APPLE PODCASTS | SPOTIFY | STITCHER Preview: Have you ever felt you were so busy working in your business, there was no time to work on your business. And all God’s children say, Amen! “It takes a village” isn’t just true when it comes to parenting. If you’ve ever said to yourself ‘but, I can […]
Have you ever felt you were so busy working in your business, there was no time to work on your business. And all God’s children say, Amen!
“It takes a village” isn’t just true when it comes to parenting. If you’ve ever said to yourself ‘but, I can do it better than anyone else” (ahem, guilty as charged), today’s interview was the kick in the pants I needed to really think about how building a team can not only accelerate a companies growth but also give the business owner more time outside of work.
As someone who has had a team of six and breaks out in a cold sweat at the thought of managing people EVER AGAIN, Brenna’s story was so inspiring and truly eased my anxiety around the thought of hiring help.
Learn how this self-proclaimed workaholic learned to let go of her micromanaging ways, built a team around her, and grew her ecommerce company to 300xs her original goal…. All in today’s interview!
From humble beginnings in the spare room of her home to products being sold in every Buc-ees franchise across the country, listen in as Brenna shares how her christian apparel company became a nationally recognized brand in less than ten years.
Brenna Milleville had a plan for her life—a design for how she thought things were going to go.
“I was working in fundraising for a non-profit out of college, but I didn’t plan to be there long. I imagined I’d be a stay at home mom. That was my ideal world; that was the plan.”
Well, the plan as she imagined it didn’t go the way Brenna hoped. After moving two hours away from her office, Brenna and her husband found themselves struggling through infertility. While she’d expected to make the commute and keep the job for the duration of a pregnancy, when that didn’t come, Brenna felt stuck.
“I was incredibly miserable at that point in my life. I was making this drive every single day to a job I no longer believed in. And I was struggling through the reality that having a baby wasn’t happening the way I hoped. I was not in the best place at that time.”
An introvert at heart, Brenna surprised even herself by attending a one-night conference at her church in that season. There, she found an answer—a new design for her life—that she certainly didn’t expect.
“The speaker was sharing about being fearless, and I just had this feeling in my soul. If I was fearless, I’d go after this other dream. If I was fearless, I’d start a Christian apparel company.”
At the time, it felt like a crazy notion. Brenna had exactly zero experience in design, apparel, business, or just about anything it would take to start and run a successful apparel company. But the more she tossed the plan around in her head, the more she began to believe this design for her life might actually be worth the pursuit.
After talking it over with her husband, Brenna decided to go for it.
“I did a ton of research. I had more than two hours in the car every day back and forth from work. So, I made use of that time. I listened to podcasts, interviews, research, and more to learn whatever I could about starting a business.”
By May 2016, she was ready to launch. And so, Elly & Grace was born in the basement of her home. Her primary platform for sales at the time? Etsy. And while she saw a good amount of traction for Elly & Grace there, eventually she felt a disconnect for the brand.
“We were selling, but not necessarily growing our brand awareness. People wouldn’t say, ‘I got this shirt from Elly & Grace. They would say, ‘I got this shirt on Etsy.’ So over time, we realized it wasn’t helping us grow any sort of awareness or loyalty to our brand.”
Recognizing the need to change, Brenna designed and launched a Shopify site for Elly & Grace in January 2017. She also leaned into ads and groups on Facebook to find and connect with her audience. Turns out, her efforts paid off, so much so that she could leave her non-profit job and fully devote herself to Elly & Grace that very same month.
“We connected with our audience and developed a loyal customer following. And that’s when things really took off! I didn’t imagine it would happen this way. I just wanted to sell one shirt a day, and now, we’re selling hundreds a day. It’s been such a blessing to see us get off the ground and grow this way.”
As Elly & Grace grew, so did the need for Brenna to find some help.
With her husband’s encouragement, she made some big steps to change the way Elly & Grace was run. She found an office space to give herself more room to work. She also hired three team members to give her some breathing room and support.
“I was working so much in the business that I couldn’t work on the business. Hiring people helped me find the space to work on the things that were being overlooked. Asking for help changed the game for me. Now, I could outsource my weaknesses at work and focus my energy on what I was good at and what the business needed from me.”
Things like shipping, customer service, order tracking—it all came off her plate. Was it easy to let it go? For Brenna, the answer was a definitive “No!”
“What sets our brand apart are the personal touches that go into each order. Those personal touches mean so much to me because I want every single customer to feel valued. So, letting go of some of those things wasn’t easy, but I couldn’t sacrifice my own wellbeing for them.”
So, she started delegating and inviting others on her team to help with the personal touches and details, big and small, that make Elly & Grace what it is.
“It changed things for the business. And it changed things for me. I couldn’t grow the business without help, and thankfully, the right help came and made that possible.”
Just as Elly & Grace was taking off, Brenna and her husband found themselves welcoming their long-awaited child into the family. Again, things had to shift in order for both Brenna and the business to succeed.
“I’m admittedly a bit of a workaholic. So having a child was a reality check for me. I had to find balance at home and at work, and honestly, building a solid team helped me do that.”
Thanks to the help she brought on at Elly & Grace, Brenna was able to shift her schedule to give more time to her family. She started coming into the office less and trusting her team to do what she hired and empowered them to do more.
“They know what they’re doing. They’re doing it better than me! That’s why they’re here, and that helps me separate and not worry about it when I leave. It’s helped me find balance in being the mom I want to be and the business owner I want to be.”
Mom guilt, how to empower your team and let go of control, or if you just want to hear what happens when two introverts get on a podcast (shockingly not crickets at all!) … press play to tune in to the entire episode or click here to read the full transcript.
RESOURCES MENTIONED :
The Lazy Genius Podcast
Brenna is a wife of nine years and mother to her almost three year old, Grace. After attending a christian conference in 2016, she felt called to start a christian apparel company and Elly and Grace was started. Six years later, Brenna and her incredible team have printed and shipped over 500,000 items around the world from their Missouri based office. When she’s not creating new designs on her iPad, sending voice memos or studying scripture, you can find her trying not to get a sunburn while her toddler runs around the park or reading the latest popular novel.
September 15, 2022