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I’m super pumped to introduce today’s interview!! Before we get to it I quickly wanted to mention that it’s been a while since we’ve had an entrepreneur interview (should be more consistent going forward) so if you missed the last one you can go here and read about Paul who is killing it on Kickstarter.
First thing I have to say is…I can’t say enough about this couple! 🙂 This was my first time sitting down to have a real conversation with these two, I left more motivated then ever to create the life that I want and have envisioned for myself. They definitely had that affect on me and hopefully this article will do the same for you. Nate and Kylee Middleton are co-owners of the clothing boutique, “Piper & Scoot.” They have built their business from Kylee selling her older clothes on Instagram, to creating an online store, and more recently opening their first retail location in Draper, Utah. With their business (and outside of it) you can really tell how passionate they are about helping others. I seriously haven’t met two more genuine business owners who care so much about their customers and creating a good experience for everyone they interact with.
How did Piper & Scoot get started?
The first thing Nate said was, “Do you want my story or hers?” Kylee said Nate could tell it. 🙂 When they were first married Nate and Kylee moved into a tiny (but tasteful) studio apartment in Utah. They had one small closet for their clothes. Now here’s the thing, Kylee had a passion and love for cute clothes so she had quite a few of them. She determined that her first task was to find a place for these clothes, naturally, she had to move Nate’s clothes into the utility closet in the hallway 😉 …they still didn’t fit. Kylee then decided to create an Instagram account and began selling the clothes online. She sold $300 worth of clothes (Nate originally said $1,000, Kylee said “you wish.” Haha). Kylee asked Nate what they should do with the extra money earned. Knowing that she always wanted to start her own boutique Nate suggested using the money to start one! She took the suggestion and ran with it, using the money to buy her business license and first batch of new clothes to start. The first purchase was six articles of clothing (had to by in bulk), six turned to twelve, twelve turned to twenty-four aaand…the rest is history (well 🙂 sort of). Cool fact: She sold all the clothes using the same Instagram account she originally created (and still uses that account).
Where did the name “Piper & Scoot” come from?
Kylee started selling her clothes when there was a big “Shop My Closet” craze on Instagram. Knowing this she didn’t want to use the same “closet craze” for the name of her business, she wanted to use a name she wouldn’t get sick of. They (Kylee and Nate) had already decided to name their first born (at the time unborn) baby girl, Piper, so of course she wasn’t going to get tired of it. That’s where the name was born.
Clothing, specifically clothing boutiques are a super saturated field, what advice would you give someone who wants to start a business but are nervous that the field is to saturated?
Nate: “Don’t do something just because you see other people do it or because they are successful at it. Ya know, it’s not like…so and so does it and it’s easy so I’ll do it. Find something that you are willing to explode with, and put your heart and soul into it and not just, this sounds fun.”
Kylee: “If you’re not passionate about it, when push comes to shove you’re screwed. There are nights when you’re like, I don’t want to be up until 3 (am), but I love my customers so I stay up knee deep in tissue papers bawling because I’m so tired. I was delirious, but I enjoyed it that’s why I did it. If it wasn’t for that I think I would have burned out quickly.”
One of their favorite quotes from Michael Phelps and the recent Olympics is, “Winners focus on winning, losers focus on winners.” They said to stop being someone you’re not, you need to find what your good at, find your identity and go after that. Kylee and Nate feel they’ve been so successful because they’ve been able to separate themselves by carving out their OWN identity and not just being a “dime a dozen company.”
(Nate) What was your biggest fear of quitting your 9-5 job and joining Piper & Scoot full time? How did you overcome it?
Nate worked as a Loan Underwriter while Piper & Scoot was getting started. He would go to work, come home for lunch, help Kylee, go back to work, return home and keep helping her, then repeat. About the time Kylee was pregnant with their baby girl (yes, they did name her Piper) they knew that crazy schedule wasn’t going to work, so decided it was time for Nate to quit his job and join Piper & Scoot full time! Kylee had been working non-stop on her business and saw the potential in Piper & Scoot, so mentioned to Nate he should come on board. Nate kind of dug his heels in not knowing what more he could do for the business, admitting that it was also pretty scary leaving his current position. After finally leaving and now having both of their full attention on the boutique, Piper & Scoot really began to do really well. The biggest fear (they both had) was not making enough money to simply live! Adding to the pressure was a baby on the way, and I forgot to mention they were both in school FULL-TIME (I gotta say, that’s nuuuts! I’m seriously super impressed with what they did and how they did it. Am I right?). Here’s how they over came the fear of Nate leaving his job…
1.) Having some savings: After looking at their financials they knew they could survive for at least 3 months if their business didn’t make a dime in the coming months.
2.) They already had some income coming in through the business: They weren’t making enough to replace both their incomes combined obviously, but they had a proof of concept that it was making decent money.
3.) The pressure made them hustle even harder: Kylee knew she needed to purchase clothes that were going to sell. They both would stay up late at night trying to figure out how this was going to work. The pressure created a sense of “this has to work.” Here’s the cool part (at least for me), at the end of the day even though there was a lot of pressure they said it was soooo empowering! They felt they had control of their future and were ready to take on the world. Kylee also mentioned how confident she felt when Nate came on board, the fact that he believed in her and the business to join full-time made her feel even more empowered.
How is it working with your spouse?
Their first word almost in unison “hard.” 🙂
Nate: “Something I am trying to learn (and I mess up a lot), it’s just like your marriage, but magnified. You have to pick and choose your battles. You have to step back and think is this really worth it in the big picture (for the business). If it is, you need to bring it up and address it, but if it’s a meaningless thing it’s just not worth it. The hardest part is, defining roles (Kylee: “We suck at it!” haha). It’s a small business and we’ve both done so much for so long that I will think to myself, this isn’t getting done so I’ll do it. Then Kylee will think to herself, this isn’t getting done so she’ll do it. Then the third day will come and we’ll think the other person will do it and nobody does it.”
Kylee: “It’s hard because when you get married people say, don’t get married and try to change your spouse. Those rules don’t necessarily apply in business, they do but they don’t. You have to be like, you really suck at communicating so we need to work on this (for the better of the business). You can’t whip that out in a marital fight, could you imagine saying, you don’t do the dishes and if you don’t change I’m divorcing you. We have to separate our Kylee and Nate business owners with our Kylee and Nate husband and wife. (At the end of the day) we have different mind sets and strengths (but there needs to be a willingness to change for the betterment of the business). Nate is much more strategic (Nate: “she’s much more creative.”).”
Nate: “You have to accept what your strengths are, and what your weaknesses are and not be prideful which we are still working on.”
What social media tips or tip do you have?
Piper & Scoot has grown their Instagram following to over 60k all, for the most part being organic (follow them @piperandscoot). When asked this question they both said “be genuine!” Kylee runs the social media and wanted real people who really cared about Piper & Scoot, (not just following and unfollowing people to get followers, along those lines Kylee mentioned would never buy any of her followers). She wants people to feel that they are buying from a real person not just a company so there is more of a relationship created, all the way down to putting a picture of her and Nate as their profile picture rather than a logo. She said its almost like she is courting her followers. They also suggested focusing on one or two social media platforms when you first start to not spread yourself thin (I have to brag real quick because I do have more Twitter followers then she does 😉 thanks followers on Twitter, 🙂 — well for now I guess…Kylee said she’s coming for me, I’m just lucky she hasn’t really focused on it yet).
How do you pick who to team up with or collaborate with?
They have to be careful to find people and companies who are super genuine. They have chosen to be more selective with companies that they collaborate with. The companies should be very cohesive with their message and what they are about. They don’t want to look like sell outs to their customers. When Kylee and Nate approach people to collaborate they ask what they can do for the person (or company) first, something that would actually be beneficial for them (the company). At the same time they have to find out what the person can help them with to make sure it’s a win win for their customers. They want to connect with people on a deeper level, that’s what the events and collaborations are about. Nate and Kylee want people to think, “Yeah that was cool,” not “Oh another one of those,” connecting on a deeper level.
When and how did you decide to add the retail store to the online store?
Nate: “We would have boxes stacked to the ceiling in our kitchen that we would have to slide over to use our stove. It was killing us.”
Kylee: “One day we just looked out of our kitchen window and randomly saw a building with a sign in front of it and thought we should go check it out for leasing.” Even though it was a rundown building at least getting those boxes out of their kitchen would’ve been a life saver so they inquired the owner about leasing, he said they were thinking about selling it altogether. After running the numbers it ended up being cheaper to purchase so they bought the building and fixed it up (I gotta say it looks great, check it out at 892 E 12300 S, Draper, UT 84020).
From a strategic position, Kylee said it gives them another touch to the industry, something to set them apart, and specifically for her it has been another creative outlet.
Leisure Round: (Everyone has lightening rounds for questioning here at I Just Want To Be Wealthy we have a leisure round where you can answer the questions at your own leisure).
Who would you pick to spend an entire day with and what would you do?
Nate: Larry H. Miller. “We have this weird fascination with him, his story is incredible. As far as what we would do I have so many questions I would ask him.” (Kylee: “I know exactly what you would do, you would get into one of his antique cars and go on a love drive. And meet all the Jazz players,” haha). “Going back to those fears we had when I quit my job, he had those same fears, mortgaging his house time after time and eventually made it. And he’s just a regular guy.”
Kylee: “I would want to shadow the people who started Anthropologie.” Kylee couldn’t decide on just one person so she said she would invite, “Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock” and of course “Kristina Yang (from Grey’s Anatomy).” Later on she changed her answer to a professor at BYU named Ron Lindorf. She told a story about how she was so upset because professor after professor didn’t really care about who she was as a person and what she was doing, they were more interested in passing in papers and getting grades, it was frustrating. “I love school, I would go to school forever, but they were giving me a lot of grief then Nate said you should come sit in my class. In that hour he (Ron Lindorf) said “You are a kick a$$ person” and I wasn’t even supposed to be in there. He scratched his entire lesson. He turned a desk around sat on it and just talked to me, he is so incredible he just ties in life so well. He was just the most empowering man I have met up to date and super genuine. This man is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and he offered his phone number to everyone in the room to talk to him whenever they wanted.”
Nate: “He (Ron Lindorf) taught from experience not from a book which is why they had him come in (be a professor at BYU). He was teaching this class about launching businesses and you had to launch a business within the class or you got kicked out.”
There was an assignment in the class where they had to set goals. When Nate first turned in his proposal Ron Lindorf said, “No, this isn’t big enough.” They set bigger goals and because of it they doubled in sales every month for the next 4 months.
Kylee: “That’s what class is all about, that is the spirit of entrepreneurship right there. To set your goals so high so that you are eating and breathing your business and it’s showing through.”
What is your biggest fear?
Nate: “Piper & Scoot is not my baby, it’s Kylee’s baby. I’m obviously very passionate about it and maybe care about it more than she does but in a different way, but my biggest fear is not finding my baby. I love this and building it but when it comes down to it I want to find my baby, where money or not I love it.”
Kylee: “My biggest fear is balloons, I hate surprises.” Nate: “Yeah if you’re anywhere and a balloon pops, she screams, it’s not a scared scream it’s a I’m going to kill you scream.”
Do you get 8 hours of sleep? (Question was stolen from Nathan Latka on “The Top Podcast”)
Kylee: “No, Grey’s Anatomy will not allow it, this is 100% serious. Plus we have a kid!”
Nate: “We get about 6 or 7 (hours of sleep) depending on the episode. We have to watch Netflix at night to decompress.”
What is your favorite book, podcast, blog, etc?
Kylee: “Girl Boss, I also loved the Larry H. Miller book.”
Nate: “I really liked Rich Dad, Poor Dad, but I also really liked the Larry H. Miller book.” (The book that they were referring to is “Behind the Drive,” but they also recommended his autobiography called “Driven.”
If you had to completely start over from zero, what is one tip or piece of advice you would give to yourself?
Nate: “Dream Bigger! That’s what I would of done. When I quit my job I thought to myself we can get to this point (talking about how big Piper & Scoot could get) and that’s what the business can do. Where we are at now we are 3 or 4 times where I thought and even now I’m realizing we haven’t even scratched the surface. There is so much out there that I just didn’t realize.”
Kylee: She agreed with Nate, this is where she told the Ron Lindorf story (see above) 🙂 She also circled back to the quote from before “Winners focus on winning, losers focus on winners.” She said to keep your nose down and work harder and faster than anyone else and you will come out on top if that’s what is the most important thing for you. Kylee: “Anyone can do what we’re doing, you just have to work your butt off!”
In all seriousness they do have really cute clothes (just ask Kate and our bank account. Haha) be sure to check them out. The store is located at 892 E 12300 S, Draper, UT 84020.
Question: As always I’m curious to know what questions you guys want answered as I do these entrepreneur interviews. Let me know in the comments below 🙂