“We The Prosperous” – Meet Melissa, A Self-Employed Rockstar Creating Denim Jackets for Dogs

Growth Story, Self-Employed Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 11.23.10 AM

Every Intuit customer has their own story. Along each of their journeys, they find passion, share advice, take risks, celebrate success, and form a community of their own.

From small business owners, to the self-employed and those simply seeking ways to be more financially savvy – we’re here to be a part of each story and champion our customers as they take steps forward on their path to prosperity. Hear how the power of many comes together to support the business of one with #WeTheProsperous.

Meet Melissa, an avid QuickBooks user who founded her business to make denim jackets for dogs.

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Intuit: Melissa, tell us about your business!

Melissa: With Treat Lord, I create custom denim jackets for dogs! This includes custom patches, rhinestones, and the dog’s name on the jacket. The jackets usually reflect the dog-owners’ personalities.

The business started with my pug, Leroy. My husband and I have an Instagram page for him, and connected with new friends all over the country and internationally through it. We were invited to a local celebrity French bulldog, Bruce Wayne’s, birthday party, and I wanted Leroy to have a cute outfit that reflected his spunky personality. I thought I could make something that looked great, and denim jackets were getting really popular. I really believe that fashion is an expression of yourself, and I consider Leroy an extension of myself, so I got him David Bowie and Queen patches. We got to the party, and everyone mobbed us for photos, and were asking where I had bought the jacket.

I thought I had something good going as a hobby, so I started an Instagram page for it. I don’t even post or promote that much, but people were DMing me about custom jackets. I started making more sales, and thought, “maybe I should make this a business!”

It takes me between one and three weeks to make a single jacket. It is a collaboration between me and a customer, and sometimes a customer doesn’t even know what they want. I give options, they pick, and then I make the jacket.

Intuit: What do you wish someone told you before you started your self-employed journey?

Melissa: I wish somebody would have told me not to overthink things too much, and to learn to embrace failure. It is not easy to do, but failure is something that’s inevitably going to happen when you start your own business. I definitely failed and wanted to give up. I have a 9 to 5 job, and kept thinking, “why do I keep doing this?” But something kept bringing me back. Failure is how you get better – you learn from your mistakes. You can choose to learn and grow, or you can wallow in your sadness.

Intuit: What would you say was your main obstacle to becoming successful? How did you overcome it?

Melissa: Having a regular 9 to 5 job. Having a job is great and pays my bills, but I really enjoy doing this, and if I could do it full time, I would. Hopefully, I can get to the point where this can become what I do to sustain myself.

Additionally, sometimes I am my biggest obstacle. It’s very hard to take that leap of faith, and we have so many excuses on why not to take it. Even though there were so many times I wanted to quit, I realized I am the only person in charge of my life, so I couldn’t give into the negative thoughts. I realized you have to be your own personal cheerleader.

Intuit: What’s been most surprising about your self-employed journey?

Melissa: How hard it is for me to not work on my business in my free time. I feel like I am my business, so I need to be online 24/7. It’s hard not to feel guilty. For example, I might have plans to go out to brunch today, but I feel like I should be back working. I want my business to be successful, but it is important to give that time to yourself. I went to school and got a Master’s in business administration while also working, and I had no social life. At the end, it was extremely rewarding and I got my degree, but I was burnt out. I don’t want that to happen with this company.

Intuit: Starting a business and becoming self-employed isn’t easy; what has made the journey worth it to you?

Melissa: Opportunities like this one right now (talking to you) make it worth it. It takes a lot of sacrifice and time to make this business work, and when others acknowledge my hard work, that makes it worth it.

Also, customers’ reactions when they see the final products keeps me going!

Intuit: Who are you inspired by?

Melissa: My family is my number one inspiration. They’re originally from Cuba, and had to flee their own country after the Cuban Revolution. They hustled hard and worked multiple jobs until they all started a company together, selling office supplies and office furniture. I remember being raised by my grandma, because my family was working so hard. Whenever I doubt myself and my ability to grow my own company, I think of my grandparents and how hard they worked.

Intuit: What drew you to Intuit’s products? How do you use them?

Melissa: I was introduced to Mint a few years ago. When I got married, my husband and I wanted to buy a house, so we used Mint to see all of our finances in one place to start married life on the right foot financially. It helped us improve our financial health, and reach our goal of buying a house.

Recently, my business has been growing rapidly, so I have enlisted QuickBooks to help with my finances.

Intuit: Who do you lean on for support? Who do you go to for questions about your business?

Melissa: My family’s business knowledge is extremely invaluable to me. They had no formal education, and were able to build a really prosperous business. I’m really blessed to have family members who know how to be entrepreneurs and start their own business. Also, my sister, Michelle, is a marketing guru and has the best ideas so she helps me a lot with the marketing side.

Intuit: What does prosperity mean to you?

Melissa: Prosperity to me is being able to have long-term financial freedom and stability. It means making smart decisions that build a foundation for the long run. Being prosperous also means having the resources to give back to others in need. It’s important to surround yourself with people who empower you, and to empower other small businesses around you.

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