Have you ever felt you were so busy working in your business, there was no time to work on your business. And all God’s children say, Amen!
“It takes a village” isn’t just true when it comes to parenting. If you’ve ever said to yourself ‘but, I can do it better than anyone else” (ahem, guilty as charged), today’s interview was the kick in the pants I needed to really think about how building a team can not only accelerate a companies growth but also give the business owner more time outside of work.
As someone who has had a team of six and breaks out in a cold sweat at the thought of managing people EVER AGAIN, Brenna’s story was so inspiring and truly eased my anxiety around the thought of hiring help.
Learn how this self-proclaimed workaholic learned to let go of her micromanaging ways, built a team around her, and grew her ecommerce company to 300xs her original goal…. All in today’s interview!
From humble beginnings in the spare room of her home to products being sold in every Buc-ees franchise across the country, listen in as Brenna shares how her christian apparel company became a nationally recognized brand in less than ten years.
WILDFLOWER SHOWNOTES : shannaskidmore.com/brenna-milleville
Brenna Milleville: (00:00)
I think the thing that was hardest for me was not being able, I was working so much in the business that I wasn't necessarily being able to work on the business. Even though I was hearing that all the time and all the podcasts I was listening to, like, you're not supposed to do this. You should make time to work on your business and not always be like in the weeds. But that was challenging. That was probably the most challenging thing is that I was so focused on the minute details that I wasn't able to focus on. Like the bigger details
Shanna Skidmore: (00:31)
You're listening to Consider the Wildflowers, the podcast episode 10. Double digits. Wow. We did it. Gosh, I feel so very lucky to be the host of this amazing show. I love hearing the stories of incredible entrepreneurs. And it sounds like you do as well. Shout out to one of my favorite reviews so far from Chris, titled "perfect blend of life and business". Chris says, I love getting a peek behind the scenes at other entrepreneurs in the businesses they run. And this podcast is no exception. Shanna knows her stuff when it comes to business finances, but she won't let you forget to make a life while you're making a living, to borrow a phrase from Dolly Parton. And I really appreciate that Shanna's guests are sharing the nitty gritty details behind their businesses that we all have to deal with, but we don't all talk about. It's so relatable." Thank you, Chris. And you can't go wrong with the Dolly reference. And thank you to all of you for the follows ratings and reviews. Your feedback means the world. If you haven't yet had a chance to review the show, take a minute today and let us know what you think so far. We'd love to hear from you. Okay. So episode 10, it's a good one. Have you ever felt you were so busy working in your business, there was no time to work on your business? And all God's children said, amen. It takes a village. Isn't just true when it comes to parenting. If you've ever said to yourself, but I can do it better than anyone else. So guilty as charged. Today's interview was the kick in the pants I needed to really think about how building a team cannot only accelerate a company's growth, but also give the business owner more time outside of work. As someone who has had a team of six and breaks out in a cold sweat at the thought of managing people ever again, Brenna's story was so inspiring and truly eased my anxiety around the thought of hiring help. Learn how the self-proclaimed workaholic learn to let go of her micromanaging ways, build a team around her and grow her company to 300 times her original goal, all in today's interview. If you dig professional bios here goes. Brenna is a wife of nine years and mother to her almost three year old Grace. After attending a Christian conference in 2016, she felt called to start a Christian apparel company and Elly and Grace was started. Six years later, Brenna and her incredible team have printed and shipped over 500,000 items around the world from their Missouri based office. When she's not creating new designs on her iPad, sending voice memos or studying scripture, you can find her trying not to get a sunburn while her toddler runs around the park or reading the latest popular novel. Formal introductions over let's dive in. Hey, it's Shanna. And this is consider the wildflowers the podcast. For the past 15 plus years, I've had the honor to hear thousands of stories from entrepreneurs around the world. As a former fortune 100 financial advisor turned business consultant, I have a unique opportunity to see the real behind the highlight reel. I'm talking profit and loss statements, unpaid taxes, moments of burnout, and those of utter victory, or as my husband says, the content everyone is wondering, but not many are talking about. And now I'm bringing these private conversations to you. Hear the untold stories of how industry leaders, founders, and up and coming entrepreneurs got their start, the experiences that shaped them and the journey to building the brands they have today. Stories that will inspire and reignite encourage to redefine success and build a life and business on your own terms. Welcome wildflower. I'm so glad you're here.
Shanna Skidmore: (03:55)
Okay. Brenna, this is gonna be really fun because we have not gotten to really, really chat in several years. It was really fun to meet you in 2019 at a conference. And I'm really excited to hear more of your story. So thank you for being on the podcast today.
Brenna Milleville: (04:11)
Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited. 2019 feels like so, so long ago so much has happened since then. So I'm really excited to catch up.
Shanna Skidmore: (04:20)
I know we were just saying before I hit record that you were pregnant when we met and since then we've gone through global pandemic. We've both had babies, so yeah. Let's catch up.
Brenna Milleville: (04:32)
Shanna Skidmore: (04:33)
Okay. Well tell everybody listening just who you are, what your company is. And then we'll kind of throw it back to life before business.
Brenna Milleville: (04:43)
Okay. My name's Brenna. I am the owner of Elly and Grace, and we primarily make Christian apparel here in our office in Missouri, which is where I'm recording today. I have a toddler she's going to be three in January. Her name is Grace and I've been married for nine years.
Shanna Skidmore: (04:59)
Okay. Tell me about the name. Grace PS . So yeah, your daughter's named Grace. Your company came before your daughter
Brenna Milleville: (05:06)
Shanna Skidmore: (05:07)
Tell me about that. I'm so interested.
Brenna Milleville: (05:10)
Okay. This is really funny. So when I started Elly and Grace, we had been struggling with infertility for several years. And when I named the company, I named it after elephants, which is what Elly is for some people think that's my name, but it's actually for elephants. That's my favorite animal. But Grace, I used to tell people before I found out I was pregnant, that it was for God's grace and it was, but I also thought if I ever had a daughter that I would name her Grace, because I just like, felt that on my heart, it like makes me a little bit emotional to think about, because when we were pregnant, my husband kind of gave me a hard time. He was like, are we really gonna name our child after the business? And I was like, no, we are naming. We named the business after the child, we just were believing that she was going to come. Hmm. So she just took a little bit while she took a while longer to come, but the business was kind of named for her in advance, kind of calling it by faith.
Shanna Skidmore: (06:07)
Huh. That's beautiful. And gives me chill bumps. Take me back to the beginning days. It's like, when did you start your business and what were you doing before that?
Brenna Milleville: (06:18)
So before that I was working in fundraising part-time for a nonprofit. So I was really like the numbers person there. I was balancing the P and L I was doing a lot of the fundraising and I kind of just imagined that I would eventually be a stay-at-home mom and I wouldn't be working there anymore. So we chose to move significantly farther away from the job. But I thought it was fine because I was gonna be gone soon anyway, and then didn't happen. It didn't get pregnant, didn't get pregnant. And I was just like incredibly miserable making this drive. And it just wasn't really fulfilling my passion anymore. There were, there were kind of things where we were going in different directions, a little bit with our values. And it was hard for me to fundraise for something that I wasn't believing in as much anymore. So I was just really not in the best place. And I ended up going to this conference at my church, a one night event and I had told myself, I wasn't going to go. I'm super introverted. So like even doing this podcast is hard for me, but I definitely was not going to an event by myself. So I figured I would ask one of my friends who always turned me like she is very busy. So she would usually say no to almost everything. I asked her. So I was like, I'll ask her. She'll say no. And then I won't have to feel bad about not going , but but she said yes. So we ended up going and when we got there, everything was wonderful. And then we sat down, the speaker was speaking about being fearless. And I just felt in my soul, like you should start a Christian apparel company, which I thought was like crazy, because the only design experience I had was designing a few invitations for fundraising events. I had no experience. So I went home and told my husband because I figured he would say, well, that's kind of crazy. No, that's a bad idea. But instead he said, it was a good idea. So I then happened, I know this is so bizarre when I think back on it, it's just like, it could only have been a God thing. I got, I think it was the only bonus outside of Christmas I ever got from my nonprofit job a few weeks later. And it was for basically the exact amount that I needed to get like the beginning supplies for the business. So, yes. So I started in my like spare room in our house. Then I ended up moving to the basement because I didn't have enough room. And I started the business in may of 2016. And by January I decided I needed to leave my nonprofit job and come and work on Elly and Grace full time. It was a little easier for me because I was working part-time at a nonprofit hourly. So it wasn't as big of a deal as if I would've had like a full-time salary with benefits and all of those things. So that made it a little easier to make that decision.
Shanna Skidmore: (09:14)
Yeah. So how did you learn how to have an apparel company? I mean, were you making the apparel yourself? Were you outsourcing it? I mean, there's so much in the, the world of fashion. How did you start learning all of these things?
Brenna Milleville: (09:30)
So I did a ton of research on everyone's favorite thing, Google, but I also, instead of being just like, I basically had two and a half hours in the car every day that I could spend either being miserable or start listening to podcasts. So that's one of the things I did was every day I would just have a new business podcast that I was going to listen to. So we started printing everything in the basement and then we eventually moved to an office space and another office space. And now we have, we own our building now and we print everything here. I didn't want it outsourcing works for some people. It didn't work for me. I didn't really want to do that. I liked the hands on approach of knowing that, like, I know when it's going out because I'm a little bit of a micromanager, not so bad anymore. but being able to write like up until I, I think 2018, I was handwriting like full notes to every single person that ordered. And there was one Easter where I was doing it for probably four hours a night. And my husband was like, do you think maybe we could get pre-printed notes. He's always very gentle with me whenever he suggests something that he knows I don't wanna do. And he's like, what about just pre-printed notes when we're busy? Like, we can still, you can still hand write them, but we'll just like, put your handwriting into the computer and print it out. And I was like, okay, we can do that. So I've really always liked the personal touch. So we've always kept it in house and I like having that control over it too.
Shanna Skidmore: (10:59)
Yeah. I know that feeling Brenna of when you are a little too big to love each person, the way you really would want to each of your customers for you or clients or students for me. And how did you, I mean, was that just like I had to get there place where you just had to let it go? I mean, it was just too big or was that a wrestling down for you of like, I have to let this go.
Brenna Milleville: (11:27)
It was definitely very challenging. And even now we have two different thank you notes. And if we have time in the office, they're always handwritten. And if we don't have time, we have one that we send, that's still my handwriting that says how much we appreciate every order because we do really appreciate every order. And I want every single person to feel valued. So it was definitely a challenge for me, but it was those moments when I was sitting with my husband at the kitchen table and he was like stuffy. He was like, attaching them to the packing slips. And I was just signing every single one. And of course, because I'm a little bit extra, it would be like, thanks, first name Brenna. It wasn't just like Brenna. It was just like the entire thing. So he gently told me that maybe this was not the greatest thing to do. Maybe I was getting some hand cramps, but it was just, it was fun because I really like being able to add that personal touch, but it was kind of out of necessity. I really didn't have a choice. Once we got to that point.
Shanna Skidmore: (12:26)
Yeah. Okay. So I have totally been there and it's so hard. I mean, bless our husbands because Kyle has literally our first round, we made some planners. The first time we did it, we made them all at our house in our like 1200 square foot house. And Kyle stayed up through the night, binding them all and like what a labor of love for the family. Okay. So in 2016 you launch in your basement, how did, like you purchased inventory with this bonus money you got and how did it go? I mean, did you start an e-commerce site? How were you selling the shirts?
Brenna Milleville: (13:01)
So we first started on Etsy. It was a little different back then. So Etsy was kind of the first place we really wanted to start, but pretty quickly I really wanted to have our own website. And so did my husband just because on Etsy, if you sell to someone on Etsy, you don't have their, you don't own their email address. So it's hard to remarket to them. So instead of someone saying, oh, I got this shirt on Elly and Grace, they'll say, oh, I got this shirt on Etsy. And from a brand perspective, that's really not what you want. So I spent my, I do a lot of things I feel like on vacation. So I decided that we went somewhere between Christmas and new year's and I was like, I'm just going to design the Shopify site on vacation. That's gonna be what I do. . So I did that and then we basically lodged that about the same time I quit my job in about January, 2017. We moved to Shopify and we sold on Etsy for still a few more years, but then it just got to be a little bit more of a pain to remember about the Etsy orders and to put them in with all of our other orders. So we ended up stopping, selling on Etsy about a year and a half ago, I think.
Shanna Skidmore: (14:05)
Yeah. So did you see good growth in those first few years? Or tell me about the, kind of the growth of the company.
Brenna Milleville: (14:11)
Yes. So we started doing Facebook ads, I think, in 2017. And that's when everything kind of took off a little bit more for us. It was a little bit of a different time in 2017 to be able to do Facebook ads with, especially being able to target two Christian niches, which you really can't do anymore because they've kind of removed all those options. But we had an, our, I love Jesus and naps was probably our first, like, I guess you could say viral design that did really well. So we were able to get customers from that and have their email and then we have a very loyal customer following. So that has really helped us as well.
Shanna Skidmore: (14:48)
Yeah. So you're so right. 2017 ads were so different. We've talked about that on the podcast with somebody else before. So I know it was a lot different back then, but that's so neat, You were able to build your customer base that that way. And then clearly they love your designs. So were you designing, were all these designs from your head and how did you teach yourself how to make the designs
Brenna Milleville: (15:12)
yes. All the designs are and they actually, they were, and they actually still are from my head and I don't know, it has just, they just kind of come to me. Sometimes they come to me at random times or I'm like, let's try this or let's try that and see how it looks. I usually have a phrase that someone's maybe suggested, or that I've thought of. I get a lot of my designs from just reading the Bible and being like, oh, that's a message that people need to see. Or like the ones I'm looking at right now in my office, like perhaps you are made for such a time as this, that's such a powerful phrase because I feel like sometimes we, as people don't feel like that, we're like, well, why are, why was I born right now? Does God really care? Do, does my life really matter? And so those messages are just so impactful for people. So I've always designed everything myself. And there have been times where I've thought maybe I should have another person here. Like maybe I can't do this anymore. But then like almost always there's one that just like comes into my mind.
Shanna Skidmore: (16:16)
yeah. That's amazing. Okay. So you're doing this from your basement, you're doing it all yourself. When did you feel like you needed to start having help?
Brenna Milleville: (16:27)
Well, I would say my husband started thinking that maybe I needed to have a little bit more help before I did. I was the, I'm the type of person because I didn't have a child yet. So it didn't really bother me to spend like 10 hours a day, seven days a week working because I just was gonna get it done. And so once I started asking him for more help and he already had a full-time job, he was like, do you think that maybe we should start looking for an office space? And I was like, no, because I don't wanna work outside my home. And I don't really wanna have to talk to other people. So can we just keep it in our basement? And he basically said, no, like this is unsustainable. And it was unsustainable. He was right. He'll love that. He'll love that if he listens to this podcast, he'll be so happy. But we interviewed three people and we were just gonna hire one and we ended up hiring all of them. And then we basically have had a team ever since, and it was just more, I couldn't do anything else. I remember we went out of town for like a week and when I came back, it was just terrible because I had so many like orders to catch up on and I wanted to get 'em out so quickly. So that was really when we were like, okay, we need to find a space and start getting some help with this because it's not, we can't grow where we are. Like I was maxed out on my own time and myself.
Shanna Skidmore: (17:49)
And what year was, was this 2017? 2018?
Brenna Milleville: (17:52)
I think that was 2017. I think we moved into our office space, our first office space after labor day of 2017.
Shanna Skidmore: (17:59)
I mean, it sounds like Brenna, it grew pretty quickly. Would you agree with that?
Brenna Milleville: (18:04)
Yes. It was definitely not exactly what I expected. Which was such a blessing. I just mainly wanted to be able to share God's word in this way, because I had felt called to do it, but I wasn't really ever imagining that I would be doing what I'm doing now. Whenever I quit my job, my husband was like, well, if we just sell one shirt a day, that'll be fine.
Shanna Skidmore: (18:27)
Brenna Milleville: (18:28)
Shanna Skidmore: (18:29)
And you sell what hundred shirts a day? I don't know.
Brenna Milleville: (18:33)
I would say we, it depends on seasonality summers, usually our slowest time, but we sell a few hundred shirts a day. I would say sometimes if that is.
Shanna Skidmore: (18:41)
So you hit your goal.
Brenna Milleville: (18:42)
Yes. Yes. I hit my goal, which is good. Yeah.
Shanna Skidmore: (18:45)
Okay. So what would you say in those early days you feel like you did really well?
Brenna Milleville: (18:52)
I feel like the thing that I did really well would be connecting with our customers and just making it more of a personal brand. I know that that's a choice that people can make. There are a lot of brands I think that are maybe similar to ours, that don't have it be like their owner's not on Instagram stories. Their owner's not doing Facebook lives. It's just kind of, here's our thing. It's very impersonal. So reminding people that, you know, this is we're real people, this is a real business. That was another thing. Back in 2017, when ads were a lot cheaper, there were a lot of scam companies that would just throw things up. They didn't have any intention of sending to you and they just would take the money and then just disappear. So we had a lot of people that were not trusting of us because of that. So showing them, like sending them a selfie and being like, no, this is real. Here's the shirt I'm wearing it right now. And things like that to really connect with them and let them know, like we appreciate them. We care about their order. And we really are like, I really do believe what I'm selling. This isn't just a, oh, I wanna exploit the Christian community. Like this is a mission from my heart that I want to help other people share their faith.
Shanna Skidmore: (20:07)
So speaking of that, Brenna, it feels like this is so much a labor of love. If we say that again, like it is so much from your heart. Has there ever been a point where, I mean, I don't wanna use the word burnout, but has there been a point where you didn't feel it as much?
Brenna Milleville: (20:26)
Um, I would say the only time that I really felt like that, I think 2020 and 2021 were definitely hard years. And at the end of 2021, I was kind of just like, Ugh, I don't know. That was probably the most I've ever felt like I still loved it, but I just felt like there was something else. And then again, between Christmas and new year's when we were on vacation, God gave me another idea for another project that I have been working on. That has really kind of reinvigorated my fire. Not only about that project, but about just what I'm doing in general.
Shanna Skidmore: (21:02)
Yeah. Okay. I wanna talk about that later. Yes. I'm so excited for you to share about that, but I think that's so helpful to hear, because I don't think passion or inspir, you know, the heart of it is such a big piece of us doing. I think for a lot of us doing what we love doing, what is our mission? What is our calling? What, you know, but that doesn't, it, it wanes sometimes, you know? And so it's helpful to hear you talk through like, how do you kind of reinspire yourself, so, okay. Let's go back again to those first few years I asked you what went well, but is there anything that you would be willing to share that you feel like was a hard lesson learned or that wasn't going very well?
Brenna Milleville: (21:44)
I think the thing that was hardest for me was not being able, I was working so much in the business that I wasn't necessarily being able to work on the business. Even though I was hearing that all the time and all the podcasts I was listening to, like, you're not supposed to do this. You should make time to work on your business and not always be like in the weeds. But that was challenging. That was probably the most challenging thing is that I was so focused on the minute details that I wasn't able to focus on, like the bigger details
Shanna Skidmore: (22:15)
And what helped you with that.
Brenna Milleville: (22:18)
Definitely getting some help and realizing that there are things that other people could help with. And then I could work on other things. I think that sometimes we, as people, we don't want to pay someone to do something that we could do ourselves. Like for example, hiring a house cleaner. You, we all like, we all can clean our houses. So we don't necessarily have to have house cleaners. But if you can spend that time that you would've spent cleaning your house, doing something else, that's more beneficial to your life or to your company, then that is a thing that you should maybe consider doing.
Shanna Skidmore: (22:51)
Yeah. And did you just sit down and write out, like how did you start building your team? I would love to hear about this because we've built a team before. Now we have a tiny team. We're getting to a place where we need a team again. So I'm all ears Brenna .
Brenna Milleville: (23:07)
Well, the first thing we did was outsource weaknesses. So I, like customer service was definitely the first thing that we outsourced. We also used to keep track of all of our orders in a spreadsheet. And they had to be literally typed in the spreadsheet because we print everything to order. So it would be like, okay, this person wants a large unisex fit shirt in Heather blue lagoon with "even if" on it and here's their order number and then the next person. And so we just go on and on and on. And so the first thing we outsourced was someone putting that in the spreadsheet and also the customer service. It was the same person. And then, then also shipping, there were just like little things that we could kind of take out of the process. and then we ended up, eventually my husband had someone write a program to put all of that stuff in a spreadsheet automatically , which was very, very helpful
Shanna Skidmore: (23:59)
Oh, yes. I mean 300 orders a day. Gosh, that would take a while.
Brenna Milleville: (24:04)
and there's so much room for errors. Like I remember one Christmas, there would be like 20 orders that we would catch and they'd be wrong a day. And I was just like, oh my gosh, we've gotta get this fixed. Yeah, this is terrible. But I would say outsourcing for your weaknesses, you wanna find someone you don't wanna hire the same exact person that you are because then you both don't like doing the same things. So for example, our manager that we have now that we've had since, I guess since I had Grace, so almost two years, she is phenomenal and she's such an extrovert and it's so funny because I'm not at all. Like I posted something the other day on Instagram about how the like greet your neighbor part of church just terrifies me and she commented on it and she was like, oh, that's my favorite part? And I'm like, of course it is.
Shanna Skidmore: (24:54)
That's hilarious. I'm like, can we just get there late enough to miss greet your neighbor sorry. That's awesome. Yeah. It's so helpful. Okay. And then yeah. Keep talking through, I mean, I love just, so I'm just soaking up your, your wisdom here of learning to hire a team. I mean, did you just post something online and say we have an opening, or how did you start finding these team members?
Brenna Milleville: (25:20)
We found our first person that worked online on Upwork. And so that's how we found her. And that was, I guess we hired her pretty quickly after we started because customer service has just never been my favorite thing. So I knew it had to go pretty quickly, but we used to run ads for people that would come work in our office that now we mainly find people through, through referrals.
Shanna Skidmore: (25:45)
Oh, wow. That's great. So how, how big is your team now?
Brenna Milleville: (25:49)
Right now we have about 10. It kind of ranges between seasonality. So sometimes we have up to 15. Right now We don't have as many people because it's summer and that's kind of our slowest time.
Shanna Skidmore: (26:00)
Right, right, right. That makes sense. Okay. So I have a hardish maybe, I don't know, question, I'm interested to hear your answers. So you've made some big moves in business hired a good size team. Sounds like you have had office spaces now own your office space. How do you figure out all the numbers of this?
Brenna Milleville: (26:22)
So I'm very, very lucky because I married someone that is like, he is like the king of numbers and it just kind of happened randomly because at my old job, I was the numbers person. I was, that was like all I did all day, every day. So I was like, okay, I don't wanna do this at home too. So will you please take over this? And he said, yes. And he's always kind of done it for Elly and Grace. And he's mainly, he handles all the numbers and all of the kind of marketing stuff. And I'm kind of more of the creative side, creating the items. And it's worked pretty well when we both kind of stay in our lanes and go to each other whenever we have an issue or need feedback. It's funny. Cuz sometimes I'll ask him for a feedback on a design and he's like, I don't know. Why are you asking me this? I'm not the expert. I have no opinion. yeah.
Shanna Skidmore: (27:18)
Yeah. I just bought a rug and put it in my living room yesterday. And I was like, Kylewhat do you think? I mean, he was like, I mean, I'm like what? You don't like it. He was like, you just don't ask me I have no opinion if you like it. It's great. And so it's like, yes, that's great. Stay in your lane.
Brenna Milleville: (27:33)
Yes. Yeah, exactly.
Shanna Skidmore: (27:34)
So do you guys have meetings or is it when you have an idea, you just go to him and say, do we have the money for this? Or
Brenna Milleville: (27:41)
Yes, it's mainly. Now it's about like new items. So if I wanna do something that's totally new, then I'll have the, I'll ask him if he thinks that we should do it or sometimes he'll have an idea and he'll bring it to me. So he'll he thought that we should start doing journals and I, of course typical me. I was like, I can't design a journal. That's like my immediate response to everything new that he wants to do. Like I can't do that. And then I sit down and I do it. So we have three journals that are launching in, I wanna say October. So I'm excited about those.
Shanna Skidmore: (28:16)
Brenna Milleville: (28:17)
Yes. He's definitely more of the pusher when I'm like, oh, I don't like change obviously. I mean, I wanna stay in my basement. So
Shanna Skidmore: (28:26)
Thousands of orders later. Here we are. Yes.
Brenna Milleville: (28:29)
Shanna Skidmore: (28:30)
So is he still working his full-time job or is he like now with the company?
Brenna Milleville: (28:34)
He works part-time and then he, but he works for us. Part-time too. So it just kind of, he kind of does both, he's able to do both just because of how much time each one takes.
Shanna Skidmore: (28:44)
Yeah. Okay. I love hearing cuz I know I'm sure people listening resonate with that. You know, if they wanna have these conversations with a spouse or a significant other and talk, they may not wanna do the money side. So thank you so much for sharing that. That's really helpful. And I would love to hear, we have talked about little miss Grace and when we met in 2019, you were pregnant. And so I would love to just talk through how you've seen the business shift or change as your seasons in life have shifted and changed.
Brenna Milleville: (29:18)
so as you have probably guessed from all my other answers, I'm a bit of a workaholic. So having a child was a little different. I was honestly working, I would say pretty much at least 40 hours a week until I was about 38 weeks pregnant. And then obviously I couldn't anymore, but we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do with childcare. And we were thinking I was going to then work part-time. So when we were, when I was at the office in 2019 and when I was like very pregnant, one of the people that was there, that was one of our temporary people heard me talking about how I needed childcare, but I had no idea where to find it. And she was like, you know, Brenna, I used to work at a Christian daycare for several years. That's actually where I worked before I came and I wasn't interviewing our new people, our manager was interviewing. So I had no idea that that was where she had worked. So we ended up hiring her to watch Grace. So she comes to our house and watches grace two and a half days a week. And I usually come into the office one day a week. But whereas before I would really get, like, I would usually just get sucked into production, like shipping, anything that needed to be done, I was going to do it. It was fine. And now I've just tried to be more hands off, not micromanage them because they know what they're doing. They're doing great job and they're doing it better than me. And that's really why I wanted, that's why they're here. So it's nice to have team members that do what they're supposed to be doing better than you could do it because that just makes you feel, you know, like you made a great decision. Yeah. And now my main jobs are designing all of our items, all of our social media content on Instagram and TikTok, which is mainly video and assisting the team and our manager. Anytime they need help with a design question or anything, I try to be pretty available via slack, even on the days that I'm with Grace, just because I don't like to make anybody wait on me. It's kind of like a tick of mine. Yeah.
Shanna Skidmore: (31:17)
Do you feel like that's working well for kind of the mom you wanna be and the company you wanna run, like finding that harmony of doing both? Well.
Brenna Milleville: (31:26)
Yes. I do feel like it's mainly working well, I had a bit of a snag about a month ago because one of our key employees who actually puts all of our items on the website was getting ready to go on maternity leave. And I realized, I don't know why this didn't occur to me sooner that if she was gonna be gone, then I was gonna have to put all the items on the website. Yeah. so I like really, really hustled and worked like a lot more than I usually worked, like before Grace woke up. And when Grace went to bed to get the fall and Christmas collections totally done. So she get them on the website. So I wouldn't have to. So I'm just kind of coming off of that kind of hustle, hustle, hustle, and giving myself a little bit of time just to rest because my ultimate goal is when I'm working, I'm working and I'm focused on work. Yeah. And when I'm with grace, I'm with grace and I'm focused on grace. And I found, I got that advice. I think that I heard that on Jenna Kutcher's podcast when she was talking about that like several, several years ago before I had grace and it just has worked really well for me because then I don't feel as guilty about either one. I think as moms, we probably all are going to have mom guilt at all all the time, but it does help a little bit.
Shanna Skidmore: (32:41)
Why it's terrible.
Brenna Milleville: (32:43)
Shanna Skidmore: (32:44)
It's terrible. So true though. Kyle always reminds me that I get to be with Madeline more than most working moms get to be with their child because even I, you know, you leave at all and you feel bad and you long to be with them. Like I heard somebody say, I'm gonna botch how they said it. It's like, your heart is always kind of fold in a couple places as a mom.
Brenna Milleville: (33:08)
Yeah. And when I had her, it was such a weird time because I had her in January of 2020. And so just when we were getting ready to kind of reenter the world, we couldn't do anything. And so I also really had pretty bad postpartum depression. And so I was like ready to get out of the house. So I ended my maternity leave early, which should have been a sign that, you know, I wasn't doing super well, but I was in denial and it all, I talked to my doctor and it all ended up working out fine, but it's harder now that she's older honestly than it was when she was a baby,
Shanna Skidmore: (33:45)
Because she gets it
Brenna Milleville: (33:47)
Because she definitely gets it. If I get out my computer to do a quick thing, she'll be like, mommy's working or mommy all done working or mommy, no work. And I'm like, Ugh, it's like a dagger. Yeah. But I also hope to impress upon her that, you know, it's okay to be able to work and we're working because of this. And you know, some days she'll be working and she might even be working with me and like we bring her into the office sometimes. So just kind of trying to make that a normal thing.
Shanna Skidmore: (34:20)
Right. Yeah. I mean, yeah. My mom worked at work as typical, like, but still it's not easy. I think to, for sure. I filled that so much too. I mean, Madeline just she's 16 months old, so she's clearly not there yet. But the other day I said, okay, let's go put your jammies on to take a nap. And she said, why? And I was like, what, why have you ever heard me ask that I mean, how did she know to ask that already? Why? Because we're taking a nap it was just the craziest moment of like, I'm sorry, child who taught you that so they learned so quickly. Um, it's amazing. So, wow. Thank you for sharing. I, it sounds like, you know, having this team really has allowed you to prioritize your time in the business and with Grace, would you say that that's true?
Brenna Milleville: (35:14)
Yes. I would definitely say that's true. And they're also good about not asking me to do things. So because they know that, you know, if they're like Brenna, I really need you to help me ship, then I'll be like, yeah, I'll come, I'll come help you ship. Cuz that's just like how I am. And so making sure that our manager's really great about making sure we have the right people for the right positions. So that, that doesn't happen because she knows that I that's just how I am, but if I'm working on that, then I'm not working on like our future designs or our future projects or like filming, you know, a hundred reels like Instagram wants us to do .
Shanna Skidmore: (35:49)
Yeah. And would you have any advice for people that are hiring how to find the right people or it sounds like you're manager. I mean, did you train your manager on hiring? I mean, how did you get this right?
Brenna Milleville: (36:03)
You know, that's a good question. Our manager, we didn't train her for it, but we mainly, I would say we try to focus on hiring the person and the personality and less about the job, because for what, because of what we do and not a lot of it being like super, super specialized, we can kind of train that, but we've kind of found through our experience that you can't really train an attitude mm-hmm and you can't train a work ethic, but unless you're doing something like very challenging or something that requires like a specific skill, you can kind of train a lot of different things.
Shanna Skidmore: (36:43)
Yeah. Yeah. That's so helpful and so true. That's amazing. Okay. I ask this in every episode and I wanna kind of circle back, but I know we didn't talk a lot about numbers, but I would love to hear what is the best thing that you've learned about money over these last few years?
Brenna Milleville: (37:00)
I would say the best thing that I've learned about money is that it's not about the money itself. It's about what you do with the money and your time. So trading off kind of like the house cleaner example or spending time with your kid and going to the park or going to lunch with your dad. Like those type of things can have more impact than spending an extra two hours working to make more money. So if you spend your whole life working, working, working to try to get more money and you don't have anyone to spend it with or anything to spend it with, then we have to ask ourselves if that is worth it or not. And maybe it is, but maybe it's not.
Shanna Skidmore: (37:42)
Yeah. That's so, so well said Brenna, and to follow up that, you know, I think people feel like they have to work to make more money or to get the business going and with the success that you've had and the growth that you have had, like, what would you have done if you hadn't have had those same sales? Does that make sense? Like what if the company was struggling and you still valued? I know this is a really tough question, but you still valued that time. Do you see what I'm saying? Like, I feel like I hear from people so often. It's like, that sounds good Brenna, but I have to get my business going and running. I'm asking you to be the business coach here. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Brenna Milleville: (38:28)
It's so hard because when we were really focused on getting the business going, I didn't have any like external constraints on my time. So I was able to do that. If I would've already had grace, I probably would've had to hire more people sooner and really just get focused on the stuff that really moves the needle. If someone is feeling like they have so many things to do and not enough time to do them, I would suggest that they track their time and find out exactly where their time is going, because they might be surprised that something is taking up a significant amount of their time. Maybe they scroll on Instagram for 30 minutes looking for a reel where they could subscribe to something that sends them to their email, like five real ideas a week, or maybe they're spending a ton of time answering the same question on customer service when maybe they could figure out a way to put that question and answer on their website, to where they wouldn't get as many of their emails. You're still gonna get those emails cuz not everyone reads the website as I well know, but you might be able to kind of streamline some of those processes to free up a little bit more time.
Shanna Skidmore: (39:36)
I mean, I could not have said that is so perfectly said. I mean you, that was like business coach Brenna that's so well said. I am a, a huge advocate of tracking your time and I you're. So right when we feel overworked, we don't have enough time. Exactly what you said of what is moving the needle forward. What is the best use of your time? And I know so many people are scared of hiring because of the financial output. It, you know, you gotta pay them but it frees you up to do things that are more income generating. So thank you for sharing that. I just, I just was so interested in your perspective.
Brenna Milleville: (40:17)
Another thing I will say that I've been learning recently is that I recently subscribed to a podcast. I know you're a big podcast person, so you're gonna love this. I don't know if you've heard of the lazy genius.
Shanna Skidmore: (40:28)
Ooh, I haven't. Okay. Noted her.
Brenna Milleville: (40:30)
Her whole thing is about being a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don't, because we can't be a genius about everything. And so I've really been like moving that in my mind and being like, okay, if this thing that I'm like obsessed with, isn't really moving the needle or doesn't really matter, does it really matter? Can I move on to something else? And it's kind of helped me shift my mind to be able to realize what I should be doing.
Shanna Skidmore: (40:59)
That's so helpful. Yes. I mean, I sat down yesterday and I've, I've told my students this for years, like, what do you love? I've had them say, what do you love doing? What do you, you know, get everything else off your plate. But then my friend Nancy rephrased it and she said, what is that only you can do? And I was like, oh, that's so interesting. So I literally sat down yesterday. I was like, what can only Shanna do? And then how can we, you know, get people to do? And I love how you talked about your team and said they can do it better. Oftentimes they can do it better than me and just empowering them to do that. So I love hear your story and I wanna get into what you're working on now. So let's get into kind of a quick fire round and then we'll end with what you're working on now because I, I wanna talk through that a little bit more. Okay. So this one is fun and interesting, but what is one thing you would be embarrassed if people knew about you or the business or whatever?
Brenna Milleville: (41:54)
Okay. So I have to wash my feet before I get into bed.
Shanna Skidmore: (41:59)
oh my gosh. wait your whole life.
Brenna Milleville: (42:02)
Like I used to take baths before bed. And so I would just feel clean when I got into bed. And then I sometimes, you know, when it's summer, I can't take, you know, I take a scalding hot bath, so I can't do that when it's like a hundred degrees outside, cuz I'll just be sweating all night. So I at minimum have to wash my feet and they feel so much better when you get in the bed, you need to try this.
Shanna Skidmore: (42:24)
I mean, so true. Like I can, that's amazing. Already picture this. Yes. Life changing. Yes. That's amazing. Okay. I love that. You shared that. That's hilarious. not embarrassing. Okay. Second, what would be kind of a wish you could do over moment?
Brenna Milleville: (42:40)
I wish that I wouldn't have spent so much time wishing and pining that I had a child and not enjoying that time. Not that it it's obviously it's a great time with her, but I wish I would've enjoyed that time that she wasn't here yet. Instead of just focusing, I spent a lot of time wishing for her instead of enjoying the time that I have
Shanna Skidmore: (43:03)
There is there's a quote and it I'll have to find it, but it says something to the extent of what you have now you once wished for, and it's just this, I think a beautiful reminder of we can long for things, but kind of live in the longing. I don't know. Waiting is so hard. So I think that's one of the hardest things we're asked to do. Thank you for sharing that. Okay. What would be a big win or a pinch me moment.
Brenna Milleville: (43:32)
Okay. I have three . One is um, when our shirts got put into Bucee's, which if you don't know Bucee's is this huge like cult follow with a cult following gas station in the south, that's like gigantic. If you think of cracker barrel, imagine that gift shop times like eight plus the exact same amount of square footage for food, plus like a hundred gas things I had never heard of Bucee's before they emailed us. I actually thought it was a spam email and almost deleted it and oh my goodness. I'm glad I didn't we are in all of their travel centers in the south, which is then just a huge blessing and amazing.
Shanna Skidmore: (44:16)
I feel like I saw you post about this, you know, I'm like barely, never on Facebook, but I feel like I saw you post cuz my nieces are all obsessed with Bucee's. I mean, it is, it is a thing for sure.
Brenna Milleville: (44:30)
Yes. And I didn't know what it was because we didn't really road trip when I was a kid. So I had no idea what it was, but it's just huge,
Shanna Skidmore: (44:37)
I think it's newish. I mean, I just started hearing about it. Yeah. Well congratulations. Okay. That's pinch me moment. Number one. Yes.
Brenna Milleville: (44:47)
Um, I got to collaborate with Shannon Bream who's on Fox news for a giveaway with our women in the Bible shirt to go with her women in the Bible book. And that was like the coolest thing ever. I saw someone message me and they were like, oh you should contact Shannon Bream because she's writing this book. It would be a great collaboration. And I was thinking, there's no way this person who's like on Fox news every day is ever going to respond to me. And I looked her up on Instagram and I see follow back and I almost died.
Shanna Skidmore: (45:17)
Aw, that's so cool.
Brenna Milleville: (45:19)
And she had ordered from us before, so it was really fun. Yeah. She's very nice. And that was like a really cool moment.
Shanna Skidmore: (45:25)
That's so fun. I love that you shared that.
Brenna Milleville: (45:28)
And I would say the third pinch me moment was finding out I was pregnant because that was a complete, like we had been talking about doing IVF because the doctors that we had seen had told us, like don't even bother IUI, like IVFs, the only way you're gonna be able to get pregnant. Hm. And so when I just found out I was spontaneously pregnant, it was like the most insane thing. I even waited several weeks after my period, because now we're getting really personal on the podcast. because I was like, we're not like, I know I'm not pregnant. I'm not gonna waste another pregnancy test. Like this is impossible, but God reminded me that all things are possible.
Shanna Skidmore: (46:05)
wow. Thank you for sharing that. I mean what a praise. Yeah. That is a pinch me moment. um, especially after sounds like years of waiting and trying, so that's so cool. And grace is here. Okay. Yes. Next question. What is the best advice or really good advice that you have received?
Brenna Milleville: (46:28)
So my dad is like, has a bunch of dads that I used to think he made up, but turns out he got most of them from other people, which was shocking to me when I've heard someone else say one of his sayings, but I have a few of them and that you can please all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time mm-hmm , which is good for me because I kind of, I want to be able to please people, but it's impossible. To please everyone all the time. And then the other thing that I, he tells me a lot and I , I've been telling grace this sometimes too, which I know she doesn't understand, but it's okay. Is sometimes you have to do what you don't wanna do in order to achieve what you want to achieve.
Shanna Skidmore: (47:10)
Hmm. So good. I'm like soaking that one in. Yes. Darn it wish that wasn't true. So true. Okay. That's good advice. Thank you for sharing. All right. Last quick fire question. And this is, I would love to just hear and have you share now what you're working on now.
Brenna Milleville: (47:29)
So I'm very, very excited. We are working on children's books and linen dolls to go with the children's books. So if you think of kind of American girl with their dolls and books, that kind of go together, except for the dolls are soft body dolls. And then the books are all biblical. So we have Faith's book, Faith learns forgiveness. Grace's book is about grace and the freedom of the spirit and Hope's book is about the grumblies and how doing things for other people can help you feel better about yourself because you're taking the focus off of yourself. So I'm very, very excited about this project.
Shanna Skidmore: (48:05)
No, you shared it a little sneak peek with me and I'm so excited. So do you have, I know you're still kind of waiting and it's a big development process. Do you have a date yet or a estimated date so we can let everybody know.
Brenna Milleville: (48:19)
I really want them to launch by Christmas. Our illustrator has been a little bit slow. We are supposed to have them all by June 15th and it's been two months, but we're supposed to have them today. I think. So. We'll see. But I do have one of the books totally done. I it's so funny. If we were on video, I'd be able to show you, but I've cut it out literally on paper and I've taped all the pages together and stapled them but it's so cute. And I've been letting grace like look through it and she loves it. She keeps going to read her special book.
Shanna Skidmore: (48:50)
Aw. That's I'm
Brenna Milleville: (48:51)
Like, you have to be careful it's paper
Shanna Skidmore: (48:53)
and staples. Yeah,
Brenna Milleville: (48:55)
Shanna Skidmore: (48:56)
I've shared with you how Madeline loves to eat paper. Have I? And all of her books, I mean like crazy girl yesterday, I gave her a straw and she had chewed all of the paper off and I was like, what was I thinking? I love that. I'm so excited. Do you have a name or a place people could go to find out about that? Like what
Brenna Milleville: (49:16)
So we are still kind of trying to decide exactly what we're going to do, but we do have a domain we're going to sell them on our website. ellyandgrace.com. But we're also going to sell them on their own website because it's gonna be, I believe solovedcollection.com because they're the so loved collection like John 3:16. And um, we decided that we wanted them to also have their own separate brand because we have so many different things on our website, like stickers and all different kinds of apparel and Bibles and now journals and everything that I didn't want them to just be a footnote in our menu. I really wanted them to be highlighted. So we felt that we could kind of have it be under the Elly and Grace brand, but on the front right now, it says like faith learns forgiveness as a title, a so loved Elly and grace book.
Shanna Skidmore: (50:04)
Yeah. Okay. So
Brenna Milleville: (50:06)
That's kind of what we're thinking.
Shanna Skidmore: (50:07)
All right. I can't wait to see those launch and we'll definitely link what we can in your website and the show notes, but to send us off, I would love for you to share. What would you tell yourself on day one going all the way back to 2016, after that conference at your church, what would you tell yourself on day one of your business?
Brenna Milleville: (50:29)
I would say that God has a purpose for every part of your path. Even the parts that you don't understand or don't enjoy.
Shanna Skidmore: (50:37)
I love that. Thank you so much for coming and having this conversation with me today. It's been so wonderful Brenna just to get, to hear more of your story and your journey. And I'm so inspired by the way that you've built your team. And gosh, you're doing e-commerce at a high level all yourself, which is so impressive. So thank you so much for spending this time.
Brenna Milleville: (50:58)
Thank you so much for having me. This was so much fun.
Shanna Skidmore: (51:01)
I know it was great. Two Introverts. Get on a podcast. Here we go.
Brenna Milleville: (51:05)
That should be the name!
Shanna Skidmore: (51:06)
I know it should. All right, Brenna, we'll talk to you soon.
Brenna Milleville: (51:11)
Shanna Skidmore: (51:12)
Hey wildflower. You just finished another episode of consider the wildflowers, the podcast head over to considerthewildflowerspodcast.com for show notes, resource links, and to learn how you can connect with Brenna. One final thought today from my girl, Dolly Parton: "Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life." I'll see you back here next Thursday with a brand new episode.