Mamaprenista and Wee Macree Founder, Julie Tingley, on being a Girl Mom and Community Builder
Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business:
Julie Tingley is a community builder, child advocate, girl mom, and writer. Julie spent 15 years as an award winning-sales representative in the medical industry before staying home with her two daughters. In 2018, she brought the KNOW Women to Florida with the first KNOW Tampa Book. She also grew the local KNOW community to 400+ like-minded women in business committed to supporting one another and celebrating each other’s success. In 2021, Julie shifted her focus to empowering and supporting children, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. She founded Wee Macree, a company with the mission to raise awareness around issues impacting kids around the world. 40% of the proceeds from each of the t-shirts Wee Macree sells is given back to the nonprofit the shirt supports. Julie is committed to fundraising for causes she believes in through Wee Macree, and in her nonprofit Board and committee involvements throughout Tampa Bay. Julie also contributes monthly to Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine, where she highlights local mothers and inspiring kids in the community.
What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member?
I’m thrilled about this community because of its leadership and reach. I consider Stephanie to be an incredibly motivating business professional and trustworthy friend. I can’t wait to engage more with the women this League has attracted.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
A message placed on my heart. I never saw myself doing this, and never thought I could! But I also couldn’t ignore the tugging feeling inside of me to start Wee Macree. Once I stepped into the direction of that calling, I never looked back. And even when I have those moments of panic (which we all have, right?!), that feeling comes back to remind me that this business of mine is much bigger than myself.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I was in the medical sales industry – both pharmaceutical and device – for 15 years.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
No way! But, when I left medical sales to take care of my two little girls, I opened a women’s community in Tampa Bay that grew in membership with the area’s greatest leaders, creators, and entrepreneurs. Once I found myself strategizing with them and consulting on business issues alongside them, I was inspired by the work they did.
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?
My strategy involved using my existing network, employing PR efforts through media contacts and friends, and relying on social media. I don’t think it failed, but I don’t think the online sell came as easily as I anticipated it. In fact, the more entrenched I become in the world of e-commerce and the people behind these online shops, I realize that we all share many of the same challenges. However, as a newer business owner with a leaner start-up budget, I do believe many of my bootstrap efforts have performed well.
What is the biggest challenge you have encountered along the way and what did you learn from it?
My biggest challenge selling something that ultimately shifts buying behavior, is finding that some adult shoppers are less connected to social issues than their children are. Which is EXACTLY why I am doing what I’m doing. Research shows that children up to the age of 11 still believe they can change the world. I want to preserve that spirit, and further nurture the empathy that comes from it. However, those adult parents are my buyers. Parents have to be willing to buy a kid’s t-shirt from Wee Macree that is priced at a premium (with premium fabrication too) because it gives back to a children’s charity rather than spending less on a t-shirt at a big box store. Even with this challenge, I’m learning to be grateful for every single transaction because it represents one step closer to providing for a child in need. The growth and shift in consumer behavior will come so long as I remain consistent and passionate about the mission.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Recently, my daughters (ages 9 and 5) were interviewed by our local FOX News network about their involvement with Wee Macree, and they completely lead the interview sharing about the nonprofits each t-shirt serves. The more exposure they have had to the causes, the more connected they have become to each t-shirt campaign and every child involved. It was the most proud I have felt since starting Wee Macree a year ago.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Not really. I do believe that there are seasons in business where life must be a non-negotiable priority, like now in these weeks leading up to the start of a new school year. I also believe there are ways to alleviate work load and burden by teaming up with the right people or making the right hires along the way. But, at the end of the day, everything is a choice. And, so long as we are choosing the things that make us feel the most fulfilled as business owners, as women, friends, wives, daughters, mothers, etc, then we are choosing best in that particular season. My biggest tip for attempting balance is to schedule time for myself, my family, and my friends ahead of any business commitments. I treat each month like a blank slate to fill the days with the quality time I want to give LIFE. Then I allocate other time to business. As an entrepreneur, however, I do feel like the two can be hard to separate as one is truly an extension of the other.
What’s a piece of advice you can share that you wish you’d known when you first started your Entreprenista journey?
This is the women’s network where you are safe to be yourself. You are invited to come exactly as you are. You can ask the “silly” questions, and be met with the most helpful answers and warm kindness. I have found that other online networks don’t feel as inviting and so that perception is easy to carry over to the Entreprenista League. But, this membership is different, and I’m so thankful for it.
What have you achieved recently that you’d like to celebrate with our community?
I am attracting impressive local and national nonprofit partners that want to do business with Wee Macree. They love the business model and mission, and have proudly accepted the invitations to be the cause that we sell t-shirts for. I have also been invited to sell inside of Tory Burch and Dillard’s as a pop-up experience, and feel extremely grateful for such unique and exciting opportunities so early on.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
We will be hosting kids events in the coming months for children to understand giveback and the impact of empathy and kindness. I also plan to roll other products under the Wee Macree name in the future like children’s books.