Finding community and the spirit of collaborating. I have been able to come together with other small businesses to work together and collaborate on ideas (and even just to commiserate about what we have been through). But these outlets have helped me feel less alone, so whether it’s a women in a business group for your industry, a mom’s group or something based around one of your hobbies, know that your people are still out there you just need to find them.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.
As a part of our series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Samantha Myers.
Samantha Myers and Judy Famigletti are the duo behind Let’s Dress Up, a fairy tale themed playspace for kids in the heart of New York City. Samantha left a lengthy career in Financial Services in 2018 to be an entrepreneur and joined forces with Judy at Let’s Dress Up. She is also a mom to a school aged child in the same demographic as their customers!
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
After graduating college with no real plan, I became intrigued by the Financial Services industry. I managed to get myself an entry level position at a small firm. I worked my way up and through many iterations of the business and loved it. It was (mostly) a match made in heaven for 23 years until I was burnt out and restless. It was time for another move, but rather than staying in my comfort zone, I decided to go big and make the leap to be an entrepreneur. I partnered with Judy and bought into Let’s Dress Up.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
It is especially interesting to have a child the exact age of our ideal customer, it makes for a lot of crossover opportunity and a sidekick to try out new crafts and themes with. I will share one specific story. We were at an elementary school street fair (pre COVID) and there was this awesome face painter with kids lined up for a mile. So I approached her about the possibility of doing an event with us at the shop. When I told her the name of the business, she laughed and said that her now 16 year old daughter had her 4th birthday party at Let’s Dress Up! It was so amazing to hear and to know that I had gotten into something with such longevity and a great neighborhood reputation.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
At Let’s Dress Up we are working to rebound from the last year. We are using the time to revamp, streamline and make our offerings better than ever. If you are in the New York City area and have a child between the ages of 3 and 7, we want to be your go to spot for Princess fun and magical birthday celebrations. When the kids need fun (and the parents need a break), we will be ready and waiting. In the meantime, we will continue to post free resources through social media with arts and crafts ideas, storytimes, recipes and other ideas to help busy parents keep their kids entertained.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. 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?
My mother has always driven me to do my best and never quit. That childhood lesson coupled with my time in a demanding industry has been paramount to my work ethic and ambition. Being in Finance taught me to get to work early, work hard, check things off your to do list, be professional, provide outstanding customer service and many lessons that translate surprisingly well to being an entrepreneur.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?
Much has been said and written about the toll the pandemic has taken on working moms, but it really cannot be overstated. Coronavirus ripped the rug out from under us. Things that we thought were a given like in person school for your kids and seeing family were no longer options. It was truly the unthinkable. There were so many logistical challenges and so many emotional ones on top of that. Mom’s would have said they were run ragged before, but this was a whole new level.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I am the type that can only survive with organization. So I did what I could to control the things I could control and maximize my efficiency. I made schedules for my daughter’s school work, my work work and then the house work. Even if I didn’t manage to follow them exactly, it gave me a structure for the day. Lists help me when I am feeling scattered so that I won’t forget my latest brilliant idea or that we are out of toothpaste.
Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
Make no mistake that everyone, and I mean everyone, got a raw deal during the pandemic. That being said, the stress on working moms has been overwhelming. Much of the homeschooling responsibilities fell to moms, as well as the home related items like grocery shopping meals and laundry. You want to be at your best for your kids and for your work and that can be really challenging, bordering on impossible. There simply are not enough hours in the day, let alone quality hours. And if you own your own business the idea of having actual “work day” hours simply does not exist, both entrepreneurship and parenting are 24/7 environments.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I have learned to work on the go more than ever before. Turn your phone into a mini office, answer emails during your child’s gymnastics class, talk business at the playground, network at the grocery store. It is multi tasking on overdrive.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
Everyone says create a productive workspace for yourself and yes, that would be nice. I am writing this from a less than optimal little bedroom set up I have going (papers all over the bed, pens rolling around here somewhere, phone and computer barely reaching the plug to charge). For me it must be quiet and have a door that closes, but I have learned to be productive in less than ideal conditions. I try to use time when my daughter is out, occupied or in bed to do things that require my undivided attention and best thinking.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
Serene may be a little too aspirational, so we will stick with a goal of staying sane. Learn to laugh at the things that drive you crazy. It’s okay to get on each others nerves, no one was meant to be together quite this much. If you can find moments to laugh with (and even at) yourselves and each other it will be much more enjoyable.
This one is especially for moms…ask everyone to pitch in. Yes, it’s sometimes easier to do it yourself and be mad about it later, but let your husband grocery shop (lower your expectations now for any healthy choices), have your kids put their own laundry away (yes it will be a mess and they will compain but who cares). This is the perfect time to get everyone participating in the household.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
1. We have come this far. I think we can get most people to agree that the darkest days are behind us and we are not going back there. Be proud of yourself.
2. The weather is getting nicer again. Go make plans outside!
3. Look at how much extra time you got with your kids or your “pod”. You got to do everything with them, you didn’t miss a thing. (And when the time is right you can drop them off with the grandparents or a babysitter with zero guilt!!)
4. Finding community and the spirit of collaborating. I have been able to come together with other small businesses to work together and collaborate on ideas (and even just to commiserate about what we have been through). But these outlets have helped me feel less alone, so whether it’s a women in a business group for your industry, a mom’s group or something based around one of your hobbies, know that your people are still out there you just need to find them.
5. Small businesses are seeing the love of their communities. It has been such a hard road for small businesses especially, but the notes of encouragement and people going out of their way to support us is truly heartwarming.
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Call or text your family and friends to check in. Then I recommend people find something to take your mind off the day to day reality. And it’s okay to turn off the news for a bit.
Here are a few I de-stress tactics I like: go for a run blasting your favorite music, read crime novels, bingwatch Bridgerton, bake/try new recipes, watch Jeopardy, do an at home face mask or hair conditioning treatment.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Don’t wait to use the good glasses is something my dad always used to say. Don’t have a cabinet full of fancy glasses and wait for the perfect occasion to use them. Any day can be a chance to celebrate. At our house, we use fancy glasses or make elaborate appetizer platters even when it’s just the three of us. We will have a sports themed watch party or movie night just because.
How can our readers follow you online?
@letsdressupnyc on Instagram
Website — https://letsdressupnyc.com/
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!