After a 16-year career in the corporate world, Amanda Marsh decided that she was done playing it safe. With a little encouragement from a very special birthday card, Marsh took a leap of faith. It took hard work, long hours, and an incredible amount of determination but from that came Blume, an eclectic home décor shop full of vintage and hand-made goods. Located in historic downtown Lebanon, Ohio Blume has all of the personality and charm you could need for your home.
Tell us about your business and how you became the successful business woman you are today.
I had always wanted to own a business of my own and work for myself, however, when I was younger, I didn't know what that might be. To prepare, I pursued a Bachelor's degree in Accounting. My father had always told me that knowing the numbers was the most important piece to any business, so I took his advice. For about sixteen years, I worked in the corporate accounting field. It felt safe and secure and seemed like the right thing to do to keep our family financially stable. About five years ago, I got the creative itch, went part-time at my accounting job, and started doing things on the side to fulfill that artistic void. I had always loved home decorating. Friends and family would always tell me that I had "missed my calling". I started to think more and more about how I could have "missed" my calling and, in my late thirties, had already given up on my dream of owning my own business. With much encouragement from my husband and three children, I started to get serious about working on my business plan. On my 37th birthday, my daughter gave me a card that said that she believed in me and that "I was just as good as Joanna Gaines". It seems funny now, but looking back, this was the first of many "signs" that it was the right time to take the leap of faith.
Describe yourself in three words.
Ambitious, Dedicated & an Old Soul
What do you consider your greatest professional achievement?
Turning a 200-year-old building that was in ruin into a beautiful space that brings others so much joy.
What are your professional goals for the next six months?
Working on my website and gaining more of an online presence where customers could purchase online. I would also like to do more at home decorating consultations for customers that need help rethinking their current space(s).
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
My husband and I have always wanted to get into flipping houses. I think our focus would be on older homes that have been let go over the years or been stripped of their original character and charm. I would also love to incorporate floral design and/or event planning into my current business plan.
How do you maintain a work life balance?
In retail, there are always times that are busier than others. So, I have learned to take advantage of those slower times and make the most of them. Fortunately, over the past six months, I have also been able to hire more employees with a few of them being very like-minded to myself. I feel comfortable taking a day off and trusting that when I come back, all will be in order. The first year is always a challenge though as you may not have the staffing to take time off. I have found it advantageous to be closed one day a week to recoup, run errands, take my kids to appointments or just have some downtime. If you love what you do though, it doesn't feel like work and you enjoy life more regardless of the hours. Our business is truly a "family business" so there are some Friday nights when our whole family is there late eating pizza and listening to music while I work to get ready for a busy weekend.
What websites do you visit every day?
My top 3 are probably Etsy, Pinterest and my banking website. I have found a lot of great vendors through Etsy Wholesale that I currently have stocked in my shop. If I have an idea for a product for the shop, I can always find someone that makes it on Etsy Wholesale. Pinterest is great to get inspired for shop displays. We are also building a custom home right now so much of my recent time on Pinterest has been searching for house ideas. Being my own bookkeeper, I find that I like to keep up with my books almost daily, so I am always on my banking website.
What are your top three favorite people/places/things to do in your city?
I love finding hidden gems in the city whether it be an eclectic boutique or a cozy coffee shop or bakery. My absolute favorite restaurant in Cincinnati is Wildflower Cafe. They have a "farm to table" menu that changes every season and the charming setting is right up my alley. I also love spending time at floral and garden centers for inspiration. My two favorites are Morning Sun Flower Farm in College Corner and Greenfield Plant Farm in Maineville. My family and I also spend a lot of time in Loveland along the Little Miami River and Bike Trail. It has a similar charm to Lebanon but is a pleasant change when we are looking to get out of our hometown for the day. Anytime I am near the Kenwood Mall, I must stop in Anthropologie. It's my "go-to" shop to unwind and get inspired.
What is your goal for retirement?
I would love to purchase and fix up a run-down beach cottage where my husband and I could spend a lot of time during the year with our children and grandchildren.
Do you have any advice for women who would like to start their own business?
-It can be very overwhelming when you are just starting out. I had kept an "inspiration journal" for about ten years before I opened with these ideas but didn't really start putting a game plan together until about a year before I opened. I spent the first three months researching potential locations. Your location is probably the key factor that will determine how successful your business will be. I preferred to be closer to home and luckily for me, Lebanon was "up and coming" in terms of similar businesses in the area and they seemed to be thriving. You have to ensure that you can differentiate yourself from other competitors which means that you need to know what they have to offer in order to set yourself apart. It can also be challenging to be the first one to take the risk if the location is not ideal. -If you are just starting out with your concept, it is advantageous to talk to other business owners to see how they got started and what they learned in those first few years. When I was still in my planning phase, I had stumbled across a similar shop to the one I wanted to open when I was out of town. I then later contacted that business owner and made a trip to meet with her and discuss how she got her start just general questions on day to day operations and financial projections. The SBA also offers free sessions with retired professionals to guide you through the process. -Perhaps one of the most important things about owning your own business is that you need to know how your business is performing financially. If you do not have a business or accounting background, take a few general classes. This will be helpful both in the planning phase as you need to ensure that your concept is profitable before you begin, and ongoing in day to day business activities. -My last piece of advice would be to spend money on advertising your business well before it is open. Spend advertising dollars where it counts and where your core target market will see it. This will ensure a strong sales start as customers will be aware of your opening date and start to get familiar what your business has to offer.
Any final comments?
There is a quote on a sign I have hanging in my shop right now that I adore and always gets me thinking...."When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have one single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me.'"-Erma Bombeck Entrepreneurship is not easy. It will push you to limits that no other boss has ever pushed you to. There are times when you are exhausted but have to keep going because if you give up, your business will suffer or fail altogether. Although I have had a few regrets along the way, there are no second thoughts that I should not have taken this leap of faith two and a half years ago. I have a true passion for what I do. The more passionate you are about your work, the more dedicated you will be in making sure that you succeed.
Well I have finally recovered from the plague that was going around town and survived the “blizzard” of 2018 so now I can update all of you on how wonderful our first ladies’ night of the year was!!
Matt the Miller’s Tavern in West Chester was our host this month and I couldn’t have asked for a better venue. The restaurant offers a small banquet room that was perfect for mingling and meeting all our wonderful vendors. The $5 happy hour specials were perfect and offered a little bit of everything and it was all delicious. And the staff was incredibly attentive and made sure that everyone was very well taken care of. If you are ever looking for a place to host a small get together, whether it is for business or pleasure, you should give the manager, Michael, a call. He was a gem to work with!!
This month I really tried to focus on pampering the guests and helping everyone start the new year off on the right foot. Some of the ladies from Lunatic Fringe Salon were there offering a complimentary braid and curl bar. The salon is located on Yankee road in Liberty Township just a hop, skip, and a jump from the highway. Their signature is the “stress relieving shampoo experience”. You get a relaxing shampoo, a scalp and neck massage, and a make-up retouch with every service. That is something all of us could use after the holidays!!
Karly Danos from Pure Romance brought some of the products from the amazing bath and beauty line. If you haven’t had a chance to check out everything that Pure Romance has to offer you can hop into Karly’s VIP Facebook group, PR by KD VIP Status, to learn more. And if you are ever looking for girls’ night out ideas Karly is so much fun to host a party with!!
Jeanne Debord was there to give all the ladies lips that don’t quit with all her wonderful Lipsense colors! Senegence has an entire line of long lasting cosmetics and you can find all of them in Jeanne’s Facebook group, Lips on Point by Jeanne Debord. You can even message her directly to order!
The newest addition to the West Chester community is REVolution smoothie bar and supplement store. They had their grand opening Monday, January 15th! Owner, Sammi Baumgartner, joined us with tons of yummy samples and information on how to fuel our bodies with the nutrients we need. Be sure to check out the store. It is located at 7324 Kingsgate Way Drive in West Chester.
Did you know that you could get better more youthful looking skin by working from the inside out?? Lisa Harris with Nerium introduced us to Youth Factor, a two-step system with a delicious berry flavored drink that helps to boost your body into an optimal state of well-being. Lisa’s website (http://lisadharris.nerium.com) has tons of valuable information on the Youth Factor system and all their other skin care and wellness products.
The ladies from the Liberty Center’s Kendra Scott jewelry store brought their trunk show to the party and it took some serious willpower to try and not buy every single item! I absolutely love everything they have. Kendra Scott is a Texas based designer and they are slowly making their way across the Mason-Dixon and I couldn’t be happier about it. They offered 15% off all purchases made throughout the evening and they even gave away 10 free jewelry pieces!!
Oh, and I can’t forget our photographer!! Lisa Wilsey from Heart Photography was there to capture all the fun. Lisa specializes in love and works with couples from the proposal until they are walking down the aisle. If you or anyone you know got engaged this holiday season give Lisa a call. She also mentioned to me that one of her goals is to shoot at least one wedding in every single state. So, if any of you readers aren’t from Ohio, don’t worry, maybe she’ll come to you!
We had such a great time this month. I saw some familiar faces and met more wonderful women. I can’t wait to see everyone next time!
I am the mother to one wild child and 2 fur babies. I have lived in the Cincinnati area my entire life. It is unbelievable the amount of things there are to do and see in this city and I can't wait to share them with you! Stay tuned for announcements about our monthly Girls' Night Out events and opportunities to showcase local businesses.