Episode 79 – Chynna Hansen, Little Mama Shirt Shop
Mom's Supporting Mom's
On an initial investment of $400, Chynna Hansen started an on-line shirt shop as a way to make extra income to help pay household bills while her husband went to school. “I think I didn't know I was an entrepreneur maybe even when I was,” Chynna said about the business success.
Chynna saw that graphic tees were gaining popularity but most of them did not have a flattering fit. “It struck me one day. The name came to me first,” Chynna said. She started with seven designs and worked with a local screen-printer. Starting on Etsy and then announcing it on Facebook live the idea was a success. “It was a lot of hustle. We dumped everything into the business for the first seven months,” she said. Chynna is known for the saying Bringing Up Boys and has trademarked the saying as her design.
“I was meant to be my own boss even if that came with a lot of heartache and a lot of struggle, it was what I was meant to do,” Chynna said. Chynna admits that she hadn't really accepted that she has a business until last year. There wasn't a ton of pressure on the business and Chynna was able to focus on the LMSS community, which has since changed as her husband has left his full-time job and joined the company.
LMSS has a VIP group of around 8000 members. Considering the group, Chynna admits that she's scared to grow it because she likes the intimacy of the group how it currently is. The VIP group provides early access to sales, advice, and general mom “stuff”. It's important to Chynna to be active in the group on a daily basis and she feels the personal touch has made all the difference. She likes showing that they are truly a family business and look just like their customers.
“We have worked hard to build a reputation of always mom's supporting moms,” Chynna said, “We always say it's more than shirts.” A lot of the moms resonate with the need for community. Looking back Chynna sees that she was lonely as a mom raising her kids. “Being brave and vulnerable to put out there that motherhood is lonely,” Chynna explained, was a scary situation for her but she knew she needed to do it for herself and others who felt the same way. She wanted to create a place to share information and uplift without judgment of each other.
Although followers and customers don't see everything that is happening behind the scenes Chynna works hard to show her business model is pretty transparent.
Chynna came from an entrepreneurial family but never really understood the impact that had on her. She admits she has had good mentors in her parents and they have always been there to answer her questions based on their own experiences. A lot of what she has learned has been self-taught and by trial and error by just diving in.
When asked about working with your spouse, she admitted it can be difficult but Chynna said she loves it. “He has a lot of good ideas and has phrases for shirts too,” she said. When her husband recently left his full-time job it was a risk but she admitted she needed him to help grow the business.
Chynna said that they have a supportive community but it has not come without some critics. “With eCommerce, people forget that there is a person operating behind the screen. You can't please every person, but you can try,” Chynna said. She said she has worked through it by just figuring it out, and knowing she's not alone because she has the whole community of LMSS behind her. “We have to choose every day to go in the positive direction that works,” Chynna said.
When asked about the most difficult thing in starting a business she explained that scaling was more difficult than starting. “There was less at stake, less pressure,” she said. She and her team are working hard to find resources to solve the problems that arise and even though that can be a bit intimidating their team is committed to LMSS success.
The future of the business is always on Chynna's mind and she and her husband are looking to bigger plans for the future. She says she's not looking for giant warehouses and 100's of employees but anything is possible.
For more information on Little Mama Shirt Shop, visit their website at https://littlemamashirtshop.com/. You can find LMSS on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/littlemamashirtshop and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/littlemamashirtshop/.
Business Leadership Moment
Job descriptions and role clarity. Are you experiencing a different role than what your job description says? Does it say leader and yet you are acting like a job support staff? Time to self examine!