She’s A Total Betty is a mini shout-out to the fabulous women crushing it in the world of business with confidence and style. Hosted by our friends Business Betties, this ongoing highlight series explores the entrepreneur in conversation and stunning visual images.
Business Betties recently attended the Wayfair Heart Home Conference in Boston where they met Alexandra Ferguson. It was inspiring to hear her story of turning a part-time Etsy shop into a thriving manufacturing company, who just happens to make incredibly stylish pillows, travel cases, tote bags and table linens that say what everyone else is thinking.
Allison Biggs and Suzanne Larocque (the women behind Business Betties) enjoyed visiting her studio space in Brooklyn, NY to see firsthand her manufacturing process and super sassy products.
Business Betties: Your business started as an Etsy shop. What were you doing before that?
Ferguson: My background is in the fashion industry, specifically in technical design and sample room management. So I spent my career working closely with designers, pattern makers, sewers and factories to turn sketches into clothes that fit.
Business Betties: How did you know it was time to move beyond Etsy?
Ferguson: We still are very active on Etsy today. In fact, I also sit on their Manufacturing Advisory Board. However, I recognized very early on – within 3-4 months – that if I wanted this company to be my full time job that I would have to diversify my distribution, so we started selling wholesale to local boutiques.
Business Betties: What skills did you learn early in your career that have helped you in your business?
Ferguson: Clear and simple communication is a unique skill I learned working with factories overseas. For a decade, I explained detailed fit comments and sampling instructions to someone who’s English was their second language. I realize now that organizing information so that it is foolproof is an art-form that is just as important no matter who you are working with.
Business Betties: Is there a particular obstacle or challenge that stands out when you were transitioning out of your at-home business?
Ferguson: I worked full time for the first three years that I had my company, with a small team helping me with manufacturing and day-to-day management. Eventually though, the company grew too big for me to only work on it nights and weekends. The first six months that I was working full time were the hardest – not only did I no longer have my regular salary, but I also had to define my role now that I had 40 hours a week to spend in it. I remember sitting at my desk that first day, and thinking to myself, ‘well now what do I do?’
To read the complete chat and learn more about her company, click here.