Lourdes “Lulu” Carey is the owner of SweetLove gifts, an online gift shop that personalizes anything you can think of, from wine bottles to balloons and surprise boxes. Her growing business is still new, but Lulu is proud of what she has accomplished so far and the support she has received from her community.
Growing a small business during the pandemic: Support is key
Born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, Lulu has a Bachelor’s degree in International trade. She moved to New Jersey nearly 10 years ago and resides in Chatham now with her two young boys, Joseph and Austin, and her husband, Joe. A full time mom and Local Consultant for Cultural Care Au Pair, Lulu decided to start her small business, SweetLove, after discovering her creative side this past year.
“It’s been definitely a challenge to start building a name and a small business during a difficult time for everybody, but I have been blessed to have people around me who support me in all the ways they can,” says Lulu. “My business is still small, but is growing little by little. I couldn’t be prouder of where it’s going.”
Lulu is still in the early stages of her business, but she has already learned so much and is excited for the future of SweetLove. She is especially glad to have been part of so many special moments for her clients already, like birthdays, graduations, Mother’s and Father’s Day, and other holidays.
“Each and every one of my products are made with so much love. I work hard and do my research to give my customers the best quality. This is just the beginning of a business that I have put all my love and energy into.”
Lulu is grateful to all those who have supported and helped her on her entrepreneurial journey so far. As every entrepreneur and business owner knows, having a strong support system is so important and invaluable when starting out. Having the support of her husband, friends, family and other local small businesses is what gave Lulu the confidence and push to keep creating early on.
“I have been very lucky and blessed to have support from my friends, community and other local small businesses, helping each other build up our businesses and social media has definitely been great,” says Lulu.
And remember, helping a business does not always mean you have to buy a product, Lulu says. “You can share their posts, leave a positive comment, tell your friends and family to follow them on social media, etc.”
Every little bit goes a long way to helping small businesses grow.
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Taking risks and lessons learned
No venture is without challenges and lessons learned. Lulu shares with us a story of her first “mistake” and how she learned from the experience.
“To me, every order and product I make comes with a story,” says Lulu. “I have been part of many special events and I treasure each and every one. There are always good and not so good stories. I remember when I first started, I had to do a delivery. The client ordered a personalized wine bottle for her best friend. Once I got to where I was delivering my order, I accidentally dropped the wine, right there in front of the client.”
In that moment, Lulu went through so many emotions, some she can’t even explain. She felt embarrassed and disappointed with herself. It was a simple accident, but still she couldn’t help but feel bad. Seeing the product that she spent so much time, love, and care working on to make it special for her client shattered on the floor was really upsetting.
Still, this moment was an important learning experience for Lulu.
“I look back now and see how this moment helped me. I learned from this experience to never let a bad moment take me down, to keep giving my best, and to never stop because success will come and you have to be prepared to deal with many hard situations.”
Many aspiring entrepreneurs may stop themselves from starting their business because they fear failure or think their ideas will not be successful. Others may make themselves dizzy with questions: Will it work? Will I get back the support I always give to small businesses? How much money will I lose?
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Lulu knows first hand; she asked herself the same questions and more. Yet, even though there was a lot of uncertainty, those questions and worries did not stop her.
“I was proud and excited to put my heart and soul into this,” she says. “And so, to all of you thinking about taking the risk and starting a new business I will say this: DO IT. All of those dreams, ideas, projects and plans that have been in your head for some time, just do it. It won’t be easy, but what is? And if somebody else is doing what you are thinking of doing, don’t worry. Like we say in Mexico, ‘el sol sale para todos.’
Support will come, in all shapes and forms and from people and places you didn’t imagine. Don’t let anything stop you, and get to work on your dreams!”