Maker Stories: Episode 68: Amber Malcom of Shabby Chick [Podcast]

Welcome to Episode 68 of the Indie Business Podcast! Today's Maker Story introduces you to Amber Malcom of Shabby Chick Cleaners in Duncan, Oklahoma. After being in business for just over three years, Amber has already appeared on several episodes of a popular home shopping show, entirely dismantled and re-built her business model, and is now completely debt free. Oh, and she owns the only business in the world where you can buy your cleaning products at a drive-through window.

As you'll enjoy learning in this episode, Amber does not let any grass grow under her feet. She is energetic and unforgettable, as you surely know if you've seen any of her Facebook live videos where she cleans toilets wearing a colorful apron and a fresh flower in her hair. Enjoy my interview with Amber NOW!

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Episode Show Notes

Here are the topics discussed in this episode, with time stamps to help you find the information that most interests you:

  1. Introduction to Amber and how health challenges during a pregnancy led her to close her thriving law practice, move to a farm, and start making and selling cleaning products. (starting at 2:16)
  2. How Amber grew from her kitchen to a 6,500 square foot manufacturing facility and a home shopping show appearance within 24 months. (starting at 6:36)
  3. How Amber found mentors, incubators, and financing to help her grow. (starting at 7:41)
  4. How Amber built out her wholesale business via local festivals and trade shows nationwide. (starting at 10:17)
  5. The pros and cons of the wholesale trade show lifestyle. (starting at 14:16)
  6. Amber's husband quit his job to work in her business! (starting at 16:55)
  7. Why is't important to adjust who we are based on whether we are representing our brand or we are “off,” and not working at all. (starting at 23:19)
  8. How (and why) Amber transitioned from a wholesale business model to the direct sales business model she has now. (starting at 26:26)
  9. Amber shares the details of how she manages her direct sales business, including all about the “cleaning coaches.” (starting at 31:38)
  10. The only place in the world where you can buy cleaning products at a drive-through window. (starting at 35:36)
  11. The video with the bananas and the ants … “so gross, yet so effective. (starting at 38:14)
  12. How participating in an incubator helped Amber. (starting at 39:57)
  13. How you can become a Shabby Chick Cleaning Coach. (starting at 42:46)
  14. Why Amber was “miffed” that she had to join IBN in order to procure the product liability insurance she needed to get her business started. (starting at 48:05)
  15. Amber's top success tips for small business owners. (starting at 49:09)
  16. Amber's best tip for being in business with your spouse. (starting at 50:55)
  17. What the future holds for Amber and Shabby Chick Cleaners. (starting at 51:51)

Resources and Links Mentioned in this Episode

In this episode, Amber and I mentioned the following resources.

  1. Shabby Chick website: Shabby Chick
  2. Shabby Chick on Facebook: Shabby Chick
  3. Shabby Chick on Instagram: Shabby Chick
  4. Business incubator: Red River Technology Center
  5. Business funding: REI Oklahoma

A few of the important entrepreneurial points Amber and I discussed in this episode

  1. Gather and use customer feedback.
    Amber shared that one way she acquired new wholesale stockists was by asking consumers to share the names of retail stores they thought might like to carry Shabby Chick products. Consumers always have favorite stores, and they often know the store owners by name. Using a real store customer as a referral is a great way to get an audience with a retail store owner, and this approach helped Amber expand her wholesale footprint quickly.
  2. Ask.
    Amber reminds us that the answer is always “no” if you don't ask. If Amber can find resources in a tiny town like Duncan, you can find resources in your area as well. But only if you look around, and ask for what you want.
  3. If you work with your spouse, separate work and home.
    Keep work and home separate. Amber cannot dive in home stuff stays at home while work stuff stays at work. It's easier said than done though, Amber says, but it is vital to make the effort to keep things separate.

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.