We’re so pumped about our conversation with Dana Browne. Dana is a Founder of Bow & Sprig and is also a content partner. Content partners help Voyage in so many ways from spreading the word about the work that we do, sponsoring our mission and collaborating with us on content like this. Check out our conversation with Dana below.
Hi Dana, thank you so much for sitting down with us again. For folks who might have missed our initial interview, can you start by briefly introducing yourself?
My name is Dana Browne and I am the owner and founder of Bow & Sprig. The idea for this company started in the beginning of 2018 when I could not find a beautiful yet functional means to store my jewelry. Everything in the market was either pretty but inefficient or efficient but bulky. It was always this or that. So, I came up with a jewelry stand design that offered everything I was looking for – attractive, functional and an affordable price point. I loved it so much, I decided I would try to build a company around it. Since then, I have expanded the principal of beautifully functional to two other home products that were in need of an upgrade- tissue box covers and catchall trays.
How has COVID-19 affected your business?
Covid presented some challenges, but Bow & Sprig is coming out stronger. When COVID-19 shut everything down in Spring 2020, the warehouse I worked with was no longer open to non-employees. After a week of trying to figure out how to have the same quality inspection, I decided I would rather take a step back and restructure my business plan than risk sending poor product out the door.
During “shutdown” I took an opportunity to learn from my first few months of being open. I found a better production partner that specialized in making jewelry and luxury boxes – with the best part being they were local too! I was able to spend extra time in the prototyping process, working to get every measurement, angle, and color perfect.
Now we are back and our products are better than I could have ever dreamed, including our two new products! It just goes to show if you keep your eye on the big picture, while tending to the small, great things can come out of even the most challenging situations.
However, I still wouldn’t recommend launching a company mere months before a pandemic.
After such a challenging year, what keeps you going?
The same thing that inspired me to start this company. I believe in Bow & Sprig’s mission to create beautiful home products that make life a little easier. It is a passion and a principal I have carried with me throughout my life. Especially after having kids, livable luxury is paramount when buying items for my home. Quality and function should not be at odds for home products. As long as I feel Bow & Sprig is bringing value to the market, I am going to keep going and hope you all come along with me on this journey!
You design and manufacture all of your products. How did you learn to navigate manufacturing?
A lot of Googling and a lot of learning the hard (and expensive) way. One of the things that makes Bow & Sprig products special is they are multimedia, however this presents challenges on the production side and makes things more complicated. Finding someone to take on my small quantity, lower price point product was near impossible.
After searching for months, I found someone through my softball league who worked in manufacturing and was willing to try and make my product come to life. It was going to be their first time manufacturing such a complex project, but they thought their contacts overseas would be able to handle it.
Prototyping took seven months, and final production took even longer. There were hundreds of emails going back and forth with feedback and negotiation. At the end of it all, while the effort was there, the results were not. I was left with only a handful of product that was usable, and everyone involved most definitely lost money on the project. After agreeing it was not the right fit, we ended up dissolving the partnership.
While this was a heartbreaking blow, I still believed I could make my product come to life. So, with blind determination, I moved forward, but this time I had what felt like a lifetime’s worth of knowledge about producing our jewelry stand. I knew the structural challenges, what bottlenecked production, and what timing should look like.
Through the amazing network at The Slate, I found someone who directly owned a factory overseas specializing in not only jewelry, but luxury boxes! After the first round of prototyping with this new contact, I knew this experience would be different. The team not only took on my product, they were excited about it. It was their smallest project, but they treated me like I was their most valued customer. Looking back, it was actually one of the first wins I had in the two and a half years I was building Bow & Sprig. Again, blind determination.
It was a mess figuring out manufacturing and I still don’t know everything, but I am very proud with where things stand now. If anything, I hope this story will help someone out there avoid some of the heartache and hard lessons I had to learn.
Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I have always been intrigued by the idea of entrepreneurship, but I never thought I would be the one pursuing it. For some people, being an entrepreneur is their passion in life. They know they want to build and create businesses, and they find projects based on this innate drive. For me, it worked the other way. I found this project that I felt so strongly about it that I decided to start a company. It has been over three years, and despite all of the challenges and frustrations, I’m grateful for what I’ve learned and feel empowered to be an entrepreneur.
Any advice for people thinking about starting their own company?
How much time do we have? So, so many lessons, but I will keep it to two pieces of advice for now. The first is you must have a clear view of your mission and your long-term goal. Once you figure those two items out, do not waiver on them. Focusing on your big picture will give you guidance on how to navigate the hundred little things that pop up throughout the day.
Second, almost everyone wants to see you succeed. Throughout this whole process, I have had to ask thousands of questions, and most every time, people want to help. But, even more so, they wanted to see me be successful. People love vulnerability and passion, so don’t shy away from asking questions and don’t shy away from being enthusiastic. It is a blessing to take ownership of your passion and is your greatest asset when starting a company.
Alright, so before we go, how can our readers connect with you to learn more and show support?
Please visit us at www.bowandsprig.com to shop or view fun tidbits on our blog. And follow us on Instagram, @bowandsprig where you can learn the latest about Bow & Sprig, including promos and contests. Once you become a fan (we know you will) help us spread the word by sharing your love of Bow & Sprig with your family and friends.