UniikPillows is a mother-daughter team based out of Phoenix Arizona. Yolindi, an immigrant from South Africa, has an adventurous spirit and loves the whimsical. She shares her love of unique and out of the way places with her daughter Carealee. Both artsy and fun loving, with an eye for home décor and decorating. UniikPillows was born from the love of design and creating an affordable home friendly product to be enjoyed by families with kids and pets. The idea to quickly refresh a rooms décor by simply changing pillow covers started the journey of creating washable pillow covers with hidden zippers. What started as a little idea at home, has quickly grown into a showroom in Phoenix, with customers all over the world!
1. Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
UniikPillows didn’t start as a clear business that we wanted to start. It has rather evolved into what it is today and grown a life of its own. Carealee and I are both artsy and love interior design and creating new things. Carealee is extremely talented and great at digital art. Four years ago, we created a few basic designs and decided to use them on pillow covers as unique décor. We loved the concept so much that we started selling them on Etsy, and it’s just grown from there.
2. Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First, can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
I don’t believe that success can be measured or attributed to just one thing. It is rather a series of successions that mould and make us and eventually create a successful life. 2 years ago, my husband has a heart attack and due to a job change, we didn’t have medical to cover the huge medical expenses we faced. It’s these life-changing events where one has clear options to either quit or make it work. I decided to turn my hobby into a serious business and against lots of odds, opened our first showroom in Phoenix.
3. Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
We’re originally from South Africa and arrived in the US with 2 suitcases in hand and a dream for the future. There were no handouts or getting anything easy. We’ve worked extremely hard to obtain anything we’ve accomplished. There have been major setbacks in our lives, however, we fervently believe that God has a reason for everything and our character is moulded with each hard time. Giving up has never been an option. We rather have to figure out how to overcome the obstacle and grow from the experience. Sure, there have been lots of frustrations and tears, but one reevaluates where you are, and try again with new zeal and determination. I believe a clear vision of where you want to go is key!
4. So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?
I suppose we will always be growing and attaining, because as we grow our visions broaden and expand. I don’t believe that one ever “arrives” at any particular success, but rather, if you live your life being thankful every day, your entire life is made up of successful moments and thus you are successful.
5. So, how are things going today? :-)
As spring sprung, it marked 2 years since my husband heart attack. I took the time to reflect and I can say that through much thankfulness and frustrations, a lot of hard work and self-evaluation, personal growth and realignment we have entered a new season. We are stronger than we were 2 years ago, and the vision of our business has been sharpened and enlightened to what it can be and has become. Opening our showroom and shop has been an extremely positive experience and we are humbled by the amazing repeat customer base we are building both online and locally. We are seeing a steady strong growth in our business and we are excited to share our ever-expanding vision for our business.
6. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I sent an entire batch of pillow orders to my printer and by mistake sent them as 8x8 inches instead of 18x18. Well, I got a whole box of these tiny little pillow covers. I cried over it at first and then I looked at it and thought they were pretty cute! So a classic case of lemonade from lemons. I sourced some 8x8 inserts from my manufacturer and voila! We have our mini pillow collection. These mini pillows have become extremely popular and are used as bridal shower and house warming gifts, team encouragement gifts, back support, cubical décor and just plain cute pillows to have! I’ve learnt to step back when anything seems “wrong” and see what good can come from it. These turned out to be a fantastic “mistake” as our 8x8 inserts are a best seller!
7. What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I fervently believe that it takes a village to raise a child and a community to build a business. Supporting those around us as we grow is an integral part of our business. We are building a strong network of people that we can mutually help and attaining success together is so much better. We have networked with several local artists and are promoting their artwork on our pillows. We also support dog rescues with our rescue line of pillows. The process of helping others grow while we grow is a fantastic and exciting process, and I do believe that sets us apart from many others. We also believe in excellent customer service. Not just service, but customer relationships. Getting to know people and sharing some joy!
8. Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I take time daily before the hustle begins, to meditate and realign myself. Planning my days and staying focused is key to thriving. As much as I work, I also take time to just “switch off” and not do anything. Weekends are key for our family and I’ve had to learn to complete tasks during the week and enjoy the moments with my children and husband. Having a clear space for my business vs having it at home has been key to being able to separate work from family.
9. None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My friend Amber Gastelum is our photographer. She has been amazing in helping us brand our business and sharing amazing photos and videos. She has her own photography business, Two Peas in a Pod, and does amazing work. Bouncing ideas off each other and creating mutual encouragement has been key in helping me stay on track and focused! We all need mentors. Both get a mentor and be a mentor!
10. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We support dog rescues around the country with sales of our rescue line. We have a vision to expand this into a Not for profit section of our business. Creating pillows for a cause. This is a great way to both provide a high-quality product for fundraising, as well as sharing something beautiful with others using art from various artists. So it grows both the local economy and raises fund and awareness for causes.
11. (Choose) What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each. Or(Choose) Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit?
Developing Grit as you say, would have to start with you as a person. I believe that one has to develop a very clear vision of where you are headed before one can start the journey.
So many people cannot move into a new direction, because they are tied down by things of the past. Letting go of the past, and envisioning a new future you is life changing.
Be serious about what you want to achieve and why. The “why” is as important or even more important than how. There must be a reason why you work long hours and make sacrifices others won’t.
You must be willing to do what others aren’t to achieve a result others won’t have. So be prepared to work hard and endure periods of seemly no growth. Sewing seeds requires patience. Your harvest doesn’t grow overnight. You have to sew and water for a long time before the crops start coming!
12. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I sat down a while back and did a “negative” brain dump. I meditated and thought about anything negative in my life. Anything from a child up. I wrote down all the bads and upsetting things. It was hard to get to a point where I can do this, as I’m a very positive person. However, once I got into the mode, I dumped that all out of me, and an amazing thing happened. I realized things that were holding me back from my childhood. It was like a light switch turned on, and in a moment I was set free from something I didn’t even realize was holding me back mentally. This is such a powerful exercise as one can face the negatives and deal with them. THEN you write down all the positives. Everything you want to see in your life, and what you want to become. Envision the person you want to be, and if any negative thought comes along, you can recognize it and push it aside as you’ve “dealt” with it, and it no longer has power over you. I believe that if I could teach people this lesson, it would dramatically change lives! Too many people are living daily in past memories, and are being held by the past and not really living in the now and for the future!
13. How can our readers follow you on social media?
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This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!