We can't eat up these words fast enough of the words of dream-chasers who are changing the world in small and big ways. Especially when it comes from someone we've admired for a while like Rachel Goode, founder of Briar Handmade. She is a wife, mother to two, runs a successful bonnet business:) Her style and talent is evident in her beautiful Instagram feed, website, and that's saying nothing of the gorgeous bonnets she designs. We hope you feel inspired by her path, and encouraged to gather your good in your own way. Hats off to you Rachel! xoxo
Get Rachel's Blush mat here. (How sweet is her daughter in this picture?)
Give us a bit of background about you and your life.
Let’s start with the basics: I was born and raised in Vancouver, WA and still live here with my husband and two kids, Noah (6) and Gracelyn (3). The majority of our extended family also lives here, and we adore the Pacific Northwest, so I doubt we’ll ever leave! After getting my degree in Psychology, I went on to work in retail management for several years until my son was born. Being a stay-at-home mom wasn’t necessarily the plan, but after Noah arrived, we decided to find a way to make it work.
My background really has nothing to do with owning a business or being an entrepreneur! Fortunately, I have had a variety of jobs and can draw on a lot of different experiences to help navigate this business world that I found myself in. I would have laughed out loud if someone told me that in my thirties, I’d be running a “bonnet business.” Now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Now tell us a bit about Briar's story--where it began and how it got to where it is today?
Growing up, I never had aspirations of becoming an entrepreneur, so it actually happened quite organically once my daughter, Gracelyn Briar, was born three years ago. I wanted a hat similar to the pilot caps I had put on my son, but more feminine. I made her a bonnet and everywhere we went, she’d get compliments. At that time, as a stay-at-home mom, I wanted to financially contribute to the household income; while considering my options, my husband suggested that I sell the bonnets I had made for Gracelyn. We formed an LLC, got a business license, invested in some fabric, and the rest is history.
It started more-or-less as a hobby, but it was quickly apparent that if I wanted to, I could grow it into something much larger. Probably three months in, I really started treating it like a legitimate business, approaching it with an entrepreneurial vision. Unfortunately, by that time, I was playing catch up with the operational groundwork needed for a small business to succeed. It wasn’t until a year later that we really got to a place where we could focus on branding, marketing, product development, sales trends - all the essentials that are necessary to grow a young business.
We all have gifts. You have a gift to gather ________. What would that be?
Talented people. One thing I love most about owning a business is finding the right people for the job and really utilizing their strengths. I feel like I’ve gathered a group of not only amazingly talented people, but people that fit into the leadership culture of Briar. They’ve all been instrumental in growing our company. Sometimes the timing hasn’t necessarily been exactly right for the business, but I’ve hired them because I knew they were the right person for what I need, or would need in the future. It’s paid off ten-fold every time.
You've seen such great success as your company has grown. What do you think is one reason behind your success?
My first inclination is to say, “Luck!”, but of course, it has to be more than that. I’ve always taken a lot of pride in delivering a quality product. If mamas like it, they’ll tell their friends, who will tell their friends. Luckily, we have great social media outlets for mamas to do just that!
What has been a challenging part, and rewarding part of running your own business?
Currently, the most challenging part of running my own business is production planning. Our volume keeps increasing, so sourcing fabrics and planning out what we will need for upcoming collections, along with quantities, are challenging for me. The most rewarding part of running my own business has been watching it grow. It went from me sitting in a little sewing nook at the top of the stairs in my home, to having several full-time seamstresses and a handful of other employees, along with a beautiful headquarters where production, shipping, and everything in between takes place.
Walk us through what a day in your life looks like?
During the school year, we go through our morning routine of waking up, getting ready, eating breakfast, and heading off to school! My son is in school all day, and my daughter goes to my parents’ house twice a week. Typically, I spend those two full days a week working at the studio, plus an occasional afternoon or two while my Gracelyn naps on the couches at the shop (luckily, she’s a great napper!). After Noah gets out of school, we are usually home for the day. We make a point of eating a family dinner each night, where we talk about our day, the highs and lows, and what we learned.
Recently, I’ve made a point of squeezing a work-out in every day, which is something I’ve neglected the last two years while growing Briar. It’s sometimes a challenge to make the time, but my body is thanking me for it.
As a busy mom and entrepreneur, time is valuable. How do you juggle it all?
I’ll be the first to admit, there are days that my kids have too much screen time. It’s a choice where you spend your time, and time spent in one place means something else has to give. I love Randi Zuckerburg’s formula: Work, sleep, family, fitness, or friends--pick three. As long as I keep this in mind while choosing my priorities on any given day, week, or month, I’m usually able to stay sane about “balance”, or lack thereof.
Where do you go for inspiration, to catch a break, or feel inspired?
I always feel inspired at our headquarters. Just entering the building gets me excited about the future of Briar. To catch a break, you’ll find me getting a pedicure.
Any tips for the fellow dream-chaser?
Stay laser-focused. It’s easy to compare yourself to others - good and bad - but, don’t. Seek out and surround yourself with great people who share a common vision. Also, it takes time and hard work! There’s no way around it.
What could you gather and gather and never have enough of?
Starwood Preferred Guest points. I run all my business expenses through my American Express to accrue these points. We recently traveled to Greece and the majority of our accommodations were taken care of by cashing these in, and we’re already planning our next trip. It’s a really great travel point reward system!
Also, fresh cut flowers. My house, and Briar Headquarters, almost always have fresh flowers. Walking into a room with bouquets in vases makes me exceptionally happy. I always grab my fair share on our weekly Trader Joe’s trip.
We love hearing people talk about their dreams. What is your biggest hope or aspiration in life?Right now, my biggest aspiration is to travel the world with my husband and kids. Our trip to Europe earlier this summer really gave us the travel bug, and solidified our desire to show our kids the world and experience difference cultures around the globe. There are so many places we’d like to travel to, and I hope to cross many of those off over the course of our lifetime.