Monday, June 4, 2012

Spotlight on Mom -- Adjua Ferguson, of P.J. Tuttles Party Decor

A couple of weeks ago I shared my review of this week's Spotlight Mom, Adjua Ferguson's party decor line, P.J. Tuttles Party Decor and Cakes.  If you missed my review, click here to read it now.  Today, I wanted to share my Spotlight on Mommy interview with Adjua.  Please enjoy!

Name: Adjua Ferguson
Company Name/Product/Service: P.J. Tuttles Party Decor & Cakes.
Company Location: Atlanta, GA
Twitter Handle: @pjtuttleparty
Age of Company: 2.5 years
Favorite Inspirational Quotes: "Whether you come from a council estate or a country estate, your success will be determined by your own confidence and fortitude." - Michelle Obama
Favorite Book: "Rework" by Fried & Hansson

Tell us a little bit about yourself. 
I'm an Atlanta native, happily married to my husband John of 6 years. We met at The Art Institute of Atlanta. I've worked as a professional graphic designer since 1999 for popular brands such as Newell Rubbermaid, Kodak, and Jerzees.  About four years ago, I was laid off, pregnant, and decided to become my own boss.

How many children do you have? I have two daughters, Priah and Jayda.   

What are their ages? Ages 5 and 3.

Your hobbies? I enjoy quality time with my kids. I alslove shopping in cute boutiques and attending events in the underground art scene, it keeps me inspired. Researching design ideas, pinning, those things are also my hobbies blended with work, lol.

Briefly explain your business. P.J. Tuttles Party Decor & Cakes are party collections that celebrate girls of color. Each theme features an adorable and relatable character who I have branded as P.J. Tuttles. Our packages are complete with invitations, banners, bottle labels and even coordinating cakes. 

How did it come about? While shopping for my daughter's birthday party, I noticed there were hardly any party decorations that featured girls of color (excluding Dora and Princess Tiana).  At the time, I had recently lost my job as a designer. I viewed the "downtime" as an opportunity to create a stylish party collection for my daughter and other girls of color. My goal was to design tasteful, fun, and contemporary themes. Guests loved it! To promote the line, I posted pics of her party on Facebook and started receiving orders. Desiring to test the collection outside my circle, I launched an Etsy and Big Cartel store. The response has really been great thus far!

What is a typical work day like? After dropping Priah and Jayda off at school, I arrive at our home studio and begin work in the morning.  If I have really good ideas, several ordersor if "life happens" and my day becomes hecticI work during the wee hours of the night. As most creatives, those hours are often when I'm in my best creative zone. Right now, I don't have a business partner so the late hours are sometimes necessary. I try to be careful about it, and work smarter by designating certain days to complete particular business goals or tasks.

What has been a struggle while starting up your company?  Whew! Well, there have been a few. I will say start up costs. It definitely takes money to make it.

What did you do in your past work life? I worked as a full-time graphic designer for several notable companies, creating solutions for popular brands through retail campaigns, marketing collateral, and promotional events.  My professional experience and working behind-the-scenes, helped me  understand how to marry business with design.

What have been some of your major successes? This has been my most profitable year, and I'm happy about the progress. It confirms that my products are filling a void in the market. The American Urban Radio Network recently spotlighted my business story for Women's History Month, that was pretty awesome too. 

What have been some of your major challenges? I had to learn that every business connection or opportunity may not necessarily be the right fit, or compliments my vision.

On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going? I always desired to create a business and, or legacy that would be inherited by my children. Whenever I receive inquiries about my services or make a sale, it's a sign that I've come too far to quit. I'd be sorely disappointed to return to work full-time for someone else, knowing that I never gave my business idea 100%.

What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family? I do my best to enjoy the personal time given when I'm not working. I feel as if I create that culture now, it sets the tone as business grows. Whether they're passing me ribbon or attending lunch meetings, my girls now get what I do and they really think it's cool. I don't think there's a formula, I just had to figure out which methods worked with my lifestyle.

What is next for your business? I'm preparing my P.J. Tuttles Party Decor to be sold at various boutiques, play centers, and dance studios. I'm very excited about the next six months, you never know what may happen. It makes business exciting!

Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business? Don't assume everything has to be "perfect" before starting your business. Some of the most successful companies in the world never had a linear plan, they just had an absolutely, fantastic idea and executed it.

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