Sunday, November 27, 2011

Spotlight on Mommy–Jenny Ford of Monkey-Toes

Last year, I won a pair of Monkey Toes shoes from a fellow mommy blogger, and have been of fan our Spotlight on Mommy feature this week, Jenny Ford.  Her shoes are cute and stylish, and they turned out to be daughter's favorite shoes this past summer.  If you haven't checked out Monkey Toes, you are missing. out.  

Click here to visit Jenny's online store now.  And, as an added bonus for Inspired by Savannah readers, please use coupon code "MOMMON" to receive 20% off your total purchase, now through December 15th
When you are done shopping, please enjoy my interview this week with Jenny below.
Name: Jenny Ford     
Company Name/Product/Service: Monkey Toes       
Company Location: Online
Company Website
Twitter Handle: @monkeytoesshoes
Age of Company: 9 years
Favorite Quotes: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
And, my other fave is “Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right.” Henry Ford

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How many children do you have?  What are their ages? Your hobbies? Etc.
I’m 36 (this birthday hit me harder than I thought it would), I’ve got three kiddos ages 11, 9 and 21 months.  Married to an awesome guy – who adores family.  I’m sporadic, a little nutty, outgoing, silly and love business – it’s what challenges me on a daily basis.  
Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about?
I took a painting class years ago, before kiddos, and found that I was quick and good at it.  I was looking for new projects to paint when I came across hand painted shoes.  I fell in love with the idea and developed my own designs.  Family began purchasing them as shower gifts and viola! – a business was born.  I launched when my 2nd child was 9 months old (she’s now 9).

What is a typical work day like?
Sporadic, just like me J I’ve got 2 businesses now so working to find balance between the two. I get up pretty early at about 5:30 to check emails and get my day started.  At about 7:15 the kids start getting up and need my attention so I drop everything (well, ok, I still check emails on my Blackberry). My 9 year old is out the door by 8 and at that point my son and I usually go to the gym.  We’ll do something fun after that, have lunch and he goes down for a nap.  At that point is when I start projects – blogging, email blasts, social media stuff, calls, designing, accounting – all the fun business stuff. My oldest daughter comes strolling in about 3:10 and at that point, I finish up projects and get snacks going and homework started.  Somewhere in there I get a shower…usually.  Some days after dinner, if I’m feeling like I still have a lot on my (business) plate I will go back to work – but only on days when my husband works, he’s a firefighter and works a non-traditional schedule.  Go to bed, and do it all again the next day.
What has been a struggle while starting up your company?
Money was the biggest struggle.  Once I had it I wasn’t sure what to do with it, I didn’t make very good decisions and then got myself and the business into trouble.  Still working on that mistake, but it is coming around!
What did you do in your past work life?
This is quite funny actually, I have been everything from Chuck E at Chuck E Cheese’s to a Hooter’s girl, an Assistant Manager at a Skating Rink, a Trade Show Decorating Account Exec, and a Sales Manager for a townhome community.  Each of these jobs, though very diverse, has allowed me to learn very different lessons in business.
What have been some of your major successes?
I’d say keeping this business afloat for almost 10 years.  My most recent accomplishment was a licensing deal through a major manufacturer.  Our new line of shoes launched in January of this year in Atlanta at the Home & Gift Show.  It’s been an amazing process.  
What have been some of your major challenges?
I went through a period where I was a single mom, laid off from 2 jobs, and decided to go full force on Monkey Toes.  I drained everything and almost lost my condo to foreclosure 3 times.  My motto during those days was “No one is going to die, we can live through it”  Through the grace of God, everything has worked out beautifully.
On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?
A nap… HA!  So funny, but sometimes when I feel like things are coming down on me, I need to step away instead of further torturing myself.  Whether it be through a nap or just getting away from business a little bit, I can release that frustration and come back to it with a clear head (this usually happens during accounting – ha!) and things typically work out.
What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?
There is no such thing as balance for us women, we live in a world where we try to do everything - I try to do the best I possibly can. I look to God to help me prioritize my days and sometimes that is heavy on family and sometimes it’s business, it fluctuates from day to day. I’m trying more and more not to put so much pressure on myself to do everything and be everything to everyone.  
What is next for your business?
A new Spring 2012 line.  I’m so excited about this new line I can hardly stand it.  The packaging, the colors, the characters are perfection.  And I’m not tooting my own horn here, seriously, the team behind all of this is amazing!  Stay tuned, the news will hit in January, possibly sooner.

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