OLIVIA HAYWARD // MANE MESSAGE
Olivia is the founder of Mane Message, an accessory company that specializes in handmade hair ties that double as bracelets. She started the company in 2009 out of her college dorm room and has been at it ever since. Her workspace is currently located in North Oakland, California. She employs five amazing ladies who help her with the production and processing orders.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I wake up around 7:00 am and immediately check my phone. It’s a horrible habit that I’m not proud of, but alas, it’s the honest truth. You’ll find me checking social media, blogs, and reddit. I try not to check my email until I’ve had a cup of coffee, but sometimes I cave. I’m located in California, so I wake up feeling behind because of the time difference with the East Coast.
Around 9:00 am I leave for the office. When I get to work I spend a few minutes organizing everything for when my employees come in at 9:30. This normally entails updating the day’s to-do lists and printing out purchase orders. Once everyone arrives we have a meeting and go over what the day is going to look like. After everything with the production side of Mane Message is setup I go upstairs to my desk and reply to emails.
Between 10:00-12:30 I write up invoices, send emails, reorder materials, and do all of the computer work that needs to be done. I also prefer to schedule phone meetings during this block of time. My attention span is better before lunch, so I try to set myself up to be extremely productive during this time.
I spend my afternoons being creative. This can range from taking photographs, making hair ties, building an email campaign, reaching out to bloggers for collaborations, or prototyping a new product.
I try to finish up my workday by 6:00 pm. This means closing my laptop and resisting the urge to check my inbox.
What parts of your work do you love?
I love having creative freedom and the ability to design my day. I identify as a creative small business owner, so on days when I am able to brainstorm, prototype, do research, or work with my hands I am the happiest. Seeing your hard work pay off in the form of people wanting to buy your products is extremely rewarding. Nothing beats being busy filling orders and kicking butt.
What parts of your work/business do you dislike?
The majority of my job is no longer production. I’ve delegated much of the day-to-day creation of hair ties to my team. I miss using my hands all day, but I know it’s part of the process of growing Mane Message.
It’s a bit cliche to say taxes and all the bureaucratic paperwork that goes into running a business, but it’s true. It’s not glamorous or fun at all. I stay of top of these kind of tasks by setting aside an afternoon a week to tackle bills and bookkeeping.
What things do you have to do that you didn’t realize going into Mane Message?
I was 20 when I started Mane Message. I put my hair ties up on Etsy as an experiment to put the skills I’d been learning in class to use. I had no idea what it meant to be a small business owner or employer. I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants for five years now. It’s been an amazing adventure and I’ve been learning as I go. It doesn’t mean it’s not extremely challenging and stressful though.
What are some interesting things people probably don’t know behind the scenes of Mane Message?
I don’t think people realize how much production goes on behind the scenes. Even after delegating the majority of production to my team I still make 300-500 hair ties a day. That’s on top of juggling all the backend of the website, emails, bookkeeping, and social media. Creating a handmade product is physically demanding. I try to keep everything as ergonomic as possible. It’s vital for my overall wellbeing.
What type of calendar do you keep?
I use the Day Designer by Whitney English and iCal.
How do you plan out your calendar?
I prefer a physical calendar for project planning and setting goals. I also find myself using it as journal too. I love the format of the Day Designer for that reason. It gives you a lot of room to outline goals and take notes about your day. I find this helpful for keeping track of orders and my employees. I normally spend the last half hour of my workday writing about the day and planning out the rest of the week.
I use iCal for meetings and scheduling. I love it because it it syncs with all my devices and has alarms to remind me. I like to set reminders for 1 day in advance and 15 minutes before an event starts. This helps me stay organized and on top of things. I’d be up a creek without it.
How do you organize and tackle your to-do list?
I use ToDoist and random scraps of paper. If I write a to-do list down on a random piece of paper I will normally snap a photo of the note it and save it to Evernote. I tend to throw away lists and notes by accident so having them backed up to Evernote is extremely handy.
How do you attack your never-ending email? Do you have a certain strategy you use?
Having healthy boundaries with my inbox has always been challenging for me. In college you’d find me in the corner at parties replying to Etsy Conversations on my phone. Since then, I have turned off all email notifications on my phone. I don’t see the inbox count on my homepage or get audio notifications. It’s freeing. I don’t get distracted my inbox it when I’m not in “email mode.”
On a work day I try to be strategic about how I tackle email. I set aside a large chunk of my morning (two hours) to reply to people. Then I check back in after lunch and again before I sign off for the day around 5. I try to finish my day with my inbox empty.
This past year, I’ve been asking more and more people to call me. It saves both parties so much time. Especially when people are placing orders or have customer service questions.
What is your process and/or work strategy? Anything that you have found that works for you?
I try to compartmentalize chunks of my day to focus on different things. I find that if I commit to working on paperwork in the until lunchtime it’s more manageable and easier to hold myself accountable. Then I can switch gears and do something creative in the afternoon.
Another simple thing I do is get dressed in the morning. Seriously. Don’t fall into a yoga pants rut. It’s so easy to do and I often fall victim to it, but I find on days when I put on an outfit that I feel confident badass in I am more productive.
Do you have any rituals or routines you do?
At my workspace complex there are a handful of other small business owners who have dogs, so we all take a break and watch our dogs play at lunch. We always end up talking about business and trading information. It’s a great way to laugh and clear my head midday since I normally end up eating lunch in front of my computer screen.
How do you GSD at home?
Divide and conquer. I live with my boyfriend of nine years and we separate chores. For example, I do the dishes and he does the laundry. It works well for us. This minimizes frustration and nagging.
We use AnyList (iPhone app where you can share lists and collaborate with people) for meal planning and grocery lists. It’s very handy and if one of us stops by the market on the way home we can pick up things that we need.
What books, websites, posts, and other resources have you found helpful or have changed your life?
I love The B Bar, Etsy’s Quit Your Day Job series, and Makeshift Society‘s classes in San Francisco. I take free webinars and reach out to people on social media. Building relationships with other creative small business owners is extremely important.
Nuggets of advice you’ve been given that have stuck?
Do your best. You can’t go wrong or question alternative outcomes if you work your butt off and give it all you can.
Any other information about how you GSD, please share?
I am a creature of habit and love routine, but it’s important to break the mold from time to time. Take an online course, grab coffee with another small business owner, or get lost in a fabric store. Days when I mix it up and get away from my desk can be extremely restorative and beneficial to GSD longterm.
Would love to know what Apps, Websites, Programs, Gadgets etc. you use.
Timehop — See all your social media activity from previous years. Great to see what I was up to and when I ran sales for Mane Message.
TextExpander — You can write canned email responses with this app and use shortcuts to place them anywhere on the web. Love it! Saves me so much time.
Todoist — Organizes your to-do list and you can assign tasks to people. Love using this with my employees.
Evernote — Commit to using this for note taking, marking articles to read later, and brainstorming. Takes time to build into your routine, but I can’t live without it.
Audible — I’m dyslexic so reading can be hard. I love books on tape. I listen to them while I make hair ties, cook, and clean. On average I listen to a book a week.
iPhone6 & iPad