What’s the ultimate juggling act? Trying to balance running a full-time business and being a mom! As a business owner for the past 17 years, Lacadia Johnson has successfully navigated the bumpy waters not only of the retail landscape (remember the days before social media where businesses had to rely on expensive print advertising?) but also motherhood raising two kids (during a pandemic, mind you!) We chat with Lacadia about how she has managed an almost two decade old thriving business, and how she prioritizes work-life balance as a mompreneur.
1. How did you get started in your industry? What led to your passion for your career?
After graduating college with an expensive four-year degree that was completely unrelated to fashion or business, I decided to open a boutique with zero retail experience! I wouldn’t advise this path. There was a learning curve, to say the least. That said, you learn quickly when financial survival is at stake! While I did not have much of a knowledge base, I had a sense of style that people often took note of and I found immense joy in hunting for treasures at estate sales and thrift stores. With this I’ve managed to curate a collection that people have (thankfully) appreciated and embraced for almost 17 years.
2. What were some of the bigger challenges you experienced in getting started?
The retail world was a very different place when we opened our doors in 2004! Advertising was so much more challenging back then. There was no such thing as Instagram! Print advertising was hugely expensive. Anything that might have been effective was completely out of reach for us. We’d sometimes run an ad in the small, local independent/alternative newspapers, but those were still pricey and measuring the success of those ads was near impossible. Having run my business for many years without the help and reach of social media, I’m so grateful for it now. It’s absolutely indispensable to any small business these days, and even paid, measurable promotions on these channels can be effectively tailored to the smallest budget.
3. How has your life changed now that you’re pursuing your passion and living your dream?
I’m grateful every day that Cuffs has come as far as it has and I still enjoy almost every aspect of running it. Might I be earning more had I dedicated as much time to another, more stable career path? Quite possibly. Would I still look forward to opening up my computer and digging in every Monday morning? That seems less likely. The life of a small business owner is full of high highs and low lows. I’ve learned it’s important to recognize that ebb and flow and embrace it. I’ve learned to ride those waves and trust that there’s always another peak up ahead.
4. What’s your favorite part about owning your own business/your career?
In this particular stage of my life, as a mother (parenting through a pandemic), I’m grateful that it’s allowed me to be present in the daily lives of my kids without having to give up the things that fulfill me. I feel I get the best of both worlds when it comes to raising kids and having a career. When I’m exhausted by parenthood, work is the perfect escape and refreshes me. When I need to take a break from work and disengage, spending time with my kids always takes my mind off of work stresses. Obviously, there are days when succeeding at both seems impossible and overwhelming, but on the whole, each of these jobs keeps me organized and on task in the other, and I’ve somehow managed to strike a balance that works.
5. What does supporting women-owned businesses look like to you?
Thankfully, it’s not as hard as it once was! As a woman who likes to shop small whenever possible, most of the brands and products I’m attracted to are created by women. From bras, to skincare to home decor, most of my go-to brands are women-owned. Shop small and you’re likely supporting a woman-owned business!
6. How has your brand/packaging/website changed or improved your business?
There have been many, many iterations of the Cuffs logo. All of the old ones make me cringe now, but I suppose that’s inevitable as enough time passes. I love our current branding and it’s the first one not created by me, which made such a difference. (Duh.) Logo design has officially been moved over to my “weaknesses'' column and I’ll never again NOT hire someone else to do it. Fresh, well-designed branding instantly made us look more professional, more successful, and legitimized us to our customers, both new and old.
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