We have a special guest on this blog post!
Júwon is a huge fan of Molly Green and intrigued by the local owner, Brittany Hartwell. We reached out to Brittany to gain insight on how she started her business and what advice she has for upcoming entrepreneurs. Read more about our interview below!
- Júwon means beautiful in the Kurdish language. It is an extremely popular name in our community and at times a lot of people in public refer to me as “Júwon” when my name is pronounced “Guh-Luh-Vish”. Did you get the same with Molly Green? Why did you choose the name Molly Green?
B: Molly Green is playful and impulsive and a good friend. She’ll let you borrow her clothes anytime :) (hehe!) We made her up to be anyone you want her to be and she likes to wear whatever she wants to.
- Did you have work during or after college or did you know that you had Molly Green in mind and created pieces for your own line?
B: I graduated from Lipscomb University in 2017 and worked through-out school babysitting, photoshoot styling, bartending, and in retail.
After school my husband and I owned and operated Subway Sandwich Shops…not my dream scenario!
In 2010 we decided to make a change. We opened the first MG about a year after that. I buy and curate collections from other vendors whom I shop with monthly instead of creating my own designs.
- What did the beginning, middle, and current journey look like to get where you are at?
B: My sister and I started management in 2011 as a team of two. The both of us did all the work by running our shop day to day. During this time, we began to understand what it looks like to provide excellent customer service and how to buy for the season.
We’ve grown in small steps…sometimes taking too much of a leap.
We’ve moved in and out of 20 different storefronts. Opened 8 unique Brick and Mortar stores. We did see the closure of two of those locations.
We just opened our 4th location in Nashville (check out there Hillsboro Village location!). Over the course of the whole adventure we’ve maintained a website and continue to try to make our stores a great shop that feels like Molly Green. We currently work with about 60 other people now and everyone does their part to help grow the company and make it a great place to work and shop.
- What steps did you take to start your own store? Did you start online and then venture out into stores? Who were your first believers/supporters/customers? Did you start by hiring people to help create your designs, webpage, clothing or did you do it all solo?
B: There are soo many steps to take into consideration when starting the process of opening a store. You must follow laws on a state and federal level, get a space, negotiate a lease, and much more!
When MG was first created, I didn’t have a budget to hire help. We didn’t have teams. We just learned and taught ourselves how to manage the business.
Today we’ve had help on the tech side form professional companies and created roles for our staff to run our social media and marketing platforms. Everything’s always about prioritizing business importance and budgeting.
- Why did you choose to open your stores in Nashville and Alabama?
B: My hometown is Alabama and my whole family, including my sister, still live there. That is why we decided to open the Alabama location. My sister currently works out of the Birmingham store.
While going to school here in Nashville my husband and I love the city and how much it’s grown. Our second store was our Franklin store in the Cool Springs mall. We did travel back and forth from Birmingham for a couple years and eventually moved to Nashville full time.
- We all know you need money to make money. Was it difficult budgeting funds to start your career as an entrepreneur? (I just quit my 6th year of teaching to be able to focus on Júwon Enamel and boy is it scary!!)
B: Yes!! Oh my gosh, it can be so stressful!
We have tried to make good decisions and my husband, who is much more money minded than I, helps us with our lease negotiations and does our books and cashflow planning.
The closure of 2 of our stores wasn’t an idea situation and it was, in fact, very scary, stressful and difficult. That set us back financially and was a hard failure.
But at the end of the day you must do what’s best for you, your family, and your company to be successful. Sometimes there are only difficult options and choices you must make as a business owner. It’s important to keep your support system, and circle, around to make sure you have somewhere to get advice.
- Did anyone think your dream or goal was silly? How did you continue to think positive even through the toughest of times?
B: I’m sure some people still do think I’m silly, or not to their standard, but I don’t really get caught up on that. Too busy to mind :)
I must keep perspective around me. When you work for yourself it is impossible to leave work at work. Sometimes I forget there is a big wide world out there. There is so much that can change and doors that will open. Don’t forget to remember what’s important to you; health, family, friends and becoming the best you can be.
You never know where life will take you and I try to accept whatever it is that comes my way with joy and enthusiasm…not always easy but always more fun!
- What advice do you have for those wanting to start their own gig?
B: Do it! But before you quit the day job make sure you know who your client is and how you will reach them. Ask yourself specific questions to determine your goals. Never sign a lease without really, really, really reading it (even if you have a lawyer ready it for you).
Read your legal documents yourself and trust your gut when something seems wrong. Remember to be gentle with yourself and take breaks. Don’t forget to make time for yourself…new gigs/old gigs…your business can really take over.
- How do you balance work, life, and relationships with such a busy schedule?
B: I basically wake up and see how things go. We keep prioritized lists and try to stay on track, but things, such as emails, sometimes get delayed.
Organization isn’t always the friend of creativity (Absolutely love this statement!).
I try to go with the flow and make a difference everywhere I can. I work with lots of my favorite people and have created many forever friends at MG. But we all must make sure to take care of our relationships and not always talk about work.
Sometimes we are fearful, or lack the resources needed, to contact inspirational individuals. The more questions I ask folks that have “been there, done that” stage of where my business is at, the more knowledge I gain. I wanted to share this conversation to inspire others that have business ideas to research, ask questions, and reach out to others to push you closer to your goals.
A Júwon Enamel Brick and Mortar location is in the works and hearing stories such as Brittany Hartwell’s makes that dream becoming more of a reality. Thank you!