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Name: Martha Campbell Pullen
Business: Martha Pullen Company, Inc., a website dedicated to sewing tips, events, and guides
Industry: Home & Housewares, Other — Sewing and Crafts
Location: Huntsville, Alabama, U.S.
Reason for starting: I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I had my first business at age 14–a very successful dancing school, which I ran all through high school and still made A’s. I stopped when I went to college. I wanted to open a sewing store (smocking shop) since that was my beloved hobby. Leaving a college professor’s job, I still wanted to teach but I wanted to teach sewing. Sewing and teaching others how to sew makes me very happy and content. I went to Europe and started importing the proper fabrics for heirloom sewing, then started a wholesale business–which was mail order at that time, and e-commerce now, of course. I started writing “how to” books since I thought the ones available were not very clear; I like to make learning easy. I started doing seminars on how to sew and now have traveled to 6 continents teaching sewing, and I have written 55 books. I now lecture all over the world not only on sewing but on “How To Turn Your Hobby Into A Business.”
Related: How a mom turned her passion for scrapbooking into a successful business.
How do you define success? Do something you enjoy. For me, that includes working half time- so I recommend choosing any 12 hours each day to work. Stop the elevators and the escalators; climb the stairs, one at a time. Do written planning, over and over again. Know that many people have received happiness from your success. Success is feeling that I am leaving the world a better place. I know I’m able to earn more money from my business than I could as a college professor, enough for a comfortable retirement, and enough to be able to do international mission work for my church and to send others when I cannot go myself. Success is being willing to go the extra mile for my customers so they will feel loved and remain loyal to my company and to me. I think loyal customers define success as much as anything; without loyal customers there will be no business. I love going to work every day.
Related: How to Build Your Brand
Biggest Success: Reaching international sales of over $6 million a year when all I originally thought I would have was a little smocking (sewing) shop teaching ladies how to smock and make pretty heirloom dresses.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? My top challenge now is to teach other women and men how to build a company and not make the mistakes that I made. I am currently completing my second business book. My first book on this subject was published by Lifeway, the largest Christian publisher in the world. I will self publish this one. I am 70 years old and for the next 10 years I plan to help others who dream about entrepreneurship–helping them to plan and make it happen. I made no profit for 10 years although I had a company with about $3 million in sales. I had to reboot my whole thinking and turn it around; now I want to help others not to make the mistakes that I made.
Who is your most important role model? That is very simple. God. My strength from God held me together when times were bad, especially financially.
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Edited by The Story Exchange