Starting her own business has proven to be a learning experience for University of North Georgia senior marketing major Madison (Maddie) Minor. Her company, Willows & Palms, sells t-shirts, paintings and promotes the ‘Self Love Club.’
“The unique thing about my business is that it’s not just one thing,” Minor said.
The company started out as a way for Minor to sell her art but has since turned into much more. The Self Love Club, a concept she came across on the Internet, is a new aspect of the company and promotes a message of self-acceptance. She decided to print ‘Self Love Club’ on t-shirts and hats and is now selling them in two boutiques and online. She hopes this idea will become a movement because of the meaning behind it.
“It means something different to everyone,” Minor said. “I want people to know that their lives are so much bigger than their outward appearance and to instead focus on how hard they love people and how they can benefit others.”
Through her encounters with students at UNG and with her customers, Maddie has found that to some people it means strengthening their faith and to others it means overcoming an eating disorder or promoting feminism.
“Each person has their own thing that sticks with them about it,” Minor said. “It’s less about what it means to me and more about what it means to you.”
The ins-and-outs of setting up her first business have been an exciting journey, as she finds herself “constantly moving and learning,” Minor said. She hasn’t had to do everything alone, though, as she’s had support along the way from her friends and family. Many of her friends have started their own companies too.
Her company’s name was inspired by a sermon Minor heard by Jentezen Franklin about willows and palms. Also, one of Minor’s favorite things to paint is palm leaves and the beach.
Minor still isn’t sure how to balance both the art and t-shirt sides of her business, as the apparel industry is something she doesn’t know much about.
“Ideally, I would want both sides of the business to grow together,” Minor said. “I’m still trying to figure out what that looks like at this point. I do know, art is the only thing I’d be fully satisfied doing, so balancing my art and my business is really important to me.”
Her journey has been fueled by her love for creativity. She created her own website and has a strong social media presence, something she is passionate about as a graphic design minor. Companies and individuals have been reaching out to collaborate with her.
“I’m trying to do different things on social media,” Minor said. “I still haven’t reached enough people yet.”
Marketing management is a class within the Mike Cottrell College of Business that has proven beneficial for Minor in that she was able to create a marketing plan for her company as her semester-long project.
“Owning your own business means that everything is so up in the air,” Minor said. “Tomorrow everything could do really well or everything could tank.”
As for the future, Minor will graduate in December 2017 and plans to fully dedicate her time to the business. In January 2018, she wants to hit the ground running and contact as many boutiques as possible for placement of her products on retail shelves. She hopes to continue expanding, bringing Willows and Palms t-shirts into more boutiques and to further promote the Self Love Club and all that goes along with it.
“If I didn’t take the time to make it work now, I would regret it,” Minor said. “While I’m nervous about the unknowns of the future, I’m also incredibly excited.”