Hi there—It’s Kate, owner of Sky Trading Co. with my second edition of Sky’s the Limit: a blog of Q&A-style interviews featuring the shakers, makers and mostly badass women around Columbus, OH. If it’s your first time visiting (welcome!), this is a space where I’ll feature someone who’s making bold moves in their life. Hopefully, their stories will inspire you to live fearlessly. Enjoy!
On this journey, I got to sit down with Liz Haislip, designer and owner of Pebby Forevee, an online boutique with accessories, home goods and customizable clothing. Not only is Liz one of the kindest humans I’ve ever met, she’s a total boss. She’s on a mission to make Pebby Forevee a powerhouse and is well on her way. She’s outfitted celebs such as Jennifer Garner and Chelsea Houska from “Teen Mom,” has over 17.3K Instagram followers, is opening her own shop in Columbus, OH and will start offering social media classes at the end of the month. Below is her story and advice for young entrepreneurs and wannabe bosses…
For those that don’t know, can you describe what Pebby Forevee is?
It’s a clothing outlet for women to be able to express themselves without sacrificing comfort and style. It’s customizable—customers can choose any graphic they want and put it on a piece of clothing that fits their body type. I think women like to have options and I want to give them options.
Comfortable, customizable and confident is your brand mantra – what do those words mean to you?
I want you to feel comfortable. If you find a certain style that fits your body type, I also want it to look like something you would actually wear. For instance, I don’t like my arms so it’s rare that I wear a tank top. When I’m shopping, I often find shirts that have a design I like but I won’t buy it because of the shape of the garment, which is why I offer multiple styles for each design. I want people to feel like they can express themselves confidently and feel comfortable at the same time.
Where does your design inspiration come from for your clothing?
A lot of it is seasonal. I just designed five or six football shirts that reflect the Pebby Forevee style. We definitely have a look. We like block bold letters, and I’m obsessed with Cooper Black font. Inspiration comes from what our look is now, and now, we are using a lot of block and bold lettering.
What are two of your favorite items for sale right now on the site?
The headbands will always and forever be my favorite. They’re so versatile, they hide my acne and they help with my mom hair. They make me feel cool whenever I don’t feel cool, and I feel like they make my outfit feel a little more edgy. Right now, I also love our Plaid Rebel Jackets.
When you decided to start your own business what was your first step?
Realizing that I could actually do it even though I had no business background. Once I realized that, with a little bit of hard work and a lot of research, I was able to figure out how to upload my items on Etsy. Then, I would view other shops on Etsy that I admired and I would mirror what they did. I didn’t have a computer until I was 25 so I used my phone to take and upload pictures. I used myself as the model, I used whatever I could with whatever funds or means that I had. People don’t realize you don’t need $5,000 and a five-year business plan to start a business, you can just start and see where it goes.
Speaking of money, how did you fund your business when you were first starting out?
I don’t have any debt. Everything I do, I pay in cash and I pay for everything upfront. My first purchase was a $40 screen printing kit I found at Michaels. I took it home and ruined it but I was so curious that I went back out a couple hours after to get another one. After I realized what that was I did a bunch of research online and ordered my first real kit for $150. I still use it!
Did you have an “ah ha” moment of this is what I’m going to do or did it come on gradually?
When my first screen burned correctly I think I screamed. I was so excited and that was it. I had so many ideas going through my head and I never thought about anything else. I became obsessed with it in the best way possible.
You have a personal website and an Etsy site—what did you launch first?
I launched my Etsy site first. It’s a fantastic platform to learn how to market your products, how to take pictures and how to use tags. The commercials make it seem like starting your own website is easy and it’s really not, so I would recommend starting on Etsy.
What were your biggest fears when starting your business?
I was scared when I quit my job. I was able to quit my job after a couple of months because my business took off on Etsy, so I think that was the scariest thing.
How did you deal with those fears?
I hushed them up. I wasn’t leaving a job that I loved. I was scared because I didn’t know anyone else that was doing what I was doing, so I didn’t have any examples. I didn’t have anyone to ask questions, but I just shut my fears up and went for it.
Can you tell me about your journey of learning the necessary design skills for your clothing?
This is what’s crazy. I have a clothing business and I don’t know how to sell. I do all of my editing and I have no idea how to use Photoshop. I learned by googling. I watched hours of YouTube videos. I read a lot of blogs. I spent a lot of time on the computer. I’m self-taught.
How do you promote your business?
I’ve used an advertising agency a couple of times and those have always been hit or miss for me, and they’ve never been successful enough for me to stay with it. Instagram is my number one way to get customers and it promotes a lot of engagement. It helps my customers feel like they got something from Pebby when they purchase something, which is how I want them to feel. Also, I do a lot on Pinterest. Most of the things I do is free because social media is free.
What’s your favorite social media platform and why?
Instagram hands down. I love how it’s visual. I also love Instagram stories because my followers can see that I have a personality, how I have acne and that I struggle with the balance of being a working mom. It’s added a much-needed personal level to Instagram.
Do you have any social media tips?
I have a ton of tips! I’m starting a social media class at the end of October. It’s going to be about teaching people how to use Instagram to boost their business, engage with customers and how to turn engagement into sales. The class will be here in my shop. I’m going to travel to Cincinnati, Cleveland and Pittsburgh to teach as well.
How do you balance motherhood and owning your own business?
Whenever I’m with my daughter I focus on her unless she’s doing something funny and I want to tape it. When I’m with her, I’m not on Instagram, I’m not on Pinterest, I’m not on my phone. I put it away and I play. That’s how I balance. The same thing goes for weekends. I try not to have my phone and I try not to do work over the weekends.
Have you had any “OMG, pinch me” moments since starting your own company?
Jen Garner and Ben Affleck ordered shirts from me a couple of years ago, but the biggest ‘OMG’ moment was when Chelsea Houska wore my clothes during a “Teen Mom” episode on MTV. I love her and she has been my fashion icon for years.
Let’s talk about opening your own brick and mortar store – what has that process been like?
The process has evolved because the space was originally supposed to be only a factory. Then, I thought people could do local pickups, but I found out people want to come in and shop and I wasn’t expecting that. I’m nervous for the opening because I’m scared that the shop won’t live up to people’s expectation. I don’t really know what that means for us yet. I don’t know if people aren’t going to show up and we’ll be disappointed or if a lot of people are going to show up and they’ll be disappointed when they realize it’s not a typical store.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who want to follow their dreams and start their own company?
My favorite quote is ‘Don’t think about what can happen in a month, don’t think about what can happen in a year, just focus on the 24 hours in front of you and do what you can to get closer to where you want to be,’ and that’s exactly how I got started. I had $80 in the bank that I spent on screen printing kits and I obsessed over it. I was tedious and careful, and I learned. Do what you can with what you have. Start somewhere and keep going.
What do you want people to know about next?
The opening of my store is October 20th. It’s located at 140 W Borland St. Suite 500, Pickerington, OH 43147. I’ll be offering social media classes and I’m always coming up with new designs, so there will be more. More stores and more ways to connect, so expect to expect more.