Each month we showcase a different entrepreneur whose small business we’ve been following. These are brand owners that stand out with their vulnerability and honesty. They are focused on getting their message out in unique ways, and they’re really standing out from the crowd.
You can see all of our past features on our Brands that Bloom Series page.
This month we’re spotlighting Tracy McSchane. Her company is called the Little Mama co. Aubrey had been following her business journey on Instagram almost since the beginning. Tracy is incredibly engaged with her followers, exactly the kind of small business owner we love to connect with. So, when we started our Dandelion Instagram the Little Mama co. was one of the first brands we followed. (@thelittlemamaco)
When we asked Tracy to be featured we were nervous that she’d be too busy being a mom and a small business owner and a maker. We had a stroke of luck and she said yes! We’re so impressed that she got back to us with such wonderfully open and inspirational responses. Here they are to inspire you too:
Interview with Tracy McShane, Mama Bear of Little Mama co.
Did you always want to be a business owner?
I have worked full time for 20 years, always an employee. However, the entrepreneurial passion never left my core. Even when working for my employers, I often recognized growth opportunities, voiced new innovative ideas and ways to improve efficiency.
I always had a yearning, always wondering, “What if I was the voice & face behind my own company and creations?” Always feeling like there was so much more than this daily grind for someone else’s dream. Doing things on my own terms is priceless. I am beyond grateful.
How did Little Mama Co. get started?
I took baby steps. Making and creating gifts for loved ones has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I wanted a specific place for my creations on social, even if it was just going to be a portfolio, I knew that was the best next step.
I remember being so nervous when I first created the social media pages and nervous putting myself out there too. I’m sure we all feel that in a way but that was the key step forward in getting the ball rolling. I just started where I was with what I had to have a designated space for my creations, visions, inspiration, market research, and ideas.
With each new creation, gift, idea, launch, and piece of feedback, I gained momentum and my nerves very quickly flipped to excitement. I get a sense of reassurance and feeling like it was what I should be doing at this time in my life.
Keep it simple and GO!
We noticed that your products change seasonally. Where do you get your new ideas?
My inspiration is pretty natural and simple. It’s based around things I love!
Color and style trends are important too, but for me it’s more personal. I love pretty things, but I also love the woods, cabin lifestyle, farmhouse style, and animals. It is very important that each pretty little rustic gift gives the receiver that special, cozy feeling too.
I love the whole process. I love the fluidity my creations flow with as the seasons change. Inspiration can even come from a simple rough cut piece of wood and turn it into a beautiful gift as I go. Sometimes while I’m creating it takes on a whole new direction and ends up perfect (IMO).
When did you officially launch as The Little Mama co.? Where did the name come from?
The official social media launch was two years ago. I just had my newborn son and while being very busy as a mom, I was still creating until the wee hours of the night. I was determined. I dreamt of launching my business to be able to raise my son and look after my family.
Since becoming a mom in 2018, I knew The Little Mama co. would be the perfect representation. Being a mom is a dream come true for me and my hopes are that other moms can relate to being a Little Mama (but Mama Bear at heart!). I also wanted to incorporate mom & dad specific gift lines into my brand.
What is the guiding purpose or story behind your brand?
My family. It is my reason, my drive, and my heart. A representation of creating something amazing from where you are at, with what you have. Going for it.
What do you visualize the Little Mama co. growing into in the future?
My vision is to be global and to have my products in retail stores! That would be the ULTIMATE.
For me, scaling is so important. I have spent countless hours, days, weeks … ultimately years, perfecting my products. The same goes for Ecommerce land. I knew I wanted to do this on Amazon, or at least TRY. It took over two years (again countless days, weeks, months) of research & learning how Amazon.ca works as a Seller. BUT I DID IT! It is still surreal. But I know scaling my business is the ultimate dream goal.
Business on a personal level? I want to scale GIVING BACK. I currently participate in as many local donation opportunities and nonprofits as possible but I would love to grow and help so much more. I try to do different types of donations throughout the year, like bringing 25 of my little products, gift wrapped, to a local shelter just to make those 25 people smile, if even for a moment. We can all do this in some way. Our local food banks can feed families and we need them.
You’ve been growing your audience, especially on Instagram. How did you build your loyal following for your brand?
I believe in documenting all aspects of the business. Including ups and downs, wins and fails. I personally gravitate towards those that “keep it real”. I post a lot about “the process” and the “nitty gritty.”
I naturally flow against the grain. Maybe it makes things more relatable.
I also post at all times, day or night. It may be a late night and if I have inspiration, I just post it. Documenting the process is SO important and it is just as good for me, as it is my following. It keeps us humble. Good reminders of the ups and downs, struggles and how far we’ve come.
Any tips and tricks you’ve learned along the way?
Don’t worry too much about what others think. If you are doing this as authentically as yourself, you will worry less about making things look perfect and just go! Do… create…try… write… start. With every little step you take, I promise, you WILL gain momentum, drive to GO more, DO more, TRY more.
Take baby steps, even on the hard days. My little sister created me a beautiful piece of art with one very important word on it, it reads “PERSEVERANCE” – that is key!
Also, find some great Podcasts/ YouTube Inspiration/ Motivation. Just keep filling your ears and saturate your mind with it. Surround yourself with the valuable knowledge you need. Even just some inspiration on a hard day. We are so lucky to be able to create and learn and do anything we desire, right at our fingertips.
Reverse engineer your goal. Break it down into – per month, per week, per day. It will look more attainable. Write down your visions and the things you are grateful for. READ it everyday. Keep going. You will find a way. Even if it is different than what you had initially set out for. PERSEVERE and be RELENTLESS – They are your Dreams!
Oh, and watch “Steve Harvey’s – Jump” video! 6 minutes that WILL make a difference in your life.
Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
So Many Things!
One big one is patience with setbacks. A sense of knowing and trusting that setbacks are preparing me for something great. Sounds so cliche. Sounds so simple. Sounds so easy. Even though I know deep down, that something great is coming from the setback, it is still super hard in the moment when faced with unexpected obstacles. Sometimes it feels like a series of constant lessons. I try my best to accept the obstacle and then find another way. That may include wracking my brain until I figure it out, or sometimes I am able to sit with it for a while, which always blesses me with clarity.
“Back to the drawing board” My drawing board is a place I’ve learned to become comfortable with and even thankful!
Remember – It is happening for the absolute best reason, you just aren’t able to see it yet.
Keep things in perspective. We ARE here. We are so lucky to have these opportunities and in the big picture LIFE. Focusing on the present.
Discouragement is a super shitty real feeling. It can be crushing at times. But it IS happening so something great will blossom out of you, in the next go round. Look how far you have come.
Example of related obstacles for me, would have to be when I started researching and learning how to be a seller on Amazon, this took me over 2 years. There is so much to learn. I spent hours… such late nights, days, months – learning the terminology, process, which marketplace would be best for me, would I qualify, what do I need to qualify? ALWAYS finding some reason or hurdle that I’m just not going to be good enough to do this. Or not accepted, or not understand the Beast that it is. So, I would put it away for a week or two… realizing I might not be able to take that path. However, it never left my mind. It is also too big of a Beast to give up on. So I would pick it back up and delve into the research again and again. With the knowledge that I gained in my research, I finally knew I had to “Just F*%$#ng apply !” I received approval and I hit the ground running. I started listing my products and figuring things out as I went. STILL AM!
Advice: It is so important to research and gain knowledge, but it is EXTREMELY imperative to Go and Do it. TRY!
It is the best decision I’ve made for my business, this far. I have many challenges and no two days are the same, but it is so exciting to learn and utilize this platform.
What do you struggle most with when it comes to your following?
I try to not worry about “Followers & Likes” numbers even though reach and algorithms can limit exposure. I think your genuine supporters will be around and be there to check in with what you are sharing. I like authenticity, in case you haven’t gathered, so temporary followers don’t really phase me. Maybe that’s the key, just create and support others that are important to you.
What do you find the most challenging aspect of running a business to be?
Right now, SEO, Backend Data Analysis, Traffic etc. Which is ever changing and I am always learning. There are so many sides to a business. It can be a lot some days. But then I look back at how far I’ve come and realize there was a time when I had to Google what SEO even was..So, I guess I’m doin’ alright!
Anything else you think may important/useful for readers to know about growing a business?
At least try. An idea, a new product, or service. The market will speak and sometimes what you think wouldn’t work, does, vice versa. Give back where you can. Genuinely. We all start from the ground up. “There is no elevator to success, only stairs.”
Stay humble and be authentic. Be proud of yourself.
You can find the Little Mama Co. on Amazon and you can follow her on Instagram @thelittlemamaco
If you know someone with a badass brand and you think they should be featured connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.