Our creative entrepreneur interview today is with Marie Tillman, founder of Mac and Mia. Marie is a mom of five that lives in Chicago with her family. She started Mac and Mia to help provide a convenient option for stylish moms – her company delivers stylist-picked boxes of cute kid clothing for parents to try on their little ones in the comfort of their own homes. Listen in to hear about Marie’s success and failures as an entrepreneur and check out her brand new industrial loft location right outside Chicago!
#pressplay below to watch our recorded Skype interview, and check out her answers below in written format as well as pictures of her wonderful business.
What did you do before Mac and Mia? How did you decide to start your own business?
Before I started Mac & Mia I ran a non-profit that focuses on Veterans education. Mac & Mia came from my own experience as a working mom. I’ve always worked full time and with five kids I was constantly looking for ways to simplify my life so that I could spend more time with my family and less time running errands.
Can you give us a brief history of Mac and Mia? How long have you been in business? What has your growth looked like? Can you tell us a story of some of the “unglamorous” moments just starting up?
I began working on the company when I was on maternity leave with my youngest child, about two years ago. When I returned to my day job I kept at it nights and weekends. In early 2015, I hired two part time employees and we started to slowly grow. In the summer of 2015 we moved from the garage into “real” office space, brought on a few full time people and raised an angel round of funding to focus on growth. We recently outgrew our 2000 sq ft office and moved into a 10,000 sq ft warehouse.
We when we started I did everything, went on buying trips, worked with customers, packed boxes, processed inventory, made trips to FedEx, processed returns, stocked shelves you name it! We worked out of my garage on a picnic table surrounded by several racks of inventory.
What’s your big picture WHY? What motivates you to work hard and build your business? What is your ultimate lifestyle goal?
The thing that motivates me most to grow Mac & Mia is the opportunity we’ve been able to provide for our stylists. Our stylist team is made up of predominately moms and we allow them a chance to balance family and work by offering part time flexible work from home. I love this amazing group of women and hope to continue to grow our team as the business grows.
Where did you find your mentors, or resources to help learn about entrepreneurship and running a successful business?
Chicago is home to one of the largest digital incubators in the country has a great engaged community of entrepreneurs. I’ve been fortunate to have some great mentors and friends to turn to for advice.
Can you tell a story of a specific failure you encountered while building Mac and Mia? What did you learn from it? What would you consider are your strengths as a business owner?
There have been many things that haven’t worked like I imagined but the key is quickly adjusting and trying something new. Starting a business is all about trial and error.
Do you currently have 1099s or employees? Or are you a onewoman show? If you have help, what advice do you have to give about scaling your business and outsourcing responsibilities through hiring to help grow? Do you have any advice on when to start scaling the business and hiring employees, bookkeeping… etc.
We have full time employees, part time and 1099s. Hiring the right people is one of the most important things about running a business because at some point if you want to grow you can’t do everything. We look for the right skill set for the position but it really comes down to an energy and enthusiasm for what we do and a willingness to jump in where needed. We are still a small start up company and everyone wears many hats.
How many hours per week do you work? How do you balance family life with work?
I work a lot, but I love it so it doesn’t feel like work! 40+ hours in the office and a few hours after the kids go to bed each night and on weekends. Balance is sometimes hard to find but we’re early risers so I always have special time with my little ones in the morning before the rush to get off to school and work begins.
I’m Like Brave is about creating an uncommon life. What does an “uncommon life” you love look like for you? How does your business help create this ideal lifestyle?
The uncommon life for me is being able to make a dream or an idea a reality. I love that by starting this business I’m teaching my kids by example that they can be and do whatever they dream as long as they are willing to work hard.
What has been the most exciting thing to happen to your business so far? When Us Weekly reached out to feature us in the magazine.
What is your ultimate vision for your business in the coming year? Where do you see Mac and Mia in 5 years?
I’d love to see Mac & Mia continue to grow, we’ve only scratched the surface.
What’s holding you back from where you are now and your end game?
Our biggest focus right now is getting the word out about the company and acquiring new customers.
Jamie Tardy, podcaster at “The Eventual Millionaire” says millionaires share 2 habits: they all journal and they all have a morning ritual. What does your morning ritual ideally look like?
One of the first things in the morning is coffee, then time with my little ones making breakfast and getting ready for the day.
Closing thoughts to other entrepreneurs or those on the verge of starting a business?
For people that are thinking about starting a business, just do it.