Morgan Montgomery, the Unemployable Entrepreneur

Morgan Montgomery’s journey to entrepreneurship isn’t a fairy tale – it included being fired from just about every job she had. But for Morgan, that unemployability and being more than a little stubborn is one of the reasons she makes a great business owner.

Morgan is the co-owner of Paisley & Jade, a specialty rental company based in Richmond VA.

Transcript

Courtney Hopper: Welcome to Hustle + Gather, a podcast about inspiring the everyday entrepreneur to take the leap. I’m Courtney,

Dana Kadwell: and I’m Dana,

Courtney Hopper: and we’re two sisters who love business. On this show, we talk about the ups and downs of the hustle and the reward at the end of the journey.

Dana Kadwell: And we know all the challenges that come with starting a business between operating our own wedding venue, doing, speaking, and consulting and starting our luxury wedding planning company. We wake up and hustle every day.

Courtney Hopper: But today we’re talking with our guest about her hustle. Joining us is Morgan Montgomery of Paisley and Jade in Richmond. She co owns a boutique rental company and she says that owning your own business is not a fairy tale, but she loves working for herself. Morgan, thank you so much for joining us on the Hustle and Gather Podcast.

Morgan Montgomery: Thank you so much for having me ladies. I’m so excited to be here. 

Dana Kadwell: Yes. And you know, one of the things that really drew us to you is your story. We love how it just isn’t the cookie cutter, what you hear about entrepreneurship. So we’d love to hear about how you got started. 

Courtney Hopper: And I find you like endlessly entertaining. 

Dana Kadwell: You are endlessly entertaining.

Morgan Montgomery: Oh, well, thank you so much. I appreciate that. Yeah. You know, it’s funny. Cause I feel like when we hear about a lot of the entrepreneurial stories, people love to kind of sugarcoat it and like make it sound like they woke up one day and, you know, they put on their best Athleisure and like broke out the laptop and off they went and it was all sunshine and roses.

And here’s the honest truth, guys. I have been fired or demoted from almost any job I’ve ever had.

And that’s like real life. It’s something I used to not talk about or share with people because I felt like a sense of shame about it. But in reality, for me, that’s the integral part of my origin story is that I was never made or cut out to work for anyone else.

It just took me a couple of uncomfortable conversations and an interesting resume to get there and understand it. 

Courtney Hopper: Totally get that. I think Dana would say the same thing about me. Not really cut out to work for anyone else.

Dana Kadwell:  Not even, maybe not even cut up for a partnership. I don’t know. 

Morgan Montgomery: Yeah. So, I mean the 30,000 foot overview of sort of how I got into specialty rentals and owning my own rental company with my business partner, Perkins, you know, it really starts back to like that whole, what do you want to do when you grow up?

And I worked at CVS when I was in high school in college, and I thought I was going to be the best district manager that CVS had ever had. I have worked every job like it was going to be my last one. So I went to school, I went to school for scenic design and stage management. I am living proof you can do something with a degree in theater thank you mom and dad. My dad legit thought that I would be serving coffee forever, which he was perfectly – he was proud of me no matter what I did, but I worked all the way through college. And then when I graduated, I was like, well, I guess I’m supposed to do something else. But I was fine working at CVS until CVS told me I would no longer be working there.

It was no longer good with them. And so I ended up getting a job out of college, working for a corporate greeting card company. And that job took me to Columbus, Ohio and I at 22 years old was running a territory of 120 accounts. 60 part-time employees, managing this district for them. I had a company car. I had a 401k. I had all these benefits – and I hated every minute of it. This is the one job I actually didn’t get fired or demoted from. Surprisingly considered it’s the one that I honestly, I think I liked the least. And so as I was out there in Ohio working this territory. I didn’t have a workplace. I worked remotely. So I had no friends cause I was 22 and I moved to a new state and I find that it was like, this, this isn’t for me. My now husband was in Richmond, Virginia at the time. So I said, you know what, I’m going to move to Virginia because I had left Massachusetts. And I come from one of those towns where sometimes people never leave.

And I felt like if I went back, that would be me as well. But I said, I’ll go to Virginia. And then when I got here, I realized I really wanted to work in the events industry. While I had been in Ohio and didn’t have any friends, I was looking for something to do where I could like meet people,maybe find some social interaction. And a friend of mine suggested that I look into a catering company and maybe do some serving you know, part-time work, way to meet some folks, evenings and weekends, which was great because I had a 9 to 5 and I had done that for about a year in Ohio. And I liked that more than my day job. It was one of those things where it was like I was going to do that because I was having fun. And like, I enjoyed a good party and I was fascinated by the correlation it had to theater. So, you know, when we talk about that stuff, it’s like, okay, for an event and for theater, it’s the same thing. You plan, plan, plan. Curtain goes up, manage the chaos, curtain comes down, you’re exhausted. You have a cocktail and then you think about how you do it differently the next time. 

Dana Kadwell: It’s like a perfect analogy of the events industry actually. 

Courtney Hopper: Cause it’s like a production. 

Dana Kadwell: It is. 

Morgan Montgomery: So it really spoke to me – the industry and the process. So when I got here to Richmond, this was in 2008. Um, which as you all recall was a really lovely time to be looking for a job.

Dana Kadwell:  Yes.The recession.

Courtney Hopper: That was a time to move into something new. 

Morgan Montgomery: Yeah. I cashed out my 401k to move to Richmond because even though I was making all this great money and had a company car. I was 22. So I had like really great handbags and I did a ton of travel – and I don’t regret any of it. But I cashed out my 401k. I moved here and I said, well, I want to get a job in events.

And no one would hire me because no one was hiring. I remember, I couldn’t get a job bagging groceries. I applied to the Kroger.

Dana Kadwell: The Kroger? 

Morgan Montgomery: Yeah, they were like, you’re overqualified. I’m like, well, everybody’s overqualified, it’s 2008. Like, what do you want? 

Courtney Hopper: They’re like, and we heard about your CVS experience. 

Morgan Montgomery: Right? Probably. I’m on a list I’m sure. So anyway, I finally, there was a catering company that was hiring somebody to do $12 an hour bag lunch orders, right? Like, do you want tuna fish or turkey? It took me six weeks to convince the owner to hire me. He felt I was overqualified and that I would, I would leave the minute that something better came along.

And at that point, that catering company was off premise and they only did drop off stuff. This was the heyday of pharma lunches. Like, you know, you feed the doctors, so they buy your drugs. We did a ton of that stuff. And so I started there and very quickly, I really enjoyed it. And he had hired another woman to start working on the special event side.

And she did not want to work weekends. And I just said, Oh, well, that’s interesting because that’s what we do in events, we work weekends. So she very quickly was like, this isn’t for me. And I said, Hey, I’d love to try. And he’s like, you know nothing about this. I’m like, well, I just served some events. I’m sure I can figure it out.

I’ll read a book or, I mean, this wasn’t, you know – and it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago, but 2008, there weren’t podcasts and Tik TOK videos. I think at the time, my main source of information was legit the Cater Source message boards. Like that was where I was educating myself, which was pretty scary.

Dana Kadwell: That’s intense. 

Courtney Hopper: That is.

Morgan Montgomery: So anyway, this has been a very long version of the story, but. I started working in the special event side of that business. And I sort of trial by fire learned what I could and grew that sort of off-premise wedding corporate event, you know, staffed action stations, all of that stuff. So I I’d grown up from, from the girl who was asking if you want tuna fish to now, you know, selling these big, huge events.

And in that time I needed help. So we hired somebody to take on the wedding side of the business. It became very apparent that even though I hadn’t lived in New England for a long time, that those personality traits still existed. My corporate clients, they thought I was great – efficient, to the point. Everybody else thought I was rude.

I know I had a lot of exclamation points on my emails so that people know that I’m being friendly and not, you know, terse. 

Courtney Hopper: I’m the same way. 

Dana Kadwell: It’s always a dance. I have too many exclamation points and Courtney’s like, you sound crazy. But I just want them to know I’m so excited. 

Courtney Hopper: I know I’m like dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. Oh, wait, maybe I should go add some punctuation. Exlamation. Then I’ll add my greeting afterwards. Like, by the way, how was your day? 

Dana Kadwell: But it’s all one line. It’s like, it’s like, hi, Dana. And it’s not even like a return. And then like a paragraph it’s just all like one solid block of text. I’m like, you need to like, you know… 

Courtney Hopper: Like hi Dana I got your email. I think this is the best course of action. Regards, Courtney. 

Morgan Montgomery: I’ve got into the mode now where I actually – I’ll mirror whatever their structure is. And then if they ask, how are you? I’ll ask a question. If they go right into it, I go right into it. 

Courtney Hopper: In my defense, I deal mostly with accounting and all of our accounting professionals.

So our accountant or anyone we’re paying money to, they don’t care about the exclamations or the greeting. I’m just giving them pertinent information to their job. And they have a similar level of email etiquette and efficiency that I do. So it works out. It just doesn’t translate when I have to like talk to a client after that, you know. Totally digressed. Gone on a rabbit trail. Moving it back, Massachusetts, not working out for weddings. 

Morgan Montgomery: Yeah, we were getting the best part, which is Perkins. So we hired somebody to help with the weddings and Perkins, my now business partner, was the lucky candidate. So Perkins came on board and her and I are now this like two women dream team.

We took the special events business, that company from $0 a year to three quarters of a million dollars a year in sales. And that was over the course of three years. So for us, it was this really great sort of opportunity to almost run our own business without the risk of running our own business. And it had those challenges too.

I mean, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows when it came to try to make decisions and working with the owner, because we were the ones sort of growing that side of things and, you know, while he appreciated the revenue, it wasn’t necessarily his area of expertise. So Perkins and I, you know, did that up through 2012.

And what happened was, is we realized that people wanted more things for their events. So it wasn’t enough that we had an action station. They wanted something cool to, you know, pass the hors d’ourves through. They wanted wine barrels for the buffet display and that wasn’t available in our market. So I was Ikea hacking bars out of countertops in the parking lot of the catering company. Perkins was driving to her family farm to borrow wine barrels, to rent to our clients. And we both were just like, there’s something here, like there’s something missing. And then I no longer worked there because again, I’d been fired or demoted from almost every job I’ve ever had.

Dana Kadwell: Was this one of those where you were fired? 

Morgan Montgomery: Oh yeah, a hundred percent.

Courtney Hopper: But you made them bars and wine barrels. I’m very confused. 

Morgan Montgomery: Yeah. I think the key here is I reflect on this is, you know, I mentioned the one job that I didn’t get fired or demoted from was while the catering company, that part-time gig. And then also that big corporate job. But I think that’s partially because my heart wasn’t in it. So all these other jobs, even when I worked at CVS, like all these other jobs I’ve had, I have cared so much and I’ve treated it like my own, which eventually is going to cause friction. 

Courtney Hopper: Yes. So true. 

Morgan Montgomery: And so as I now have sort of come around and said like, this is something I’m not embarrassed of. This is not something I’m ashamed of. It’s part of my story and who I am to me. It really is indicative of the fact that when I work somewhere, I care. Like I said, I work every job like it’s the last one I’m going to have. And eventually at some point that is going to cause friction because I care so much that I want my opinion to be heard.

I want to have a say in how certain things are done and that’s not necessarily my place in some of these roles.

Dana Kadwell: No, that’s, that’s totally accurate. And it’s really hard as a business owner to embody that employee. Like, you love it for a period of time. Cause you’re like, Oh my gosh, they own it. They love it.

They are like, taking control of it. But at the same time, they’re going to come to you, they’re going to tell you this idea that you absolutely hate. And you’re like, no, I don’t want to do that. And then they’re really butthurt over it because they’re like, but I’ve done all these amazing things and they’re not wrong, but there is a certain autonomy when you’re a boss where you can just say, it’s just, that’s not gonna work. It’s not, that’s not the direction you want to go in. And sometimes it does – it does cause a lot of friction every single time, when you have an employee that we say is more entrepreneurial than just an employee. It’s very different. 

Morgan Montgomery: It’s so interesting that you put it that way, because I think for so long, I never thought of what was causing that friction in the workplace. For me as an employee, it was an entrepreneurial spirit. I would categorize it in my head more as like hard-headed or stubborn. But I think that that’s part of, you know, that self identity and sort of that, that shame piece, right? Like, Oh, well then I’m doing something wrong. Maybe it’s just not where you’re meant to be or how you’re meant to sort of function in a workplace environment in that structure.

Courtney Hopper: Yeah, for us, like, even learning about personality traits, like over the years and like, Oh, what’s your Enneagram number, but I like totally a seven. And if someone else in an interview process were to tell me they’re a seven, like it’s immediately a red flag. Like, I don’t want your ideas. You know? Like, I want you to refine my ideas. Here’s the direction make it better, but I don’t want to compete with you. For a great idea and the vision, you know, cause I have a very clear vision for most of the time for where I want to go. I just want you to make it happen and complete that vision, but I want to be the one that has it. 

Dana Kadwell: So the things that you mentioned that I really loved is you, in the very beginning, you said that you kind of went through this journey and then you had some really hard conversations and people that helped guide you to the realization that you and Perkins were going to kill it in the industry. But have this thriving business. Like who are those people? And what were those conversations like that got you to the realization that’s where you should be? 

Morgan Montgomery: Once I was no longer employed Perkins and I you know, again, we had started sort of having this ideation of this, this thought. 

Courtney Hopper: Because Perkins was employed at this time. It was just you. That was no longer employed. 

Morgan Montgomery: Oh yeah, Perkins has been very gainfully employed. I, on the other hand… You know, so Perkins was still working at the catering company and her and I were getting together once a week for like wine – and cause we had, I mean we shared a 10 by 10 office with all the catering equipment in it, like we’d become very close. And so the more we started talking about this idea that we had already sort of been ruminating on, and I was at the point where I was like, well, I don’t think I can ever work for anybody else ever again. So we’ve got to find something to do.

We just started talking about this idea and both of us had apprehensions about launching a business, but for different reasons. And there were people in our lives that sort of affirmed our approach, I think for Perkins – and I don’t want to speak for her – but she comes from a family of entrepreneurs and small business owners, but it is absolutely incredible to me, the businesses that her family has built.

So I think when she went to take that leap, there was a lot of affirmation. Even for me, from her family of like, well, this is totally normal and natural. Like, this is what you do. That is not necessarily a background I come from. My dad did own his own business for a period of time that he had worked up and then bought out, but the idea of starting something like from scratch and growing, it was not something I was familiar with as sort of like normal. So one of the things for us, I know was her family sort of like, yeah, of course there was never a moment where they were like, well, that won’t work or who starts a business or that’ll be really hard.

That was a big moment for me anyway, even though they weren’t my family. Right. Also, I will say that when we decided to start this business, we kept it close to our chest. We let a bunch of people know in the industry that we were going to be launching something, but that there would be more to come. The company didn’t officially launch and we didn’t get all of our paperwork and all that stuff, all squared away and ready to go until mid 2012. There was a wedding show that summer. Perkins was still with the catering company, but at that point she’d let them know that she was leaving and the word had gotten out that we were starting something. And I went to that show. I bought a ticket and went to the show just because I wanted to network and see people. And Perkins was there for the catering company. And I’ll never forget another professional in our market who’s very long standing came up to me and said, you know, I’m dying to know what you and Perkins are up to, but I’m sure that whatever it is, it’s going to be amazing. And I just can’t wait to see what happens. And that was a huge moment for me because I wasn’t super confident. Like I felt like we had a good idea and I know that we are both hard workers and I’m a big believer in being a hard worker. That’s something I really respect that sort of work ethic, but just because you work really hard at something doesn’t mean it’s going to be successful.

And so for somebody to have no idea what we were going to do, somebody I looked up to in the industry to have no clue what we had up our sleeve or what was going on and to take the time to be like, I don’t know what it is, but it’s going to be amazing. And I can’t wait to see was one, a little scary, cause it puts some pressure on. But two, it was a huge confidence booster. 

Dana Kadwell: Yeah. I think that’s so true. It’s weird how the confidence from a stranger, or maybe not a stranger, isn’t the right word, but someone who doesn’t know you well can really make a big difference. And people say that all the time about me and Courtney, like, well, whatever you touch turns to gold.

I’m like, really? It doesn’t, it’s just like gold plated. You don’t see like the ugly underneath it and how we had to like hodgepodge this shit together to make it work. But what you’re seeing is a beautiful package. Thank you for the compliments. But in that moment, you’re like, okay, well, even though I, I think it’s gold plated and I can see the ugly metal underneath it, everyone else obviously sees the fruit of our labor and maybe I’m just being too hard on myself and maybe it is great and it will be great, you know?

So I think always like having that boost of confidence from like a random ass person, always makes you think you’re on the right path. 

Courtney Hopper: I think too, you have to overcome like that imposter syndrome. Like I can do this and I am worthy of doing this and yes, you, you should be excited about what I’m doing. But it feels very fake. Cause you’re like, Oh, am I excited about this? Like, I’m so wary of it. And you know, you’re obviously taking a risk when you’re going out on your own. No safety nets. Not that it sounds like you had any, because you just kept getting fired. 

Morgan Montgomery: I do think too there’s something to be said about female entrepreneurship as well, and that imposter syndrome. I don’t want to put words in everybody’s mouth or over-generalize, but I know that I am somebody that people tell me, wow, you’re really confident. Wow, like you really have your act together. And it’s so interesting because I feel like there’s part of that as being a woman in today’s society, that we still default to that idea that like, Oh, I can’t claim that. We do a lot of deflecting and this is something that I notice a lot and I’ve tried to help other people see it when they do it. But so it’s sort of like when people might say, Oh, Dana and Courtney, like the venue is so beautiful. You did such a great job. A lot of times their response isn’t just to say, thank you. It’s to say, Oh, well, um, you know, Susie on my team did a really great job, like picking the paint and we hired this interior designer.

Like, no, no, no, thank you. And I have to be honest, I’m still not good at that, but I do think that when I speak to other people, I try to give that to them – so when I give that compliment and they say, Oh, well, Susie, this, or, you know, so-and-so that, I try to turn it back around to them and say, right but if this is your thing, then I think you did great. 

Courtney Hopper: Yeah. Right. But it’s hard. 

Dana Kadwell: It’s hard because I feel like always come across as arrogant. And I don’t think that highly of myself, like personally. And so when someone tells me a compliment, like I want them to know, like, I appreciate you seeing something great in me, but at the same time, like I don’t. Not that I don’t think that about myself, but I don’t think that highly of myself.

Courtney Hopper: I always adopt the general philosophy in life that I’m everybody and I’m nobody, all at the same time. Like, I’m one of a number, right? There’s lots of people. I tell my children assume like, you’re one of many, like you need to get over this. Yes, you’re special, but you’re not that special. There’s lots of special people. That’s what’s special about you.

So like, I’m one of many, but I’m also a nobody. So like, I understand that I’m unique, but there’s lots of unique people out there. That’s the conundrum of being human. So like, I think very long and hard about like how I come across. I don’t think there’s any like special sauce, right, that makes someone successful or entrepreneurial besides just like grit, tenacity, and a lot of like belief in yourself.

But I do think there’s definitely like markers along the way. Like your friend at that bridal show, that was like, Hey, like I believe in you, whether she knew what she was doing at that time or not, but she was putting those words right at the time that you needed to hear them. Like, okay yeah, she believes in me. So maybe I should believe in me more. It gives you the fuel to take that next step. 

Morgan Montgomery: And you know, it’s interesting because I – one of the pivotal turning points for me actually wasn’t until recently, but I don’t know if either of you were there, but the NACE Evolve leadership conference in San Antonio, Cynthia d’Amour there was one of the speakers and her thing was, is that you should just say thank you it’s true. And she had us practice that, like giving people a compliment and then saying, thank you it’s true. And it was so uncomfortable, and because it is like, we don’t want to seem arrogant. We don’t want to be seen as thinking highly of ourselves. And so I try to keep that in mind, not only for myself, cause I still, honestly, I’m not over that hump of being able to sort of say that, but when I’m speaking to other people, I try to make sure that, that I really hammer home, that I do think they deserve that compliment. But it’s true those comments from strangers, if you will, that’s always something that gives you a little boost and inspires that confidence. 

And the thing about the gold-plated, right, it’s so funny because what that reminds me of is sort of this process, we have at Paisley and Jade. And we always tell our team that nothing is a problem unless it hits the client. So, you know what? If it took us four different tries to get the right finish on a new piece that we’re building, or maybe we touched it up and then we realized it was the wrong color and we had to sand it down and started over, none of that is considered a problem until it gets to the client, because guess what? The client doesn’t care how we got there. They don’t care if it’s gold or gold plated, they just want it to look pretty. 

Dana Kadwell: That’s so true. 

Courtney Hopper: So what was one of the biggest challenges, like on that journey to starting Paisley and Jade that you faced? Like, what was? 

Dana Kadwell: Obstacles or like your darkest moment? 

Morgan Montgomery: Yeah, you know, and I think anybody who tells you, they haven’t had that moment is just lying either to you or to themselves, because I think that that’s part of the process. So for me, when Perkins and I launched, I think the biggest, like ‘What have we done?’ moment was we had launched the business in summer of 2012 and we had self-financed so we had put our own money into it and we had a decent startup budget.

I mean, it wasn’t like, we were just like scraping by. And we got to the end of the year and we had done one rental order for $1,200 and I realized we were going to run out of money. And it was just – I remember standing, it was the beginning of 2013. I remember standing in my dining room and just looking at my computer at like the spreadsheet of the money and just, I burst into tears.

I was like, I have failed. I have failed. And I was just like, that is more money than I’ve ever had at once. And I just pissed it away. And I failed and it was interesting because I let myself have that moment. And then for me, the next step there is, okay, well, how do I fix that? 

You know, it’s funny because it took me a really long time in life to realize people don’t think the same. And I know that sounds really stupid, but I never realized that the way that my brain operates or my outlook on life and all the different things I’ve been through shape my outlook that is different from everybody’s.

I just assumed certain things were just innate characteristics in people. And actually, Rachel Sheerin had done some sales training with our team. I hadn’t really put two and two together to realize like what my super power was. And for me, it’s about the fact that I don’t really ever see anything as impossible.

So it’s, it’s never that I can’t get there. It’s just, I have to figure out the logistics of how I get there. So if I’m trying to go from A to Z, to me, it’s not that, Oh, I can never get to Z. It’s just like, okay, well, my plan is going to be to go A-B-C-D. But if that doesn’t work, then I’ll go A to B to I to F to P, back over to like the special characters keyboard. 

Dana Kadwell: That sounds like somebody, I know shockingly. 

Courtney Hopper: That’s how I feel. I’m like, it’s not impossible. It’s going to happen. 

Dana Kadwell: She says all the time, she’s like, I mean, it has to happen. I’m like, no, it actually does not have to happen. 

Courtney Hopper: It always happens.

Dana Kadwell: There’s these things called bankruptcy and it can happen.

Morgan Montgomery: So at that moment, what was interesting is for me, that was a very low moment and I felt a lot of personal responsibility there. Perkins and I are business partners and we are equal in all things with our business, but we both have areas of specialty – areas that we focus on might be the better term. And, you know, I had sort of been the one keeping an eye on the dollars and how we were doing and sort of making those recommendations and things.

And, you know, we made decisions together, but I sort of that moment where I really sort of had to be like, I, I think we failed was horrible. And I mean, it’s that much worse when you have to say it out loud to somebody else, this may not work out. And let’s remember, like she quit her job by choice. So we had the conversation and we really use that as a moment to – inspire would be like the sugarcoating way of saying it – but really to get our asses in gear.

Because honestly, after six months of working for ourselves, neither of us ever wanted to go back to working for anyone else. At that point, we just sort of said, all right, well, here’s the thing. We need to generate some sales. And we also need to figure out what we did wrong. The what we did wrong was really simple to figure out. There were two main things and both of them involve me thinking I’m smarter than the internet. So one was, we launched in June, but we did not have our website with our inventory galleries up and running until late October, but we missed the whole fall season. Which again, I think back on that and I’m like, wow, that was that was dumb. In the process of things that just didn’t occur to us.

Dana Kadwell: But it’s like, but it was something you never had to think about when you at any other job, even when you were working for a caterer in the events industry, it wasn’t something you thought of like, Oh, I need to have all my ducks in a row to hit this season.

You know, it’s, it’s like one of those – Courtney says all the time, you’re building the ship while you’re flying it. Like, and it’s very much what it is. And sometimes you’re like, I should not have made that decision. That was awful and terrible. 

Courtney Hopper: We should have not left the ground actually. This is now perilous because I could imagine your clients, like, are they just supposed to call you and ask, like guess what you have?

Like, I may need some chairs. Do you have any? 

Morgan Montgomery: This was a whole new segment of the industry. 

 

And so I had already seen and Perkins and I had done a lot of ideation that the growth of this wasn’t on vintage, like vintage was a trend within the weddings just like our Mason jar and Chevron friends. Um, and that we couldn’t build a business on a trend.

So we needed another term for what we were doing and I decided that it would be called eclectic rentals. Guess what? Doesn’t matter what I want to call it, it matters of what Google wants to call it. Google was calling it vintage rentals, which then, eventually through time and the world and the market came to be specialty rentals. Eclectic rentals never really stuck. 

Courtney Hopper: I thought you were about to tell me you coined the term specialty rentals. 

Morgan Montgomery: No, not at all. Wish we did. So needless to say, I had ensured that not one piece of verbiage on that very expensive brand new website said anything about vintage rentals. So, not only were we not giving people any inventory to look at, even if they Googled trying to figure out this thing that doesn’t exist in the world because it was so brand new, then they would have to figure out that I wanted them to call it eclectic rentals.

Courtney Hopper: Which kind of means like, what exactly are you renting? Is it plates? Is it cups? Is it couches? Do you not have a six foot table? That seems very eclectic. Is it a goat? I don’t know. 

Morgan Montgomery: So we identified the failures and then we rectified those. And then honestly, we buckled down and we called in every favor and every relationship in the industry. And by favor, I don’t mean I need you to bring me business so that we don’t fail, but favor in the sense of – remember that time that you wanted the catering company I worked for to donate X, Y, Z to your charitable cause? And I did it? Great. We’re going to have a cup of coffee and I’m going to tell you about what I’m up to. Thankfully, you know, Perkins and I at the catering company had lots of contacts. It had built great relationships with venues and planners and you know, all of our event, professional friends.

So, we’re what would you say to someone who’s thinking about getting started, obviously it’s dicey now kind of in our industry, but maybe not even industry specific. Just someone who’s thinking about starting out on their own, but they’re just like, not quite sure if they can do it. Like what would be your like piece of advice? What would you give them if you could talk to them directly? 

Morgan Montgomery: Yeah, I would say stop thinking and start doing. I think that oftentimes people feel like they have to cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s before they can get moving. But oftentimes it’s just the starting, that moves things along. 

I don’t mean launch your website without any inventory on it, but I mean, in the sense that I feel like a lot of people dwaddle on details. They want to get there, the verbiage of the vision of their company just right. Or they want to, you know, really fine tune what their website copy is going to say.

And I think that at the end of the day, getting started is the hardest part. And once it happens, the momentum comes from that. I can speak to that because that’s how I feel in my business even right now. That if I was responsible for saying, okay, this project is going to get off the ground, I would hold onto it forever whether we’re developing a new inventory piece or coming up with a new marketing plan, but really what pushes me forward is the fact that like, things start happening. So we’ve talked about this new piece and I keep working out the details and going back to our builder to get some stuff. And going back to Erin, who does a lot of our graphic design to really fine tune that up. But the thing that pushes it forward is, Perkins says, Hey, I need something to send to a client because I told them about that piece you were talking about now I want to sell it. But if you don’t have that external push, you don’t ever get there. So stop thinking and start doing it. And that doesn’t mean necessarily investing a ton of money or, or taking a huge leap.

I have a really good friend from the industry who was furloughed from her full-time sales job within the event industry. And as she thought about what she wanted to do and what her next steps would be, she’s super creative. She’s super crafty. She went ahead and started thinking about opening up an Etsy shop.

And what I loved about what she did is that she didn’t wait to have an Etsy shop that was full of 50 products and all of this stuff, she literally put up a couple of stickers that she had designed and was printing at home. And I have to tell you guys, that Etsy shop that she opened literally at the end of last year has turned into something that is, is not only fulfilling for her creatively, but it’s also supporting her family and in a way where she can still be home with her kids.

And the fact of the matter was is that she could have waited. And there are a lot of people who said, well, you should have waited until you had fine tune this and figured out this she’s doing a ton of trial by fire. And she shares a lot of it with us, our group of friends on Marco Polo. And it’s so awesome to see because that’s how things happen.

She just gets in there and she troubleshoots it and figures it out. And then when she does figure it out, she’s got a new product that she can, she can put out there. So to me, that’s such a big step in moving forward is just do something.

Dana Kadwell: I love that. That’s so true. And I feel like too, if you are risk averse, because that’s me, I’m a risk averse person, is you need get a partner who’s not, and who’s like, it’ll be fine. 

Courtney Hopper: It’ll be fine.

Dana Kadwell: And then they just tell you all these crazy ideas they’re going to do. And then one day you come into the office, you’re like, Oh yeah. So we’re going to do this tomorrow. And you’re like, Oh, Oh, okay. That sounds, that sounds great. Like let’s, let’s do it. Get in there and let’s do it. It’s gonna work itself out. And it normally does. 

Courtney Hopper: Normally does. 

Dana Kadwell: Normally I’m grumpy for a good hour about it and then I get over it. 

Courtney Hopper: That’s right. And now we’re here.

Dana Kadwell:  And now we’re here. The story of today.

Courtney Hopper: The story of today.

All right. Well, thank you Morgan so much for your time. We like love all those pearls of wisdom and love your story and love you. 

Morgan Montgomery: Thank you guys for having me.

Dana Kadwell: Yes, we do, but you have a great story and I think you have so much to offer to everyone just to so many, like it’s just, it’s such a unique path. And I think that’s what is the beauty of entrepreneurship is there’s not a single path that’s right. It’s everyone has their own story. As windy as it’ll be as Courtney will say, 

Courtney Hopper: Life’s a windy road. I have determined that. 

Dana Kadwell: That is her mantra. 

Courtney Hopper: You need to flow. 

Morgan Montgomery: I can’t wait to hear that. Well, ladies, thank you so so much. I really appreciate it. I’m so excited you’re doing this. I feel like there’s such a need for this little niche or niche, depending on your preference of the word – for this area of sort of the origin stories and entrepreneurship and how that all goes, because it’s, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows that’s for sure. So there’s nobody, I’d rather talk about it than you guys. 

Courtney Hopper: We appreciate it. Thanks so much. All right.

Full Episode Transcript

Hustle and Gather is hosted by Courtney Hopper and Dana Kadwell, and is produced by Earfluence.  Courtney and Dana’s hustles include C&D Events, Hustle and Gather, and The Bradford Wedding Venue.

 

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