Who doesn’t love jewelry? From statement earrings to stackable rings Margaret Elizabeth is quickly becoming one of our favorite stops to shop pretty adornments. And to think, founder and designer Meg Shackleton started the company out of her dorm room in college and now runs it with two baby boys! We virtually sat down with Meg to learn her story and what works for her when running a successful business and household. You may already love Margaret Elizabeth pieces but after reading this you’ll love the lady behind them too!
Tell us a little bit about Margaret Elizabeth and where your idea for a jewelry brand began!
Margaret Elizabeth is a jewelry brand for women, run by women – meant to make you feel beautiful. I started the brand in college very much as a little passion project, hosting my first trunk show in my dorm room. One day I was shopping at a boutique in Boston when the owner asked me where I got my necklace. I told her I had made it and she asked if I would be interested in selling them in her store. That’s how the idea that my little passion project could be a business came to be!
Being in college, what were some of your early challenges launching a business while in school?
The biggest challenge I faced when starting the business was how segmented and complicated all of the online tools were. The back end of my website was super confusing and I really needed to know how to code to make any changes. Now, there are all these great tools like Shopify (and iPhones!) that make it so much simpler to create good looking content and get it online with ease.
Have you worked on Margeret Elizabeth full time ever since?
I loved working on Margaret Elizabeth in college and really enjoyed it as a little side hustle, but when I graduated I wasn’t ready to pursue it full time. So, I decided to take a job at Google and learn a little bit about the corporate world and online advertising. I kept working on Margaret Elizabeth on my nights and weekends and a few years into working in both roles, a big box retailer expressed interest in carrying my line. At that point I decided to leave Google and pursue Margaret Elizabeth full time. It’s been almost 6 years since then and I haven’t looked back since!
What came next – was there a moment where you felt like you made it?
I definitely don’t feel like I’ve made it! But, it’s really rewarding to see women I don’t know wearing my jewelry and enjoying it.
We absolutely love all of your pieces! Do you have a few current favorites?
Thank you! My favorites right now are our Laurel Tassels. I wore them so much this summer and love that the cobalt blue tassel transitions into fall/winter, too!
In addition to shopping online, you also have 3 brick + mortar stores! Where can we shop Margaret Elizabeth? Do you plan to open more locations?
You can shop Margaret Elizabeth online, at our flagship store in San Francisco, 2230 Chestnut Street (in the Marina neighborhood) and in Palo Alto at Town & Country. We’re also carried in about 100 boutiques around the world and in a few select Bloomingdales & Anthropologie stores. Right now we don’t have any plans for brick and mortar expansion. We’re happy with where we are and want to build on what we’ve got!
What does your typical work day look like?
My work day starts with no alarm clock needed: my cherubic little rascals wake up nice and early ;). We all have breakfast and play at home and then I take my 3 year old, Tate, to school. Then, I head over to our office that is around the corner from his school. From there, each day is a little bit different. Some days I’m in the office working on designing the collection or working with our marketing director on an upcoming campaign – other days are spent meeting with our store managers and working on merchandising our shops. I work best in the mornings so I try to get all of my emails and “must do” tasks done then. I leave the office around 4:30 or 5 and head home to my boys.
As a mom of two young boys, how do you navigate the elusive work/life balance?
Ahhh, the pursuit of work/life balance! Someone please tell me how it’s done! Here’s what works for me: I told myself when my oldest son, Tate, was born that I wanted to continue working hard on my brand but that I also wanted to be with my kids as much as I could be. For me, this has meant committing to three days in the office with my team and two days at home with my boys.
I still work on my days at home, but I try to be really regimented with my time and schedule calls or catch up on work during naps or at night after the boys go to bed. I think I’m more efficient with my time now that I’m a mom, but the struggle to get it all done is so very real. In all honesty, I’m tired a lot! But I love my slightly complicated hybrid work/home schedule and I’m committed to trying to make the juggling act work!
As a company of women, how do you create an office culture that supports everyone both professionally and as working moms?
The biggest way we support each other is through flexibility. Flexibility and the ability to conduct meetings over the cacophonous “untz, untz, untz,” of a breast pump ;). Everyone on our team really “gets it” and most days start by connecting with one another on how we’re doing. It’s amazing to me how moms can just cut straight to the chase. So often a quick “how are you” morphs into a conversation about sleep schedules, when to introduce solid foods, or how to deal with a tantrum-ing toddler. Ultimately, I think our company culture supports the whole person- the career woman and the mama. And I try really hard to create a space that makes both sides of that equation feel represented and supported.
What is your favorite part of your job?
The People. I love my team, I love our customers, and I just love coming in every day to see people that I like so very much.
What is one tip you would give to other working moms to help make life at home or work easier, or just to encourage them?
The hardest thing for me as a working mom is feeling like I’m constantly letting someone down. When I’m at the office, I miss my babies and when I’m home I feel like I’m letting down my team at work. The thing that I’ve found to be most helpful is to set realistic expectations for myself and to be content with those boundaries. For example, I’m home with my boys on Fridays and that’s the one day that I don’t tend to any work. I try not to check my inbox and I even try to limit checking social media because it tends to be a rabbit hole! Once I told myself that it was ok not to fit in a little work that day of the week I was more content with just hanging with my boys and focusing on them.
Ultimately, my best advice is to live by the mantra, “I’m doing the best I can.” Because at the end of the day, we’re all just doing our best, right?