On March 27, 2019, I met with Margo Mitchell, the owner of Happy Camper Design Co., at her home workshop in Lewes, Delaware. When I walked in, Margo was hard at work peeling stickers off acrylic mask hooks that she made for donation to help support the needs of local healthcare workers who are on the front lines dealing with Covid-19. She stated that she “feels obligated to do something to help the cause.” As I sat down to start interviewing her, she was distracted with multiple phone calls, emails, and texts from her customers and healthcare workers hoping to get the hooks she made. At the same time, she was chasing her 2-year-old around and tending to her 5-month-old. I thought to myself, “how could she possibly get anything done?” But throughout this interview, I realized she does everything she can to make sure she gets her work done including recruiting me to help with her mask hooks.
Happy Camper Design Co. is an LLC and a small local Delaware business that offers handcrafted signs, woodwork, & more. Margo, a native to Delaware, opened her business in August of 2018 in hopes to make an income while being a stay at home mom. As every stay at home mom knows, it can be almost impossible to get work done with two young children running around so I applaud her for her efforts and dedication to her business. Margo was gifted with artistic abilities and she has always enjoyed designing and creating “all the things.” Her talent is what crafted the idea of opening her own business.
As we sit peeling stickers, Margo tells me that she loves owning her own business. She stated, “being able to have flexibility in my schedule, having a home workshop, and having total control over decision making are the greatest benefits of being a business owner.” However, it can come with some drawbacks. Though Margo receives help from her husband, Colby, she explained that the demand for her custom products can be overwhelming at times since she is the only employee of her company. Additionally, managing all the other business tasks such as finances, marketing, and distributing can add to the stress but it doesn’t hold her back. Margo is committed to pushing through until she can expand her business and afford more help. In her 15-year plan, Margo hopes to take Happy Design Co. down the path of wholesale as well as provide signage for local businesses.
Upon the start up of Happy Camper Design Co., Margo did not receive any federal assistance to start her small business. Margo independently sought financing of her machinery and pays out of pocket for all her supplies. Because the business is still new and Margo is still paying off her machinery, she is still working towards creating a larger profit return. However, Margo remains optimistic of her business’s success and profitability in the future. This is because of her loyal customers. Living in a small state where most people know each other, Margo can rely on word of mouth advertising and the “shop local” initiative that has been taken on by most small business owners in the area. Because of this and her custom products, Margo has a competitive advantage.
In addition to utilizing word of mouth to her marketing advantage, Margo also stays on top of advertising on social media, she has products for sale at The Brush Factory on Kings, she offers discounts and promotions, and she also promotes that some of her profits go to charities. Margo attracts loyal customers due to her on time production, good communication, unique and good quality work, and her desire to help her local community. The local community and her connections have positively impacted her business.
Though owning a business is a lot of work, Margo suggests that anyone who is contemplating on it should “just do it.” She explains that being a business owner is very rewarding in many ways than just in profits. Starting a business gives you the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and learn more about yourself. Margo said “putting myself and my business out there for the world to see when there is a possibility of being rejected or not being successful is a very scary thing but once you do it, you become so proud of your perseverance, courage, and accomplishments.”