There’s nothing we love more than female empowerment and entrepreneurship. Susan Petersen, CEO of the lifestyle brand Freshly Picked, encompesses what it means to be a GIRL BOSS. Starting from absolute scratch, Susan has been able to build an online brand + empire that stretches far beyond the realms of Instagram and into the hearts of many. Find out how she got her start, how she kept the momentum rolling, and her hopes for the female entrepreneurs of the future in this weeks InstaSize interview.
I believe I read it’s been an astonishing 8 years since FP was first created, congratulations! Tell us about the very beginning of Freshly Picked. How did you come up with the idea for baby moccasins and what steps did you take to begin turning your plans into actions?
It all started when my son was born. I needed shoes that fit him comfortably but also wouldn’t fall off. I came up with the idea, molded them out of leather, and began thinking of ways to sell them. I saw a need within the industry and I thought of a way to fill it. Hence the creation of Freshly Picked.
What was your first strategy when it came to marketing your product on Instagram?
To build a community. Utah is very heavily populated with mommy bloggers. I swear, you kick a tree and 5 bloggers fall out. Everyone is a mommy blogger and it’s awesome because most of the bloggers that are posting mom content in Utah are very strategic, very smart, really leading the way for bloggers all over. So I got very lucky in the sense that I could show up to an event and there would be 10-12 people already there that I wanted to work with. I would give them free product, talk about the brand, and leave it up to them whether or not they wanted to post about us, I never strictly enforced it.
I would say I definitely had a little bit of an advantage living in Utah and creating my product in Utah, because the blogging sphere is so popular out here and I was able to tap into that very easily.
How do you continue to grow both an audience and a consumer base with the online retail world being as saturated as it is now? Are you still building those influencer relationships?
Influencers will always be a huge part of our marketing strategy. What we do now is we layer it with our own content. We also have celebrities that fit into our influencer category which is huge for us. We do a lot of paid advertising. I think the big question for us, the big thing we’re trying to figure out (the big thing everyone is trying to figure out) is what is next for Instagram marketing? You’ve got to be ahead of the curve and that’s what we’re trying to figure out as a team.
I think something we’ve been doing a lot of when it comes to our online marketing is, Instagram Stories. Stories seem to be fairly safe from the algorithm for a little bit, and emails. Emails are always a great way to utilize the attention of your audience/consumers. We’re constantly evolving our email practices and constantly trying to make them better.
What would you say is the biggest obstacle or challenge when it comes to running your own business?
Me, I’m the biggest obstacle. And I’m not joking. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, people will always ask “what’s your biggest challenge” and I can’t think of anything because even though we may face hardships from time to time, we learn from them, and we move on. And I would say that I am my biggest challenge. When we were first starting out, everything depended on me and now as it’s scaling, nothing DEPENDS on me anymore. Which is good, but there’s this humility pride aspect that you have to balance. You have to believe you can do something but also be humble enough to realize it can’t solely be all on you anymore.
There’s this humility pride aspect that you have to balance. You have to believe you can do something but also be humble enough to realize it can’t solely be all on you anymore.
You’ve recently tapped into the retail realm, I believe your line has been featured in Nordstroms. Can you tell us a little more about that? Do you have plans of establishing a storefront in the near future?
Yes, we look at retail as a marketing channel. Our E-Commerce is always going to be number 1, it’s always going to be what we focus on and what takes precedence over everything else. Because it’s what is working, at least for us. We love our relationships with our retailers but we just don’t make money there. So for us, we look at it as a marketing channel and not a money making machine. And yes, there is a potential storefront in the works! Nothing solidified, but we’ll keep you guys updated.
This is a good segway, when it comes to you as a business woman, what’s next? Do you enjoy the start up phase of a business? Are you looking to expand Freshly Picked? Start a new project?
You know when you’re 9 months pregnant and people ask you “are you going to have another baby” and you’re like “let me have this baby first, let me see how this baby turns out”! My vision for Freshly Picked has always been a brand that lives beyond me. A brand that I can be proud of, my children can be proud of, a brand that continues on. Yes, the goal has always been to build and sell, but we’re still so far away from that. The whole company is very aligned with the overall goals and what it’s going to take to get there, and that’s my focus.
What I’m passionate about is..and I’m trying to find the right words to say this.. I’m really good at giving people permission to play. When I look at Susan 5 years out, 10 years out, and what I’m doing, I hope that I’m able to encourage people. Especially women entrepreneurs, or moms, or anyone who is trying to get something started, I hope I can be there, in that space with them. When I look at the future of entrepreneurs, I just hope there’s a lot more women.
I hope the atmosphere in 10 years is women helping women. I want it to be a lot more inclusive than what it is now. Can we just stop being threatened by each other? There’s room and success for everyone.
When I look at the future of entrepreneurs, I just hope there’s a lot more women.
What advice would you give someone who’s trying to establish a brand online?
Too often we talk ourselves out of the things we want to do, or the goals we can’t imagine accomplishing. Whoever you are when you’re going pee at 2am, that’s your true self. Then you wake up in the morning and reality sets in, life starts knocking you down, and you forget about those 2am thoughts. Don’t. Stay true to who you are and just go for it. Just get started. Take confidence in the skills you have and the person you are, and just get out there and seize the day! Become a full time photographer. Do whatever it is you want to do! Trust in yourself and your skills.
Just saying YES to stuff will lead you to so many cool opportunities that you otherwise wouldn’t have experienced.
How do you balance being a full time mother and running a business?
There’s no such thing as balance. Balance is BS, it’s something the world thinks you have to be, or maybe people think they need to be, or something. How I like to look at it is from a monthly or quarterly perspective. Ok, does everyone have clean clothes? Is everyone fed? Did we get through the month alive? *laughter*
And for me, I delegate a lot of my “chores”, if you will, to outside help so I have more time to focus on the business. It’s not that I can’t do them, I just don’t want to do them, so why force myself when I can hire someone? The way I have everything set up ensures success for the family. It’s very important to me that my children feel safe and secure. And for me, I need to feel like everything is being taken care of so I can work and give my best to everyone. I don’t think it’s a matter of balance. I think it’s a matter of do you think what’s important is getting taken care of.
We can’t thank Susan Petersen enough for allowing us to swing by the Freshly Picked Headquarters for this interview. We left feeling inspired as ever, to continue our mission of motivating those who use our app to get out and CREATE whatever it is their hearts desire. The world is filled with opportunity, and here at InstaSize we believe that anyone who has passion, can create stunning content to share with the World. Looking for new content ideas? Check out this weekends second blog post: Instagram Content Ideas For A More Creative Feed