WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR BUSINESS?
I started my business completely by accident! I was a stay-at-home mom for 10 years and never in a million years thought I would start my own business. I didn’t even take a single business class in college or grad school. That was never my path … or so I thought.
When my younger daughter started kindergarten, I realized that I wanted something more in my life but the idea of going back to being a social worker or a set work schedule was not appealing at all. So I started a little hobby to pass the time … a hobby that would serve others but that I could do on my own time and with my own rules.
I had recently designed and built a custom home and it got quite a bit of attention. People would stop their cars in front of our home and take photos. Some people were bold enough to come to our front door and ask questions about our exterior materials. So I knew there was interest in my home design, but I didn’t think much of it until something propelled me to start a public Instagram account and just post photos of my home.
This was at the beginning of 2016. I didn’t even realize it was a thing to post home photos or that people did this. I just followed my intuition and started the account. I worried that people would think I was nuts for doing this (now it’s a ‘thing’ and completely normal … it wasn’t then).
This little hobby continued to grow and I got tired of answering the same questions over and over, so I decided it was time to start a website to answer all the questions and to promote all of the home decor items in one spot.
I never considered starting a business. Every step along the way was just an organic progression that now has turned into a full-fledged business. I followed my intuition and here we are!
WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST STRUGGLE WHEN STARTING OUT?
In the very beginning, my biggest struggle was dealing (emotionally) with ‘haters’. I could get 99 positive comments on an Instagram photo but getting just one negative comment would send me into a spiral of self-doubt and imposter syndrome. I also took it personally if someone unsubscribed to my email list. Now I realize that these aren’t my people and they will never buy from me so they don’t need a spot at the proverbial ‘Caroline on Design’ table!
WHAT’S THE #1 THING YOU ATTRIBUTE TO GROWING YOUR BUSINESS?
I never gave up (even when I wanted to)!
Focusing on the attitude of serving others has helped me to better understand my audience and to help them in the way that they want help (and the ‘serving’ mindset keeps me going when I want to give up).
WHAT MINDSET SHIFTS HAVE YOU MADE TO SET YOUR BUSINESS UP FOR SUCCESS?
My two favorite mottos are game-changers when it came to shifting my business success mindset.
- Marie Forleo’s motto of ‘Everything is Figureoutable’
- Jenna Kutcher’s motto of ‘Done is Better than Perfect’
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST BUSINESS LESSON LEARNED?
Just keep moving forward! Don’t worry about HOW you’re going to move forward … you’ll figure it out along the way. Without forward progress, you’ll never get anywhere in your business. I’ve really embraced the ‘done is better than perfect’ motto. Just get your expertise out into the world … and you can figure out how to improve your products and programs later.
WHAT PODCASTS OR BUSINESS BOOKS ARE YOU READING RIGHT NOW?
At the moment, I’m more focused on learning how to deal with the ‘joys’ of being a mother of teen/tween daughters :). The current books on my Kindle and the current downloads in my Podcast app reflect this (e.g. I’m currently reading ‘Untangled’).
However, I have read MANY business books and listened to MANY business podcasts. The podcast that comes to mind as the most instrumental in helping me early in my business is Jenna Kutcher’s ‘Goal Digger’ podcast. The early episodes are AMAZING if you are looking for practical, tangible, and easy-to-implement business advice.
My top business book recommendation: ‘Building a Storybrand’ by Donald Miller.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC TO LISTEN TO WHEN YOU’RE CREATING CONTENT?
It depends on what I’m working on. If I need to concentrate on writing content, I listen to music without lyrics (e.g. spa music or the Piano Guys on Pandora). If I need to channel my intuition, I go straight for the ‘Hillsong Worship’ channel on Spotify. If I’m just creating Pinterest pins or doing other fairly mindless activities, I listen to old-school 90’s music.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE ON WHAT IMAGES TO USE FOR YOUR BRAND?
I choose stock images that will invite my readers into the ‘story’ so they can see themselves in the content. If I am promoting one of my online programs, I choose a stock photo with a woman looking at a computer screen or a group of women collaborating together.
Whatever stock image I choose, my ultimate goal is to evoke emotion in my readers and invite them into the ‘story’ so they can picture themselves inside my online program or picture themselves confidently designing their own home.
HOW HAS HAUTE STOCK HELPED YOU IN YOUR BUSINESS?
I used to struggle to create beautiful images before I discovered Haute Stock. My images were dark and I didn’t enjoy the process of creating images or editing. I also felt like my ‘blah’ images didn’t evoke the beautiful world of interior design that my brand is built on.
With Haute Stock, I have gorgeous stock photos at my fingertips whenever I need one. And I love that we get new stock images every single week.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HAUTE STOCK COLLECTION?
This is a tough question because I love just about every Haute Stock collection! However, my absolute favorites are the interior design collections since these are perfectly aligned with my home design brand.
Carrie is a Midwestern mama of two girls (and the cutest mini doodle) who turned her Instagram hobby of posting photos of her custom home into an online resource that guides women through the home build planning and design process. Through free content and online group programs, Caroline On Design equips women to confidently build their own dream homes without regrets and without blowing their budget.
connect on social: @carolineondesign