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Entrepreneur Spotlight: Madeline's Box

We are so honored that our friends over at Atly decided to do a spotlight on me today over on their blog. Here's what they had to say: 
Heather Ferguson is the force behind the modern pacifier clip company, Madeline's Box. Not only did she come up with a completely unique product design, she's grown her company into a popular baby lifestyle brand. Often when looking at successful start-ups it's easy to forget they started from zeo and have encountered huge learning curves and overcome challenges. We asked Heather to share some insights from her journey so far.
What was the hardest or most daunting task for you once you decided to start your business? 
When I opened my business back in 2014, I was a stay at home mom with my then 3 year old little girl, Madeline, and 6 months pregnant with my baby boy, Ezra. My husband was in medical school and he had a grueling schedule, often not around. I’m not sure why I decided to open up a business during this insane time in our lives, besides the fact that I loved my product too much to not see it on the market. I had to learn how to juggle being a mom, wife, and business woman all at once. I often would get to work once my little girl was in bed and I’d work until 1 or 2 in the morning. I called myself a mama by day and a business woman at night. 

One of the most difficult times of my business happened just a few weeks before my baby was born. We live on the East Coast and we get some pretty harsh winters out here. That particular winter, we had a bad ice storm and black ice covered the roads. I was 9 months pregnant at the time. I can’t remember what I was doing (or why!) but I took one step out our front door, slipped, fell and broke my wrist and cracked my pelvic bone. Long story short, my baby was okay ( most importantly) and I ended up getting surgery on my broken wrist 2 weeks before he came into the world. There was nothing they could do about my pelvic bone and I couldn’t walk for about 2 weeks. I remember being in bed, so uncomfortable, and any move I made hurt like crazy. Walking at all felt impossible, I could only use one hand, and I felt like I had abandoned my 3 year old daughter. It was a very difficult time for me to say the least. 

I had only been in business about 3 months when all of this happened and I was too stubborn to close down my shop. I was a one woman show at the time: making the pacifier clips, fulfilling orders, answering e-mails, etc. Thank goodness for mothers because my mom flew in from Texas right away to help me with my little girl and anything else I needed. She and my sweet husband also helped me with my business during this difficult time. Since I couldn’t use my arm, I taught my mom how to make my clips, so she made the pacifier clips as the orders came in and my husband fulfilled and shipped them out each day. This went on for a couple of weeks. My healthy baby boy was born shortly after and everything went much better than I expected.  Thank goodness for family and loved ones! Once I could move my fingers again, I got right back into the drivers seat and started making my pacifier clips and fulfilling orders again. 

What about your product made you passionate to the point where you wanted to build a business around it?

When I was pregnant with my boy, Ezra, I was shopping around for some pacifier clips. I really wanted something simple, but cute. I just couldn’t find anything out there that I liked. Everything seemed tacky, bulky, or too long. Do you remember those braided leather belts we used to wear in the 90’s? This is what I envisioned when I was searching for a pacifier clip. I loved the thought of a skinny, simple, leather braided pacifier clip. I even searched the web to see if anyone was selling anything like that and I couldn’t find anything.
This made a light bulb go off in my mind and I realized I could try my hand at making them myself and open my own shop to be the first to sell them online. They turned out really cute and I went out on a limb and opened an online shop. I am big on the fact that baby items do not have to be tacky. I felt there was a huge need in the baby market for simple but stylish pacifier clips and these leather braided pacifier clips were just that! We’ve since added other types of stylish pacifier clips, headbands, and other baby items to help bring “chic and stylish” to the baby market.  

What resources or skills did you draw from to help launch your business?

Honestly, I graduated college in Elementary Education. I had zero knowledge in the business department and never thought in a million years I’d run my own business. What I did have, however, was drive and motivation. I love being creative and trying new things. When I was little, I used to invite the neighborhood kids over and I’d offer to paint their faces for a quarter. I used to do things like this all the time. I don’t even think I kept the money, I just loved pretending like I owned a business at a young age without even realizing it.
My dad is an entrepreneur and I think it’s just in my blood. I have 2 sisters who are artists and also run their own businesses. When I first opened, I spent many hours and countless nights reading articles online on how to better my business. I also asked advise from close friends who also run their own successful businesses. That helped a lot! I think I’ve become more seasoned with time and experience, but still at times - I just do what my gut tells me and I go with it. Sometimes I fail and sometimes I succeed. It’s all a learning process and I love it! 

If you could tell your fledgling self something at the beginning of your venture that would have made a big difference what would you say?

I love this quote by Maya Angelou: “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” 

What are some skills you've had to learn along the way to get your business to the point it's at now?
1. Customer Service: This is number one in my book. Being kind, helpful, honest, and giving my customers the best of the best. 
    2.  Learning to let go and let others help. It got to a point where my business was growing and I was in need of help. I just couldn’t do it alone anymore. Some advise I received from a good friend and a fellow business owner was to do the things I enjoy doing for my business and hire out everything else I don’t really enjoy doing. This has helped tremendously because I’m now able to have more time to be creative and grow my business. 

     

    See original post here: https://atly.com/blogs/news/entrepreneur-spotlight-madelines-box

    Win a Bundle!

    Win 4 pacifier clips of your choice or choose from one of our curated Bundles in our shop!

    The more entries you do, the better your chances are of winning! This giveaway will end this Sunday April 2nd at midnight EST. The winner will be announced here in the blog shortly after and we will contact them. International entries welcome, but must be okay covering shipping costs. Good luck!! 

    Click below to enter! 

    Win a Bundle!

    A little about the Owner

    Meet Heather, the owner and face behind Madeline's Box! 

    WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO OPEN A BUSINESS? 

    I opened this little business 2 years ago when I was pregnant with my baby boy, Ezra. I couldn't find a pacifier clip on the market that suited my taste so I took matters into my own hands and I had the idea to take 2 leather strands and braid them together to make his first pacifier clip. ( there was nothing like this on the market at the time). I liked the look so much, I decided to go out on a limb and open an Etsy shop and it's been history ever since. I now have my own website and we can be found in boutiques around the country. We are the first to bring leather braided pacifier clips to market! 

    HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE NAME? 

    Madeline's Box is named after my 5 year old, Madeline. Even though I opened my shop because I was making pacifier clips for my baby boy at the time, I wanted her to be apart of it too... so I named it after her. And the Box part, I pictured customers receiving their packages full of accessories from my shop! 

    ARE YOUR PRODUCTS HANDMADE? 

    Yes! While I used to stay up until 2am braiding pacifier clips for my little shop, I now have a team of awesome ladies in New Jersey who make our pacifier clips by hand each day. My heart is full!

    WHAT'S THE HARDEST THING ABOUT OWNING A BUSINESS? 

    There are definitely ups and downs of running a business. I am a stay at home mama to Madeline (5) and Ezra (2). My husband is an internal medicine intern at the hospital and he's gone a lot. It's been difficult juggling this business, my children, and keeping up with life in general all while my husband works long shifts. However, I've learned if I set goals each week, one of them being to put my children FIRST, I've found everything else falls into place and somehow works out. This business has been an absolute blessing to my little family and has helped us get through medical school and now residency!

    WHAT'S YOUR ADVISE FOR SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO OPEN A BUSINESS? 

    I say go for it! I graduated college in Elementary Education so I have zero background in business. I think all you need is a good idea ( never taking someone else's idea of course - it gets tiring seeing people ripping off other people's designs and calling them their own. Just don't do it. Be original.) All it takes to be successful is drive, motivation, and hard work! I've spent countless hours reading lots of articles about running a business and with a little bit of creativity and hard work, Madeline's Box has been successful! It's a daily effort but I love it and am so thankful! 

    TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR FAMILY

    Sure! I've been married to my sweetheart for almost 9 years now! Wow. Crazy to think that. He's originally from San Jose, California and I'm from Dallas, Texas. We've been living on the East Coast the past 5 years for Medical School and his Intern year for Residency. We LOVE traveling and seeing new places. It's been so much fun living so close to Philadelphia, New York City, Washington D.C., Boston, etc. as we've visited and seen so much rich history and beauty out here! I love it. Our kids love traveling and exploring too. 

    Madeline and Ezra both have red hair and I LOVE it! I never would have thought I'd have red headed children. They both are so friendly and love everyone they meet. They bring so much joy in our lives and I love watching them grow. I was just thinking the other day how neat it would be if Madeline took over this business one day! She definitely has an entrepreneur spirit! 

    Thank you SO much for supporting my small business and for supporting the original of leather braided pacifier clips! I stand by my products and hope you love them too! Thanks for reading & please don't hesitate to reach out!

    xo

    Heather Ferguson 

    Owner + Creative Director