This week's FOCUSed philoSophie's profile is Brienne Kingston. Brie is vice president of Crazy Dog T-shirts. An uber successful business based in Rochester, NY. I'm in awe of her business savvy and how she finds balance being a boss, wife and mother.
Occupation: VP, Crazy Dog T-shirts, www.crazydogtshirts.com
Hobbies/Activities: traveling with family, exploring new culinary experiences in the kitchen and around Rochester's awesome restaurant scene, working out and boxing at Midtown Athletic, hosting parties - but most of all, watching my kids learn and grow, whether it's at a soccer game, gymnastics class, or playing with dinosaur toys in the basement while my husband Bill sets off a prehistoric volcano for them!
How do you find FOCUS?
Find/Keep the Fun in business: No two days are ever the same at Crazy Dog T-shirts! It can be a rollercoaster for sure, dealing with a variety of new challenges every day, but that's what keeps us on our toes and makes it fun. Our people hands down are the reason that we still have fun over a decade into growing this business. We have learned over the years what type of work ethic and personality it takes to be a part of our team here, so when you walk into the office or onto the print floor, you see everyone working hard together, having fun, rockin out and crankin out shirts, that positive energy is contagious. Plus it's a funny t-shirt company! We always say, if you can't have fun making awesome t-shirts that make people laugh, smile, and sometimes even want to hug you, you must be doing something wrong!
Opportunities/Optimism: We make a conscious choice to do things differently than anyone else in our business. Some sites sell funny tees but don't have as robust of a custom apparel offering as we do. And other sites that offer custom apparel don't have the thousands of funny novelty shirts that we design and print every day for a worldwide audience. But even as we've grown and find ourselves shipping shirts all over the world, we work hard to keep doing better and better any way we can. So each day is an opportunity to improve, figure out all the ways we can do better - but always make sure we maintain that "Mom n Pop" feel we've always had, making sure customers feel 110% satisfied, whether they ordered one shirt or one thousand. It's a tricky balance to maintain, but business - like life - is a constant juggling act!
Confidence: New challenges every day means coming up with new solutions every day, which always makes you feel accomplished and builds confidence. It's amazing to me that even after so many years in this business, at Christmas last year, the mountains of orders we had to bag up and ship out every day almost seemed insurmountable. But then when the team bands together and finds a way to get it done, it builds our confidence as a group. So then whether it's trying a new method of printing, buying a new, unfamiliar machine to integrate into our production process, or printing with a new substrate we've never used before - instead of wasting time saying "that'll never work" and finding excuses not to attempt it, we roll up our sleeves, get to work, and always find a way make it happen! That's always been our approach to growing our business.
deal with the Unexpected: Life throws a lot at us these days! Running a business and raising our two kids Liam (5) and Lily (3) together, Bill and I wake up every day trying to be prepared for anything. I usually start the day with a V8 Energy Drink to make sure I'm firing on all cylinders. Thankfully we have the best family and friends in the world, who are always there to support us when things get to be too much. And our Crazy Dog family is the best. We've had to endure a lot of surprises and difficult situations throughout the journey of owning our business, but knowing we have a great, loyal team surrounding us makes it easier to deal with curveballs, like Bill's emergency gall bladder surgery during a busy time last year. Let's be honest though, it can be too much at times, and I admit, just like it says on one of our best-selling shirts, there are some days "I just want to drink wine and pet my dog" https://www.
crazydogtshirts.com/ collections/funny-womant/ products/drink-wine-and-pet- my-dog-t-shirt-womens
Simplify ( workload, life, etc...) : We have found that "family first" is the most important guiding principle and best way to keep things simple. From the beginning, my husband Bill and I have worked hard to build Crazy Dog as a family company first and foremost. A lot of our closest family members have had a big hand in the business over the years, and we are fortunate to be in a position to make sure our kids and their activities always come first. Sometimes it means sleepless nights and coming into work before the sun rises during our busy season, so we can get the day's work done and still spend quality time as a family in the evening, but no matter the sacrifice, it's always worth it for them.