Hey, Boss Babes! We can’t wait to introduce you to this week’s featured boss lady. Amy Marshall is the owner of Strands of Sunshine. She’s a maker, savvy business woman, shuffleboard player, & supporter of all things local. I met Amy almost five years ago when she had her first brick & mortar shop just off of Central Avenue in St. Pete. Since then, she has moved to a larger space, and then another, and is now in a large, awesomely curated space on the 600 block in Downtown St. Pete. Strands of Sunshine’s offerings have expanded from her handcrafted jewelry & good vibes to also include handmade goods, local art, greeting cards, & more. I know you’re going to love her advice to small business owners as well as her personal mantra, “Live in the sunshine.” Enjoy Amy’s words!
Tell us about yourself and what you do!
Hi! I'm Amy and I own an artsy gift shop in Downtown St. Pete called Strands of Sunshine. I'm also a jewelry maker, and my studio is located in the shop. I've been married for 13 years to a Naval officer, and we've lived in Biloxi, MS, Sicily, Italy, and Seattle, WA prior to moving here. I'm child free by choice, but we loved our fur baby, a dog named Oscar. He recently passed away, but came to work with me almost every day and was a beloved member of Team SoS.
How did your business begin?
Just over 5 years ago, my husband and I moved to St. Pete for his job. I had plans to pursue my jewelry making as a means of full time employment, but that didn't initially include opening a brick and mortar shop. We visited downtown and the 600 Block, where there were a few tiny storefronts for rent. My husband encouraged me to call and inquire about the rent, and it was so affordable that I decided to go for it. I set up my workshop and a little storefront in a 7x14 foot space. Little did I know I would grow my business and move twice, ultimately into the space we have today, and that I would go from just carrying my jewelry to representing nearly 40 local makers.
What’s 1 challenge you’ve faced and 1 success you’ve had since you’ve created your business?
Our biggest growing pain has been hiring staff! It was scary for me to let someone other than myself represent my store and my brand. Plus since this is a retail job, it means working weekends and holidays. Not everyone wants to do that. We have a great team, which is a result of the hiring process I put in place, and also that we've attracted like-minded individuals just because of the positive nature of the shop and what it stands for. They say your vibe attracts your tribe and I think it's true!
As far as a success, I think the fact that the business has grown so much is a big one. I never imagined we'd be able to support so many makers, and hitting the 5 year mark this September feels like a huge accomplishment! Also, it feels so good when people come in and tell us SoS is their favorite store! That was more than one, but it never hurts to reflect on all the positives, does it?
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and has it come in handy for you?
My business coach, Juliet Kyes, has such a positive attitude. She stops me every time I start to say something negative or pessimistic and asks me to re-frame my thoughts. Having a good outlook, being grateful, and looking at situations as opportunities instead of problems. Internal dialog and self-talk can be really negative, and we should't be so hard on ourselves. It's a much better way to go through life, and it's an ongoing thing that I'm constantly working on.
When are you at your happiest?
Good food makes me so happy! I love to eat! Whether it's pizza on the couch or a fancy date night with my husband, food is one of my greatest joys.
What do you tell yourself when things get difficult?
In the context of my business, I try to look at these hard times as growth opportunities. Every time you do something hard or make it through a difficult time, you've grown as a person and as a business owner. Just get through it!
What are you grateful for?
I'm extremely grateful for two things-- the first is a supportive, wonderful, husband. Seriously, he's the best. Ask anyone! And secondly, I'm grateful that the St. Pete community is so supportive of my business. Folks around here care about how they spend their hard-earned money, and they care about the success of small businesses like mine. I couldn't ask for a better community to call home.
What’s 1 personal goal and 1 business goal you plan to accomplish this year?
My personal goal this year is to incorporate a fitness routine back into my schedule. I just joined a gym. I know I'll feel better every day if I start exercising again. My business goal is to become more confident in mastering the financial side of things. I hired a business coach this year, and I'm getting a better grasp on digging into my sales, profit margins, projections, etc. That's my weak spot and the least appealing part of my job, but it's obviously one of the most important aspects of running your own business. That allows you to make educated decisions all across the board.
Where can you be found on a Tuesday afternoon?
Tuesdays are work days. I am here in the shop until 6 p.m. If I'm not on the sales floor, I'm in my studio space making jewelry or working on administrative duties.
How about on a Friday evening?
Friday evenings could be anything. After closing the shop, I might meet friends for drinks downtown, or head home for a cozy evening with the hubs. St. Pete is such a busy place, you can always find something fun to do on a Friday!
A Sunday morning?
We like to go out to eat on Sunday mornings! Our go-to breakfast spots are Banyan Cafe, La Casa Del Pane, Craft Kafe, and recently we tried the Seahorse Restaurant in Pass-A-Grille. The shrimp and grits were great, so we'll be back there!
Finish these sentences:
I love: the beach, sunshine, making new friends, traveling to new places, my dog, my family, and a quiet day at home all to myself.
I’m always looking for: items that can be used in our shop displays! Especially vintage items. We get a lot of positive feedback about our displays and I really enjoy working on them.
My inspiration is: I'm inspired by a lot of things. There are so many people out there who have overcome huge obstacles and beat the odds. But my mentality about working hard comes from my dad. He spent 30 years at a back-breaking, blue collar job in a steel mill to provide for my family. He's the hardest working man I've ever known, and I want to make him proud.
I'll never: get tired of seeing the jewelry I made out on the streets. I get a big kick out of seeing someone wearing my work when I'm out and about!