EP 127: Getting Lean For More Meaningful Growth With Textile Design Lab Founder Michelle Fifis

Apr 19, 2018 | Business Models, Growth, Operations, Podcast

Tara McMullin is a writer, podcaster, and producer who explores what it takes to navigate the 21st-century economy with your humanity intact. Click here to support this work.

The Nitty Gritty

  • Why Michelle Fifis consolidated her offers into her membership program, the Textile Design Lab
  • The steps Michelle took to achieve greater profitability focusing on doing less and more meaningful growth
  • What parameters Michelle uses to decide whether a new marketing opportunity is worth pursuing–or just a time suck
  • The brand partnership Michelle has leveraged to increase her reach, get paid, and amp up her brand’s visibility
  • How Michelle’s team has evolved to support the focus she’s created in her business–and what her next steps are with hiring

Today, I’m catching up with Michelle Fifis for a special episode of What Works that we recorded live on Crowdcast.

Michelle is the creator of Pattern Observer, a blog all about surface design, and the founder of The Textile Design Lab, a community and education space for emerging and established surface designers.

After leaving her corporate textile design job in 2010, Michelle wanted to keep her momentum going, stay up with the trends and industry news and keep track of her inspiration and resources, so she created the blog Pattern Observer. Today, Michelle is a successful textile designer who has worked with such clients as Lucy Activewear, Columbia Sportswear, Jantzen Swimwear, Pendleton and P&B Textiles.

On her blog, she continues to write about business and textile design and her membership community, The Textile Design Lab, offers learning and networking opportunities to hundreds of designers worldwide.

Fewer moving pieces, more profit

Michelle and I focused our conversation on how she’s made her business more lean-and-mean over the last year–and increased profitability at the same time.

She said:

I am constantly trying to systematize what I am doing and then passing it off to someone on our team, which includes my teammate Chelsea and my husband Ken.

I have cut back on the amount of information that I am taking in with regards to marketing and business growth. I used to constantly try new things and really bought into the “you have to do x,y, or z to grow your business.” I am now very hesitant to start something new or add something to our business unless I can figure out a way for someone else in our team to manage it AND it is not going to affect our profitability.

Meaningful growth instead of a breakneck pace

It can be so tempting to pursue growth at the expense of your life, health, and bottom line. Michelle took a hard look at how she’d been growing her business over the years and decided to make some changes. She said:

I am over this focus on super fast business growth. When my business was very young, it would double every year, so I got into this mindset that I needed to continue to grow at that rate. But that level of growth became stressful and I was investing so much money in future growth that my profitability was becoming lower and lower. Since pausing on my extreme growth plan I am happier, less stressful and more profitable than ever! And still growing at a healthy rate!

Listen to the full episode to learn more about how Michelle Fifis has streamlined her business to make more money.

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