Women-Owned Small Business Entrepreneur Series // Allison Purvis of Allergy Mom Depot

Today we are featuring Allison Purvis of Allergy Mom Depot in our Women-Owned Small Business Entrepreneur Series.

 Allison is a mom of two children with food allergies and started Allergy Moms Depot, a retail website that sells allergy awareness jewelry, apparel, and essentials for allergy moms and their families, in 2015.  

Learn more about Allison in the below interview and how she juggles a busy family life and running all aspects of Allergy Mom Depot.  
 
I would like to thank Allison for taking the time to share her story and more about her business with us.  Check out the Allergy Mom Depot website and connect with Allison on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
 

Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am the CEO and Founder of Allergy Mom Depot, a retail website that provides fresh, fun and modern awareness jewelry, apparel, and essentials for allergy moms and their families. I am also a marketing professional and prior to running my current and previous businesses, I managed online marketing programs for various Fortune 500 companies. Lastly, and most importantly, I am a mom to two amazing children, both of whom have allergies, and they are my inspiration behind this business.
 
What does your business do?
We are a leading retail and awareness website for food allergies and other allergic diseases. Our products promote awareness and aim to empower, uplift and inspire [allergy] moms and parents managing these conditions.
 
Who is your target audience or market?
Our jewelry and lifestyle products appeal to women ages 25-50 that have a child or family member with allergies.
 
 
What year did you start your business?
2015
 
What were you doing before starting your business?
Before starting Allergy Mom Depot, I was raising my family and navigating the world of food allergies as an allergy mom. As my children got older, my passion for advocacy and awareness grew and I knew I needed to do something to help increase awareness and support research for a cure. My entrepreneurial itch to start another business was also growing, and where these two things intersected was an idea for a retail website dedicated to allergic living.
 
Where is your business located? Do you have a dedicated workspace?
I work from a studio in my home which allows me to be both a mom and a CEO. While there are benefits to working from home, there are many challenges in keeping work separated from family life. Like most work-at-home moms, I struggle with wanting to attend to household demands, but the designated space helps keep me organized and focused.
 
What would you say your biggest success has been? What was the key action that led to this success?
We experienced rapid growth early on across our social platforms. We now have over 15,000 passionate allergy moms across our Allergy Mom Depot community and it is growing every day. However, our biggest success has been the tremendous impact our products have had on our customers and their families. It has been the most rewarding receiving emails from customers sharing how they teared up opening our jewelry or how their child lights up when they wear our pieces. This tells me we’ve accomplished something bigger than I ever imagined. Impact is the greatest measure of success.
 
 
What would you say your biggest failure has been?
My biggest failure has been not keeping a consistent voice on social media. As we grew very quickly, my time and attention were diverted toward other pressing needs, and our social presence suffered. I struggled to keep up and our engagement level dropped. As a marketer, I knew this was a recipe for disaster and had to shift my priorities in order to bring it back into focus.
 
What did you learn from this failure and how have you changed things to prevent this from happening again?
The most successful posts are posts that are relatable in some way. As an allergy mom, I share similar experiences with many of our customers and I realized that they want to hear from me from time to time. Pushing sales will always be an integral piece to any marketing strategy of a retail business, but finding that balance with your brand voice across your social platforms is key. And it is definitely not a one size fits all approach. This is an on-going process and is now a top focus for me again in 2018.
 
What has been your biggest challenge as a small business owner?
Most people don’t know that I am a one-woman show. I handle everything including marketing, product design and creation, production, photography, purchasing, inventory, shipping, quality control and customer service. It is easy to get overwhelmed when you wear so many hats, but I try to take each day at a time and focus on what will move the business forward today. It is frustrating when you get bogged down with so many little tasks and it seems like you are getting nowhere. However, chipping away a little bit each day does in-fact make progress. When I look back over the past 3-6 months, and my to-do list is completely crossed off, I know I moved the needle.
 
Was there ever a point where you wanted to give up? If so, why?
No, because I remind myself of why I started this business—for my allergic children. That keeps me going. Of course there are days when I feel burned out and nothing seems to be moving along, but then I think about how much awareness we’ve already spread. In 2017, we shipped our products to every state in the U.S. and began shipping to Canada and the UK. It is exciting and fun to watch our global reach grow. I can’t wait to see how far it goes in 2018.
 
What do you love MOST about being an entrepreneur?
I most enjoy the flexibility and independence. I try to work consistently between the hours of 7-3 while my children are at school, but I know I can catch up later if I need to attend a field trip, or have another personal obligation during my designated working hours.
 
What do you love LEAST about being an entrepreneur?
There is definitely a tug between being a business owner and balancing family and personal life. I dislike the rare occasions when I have to miss soccer games, or other family outings because I have to work on a Saturday or Sunday to catch up from a busy week.
 
How have you funded your business? How long has it taken you to see a profit?
I started with $1000 and two simple products that immediately resonated with allergy moms all over the world. From there, I have reinvested our earnings to expand our product offering based on feedback and demand. The first year was a lot of trial and error, but during our second year we achieved consistent growth.
 
Did you always see yourself owning a business? If so, is this the business that you thought you would be owning? If not, what did you think you’d be doing?
Yes. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to become an entrepreneur and have always had that entrepreneurial spirit. Allergy Mom Depot is my second entrepreneurial venture and was born out of great passion and a life-altering experience of having a child with life threatening food allergies. Having an online marketing background, and knowledge of website development and production, made it an easy leap for me to launch an online retail business. However, 10 years ago, I would not have expected to be running an awareness company today. Our personal journey has definitely shaped my career path.
 
Where do you see your business in the next 3 to 5 years?
I see continued growth and expansion into new product lines and categories. We will also support community building and education through additional endeavors and I hope to increase our staff.
 
 
What advice would you give to other women that are interested in starting their own business?
Just go for it. If you wait for things to be perfect, you’ll miss your opportunity. I’ve made mistakes and learned a lot of things, but I’ve also tailored our strategy based on real data. It is important to just get your idea out there, otherwise you’ll never receive any feedback to know if it is a viable idea or not.
 
What is one program, tool or app that you can’t live without for your business? (If you have more than one, please feel free to share more!)
I can’t live without Hootsuite to schedule our social media content. It frees me up to do the other tasks I need to focus on.
 
What does your day to day in your business look like?
I usually plan my week on Sunday and assign specific days of the week for various things. I’ve found that this is much more productive than starting and stopping multiple tasks in one day. So for example, Mondays are for planning and packing and shipping weekend orders. Tuesdays are for marketing and social media. Wednesdays are photography, editing images, and any local production meetings, Thursdays are for purchasing, reviewing inventory and new samples, designing/finalizing new items, Friday is for website updates, meetings and vendor calls, other community outreach, etc. This is definitely not set in stone, and can be switched around as needed. Each week is different.
 
As a business owner it can often be hard to find time for ourselves. What are your favorite hobbies and what do you like to do when you are not working?
Spending time with my family hiking, mountain biking and visiting the beach.
 
Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you or your business?

We support various organizations aligned with our mission by donating a percentage of our net proceeds. We look forward to continuing to support more organizations as we grow.

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Thank you so much to Allison for taking the time to share her story and more about Allergy Mom Depot.  You can connect with Allison on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

 
Are you a small business owner?  Do you have a story to share?  Help others discover, learn, and support your business too!  Contact Katie at: kate (at) busybeekate.com for details or through our contact page.
 
Be sure to stop back next week for another interview and don’t forget to check out our past interviews here.
 
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