Behind the Screen : Shelley Easter
To start things off, please introduce yourself to us.
Hi, I’m Shelley Easter. I own a web design business called Shiny Acorn.
Where in the world are you located?
I’m an Orlando native and have managed to move a grand total of 5.9 miles from where I grew up.
How is your day structured - do you have a routine or do you go with the flow?
My days are so different now that I’m a mom. I have 3 year old twins who totally rocked my world when they were born. Before motherhood, I was an extreme night owl and would work till 2am and read till even later (and wake up at noon). Ah, that was nice.
Needless to say, my routine has changed. I have part-time child care thanks to my parents and preschool, and I pack in as much in as possible during that time. It’s not the same daily schedule, but from week-to-week I always know what I’ll be doing.
I like to compare motherhood to one big Pomodoro technique (the timer trick where you focus on one task for 20 mins at a time). It’s made me so much more efficient to have less time to work.
What inspires you everyday?
I find a lot of inspiration from talking to other business owners. I have Skype chats scheduled for once or twice a week with old and new friends. It’s so nice to talk to someone who “gets it” and is working on some of the same stuff you are. There’s always a takeaway or three from those calls and they’ve given me a real sense of community that I didn’t have when I went out on my own.
What is your favorite part of the day?
I really enjoy the beginning of my work days. It’s usually around 9am and after the kids have gone off to school or my parents. It’s so nice having a quiet house, a cup of tea and being able to sit down and focus. And I love cooking dinner and listening to music while the kids “help”.
What does balance look like to you?
Well rounded interests and perspective. I don’t want to be totally immersed in one world. So in practice, that’s listening to business podcasts, reading fiction, doing yoga, jogging, practicing piano, and dance parties with my kids.
I care about a lot of different things and make time for them. And I prioritize rest and watch tv every night with my husband. We’re currently watching Better Call Saul and Veep.
What are you currently reading or listening to?
I’m finishing up the Red Rising series, I’m on the third book. It’s a really good science fiction series. I listen to a lot of different podcasts, some favorites are The Longest Shortest Time, Fresh Air, Death, Sex and Money, and Profit. Power. Pursuit with Tara Gentile.
Do you have a favorite quote?
We can do hard things. It says so much in so little and can apply to just about every frustration that I feel. I say it to my kids all the time too.
A lil' bit o' biz
What was the breaking point in starting your own business?
I wanted to start my own business on day one of my first “real job” post-college. Although I didn’t think of it as starting my own business, I thought of it as becoming a freelancer. It took me a lot of years to realize there’s a big difference with that.
I started as a print designer in the magazine industry and later took a job in educational publishing. I dreaded going to work every day, so so much. All I wanted to do was quit and get more clients (I was moonlighting), but I was too afraid of the uncertainty of it.
After less than a year, I was laid off from that job. The very next day I decided I wouldn’t be applying to another job, I was going to go out on my own. I felt great about it. It was truly the push that I needed.
Tell us about your biggest ah-ha moment.
The biggest game-changer for my business was going to the Being Boss Vacation in Miami in 2016. It was a first in a lot of ways. First time going to a conference, first time going somewhere where I knew no one and the first time spending money on my business. It was also the first time that I started to realize I had a business and wasn’t a freelancer. And that I needed to do things differently to be more successful.
How do you stay motivated through the ups and downs of owning your own business?
I’ve had a lot of moments where I didn’t understand why things weren’t picking up. I now realize I had basically no marketing plan or strategy, but for some reason I didn’t get that at the time and I always felt frustrated and a little clueless about that.
But through it all, I know in my heart of hearts that this is what I want to be doing. A regular job is just not for me. I’m very self motivated, so when I really don’t feel like doing something, I’ll take a break. I’ll watch a show, go for a walk, or read my book. I’ll always come back to it when I’m ready.
What has surprised you the most about owning your own business?
How many decisions you have to make and just how much you have to do (or hire someone to do for you). I was just writing out a list of everything that’s involved in branding and making a website and was pretty blown away by how much work it all is. Even though that’s what I do, it’s a lot.
And there are so many other smaller things that take up your time -- contracts, social media, following up, scheduling, emails, newsletters, blog posts, accounting, taxes, welcome kits, etc. It sometimes seems endless.
What has been the best investment you’ve made for your business?
First would be going to Being Boss last year. I met so many wonderful people that I’m still in contact with and have become a big part of my life. I also met my business coach, Eryn Morgan (eagleandmouse.com). I felt a strong connection with her and wanted to work with her instantly. I hired her a week after the conference.
Working with Eryn gave me the confidence to rebrand my business as Shiny Acorn and start marketing and reaching out. It was a turning point. She really set me on the path that I’m on now.
Rapid fire wrap up
Introvert or extrovert?
Introvert. INFJ to be exact.
Behind the camera or in front of the camera?
Name a movie you’ve watched more than 7 times.
What About Bob?
What was one trend you loved but now makes you cringe?
What’s something you can’t live without?
For better or for worse, my iPhone is first thing that comes to mind…
Where’s the most relaxing place you’ve ever been?
The Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland.
What do you wish you knew more about?
So much. Currently playing the piano and Thai cooking.
What song have you been playing on repeat?
The entire Hamilton soundtrack. All day, every day.
What are 3 things you’re grateful for?
The chance meeting of my husband (we’ve been together for 10 years), surprise twins, and my parents.
What did you last celebrate?
My 30th birthday!