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  • 19 November 2014
  • Tracy Spahr

#ViaStories: Mentors and Partnerships Help Small Business Owners Find Success

This month, The UPS Store is launching a new campaign called #ViaStories, which aims to connect inspirational small business stories all across America. To kick things off, we’re sharing Nancy Bigley’s small business story.

Nancy didn’t realize the impact mentoring Stephanie King-Myers, the founder of a pop-up business in Chicago, would have on her career. But when Nancy learned more about this pop-up shop’s unique business model and creative approach, she found the inspiration to ‘leave it all’ and pursue her lifelong dream of owning her own business.

#ViaStories: Mentors and Partnerships Help Small Business Owners Find Success

Communication and collaboration between small business owners makes life easier and more fun.

Meet Nancy Bigley, CEO and Co-Owner of Bottle & Bottega

Tell me about your business.

Bottle & Bottega is a wine and art entertainment studio. We offer a fun, unique alternative to your ordinary night out, through painting and cocktail events. It’s a destination great for get-togethers with friends, creative corporate retreats or any special event. We like to believe that it’s not an art class – it’s an art party – and that friends, a canvas, and a bottle of wine can bring out everyone’s inner artist!

How did you get started?

In October 2010, Stephanie King-Myers and I were introduced through a mutual friend. Stephanie had launched the Bottle & Bottega concept in Chicago a year earlier and was ready to expand, but didn’t know where to begin. I started working with Stephanie as a mentor, offering guidance on how to best build out the business concept and how to expand into franchising. At that point, I had been working in the franchise industry for over 20 years. After learning about Bottle & Bottega’s amazing business model, I came on board as a partner in 2011. I helped launch Bottle & Bottega as a franchise, and spent that whole first year building that infrastructure. Today, there are 16 independently-owned locations in eight different states.

What inspired you to create your own business?

I was looking for something different – something that I could really be passionate about. When I first got involved with Bottle & Bottega, I found myself really excited about the business model. The opportunities were endless in regard to what we could do and what we could become. Now, I’m a business owner who helps others own their business—a Bottle & Bottega franchise.

Who has been your biggest influence?

Throughout my career, I’ve worked for some amazing bosses who have served as mentors, Many of these people were actually the founders of those companies. Understanding the inspiration they had and the risks they took helped motivate me . Being a part of helping other companies grow and find success made me realize that I could do the same thing with Bottle & Bottega.

What is the most rewarding part of being a small business owner?

Seeing franchisees succeed and fulfill their dreams. So many of them want to do more, give back and leave a legacy. It’s amazing that we’re able to help them achieve those goals with Bottle & Bottega. We really consider ourselves a family. It’s extremely rewarding to help them reach those milestones in their career.

What makes you passionate about your business?

The Bottle & Bottega concept. There are so many different pieces that make up the business – the creativity, the experience, and allowing people to try something new through painting. I find that every time I talk about it with others, I naturally smile. Our studios are beautiful and really offer a creative and colorful place for people to be with friends.

What lesson have you learned that would be most inspiring to others?

The value of collaboration. Collaboration amongst teams, as well as franchisees, is vital to your business’ success.

When you have a small business, all hands are on deck. You roll up your sleeves and do everything required to operate effectively. Sometimes, you have blinders on because you’re so busy and constantly on the go. It’s really important to make sure you communicate with your team, so people know what you’re doing and why. By communicating, you’ll increase collaboration, which will create better ideas and more efficient solutions. You’ll ensure everyone is on the same page, rallied around the same initiative. Plus, collaboration makes day-to-day life more fun!

Tell me about your relationship with your local The UPS Store.

Our location on Michigan Avenue in Chicago is conveniently located next to a The UPS Store. For a lot of our private events, we have guests from all over the country. After finishing their masterpiece, we send them to The UPS Store to ship their canvas home. It’s a great way to provide better customer service to our guests.

We also work with a The UPS Store location in La Grange, Ill. Each month, they print our corporate event calendars, which are displayed in the windows of our studio.

How do you think sharing our personal #ViaStories can help small business owners connect with each other?

I’m a huge advocate of communication between people doing like things. I think it’s really important for small business owners to get together often. There have been so many times that I’ve called up a colleague and said, “Hey, I’m currently doing this with Bottle & Bottega and am facing these challenges. Have you had a similar problem? Do you have any recommendations how I could fix this?”

I think that type of give-and-take relationship is really important for small business owners. It makes life easier, and more fun. We’re not in this alone. There are good days and bad days that come with owning a small business, and it’s really nice to have someone to talk to who is facing similar things.

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