293: How Ericka Chambers is Building Her Brand, Puzzles of Color, While Working Full Time

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293: How Ericka Chambers is Building Her Brand, Puzzles of Color, While Working Full Time

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Today in the guest chair we have Ericka Chambers, CEO and Co-Founder of Puzzles of Color. Ericka and her brother founded this business in the middle of the pandemic. She used that idle time to really think through something that her and her family has done for years, which is build puzzles together. And the one thing they realized was lacking was puzzles featuring people of color. After unsuccessfully trying to convince other people to launch this business, Ericka and her brother finally realized it was up to them to solve this problem.

In this episode we discuss:

  • How they started, how they’re growing, how they’re learning what to delegate
  • Working with artists of color to license their pieces and turn them into puzzles
  • Juggling the business and parenting while side hustling

And so much more! Check out this episode and others on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Soundcloud, and YouTube 

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Puzzles of Color- @PuzzlesofColor

Nicaila Matthews Okome 0:02

You're listening to side hustle Pro, the podcast that teaches you to build and grow your side hustle from passion project to profitable business. And I'm your host, Nicaila Matthews Okome. So let's get started. Hey, Hey guys, welcome. Welcome back to the show. It's Nicaila here. And today in the guest chair, we have Ericka Chambers, the CEO and co founder of Puzzles of Color. Now I really enjoyed what Ericka had to say about how she and her brother co founded this business smack dab in the middle of a pandemic. She used that idle time to really think through something that her and her family had done for years, which is building puzzles together. And the one thing they realized was lacking were puzzles that showcase people of color. And after trying to get other people to do it, Ericka and her brother finally realized it was up to them to solve this problem. So we get into how they started, how they're brewing, how they're realizing what to take off their plate, and what to keep on their plate and so much more. So let's get right into it.

Welcome, welcome. Welcome to the guest here, Ericka. So happy to have you.

Ericka Chambers 1:24

Thank you. I'm glad to be here. Yeah.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 1:26

So for those of you who don't know, Ericka, can you share a little bit more about you know who you are, what you currently do and what your businesses? Sure, absolutely.

Ericka Chambers 1:36

I am Ericka chambers. My business is Puzzles of Color. And we actually work with artists of color exclusively to license our pieces and turn them into puzzles. So we have anything from some smaller like 60 piece puzzles all the way up to 1000 piece puzzles with the majority of our puzzles being 500,000 piece. But yeah, my it's a family run business. My brother and I are like, you know, in the daily grind of also very involved parents that are all they're also really helped with the business as well. But yeah, we have been in business since July of 2020. So we are pandemic baby.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 2:15

Oh, yeah, obviously a side hustler. Now tell me, was this your first experience with side hustling? Or have you started other side businesses before?

Ericka Chambers 2:24

This is my first experience my brother is a lot more adventurous as far as like as always wanted to have his own business. He's always he's had several throughout, you know, his lifetime. But I have I've always thought about being an entrepreneur, but never actually done it. So this is my first like, official step in that in that world. And this is my first time.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 2:47

Oh, cool. So why puzzles of color? How did this come to be? And you know, where did the inspiration come from?

Ericka Chambers 2:56

We actually grew up doing puzzles as a family. Since we were very, very young, like elementary school age, my mom always had made sure that we had a puzzle to do to entertain during the winter break. She's a lawyer. So she's like, I don't have time to like, keep up with you kids. You're out of school, but I still have to work. And so like it was something that she gave us as like a way to keep us entertained to keep us out of her hair basically. Um, and we just really, you know, enjoyed it and glommed on to it, like for years, we did the same puzzle over and over. And then every year, we just got excited about like, what puzzle we're gonna buy. This year, we're gonna, we're gonna do 1000 We're gonna do a 1500 Like it's growing and growing and growing. And so as we got older, we realized, like, we were never finding my mom was really big about like, making sure we there was representation. And so for her if it was not a black person on it, like, she's, of course, you know, appreciate all races, but she's like, I want you to see why people because we lived in a lot of predominantly white neighborhoods and schools. And so for her, like she was looking for puzzles that have white people, and it was really difficult to do. We found a few, but not very many. And so as I got older, I noticed that was still an issue. And so when I was pregnant back in 2019, I was doing a puzzle, putting a puzzle together to put in my nursery. And I realized like, I cannot find a black puzzle to save my life.

And so that was kind of like

where I said like, Hey, William, you have a friend that's an artist like, you think she would be interested in turning her asserting that piece that I love so much into a puzzle, and then we just like, you know, grew from there.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 4:33

So William being your brother? Yes, yes. Okay. So at that time, did you think it would become a business or were you just thinking I want to commission this one time? Puzzle artwork.

Ericka Chambers 4:45

Well, the idea was a one time thing and I specifically said, Hey, you should tell Kwanzaa this was the artist. You should tell her to make puzzles. Like that was like lobbying over to somebody else, or somebody else a business Yeah, exactly. But then my brother, of course, with his entrepreneur history and experience was like, Oh, that's a great business idea, like you should do this. And then, you know, from there we started, like, looking at other artists, like, you know, the manufacturing, like, really trying to get all the details so that we could, you know, turn into a business. But I will say we definitely have grown much faster than we ever anticipated.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 5:27

Hit on a knee that, you know,

Ericka Chambers 5:30

very true.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 5:36

Where did you even begin, you said you started researching factories and things like that. I mean, do you just kind of Google factory that makes puzzles? How do you even start that process?

Ericka Chambers 5:48

I tell you, that is the hardest part. That was the very hard part. Like guys like figuring out how do puzzles get made. And so we looked up different companies, and we're trying to figure out like, well, how can we make this happen? And a lot of the companies we reached out to just based on like, the quantities that we like, we're like, we don't know what the audience is. So we're like, we order 50, you know, and they're like, Oh, that'll be $40 proposal or something crazy. The amounts were like super high. And we were like, that's not feasible. Like, we can't sell for that. So from there, we ended up actually, I found a book that's called How to Start a puzzle business like I did or something like that. It's literally for every song. So yes, yes. And so a person who had a similar experience of trying to find you know, how to make a puzzle, ended up saying, like, Hey, I did all the research, you don't have to. And so I read the book, like literally overnight, and we had like, it was Juneteenth was like, everybody, we all my family was off work. So we like went up my mom's house had a barbecue. Oh, okay, I read the book. And we, and we started to like, search for like, a roller dye machine. And like the the kind of board you need to like a company that can print and mount and all this stuff.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 7:06

That's amazing. That is amazing. And what I love about that story, too, is the fact that it's Juneteenth. And you're like, Alright, guys, here is how we are going to start this family business, you know, like, how symbolic on that date. So now you do pieces start coming together. But you work full time. So how does your experience and what you do full time, if at all? How does that help with you starting a business and applying that to your own business?

Ericka Chambers 7:35

Well, you know, that is one thing that's beautiful about you know, being in a family business is that my brother and I are very complimentary of each other. So he is a creative, like, he works all the artists and like finds the pieces and, and he has actually he used to work in printing. For a printing company. He's a graphic designer, he did our logo. And so he has that knowledge and that experience. And then on my end i, what used to be I actually went to school for event management. But I ended up in the corporate world doing project management and process management. So I had like that very organized experience. I knew, like how do we get this project done? Like if we say we want a collection by this day? How do we what are the steps to get to that point. And so I kind of handle it the business side of like making sure we get we get our goals, and he handles like the creative.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 8:31

That project management experience. I mean, that alone that just comes in handy. So and I mean, you're sharing experience, I'm sure to just dealing with different personality types, like which my background but okay, I really love that. So, now you guys have started starting things up. Um, it sounds like getting the materials and the physical aspect of the business together. What are some things you started to consider about, you know, what you really need if you're going to make this a serious business, a long term thing? Like what are some ducks that you started to get into a row?

Ericka Chambers 9:07

Well, you know, of course, just the general stuff of like, licensing your business like William when he kept with me, we had a lot of different company names in our head, and he was like, Googling them all like, hey, is this this already exists? Like, you know, we need to go ahead and get the name registered. All that kind of stuff like that generic, just every business needs to have. And when you say registered, you mean get your trademark for it yet? Well, not the trademark. We actually didn't apply for that for a while, but like getting registered with the state. Getting your name. Yeah. You know,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 9:37

like, yeah, I want to clarify that because and yeah, like that. You talked about doing it later because a lot of people get really hung up on Oh, I got to trademark this and all this other stuff. And you know, that could come later. As long as your name is not taken, you know, and you register it and you start putting it in use. not legal advice y'all. Disclaimer not. So many times people change their names and so they start this trademark process and you I was gonna end up using that name. So

Ericka Chambers 10:03

we did we changed our name over time. So like, okay, yeah, yeah, we started we were going to be puzzles by us or something. Remember, and we like we like had registered like that register, but like we had like separated the Facebook page. And we I think we did registered with the state. But then over time, like I was up in the middle that I breastfeeding, and was like, You know what, like, if we really are talking about like, we're working with artists of color, we're, you know, wanting to uplift and show representation, like why not puzzles of color to play on people of color. And so from there, you know, we decided to change everything, change up our name and change how we branded like our color scheme and everything. So it kind of grew. I

Nicaila Matthews Okome 10:47

love the name, I'm almost like, wow, that wasn't taken like that is just like, I'm that person that I love a straightforward. Branding so much easier just makes, like marketing so much easier. Like, yes, you still have to put dollars behind ads and things like that. But when people see the ads, they know what you are, they don't have to take 10 seconds to try to figure out what your business is. That was the plan. So what what have been some of the challenges as you got started, you know, it sounds like it started to sound linear, almost like you did this. He did that. And then everything started to come together. But any tough moments, and how did you deal with

Ericka Chambers 11:32

them? There have been a series of moments. I definitely have had moments where I was laying in bed, like, Why did I do this? I was perfectly fine. Why? And why did I set myself up for all of this work? Is is a constant struggle. We were very fortunate in that. My mother just knows people. She actually went to high school with a person who was actually a local CBS newscaster. And so she said, Hey, we're starting this business, and you really should cover us. And he decided to, to cover us. And then from there, we got national news coverage. And we were on CBS this morning and a few other shows, which was fantastic. However, that was a that was literally I think we had started selling in October. And they put us on the news in January. Okay. And so there was a significant a lot of attention put on us, suddenly, I saw the significant spike stored. And so from there, we ended up we actually used to cut in house, that was the way the book taught us like, this is how you make your own puzzles. And the good thing about that is during COVID, a lot of the puzzle companies were not taking new customers. And so even if we wanted to hire a company, a manufacturing company, we could not find any. Um, and so we learn how to cut our own puzzles. And that was really the story that that was shown across CBS and you know, all the different news casters. And so from there, we got an influx of orders like 1000s of orders within moments. And could no longer keep that up. Because literally, I think we had we had our we knew that we were going to be on the news. Like, we filmed it in December and then air in January. So we knew that was coming. So we like every single day. We're cutting as many puzzles as we could. And yeah, I think we had maybe cut like 2000 puzzles. And we sold out before we the show it even aired in our city. Because it airs of course in the East Coast first and we're like, why are all these sales coming in? We haven't even shown on the T we have it hasn't came up yet and didn't know that it actually does not appear simultaneously. So. So yeah, we had to, you know, handle like, you know, a lot of customer service, things of like, Hey, I'm so sorry, there is going to be a significant delay and you're getting your order.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 14:09

Did you have any help with this at this point, like when you're cutting? I mean, you're also working full time. So like, are you cutting mostly on weekends, because every day can't be devoted to cutting these puzzles and, and responding to people. So how are you managing that new influx?

Ericka Chambers 14:24

Absolutely. So exactly. We cut as much as we could. I mean, I was cutting every day. This isn't my garage. But my brother doesn't live with me. My parents don't live with me. So they were coming on the weekends to cut my brother actually, at the time was working part time. And so he was able to come, you know, a few days a week, and we ended up hiring a friend of his that was laid off during COVID and she was cutting literally all day when I was in meetings and I was like I just hear the machine running in the background. So we were cutting you know, every day but it was definitely listening You know, not nearly as many as days we needed.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 15:05

Oh, my goodness, and then customer service was that you or your friend that you hired or

Ericka Chambers 15:10

that was me, um, I handled every single handle and still do handle every single email that comes in. And I like even like, just after the show aired, it was just a lot of stuff was just people saying like, Oh, thank you so much. I love this idea, you know, that kind of stuff. And like, I made sure that we responded to every single email because I'm like, they took time out of their day to go to the CVS website to go to our website to send us this message. And like that is so special to us. So we responded to every single email.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 15:40

Would you say it's improved since then? So that was in you said January. Now? How's it feeling? Like as the year went on, like, how did you get a handle on managing demand, managing supply and managing fulfillment?

Ericka Chambers 15:56

Well, from there we did I mean, you know, you're talking about challenges, like one of the big challenges was like, eventually, we knew that this was not sustainable, we have to hire a manufacturing company. And so we hired a company that was just getting into the puzzle business, which was a good thing, because it means they could take our orders when other people were saying, No, we're not taking any more, but it was a bad thing, in that they had a lot of issues. And so like they would say, they told me to get our puzzles by mid February, we didn't get down from them until April or May. And so that was an issue. We ended up. So we've gone through different manufacturers. And but eventually, we have we finally have gotten to a better place there. Where we now have a manufacturer that we work with, we have a couple of manufacturer sources that we can work with. And you know, we have puzzles in house where we can like, ship them out as soon as the orders come in. And that has just significantly made things much easier. And so you

Nicaila Matthews Okome 16:56

have more inventory in house now. Absolutely. Oh, wow. And what made you decide to launch a business during the pandemic? Like what? I love the fact that you know, so many people were I mean, that was a rough time. And a lot of people were discouraged from doing anything, but you were encouraged to start this whole new business. Um, what why do you think that is? Well,

Ericka Chambers 17:20

you know, this podcast is about side hustle for me. Actually, the thing that really made the decision for me was after I got back from maternity leave, because I had the idea, we have the idea in 2019. Yeah, didn't start the business till 2020. But my daughter, I came back from maternity leave. And my job had changed. They they moved me to a different department, I was doing some of the same work, but I was doing a lot of different work because it at my day job, I do a lot of things involving events. And there were no events during COVID. And so with that, I was like, I am just not in my passion. And we have this idea that I would be very passionate about. So it was kind of like if I'm going to be doing something that I don't love, like, how do I balance that? And how do I find something to write to make myself feel, you know, fulfilled outside of this job. And so that was kind of the reason why we started during the pandemic, and also just like, hey, we're not doing anything on the weekends, we're not going out, you know? So like, we can afford to start this business. And it was, it worked out well for us, because like we had like our, you know, COVID bubble, like where we saw each other. We didn't ever have like that feeling of isolation that so many people were having. Yeah, because we were constantly around each other. So the pandemic worked out in that way.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 18:43

Yeah, that's really I love hearing stories like this, because, you know, it's so hard to hear when people you know, have gone through this time. And and while it's understandable, I think it's it's also nice to hear of like, stories like this where you you were able to channel that into something positive and really grow it from there. So guys, have you been thinking about starting your own podcast? So you've been thinking about all these different ideas, or you have one idea that just keeps coming back to you, but you're not sure how to start? Or if you have started, you're not sure why you can't grow it as much as you want to grow it. And you're also confused about how to truly make it your side hustle, right? Like, how do you go from having this show that you do in your closet like I do, to actually making money and actually using it as a platform to grow? Well. That's what I'm here for. I'm going to be teaching you how to make podcasts and your side hustle this Thursday, March 31 7pm. Eastern, go over to podcast moguls.com To register so we can go over some things. All right, and it's also your opportunity to pick my brain stance on the answer. You can get to the q&a and you can ask me anything that you want to ask me about podcasting, you can talk Talk to me about challenges. And I am here as your resource. This training is completely free. I love doing this because you can walk away from this training and completely make a difference in your show. So go over to podcast moguls comm make sure you aren't registered. Again, that's podcast moguls.com to learn how to make podcasting, your side hustle

What about upfront costs in terms of you know, a lot of times people invest a lot of money on the upfront side into their materials and their supply, you know, the cost of goods, and they don't see that profit for a while, what's been your experience with puzzles of color?

Ericka Chambers 20:40

Well, we were really lucky in that the upfront costs weren't insane, like the machine itself, like we we we sourced around and found like a you well, actually, we ended up buying a brand new machine, but we bought it from overseas. And so it was significantly cheaper. We were looking into us and things like that, the dyes and all that stuff, we knew that like margin wise, we were okay. And we knew that if we buy, you know, X amount of the puzzles already on the boards that we'd cut them, and we'd sell them for certain amount. And so we knew that we could balance it out, like oh, we can only if we sell 100 pounds of them, we'll breakeven or whatever it was. Yeah. And so the upfront cuts, costs, luckily, we're not too too bad. The maintenance costs.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 21:26

So what what's involved in maintenance?

Ericka Chambers 21:28

Well, for us now that we have, you know, a manufacturer, and you know, sometimes we're going overseas, sometimes we're local, it's, it gets really expensive shipping of things, the and the cost of like now with the volume, and we're buying is so much higher than what we were buying before. And so that's a lot more upfront costs, you know, and then, you know, hopefully that one bubble sells as well as you as you hope it will. And so that that part, it's like, oh, this is a pretty expensive to keep up, but you know, it takes money to make money. Yeah.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 22:03

Are you having to like pour almost all of it back into like, the next big batch order? Are you able to retain some of that to hire more to pay yourselves like, how, how has it been? Because I mean, it's still it's less than two years old?

Ericka Chambers 22:16

Yeah, yeah. So we did not pay ourselves the whole, we pay ourselves. I think we actually no, we didn't, I was gonna say repairs on the first year, but we didn't. We just started paying ourselves this year, and 22. So we and I, and I was like, Listen, this is too much work for me and not see anything out of it. This was to get paid. And so we I was like, that was like one of the things that I said is the absolute goal this year is to pay ourselves even though we are putting a significant amount back into this. So you know, we're paying ourselves technically, but not enough to live.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 23:01

I like that you said that goal. And you know, what did it take to achieve that goal? In terms of product mix? I'm really curious. Because you you touched on I you know, I hope this puzzle sells? So are you doing any kind of consumer research first? And trying to figure out what's the right amount of puzzles to have on the site? How can we test the puzzle before we go and invest in making a whole bunch? What's that process? Like? Ah,

Ericka Chambers 23:28

it's still very much a work in progress. We have done I know, one puzzle we have just that just came out is called Sisters. And it was actually done by the same artist that did our puzzle that we did in the first section called Black Boy joy. And people were asking for that puzzle they saw they'd seen it on like, the picture that we are artists picture, it was in the background, and they were like, where is that? I want that. And so we've had a few where it was like, Okay, there's a demand for this, like, for the you know, they may see like, Oh, I see we have a puzzle with the father and son can I get up can where's the mom, you know, that kind of thing. So we've had, you know, some feedback as far as that is concerned, and we've been able to to try to find something within that realm. But it is still very also like, hey, we don't have this yet. Like let's try a puzzle with this and see what happens and in and also knowing your demographics like we know that like, we have a lot of female buyers, we know the age ranges that we're working with. And so from there, we kind of think of like what is what is in the mindset of those consumers?

Nicaila Matthews Okome 24:35

Speaking of those consumers now let's touch more on marketing. I know I said that the name speaks for itself. You know, part of the work for you. After the CBS story aired and you know, that dies down a little bit. How do you maintain the marketing? What are some things that you do to generate interest and awareness of your brand?

Ericka Chambers 24:57

You know, we have not run an ad No pain yet, we have been very fortunate in that we got a huge mailing list after CBS. And we've had, we were just recently on the view, and we got an influx in of mailing list there. And so from there, we've really just been able to kind of, like send a lot of like, marketing emails to our, to our existing lists. Um, but I think where we do spend money is events. We have gone, we just came back from South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. We were just at a trade show that we went to in February. So we're trying to, like get out there. Because we know one thing we do know is like when people see us, they buy. And they may not think that you know, you may not always get them on social media ads, but like when they see you in person, they really it's like, oh, wow, I have to have that. So we actually attended the state fair. And we're in Texas, so the Texas State Fair last year, and that's like a month long event, we only did half of it. But we just like got a huge influx of people from there. And that's like just where we really spend a lot of our money is like events. And then we also do have like, of course, like a lot of cross promotion with our artists. Like if our artist has an event going on, we're promoting that. And then the artists are also of course, we're holding their puzzle because they get a percentage of all the sales.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 26:16

Okay. And thank you for mentioning that because I was curious about that. Do you work with more than one artists? Do you? Yeah,

Ericka Chambers 26:23

yep, we have. Out of the 14 puzzles. We have 13 artists. So yeah, we actually,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 26:29

was that a conscious decision to go with more than one person rather than like, have one artists do many different puzzles?

Ericka Chambers 26:36

Yeah, yeah, we I mean, there are definitely some artists where we're like, oh, my gosh, you have so much great stuff, like we're going to have to come back to you. But we did make a conscious decision of working with multiple artists, because like, we want to give multiple artists that platform that we provide. And then also, it's really good because we have different styles like so you may not love the art of blossom, but you may love Do what makes you happy, or you know, whatever, like you, you it gives everybody a chance to find something that speaks to them.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 27:09

Right and matches your aesthetic a little bit. Exactly. I imagine some people you do the puzzle, then you want to frame it. Yeah, just like you know, have it as art. So I think that's, that's a really cool decision. Now, you mentioned your email lists. So you know, email lists, they're one of those things that sometimes people think it's really easy, or it'll just come, you know, organically people will go to your website, but it actually takes some skill to get people to give you that email, especially if they haven't purchased yet. Yeah. So what are some tips that you've learned in your journey so far? What really helps with building that? Email is,

Ericka Chambers 27:47

um, well, we have like a pop up just automatically on our website, and my brother fought me over that he was like, I was like, pop ups you have to do this. Like,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 27:59

I always think about taking Oh, I just need to like I feel bad sometimes. But then you look at those signups.

Ericka Chambers 28:07

I mean, literally, exactly. I'm like, you can give off 5% Like, it could be a tiny amount, but people will do it. Because like, I mean, heck, why not? Like, I mean, even if I'm not gonna buy something now, I'll say I'll use the code will eventually, you know, and so that is a big source. But also when we're events, we you know, ask people to sign up for our mailing list there when we have been on like the TVs or something like that. We've gotten some signups that direction. I think of like other sources, but I think that's really been mostly it. The the pop up is like a big source of our signup. Yes.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 28:41

I am glad that you you mentioned that because, you know, they've even kind of rebranded pop up so that we don't feel as bad as you call them like the Hello Bar. Yeah. Welcome box.

Ericka Chambers 28:52

Yeah, exactly.

Unknown Speaker 28:56

We're doing Yeah,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 28:58

we're welcoming people. And we're saying hello. So just think of it like that, because it actually works, you guys, you might think it's annoying, but do it, test it and you will see that conversion rate is extraordinarily high.

Ericka Chambers 29:11

And then also, there's texts, we also have, like we just recently started doing the text message marketing as well, because I know for me, I sign up for a mailing list, and I don't always see them because they go to that separate promotion box or whatever. And so we actually also have a text, text membership, and it's called like puzzle club. And so from there, you get a discount. And they also hear about like, we had a flash sale for two to two day. And so you know, they get like all kinds of random flash sales and perks from that as well. And what

Nicaila Matthews Okome 29:45

did you incorporate PR into your strategy? Is it was this another conscious decision or was it something that kind of came about through relationships and organically

Ericka Chambers 29:55

that was something else again came this year? We were lucky that we got We're able to ride the wave of the PR that we got last year. But we were like, Okay, we know that, you know, we can't go to every event in every state. And so we need to get in front of people's faces in a different way. And another thing is, like we were, we were predominantly on television, just like organically, because a lot of other you know, once you've seen on one thing, you get picked up other places. But we were like, well, we want to get into magazines and all these other sources of media that we don't necessarily have an insight into. So that's where we were like, Okay, let's, let's see about hiring a PR person to help us with that endeavor.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 30:35

Very smart. Because yeah, you're right. There's so many places where your consumers are, and they may not come across you is as awesome and amazing and far reaching as television is you just everybody crazy enough, right?

Ericka Chambers 30:50

Listen, like I see love is blind, all kinds of random shows. And I'm like, I have Netflix, I have Netflix, I have Hulu, I have so many things. And like we were we were on like, you know, regular television people. There are a lot of people who don't even have television anymore, because they have all the streaming. I mean, it is a very saturated market.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 31:13

For sure. Now that you are in this space, where you're doing so much more business, how are you juggling? The full time and the side hustle, making space for both? Especially Are you virtual? Are you are you going into Oh, yes,

Ericka Chambers 31:31

we work virtually, I actually happen to be just off today. But I, I will tell you that is one very that is definitely a struggle, especially recently is balancing and juggling. I also have a two year old, it's I work a full time job. And I will work a full day of work. I actually just recently ended up sending her a daycare because she was she used to be at home with me on top of all of this. But sending her daycare was a big help. Um, I work a regular day job. And then I take a break after she gets off of school and we have lunch and you know, or dinner. We play and then I go back back to work and I start working on puzzles of color at night. So it is a lot

Nicaila Matthews Okome 32:14

more power to you. I know about having that little two year old coworker at home.

Ericka Chambers 32:20

Yeah, yeah, no. It wasn't magical. When she was really, really little. I loved it. But when she got once you got mobile, I was like, alright. I love you, baby.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 32:37

It's so cool to see them. So what they're learning and how they interact. Yeah, little fellow, you know, short little people. So, exactly. So before we get into the lightning round, I'd love to know a little bit more about what how you guys are thinking about the business. Moving forward, you know, like how you're thinking of where you want to know how you want to expand it? Or how do you want to maintain it in a way so that it allows you guys to not be so so hands on? Yeah, if you're starting to think through those things. Like, I'd love to hear how you guys are approaching it?

Ericka Chambers 33:15

Absolutely. Well, I will say we were very fortunate. Also I didn't my dad is just retired fairly recently, like months, a few months ago. So he's able to really help take a little bit of the pressure off. And honestly, for us, because it is like such a famous and we're getting to spend so much time together, we have kept a lot of things that we didn't necessarily have to because it was just nice to be together. So we have kept a lot of things that we don't necessarily have to but one thing we are working on is actually we just started working with a company that can help us as far as like the retailers and getting into the retailer and manage that relationship. Because that is one thing that I don't feel like I've been the best that is keeping up their relationships once we've, once we've worked with them. And so we are just kind of thinking about like, what do we like to do? And what do we not because either we pay ourselves or we pay somebody else, but it does have to get done. And so like my brother loves the graphic design he likes to create. So what are the other things that you're doing? And let's get those off of your plate. And same thing for me. I just hired somebody to handle our taxes because I cannot do it anymore. And so like, you know, kind of trying to figure out like, list all those things. And what do you like to keep? What do you want to keep? And then what do you not like? And that's kind of been our

Nicaila Matthews Okome 34:35

approach? Yes. And the good thing with listing too is that you start to kind of write down what people need to help you with because when it's all Yeah, you're just like, I just want a social media person or I just want to, you know, this person to do this. It's like, well, what does that entail? What does that look like? How does that require?

Ericka Chambers 34:53

Exactly? Oh, yeah. And then you realize you don't even realize how much you you're doing because you're busy doing it. Yeah. So like, definitely, it's like, Oh, man. Oh, yeah, time on that stuff. And I, that's not that's not the best use of my time. And so really that was that's been like the way we've kind of established like, Okay, I'm putting way too much time over here. I need to be doing this. Let's let's sit out and start knocking them out.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 35:20

Yep. All right, so we're gonna jump into a quick lightning round, you just answered the very first thing that comes to mind. Are you ready? Okay, number one, what is a resource that has helped you in your business that you can share with a side hustle pro audience?

Ericka Chambers 35:37

I mean, the first thing combined is the list like I am a I mean, of course, I have a public company, I am a very analog person. And so I write things down. I can I can do a list on the computer, but it's not as effective for me as writing. Yeah, so that is a resource that I use in a notepad is having a planner every year I buy a planner.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 36:00

Okay, number two, what's been the best business book or podcast episode or content that you use to feed your mind that you've consumed this year? Very

Ericka Chambers 36:12

much podcast. I wish I had time to read. So swamped. So I definitely listen to a lot of podcasts, including yours. So I'm really excited. I also listened to there's a podcast called CEO school that I listened to like I listen to a lot of like, the podcast about mom entrepreneurs, because I feel like yes, it's another level when you have a little one and a business and all those things that you have to balance. So those kind of, you know, things that can help me to learn while I'm multitasking. Or really Yes.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 36:43

Number three, what is a non negotiable part of your morning or day routine? dropping

Ericka Chambers 36:52

my child off at daycare? I'm telling you the day like she's, she's had like sniffles lately and I'm like, knock that out. You gotta go

Nicaila Matthews Okome 37:10

I really hear you.

Ericka Chambers 37:16

And I'm lucky because because my dad is retired. I'm lucky that like if she really cannot go to daycare I'm like, Dad, I

need you to come pick her up. Like I'll come over I'll come to you why

Nicaila Matthews Okome 37:26

is waiting around parents right now shout out to the grandparents. That's why we moved back to New York to take care yet for you know a little bit while longer so yeah, it's totally grandma, grandpa take care. So yes. And thankful to them. So I couldn't.

Ericka Chambers 37:41

So with my papa shark is what my grandma my baby calls him is


Nicaila Matthews Okome 37:49

Number four. Now, what is a personal habit that you think has contributed to your success?

Ericka Chambers 37:56

I think the list honestly is a big thing. Like in like the fact that I already am like a fairly organized person. That just helps. You know, I mean, there's so many things that you have to do as an entrepreneur. And so like, getting that stuff in order an order for yourself so that you can attack them is key.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 38:14

And then finally, number five, what is your parting advice for fellow women side hustlers who want to pursue that idea, but are scared of going after it?

Ericka Chambers 38:24

Oh, I mean, I think definitely look at the marketplace. And if, if it's a problem for you, it's probably a problem for somebody else. Like I mean, there are so many things that you think that you're just the only one. We didn't know that any other anybody else was looking for puzzles by black people or problems by you know, and we were kind of just jumped on on faith, but like, the response has been amazing. So I think like, trust your gut is a bad thing. And that we've had to do and, and it's it's really guided as well.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 38:56

All right. So where can people connect with puzzles of color after this episode? Where can we get our puzzles? Sure, absolutely. We are

Ericka Chambers 39:03

puzzles of color calm and at puzzle color on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, all of the above, tic tock. And then also I have a podcast, where we, where we interview our artists and we get like, some feedback from them as far as like their creative process and the things that inspire and motivate them. So feel free to look out look for vibing with wherever podcasts. Yeah, I will link to that you guys. Alright. Well, Erica,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 39:33

thank you so much for being in the guest chair. I'm so excited to have you here. I can't wait for everyone to listen. And you guys, there you have it. I'll talk to you next week. Thank you. Hey guys, thanks for listening to side hustle Pro. If you like the show, be sure to subscribe rate and review on Apple podcasts. It helps other side hustlers just like you to find the show. And if you want to hear more from me you can find won't be on Instagram as side hustle Pro. Plus sign up for my six foot Saturday newsletter at side hustle Pro, that CO slash newsletter. When you sign up, you will receive weekly nuggets from me, including what I'm up to personal lessons and my business tip of the week. Again, that side hustle pro.co/newsletter to sign up, talk to you soon

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Meet the host:

Nicaila Matthews-Okome

Hi! I’m Nicaila, the Creator and Host of the Side Hustle Pro Podcast. I started Side Hustle Pro when I was a side hustler myself. I was a digital marketer at NPR by day, side hustler by night. Through the powerful stories shared on this show and the courage to launch my own initiatives, I was able to quit my own job and go full time with Side Hustle Pro.

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