This is a follow up story for Charleston Weekender. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 1 year ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
I’m Liz Martin, a “retired” speech-language pathologist on a mission to make every day feel like the weekend. I hope to spread cheer through my products & retail store, and I love helping fellow entrepreneurs grow through my Instagram consultation services. I’m 3.5 years into running my former side hustle full-time, but I’m self-taught when it comes to business and still learning as I go.
I opened a brick and mortar shop called Cannonborough Collective in 2017 in Charleston, and I hope you’ll come to visit! There we sell products that range from local goods and souvenirs to balloons & party goods. I sell my own line of Charleston Weekender products there- everything from hostess gifts to souvenirs to home decor- items that I’ve designed or sourced to spark a little joy. Think mugs, puzzles, pouches, & more!
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
In the words of Ross Gellar, “Pivot! Pivot! Pivvvvottttt!”. That definitely sums up the last 6 months. My revenue thankfully appears to be about the same as when I was introduced on Starter Story last summer, despite taking a hit because of COVID-19.
You have to make your own! Don’t let fear get in the way, learn to have faith along the way.
In Q:2 everything of course changed! Our shop was closed for a month & I had to pivot away from my side streams of income like working with other brands (which previously generated about 2k/month). My last big collaboration pre-Pandemic was creating content for and promoting Martha Stewart’s line of dog products, so just when I was starting to get to work with dream clients everything changed. These brand collaboration opportunities have dwindled due to budget cuts from both the big brands and local clients I partnered with for influencer marketing campaigns.
In order to continue to achieve sales at our brick & mortar in the last few months, we adapted to bring focus to our online store. Thankfully had balloons & party goods to attract customers to shop with us for curbside pick up this spring. We were forced to finally open an eCommerce site for our brick & mortar 3 years into being open! Thanks to selling 100 puzzles during the month of April, I’ve been able to sustain my revenue throughout the pandemic thus far. We signed up for Instagram’s shoppable feature so that plus having the swipe up feature for stories (for accounts with 10k+ followers) has helped us increase online sales.
Many of our local vendors have adapted their products as well, for instance, one bow brand now hand makes masks for us. Our local soap maker recently added hand sanitizer to our offerings as well.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
My biggest piece of advice is to take care of yourself first! Your mental and physical health is the greatest form of wealth. Health = wealth, don’t get it twisted! 2019/2020 have been chock full of challenges in some big relationships in my life and then obviously the pandemic brought on its own challenges. A good friend told me I seem really great and grounded lately; she said this in May amidst the height of the pandemic challenges and following a breast cancer scare, so I was super proud of that! It meant the hard work I had been doing to really take care of my mental, emotional, and physical health had begun to pay off. It’s all a practice, and it’s worth prioritizing all of these things if you want to reach your true potential. You need to bring your best self to the business table in order to truly thrive.
I’ve also learned a lot about partnerships. I co-founded the shop with another entrepreneur, and now am transitioning to be the sole owner. A partnership makes just as big of an impact in your life as a marriage or any other big relationship, so you better make sure you are both 100% committed to maintaining a positive relationship for the sake of your business. It can be a lot harder to go it alone, but that may be the best option at the end of the day. Make sure you think of a business partnership like dating or looking for the right romantic partner in terms of compatibility and communication. There are some personality traits that may be red flags and deal-breakers for you. Know yourself and know what you need out of a partnership.
Now I know I’d be best suited with a cheerleader type who can encourage me and make it known that they appreciate me, as well as communicate openly with what I could improve on in a constructive way. If you’ve ever taken the 5 Love Languages test, this can be beneficial to help you both learn what each other need. Make sure you have a solid partnership contract with a clause that spells out exactly what each person will need to do to buy the other one out or how dissolving the business would work.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
The pandemic has taught me to try to focus my energies/efforts/plans on the short term instead of the long term. Make a plan and God laughs after all!
In terms of Cannonborough Collective, I hope to keep the current momentum we have going! I want to continue to grow our reach online, and I think it will help to condense our online product offerings. Our website has about 700 skus on it from about 20 different local brands, so we need to pair it down to make it less overwhelming to shop.
As far as my personal brand goes, I want to continue to speak out as a mental health advocate. The isolation and subsequent depression I experienced during the early part of the pandemic reminded me there are so many people out there suffering from their mental health, feeling alone. Every time I share my experience with anxiety and depression, at least one or two people will message me to let me know it helped them. That really keeps me going! I’ve also recently joined the Charleston advisory board for the National Alliance for Mental Illness, so in addition to using my social channels to support mental health advocacy and awareness, I hope to be able to make an impact through NAMI.
I’m not sure where I’ll ultimately wind up; will the blogging/influencer marketing industry bounce back? I think it will. I also hope to get back to working with more entrepreneurs with Instagram growth consultations. I love the 1:1 client service aspect of what I do. I may even pick up some private clients and come out of retirement with speech therapy. I’m just keeping an open mind and continuing to have faith that the answers will all be revealed to me in time.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
Like I mentioned, taking care of your mental health/spiritual wellness is so important, especially for entrepreneurs! I daily read a short devotional called The Heart Shaped Life, which I sometimes share in my Instagram stories. The lessons & reminders help me always come back to my purpose of spreading joy and helping others feel less alone in their own mental health struggles.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Just get started! In a month you’ll really be glad you started your Instagram account or began taking those graphic design classes. Showing up every day and chiseling away at your dreams has been the best path for me. Consistency with your social media and immersing yourself in a like-minded community have both been immensely helpful strategies.
I didn’t start off with a solid business plan and so far I’ve landed somewhere slightly different than where I set out to be. That’s the thing with charting your own course, you don’t get a map. You have to make your own! Don’t let fear get in the way, learn to have faith along the way.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Yes! Since I previously had a business partner and now run Cannonborough Collective on my own, we are looking for hired weekend help & always taking on interns.
Where can we go to learn more?
You can now shop with us online, the only place where the Charleston Weekender brand is sold. If you want some free resources for business owners or info about Instagram growth consultations, head to our website. Helping fellow entrepreneurs lights my fire!
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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