July is National Independent Retailer Month! I am lucky to work with some incredible small businesses that fall into or around that category. So I'm going to share with you some of my favorites this month.
I met Brit Brown when she was still working as a full-time photographer. She was in need of some social media help in terms of someone providing guidance as to when and what she should be posting. She was my first consulting services-only client. We worked together for a period of time until she had things figured out and stayed friends after. Over the last several years I've watched her change the focus of her photography business, a global pandemic shut down said business, her discover TikTok, go viral on TikTok and launch three incredibly successful businesses based on the response she got from one product she launch on TikTok.
Let me tell you a little bit about each of her businesses:
• Imperfect Inspiration: This is the business that launched it all. I remember late one night when a message popped up in Facebook Messenger "Hey, I know you love your planner but will you look at this and tell me if it makes sense?" I opened the file to find a fun, beautiful, and functional planner all built around Neurodivergent Brains like Brit's (and mine which is a story for another day). She had been struggling to find a planner that worked for her that she didn't close and completely ignore. So she did research on bullet journal styles, what a Neurodivergent brain would react to, and put her design skills to work to design her own planner. It worked for her so she thought it might work for someone else. She made a TikTok about it and BOOM almost overnight it blew up. The first pre-order sold out quickly, which led to more and more. Then it led to more products. Planners for families, teachers, business owners, and students. Then Project Planners, Goal Setting items, Budget Planners, and Meeting Notes pages. Products in notepads, reusable laminated pages, and digital downloads that work on a tablet or can be customized in Canva by the end-user. Eventually, it led to the bound planner she swore she'd never make because the reason planners didn't work for her was that if she closed them she never opened them again. But she found the perfect way to work around that, a discbound planner. All of those products led to her outgrowing her first space that she was subletting, into a second space that was in a live-work office with street-level access. She was quickly featured by local news outlets and even The Today Show. All of that attention led to people stopping and knocking on the door of her office asking if they could buy products from her directly which led to....
• Copy + Paste DSM: Her original plan hadn't been to open a retail store, at least not that quickly, but enough people just started stopping in to see if they could buy a planner instead of ordering it online and she knew that meant it was time to expand, start a second business and create the greatest, snarkiest gift shop and stationery store you've ever seen. Copy + Paste was born at the end of 2021 just in time to have items available for people for Christmas shopping. She ships nationwide and carries some of the greatest gifts, cards, coffee mugs, tote bags, and so much more. Plus all of the Imperfect Inspiration planner products. My favorite items I've grabbed from Copy + Paste are:
Tote Bags - Mine says "Lover of Cancelled Plans" which is probably the most accurate thing about me.
My Conquering - I technically have two, one I purchased from Copy + Paste and one I bought directly from the company. The spinners are a Compass Rose and one says "Do Epic Shit."
Copy + Paste wasn't the end for Brit. She knew there was something she wanted to create and she worked hard to research, prepare and launch...
• The Brainfetti ADHD Subscription Box: Which sold out a whole lot faster than she imagined. I'm proud to say I was the first subscriber, which wasn't because I was proofreading the website before she launched the link, though I could've snuck in there and done it and no one would've known. This subscription box currently ships every other month and is filled with everything from Imperfect Inspiration planners to stickers to items that meet that month's theme, like the fabulous rainbow fan that was included in June's ROYGBIV/PRIDE-themed box or the fidgets that sit on my desk to keep my hands busy while I work every day. She occasionally has the ability to open up more spots on the subscription box so sign up and don't miss out on your shot!
If you want to shop Imperfect Inspiration or Copy + Paste in person head to their shop which is located just south of downtown in Des Moines at 340 SW 5th Street, Suite 121. In the most exciting news, Imperfect Inspiration is in the process of moving into a warehouse because they've now outgrown the second and third spaces they called home. Copy + Paste will be staying on SW 5th but the planner production and subscription boxes will be moving to their new home very soon.
Watching Brit's success grow out of one of the hardest experiences anyone could have in watching their business close because of something outside of their control has made me incredibly proud to call her my friend and also SO INSPIRED to keep believing in the biggest, scariest of my dreams because anything is possible. The only way it isn't possible is if you don't try.