A Mission-Driven Life

WITH

Monica Fullerton

The Limitless Podcast

A Mission-Driven Life

with Monica Fullerton

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The military community is filled with a goldmine of makers, creators and entrepreneurs. That being said, military families sometimes find it hard to follow their dreams and get the support they need in pursuing something they love because of constantly moving from one place to another.

Being a military spouse didn’t stop Monica Fullerton from pursuing her passion for business. She founded Spouse-ly, which is a mission-driven platform that markets products and services made by military spouses across the US. Spouse-ly has enabled numerous spouses to follow their dreams no matter where the military life takes them, as well as support other families in the community. Now every military spouse has more career flexibility and stability.

Every dollar spent creates a lasting impact, and at Spouse-ly, all purchases go a bit farther, which is part of the reason why Monica has been able to scale it so quickly.

"Growth begins when comfort ends."

- Monica Fullerton
@LimitlessShow @franklyco_

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IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN

  • The importance of supporting mission-driven platforms like Spouse-ly.

  • How meaningful work can change your life and the lives of those around you.

  • How to use technology and social media to build a community around your business.

LINKS FROM THIS EPISODE

Johanna Buchweitz:
How would you feel if time and money were no object? Or if you always knew that the answers you sought were at your fingertips? Or that the creative spark you would need for the next project was always going to be there? You would feel limitless. I’m Johanna Buchweitz and it is my honor to welcome all of you to Limitless, the show where we have open, honest and direct communication with extraordinary women in business to provide you with actual next steps for super growth based on their proven success tactics.
Joining me on today’s episode is Monica Fullerton, founder of Spouse-ly, a space for former and current military families to market their products and services regardless of their duty station. Monica, welcome to Limitless.

Monica Fullerton:
Hi. Thanks so much for having me.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I’m so excited to have you here. And I always love to kick off every episode with this belief that I have that all driven female entrepreneurs are modern day superheroes. So as a superhero entrepreneur, you are. What’s your superpower?

Monica Fullerton:
Oh, my gosh. My superpower is communications. I have always had a passion for just being able to hear other people’s stories, to use our stories to uplift one another and our voice to make a difference. So I would say my superpower is communications.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That is awesome. I love that. So I love what you’re doing in general. And first off, I just want to thank you for your work. And I would love for you to like tell us a little bit about how you got started. Like, what made you want to create Spouse-ly?

Monica Fullerton:
Yes. Well, thank you so much for the kind words and support. So I launched Spouse-ly right before the global pandemic. Woohoo! Great timing, but it all stemmed from my own personal frustration and inspiration. I’m a military spouse. My husband is in the Air Force. I’m also a twin mom, and I have always been in the corporate world. And I was very lucky to have a full time corporate career that was remote because for anyone listening, you know, the military lifestyle is both rewarding and challenging. Military families relocate on average every 2 to 3 years, which can make it really hard for spouses to do something that they love. So I came up with the idea because, one, I was working a corporate career that I had to pivot and I wasn’t fully passionate about it. I had to do what many of us spouses do. We settle for what fits into our lifestyle. And after having the twins, I quickly realized that I wanted to do something that I love while living this life and be able to empower others that they can do it too. So I launched Spouse-ly and it was all inspired just by our community and just how much talent, strength, courage and grit our community’s filled with.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Oh, wow. That is awesome. And I love how you said like you realized like you wanted to do something that you truly loved and I think the cool thing is you didn’t just realize that you actually did it like you did whatever it took to put that into motion. How was that like? How did you just say, you know what, I’m quitting that corporate job.
I’m just going to do this?

Monica Fullerton:
Well, it’s easier said than done, right? It sounds like. Oh, let me just press the button and it’s going to happen. No, it took a lot, a lot of courage to be able to put stability kind of on the side, to be able to pursue something that I knew was going to be much more rewarding. But we both know that it takes time to grow and build a business.
And so there’s a quote that I’ve been living by which I think would resonate with everyone listening. And it is “growth begins when comfort ends” and I am very much living and breathing that. So I went from the idea of Spouse-ly to reality all within about eight months. So my first year of launching the company, I was still working my corporate career, but I quickly learned that something had to give because I was at my breaking point trying to juggle both.
And at that time I had a really hard decision to make because I was very comfortable in this salary and this opportunity. But I have not looked back since.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Oh, I love that. And that’s such a great quote, too. So when you got this idea and you first got started, like I’m sure it was a bit of a transition, right? Because like you said, you were working this corporate job and what industry were you in from the corporate space?

Monica Fullerton:
That is a great question. So I went to school for broadcasting and communications and I have an MBA specializing in marketing. But as soon as I was finishing up my master’s degree, I got back together with my high school sweetheart who was going into the Air Force. So we’re at our first duty station. I just went in to like any different job interviews. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I knew I was not going to be able to build a career around broadcasting and communications in our lifestyle that we were about to live. So I was in logistics and I remember going into this job interview and being like, What is logistics? I don’t even understand. I don’t know how I even got here.
But, you know, it looks like a great community. The pay is really great. Like, just tell me more, let me see if I can make it work. And luckily it was an amazing company. I worked with them for almost seven years. I was continuing to move up in the company. I was traveling and working with Fortune 500 companies, but it just wasn’t something that I ever saw myself doing.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That makes sense. So thank you for for sharing the background on what you were doing. So coming from logistics, right or and like whatever you had studied as well with marketing and media and everything like that when you first were getting started, as everyone is listening, knows who, who’s ever like started a company, or even if you’re thinking about starting a company there’s so much that you need to know that you just don’t know.
So how did that learning curve work? Like, where did you go to get your information? How did you learn? How did you figure it all out? To be able to really build this thing within eight months and be able to quit your job?

Monica Fullerton:
Yeah. So luckily I’ve always been around entrepreneurs. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I feel like it’s kind of like in my DNA almost. But really there is no textbook on growing the business from the ground up. I’m sure there’s, you know, many different things that you could follow and be guided on. But in reality, it’s like you said, you don’t know what you don’t know.
And the best way to go about it is to surround yourself with the right people to ask questions. I always say I hope that I’m not the smartest one in the room because then I’m doing something wrong. I want to be around all the people who are doing it, who I can learn firsthand from. So just continuing to find resources surrounding myself with the right people and learning new things every day.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that. And so when you first launched, were the features that are currently available, all available at that time too, or did you start to roll things out more and more as you saw, like what the community needed, wanted? And if you could just walk us through that, that whole process.

Monica Fullerton:
Yeah, you know, I think that’s such an important piece about entrepreneurship is a lot of times entrepreneurs hold themselves back because they want everything to be perfect from the start. And in reality, that’s not how it works. You learn along the way, you pivot, you make changes based on feedback. So we did it in different phases.
As much as I wanted Spouse-ly to be this well-known looking brand, marketing was perfect. The platform was perfect. In reality, I’m a solopreneur who is bootstrapping. I don’t have millions of dollars to put behind making something look perfect. So what I’ve learned is that don’t hold yourself back from doing it in different phases. Do what you can at the time and continue to build and grow from there. So with Spouse-ly being a multi-vendor marketplace. I’m sure you can imagine that it’s very complex from the vendor side, from the consumer side, total operations. So we’re just continuing to plug away at each different roadmap item as they come up.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I think that’s great advice and I kind of want to like pause here for a second. So everyone is listening. I think this is so important what you just said, because it’s not only just like starting out with like something and expanding as you go along. I think the key piece also to remember is that we have this idea of exactly what the market wants.
We’re like, this is going to solve all your problems, all these features you need to have, like the sun, the moon and the stars. And like sometimes, you know, when you start, your customers are like, actually, I just want the sun, but thank you, I’m not going to use the moon and the stars. And you’re like, Why would I spend all this time, money, effort, like creating all these different features that you don’t even truly want?
And when we actually pause and create something first with some value, but then talk to the people who are using it and say, hey, like, what do you want more of? Like, how else can I serve you? You then even come up with like better ways to like create features that are actually doing like, like what it is it needs to do and it’s supporting your mission of actually helping them.
So I think, yeah, that’s, that’s a big one. I also learned that the hard way when I started my first company and I want to talk about this two sided marketplace. I am fairly, fairly familiar with it, but it’s anyone who’s not. It gets a little bit tricky because you can’t just have something awesome that you’re then trying to sell to like a customer client.
You need to have both the vendors and like the people who would buy from the vendors. So you can’t get people on the platform to use it if you have no vendors to offer them. But you also have to incentivize vendors when you have a very small audience to begin with. So I would love for you to like talk about that, that balance and like how did you convince those vendors in the first place to join when you were still trying to grow like the site traffic and how people were actually using the platform?

Monica Fullerton:
Yes. And that is such a great point. So, yes, a multi-vendor marketplace is like a double sided sword. You have to have both vendors and you have to have those both customers. But luckily our community superpower is supporting the military and first responder community is like no other. Everyone wants to truly support one another, whether it’s in life or in business.
And that is something that I saw early on in our space, which is why I knew from the vendor side, if you build something that is supportive of our community, that allows them to grow and be a part of the building process, they will come. And that is what we’ve continued to see on the vendor side. We’ve grown from 30 vendors to over 450 vendors in about two years.
Just from word of mouth. We have not done any actual marketing initiatives behind adding our vendors. So that kind of just shows you that, you know, we’ve poured a really strong foundation, but now it’s time to take Spouse-ly to the next level. So it’s exactly what you were saying with the consumer side. And what we’ve realized is a lot of our community is also; if they’re not a vendor, they’re a consumer, and it’s continuing to kind of build off of that same mentality, like give back to these families that give find ways to make your dollar go much further by purchasing with purpose.
And in reality, we have so many other shopping platforms out there and we know that the big companies have made it so easy where you can basically order with your eyes closed. So it’s very, very hard competition. But what makes us stand out is that we are truly all of the vendors are approved military and first responder families. And that is something that is very unique to what we’re doing.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah, that’s – it’s true. And it’s very, very mission driven, which I absolutely love. So when you say word of mouth, right, that is a huge growth. So first of all, congratulations like that is insane. Like, that is so awesome. I love that. How do you have that power word, mouth? You talk about the community, but if we could just like break it down even a little further, right?
So like, what does it look like when you were first starting and you were saying, hey, I just launched this, you know, platform. I am looking for vendors like who do X, Y and Z. Like, where did you share that? Like, is there like a digital community for you guys or for military families? Was it just from like, you know, having like the spouses all talk to each other?
Like how did it kind of grow? Because that is a big word of mouth change – that that’s awesome.

Monica Fullerton:
Yeah. So we didn’t really have like a beta testing phase. But what I did do is so Spouse-ly was born like on a car ride to dinner with a few fellow military spouses, I just remember being like, wow, you’re you make coffee, you’re a private investigator, you’re a photographer. I love business like it all stem from that one car ride alone of just inspiration.
And after I got home that night, I went on to Facebook and I created a group that was basically like, let me add in. Everybody that I know is, you know, a supporter or maybe has a small business. And let me just start asking questions to the community. Hey, would you want to see a marketplace like this? Hey, are there vendors that would be interested?
You have to be willing to put yourself in a vulnerable position in order to get the right feedback that you want to see. Because as an entrepreneur, we know that we’re going to pour everything into it, whether it’s financially or emotionally, physically, whatever it is, it’s all going to all take place. So after I had launched that Facebook group, it went from zero people to like a thousand people in like two weeks. And I was like, okay, this is a great sample. So this is enough for me to know. Like, people are excited, like this is something that I need to move forward with. And after I had that validation, it just continued to grow from there. And I will say when I hired my first publicist, because PR has been very huge for us, you know, we get a lot of media opportunities, which I’m so grateful for. But my publicist, I remember our first year in business, she was like, Monica, you have to share your story. You need to be out there more. You need to tell people who you are, why you started Spouse-ly, your military spouse life. And I’m like, Well, why do people care who Monica Fullerton is? Because, you know, in my corporate career, it never it wasn’t like that, right?
You didn’t you didn’t need to, you know, build up like how you do for entrepreneurship yet. And once I started really just telling my story, like why I started this, what it has been like and the inspiration that it all came from, that is where the true word of mouth started happening. And as you know, people buy and build into something that they believe in because of that person.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that you just said that. So thank you. Because that and I’m smiling because like this has been something that’s come up a few times, like with some other guests who are like personal branding experts. And they talked about this. And I know I even struggled with this a lot myself, but like the stories are what are so powerful and there are so many incredible companies, there are so many entrepreneurs, and they’re all doing something and there’s always going to be competitors. And like, that’s just it. But like, you are your superpower, right? Your uniqueness is what makes you so incredible, right? And like your purpose and your mission and like what you’re doing, like that’s what’s going to excite people. So, like, being able to recognize that so early on and like having someone who could guide you that way is like it’s genius really, because you were able to, to bring out like why honestly, why anybody would want to kind of like support you guys because what you’re doing is amazing.
I know when I first heard your story, I was like, Oh, I want to tell it to more people. This is awesome, right? And because it’s true, it’s like it’s that story, it’s that purpose, it’s that mission. So to anyone listening, I think the biggest takeaway here is like you are so unique and the reason why you created your company has to be shared. It’s what you like. And I remember when I first started, I didn’t want to do that. I was like, I want to highlight my company. I want to highlight what I’m doing. I don’t want to highlight me like like who’s Johanna? It’s, you know, like, who cares? Like and it’s like, no, people actually care because it’s the face behind the brand.
It brings the humanness out, right? Because people like they connect with you. They connect with your story, they connect with your mission. And when they feel that level of trust with you, that automatic, I want to buy your product. How can I support you? I want to buy your service because I trust you. I like you and like it’s the psychology and play there.
It’s like I want to do more to help you. Like, what can I do to contribute to your community? How can I support this cause? So I think it’s incredible that you were able to get that like, you know, advice really early on and be able to excel off of it. Really. Yeah.

Monica Fullerton:
And I always talk about how we are a people versus products marketplace and it truly is. It’s exactly what you just said. I mean, people can go and purchase anything from anywhere. There’s nothing stopping them from buying a candle here from a candle there but what is truly making the difference is that person and their story and why they created this business.
And a lot of our business owners on Spouse-ly have such inspiring stories. A lot of them have started their businesses while their spouse was deployed. Or maybe there are a Gold Star family where they’ve lost their spouse and now the small business is providing them with the creative outlet and stability that they need. So yeah, that’s something from a marketing and branding standpoint that we want to continue to elevate and shine light on is that we understand that, you know, there’s so many other shopping platforms out there and you can easily go to the store.
But taking that hard earned dollar of yours and using it to go towards a much, you know mission driven purpose, can’t even talk today. Sorry, purchase with purpose is what I was trying to say. It goes so much further and it’s so much more valuable.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah, for sure. So when it comes to like the consumer side of it where you are and are you still using like, like PR to also get more consumers? Are you using other avenues like social media, paid ads, like how are you guys gaining that traffic?

Monica Fullerton:
Yes, we have a really low budget going on paid digital ads just because I am still bootstrapping. So as you know, it’s one of those things where you can’t be just dumping a bunch of money into ads and seeing what that does. So yes, for us, PR has been very, very huge because it allows us to tell our story. It allows us to connect with those consumers. So that has just organically been something that continues to happen for us, which I am so grateful because as we’re kind of the goal is to continue building that brand awareness so that we can makes Spouse-ly a household name. So that way it directly puts funds in the pockets of our nation’s heroes.
But as we continue to, you know, gain that traction on brand awareness, I cannot wait for the day that I can move more into getting those vendors, you know, on their local news, getting them in magazines, getting them featured, which we do work on a lot, but it has to go hand in hand with the brand awareness, too.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah, sure. So with the like, your vendors, do you provide like resources to them and like educational materials and like how like they can market their products, how like they can share it, not only on Spouse-ly but like on other avenues as well. Because what I found is like so many business owners, like, right, like we always need help with something and like, we know our lanes so well, but like when we have that information to help us learn and grow, it just will not only help them, obviously will help you guys as well. So like, are you offering any type of like educational resources for them?

Monica Fullerton:
Yes, we just launched Spouse-ly U, which is powered by USAA. So the goal of that is to continue providing more tools and resources to our community. And what the best part is about that is we actually have vendors contributing to help other vendors. So, you know, maybe a vendor that loves product photography, they’ve wrote an article and have created a video to show other vendors how they can, you know, enhance their product photos by just using things that they have at home.
So, yes, it’s been really great. Spouse-ly is so much more than just an online marketplace. It is truly turning in to that entrepreneurial hub for our community as well as positioning everything that we’re doing and our people for bigger opportunities. So we’ve also just started doing like corporate gifting and wholesale. So working with these corporate companies to say, okay, well if you have a corporate gifting budget, please put that towards actually supporting, you know, a small business owner and then add the layer on top of it of one of our nation’s heroes.
So it’s been a really exciting journey.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That’s awesome. And I love that. Like the power of the community, how everyone does want to like support each other and give that advice. And I think that’s also what makes what you do so special. And I know, like, I can’t wait to see you guys continue to grow and scale. So it’s definitely it’d be exciting to follow along with your journey.
So for you today, what is the current challenge or the biggest challenge that you guys are facing that you’re trying to work through?

Monica Fullerton:
Yeah, the biggest challenge right now is after going all in on entrepreneurship about a year and a half ago, you know, I’m running out of my own funding that I’ll be able to pump into it. So it was really important to pour the foundation how I wanted that to be for our community. So now it’s getting ready to move in to raising capital, bringing on the right investors to be able to enhance our marketing, build out our team more.
So as you can see, we have a quickly growing community that we have to be able to continue supporting and providing different avenues to.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Well, I think it’s great because like you said, you do have that foundation. So you do have that proof of concept. You do have that growth growing. So I think it puts you in a really good position for when you do get in front of investors. So just like you have the power of the community, I love the power of like the limitless community as well.
So anyone who’s listening, who maybe knows someone who you think would be a great venture capital introduction or an angel investor or someone within that area, like please like reach out to us. We’ll put Monica’s information in the show notes as well. So because I think, you know, we can all support each other in so many incredible ways and that the mission you have is remarkable, really.

Monica Fullerton:
Oh, well, thank you so much. I always say, you know, the greatest gift that we can give one another is support. And there’s so many amazing entrepreneurs that you’ll continue to meet on this journey. And it’s like, what can we do to help each other? Keep pushing forward?

Johanna Buchweitz:
For sure. It’s all about like how we can support each other. And because that on the day, like we get to all win right and like the more we come together, the faster we all get to the top. And that sounds like why not? That’s all party there.

Monica Fullerton:
Like sit up on the top of that mountain and eat some cheese and wine.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Sounds good, girl. I’ll meet you there like we’ll set a date for it. Yes, yes. So for you, obviously, this is like, I’m sure incredibly rewarding. But I would love to hear from you in your own words, like what is your favorite part about what you’re doing?

Monica Fullerton:
My favorite part about everything that we have going on right now is getting to know our vendors, getting to find ways to help one another. I always said I wanted to be the next Oprah. All my friends used to make fun of me when I said, but it really was about like just the power of being able to uplift and inspire one another to use our voice and the communications that we have available to really keep one another.
Pushing forward is so, so powerful. So that is my favorite thing. If I could only just focus on getting to know the vendors, helping them grow and succeed, I would be like totally winning. Obviously right now I’m on all the ends of growing the business, business development, you know, web, all of that stuff. But the day that I can finally get all of our vendors in one room together to just connect and support each other will be the best day ever.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that. And are your vendors just providing products or do you also have services?

Monica Fullerton:
Yeah. So we have both. We have products, vendors and service based businesses. So I basically call it Etsy meets Angie’s List, but with a focus on shopping for social good. And then all of our vendors are approved military or first responder families, and then anyone can come on to the platform to shop.

Johanna Buchweitz:
So how does it work? So if someone, let’s say, you know, is listening and they’re like, oh, like I’m, you know, military spouse and I would love to get on this platform. How do they do that? What does the process look like for for applying and how do you actually vette people?

Monica Fullerton:
Yes, it’s super easy. So you just go to spousely.com. You go down towards the bottom of the page, it’ll say become a vendor. You just click it, you answer, answer some questions. And we are partnered with GovX ID. So basically they handle all of the verification for us. And then once the vendor is approved, they get an onboarding kit, they can get access to Spouse-ly U.
And we are with them every step of the way because honestly we want to make sure that they are as successful as possible from the start, whether that’s helping them set up their shops or marketing tips, whatever it is that we can do.

Johanna Buchweitz:
And for the vendors when they do first, come on, you said you do have these other resources, like if they have questions like can they go to you guys directly? How does that work? And do you also have like a vendor dashboard so they can kind of see if people are coming to their store page and if like, you know, they’re shopping what their sales look like and how that all works.

Monica Fullerton:
Yes. So all of the vendors run and manage their own shops on our platform. They have access to seeing how many different views that they’re getting. They’re able to to track everything. And it’s just like you said, it’s a vendor dashboard. And then as we continue to grow and build, I want to make that as robust as possible and as easy for them to see new ways.
I would love to integrate new shopping techniques. I know like live shopping is very big right now and finding ways for them to really share their story in a more dynamic way. Because right now when you go to a vendor shop, you’ll see like their banner or their logo information about who they are and why they started their business and then their products or services.
But I would love for it to be more like maybe some kind of interactive video or something where it’s like, Hi, you know, I’m so-and-so, I created this business, so the list will go on forever, obviously. But yes, it’s a super easy process and we are with our vendors truly every step of the way. You know, after they’ve gotten their first order, we reach out and we let them know what they might need to be doing on the next steps.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that piece about wanting to have that video of them sharing their story. I would say like check out like Kickstarter and some of the other crowdfunding platforms because they actually like make a lot of, you know, the people going on there to have like that video, whether it’s a demo or just about them.
And I think it looks really cool how it works on their dashboard. So I love that idea because like you said, like it just brings so much more power to it when you do see that story, hear that story and see the face behind the brand and yep, and that’s yeah, that’s that’s incredible. So can the vendors sell on other platforms and do you find most of your vendors are selling elsewhere or they’re mostly trying as much as possible to sell within like the specialty ecosystem?

Monica Fullerton:
We do have a number of vendors that sell exclusively on Spouse-ly so obviously forever grateful for them, you know, being a part of the true building process and believing in the mission so much that they are selling exclusively with us. We do have a number of vendors that, you know, have different platforms as well. We always encourage, you know, the more that you can get your business out there, the better.
But obviously the goal as we continue to grow Spouse-ly is to get more vendors to become exclusive once we’re bringing them, you know, all of that traffic and all of that business, because for us, they’re not just going to be a number in our community. They truly are going to be able to help us build and grow.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah, I love that. So I want to I love everything that you’ve said so far and I think it’s incredible. And you’ve added so much value to all of us, just like hearing about what it is you’re doing, how you got started, all of that. But I want to pivot a little bit towards you. So, Monica, what did you have to learn the hard way?

Monica Fullerton:
Oh, my gosh. What did I learn? The hard way to when I have second guessed myself on decisions on this journey? I think, you know, you ask any entrepreneur what is one piece of advice that they will give you? And it’s always go with your gut. And I know that that sounds so cliche and it’s like so easy to tell people, but until you’ve been burned or until you’ve made the wrong business decision or maybe, you know, trusted someone that you shouldn’t have, it really stings when you do not go with your gut.
And usually that’s something that we have that natural instinct from the start. And unfortunately that’s something that I have had to go through on this journey is second guessing. My initial thought on something that I thought was going to be the next right move.

Johanna Buchweitz:
So now when you’re kind of doing that gut check in the beginning, how do you kind of filter that out with like what you think feels good versus like all the information that you’re receiving? Because sometimes like the feedback that we get from others is so valuable and like because we don’t know it, all right. And sometimes the feelings that we get are not necessarily like, you know, the truth is just like based on our past experiences and like, it’s can sometimes be a little challenging to filter through like all the noise. How do you do that and how do you know, like, you know, what the right step forward is?

Monica Fullerton:
Yeah, I’ve learned that the best way to really, you know, get some valid answers on if that is something you should go with. Maybe not. Whatever it might be is just surround yourself with people who have either been there, done that, or like minded, or in the same space that you’re in. And for me, I have amazing advisors and I wish that looking back at that mistake I had got myself into, I wish I would have seeked more help at that time instead of, you know, just assuming that, Oh, this is great, I’m going to go with it kind of thing because more than likely what I’ve learned is that we all have a story to share and a lot of them can be very similar. So ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And you know, be honest about, hey, I don’t know if this is the right thing, because sometimes as an entrepreneur, we don’t want to seem like we are wishy washy or we don’t know what we’re doing. But in reality, like half the time we’re still learning as we go.

Johanna Buchweitz:
So, I mean, that’s true, right? Like we don’t know at all. And nor should we. And like so many of us have placed this expectation that we’re absolutely supposed to know every single thing possible qnd it’s like that is so much pressure to put on ourselves and like there’s so many resources, there’s so many other entrepreneurs. And I, I love this piece of community, too, because it’s like, you know, you know, more than I do in some things.
And I know more than you do in some things. So it’s like, why don’t we have a conversation and see like, you know, if we can help each other, if like we can info share, if like how we can support each other because like that’s the best way, like for for all of us to grow.

Monica Fullerton:
Yeah, no, I agree. It’s always ask for help, you know, surrounding yourself with the right people or have a mentor. Advisors, whoever it is, just know that like you don’t have to do it alone. And I think a lot of times we struggle with that, especially, you know, our first year in business or as a startup, it’s we feel like all the weight is falling on us when in reality there’s so many people, if you just ask that they will want to help.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah, that’s so true. Like so many people actually do want to help like and will find time in their day to be like. Yeah, absolutely. Let me answer that question for you. Like because and I think that’s also, I mean, a lot of us think that that’s not true. Like we we think if we ask the question, we’re going to get totally ignored. And sometimes you do, but like you reach out enough, you’ll see like there’s so many people who are open to helping. So I love that. Like, so for you, you’re your mom, you’re like a military spouse. So you guys are moving like a lot, like you said and you’re running this company. So how do you manage it all and how do you find time for Monica?

Monica Fullerton:
Well, we’ve been very lucky. We’re one of the lucky families that actually has not had to move around as much, which has allowed me to move into this position. To be able to advocate for everything is because we’ve had a lot more stability than many other families. But yes, it’s busy. It’s crazy. I always say the hustle and juggle is real.
I have twins, so life is always moving 100 miles per hour. But, you know, finding that balance is something I’m personally still working on. I would be lying if I said I have a really great solution or an answer to that. You can ask my husband. He will say that I am really, really still working on it. But I feel like, you know, the weekends are very around games, sports, being with the family and doing activities. And that’s something that I really try to protect my space on. And I’ve been getting better at saying no to things if I can’t take them on. So when I have time for Monika, it’s usually revolved around, you know, weekends and with the family.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I like that and saying, no is something so important for us?

Monica Fullerton:
We’re like, who would have known the saying no is so hard. You don’t want to miss an opportunity, but at the same time your plate just starts tipping and tipping.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah. And so how do you filter what opportunities like you should say no to versus the ones that you should be like, yeah, this is awesome. Great idea. Like, let’s go do it.

Monica Fullerton:
Yes, about probably six months ago, eight months ago, I have started to filter out ones that where we’re at in the businesses. We need to continue making Spouse-ly a household name. What is going to be a driver of that? Is that going to be partnerships? Is it going to be, you know, marketing, whatever it might be? So what I have done is I’ve cut back on all of the calls and different things that I was taking and scheduling myself on if it was not going to result into something impactful for our community.
So I’ve tried to really kind of dial in on my schedule and taking control of what those calls look like or what those meetings look like. And really just protecting my space a little bit more because before I was just, you know, taking anything and everything, which was great and but a lot of it was if it’s not going to move the business forward, right now, I have to push it off until I have that window of opportunity to circle back on it.

Johanna Buchweitz:
How have you determined what will actually move the business forward and what have you found to be working with, you know, for you guys so far, obviously. PR But has there been anything else that stood out?

Monica Fullerton:
I would say just vetting what those opportunities are, what they’re going to result in. Obviously, you know, many of us get a lot of requests on a daily basis of, oh, you know, do you want to be featured in this? Or if you come to this event, this will happen and blah, blah, blah, I think it really just boils down to doing your research, understanding what that alignment is going to look like, and asking that person or that company organization questions, you know, what do you also want to get out of this?
Like what? What does this look like for both of us? Because at the end of the day, I’ve learned that, you know, it’s not a one way street in business. It’s always a two way street. So usually, you know, more often than times some people or something needs to come out of the other side too. So really vetting what that opportunity is and seeing if it’s something you want to move forward with. I will say from a PR standpoint, we only do organic and editorial opportunities we have never paid for any placements or paid for. We don’t believe in the pay to play. That’s something that we have. We have stood very firm on.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I like that. I think that’s good because you also like, you know, your values, you know you know what what you’re open to, what you’re not open to. And like when you set that up from the start, like it does help you make decisions, you know, especially like because so much comes at you all at once and you have to like be able to make decisions quickly.
So already knowing like what you’re good with and what you’re not like, what your mission is, what your values are like ahead of time, like allows you to be able to kind of just go, yes, no, yes, no, easy, like, you know, without having to take too much time. And I love the efficiency, so that’s awesome.

Monica Fullerton:
Yeah. There’s always the shiny objects that come up on this journey, especially when you get those emails like, Oh, for $3,000, you could do this and be placed in this. And it’s like, Nope, sorry bye, and I delete it because, you know, just, just knowing what is going to help you and your business grow is the most important. Sometimes if you do anything paid, what I’ve heard from people is sometimes it results in not the outcome that they were wanting. When it’s the pay to play stuff.

Johanna Buchweitz:
In what sense? Like in terms of like the return on investment or the quality of media?

Monica Fullerton:
Oh, just from a media placement standpoint, I think that, you know, it’s so great when you’re paying for maybe like whether it’s education or learning or things that are going to help you grow your business. I think that’s totally, you know, fine. But when it comes to like, you know, different editorial, not editorial options, but like media placements that are wanting funding attached to it, I personally feel like then it’s not an earned spot kind of thing.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That makes sense. So do you have like a big team or is it just you or like how how have you hired? Like what? What does your organizational structure look like?

Monica Fullerton:
Yes. So we don’t have any official employees of Spouse-ly. We have a very small team. Everybody’s contracted out, but just a lot of great team players. So it’s, you know, people that have been a part of this journey from the start that just have wanted to come in, roll up their sleeves. My first publicist, she was a military spouse. She’s still is, but she just – she reached out to me on LinkedIn and was like, I just want to help. How can I help you? And it just really, really speaks volumes to everything that we’re building, especially because as much as I would love to continue, you know, making actual hires, we’re just not there yet. And that’s why being able to bring on investors and getting ready to take it to the next level will be so, so, you know, impactful for us. But we’re a small team and everybody just is in here rolling up their sleeves and helping as much as they can.

Johanna Buchweitz:
It’s so powerful that someone literally just like message you on LinkedIn and like said, like, how could I help that?

Monica Fullerton:
And I am forever grateful for her. Honestly, all of the things that she has done, you know, our first year in business are things that we’re going to be able to look back on and be like, you did that just because you raised your hand and said, I want to help you. How can I help? And I think there needs to be more people like that because now that really helped her.
She started her own PR firm. She, you know, was able to do different things. So it was a really nice trade off that we had provided for each other at the time. And I think we need to do more of that, especially in the business world.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That that’s so cool. Like I love that. Like it does so much speak to like obviously like you said, like what you’re doing, the fact that it attracted someone who was like, I love this, I’m in and the fact that it helped her too and she started her own PR firm. That is so cool. Do you mind sharing with everyone what her name is in case they’re like, This sounds awesome.
We are looking for someone in PR. We would love to hire her. What’s that? What’s her name or information company? Anything you’re open to sharing?

Monica Fullerton:
Yes. Her name is Lindsey Acres and her company is Acres and CO. And she was just like me. She moved from her corporate career into wanting to start and build her own business. And so the timing was just perfect. And she is someone that just wants to help. And it’s really great when you find those type of people that are invested not only in your success, but just being there for you as a person. It’s amazing what that can do for us entrepreneurs. When you have, we always laughed and called each other our built in business besties.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that built in business besties. I’m totally going to use that like I’m going to, you know, borrow that phrase a few times. It has a nice ring to it and does it sounds awesome. I love that. So for you, I love this question because it’s kind of fun to see who, you know, who people like role models are like who they look up to. So if you could ask three people, it could three questions. Any questions in the world? What would they be and who would you be asking?

Monica Fullerton:
So I’m a huge fan of Sarah Blakely. I love her story. I love that she’s just kept it so real and has done so many incredible things. The one question I would ask her is, how did you know when you were ready to get to that next level? Like, how did you get there? What did that look like?
Because a lot of times we know internally we’re ready to get to that next level, but then we get nervous or we get scared or something happens or maybe we have a failure that pushes us back. And I would just love to know because I see entrepreneurship as, you know, it’s a climb and each different phase comes with its own rewards and challenges.
So that’s something I would ask her. I’ve always been inspired by Oprah, like I said. So something I would ask Oprah would be, how did you really see the breakthrough of being able to use communications to create such an impactful change? And I think, you know, there’s so many people sharing their stories now and there’s so much going on in our world.
How you continue to shine and kind of cut through, you know, just all of the noise sometimes that is out there. Unfortunately, a lot of times we get sucked into the stuff that just doesn’t matter. Like we see all these big companies getting bigger. Like, why are we not sharing more about the amazing people are literally working around the clock to build something amazing and to create an impact. And then let’s see, my third one, probably my mom, I would say she’s been an inspiration to me. She was a single mom. I think I would ask her just really how she did it all. Because now as an adult and seeing just all the things that she did, I feel like I don’t know how how she did it all. I mean, it was a lot. So I feel like we all always want to know, how are you doing it all? Like, I want to know the secret sauce that everybody has found to get them through.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I like that. Those are great questions and I love what you said about first of all, I love Sarah Blakely. And she just yeah, she’s wow. Everything about her. I would love to ask her a million questions. And same with Oprah, but I love what you said about Oprah because like it’s true like that. And we talked a lot about this today, like about storytelling and about these like mission driven people doing such great things and like how we can collectively like, you know, share their stories and and, you know, uplift them.
And while, like, you know, you and I may not have like that the audience, the television show, the magazine, everything that Oprah like has in terms of media communications. But we each have our own communities and everyone who’s listening has their own community, whether it’s it consists of three people or whether it consists of, like, you know, 3000 people or 3 million people. And I think what’s so cool, so powerful is like when we are working together and we, we are hearing like stories that inspire us, that, you know, missions that feel good to us, that resonate with us. We have the power to just share that, like, if nothing else, like if we have no time, no skills, but we want to contribute like nothing else.
We can literally just post a story on social media. We can literally just tell our friend like this person is doing something so awesome. They are changing the world and they are changing lives and you should go check it out. Just nothing, nothing.

Monica Fullerton:
Nothing.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Absolutely nothing. And so I encourage, like anyone who is listening right now, like who who is, you know, here’s Monica’s story. Here’s like what she’s doing with Spouse-ly and it feels good to you and it resonates with you and you want to support it. Like, all you have to do is just tell a friend.

Monica Fullerton:
Tell a friend. It’s that easy.

Johanna Buchweitz:
One friend!

Monica Fullerton:
One friend shares with with a group or whatever it might be. But yes, I talk about that all the time. It was literally like music to my ears. Listening to someone else say it is that we have the power to truly help one another succeed. And what frustrates me the most is that unfortunately, these are sometimes the stories that just don’t get to be heard, and they’re the most impactful ones that can help so many people in so many ways.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah. Okay, so everyone, we all we all got it. If we know we know someone who sounds good, like to be a potential investor. Well, we’ll connect you, Monica, and all of us. If it feels good to us and it resonates, we’re all going to tell a friend, share what you’re doing. Is there any other way that I can support you, that anyone who’s listening can support you? Like, how can we help?

Monica Fullerton:
Well, the holidays are coming, and I would love to put an ask out there. Please head on over to Spouse-ly check out all of our amazing vendors. Hopefully you can find something that you love on there. There’s a wide variety. So my ask today for helping is just go to Spouse-ly, hopefully maybe purchase something, hire a service provider and really just try to make it part of your everyday shopping or you know when you’re going to look for something.
And that is that’s my ask because the more that we grow together, the more good that will be able to do. I love.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That. And you know, I’ve checked out the site and there’s so many amazing vendors available that like anything that I could possibly want to buy as a gift, like it’s on there. Like, I don’t need to go to Amazon, like I can come to you guys. And I love that because like it’s like you said before, you know, your dollar is going a little bit further, right?
Because like, you know, that, you know, there’s someone behind it, too, who has a mission and is doing great things. So that’s great. Thank you. Yeah. So you’re kind of doing it all. You’re, you’re really just, like, changing the world. But for you, what does success actually mean to you today? I’m sure it’s changed over time, that definition.
But today, what does that term mean to you?

Monica Fullerton:
You know, actually, success has never changed, to me. It’s always very clear as day, ever since I was a young age, which is why when I did go off to college, I went off to college with big dreams of becoming the next Oprah was just the fact that I want to make a difference in this world. I want to create something that is impactful that not only helps one person, but helps thousands and millions of people. And, you know, it took me a while. I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I knew that it needed to be something that would make an impact, something that I would be truly passionate about. And I never really realized that it was in front of me. For the past nine and a half years that we’ve been in, you know, I’ve been living this military life because for the first few years of being a military spouse, I was afraid to call myself a military spouse because I never wanted it to limit me from my own career goals or my dreams or anything like that. Because unfortunately, a lot of times our identity gets lost in the mix because you’re following around the service member, you don’t have any idea what’s coming next. So I decided that now as an entrepreneur and now as just a huge advocate for our community and everything that is so amazing that our community does is truly to make an impact and empower more people to see that you can do what you love.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That’s beautiful. I love that. Thank you. So for anyone who’s listening, who’s like, you know what, I love this. I want more Monica and I want more Spouse-ly where can we direct them to? How can they find you?

Monica Fullerton:
Yeah, so I, I’m pretty big on LinkedIn. I love, you know sharing the real on there so you can find me on LinkedIn under Monica Fullerton head on over to spousely.com I’m also on Instagram and Spouse-ly is on Instagram as well. That’s really where we share a lot of the behind the scenes of our vendors. So make sure you follow Spouse-ly on Instagram because you’ll get to see, you know, people creating their products and sharing more about them and their families.
And yeah, I hope to connect with you.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Oh, that’s so cool. I love that they’re sharing that, it’s really the behind the scenes look and everything that we’ve been talking about like highlighting them and sharing their stories so that’s super cool. Definitely going to check it out and start following because like we said, it’s the little things that we can do to help and support.
So before you leave us today, what are some words of wisdom that you can share with us that would fit on a tweet?

Monica Fullerton:
Ooh, that would fit on a tweet. Well, can we go back to the quote? I said, growth begins when comfort ends.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yes, ma’am.

Monica Fullerton:
That would be my tweet, because I think it’s so important to hear that. And there’s so many of us that it takes a lot to kind of learn it and to really live and breathe it. But it is true. Growth begins when comfort ends.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah.

Monica Fullerton:
Oh and I have one more that if we can do like double tweet, so I’d be okay. So this is what our podcast is about and it’s about how our vendors are turning the impossible into I’m-possible. So the word itself says I’m possible.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yes! I love it, so, oh, I love that one.

Monica Fullerton:
……inspiration to get through.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Oh, I love it. I love the quotes, I love the tweetable moments. I think they’re powerful and they’re like, easy, they’re catchy. There’s like, you know, good to remember. I especially love that the impossible to I’m, you know, like I’m possible. Yeah, I like that. That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much, Monica, for joining us here today.

Monica Fullerton:
Thank you so much for having me and letting me share more.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Of course, we hope you enjoyed hearing from the incredible Monica Fullerton. And if you did, please leave us a review on Apple, Spotify or wherever you tune in to listen. Please share this episode with anyone who you think might enjoy it. Thank you so much for tuning in to this week’s episode of Limitless. Stay Tuned for a new episode next week.

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