I’m just back from an energizing, exciting, and exhausting retreat with my business partners. Sound glamorous? Not exactly. Picture the four top Mabel Mommas locked in a hotel conference room together, hanging out for 16 hours a day, putting heads and hearts together and discussing everything Mabel.
One of the topics we always discuss is our corporate culture. Like many of you, we have the daily battle of striking the work/life balance. Heck, we’ve got 11 kids between us, some kind of balance is a necessity. Because this is a priority, we have created a workplace that provides some flexibility. We have a handful of Mabel Momma employees whose work hours are based around school hours – they rock up to the Mabel digs after school drop-off, and say ‘adios’ just before school pick up. It’s not unusual to walk into the production area and see a kid hanging out, face buried in a Harry Potter book as Momma finishes sending off that last package of the day.
One thing that became abundantly clear on our retreat is that our husbands (fondly referred to as ‘the Mabel Widowers’) may have TOO clear an understanding of our corporate culture.
Get this: one of my business partners calls the office yesterday to check in. To her shock and disbelief, she discovers that her nine-year-old son is at the office. Why? How? She asked those same questions!
It goes like this: - son complained of a tummy ache at school. - School knows mom is away, so calls husband at work. - Husband picks son up from school and needing to return to work, tries to problem solve his dilemma. - Husband shocks himself with his brilliant solution. - Husband drops sick son to Mabel’s Labels office where one of his wife’s senior employees can take care of him.
Yes, you read that correctly. Sick son is at Mom’s office (while Mom is out of town at retreat) and senior employee takes care of sick son.
It gets weirder: neither husband nor senior employee found this to be a strange solution.
Safe to say, our corporate culture message is coming across loud and clear!
It seems to be happening again! As you know, Mabel has been celebrating her 5th Birthday. It has been a huge time for us. Wonderful cards and emails have been pouring in from fans, friends, customers and strangers. Check out the amazing hand-made puppet sent to us by our dear friend Linda Leffler of Nova Scotia! Thank you Linda!! We LOVE her! “Flat Mabel” is going to start travelling with us. We’ll send you updates!
Five years ago today, we had our first production day. We spent more than a year researching how to make labels, but when we finally had orders to fill – that was the real thrill! It seems hilarious looking back. Everything was an experiment. Our idea of “busy” was hilarious. We’ve definitely learned a lot. These are some of the things I’ve learned:
If you don’t love it – don’t do it. If you don’t LOVE a design, a product, a sales pitch, a colour, a sentence, a photo.. anything – don’t do it! There have been times when we thought “I don’t really like this, but some people might like this”. Turns out – we are our best test market and we can’t stand behind anything we don’t love.
Authenticity can’t be faked. We know this is true because as consumers we can spot it in other companies. Being honest, being true and being authentic has served us well.
Sleep is a waste of time, but so precious. Should have learned this as a student. Should have learned this as a Mom. But babies + growing business brought us a whole new perspective on sleep!
Women ROCK. We are still amazed, warmed and propelled by the power of women to support each other. Bloggers, journalists, our staff, teachers, friends, moms, mompreneurs, retailers, strangers… we owe everything to the power of Women and their kind word-of-mouth.
Quality will get you everywhere. That’s just so obvious – but so many companies miss the mark!
There is a lot of Karma in business. Can’t explain it. There just is. It works for us every day. This is a lesson learned for me, because I really didn’t understand Karma before starting this business and meeting with so many incredible opportunities.
There are many more things I’ve learned, but these are the things I need to keep learning and keep practicing (along with ‘how does Google work?’ and ‘how do I get on Oprah‘?).