From The Founder: Reflecting On A Year Of Gentle Business

From The Founder: Reflecting On A Year Of Gentle Business

Thoughts from My First Year of Running a Gentle Business

As I reflect on the past year, I'm so grateful that I listened to the tug on my heart. The tug that said "I think you need to slow down".

Yes, I've discovered I have God-given talents for running a business, and I love {nearly} every moment of running Wonderfully Made.

But I'm also a wife and a mother; a woman whose life, inwardly and outwardly, is not built for the hustle, grind and constant striving of the traditional business world.

Did it scare me when I first considered the thought of finding a new, heart-centered way of running my business? Of course. This probably meant business would slow down; income for my family would tank (or so I thought).

But if you've even just dipped your toes into the vast ocean of business ownership, you know how bombarded we all are by phrases like "work hard, play hard" or "get out of your comfort zone" or "you must share your personal life in order to connect with others".

For a feminine being, it's intimidating, uncomfortable and flat out exhausting.

So I knew slowing down was going to be critical for my faith, marriage, kids and well-being. And I'm so glad I did.

In a world predominantly shaped by masculine ideals, venturing into the realm of gentle business has been incredibly refreshing. It has allowed me to truly embrace authenticity, slow living, and intentional connection.

Have I reached the end? No.

Will I reach the end? No... there's no end to reach. Just a day-in and day-out practice of running business, and living life, in a calm, intentional and what-feels-good-to-me way.

And so, over the years, I'll continue to share with you my insights into what it's like to run a gentle business (most writings will go to my subscribers before hitting my blog). My hope is to inspire you to do the same -- whether in business or life in general.

But, today I would love to share with you some invaluable lessons from my first year as a Gentle Business Owner:

01. Reclaiming Femininity in Business

The truth is, the business world was crafted by men and gosh did they establish an incredibly well-oiled machine. God in His infinite wisdom gave them such straight-forward, cut-to-the-chase, financial-savvy brains and at least in America, I'd say they used their talents to the absolute fullest. The business world here is an amazing blessing.

But this means that women who, for the first time in history, are entering the workplace are taught masculine-designed ways to conduct business. This is of course understandable, but so much of our feminine nature gets brushed aside or told to take a back seat.

I felt this push-back in my spirit almost the instant I took the leap into entrepreneurship. But I thought it was just the discomfort of trying something new (which yes, it partly was).

As the first few years of running this business passed, it slowly became clear that it wasn't just a natural discomfort I felt from doing something new. It was the unnatural discomfort of ignoring my feminine design.

I'm thrilled to report that this past year has been filled with me reclaiming femininity in my business.

I realized that there's a big difference between empty fatigue and gratifying exhaustion. At the beginning of this year, I began only pursuing projects, ideas and people that aligned with my values. I began investing my time, energy and talents into meaningful activities that moved me.

And oftentimes, the meaningful activities that moved me were found cozied up by the living room fireplace with my husband, sitting around the dining table with my kids or in the designs of gifts that encouraged others to pursue the lifestyle I am loving so much.

Goodness, it feels so nice to feel comfortable in my business.

02. Embracing Gentle Marketing

Traditional marketing often feel unaligned with the essence of feminine, gentle business.

I used to be on Instagram multiple times a day. If I didn't post that day, I felt I had lost weeks of potential growth. You could also find me regularly on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Etsy, at in-person events and in your inbox multiple times a week.

Burn. Out.

This past year has taught me that there are gentler ways to market.

I've cut out LinkedIn, Facebook (aside from IG being linked to my FB page), and Etsy.

Through an online course, I discovered how incredibly useful Pinterest could be for my gentle business long-term. And so, every 3 weeks I schedule out Pinterest pins, which I hope will one day bring in more business than Instagram. But it's a long-term game.

You'll still find me on Instagram regularly, because 83.5% of my sales come through there. But I've gotten better at speaking to my true audience (see point #4) and only posting content that feels comfortable to me. I rarely try to "sell" anymore, and instead try to connect with others and encourage them to lift others up through the giving of meaningful gifts (whether through Wonderfully Made or not).

You won't find me at in-person events with hundreds of other people. But you will find me at smaller events with 10-15 other women who align with my faith-centered, gentle business values. {Quality over quantity, yes?}

I'm not saying LinkedIn, large networking events or being 'on' all the time are bad. They simply did not align with my feminine spirit in any way. And so I stopped.

I'm so glad I did.

Note: My long-term hope is that my blog, Pinterest and newsletter will bring in 83.5%+ of my business. I'm not there yet, but I'll get there!

03. There's Power in Slowing Down

Contrary to the hustle-centric culture, slowing down doesn't mean sacrificing progress.

I was quite nervous when I first toyed with the idea of actually letting myself feel comfortable in my business (<-- sounds crazy now when I type it out loud, haha). Business probably would slow down... and it did. But not nearly as much as I thought it would.

Financially, I did 'worse' than last year. But not by much... and oh, did I mention I also had a baby in June and took a 3 month maternity leave? So my numbers are probably a little skewed.

Mentally, physically, emotionally, and all the other -ally's, this year was so much better than the previous 2 years of running this business. 

In short: The benefits of slowing down far out weighed the slight drop in revenue. By embracing a slower pace, I've discovered that my business can thrive. By slowing and niching down, I was able to build connections with those who resonate with my values, which created a ripple effect, reaching individuals who, in turn, introduce like-minded people to my business. Which leads me to #4...

04. Reaching My True Audience

At the beginning of this year, I wanted to reach more of "my people". The people who I felt oh-so-comfy to be doing business with. And my avenues of finding those people were simply not in alignment with the way God made me (and quite frankly, they weren't avenues that were going to lead to these people anyway).

I was going to huge networking events.

Cold-calling and cold-emailing large corporations (receiving 0 replies).

Designing gifts that would be accepted by the masses.

And so I changed a few things...

I joined 3 small business groups filled with Christian women who value God, family, and self-care over their businesses.

I got comfortable asking those who I already did feel comfortable around, to please refer others like themselves to my business. And they were always happy to do so!

I began designing calming gifts that encourage the receiver to cultivate what matters and to slow down.

I leaned even more into my Christian gift collection, because although they don't sell as much, they're my favorite to design. (And guess what, my largest order to date came in at the end of this year for 110+ of my Christian gift boxes. That felt good.)

I only do cold reach-outs to companies or individuals who I know would love to give gifts centered around slow living and gentle business.

I've now created a business structure that aligns with gentleness and intention. I've attracted customers who appreciate the genuine essence of what I offer. And it feels so darn (sorry for the language) good.

Wrapping Up (gifting company lingo):

There are probably more thoughts and insights I could share, but I've spent about an hour writing this blog post, and I'm going to listen to the little tug in my mind that's saying "Ok, that's enough screen time... go for a walk with the kids.".

As I celebrate the end of my first year of gentle business, I am filled with gratitude for the lessons learned and the connections made. I've learned that gentleness in business is not just a choice; it's key for a feminine business owner like myself. I've also realized that although it's gentle, it's a powerful force that can, in it's own way, completely transform a business, and lead to similar outcomes as traditional business models... if only you have patience.

I pray this post has inspired you. I know I'll be looking back on it many times in the year ahead as I continue to build a business based around cultivating what matters most.

Take care, 

- Kelsey

1 comment

  • Danielle

    Hi I read your post and I loved it I also have a small business and would love learn more on what you said?!!

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