We had the good fortune of connecting with Shelby Gilbreath and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shelby, what do you attribute your success to?
Authenticity and having a clear “why” to why you started your business in the first place. My “Why” is having a business that makes me feel fulfilled while also allowing me to live by my own schedule so I can spend more time with my dog, Miller. Hence the name Miller & Me. Miller is who I built my whole brand around and by doing that I have an instant connection with other people who love their dogs as much as I do. Having a “Why” is super important because there will be times when running a small business gets scary and stressful. Money will get tight and you will want to quite. But having a solid “why” should keep you grounded and motivated to keep going. I also think authenticity is just as important. With so many “influencers” plaguing social media platforms I think the best way to separate yourself from the rest and give your business a fresh perspective is being your true authentic self. There is no one else like you, so you should use that to your advantage. Being true to yourself to your followers is how you continue to show up for your brand long term and avoid burnout. So for me that looks like showing up on my Instagram stories looking how I always do: t-shirt and sweatpants with no makeup. If you are not a person who likes to put on makeup everyday, don’t think you have to get dressed up every time you show your face on social media. People can see through that, and building a strong audience that trusts you is way more beneficial than 100k followers who don’t actually care about who you are or what you do. I maintain a good relationship with all my followers by just being myself. I show off my messy studio, I talk about personal stuff like mental health or if I’m having a bad day. I make sure to talk about things that I’m interested in. So it becomes more than people buying my products because they like them, it’s also about them supporting my brand because they like me as a person. And if they don’t like me, then that’s totally fine too!Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
While I’m still trying to find my personal style and artistic individuality, I think what sets me apart from others is my resilience and ability to learn as I go. I am 100% self taught and only started using watercolor in 2017. I have a degree in Biology and haven’t taken a single business-related course in my life. So everything I’ve learned along the way has been of my own volition. I’ve had to teach myself bookkeeping, graphic design, social media management, marketing strategy, money management, customer service, website building, on top of improving my skills as an artist. It’s a lot of work and the whole time you are battling that imposter syndrome telling you you’re a fraud and that nothing you make is good. So it’s a battle of overcoming your personal fears while also trying to teach yourself new skills. I think it’s important to keep learning and get into the habit of trying things, failing, and then trying again.The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First I have to shout out Jen Sincero, because if it wasn’t for her book “You Are a Badass at Making Money” I don’t think I would’ve had the guts to take the leap with my business in the first place. Then I have to shoutout my fiancé, my friends and family, and all the creative people I’ve met since starting my business. If it were not for them and their words of encouragement, this would be a lonely business and I don’t think I would’ve been able to get through the hard parts.
Other: TikTok: @millerandme_