Afraid of change? Even small changes can be frightening. Candace Cintron Nejat, owner of ilulily, is sharing how taking a leap and embracing change helped her grow her business and regain time and energy to work on new projects and extend her reach. Thanks Candace!
Q: Tell us about yourself and what you make!
A: My name is Candace Cintron Nejat and I own a wedding favor business primarily specializing in destination weddings, bachelorette party totes and favor bags. In the midst of planning my own destination wedding, I found it difficult to find exactly what I had envisioned. I had a certain style and wanted something completely unique so I decided to try posting a few designs on Etsy to see how they would do. Before I knew it, I had a full-fledged shop that fellow brides-to-be were responding to with amazing reviews. Now, over three years later, I am still dreaming and scheming up new ideas and designs for brides.
What experience would you say helped you develop the way you run your business today?
A: One of the most important lessons I learned about running my business is not to be afraid of change. During the early years, I ran my business with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. However, this mentality hindered my growth as I resisted making changes that would have saved significant time and, ultimately, lead to the next stage of growth.
For example, the tote bags I initially used were lightweight, wrinkled and stringy. As a result, I would spend a lot of time ironing each bag and cutting off any excess string. The simple solution was to use a better quality bag.
However, I resisted change because I feared that my existing customers were already accustomed to my bags and would complain. I eventually took the leap and ordered higher quality tote bags in bulk. Not only did these bags have no strings or wrinkles, but they also had a tag with my logo on them. Upon introducing these products, I immediately started receiving positive feedback from my customers.
More than anything, the change resulted in less time being spent creating the product, with no need to iron out any wrinkles or cut any string. The additional time provided me the opportunity to concentrate on product development and the future of my business. Therefore, allowing myself to embrace change resulted in me being able to work on my business versus working in my business.
Q: At what moment did you realize that change was necessary for your business?
A: Going into my second year was the time I realized that change was necessary for my business. It was the start of a busy wedding season and I found myself swamped with orders. The majority of my days and nights were spent trying to find time to answer emails while I not only created my products, but also packaged and shipped my orders.
The excitement of owning my business and creating my products quickly started to dwindle as I wasn’t able to do what I loved (designing and creating new products). I knew I had to make a change and so I took note of what in my process took up the most time. It was undoubtedly the time I spent inspecting each individual tote bag prior to creating the design. I noticed so much time was going into me having to iron out each bag and cut off excess string, time that took away from my creativity and passion, so I just made the jump.
Q: How did making the change impact your business?
A: Making the change positively impacted my business. The additional time I had (with the introduction of the new bags) was felt right away. I now had more time to concentrate on creating new designs, developing new products and improving the overall business. In essence, I was able to work ON my business and its growth versus working IN my business and just making product. Furthermore, the change itself was also positive as I now offered higher quality tote bags. Lastly, the fact that I was able to add a tag with a logo was something that gave my business a new level of legitimacy.
Q: What did you take away from this experience?
A: What I took away from this experience is that sometimes, as they say, you need to jump and trust that your parachute will open. In other words, I learned that sometimes it’s better to just take a leap of faith, keep positive and trust that your decisions will work out for the best.
Q: How are you using this in your business today?
A: If I have an idea or believe that an improvement is necessary, I just implement it rather than talk myself out of it. I learned that indecision is my worst decision and that time wasted can hinder my business’ overall growth.
Q: What advice would you give others who are struggling to embrace change in their business?
A: The advice I would give others would be to start before you are ready and to always go with your gut. Trust that you know your business well enough to believe in the changes that you are envisioning. Release any doubts and fears as they will tarnish your goals. The more you resist change, the more you are resisting potential business growth.
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