Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Curated QC Bloggers

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Curated QC Bloggers

The Quad Cities is turning a new leaf! I’m proud to call this area my home turf.

We are so fortunate as locals to have delicious eateries and local shops to explore. It’s just a matter of getting the word out and showcasing everything that there is to offer!

Three QC boss babe entrepreneurs saw the need.

One owns a downtown restaurant. Two own boutiques.

Meet these amazing women (pictured above left to right); Amy, owner of Downtown Geneseo’s storefront Katsch | Fran, owner of Me & Billy, Downtown Davenport Bar & Kitchen | Steph, owner of the boutique Field & Finch located in Village of East Davenport!

Within the year, they have created Curated QC, a blog showcasing things to do, places to go, and people to meet in the area!

Good food, good conversation. Lagomarcino’s in the Village East Davenport is a QC Classic.

. . . . . .

I wanted to pick their brains and get the insight on their journey with Curated QC:

Time is precious. You obviously see a need for this blog in the QC or you wouldn’t invest the time. What is your ultimate goal for Curated QC?

Fran: I keep hearing people say that this is something that the QC needed (even if they didn’t realize it before). The response has been incredible! I just hope that we can continue to be a resource for Quad Citizens, highlighting all of the amazing people, places, and things that the area has to offer, and collaborate with local businesses in the process.

Amy, a new mom and super driven, savvy, and sweet business owner.

Amy: Great question! It started as a passion project and we saw a need for a resource like this.
Eventually we would like to take it to the next level but all in good time. We all have full plates as it is!

Steph: Well, I think when the girls and I originally sat down and started mapping this out, we just thought this thing was something we wish existed in the Quad Cities, and we figured we’d have about a good a chance as anyone as doing a good job with it. I think we ultimately want it to be a resource where longtime residents and visitors alike can learn about something new in the area. The QCA is just teeming with talent and things to do and inspiration and we want to be able to showcase it through our work with the blog. We’re very fortunate to live in a community that loves and supports its small businesses, so we just want to play off of that strength and take it a step further. We have some really exciting growth planned for the end of this year and for 2018, but you’ll have to stay tuned to find out more info! 🙂

As passionate entrepreneurs, what are your words of advice to others to inspire them to chase their dreams?

Fran is as bubbly as she portrays! Her drive is contagious and is passionate about her work.

Fran: I’m a bit of a realist when it comes to this. If you make the decision to start your own business, you have to be all in! Be prepared for the highs and lows, unrelenting workload, and long days.

Amy: Create a network of support. Owning your own business can be lonely. Often times feeling like you are the only one going through a particular situation. Creating a strong network is beneficial for many reason but mostly keeps you sane! Just remember to stay true to your vision and brand. Just because something works for one business doesn’t mean it will work for yours. Don’t compare yourself to others. I believe success can be shared. Seeing my friends and colleagues do well is just as rewarding as reaching my goals and milestones.

Steph: I think the most important thing for a new entrepreneur to remember is that it’s important to have a plan, but don’t get married to it. It’s great to try to flesh out what you expect your day-to-day to look like, but odds are good that you won’t really have any idea until you’re in the thick of it. And even then, you’ve got to be prepared to roll with the punches. On the flipside, try to keep sight of what’s important to you and remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. Entrepreneurship is a weird way to live and you have to be ready to commit to a lifestyle, but it’s one of the most rewarding career paths out there. Really though, at the end of the day you just have to go for it. There’s never going to be a perfect time to do anything, so if you’ve done your homework and you feel as ready as you’ll ever be, take the plunge.

FAVORITE QC:

Breakfast spot: 

                           FRAN-Cushman’s Food & Engine (aka The Crepe Guy) 

                           AMY- The Local Motive in Geneseo  

                          STEPH- I’m partial to my dad’s place (The Family Restaurant), but I also LOVE brunch at Cafe Indigo

Lunch spot: 

                       FRAN-Cafe Express Deli

                       AMY- Cafe Fresh

                       STEPH- Cafe Fresh in downtown Moline

Dinner spot: 

                      FRAN-Why Me & Billy, of course!

                      AMY- Red Ginger and Me&Billy

                     STEPH- How do I choose?! I obviously love Me & Billy (hey, Fran!), Lemongrass Cafe, Mantra Indian Restaurant… there are so many great options in the QCA!


Dessert spot: 

                      FRAN-Oh So Sweet by Tiphanie

                      AMY- Oh So Sweet by Tiphanie

                     STEPH- It’s gotta be Oh So Sweet. I’m a big fan of Tiph’s hand pies and with the recent addition of Cafe 392 to the storefront I can get sugar and caffeine right in the same place (dreams come true).

(I SENSE A STRONG URGE TO GO TO OH SO SWEET RIGHT NOW!)

And one inside scoop question: How the hell do you juggle it all?

Fran: In short: hard work, time management, and a supportive husband. Work hard, play hard!

Amy: Now that I have a little one at home it has become more challenging. I try to stay very organized and productive. Make a decision and move on. I also try my best to avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed and prioritizing helps. Some times I just accept a particular task won’t get done and I’m okay with that. (Sometimes that task is laundry LOL).

Steph is a tremendous entrepreneur. A must meet gal. Sweet, nice, and full of life!

Steph: Haha! I feel like I don’t! In all seriousness though, I couldn’t do anything without an incredible support system. I feel so lucky to be working on this project with Amy and Fran, who are far and away the best teammates I could ask for. And my mom, who is my business partner is just a complete rockstar. My friends keep me sane and help me maintain balance. It’s easy to get swept up in your work when it’s something you’re passionate about, but you have to be careful not to burn out just like with anything else. I feel like as entrepreneurs we hear and see a lot of things about building a “tribe” and although that might feel a little played out or trite, it’s absolutely true. You have to surround yourself with people who understand what you’re doing and why it’s important to you, and who will be supportive of your goals. But stay organized, have a plan, and just do the thing!

. . . . . .

With three bloggers behind this business, check in on a regular basis (www.curatedqc.com) to read up on things to do, places to go, and people to see in the QC. They are doing a fantastic job at whipping out new content regularly. There’s so much helpful content they dish out about QC happenings!

I am clearly excited for this venture they are on and will cheer them on the whole way! The Quad Cities needs this platform to showcase everything there is to offer, because there’s a lot out there. You just have to seek it.

All photo credit to Iron & Lace Photography, QC based photographer.

                                                                                                                                                                                              HAPPY FALL!

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Flutter Boutique

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Flutter Boutique

gray sweater + olive skinnies: JUST IN at Flutter!

Feeling exceptionally blessed lately!

I was born and raised in the rural Quad City area. Moving away from here for 5 years and then coming back was a little intimidating for me. I left town at 19 with a baby on my hip and following Spencer’s football successes to college. I came back a brand new adult. I feared there weren’t new people to meet. I was worried of a past reputation that no longer reflected me…. Basically just a bunch of self confidence issues!

I had such a beautiful sense of belonging in Cedar Falls with such amazing creatives and entrepreneurs. I had never felt “myself” as much as I did there.

Currently on year number two back in the rural QC and I have nothing but tremendous things to say about the new relationships I have built along with reconnections of old friends and acquaintances! If you would have asked me six months ago how I was adjusting to country living and being back home, I would have went on and on about “how phenomenal the people are in Cedar Falls and how tremendous our neighbors were to us… and man I miss them! But this peaceful setting is nice and being close to family is amazing.

In the past 6 months, I have built some of the most outstanding relationships with new friends and colleagues and I just keep connecting with more and more new faces WEEKLY in this area!

Jeanette (left) & Jessica (right)

I met many likeminded new friends recently through my very first Rising Tide Society meeting a couple of weeks ago, I went to a swanky bloggers’ launch party at Me & Billy a short while back and that was a great networking opportunity, but my most recent connection was with two fabulous female entrepreneurs in downtown Le Claire, IA. I would like to introduce you to the beautiful, bold, and courageous duo: Jeanette & Jessica from Flutter Boutique!

Jeanette and Jessica have a storefront clothing & accessory boutique in Downtown Le Claire, IA that is catered to women of all ages! Their eye for style is on point and they do a tremendous job at curating seasonal fashion in their store. Whether a business professional or stay at home mom, you will fall in love with their selection.

Not only are these two amazing girl bosses, but both are mamas and wives. I interviewed them both to dig a little deeper and get the scoop on how they are able to do everything they do!

HOW THEY BALANCE LIFE:

Jeanette– Wow how do we juggle it all! Somedays it feels like it takes an army! Jessica and I make a great team, we are able to help balance the workload each week for the boutique. We have an amazing team of ladies that work for us at Flutter, which is a huge help. Personally, I am blessed to have any amazing mom that helps me every day! I travel most days for Pigott, so she is my rock at home to help with my girls.

Jessica- Honestly, juggling two businesses and a family can be very challenging at times. It is extremely important to me to have a lot of family time and that is not something I’m willing to put on the back burner. My husband’s supportiveness and understanding throughout this journey has helped take some weight off my shoulders. I feel pretty lucky that I have somewhat of a flexible schedule at my hair salon that allows me some morning/daytime hours to devote to Flutter. There have also been some nights Jeannette and I get together after the kids go to bed and have a “meeting of the minds”….with a bottle (or two) of wine! Last, but not least, we wouldn’t be able to operate without our top notch staff that takes care of our customers on a daily basis which makes our job easier.

HOW THEY GOT WHERE THEY ARE TODAY:

Jeanette- As long as I can remember, I have had a love and passion for fashion! My mom was one of my many inspirations. When I was a little girl she made sure my sister and I always were dressed and ready for the day! Even if that meant waking us up at 4:00 am before she went off to work. That turned into begging to go to the mall every weekend for something new! Some of my best memories are with my mom and sister on our shopping trips to Chicago and New York. I never realized until now, the influence those trips had on me. Not to mention the priceless time with my mom and sister. They are truly my best friends!

I went to school for fashion merchandising and started my fashion career with companies such as The Gap, Old Navy and The Limited in the Chicago area. I couldn’t have asked for better companies to help me learn the retail way of life! Then I met my amazing husband, Jon. He too had a dream to start his own company and we also wanted to start a family. We moved back home to the Quad Cities so that we could be by our families, and I left the retail career behind. I found an amazing sales opportunity at Pigott, a commercial interiors company. 17 years later, I am on our leadership team and have a job I love to go to everyday! Jon and I are blessed to have 2 beautiful and amazing daughters, Jillian and Josie. They have forever changed our lives. I now find myself teaching them all that my mom taught me. Of course one of those is the love of fashion! I was definitely meant to have girls! We too have created amazing memories with those same girls shopping trips! More than anything I want to show them the importance of finding a good work/life balance and always following their dreams!

Fashion and retail have always still been on mind! My friend Jessica and I started discussing the idea of opening a boutique for years. This has been a dream of both of ours since we were little girls! With Jessica’s business background and my retail we decided we would make the perfect team! We were excited to bring a unique shopping experience back to Moline when we opened in May 2015! Thanks to the love and support of our families, our dream came true!

Jessica– I got where I am today with the help of the best support system anyone could ask for! From starting my own hair salon to opening Flutter my family and friends were right by our sides. I have always been very passionate about beauty and fashion, so as a young 20-something I realized doing hair was a perfect fit.I have been a hairstylist now for 16 years and it still doesn’t feel like work! Jeannette and I decided to start by selling a few accessories out of my salon, it sparked a lot of interest from the people we knew. From there we decided to take the leap and Flutter was born.

ADVICE TO OTHERS:

Jeanette- Always follow your dreams! If you have the passion and drive, anything is possible. I have to constantly remind myself that nothing is easy, most days are long and it take a lot of determination. I believe you need a support system in place and anything seems possible. My family and friends are that for me. Remember that its ok to make mistakes, and that there will always be bumps in the road. Just enjoy life, stay close to your faith and count your blessings!

Jessica- My advice to inspire others to chase their dreams is to live with no regrets. In my situation, I knew I never wanted to look back and wonder “what if” and wish I would have taken a chance. The fear of not knowing, for me, was bigger than the fear of not giving it my best shot.

5 YEAR GOAL FOR FLUTTER:

Jeanette- I would love to see Flutter still flourishing in LeClaire. We have fallen in the love with this town and the community. I would also like to see a retail website, we know how much everyone likes the ease of shopping online!

Jessica– In five years I would love to see Flutter as a successful boutique that women in the Quad Cities and beyond still love coming to to find unique clothing and accessories. My hope to grow our customer base is to make us more accessible through other outlets, such as an online site.

. . . . . .

To my readers, I hope you find inspiration in these two wonderful women.

White T + Comfy Skinnies now available at Flutter!

Entrepreneurs, the talent that lies within this area is such a gift! I hope I can keep building connections and showcasing such talented individuals right here in Midwest’s Heartland!

. . . . . .

Plan a trip to Le Claire with some friends and stop in Flutter Boutique (located across the street from 129)! Let them know I sent you! I personally recommend a new Fall outfit from here for your next date night. There’s nothing that makes a girl feel better than a fresh new outfit…. First world problems, I know! BUT, it’s true!

Denim top + Black skinnies can be purchased at Flutter Boutique: Just in!

 

 

                                                                                        MUCH LOVE,

 

 

 

 

Photography taken by Sweet Little You Photography.

 

 

An Inspiring Entrepreneur: Uniquely Women

An Inspiring Entrepreneur: Uniquely Women

Exciting news! I am starting a new column on the blog, “An Inspiring Entrepreneur.” Every so often I will be featuring someone on here who has an enthusiastic drive, an inspiring story, and strives for success. May you admire, relate, and cheer these featured entrepreneurs on (let’s face it, no entrepreneur is going to turn down a round of applause)!

First up, Nicole from Uniquely Women. She is a full-time blogger working from the comfort of her home (or wherever has wi-fi!) every single day. I am so excited to have her be my very first feature! This girl has so much wisdom when it comes to blogging. Beyond her wisdom, she is gorgeous (in & out), the kindest in the biz, and always up for adventure which I LOVE!

I met Nicole (the lady behind Uniquely Women) in Cedar Falls, IA (where she resides) 4 years ago. I had a storefront (garage front to be specific) called Stew’s. It was full of flea market finds, hand painted furniture, and architectural/industrial wares. Nicole actually ended up filling in for me at the shop here and there and painting some furniture for me. Now, four years later and she is killing it in her own business. I am so thrilled our paths crossed and that I get to embark on this journey of life with her in it!

I have asked Nicole a few questions. Her responses are great! Read on:

  • Why blogging? Is this your passion?

Blogging was definitely never on my radar until 2012. I started a blog to document the creative ideas I had bottling up inside me.  I didn’t know the full extent of blogging and never knew I could create a profitable blog until years later. After being laid off I dug deep into blogging, with the encouragement from my husband. I haven’t turned back since.  My passion turned from learning everything there was about blogging to now teaching others how to do the same as I have!

  • Top 3 blogs you enjoy following?

Fashion, interiors, and lifestyle blogs I love to follow! Along with Main + Second (duh!).

www.sequinsandthings.com

www.jacquelynclark.com

www.theeverygirl.com

  • How many times have you wanted to give up?

Oh my goodness, so many times.  You definitely have to be patient when blogging.  It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to make things work.  

  • Who’s your biggest supporter?

Hands down my husband!   He was the one that pushed me to start and keep at blogging (even during the tough times.)  He’s now even helping me from time to time with new courses, maintaining my blog, and a lot of behind the scenes work.  

I learned early on that Blogging can get lonely. Entrepreneurship wasn’t something many others were doing around me, so networking was important.  I have created some amazing friendships with other bloggers!  Granted, I haven’t met many of them – but it was great having that support and accountability partner to talk to on a consistent basis.  

  • Time management can be hard when you work for yourself. How do you manage your time?!

Time Management is one of the biggest hurdles I faced when working for myself.  It’s so easy to get distracted, especially working from home.  Over time I’ve created a schedule that now works for me and my business.  

I set specific goals and tasks during the day that I want to accomplish.  I then break those tasks into hour or so increments.  I set alarms on my phone for 1-2 hours (based on that task.) Once the timer goes off, I go take a break for 5-10 minutes no matter if I’m done with that task or not.  I’ve learned that it’s important to take a step away from the computer and go do something else for a couple minutes before jumping back into it.

I love batching tasks as well.  I lump tasks that I would normally need to do on a daily basis to only doing them once a week.  For instance – I take photos for social  media once a week .  I set up all props and backgrounds one time per week.  This has definitely saved me time.  

 

  • Name 5 instagram friends you have met through your business that inspire you but have yet to meet face to face!

@kaseymilner

@patternme_pretty

@jlynndesignery

@sprinkledlife

@mrsjuliejones

  • Personal life… Fill us in on your home life! 

I recently married the love of my life, JJ, last June in Mexico.  We live in Cedar Falls, IA with our dachshund pups (Bogey & Maverick.) When I’m not blogging – we both enjoy traveling, hitting up local breweries, and enjoying live music concerts.

  • How many hours a week do you blog?
  • How many hours a week are spent on social media?

I spend about 5-10 hours a week actually on blogging.  The rest of my week –  I’m constantly working on growing my email list, creating opt-ins, courses, being active in the facebook group, etc.  
I only post a blog once or twice a week and the rest of the time is working on growing my business.

  • Where do you want to be in 5 years with your business?

My big passion is helping others discover blogging.   I want to help others grow thriving blogs. I created the Blogging Facebook Group – Blogging 101 (www.facebook.com/groups/blog101group) for that sole purpose and have loved being inside the group sharing my experiences and expertise.  

I have a traffic building bootcamp course launching here soon.  I have other courses in the works as well.  My goal is to continue creating digital resources for bloggers to gain value.

  • Your turn… Ask me (Main + Second) ONE question! I have to answer so make it good 😉

Because I loved your question so much — Where do you want to be in 5 years from now with your blog?

My response: I would love to be successful enough to be able to hire another writer someday! I have this beautiful vision in my head (if you didn’t know already, I am a full time dreamer #addicted) of our prairie barn getting sealed up, adding windows, new doors, and turning it into a four-season workspace/studio/warehouse. To be able to employ people because Main + Second has a bigger demand than I can handle is a DREAM! So in the next 5 years I plan to put my best foot forward in growing not only my blog, but the whole website to something bigger than I alone can handle. I am not sure what the proper steps are to get there, but I believe consistency and dedication are going to be key factors in order for this to happen. 

. . . . . .

I highly recommend you check out Uniquely Women’s website, especially if you have a blog or are interested in starting one. She has a 7-day blog course that I highly recommend. I signed up and really found her tips and advice helpful…. And it’s free!!

From The Founder,

Emma Hicks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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