Editor’s Note: Welcome to From a Founder, a monthly entrepreneur profile about the highs, lows, and plateaus of building a successful brand or business.
For Monet Bush, getting fired from a job she was already intending to leave was the catalyst for committing to her entrepreneurial goals. Letting go of the idea that there was a “right time” for building her business, she got her idea up and running in just two years — and without any seed money.
Today, her wellness-focused marketing and design agency, Earth and Olive, is guided by the same principals it was launched with: to support wellness businesses with affordable, effective services for long term growth and success. Monet talked with Squarespace about what she’s learned from scaling Earth and Olive — from creating residual income, to leveraging good press for her business and her clients, and accepting that motivation will always ebb and flow.
Squarespace: What inspired you to launch your business?
Monet Bush: I was tired of seeing great ideas and products tank due to a lack of corporate tools and funding. Marketing and graphic design are science. There is no such thing as “failing” in marketing. You watch the numbers, and you pivot based on what your audience is saying. It’s simple to monitor and track analytics and make educated design decisions based on that data. For instance, we use a tool at Earth and Olive to follow a set number of visitors to your site. We get to see (anonymously) what these users do when they get to your website. It’s a video play-back of each user and their actions on your website. We get to see where most users became disengaged, where they gravitated to first, where users may have gotten confused. Analyzing this data after making UI/UX decisions is a part of a case study to ensure you are maximizing client/customer retention. Likewise, analyzing said data before making any tweaks to a client coming to us for a brand refresh is just as beneficial.
Many brands in the wellness industry don’t have these tools accessible to them or translate their findings into the decision and marketing realm to keep their brand thriving. After all, “wearing many hats” can sometimes be a curse. Doing it all doesn’t mean you excel at it all — sometimes, it’s just a means to an end until you can afford help. Sadly, sometimes the lack of proper branding and marketing leave many people never making it to the point of being able to afford to pay a team. Often that lack of merging data with design can be the slow death of a business that could be lucrative.
It’s common to see people who are changing the world focus on helping people — or not concerned with presentation as long as they reach their audience to help. While the intention to remain care-based is noble, often these companies crash and burn early or at the 10-year mark where the world has gone through another digital shift. I was tired of seeing wellness brands experience this problem, while brands that cut corners excelled due to funding and data knowledge. Earth and Olive was born with a business model that keeps services affordable yet effective, and solely for the wellness community.
SQSP: What was the first step you took to make it a reality?
MB: I got fired for the first time from a place that I was trying to leave at the “right time.” After being fired, I realized it was always the “right time.” Previously, I’d been in spaces that I wanted to leave, and each time I did, just to go back into the same spaces.
By all means, if you are in the field you love and feel fulfilled, I’m not sharing this in hopes you start the entrepreneurship journey as I did. You can absolutely build your side hustle before making that leap. I was continually building my side hustle for years. But, deciding to grind without my savings where I wanted them to be — without my x’s crossed and i’s dotted — was monumental. I decided to put 100% of my efforts into my business. If I failed, I could always get another job. I stopped splitting my time into making money for other brands while giving what was left of my time to my dream. The 100% focus on Earth and Olive helped me secure collaborations with brands I’d only dreamed of working with, and my work ended up in stores I shopped in to gather inspiration. I built in two years what I’d tried to build in seven.
SQSP: In every entrepreneurial endeavor, there are unexpected risks and challenges. What was the biggest risk you took?
MB: Starting without seed money was my most significant risk to date. Our services make up our money, and being a business that thrives on remaining accessible, yet still charges our worth, was challenging. It took a trip back to the business model to make sure we make money even while we sleep to make sure we could keep prices accessible. Residual income is the addition to our plan that changed the game.
SQSP: What surprised you the most?
MB: The power of the excellent press will never cease to amaze me. You can hop on every opportunity, or you accept/seek out only the options that put you in front of the people that need you and your services.
For example, an urban farm owner might get the opportunity to either speak at a major business conference or at a local farming conference. The local farming conference keynote speaker opportunity may carry a better turnaround rate for getting in front of those who utilize the farm. The business conference opportunity may be better for getting into networking for crowdfunding or funding partners in agriculture. Depending on your needs, one option will serve you better at the time. If you need more local subscribers to the quarterly picking packages, the regional farming conference is your winner. If you are looking to bring on a partner and receive backing, pack your bags for the business conference. The turnaround on good press based on your current needs and having the discernment to know where to spread your efforts is a form of magic to me.
SQSP: After a challenging day, week, or month, what keeps you motivated?
MB: I’ve learned that motivation is not sustainable. It comes and goes. I will not always be motivated. So, I remember this: both avenues are challenging. It’s hard not to reach your goals and live day to day to survive. It’s also hard work to reach your goals, and it comes with challenges you’d sometimes rather avoid. At the end of the day, I chose the path that gets me closer to sunbathing on the family yacht rather than the one that keeps me in a cycle of hardships without reaching my end goal. If I’m going to suffer, it will be for building my empire, not someone else’s. Miss me with that.
SQSP: How has your online presence contributed to your business success?
MB: Our online presence is an extended form of us. We could be selling to someone in Canada while we are sleeping or getting a subscriber from LA while closing our computer to end the day. The day is never done for an entrepreneur, but it should be — making systems to work for you is how you keep self-care primary. You are one person, but your business automation is your army. Our online presence has worn the hat for business acquisition many times. It will continue to serve if we keep evolving it, even when there is a dedicated business acquisition team member.
SQSP: How do you see your online presence evolving in the future?
MB: We are currently looking to bring on more team members to focus on new code injections on our website. We want to share a lot more of our past/current work with easy UI/UX controls that interact with our viewers. We are also streamlining our client portals so they can log in and save their passwords.
Lastly, we just launched our free digital quarterly zine for entrepreneurs in the wellness industry or anybody with big dreams of doing good things for others. The zine is a lead up to our digital store launch and a blog for design knowledge at the interweb’s fingertips.
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