Megan: I’m so excited about today’s guest. Welcome to She Boss. I am Megan. And I am honored to be here with Erica DeSpain with All Things Madison, owner and author and all of the things because she does it all. So, thank you so much for joining us for She Boss.

Erica: I’m super excited to be here and I’ve learned so much from you already just seeing the behind the scenes of how you run your business. I’m inspired by it.

Megan: Thank you. It’s total chaos for those that haven’t had a chance. No, just kidding.

Erica: You hide it well.

Megan: That’s the life of an entrepreneur, right?

Erica: Yes, that is the truth.

Megan: That’s what it’s all about. So well, I’m so excited to just hear your story. Ever since you’ve started All Things Madison, it’s been such an amazing thing to see how you’re showcasing local area businesses, you’re such a community advocate. I don’t know that a lot of people realize that you were actually from Madison, and you left and you came back. And I could only imagine what that transformation has done to help influence the current status of All Things Madison but just tell us a little about your story and how you got to where you are.

Erica: Yes, so, thanks again for having me. So, I did grow up here. I used to think that everybody in Madison was from Madison because it was a small town. Everybody was from here. So, I’ll never forget coming back to visit. So just to back up a little bit, I graduated from Bob Jones, went to the University of Alabama. While I was there, I met my husband, who was in school at West Point in New York. He was going to be an army officer. And we got married after college and then set sail for what we thought would be a military career. And I was excited about it because I was ready to flap my wings and get out of Alabama and it really fit my personality well. But after about eight years, we decided that we were ready to put down roots. And we’d lived all over the country and had traveled the world with military experiences and we chose Madison very intentionally. I always knew it was a good place to live but it wasn’t because I was biased, it actually is a great place to live. So, I think that experience in the military deepened my appreciation for living here. So, we moved back here in 2018, four years ago, we had two daughters at the time, we now have a third. So, we have our complete family and we love living here.

So, I started All Things Madison two years after we moved back to Madison because I saw a hole in the market and two and a half years later, we’re still rocking and rolling with the business.

Megan: I love it so much and you’ve really created such a niche like there isn’t something like All Things Madison here in North Alabama. And again, you lead with the desire to showcase local businesses and support local businesses, which is critical to the lifeblood of our community. So, what drew that passion out of you? I know you’re a writer and your creator at heart so what was it about the community that really inspired you to want to take that path?

Erica: You know, I like to say that I’m actually my own audience. I find that when you understand what’s within five miles of your home, you just enjoy your home, your Monday through Friday a little bit more. You don’t have the inconvenience of running 20 minutes away for a routine appointment, you run five minutes away and then you just have a little bit more time in your day. And one day leads to the next day and you eventually just have a whole life of resources that are right within five minutes of you. And it just, without even realizing it, enhances your life. And then in the meantime, it supports our local businesses.

So, I found that while Huntsville is obviously a big community, there was a lot of coverage for Huntsville. But when I looked at Madison and the businesses that I wanted to support in Madison, I didn’t want to see them go under because other people didn’t know about them. But I also wanted to go on a journey of discovering what was under my nose. So, it seemed to fill the need to learn what was right around me, tell other people what was right around them and also support the businesses that maybe are truly local, don’t have these massive budgets but deserve the business.

Megan: Yes, I love the aspect of curiosity you have because I think that curiosity is such a critical trait to carry to just continue learning and figure out- like you said, what is around you and what that really looks like. And two, you get a chance to build relationships with local business owners.

Erica: The best relationships

Megan: Right and they get a chance to know you. You know that the small businesses that open in Huntsville have a vested interest in seeing the community move forward in the way that you do as opposed to maybe some big box stores that don’t really have that homegrown kind of tie. So, tell me a little bit about starting All Things Madison. Obviously, there are some challenges that you run into in doing that. Knowing you, I know that you seem very much like a ‘go big or go home’ kind of person.

Erica: That’s true, you’ve sized me up well.

Megan: But with that being said, sometimes creating a business model such as All Things Madison can be challenging to explain. So, what does that really mean, right? So, when you were originally looking at the drawing board for what that looked like, walk me through that phase for you and some of the challenges that you faced with that.

Erica: Sure, it’s super easy to put my finger on the biggest challenge in the beginning but one that I kind of wonder if I’ll ever not deal with and that’s explaining to people what this is. And really at its core, I understand that question because I didn’t model my business after another business. Now, did I invent the wheel when it comes to being an influencer or being media? Of course not, there have been plenty of people that have come before me, who cover their local businesses or whatnot. But I knew that what I was doing was kind of half media half influencer, it was going to be very first person, and writing from the place of, ‘Hey, I live here too. So, I’m showcasing your business but also, I’m not just in it to grow your business, I’m in it to provide a resource and answer questions for community members.’ So, I look at those two audiences. So, I think that’s always been my biggest challenge, explaining to people that, ‘Hey, this avenue of advertising, it works. It’s proven super effective but I understand that it’s non-traditional. So, what can I do to just help you see what that would look like to work with your business?

Megan: So, I almost envision this, as when you’re shopping on Amazon, I hate to say that I’m shopping on Amazon. If you’re shopping on Amazon and you see customer reviews, I’m all about the reviews, that’s where I make my decision.

Erica: Same

Megan: And you do such a great job of bringing that aspect to light which I think is so neat, because following All Things Madison, I’ve seen multiple businesses, and I’m like, “I had no clue.” I’ve driven by there every single day on my way to work but my interest wasn’t piqued in the way that it is now because I’ve gotten this inside scoop. And you’re going in and asking these questions that maybe as a consumer, you don’t want to ask right?

Erica: Well, you don’t have the platform to ask, right?

Megan: Right

Erica: I am very comfortable with going in and one of my lines, I repeat all the time is “please excuse my ignorance but…” because I’m not an expert in your field or in the field of lip injections or the field of boutiques or any of those things. So, the thing is, I realized that my audience isn’t either. So, if I have questions to understand someone’s business, they do too, and I have the platform to ask. So, I’m going to ask them so that I can then educate the readers who are just like me, who may not shop there or go there because they don’t understand and I’m going to clear all that up for you.

Megan: So, tell me a little bit about the value benefit that you’ve heard from some of the clients that you support. I’m curious to hear. I mean, I would imagine that the return on- I want to say the return on the investment, but the return that they get in partnering with All Things Madison is massive because you’re really able to open the brand up to an audience that perhaps would never get a chance to see it. So, share with me a little bit about what you’ve heard from some of your clients about that?

Erica: Sure. I would say it’s there are two answers to that. One of the most frequent responses I hear from a business after I’ve written a website article in specific is that most of them have never had their stories told. They have never had someone look at their business or their journey from just an outside point of view.

Megan: Buyer’s perspective

Erica: So, what I do is I go in and I ask those hard questions that maybe they’ve never really thought about or they’ve never pieced together, how they really did get from A to B to C to D. And then I write it in this story that makes sense for my readers, but also to them. They’re like, “This is such a gift to us. Someone just shared our story and they get how hard we’ve worked to get here.”

Megan: And as a business owner, that’s a really hard thing to do because you’re so closely vested to it. We find that a lot with our clients where I mean, it’s just talking about the storytelling aspect of how they came to be and taking the values that are just words on a wall and actually filling in the blanks. That way people can understand how to connect with them. That’s difficult. It’s not easy.

Erica: Right, well, in writing the articles I mean, starting from interviewing them about their story to actually releasing the piece. It may take me 10 to 12 hours on one story because this is their story, this is their shot to have it written down in a very accurate way so I pour my heart into it. So, for them to read it, they call me or text me or email me that they’re in tears because they’re reading about themselves and it gives them confidence of, ‘hey, we really have worked really hard.’ So that’s kind of the first incredible piece of feedback that they feel so validated and in their hard work as a small business.

But the second part of it is the return on investment because my overhead is significantly lower than, say, some other forms of long term or long-time traditional advertising. They do see a generally pretty great return on investment, sometimes 900% 1,000% or more. Now, of course, I can never guarantee that, right but it is generally what I see. Sometimes it’s within 48 hours that they don’t just have more exposure out there but they actually see new foot traffic and that’s what I want. I mean, that lights me up.

Megan: So, out of curiosity do you ask them for continued feedback after the fact? Is that a relationship that’s nurtured that way you can understand what we could have done differently or what it does yield and maybe taking that to the next client that you support to maybe change that strategy a little bit?

Erica: So, I’ll be super honest, I actually don’t currently ask for much feedback.

Megan: Okay

Erica: I generally do hear it but don’t ask for much and that comes from a place of I understand that the results they might see are probably- it’s a long game, right, especially with website articles. There’s a search engine optimization game there, where I could write their article in 2022 and in 2024, they’re still going to see traffic. So, for me, I have an understanding that their investment doesn’t end once the initial promotion ends.

So, I think for me, there is a little bit of a fear of, maybe they were dissatisfied with maybe lack of immediate traffic because I know that it’s kind of a waiting game. So that’s something that I could do better in my business.

Megan: It gets hard.

Erica: Yes, it comes from a place of, ‘oh, I don’t know if I want to hear anything negative if I understand there’s more to it, that’s just being honest.

Megan: So, I mean, as a marketing company, we deal with that all the time, honestly, because we’re definitely not and I know you are not either, where let’s make an investment today for a quick buck tomorrow. Like that is not the game that we are in, we are also in the long game, and your expertise in SEO and content and writing. Being able to do that storytelling is truly what creates that emotional tie with the end user and that’s what builds the trust. That creates that long term customer. So, I mean, not that this is a sales pitch on All Things Madison but for many businesses who really want to pour themselves into an authentic approach, to really tap into a community, this is a way to do it.

Erica: Sure

Megan: It truly is.

Erica: Thank you. I appreciate that.

Megan: It is, I mean, it really is and a lot of people don’t understand that because it’s not the traditional method. It’s really not, it’s a little bit out of the box. And sometimes with those non-traditional tactics, there’s not always that go to, “Well, here’s the exact ROI.” which is something that’s a little bit foreign to some people.

So, talk a little bit about- we’re going into the holiday season, by the time that this airs, this will be right before the holiday season, we wanted to use this particular She Boss episode to promote all things small business and all things local business and you know both Madison and Huntsville we are lovers of both, of course.

Erica: And I am too.

Megan: Yes, talk a little bit about some suggestions that you might have for businesses going into the holidays, where I don’t know, any creative ideas that you have around ways that they can help to just differentiate themselves and create some buzz and maybe some ways that you would suggest that you could help with that.

Erica: Sure, so the first thing that comes to mind that a business can do is consistent social media coverage. So, if you have great products, don’t just put them out there one time, put it out there on Monday. And then again, the next Wednesday, utilize stories, utilize Facebook, utilize your email newsletter, the thing that’s hard about social media is the algorithm. So, you can post this amazing set of new throw blankets that you got that you want to sell, you post it on a Monday, post it again the following Wednesday, maybe in a different format because that algorithm is tough. I always say, “Don’t be afraid to blast yourself out there.” If you have a product, make sure that you’re staying consistent on your social media to what you actually offer. I always say, “With social media, make sure you’re sticking with why people follow you.” If you are a retail store, they want to see what you have to buy. So, pump yourself up, put yourself out there and show people what you have. And also, just make sure that you have incentives that draw people in, have the discounts, maybe like the sip and shops. People are looking to shop locally. There’s also a big convenience factor with shopping local because you have something in your hands that day, especially for last minute shopping. So definitely capitalize on maybe that December 15 and when there is no more time for online shopping, don’t give up till that December 24.

Megan: So that is 100% me and I’m sure our team knows that I’m like, 22nd, 23rd Christmas shopper.

Erica: And you’re going to shop in person?

Megan: Yes

Erica: It’s then too late for online shopping. So, I just say, it’s not a lack of being too proud and bragging about all these great- just put yourself out there, people want to know what you have to offer and be consistent with it.

Megan: Well, and that’s the other thing too, the old saying of, ‘just because you build it does not mean people will come’.

Erica: That’s exactly right.

Megan: You have to be able to point people in the direction that you want them to go. And to your point as well, consistency is key.

Erica: It is key.

Megan: It really is and no one’s going to be able to hear that message unless you’re the one that’s really promoting it out there as much as you can. I think too, another thing that I love that you do, and that is so critical with small business and social media is that it’s not all about the sale, as it is about the connection with your audience. So going back to your example about that throw blanket, talk about the materials involved and where it came from, and the patterns and the colors and showcase it on beautiful hot pink furniture and how that would look as opposed to it just being like, ‘come 15% off’’ and that’s it.

Erica: Bingo

Megan: You know what I mean?

Erica: And also think about who would be a recipient of that blanket. Okay, if you could picture buying a blanket for your grandmother or your niece, imagine gifting your nieces blanket and the two of you are going to watch movies together. Really, it really goes back to- for me, I’m very relational. I think if you can humanize something, really have people put themselves in the position of actually utilizing your product or booking your space, where they can see the value of it, they’re much more likely to say, “Okay, I could see myself buying that or reserving that or doing that, now I’m going to make the call now. I’m going to go on the website.” So, I agree to doing more than just blasting it out there but putting a little work into it.

Megan: Exactly. So, let’s talk a little bit about what the future looks like with All Things Madison? I know you’ve had some exciting things unfold recently. So, talk to us and I can’t stand when people ask this question about, “Well, Where do you see yourself in five years?” I’m like, “I’m going to get through the week and then I’m gonna focus on making” there are plans but, in this business, opportunities come your way left and right and if they make sense that may completely transform the direction that you go, maybe, maybe not. So, what’s sort of next with All Things Madison?

Erica: Yes, so the thing is, with All Things Madison, it is a digital platform, right? So, if you look at where social media and websites and search engines and email newsletters, those things have all taken on a whole new life than they did five years ago, right? Users use those platforms in different ways and I know that in 2027, those things are all going to evolve even more. I’m sure there will be things that we could not have dreamt of that will have evolved. So, what I’m committed to, regardless of what changes take place in the ‘interwebs’, staying on top of it, being one step ahead, having that growth mindset, continuing to learn. My number one job is to be an online resource for people that live in, work in or visit Madison. However, they are using the internet. I want to be in front of them, giving them authentic resources for how to discover the community around them. So, I’m committed that regardless of what the internet looks like, in five years, I want to still be on my A game.

Megan: We recently went to a social media conference a couple of months ago and there’s a lot of conversation around the metaverse and the future of the metaverse and what that looks like. And I think for what once was a sleepy little town of Madison, that’s a pretty heavy lift to try to wrap your head around and figure out so it will be very interesting to see what the future of digital looks like over the next couple of years. But there’s no doubt, you’ll be right front and center in the middle of it.

Erica: And I think the other thing is that we are constantly trying to grow new arms of the business. I think as an entrepreneur, you never want to put all your eggs in one basket. So, while yes, website articles are my bread and butter, I’m all over social media. We did launch a merchandise line, just to let people have an opportunity to buy things that are specific to Madison that are kind of fun. There’s not much profit in that. That’s not really the goal. It’s more of offering our community something that’s fun. They can buy a Christmas ornament or a mug or realtors can purchase a ton of items to welcome their client to the community. We are starting a subscription line where people pay a small fee per month and receive all these gift cards where they can go- not coupons, gift cards where they can go explore the community. A win for all people we look at everything we do through the lens of “Is this great for residents? Is this beneficial for them? Is it beneficial for business?” But also, this is my business. I have three kids; this helps keep our lights on. So, is it also a good business move?

Megan: Yes, absolutely. I’m excited about the subscription model. Talking with you prior to this, there’s a ton of value in that aspect of things. So, if you’re not signed up on that you need to be if you want to support the local community, you want to be able to get some really unique things that are specific to our local shops here and everything. I mean, the ROI on that, and itself is tenfold so that’s amazing.

Erica: For sure

Megan: Let’s switch gears just a little bit, I’m curious, I want to hear about not that you have these in your world, I don’t know if you do but any of the haters that look at the world of influencers, and how do you overcome that not only as an entrepreneur to really stand your ground, because you are an entrepreneur, you are CEO, you are running this business that is a very successful business. It’s hard for a lot of people to sometimes understand what that means. I don’t want to dive into the world of influencer marketing, necessarily, but just some of the challenges that you faced, how you’ve overcome them, how you’ve overcome them as a mom. I think that’s a huge thing. You have three young kids all under the age of ten.

Erica: Yes

Megan: Holy cow so, I don’t know what you have for breakfast every morning but I need to get some of that.

Erica: It is the same thing every morning because it’s one less decision.

Megan: So, what is it?

Erica: Just a protein shake with almond milk.

Megan: Okay and I would love to hear so let’s talk about that, some of the challenges that you’ve overcome, and then I would love to hear about some of maybe the routines that help keep your life in order.

Erica: Yes, those are good questions. Okay, so I am a ‘why’ person. I learned in college, I actually got a degree in secondary education, English and journalism. And I learned from a professor that the best way to plan a lesson plan for your high school students was to backwards map. What do you want them to learn? What do you want them to do? And then you plan it backwards so that you know that end goal is achieved. That has rippled into every aspect of my life, personally, professionally, just with vacations. I mean, I always backwards map. And it kind of works, because you do end up achieving a goal because you have a goal, and you actually made a plan to get there.

So, I think for me, when it comes to my business, if I ever do receive criticism, I don’t want to say I mean, I’m so grateful. I don’t feel like I have many verbal haters, per se. But I definitely would say I have people who occasionally will try to catch you, ‘Oh, gotcha’ or they try and challenge you. And for me, while yes, it obviously catches you off guard, you’re a little bit like, “Wait, that was unnecessary.” I do feel like I’m able to come back and justify why I do what I do because there’s very few things that I do that I don’t have a reason for. I’m very big on consistency in all areas of my business. So, I do feel like when I have some people that maybe just don’t understand that I’m able to come back and kind of have the last word. And also understanding that there will be people who, maybe they just flat out don’t understand what I do and that that’s actually not my job to explain it to them. if  what I’m doing is working for my audience, for the people who are my audience, because not everyone is into everything, right but if I’m serving the people who are genuinely interested in what I’m offering just being confident in that. And knowing that I’m doing the right things and serving my community. And sure, it’s no fun when people are negative but you’ve got to have a little thick skin.

Megan: Yes, you do. You have to have very thick skin.

Erica: Yes, for sure.

Megan: Having a business is not an easy is not an easy feat by any means and trying while you’re balancing married life and motherhood and all of that kind of stuff. So, talk a little bit about some of the routines that help keep that straight in line. Having three kids, they’re a little bit older, so they’re more self-sufficient.

Erica: Still three kids, though

Megan: But having three under the age of 10, I don’t know that I would be saying and looking half as decent and beautiful as you do on a regular basis, I’d have eggs in my hair and all sorts of crazy stuff. But what are some of maybe three or four things on a daily basis that you’re like, without a doubt, this is what I do, helps me run through the day, one less thing to worry about.

Erica: So, I would say my Monday through Friday look the exact same, every single week. There is very little differentiating from that. I think the first thing that I do that’s always a piece of advice for people who work from home or entrepreneurs is consider this a job. I think there’s this misconception that if you work from home or you work for yourself, that you have this endless flexibility. The thing is you do have flexibility, you understand? However, if say I have a girlfriend that texts me, “Hey, I know you’re working from home or I know you can take off because you’re your own boss whenever you want to go to lunch at 11”, say I take two hours and meet her for lunch because I can. I have 40 hours of work to do actually I have about 100 hours of work to do as an entrepreneur. So, if I take two hours for lunch, when am I going to do those two hours of work, because it doesn’t disappear? So, am I now going to do that from nine to 11pm? That’s not good for my creative space. That’s not good for balancing time with my spouse or my children. So, what I’ve had to learn is that I have work hours, unapologetically and that those are flexible for the right things. But generally, I work eight to three every day without question and then I have those extra hours, where I do some work on the weekends for various projects but that’s selected carefully. So, that’s the first routine.

Megan: I love it. So, you’re setting your own boundaries regardless of-

Erica: Yes, for sure.

Megan: -the structure, maybe that is mean on the outside as being more flexible.

Erica: Yes.

Megan: Which is great.

Erica: For sure. Another routine is that I utilize, so I’m most creative, my brain is most on in the morning. So, identifying when you are on your A game, and then taking your hardest projects that require the biggest parts of your brain and doing those during that time. So, for me, that is eight to 10am. That is when I could run a marathon mentally. So, I take the hardest things that I have that day, the most important tasks, those happen eight to 10am. And I know that about myself but so many of these things just take time and trial and error to figure out, which is the beauty of sticking with your business. There are certain things you just can’t learn without, time…

Megan: Well, and that consistency of getting yourself into that routine as well, I bet is extremely helpful. That way, you’re not having to reconfigure the schedule or the agenda or your priority list, you’ve already got it okay, from eight to 10, this is my window for X and then from 10 to 12 is my time for this.

Erica: Yes, for sure. I would say the other part of just routine is I have invested financially in things that make my business easier. So just certain online platforms. I have a director of operations that I hired about three months ago, and having very specific ways that I utilize those that then go back and help my business so that I can stick to those work hours.

Megan: What is your most favorite? What could you not live without as it relates to that?

Erica: Sure. So right now, I couldn’t imagine living without Slack.

Megan: I love Slack. Slack is great.

Erica: Slack is how my director of operations and I communicate all day long. So, I also really like is a resource where I can go ahead and schedule some of my Instagram content. So, I pay for that annually. And also, just having a really good website host who is available 24 hours a day, if I have an article that’s going bananas and I need to make sure that my website isn’t going to go down and invest in that because that is, I mean, that’s the house. It’s household insurance. Just making sure that those key things are in place. And when those things are seamless, you can do all the other little babies.

Megan: I think that’s a big thing is not a lot of, especially when you’re getting started, not a lot of people realize how many resources are out there to help you automate some of those daily things just to make your life easier. We did a little bit of editing on this particular one but one thing that came up was a reminder through a little dot over here, and her name rhymes with something that I can’t say because then she’ll go on. She’ll chime in [unintelligible 00:29:02] Amazon. And it was Gracie’s reminder to drink her water but it’s little things like that. I know that sounds silly.

Erica: It doesn’t.

Megan: But I have a reminder in my office five minutes before every single meeting that I have, because I am deeply focused. It’s like, Oops, someone’s there to tell me, “Hey, you have a call in 10 minutes. You better get ready for it.” Because if I don’t guess what, I’m going to be late. And then I’m going to be late for the rest of the day because if I’m late in the morning, it just carries on throughout the day, which drives me nuts.

Erica: I would say I’m the same.

Megan: So, I’m going to ask you a question. So, at the end of the day, your kids come home from school and you pick up the little one and your husband comes home, how do you turn it off and make sure that you’re focused 100% and you’re in the moment? I don’t know if you have listened or read, and I know the team might make a little bit of an eye roll but the Ed Mylett, The Power of One More?

Erica: I have not.

Megan: It’s phenomenal, you got to listen to it. And there’s a big chapter on faith and it’s amazing. One of the things that he talks about is really setting boundaries and setting priorities. And he talks about, if you’re pulling into the driveway of your home, and you’re on a conference call, and your kids come out to greet you, right off the bat, they know they are not your priority. And so, you’ve already set the tone. So, especially with younger kids, my youngest, the girls know this. Every time I pull into the driveway, he comes out and opens the door and he wheels me in. He’s like an airport director or something like that. It’s so cute. And it’s just like, “Hey, Mom”, he helps me with my backpack or with my bag and all that kind of stuff. But if I’m on the phone or I’m texting, or I’m like, “I’ll be with you, right, one second.”

Erica: Give mommy one minute.

Megan: You know that one minute never lasts for one minute because it’s very hard. So, what sort of routines are regimens? Do you get yourself into where you can shut it off, focus the attention? I would love to hear your tips on that.

Erica: So, I don’t know, this is not good business advice. It’s really not.

Megan: Okay, we know that but let’s take it.

Erica: I do not respond to any email, any social media after three. I mean, I shouldn’t say never, I would say 99% of what I get. Now, the flaw in that is that I still see the notifications. And that’s purposefully, I want to see what’s coming up because if I do need to do damage control or get ahead in something, however, I’ve set a boundary for myself mentally, that I will not start those conversations. And it’s also setting a precedent for some of those people that are communicating with me that I will get back to you at 8am. So, I talked about what I do. When I’m on my A game mentally, emails are 8 am. I firmly believe that if you’re going to be in a social media business, it is not a one-way street, you have to be okay with that constant two-way communication with every follower, every business, every person that I am working with professionally. However, if we looked at 20 years ago you had an off switch and I can feel myself in a little bit of a mental spiral when I’m constantly on. As a creative, it’s really important to be able to turn it off. I’m not much of a TV watcher, I just fall asleep. It’s not one of my hobbies so I find that at night, it would be easy for me to say, “Hey I don’t really have anything to do, I’m going to work a little bit.” But I’ve been able to stay away mostly from burn out I think because I do force myself to turn off.

Megan: Yes, that’s great.

Erica: So, I struggle with my children sometimes and with saying, “give mommy another minute” or this or that. But I also tell them that, “Hey this is my job and I do have the flexibility to provide for you but it’s because I’m working a little bit.” You know mom guilt is a silly thing.

Megan: But it’s a legit thing and it’s there.

Erica: It is.

Megan: Especially with your kids, you don’t get that time back. There’s no opportunity to make that up in the same way that really matters to them so it’s hard.

Erica: It is hard, you know but mommy’s job makes money and then my job provides various things for them and so there’s also a part of me that says, “You know what? I hope one day they look at that and respect that and they also grind really hard too.”

Megan: They will.

Erica: Because it’s not a crime to have a job and you just have to balance everything.

Megan: You do.

Erica: It’s hard for everybody.

Megan: I think that as a mom, as a woman, you’re setting such a great example for your three girls to see.

Erica: I hope so.

Megan: No, you are. I mean we’ve talked about this before, I have a daughter who’s played a very critical role in this business and she has watched the good, the bad and the ugly. The team knows, she knows who our clients are so she’s like, “What’s going on with that one?” because she knows, she hears about it. But regardless of us seeing their return immediately, they learn a lot from that and they really do see how that gumption and that drive and that motivation and the fact that [unintelligible 00:34:05] and you’ve got to stay up really late. I think that persistence really allows great qualities to be developed and strengthened especially within young girls.

Erica: I hope so.

Megan: They are young.

Erica: I have little she bosses some days

Megan: I know

Erica: They can do whatever. I mean this is the age of side hustle and entrepreneurship. You know they say- of course college is important but there is so much you can also self-teach. So, I hope that for our girls, if there’s something they want to learn, however they want to that they find the resources to do it and then do whatever they want because we live in an age where you really can.

Megan: You can, I love this community and it’s like this across the board but this community is so receptive and supportive of entrepreneurs.

Erica: Yes

Megan: And having the resources here where you don’t have to do it by yourself. I think as you and I share very similar personalities, I think where it’s like, “I need to do it all. I need to have control.” And you’re like, “Oh I can but I’m going to die at a very young age and I’m gonna drive myself crazy.”

Erica: Yes

Megan: So, I mean you have to really realize, ‘let me put my focus on what I’m really good at and then lean on resources that I can trust.’ That way you can be the good mom, the good wife, the good spouse, the good partner, all of those things. So, I have one last question for you before we wrap up. If you were to sort of look back at the earlier version of Erica maybe 10 years ago, maybe you didn’t envision she would be doing what you’ll be doing today, what’s a piece of advice you would give your younger self just about sort of the journey that you’ve taken and things to keep an eye on as you mature into this young woman that you are today.

Erica: I think that there have been times, I sometimes can be a lot I’m very extroverted or I’m sometimes doing things that are a little bit off the cusp or what some people view is a little risky and there’s been insecurity in that when people kind of side eye, ‘Oh she’s going to go do this national public speaking thing instead of just working the traditional job or she’s going to go do this or do that that seems a little risky are out of left field.’ But the things that I’ve always done and have utilized my talents and they are things that I care about and I’ve had a lot of fun doing them. I just feel insecure about them at times and how non-traditional some of my paths have been. So, I think I would tell myself to not be so insecure and that if I understand what lights me up every day, that I know brings value to other people, that I know utilizes my talents to just go for it.

Megan: Just do it

Erica:  And also, if you’re doing those three things, let go of being such a planner because you never know what’s around the corner and in my life, I could have never predicted what was around the corner a year from or two years or five years in the future. And it’s always honestly usually better than what I maybe would’ve wanted for myself as long as you’re continuing to kind of doing some of the things I just mentioned.

Megan: Staying true to yourself and taking risks but I think taking risk is not an easy thing to do but the more you do it, the more you realize that the world is a clasp and you have people around that support you, you build that confidence more that allows you to do that so that’s a great piece of advice.

Erica: I think educated risks, take risks that are well researched where you have all your ducks in a row even if they’re a little misunderstood. If you have your ducks in a row, go for it.

Megan: I love that. That’s a great piece of advice. Awesome, I can’t wait to see where things are going to be in the next few years for you and All Things Madison.

Erica: I’m excited.

Megan: I mean and for those who aren’t familiar with the community here, I think we are the fastest growing zip code in the state of Alabama, and have the best school system.

Erica: Number one school system

Megan: Number one school system, which is insane so that makes me very happy as a mom having three kids in three schools.

Erica: Same

Megan: Which is fantastic I know, it’s just awesome. Thank you so much for everything that you do for our community and it’s been awesome to get to see your journey unfolding just to get a chance to know you. You’re the epitome of the Flourish She Boss there’s no doubt about that.

Erica: Well, I have felt a lot of support from businesses like yours and entrepreneurs like you and I have so many great mentors and that’s crucial so thanks for having me.

Megan: Absolutely, thank you guys so much for joining us.