In Conversation with Margaux DelCollo of TWEE
Describe your business in a few words?
TWEE is a woman owned Philadelphia maker’s studio specializing in reimagined, eco-friendly, childhood classics – for playtime.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
Is it strange to say – I didn’t really even think about it. I saw this need in the market and just went for it. And I learned along the way.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I have a super – SUPER – varied background of experiences. I have an undergraduate degree in Gender Studies. My first job out of college was Press Relations for NY Fashion Week. I worked at a downtown NYC magazine doing their press and promotions for a little bit. I stopped all that and went back to school for Museum Studies – and completed two degrees – one for Museum Education and one for Museum Communications. I worked at two museums here in Philadelphia: Independence Seaport Museum and the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia. BUT – the strangest thing is that all of these jobs have trained me for running TWEE.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
NO! I had no idea!
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
From the very beginning I have said – don’t want to be in all the stores. We want to be in all the right stores. And that is our feeling today – almost four years later.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
I make mistakes EVERY DAY. But – to me – the important thing is I keep going.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Very early on we were in a piece in the Wall Street Journal. I think I am most proud of that. So many people see TWEE and all the amazing designs and glitter and rainbows and think that it’s so sweet. But I always say – Yes. It is all that. But you know what else it is? It’s serious business. And I think that WSJ article showed that. Also. I always love when a Real Housewife of – anywhere – Insta Stories us!
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
I like to ask what their favorite part of their last job was. It really gets into the crux of their happy place in a work setting. My biggest tip is to know your company culture and always keep that in mind as you go through the hiring process.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Covid has made TWEE rethink how we operate in our physical space. The safety of our makers and all TWEE team members is the most important thing. So we’ve put in place testing and temperature checks. Makers were already wearing gloves and masks pre-covid so that had already been a part of our daily process. We’ve cut down what a day looks like and reduced shifts to 4 hours at a time. Departments stay separate and we’ve asked everyone to be super transparent. So far – everyone has been great – but the strain of running TWEE this way is very hard.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
TWEE is a product – TWEE is beautiful, handmade sidewalk chalk. In the next few years – we are going to be positioning TWEE as a brand – with multiple product offerings – keeping with our tradition of being eco-friendly, handmade and a tool that provides the opportunity for pretend play.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
Sometimes you need to take a step back and repave your path.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
Spend ALL THE TIME with your numbers. Know them. Love them. Memorize them.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
My kids. And Glennon Doyle who provided me with my mantra for this year: This is hard. And we can do hard things.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I have two boys – Sam and Max – 10 and 6. The joy I get seeing them in the studio and invested in TWEE is overwhelming. I don’t think I have a work/life balance because for me – it’s not either or. It’s both. When I travel for trade shows – I take them with me. They help me make design decisions. We are all in this together. Are there times where I have to shut my phone off? Yes. Of course. But I like not having to choose and I like doing it all together.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I used to be very shy. Painfully so.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
- The first thing I do when I get to the studio is check my calendar for the day. It sets the course.
- Every morning I meet for ten minutes with one of my team leaders. It’s a standing date that lasts ten minutes. I say – what are you working on next week and how can I help you be successful in that goal. Those meetings give me a bird’s eye view of the departments so I can understand each one’s individual trajectory.
- I keep a to-do list everyday. What wasn’t completed the day before gets carried over to the next day. I need that running log of activity to keep everything moving! OHHHHH!! and 4. LOTS OF COFFEE!
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
The first thing I think about is community. A community of women. Of business owners. Of people who are at the forefront of their field – sharing their stories. Their successes and their growth opportunities. Their failures and most importantly – what they learned from those.