our pictures don't turn out the same, even with the help of filters. For now, I just go with it, and show that we're a real business, in real life, and I'm really a mom trying to do it all!
Now that you've been at it a while, what would you say is contributing to your success?
Hard work. I spent three full weeks sanding and prepping that trailer, and that was just the beginning. I don't have to do as much manual labor like that now, but every aspect of that hard work definitely contributed to success. The trailer wouldn't look like it does without everything I did in the reno. I wouldn't be at all the markets and events if I hadn't stayed up for hours and hours every night searching and applying for them. Even now social media is hard work, updating my website, making orders, and managing finances.
It's all hard work but I wouldn't be where I am if I only put in 50%.
How important would you say confidence is in running your own company?
Confidence runs a business. No one wants to buy something or work with someone only kinda sure. There have been a few times where I thought getting some brands in the shop was a total pipe dream, and that they were way out of my league, but I worked my confidence up, sent them my best, and turns out they were stoked to be on board. If I hadn't the confidence in my brand, in my business, or myself, I would never have them.
How does being a mother affect the way you run your business?
Oh boy, this is a big one. I parent alone a lot of the time, as my husband works out of town, most often 20 days away, 10 home. So working and being a mom is just normal life. My little one is often by my side while I work on social media and emails during the day, but I try to get most done once she's in bed. Often you'll find Bean hanging out in the Boler with me, she's my side kick on market days sometimes, and its definitely a work experience having her there. Potty training on the job is not fun!
Is there any one piece of advice you'd give to aspiring bosses?
Don't try to be someone else's brand. Find your lane and totally kick ass in it, you don't need to do everything to be awesome, you just need to find the right road, and travel it well. Thats what makes a brand strong and stand out.
What does “Motherly" mean to you?
Motherly means taking charge, finding alternatives, making decisions, and being caring. You don't need to be a mama to be motherly, you can exercise motherly qualities in all aspects of life.