Strength, commitment & passion

Meet the person behind the new military community business directory, MillyTree. The idea has been in Erin’s head for a long time, but now we can all benefit from her dedication to supporting our businesses.

What is your career background?

My career is varied, though always within digital/e-commerce. I have been working on websites and digital activity for over 12 years now from website building, to trading and marketing. I am so passionate about digital, mainly because there is data there that you can harness to constantly improve your offering to a customer.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

Several different avenues or rather, annoyances. I would move to a new patch and try and meet people from scratch each time, combined with the fact that each time I moved I would also need to find new services such as a pet sitter for my cat, or a nail technician etc.

Then, when I was on maternity I started a small card business, plus I started to attend as many coffee mornings on camp as I could physically get to. I spoke about my cards to a few fellow spouses and the barrage of other small businesses that I received in return was astonishing. I thought, wouldn’t it be great if there was a website that listed everything in our community, for our community.

How did you move from the ‘idea’ to an actual business?

I was at work (Marketing manager at Tesco Bank) and I was handpicked to represent the business on a combined project they were running with Edinburgh University. It gave me a huge opportunity to attend workshops and lectures that encouraged me to not only think about the customer but also on how to pitch business ideas and write business propositions. By this point, I had already been sitting on my MillyTree idea for well over a year, so one day after a full day attending one of these workshops, I came home and bought the domain. I was so inspired by the encouragement to be innovative that I just went for it. Plus, as I had bought the domain it meant that I was then adding an element of pressure on myself to actually do something about it.

The initial idea for the website was to be a directory for businesses only. But after reaching out to the community and discovering what is out there, I decided that it would need to be so much more than a list of businesses. Which is why MillyTree encourages all sorts to sign up and list; businesses, services, charities, organisations, clubs, blogs, podcast….even etsy shops!

What have been the main high and lows in starting your own business?

The highs are meeting fellow spouses who have an offering, whether that is a product, service or support. The fact that I have managed to engage the community is such an achievement. The lows happen more often than I dare to admit, they aren’t always business induced by they do impact the business. The feelings of failure, of uncertainty, of why on earth am I doing this….they are hard to escape from and impact my motivation to keep going.

Can you describe / outline your typical day?

My typical weekday is fairly straight forward. I wake up and get myself and my toddler ready to leave before walking the short distance to nursery to drop her off. I then jump in the car and drive to work where I focus on my day job but also the activity of my cards and MillyTree. When I get home I sometimes have 60-90 mionutes before I need to pick up my small one from nursery. In this time I either spend an hour on an exercise bike or I do house chores. When I am on the bike, I am also simultaneously engaging with people on social. Commenting, liking, asking questions, posting.

After the nursery pick up, we have some quiet time, with some milk and a banana. We will also facetime Daddy before she goes to bed. We show him artwork and she tells him about her day….sort of!

Once she is down I spend my time doing more nitty gritty things. I will pack all my card orders I have had that day. I’ll respond to emails, create content, be social on Instagram. If I have any spare time I will draw on my graphics tablet for my card business. I recently released a childrens picture book on Amazon which I wrote and illustrated myself.

However, at the weekend, when hubby is home, all the above goes out the window and I go into full on ghost mode in that my presence is there for my businesses but I am not as active.

What motivates you?

I like to think about the bigger picture, where I see MillyTree going. For instance, I would love MillyTree to be able to sustain a Foundation charity which could offer small grants to fellow military businesses/services etc.

I’d love MillyTree to be communicated in a welfare pamphlet for new arrivals onto a patch, as a way to find out who/what is around them. My site maybe small for now but my ideas for its growth and potential are what motivates me.

What has been your proudest moment?

My proudest moment is each time I take a look at MillyTree and see the huge variety of talent in our community. I brought them to the site, and they trusted it enough to sign up and list.

How has being an entrepreneur affected your home life?

To be honest, with a husband away Monday to Friday and a toddler who is in bed early evening….it’s given me something to focus on.

What three adjectives would you use to describe yourself?

Tenacity, creativity and hilarity. I have a vision and I work for it, no matter how crazy the idea…and I try to do it all with a huge amount of humor. At least, I like to think I do.

As a military spouse, what has been your biggest obstacle when trying to balance work/kids/your spouses’ military commitments?

I don’t have much in the way to balance, and I appreciate that. I work full time, I get home and spend time with my little one and put her to bed. Then I do my house chores, my card orders and work on MillyTree. As mentioned above, my other half spends more time away than at home for the moment, so it’s just my own time I need to contend with. That being said, who knows how it will be in the future.

What advice would you give fellow Military spouses who want to get back into work, retrain for a new career or start their own business?

It’s so cliché, but I would say – what are you waiting for? If it’s perceived lack of ability or know how that is hindering your action, there are so many free resources within our community, not to mention the knowledge spouses own as a collective. If its finances you lack, again, take a look at the resources available to us! Or take a look at MillyTree to list your products, there are no transaction fees!

For more information about MillyTree,

visit their website: www.millytree.com,  InstagramFacebook

 


Happy spouses

Recruit for Spouses found us someone who was far and above the expectations we had hoped for and would always recommend, and recruit from them in future.

5

Mark Moseley, Director PestGone Environmental

I was able to secure a permanent position due to the experience I gained through the Liquid Workforce and I am very grateful I was allowed to be part of it.

5

Melanie de Klerk

‘I was very impressed with the quality and depth of talent that RFS can provide to employers across many types of role. I have no doubt (they) will be a huge asset to any employer working in digital marketing, social media marketing and associated roles’.

5

Andy Mihalop, Head of Channel Partner Marketing EMEA - Facebook

They helped me free up important time to work on my business by finding me a fantastic, dedicated, kind and communicative administrative assistant.

5

Emily Foster

RFS was...a platform for spouses who understood my struggles and my challenges. It felt like I came to them in pieces, deflated and very defeated and they (RFS) pieced me back together.

5

Rusila Halofaki

RFS are offering an amazing, unique opportunity in the Liquid Workforce within the recruitment world...so many doors can be opened.

5

Kate Legg

Don't give up, amazing and flexible companies do exist and RFS are 100% the best people to help you find them.

5

Amie Hills Grey

RFS was and is the only platform that exists that really understands the struggles and plight of every Armed Forces spouse.

5

Rusila Halofaki

The competency amongst the military spouse community is unbelievably good and the fact all our candidates were happy with remote working made this ideal for us as a small business.

5

Michael Coates, COMBAT pest control

I found the course to be an excellent refresher of the skills I used in my previous roles, and also a confidence booster to me, proving that I can do it again

5

Melody Davies, Liquid Workforce

Helpful? It has been so much more. It has given me confidence and self-belief as well as motivation and inspiration.

5

B. Barber, Military Spouse

This experience has been more than helpful. It has been, in many ways, life changing.

5

B. Barber, Military Spouse