We’re back for an update episode with Jacquelyn Rodgers, founder of Greentop Gifts.
I first spoke with Jacquelyn in 2020, when we learned Greentop Gifts aims to create products that represent what the holidays look like for Black and Brown families. Since then, Jacquelyn has gotten Greentop Gifts into retailers like Target and Amazon.
In this episode Jacquelyn shares:
- What it took to get into Target retail and the village that supported her journey there
- The many grant competitions and accelerator programs she’s used to expand her business and network
- The hilarious mantra she uses to make sure she doesn’t burn out while running a business, being a wife and mom of two, and much more!
Links mentioned in this episode
- Google Founders Academy: https://startup.google.com/programs/founders-academy/
- Google Black Founders Fund: https://startup.google.com/blackfoundersfund/
- FedEx Small Business Grant: https://www.fedex.com/en-us/small-business/grant-contest.html
- New Voices Foundation: https://newvoicesfoundation.org/
- Target Accelerators Program: https://targetaccelerators.com/happenings/news/2023-target-accelerators-applications-now-open/
- Boss Women Media: https://bosswomen.org/
- Melissa Bradley’s Accelerator Program: https://www.1863ventures.net/mentor-team
- Greentop Gifts Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/greentopgifts/
- Greentop Gifts Website: https://www.instagram.com/greentopgifts/
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Nicaila Matthews Okome 0:00
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Hey friends, welcome welcome back to the show. It's Nicaila here and today in the guest chair I have Jacquelyn Rodgers, the founder of green talk gifts. Today's episode is actually an update episode because Jacquelyn was in the guest chair back in October 2020 Episode 221. So go back and listen to that to hear all about how she started green top gifts as a side hustle and scaled it to her full time business. So now today we are going to take it from there and learn about what's been going on since then how she was able to scale green top gifts to be in Target stores and so much more. A little bit more background on Jacquelyn, so backed by her 14 years of consumer packaged goods experience. Jacqueline Rogers founded green top kids with a purpose to create products that represent what the holidays look like for black and brown families. Jacquelyn and Greens have gifts have been leading the charge of diversity in classic holiday imagery and have gone on to be recognized as one of the 2021 at Google for startups black Founders Fund recipients, a 2021 FedEx small business grant winner and an NFL P a playmaker. Since its launch, green top caps has received notable media attention from numerous outlets, including essence Oh, The Oprah Magazine, good housekeeping and people. Jacquelyn embarked on her entrepreneurial journey in order to add much immediate diversity and representation to consumer goods. And she uses Clark Atlanta University's motto daily of find a way or make one as she continues to grow her company. She holds a BA in Business Administration from Clark Atlanta University, and she currently serves as a mentor for Atlanta Tech Stars. She's married to Sean Rogers. And together they have an eight year old son, and four year old daughter and we talk all about how she juggles being a full time mom, wife and entrepreneur in today's episode, so let's get into it.
All right. All right. All right. Jackie, welcome. Welcome back to the guest here. Thank you so much for being here. Again.
Jacquelyn Rodgers 3:44
Thank you for having me.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 3:47
Yes. I'm excited to have you. You know what, a lot of times I have people on the show and then they blow up. And I'm like, we I need to know how this all happened. So this is why we have update episodes, because at the time we chatted, it was October 2020. So much has happened since then. So let's chat about it. First of all, you are the queen of grant competitions. Every single day, I feel like you're posting about another program you're a part of so tell the people, what grant programs did you apply for When and how did they help your business?
Jacquelyn Rodgers 4:22
I think I've applied for all of them. And I got a lot of nose, I got a lot of nose. And we also got a couple of checks. We received over $250,000 in grants for grant up and so the best and the exciting thing about it is for the most part, it's not a lot of funding. We had to pay some taxes, but other than that, they've been wonderful. They've been great partners, they led to bigger opportunities. This is the last time we talked I don't know what was new and what was not. First one being Google founders Academy, which is program was a part of and they had the Google black Founders Fund.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 4:59
And what's the difference? between the Google founders Academy and the Google black Founders Fund,
Jacquelyn Rodgers 5:05
the founders Academy is a six month process, it may be different now. And that is kind of an accelerator program where you're with people of all different types of business, some tech, some CPG, some healthcare. And from the they put us in pods, we did everything from how to sell how to pitch negotiation, understanding Google properties and how they can help your business. And then after that, you can apply for the Google black Founders Fund black Founders Fund is a opportunity grant that is $100,000 with a non dilutive funding given to recipients that have been a part of other global programs and accelerators. So I'm happy to say I'm in that number and thankful for Google and their partnership.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 5:46
And doesn't know what is non diluted funding.
Jacquelyn Rodgers 5:50
That's where you don't have to pay it back. They get no equity in your company, they get no stake. It is free cash, no strings attached. In addition to the FedEx Business Grant, it's been a great partner for us as a small business grant winner that one's yearly people can apply for that one. We are part of the new voices family, we've done tutorial programs with them. One was a JP Morgan making bootcamp, which is a great program and then also got in part of accelerator program, excuse me a target accelerator pitch with SOC new voices. And they're a great partner as well. So those are a few. I'm probably missing one boss, woman media's done one that's given me a grant or two. So there's lots of free money out there. I think it's just applying tweaking your pitch and applying in
Nicaila Matthews Okome 6:39
we're going to be listed all of those out and Lincoln to them, you guys. So you can apply for that. And how did that help? green tarp specifically,
Jacquelyn Rodgers 6:49
it has helped the funding is amazing. But the network is even more important. It has open our network to resources, people, introductions that have been so impactful for the business meeting other fellow entrepreneurs having a tribe of other women, Oh mama, or just entrepreneurs in general, that may be in your same field or may not be I think it's always great talking to entrepreneurs that are not because you can learn so much from them as well. And so really just building your network in your community, because entrepreneurship can be very lonely. Oh, yeah. And the accelerator programs, you can do a whole lot. I always say, you know, black woman or USA, we're over accelerated. underfunded, right? They're gonna they're gonna give us all those loops
Nicaila Matthews Okome 7:27
to be accelerated.
Jacquelyn Rodgers 7:30
Right? But the gold of it is, in addition to the money easy worth your time, and does it open new doors and have access for you. And if it doesn't, it may not be worth your time. God,
Nicaila Matthews Okome 7:39
I love that quote, you know, over accelerated, underfunded, because that is, listen, I give a lot of sides to people who reach out and want me to share their accelerator on the show. And it's like I am tired of these $0 opportunities. Sometimes they can be helpful, like you said, the network and the resources, but you really, really have to see what's going on out here. And again, asked these big companies, why not some cash. They're created equal, they're not and you really need to look at like the timeframes, what the commitment is to you read the fine print, because these corporations make millions, billions of dollars and the checks their writing can sometimes be tiny, when they can write so much more and do so much more for women. And some are more authentic about supporting Black women and then others are absolutely. So we'll be putting together a resource on that you guys. So look out for that. And the final piece of this I want to know is what tips do you have for side hustlers, or entrepreneurs who are applying for these grants? You said you've gotten a lot of rejections and obviously some you've won some. So what did you learn to really make you more of a top candidate for them?
Jacquelyn Rodgers 8:48
I would say it is keeping all your answers. I have like a little spreadsheet a little note or I'll keep all the answers and it helps you apply faster because you already kind of have a base for it makes application go quickly quickly. retelling your story as you as your business grows, as you get new opportunities as your numbers and projections change in a positive light. Hopefully, your story changes and so you want to make sure you're updating it and if it's not working, go back and how can I change this and how can it be an authentic way that connects with the people that are picking the winners or the judges? So I think those are the most important things and that being upset with getting a no I've gotten a lot of nose so just roll with it. If it's for you, it's for you and keep applying and retooling your story
Nicaila Matthews Okome 9:37
story and things changing in your business. So the last time we spoke again October 2020 Episode 221 You guys you chatted about the business how it began with your love of stationery. You are moving into apparel. What is the full product suite these days for green top gifts.
Jacquelyn Rodgers 9:55
So we have gift wrap. We have gift bags we have a pair Are all stickers, coffee mugs, I would say gift apparel, and home decor. But a little bit of everything. It seems to be growing and expanding. As our customers have requested and needs, we can't fulfill them all they have to be make businesses for us and our margins. But we do try to continue to expand it to other things outside of Christmas. So baby showers and birthday products. So we have some everyday product, and some new things that are launching this year with the NFLPA and with Nickelodeon. Ooh,
Nicaila Matthews Okome 10:31
that is exciting. I was very excited to see when you expanded to the birthdays with the gift bags for you know, the little girls, little boys, I love that. And I am wondering how big is your team these days to support those expansions.
Jacquelyn Rodgers 10:45
Our team is about eight people that are between contractors full time me and a few others and legal, our fulfillment, our graphic designers, and our illustrators, and then the team that kind of helps me drop the emails from marketing that you get. So it's a it's a small but mighty team, and looking to how we can always grow it as these new opportunities present themselves and when we get new manufacturers. So yeah,
Nicaila Matthews Okome 11:14
I was not expecting you to say eight actually. So that's definitely small but mighty. And you've had some shakeups and fulfillment when you first began. Last time we spoke you were on your fourth, but I think you'd return to your fulfillment partner after thinking you saw greener pastures. Right. So what's that process been like, since we last chatted
Jacquelyn Rodgers 11:33
fulfillments chugging along smoothly, we've expanded also on to Amazon, which brings new fun and new challenges. But we're happy where we are. And it's a black filament company that's working well for us. And you know, it's challenged, you learn along the way. And I've learned a lot of bumps and bruises through fulfillment. And I feel like we're on the other side of that now. But there's always you know, holidays are the thick of it, everybody wants their product, they want it immediately. And there's things where you ship it, and it may not get scanned, and then they're sending you a nasty email. So for the most part, everybody's happy, there's one or two people where stuff gets lost, and you chalk it up, like, you know, we do we can, we'll do what we can to make it right, and we want our customers happy. But some things are just out of your control.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 12:14
Worse. I understand during the pandemic, there was a time when you had a whole shipment just stuck. Right. And you know, you had customers just bad mouthing you leaving poor ratings? How did you get through that time, so that you have good reviews, when people go to look up your company and you don't lose potential customers?
Jacquelyn Rodgers 12:33
Yeah, we had a whole pallet a product that we gave to a shipping a large shipping company, you know, and that never and never got scanned, it just sit there and we realize it like week and a half later, like the orders are not moving. And then by that time, the customer is like, Okay, we're on week two, what's happening. It's over communicating with a customer, it's explaining what the issue is some receive it others are gonna say, a dread to support your
Nicaila Matthews Okome 12:58
little black business.
Jacquelyn Rodgers 13:02
And, you know, Amazon delivers my stuff late sometimes too. But I keep order, or it just goes missing, or it goes missing. And I think people forget that they expect and put us at a higher standard. And so why is a person who does a lot of online shopping, I understand that and we try to over communicate, give them all the details, we can reveal the order, give them at a time it matters, we can offer them a code for the next time, sometimes we'll throw out a few extra items to make it right. But at the end of the day, the goal is for them to be happy. And sometimes there's always somebody that's not happy, and you did the best that you can. But our percentage right of that is extremely small.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 13:38
Good. Good. I mean, I knew that come on, you guys. But yeah, I know that's a tough situation to deal with. And I just admire all of you guys who are just out there dealing with all of this during the pandemic, it was just stressful.
Jacquelyn Rodgers 13:51
It can be stressful, some customers make it even more stressful.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 14:02
So picking up customers, all right, when we left off in 2020 It's funny if you guys go back and listen, we talked about you had just visited target for the first time the headquarters and had a meeting about getting into the store and you you weren't quite ready. Right? You didn't make the cut that year. And what changed between then and now. What did you have to do to get ready and get into Target stores?
Jacquelyn Rodgers 14:27
A lot of work and a praying grandmother? Okay. I would say the first thing is understanding that retail is not overnight. For some people magically it can be. But for most people it is there a lot of steps that take from an idea to a product to getting that product on a retail shelf. And the persistence working with our broker, meaning selling our story, why our product was unique and how we were filling a void. All of those things over time understanding how and when the store is reset. It's a calendar year. So you're product may reset in July. And then if you go in then or August, they're gonna tell you, you've missed the cut off. So it's understanding and knowing those calendars and knowing the buyers and having a product that fits and feels void. And great to have definitely does that. And we were after meeting with him at the top of 2020. And going in for meetings our product was in store for for fall of 2022. And it was exciting and surreal and awesome. And it made it legit for my kids, you know, they've seen our business, they've seen our warehouse, we've had some cool opportunities, but like seeing our business on the shelf was like the real deal for them.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 15:38
Like they finally believed Mommy has a job, right?
Jacquelyn Rodgers 15:42
You're a legit mommy here and target.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 15:45
Yeah. So what happens after that? I'm always curious, I saw that you would, you know, go to some stores fix up a little bit of the displays, people were doing that for you. What do you do after you get into Target to maintain that presence and maintain a successful relationship?
Jacquelyn Rodgers 16:01
That's the beginning. It's just getting in the store, right? You know, people like oh, what's your in store? You made it? No, you need people. So go into the store and buy it. And thankfully, our customers bought it, we had an excellent sell through rate. And we surpassed the goal that target had for us. And it sold really well. And the stores that we were in, we were really excited about that. And our customers and my friends and aunties and my mom or seen in the store because of the shelves and make it look pretty when someone else came in, or moving things that didn't belong there that were not in the right section. But that's the most important part is it's not about getting on the shelf. It's about selling off the shelf, because they don't want product just to sit on the shelf. They want customers to come in and buy it and want it. So yeah, that's where the fun starts.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 16:41
Yeah. And it's such a thing of pride when I see a brand that I know on the shelf. And I'm like, oh my god like you do you get that like people feel like I knew them when like
Jacquelyn Rodgers 16:55
I get excited when my friends have businesses that are retail out. Like I took some liberty, I was like I'm fixing your MCAT I'm fixing. You know, because you want us to look good. So when a customer comes in, they see it make it fine. And they have a pleasing experience. And so yeah, I have friends that definitely were sending me photos. Like, we don't have it in Detroit, or there's only one left or I came and they pulled it out of the back for me. I'm like, Yeah, any, any company I could have hired. So it was great. Body, anybody that straightened and kept for us on the holidays. Thank you, we appreciate you very much, very much.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 17:34
So I want to talk about competition. And I want to talk about imitation. And whether it really is flattery. When you started out, you were creating clearance claws because there was a void in the retail space, right? We were not seeing black Santos. We were not seeing the products that we needed. And now we're actually seeing more of it, which some would say is a good thing. But how do you as a brand deal with that? Or look at that?
Jacquelyn Rodgers 18:02
I always say birth imitation is the biggest form of flattery, right? Yeah. And everyone has a passion and a vision and their story. And they're all no one was doing it when we started no one. And then all of a sudden, everybody said it didn't exist after we started. And I'm like I think what makes us unique, when we look at the competition is the first thing is our products and our characters, quality over quantity. And we made sure that we have quality products. As a mother of two small children of color, I am very aware of how important it is for them to see themselves as self representation. And we talk a lot about flat yellow hair, or why I can't have my hair look this way, or why would my hair do this? Or why is their skin like this? Or why don't I have freckles or whatever the thing is, and so making sure that they have a source of self pride. And understanding they are important and beautiful. We talk about it a lot. The books we read television shows we really, really are authentic about how we communicate that with my children, and other parents are too. And so as a mom, I think and a business owner, a lot of times buyers of retail aren't aware of that. And so bringing in my knowledge and understanding of that as a mother and knowing what customers are looking for. And I think it's also to an entrepreneurship, you know, you're on the bread aisle, there's so many different pieces of bread, you go down the deodorant, our toothpaste aisle, is about having your blinders on and focusing on your brand and what makes it unique as a business owner. Because you can look at other things and things people are doing. I'm like, Oh, that's awesome. I wish we had that. But I think it's staying focused on what your mission or your values are for your brand is the most important thing and putting in the work. I think those are all the things that make the magic sauce.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 19:45
Oh, yeah. And I'm so glad you mentioned that because we often forget that yeah, there are a million brands of toothpaste and we know the one we want and a lot of those brands are doing well. You know what I mean? Like but sometimes you can just feel especially as a small business especially as a black owned business, sometimes we let things like that deter us like, oh, there's already one. Oh, they got into Target. I can't do it to put those blinders on. Keep going, yes, for certain. How do you handle people who compare you on price to other copycats who might be selling lower quality for less.
Jacquelyn Rodgers 20:22
I'm all about quality. I'm a stationery snob, I make sure that the products we sell our products that I want to consume and use. And so I always want to make sure that they have a pleasant experience, they deal with joy, and they buy a product and they know they're getting quality for the amount they're paying. And I also know that every customer is not my customer. Oh, yeah. And I have to be okay with that. If you want to buy your paper from the dollar store, I understand that they have bags for $1. There, they have wrapping paper, and you will get the artwork and the design that you pay for. And I hope that you love it, and you mentally continue to buy it. And if it's not for you, it's not for you. But you don't have to come on to my page and talk about
Nicaila Matthews Okome 21:01
you really don't have to let me know.
Jacquelyn Rodgers 21:04
It's okay, I sell it for $1 Or maybe $1.25 or $1 tree I'm very well aware. You have to tell me. And I know that our customers when they buy it, they know it's thick. They comment they send us reviews, but how great it is. And so I'm not going to skimp on quality and sell something that is poor quality at all. So yeah, that's what I think the difference is so learning that I think a lot of times when we shoot, we try to make every person our customer and we get we want everyone to be everybody's not your customer.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 21:31
Oh yeah, that's it right there. And I'm glad you mentioned that because quality is a real thing. You guys, I know you guys know this when you wrap a gift and it rips as soon as you like fold it over the gift or as soon as you like pull tape off. I know you see the difference. So you
Jacquelyn Rodgers 21:47
buy a bag and the bottom of that bag fall apart.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 21:52
The strings come out. I know you know the difference between Dallas store bag so stay out of Jackie's comments, please. I know it's not y'all you would never. So thank you. Thank you very much. The product bus hosted by Jacqueline Schneider and Mina koulos setup is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. Take your physical product sales strategy to the next level to create your dream life with host Jacqueline and Mina as they deliver a workshop style strategy hour of social media and marketing strategies. So you can up level as the boss of your business. So I just finished listening to their latest episode. It's called Keep your day job, grow your product based business. And it's all about how to maintain your full time job while growing your product based business on the side. So of course I know you side hustlers are interested in this. And it's a really good episode 20 minute lesson. So definitely check it out. Listen to the product boss wherever you get your podcasts.
Let's talk a little bit about the entrepreneurship path. Because you had a long career in CPG before you went full time with green tarp in February 2020. Now how has that shifted and you know, it's not only an actual physical shift, but it's also a mental shift going from defining yourself one way to be an entrepreneur, you know, quote, unquote,
Jacquelyn Rodgers 23:22
it has definitely been a shift. It was a very hard jump to make leaving my corporate career to entrepreneurship. The only regret that I have is I didn't do it sooner. But yeah, I have no regrets about it, leaving a check insurance, a company car, all those things are hard to do healthcare. And so it is not lost on me at all that I am married and have a partner who has a full time job with benefits. And I do understand that there are solo entrepreneurs that do not have that option when they are deciding to leave their corporate career or they may not have a company bonus they're using to jumpstart that and so it is not lost on me at all. I always like to make sure that is known that there was someone else in my household who had insurance and we can say well I tried this out for a little bit, but he definitely encouraged and supported and wanted me to leave my corporate job doesn't work on Grand top full time. So it is definitely a scary jump to make. You have to make it when it makes sense and both senses of the word for you and it's okay to do it too. At the same time there is nothing wrong with a side hustle. I think you should do both as long as you can. So the HR is not calling you keep on keepin on
Nicaila Matthews Okome 24:36
that's alright because what HR gets when you don't want to be on their radar, you fall on that radar, you did mention that you you would have done it sooner. And I'm curious though, you know, a few years out if there's anything you would have done differently as you lead up to that decision and that actual quit date.
Jacquelyn Rodgers 24:58
I would I have invested probably more and hiring other people to help me grow faster. And I would have never moved to that fulfillment company that I hated that I talked about last time. Those are probably the main things but I do believe like if you have an idea and it makes sense and you think you can make it work like I think you should try it like Don't be fearful of it like don't think oh, somebody else is doing this but if you've done the research that was void I think you should try it
Nicaila Matthews Okome 25:27
now let's talk a little bit about running a business as a mom and a wife. When you started the business it was very much inspired. Inspired by your son. What was that jump like from one to two kids?
Jacquelyn Rodgers 25:49
I talked about this recently. Is this on the jump from one to two is hard okay, one is easy right one is like this is a good thing. Why
Nicaila Matthews Okome 25:59
will we mess this up? We
Jacquelyn Rodgers 26:00
got one kid things are great. When you have a child and the you are pregnant with another child, you cannot sit down and eat bonbons like you did the first time okay, you have a human that you chasing after if they're young right? That is hard it's really really hard. So for me that and then my second keys and Allah mistletoe okay she she means to her own drum is never a dull moment. But she's awesome I can't imagine my life without her but to is different to is very different. They're good now, but there was some parts where it was a little hairy But uh, yeah
Nicaila Matthews Okome 26:40
you're one of the I don't know if it's because you know, your daughter is a no limit soldier or what? But I've heard you talk about the fact that what was easy You made me feel like a pup because I was like, what was easy? What do you mean by easy? How are you? What are your side hustle? doing your job and parenting and being a mom and wife still making time for yourselves and each other with one? Well,
Jacquelyn Rodgers 27:06
I first start always with the village we have a village a community people that you know, when we were in North Carolina, we had family we moved to Atlanta now we have babysitters and a little family but with one kid it's just different and getting to at the house in the morning dressed and ready for carpool is like a whole nother circus. Okay. And then is the age difference, you know, one can put on their shoes, the other one's got them on the wrong feet, I can't find my socks. I can't get my coat on by myself. So I think it's like going back to those stages of like, needing their independence is gone. They don't have it yet. So we're one can do anything, he could fix both of them breakfast and the other one will cereal you know. And the other ones like I can't pour a cup of milk without making a mess. So it's like retraining your brain like oh, I have to help this person figure things out. They need more help than this other person does. So for me that was guy and then one that can hold you know they can hold their bladder longer than the other that makes things fun when you're out in public. So yeah.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 28:03
How did you find your stride because things started to ramp up with green tarp. So how did you find your stride?
Jacquelyn Rodgers 28:10
Asking for now leaning on your spouse being okay with that being done perfectly but it being done and letting go of mommy guilt mommy guilt will creep in and mess with you. You have to let it go. Like you do what you can get done. Everybody made it to bed. No one's bleeding or dying. It was a good day.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 28:28
You have an acronym that you like to use? Are you comfortable sharing it with? With
Jacquelyn Rodgers 28:35
DK, okay, if it's okay, I know. I say that a lot. Because I'm a good mother. I'm a great mother. Okay, I know that according to my kids, I give them everything I have. But to be a good mother. You have to say it's a look at yourself and say you have two kids and make time for yourself. Okay, it's very important, even if it's just sitting in the car by yourself for 10 minutes for some people and maybe I'm gonna call a cleaning lady for some people and maybe I'm gonna go to the spa. Some people might like I'm one of the holiday and sit in that room and listen to the air conditioner home for 45 minutes by myself. Whatever it is, take a moment for you. It isn't it's just meditation in the car. If that's the only way you can escape and get away from your kids. Do it for yourself. FTK is yeah, that's my FTK
Nicaila Matthews Okome 29:20
Y'all follow her. You see why I DM her for advice. See why she's one of the moms she rose. I'm working to get to your level okay with that.
Jacquelyn Rodgers 29:31
It takes time out of the day some people don't even leave your kids with a babysitter I get it but for me I'm like I'm not good at I'm not homeless. I'm not fulfilling myself and taking care of me. I can't be a good parent and so you got to make time for yourself. It can't be you shave it off yourself everybody else
Nicaila Matthews Okome 29:53
I know you do non seasonal items as well but the bulk of your business is happening around the holiday season right specifically like FY, you know, December timeframe. So walk us through like what that looks like for you in your year, the ebbs and flows of when it's really busy when you're looking at product when you're just getting things ready for the holiday what that looks like after and leading up to it. So now
Jacquelyn Rodgers 30:15
things have kind of slowed down a little bit. It's Chinese New Year. So a lot of our manufacturers are on vacation. So we're kind of in a holding pattern for right now. But we're working feverishly on Christmas, 2023 and 2024. So it's nonstop, the production cycles manufacturing your product, shipping it domestic or importing it is nonstop, because the deadlines for holiday are really early. So where you may see it in your stores in October, and you think man, it's not even Halloween and they have Christmas up. Those manufacturers and companies like Greta are working on it in January and October for the previous years. So yeah, it's it's nonstop. I think now it's kind of it's a little slower, but it's it's still moving. And then we've got some of the things that we work on throughout the year and prep. And then by the time it hits the shelves is done for for the season. By the time you're looking at about buying it, we're done with it like it is ready to be shipped to you. And then after the 15th of December all the way to consumer products are pretty much done because it has to get to you by Christmas. And so it's basically in store from that point. Or if you're binary, Amazon,
Nicaila Matthews Okome 31:22
how do you approach marketing your business these days? I'm on your email list. And I feel like I've noticed the uptick in emails like you have. No, no, yeah. But but that's because you know, I'm different. I'm studying it from a different lens. I'm looking at it, you know, from a different lens like, oh, okay, I see this timing, what has changed in terms of the team that's behind that to power, the marketing and how you approach it all?
Jacquelyn Rodgers 31:47
One, thank you for noticing too. As a student, I'm always reading and signing up for newsletters as well, to see how and what people's time and everything Yeah, so if you have a small business, and you're not doing that, like why. But for me, I could only write into them so quickly. And I needed to focus on other things and product creation. And so hiring someone to assist with writing those emails, I'm approving everything you read, and making sure the copy and it speaks to our brand, our brand voice is there. But definitely hiring people that are great at what they do. And who can help you grow your business even faster. And making sure that we're talking to our customers year round, not just during the holiday season. So keeping them engaged is really important, because you can't wait until December to be like, Hey, we're back. It's a little
Nicaila Matthews Okome 32:34
remember us. Before we jump into the lightning round, I'd love to touch on the financial piece of this as well. So obviously, you've won some grants, you've been able to invest in your business this way. But what does it look like from a standpoint of paying yourself of being in the red versus in the black these days, as you scale up and have to invest so much more? What's the financial piece? Like?
Jacquelyn Rodgers 32:57
Yeah, so small businesses hard, you're competing against so many brands, big and small, in addition to competing against other small businesses, they're big, mighty machines that are now like, oh, black Santa is cool, right? So it is how do we market and stay top of mind for customers and compete when everyone is storing a link and a code at you on social platforms. And I think the main thing for us is just being really authentic about how we go about doing it with our customers, the stories and their connections with the products and their family traditions really speak for themselves. But in a cheat, okay. When we started, we definitely self funded and bootstrapped and ran the business on our own, we haven't taken on any outside investment other than a one friends and family round. But as we continue to grow and scale and look at new partnerships and new opportunities, that requires a lot of capital, and so there may be a time soon where we might take on some investment. But understanding that, you know, when when black businesses take on investment, or they scale up, there's only sold out I did all these things and people have all these assumptions but until you start to run your own business, you look at it through a different lens and you congratulate those people yeah, definitely I'm doing and when they skill on my grow. But you know, I always joke around when I'm with friends that have small businesses when things are tough and I'm like start a small business they say it'd be fun, they say bananas say to scare people away from it, but to have thick skin and know that it is it is not cheap. And it is not easy. But it's very rewarding and fun and in an emotional roller coasters for certain.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 34:25
And you know, one of my favorite parts of this path is definitely the flexibility, especially when being a mom I mean, it's it's something that can't be taken for granted. What What are your thoughts on that? I mean, I just feel that it almost is more valuable than money to me sometimes.
Jacquelyn Rodgers 34:41
I'll feel sorry, I'm having the flexibility where I can if I'm like the room parent from both of my kids rooms, I probably wouldn't do that again at the same time. It allows me the flexibility that if I want to block off my calendar and go to a school play or go have lunch with my son, I can do that. I have that flexibility do I work later in the night Yes. Do I check emails earlier in the morning? Yes. But you know, also, as a small business owner, you're not just working 40 hour weeks, you're doing stuff all times of the day and night. So you just have the ability to move your calendar for your schedule and not being required to clock in or clock out or tell somebody or take PTO. So it is a gift that I am grateful and thankful for. That don't come cheap, obviously. So yeah.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 35:29
So I want to know, what's your vision for green tarp? You talked a little bit about taking on investment long term, what's your vision? Where do you see the company going?
Jacquelyn Rodgers 35:38
I have so many ideas and things that I want to bring to life, we are nowhere near done making it a household name like Disney, but making sure that there's representation that children see themselves and all kids can see and connect with our products and continue to grow and scale and tell the stories of our multicultural society in a very authentic way.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 35:56
I love it. And I can't wait. I can't wait till that's our reality. So now let's jump into the lightning round. You've done one of these before. So I'm excited to see how your answers have shifted. The questions have been tweaked a little bit. So are you ready?
Jacquelyn Rodgers 36:12
I think I'm ready.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 36:15
All right, number one, what's the resource not Google that has helped you in your business that you can share with the side hustle pro audience,
Jacquelyn Rodgers 36:22
I would say the community of other women in business so the accelerator programs those people that I've met and connected with they have bought software, try programs try things and they have a wealth of knowledge. So network with your community of entrepreneurs.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 36:37
Number two, who is a black woman entrepreneur, who you would want to switch places with for a day and why
Jacquelyn Rodgers 36:43
Melissa Bradley she's a celebrity to me. If you don't know who she is you have to google her she does a little bit everything entrepreneur she is connected with every grant accelerator program her business is to help black people be the new majority and he has a company in a program called ATCC three ventures and I've been part of their so their programs and she's a wealth of knowledge and she's always willing to help and reach out and so Melissa is the person I think she's a rock star
Nicaila Matthews Okome 37:13
number three what's the non negotiable part of your day these days?
Jacquelyn Rodgers 37:18
Lunch I don't sacrifice it for much like lunches my my half to I'm gonna eat I'm always eat these people who like don't eat lunch. I don't know you guys are aliens. I don't know what that's about. I gotta eat I've got to
Nicaila Matthews Okome 37:33
number four. What is a personal habit that you think helped you significantly as you're building your business
Jacquelyn Rodgers 37:39
most recently is I have cut back on social media in it has been so great for me it's led me to think and be more creative and stop scrolling it's up with my productivity and other business owner was telling me about it and I was like, I probably should get back and I have and I check it for like 10 minutes in the you know, midday in like 10 minutes but night before but I'm not scrolling aimlessly like I was and I feel like I can think and I have more energy and not bogged down
Nicaila Matthews Okome 38:09
it's so funny you should say that I gotta interrupt to say yes I've been doing the same thing it started as like part of a fast with my church and yeah, like 30 minutes max a day trying to limit myself and it's been so helpful because like scrolling on social media is a form of like avoiding hard tasks a lot of times and you got to do the hard to make the make progress with your business. So finally, number five, what's your parting advice these days for fellow women entrepreneurs who want to take the leap want to be their own boss but are worried about losing that steady paycheck?
Jacquelyn Rodgers 38:42
If it makes sense and Bolson said the words do it if you qualify and you have the background and you the pedigree you will always get another job you'll always get another job
Nicaila Matthews Okome 38:53
and with that you guys there you have it where can people connect with you and greens hop gifts after this episode
Jacquelyn Rodgers 39:00
if you're really bored you can connect with me on social not there much these days but I do check a pack lunches it's my kid teasing me and Steph and that is snacks with Jack on Instagram and Twitter with them early on there. And to connect with green top you can connect with us on all social platforms tick tock Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at green top gifts and business and our website is green top gifts.com You can sign up for our newsletter and check out those new emails and marketing that you so graciously plug for me thank you and that's it keep you in the know anything really want to know you can also sign up for our text messages.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 39:44
All right, thank you so much again, Jackie for being in the guest chair. I thoroughly enjoyed this and I can't wait for everyone else if they didn't know about green tarp before to experience the magic to get on the train and to start to bike we talk good products. 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 follow me on Instagram at side hustle Pro. Plus sign up for my six bullet 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