Here at The Styled Child, we love featuring small businesses, especially run by moms! I have featured business in the past on the blog but wanted to feature more MOM created/run businesses as I know how difficult it is to raise a family and run a business. Take a look below for my interview with The Legwear Shop's founder, Antonella.
Tell us about yourself and your shop. What do you sell?
Tell us about yourself and your shop. What do you sell?
Hello! My name is Antonella Caggianiello. I am a proud mom of three kids. After over 20 years in the financial industry working downtown Toronto we decided it was time for a change.
My husband and I fully supported the idea of starting my own business and work from home. We did some research and found out that the number one piece of women’s clothing that surpassed jeans sales in recent history was leggings/yoga pants!
Hence the birth of www.mylegwearshop.com. It launched in April 1, 2015. It’s an online shop offering the busy moms and women of this day and age a convenient place to shop for all their legwear needs. We also offer legwear and tops for girls big and small (from infant to teens). We offer a variety of activewear, yoga pants, capris, leggings, jeggings, hosiery, school socks, shapewear and even some tops to pair with your legwear. We also have a plus size line.
There has been a rise of online shopping as the convenience is right at your fingertips. Moms love to save time and money and having an online shop reduces overhead costs of owning a store. Our core principle is "CCC" (Comfort, Confidence and Convenience). We believe that we should not have to compromise or forgo "comfort" to look great and most importantly, feel "confident" in our own skin!
The convenience is available at the tip of your fingers. My Legwear Shop (powered by Shopify) offers mobile and secure online shopping. Our own brand, Slymwear is made in Canada and is exclusive to My Legwear Shop. It features premium quality athletic wear suitable for all types of activities! The nylon used is made to feel silky and smooth...a second skin so you can breathe and flex. With a high percentage of Spandex that is engineered into the fabric, your clothing will keep its shape forever. The breathability in this clothing allows it to dry faster than cotton, it won't fade, wrinkle, snag or pill. This premium line is ideal for yoga, dance, running, cycling, gymnastics or everyday casual wear. Premium active wear is available in a large assortment of colours and sizes from XS to 4XL.
Slymwear also offers a collection of "Bamboo Naturals" and is unparalleled for its blissfully soft feel and flattering fit. The added spandex gives the fabric a little extra give when moving around. Bamboo is antibacterial, odor resistant, has natural wicking properties and is static free. The natural properties of bamboo keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. All of the Bamboo used in this line is pre-shrunk will maintain its properties for over 50 washes!
What was your situation before you started this business? Were you always a business owner, or did you have a more traditional career?
As I mentioned above, I worked in the financial industry in downtown Toronto travelling from Richmond Hill over 1 hour to and from work. With pickups and drop offs with three kids and trying to cope with the rat race, we decided it was not the life we wanted. We felt like we were shoving our family needs aside. Both my husband and I worked downtown Toronto and we decided it was time to find something to keep me happy, engaged and earning some income at home. The benefits of working at home, in our view, outweighed the opportunity cost of bringing in a steady pay cheque. The value of staying at home would pay dividends in the future. Being able to do the things I was unable to do previously like participate in school events and cook proper meals before a soccer game instead of grabbing take out. And no, I never owned my own business. I was earning a good income and worked my way up the corporate ladder. But no amount of money could get rid of that feeling that my life was not as I envisioned it to be. I wanted to devote more time at home and for my family. My heart was at home. So giving up the traditional career with an amazing job that I actually loved and was good at, was not an easy decision. But one look at the happy faces of my little ones who are happy to have mom at home, made this decision a piece of cake.
What has been the most difficult aspect of being a Mom with a Small Business?
The main hurdle I am facing right now, after being home since end of June this year and giving up my job of over 20 year, giving up the steady income and the stability for something that is not guaranteed. As a working mother and woman, I can’t get rid of that mentality that I am “worth less” or am less of a contributor to my family because I am not bringing in a steady income.
Who are your customers, and how do you serve them? Was there a pressing problem you were trying to solve with your product?
I can definitely relate to the stay at home mom and working mother. After I had my first child and Christmas came, I took to online shopping as it saved me the time and aggravation of mall hopping to find a perfect gift. So my customer is the busy mom, working mom or busy woman of this age who loves to shop online. I realize not everyone is comfortable with shopping (especially clothing) online. But there are many who are comfortable with it. With adequate disclosure and information given to your customers and by offering personal service to them on sizing or questions on product, you eliminate a lot of the unease with online shopping.
What resources or tools did you find most helpful when you were getting started?
I use Facebook a lot and follow pages such as Social Media Examiner, which offer tools, tips and blogs for learning about SEO, Keywords and Social Media Marketing. Social Media is the main tool for me as I am constantly looking for new tips and learning. This business was a huge shift out of my comfort zone. I have never owned my own business (let alone an online business) or took any marketing courses. So I need all the help I can get and look for freebies and webinars online as well as scope for articles, tips, blogs, resources and group support such as Shopify Entrepreneurs or Women Entrepreneurs of Canada.
What were your biggest mistakes, or biggest wastes of time or money?
Right now I am still learning from my mistakes! I can’t possibly know what everyone wants or likes so I have to remind myself that I can’t meet everyone’s tastes and desires. I know I will end up with product that will not sell. I try to participate in vendor shows that are giving back to a great cause or purpose. Right now, I am a member of the Markham Stouffville Hospital Breast Cancer Gala committee. Excited to give back some time that I never had before for a cause near and dear to my heart.
What kinds of content do you create to help you market your business?
I’ve received feedback and positive outcomes whenever I post pictures of “real women” (i.e. not models) wearing our products. Women can relate to other women to see what the product will look like on them when they are not a size 0!
How do you use social networking in your business (or how does your business benefit from social networking sites)?
As stated in number 8 above, I use social media as my main source for marketing the website. I post pictures of fans wearing our product and created a page on our website called “My Lookbook”. Also, I try to create variety in my posts ranging from funnies, fitness, women in history, inspiring women, changing the perception of beauty in the fashion industry etc. I will often include these type of posts as “news posts” in my stores blog “My Blog”. It includes posts such as Ellen’s video “Yoga Pants Everywhere” and Jessamyn Stanley the inspiring Plus Size Yoga Instructor.
What does your business look like today?
The business is almost 5 months old. When we launched in April, it was the beginning of the spring/summer (slower season for leggings, yoga pants etc). We are now entering our busiest season, fall/winter. I am very excited entering this season and looking forward to more learning experiences!
What’s next for you? What are your next goals?
My goal is to learn from my first year in business and figure out what works and what doesn’t. I am also trying to figure out other avenues for promotion such as Youtube channel and Perioscope.
What advice would you give to mothers trying to start their own businesses?
I have to constantly remind myself the three “Ps” Patience, Perseverance and Positivity. Success is not measured in dollars. Success is whatever threshold or non-nominal value you designate to it. If you have those three “P’s” and constantly remind yourself of them, you will find the happiness and the success you desire.