This week marks one year since we started our blog series, Boss Lady. In the past year, we have interviewed 29 women entrepreneurs that are in charge of their own destiny. From fellow jewelry designers to an author to fitness coaches to philanthropists -- these are just a few of the women setting inspiring trends in our community and around the world. If you haven’t had a chance to read the interviews yet, I encourage you to go through the past posts! Their answers are thought-provoking, funny, inspiring and more than we could have ever hoped for when we started this project a year ago!

My goal with the Boss Lady blog has and will always be to inspire other women to create their own path and do what makes them happiest. Some of these women may not realize their leadership potential, or they may have some insecurities about going full-time. I can relate. When I started my business in 2008, I never thought that ten years down the road I’d be the boss of three women. Now being “the boss” is just one of the many daily challenges I face.

Boss Lady started out as a weekly blog post featuring women that I have met or that have been referred to me, that own their own business, and are 100% self employed. At first I wanted to feature only women that are sole proprietors, but after some thought, I decided to feature women that have business partners into the mix as well. I know this new group of women will have a incredible insight and experience to share from the perspective of having a business partner! So, we are now opening up the interviewees to women in business with business partners as well as sole proprietors. The main rule now is that your full time hustle has to be your business and you have to be self-employed, i.e. sign your own paycheck!

Since we started the blog last year, there have been other exciting developments in my lil business. First and foremost, I have a wonderful team of ladies that make all the bits and pieces of Bella Vita run smoothly. Hiring employees is a huge step for me. I never want to give anyone false hope and when I commit to an employee, I commit to them.

Right around the time we started Boss Lady, I hired Miki Elliott to help manage our wholesale accounts, update our website, coordinate the Boss Lady blog posts, and manage other behind the scenes tasks that bog me down, but are super important to our business.  Miki has taken so much off my plate to allow me to focus on other aspects of the business and to maybe take a weekend off here and there!

Saira, our shop manager, will be celebrating her two year anniversary with us next month. Saira is also a Boss Lady herself, she is a photographer and a writer when she isn’t managing our storefront. She has taken a lot of our Boss Lady photos on the blog and has been taking the lead on our photo shoots recently.

Next we have Cassy, she is a very integral part to Bella Vita. Cassy helps in the studio a few hours a week when she gets out of classes at UALR. Hopefully she will never get tired of polishing charms and cutting chains!

And last but not least, is Ashley.  She is our newest addition that works as a piece worker (contract, as we have the need for help) and is literally a God send that came to me with wire wrapping experience - a skill that doesn’t just walk through the front door every day! To this point, I had been doing all the wire wrapping but now Ashley has been able to take a lot of that off my plate. I can’t imagine how bad I’d be freaking out if we hadn’t connected with her back in January! I’d like to extend a huge thank you to these ladies! I truly appreciate you all!

I definitely couldn’t do what I do without the help of my employees. Owning a business is not easy. No one ever told me it was, and I’ll never say it is easy. Earlier this year, as many of you might know, my shop had a little flood. My number one goal this year was to take a big breath after the holiday hustle and to work smarter, not harder. Well, I didn’t get to start off the new year with that fresh breath because I spent the extra time (that I didn’t have) cleaning up from a flood from a burst pipe and adapting to the setback of this unexpected flood.  As the boss of any business, you wear many hats. During the remodel, I saw myself in a hard hat, thinking hat, and the “I’d rather be at the beach” hat -- all of the hats! What I learned from the flood is that I can handle just about anything this crazy lil business throws at me!

It's very difficult to balance work and life, and to not work too much. I do work too much, but I personally love to stay busy. I have a side hustle called Bella Vita Vintage, I love to cook three meals a day when I can, I stay busy in the summer with our garden and find weeding and pruning flowers to be VERY therapeutic at the end of a long day at the studio.  I also have a passion for Downtown Little Rock and have volunteered with the Main Street Food Truck Festival for the past 3 years, and most recently volunteered to be the Co-Chair of 2nd Friday Art Night Committee. I think it is important to spend some time giving back to my community, the one that supports my business.  When you run a business, you very rarely ever get to “turn it all off”, which can be challenging. But I try to find moments where I can!  The good and rewarding times very much so outweigh the struggles for me.  I do get to set my own schedule, pave my own path, take a long lunch if I want, or heck even take the day off if I want.

I talk about all this because I want to be real. I love talking small business and hope that these Blog posts continue to inspire anyone interested in starting a business. Like I said at the beginning, there are currently 29 interviews to read and more to come. Go read them!

I’d like to extend a HUGE thank you to all the Boss Ladies that have given their time to answer the question and to participate in Boss Lady. We have an exciting lineup for the next few weeks and as always, we are taking recommendations on Boss Ladies to interview! The only criteria is that they are 100% self employed. And please feel free to nominate yourself!  Recommendations/nominations don’t have to be local to Little Rock. We love having a diverse group from all around the country or even around the world! 

Thanks for reading this far and cheers to another year in business and to another year of brilliant, bold, boss ladies, so that we can see and celebrate our potential as amazing women.

February 28, 2018 — Brandy McNair

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