Kelly Hartford of ‘Card My Yard Western Springs’: “Your business will only be as successful as you want it to be”

I also wish someone would have told me how rewarding this would be. I have the flexibility to be with my kids when they need me most and I also get to call myself a business owner and be on the move during the day and night to get the yard signs out to their […]

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I also wish someone would have told me how rewarding this would be. I have the flexibility to be with my kids when they need me most and I also get to call myself a business owner and be on the move during the day and night to get the yard signs out to their final destinations and to households in my community that requested them. I didn’t realize I would be in the place I am today — as a mom and successful entrepreneur.

The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.

As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelly Hartford.

Kelly Hartford is the franchise owner of Card My Yard Western Springs. After years of working in sales and being a stay-at-home mom to four kids, Hartford took her life in a new direction and opened Card My Yard to give her local community a new way to celebrate birthdays, graduations and major milestones in life. Dedicated to celebrating life’s events, Hartford looks forward to continuing to bring joy to family, friends and neighbors in Western Springs.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I grew up in a small town called Morton, IL. My grandpa started a welding company with his brother in his garage and years later, my dad took over that company and built it into a very successful business. As a little girl, I always wanted to be a teacher and have a family. I looked up to my mom and dad for raising us in an environment with God as our number one and then family as a very large priority in our lives. My parents always provided for us in so many different ways and that made me want to do the same for my family.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

There are so many great quotes out there and it’s hard to pick just one, but here is one that I truly love: The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us but those who win battles we know nothing about.

I was married at a young age and I experienced small battles myself that at the time I may not have thoroughly comprehended the impact they would have on me. However, as you get older, you realize that every one of those battles makes you stronger and shapes you into the person you are today. Sitting down and rethinking about problems you may be facing won’t get you out of them. However, movement and forgiveness do. I’m not afraid or embarrassed to share anything about my life if someone asks because I am pretty much an open book. I am not going to live in worry or anger my whole life because that doesn’t bring anything positive into my life, nor does it help me grow as a person. Focus on what’s ahead and what you can do to get over the hurdles life throws at you. With determination and self-love, you can overcome anything.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

here are so many films, books and podcasts out there that it’s hard for me to call one out that’s made a significant impact on me. In general, what amazes me the most and I have come to appreciate as a relatively new business owners are those people who have succeeded in their own ways and have shared their unique stories with others on how they accomplished their goals or life dreams. Whether they realize it or not, by sharing their stories they’ve inspired others to do the same and this snowball effect allows us to learn from each other’s’ experiences and mistakes. I love seeing someone succeed or reach their goals because ultimately, I’ve always wanted to do that myself.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?

I would love to share about all the different hats I’ve worn since the pandemic because those were just the stepping stones to get where I am today. I graduated from the University of Iowa with an Elementary Education degree and was a reading Specialist for three years before I got married and had my first child. After having four kids, I wanted to go back to work slowly, so I got involved with a network marketing company that sold nutrition and weight loss products. There, I built a large team and realized I loved helping others reach a goal or accomplish something they set their minds to. That career lasted for seven years and during that time, I got my life and health coaching certifications. While trying to figure out what to do with those certifications, I hired my own life coach to help me come up with a business plan that would guide me to get where I wanted to be. I worked a couple of part-time jobs in schools as well to keep my mind going. When I came across a similar opportunity to what I’m currently doing, I actually passed on it two years ago. The timing didn’t feel right, and I wasn’t 100% convinced it was the type of business I wanted to bring to my local community.

What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?

As the world started to slowly shut down, my body and brain knew I couldn’t handle just sitting at home doing nothing. I started to stir and stew (which I do not like doing) because my two middle boys had birthdays coming up and we are the type of people that love to celebrate birthdays in a big way. It’s the one day that it’s all theirs and so, we like to bring as much attention to it as possible. Given the circumstances, I decided to throw a car parade for my kids, and this was before everyone did it! I also thought about that company I looked into two years ago with the big birthday signs and wished I would have pulled the trigger and started that company. Well, it wasn’t too late, and I started to do my own research, made a few phone calls and decided to turn in an application to start the process of becoming a Card My Yard franchisee. With these signs going viral across the country and no one in my community providing this type of service, I knew I was going to succeed.

Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?

I was on a social media page for moms and one of the followers posted a message about looking for a birthday banner. Then, I saw another mom was looking for a graduation sign and that’s when I knew, there was a need for this type of service, and I had to jump on the opportunity right away.

How are things going with this new initiative?

Business is booming and I thank God every day when I’m driving in my car in the early wee hours for this. Since I launched Card My Yard Western Springs, I haven’t stopped working and in fact, I have never worked so hard in my life. I work seven days a week and had to hire three employees to stay above water. I’m so grateful to have found a niche that not only makes me happy and feel like I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, but also, I love being a new small business owner. Card My Yard is about bringing people joy and celebrating special occasions, so to me, that’s a reward in itself.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I had a session with my astonishing life coach, Patricia Cimino, one day and I will never forget this experience. We started our session by her asking me to picture my future self and life. Then, she guided me through a series of questions that really made me think and see who I wanted to be. This awakened something inside me that I would have otherwise not realized myself. I always go back to that vision in my head of me being happy, confident and successful and will forever be grateful for that and her!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

Oh, there are so many interesting stories that come to mind. Through Card My Yard, I have the opportunity every day to tell someone’s story or bring attention to their achievements, milestones and celebrations from their front yards. We have celebrated a 95-year-old vet, heroes working at local hospitals during the pandemic, birthdays and anniversaries. The list goes on and on and what makes this so special is that every single person is accomplishing something great during, what many of us would say, has been the hardest year yet. That triumph and determination to not let the pandemic get them down is what keeps me going.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Your business will only be as successful as you want it to be. I launched Card My Yard Western Springs in June of 2020 and I haven’t stopped working ever since. I enjoy what I am doing, and I realize there’s a big demand for yard greeting signs, but I also recognize that if I wasn’t dedicated and determined to meet all of the inquiries that are coming in, my business wouldn’t be as successful as it is.

I also wish someone would have told me how rewarding this would be. I have the flexibility to be with my kids when they need me most and I also get to call myself a business owner and be on the move during the day and night to get the yard signs out to their final destinations and to households in my community that requested them. I didn’t realize I would be in the place I am today — as a mom and successful entrepreneur.

So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?

Since becoming a franchisee, it’s been a non-stop, 24/7 kind of job for me. So, I find that I don’t have time to deal with the jolts of the news cycle. It’s important to stay up to date on the major news that may impact your day-to-day life, but I believe that you can’t let it consume you. It’s not healthy to be glued to the TV or computer screen and so I use my job as a tool to distract me from all the ups and downs. I focus on the positivity and joy I’m bringing to my customers and community through Card My Yard and others can do the same. Turn off the TV, close up Twitter and do something that makes you happy or distracts you from the turmoil 2020 has brought upon us all.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

My job has really inspired me to bring more attention to how important and rewarding it is to celebrate special occasions and milestones we accomplish — no matter how big or small they may be. On a daily basis, I get a first-hand look at how much the yard greeting signs mean to people across all age brackets and getting their feedback afterwards of how much it meant for that person to be celebrated is incredible and we need that form of joy and happiness now more than ever.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

That is easy. Reese Weatherspoon is someone I would love to have lunch with. She has always been one of my favorites in the entertainment industry and I love seeing her growth throughout the years as an actress, producer and entrepreneur.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can follow Card My Yard Western Springs on Facebook @cardmyyardwesternsprings and Instagram @cardmyyard_westernsprings. For more information, visit

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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