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Owning and running a business isn’t an easy task, but some people make it look easy. Lindsey Gray is one of those people. When it comes to running Eggshells Kitchen & Co. and being a wife and mom to three young boys, Lindsay has a simple philosophy to help her maintain balance: Be present.
Name: Lindsey Gray Location: Little Rock, AR Title: Owner Company:Eggshells Kitchen Co. What it is: A specialty kitchen store for foodies Educational Background: Ouachita Baptist University, B.A. in accounting
So what inspired you to open Eggshells?
I actually bought it four years ago. I always knew I wanted to have my own store, and cooking and kitchen entertaining was always my jam. My brother was actually the one who told me it was for sale and every door opened after that. I owned it three weeks later.
So when you bought it and got in there, what was the learning curve like?
I had worked retail before but probably not since college. My degree is in accounting, so the numbers part made sense to me immediately; it was more the matter of learning how to go to market and how to buy, as well as figuring out who our customers really are at Eggshells. I feel like it took me a year or two to really figure that part out, but my personality is to be with people—so it’s been a joy from day one to have that interaction with people. It’s been something different every day.
Teaching cooking classes is also probably one of my favorite aspects of my job. It’s the hardest part now because they’re at night and I have three kids so I don’t get to be here for all of them like I used, to but I think it’s something that sets us apart, something different that we can offer that other kitchen stores don’t.
What did you do before you opened Eggshells?
I was in accounting. My family owns a business here in town too and I was the CFO there for about eight years.
So that makes for a really good transition then.
Yes, and luckily I pursued this with their blessing. Because I didn’t want to leave the family company behind, but everyone knew this is what I wanted to do.
Is there a specific piece of advice you wish you had going in?
I wish I had just been more confident in my gut instincts, because they’re probably right. You’re never going to mislead yourself, so if you just listen to that inner voice chances are it’s going to lead you in the right direction.
Looking back, would you do anything differently?
No, I wouldn’t. It’s been a really fun journey and probably the most entertaining four years I’ve ever had.
How do you define success? I know earlier I asked what you think of when you hear it, but if you had to give a definition to it what would it be?
I think success is being debt-free and having that financial freedom. Doesn’t matter what gets you to that point, but just to live within your means and be able to do it well, to live life well.
What’s the most rewarding part of owning a business?
Seeing other people grow confidently in the kitchen. Whether it’s kids learning a new food they didn’t think they liked but once they helped make it they love it, or it’s someone who comes in and just wants to try a new recipe—helping to give them the equipment and watch them do it. Usually they’ll come back and they’ll tell you a story about it. So it’s almost like you get to be a part of these people’s lives just with this small thing of introducing them to a kitchen tool.
How has social media played a role in Eggshells?
It’s huge in bringing the audience in. With big box stores they know what they are and what they’ve got, but here it’s almost like you have to present what you have all the time because if people aren’t familiar with it then they don’t know it’s a stop they need to make. They don’t know it’s a store that they’re probably looking for. So it’s the engagement and interaction, and it kind of lets people be in the conversation with you as opposed to just ads and print.
Do you have a specific plan or approach to social media?
We prefer the organic. Our plan is that we kind of work around food holidays and different events that are coming up and we look for ways to tie into what’s going on in our community. But also having the videos kind of humanizes everyone here and it gives the audience that connection to the people here so that you already feel like you’re friends when you come in. The more connection the better.
What are the holiday seasons like around here?
It’s crazy. I feel like I’ve been working on orders all week and it’s stuff that’s really for October, November, and December because that’s definitely our busiest time. But Suzanne and I are having a pumpkin spice bake-off on Friday because it’s the first day of fall. I’ve taken on all of my employees, they all have to take this challenge at one point. It’s just so fun because we’re trying out recipes in here.
I used to cook all the time before I had the store because I was at home, but now if I see something on Tasty I think you know, we’re going to try that tomorrow and I’m going to cook in the kitchen. So it always smells like good food in here. I looked all through Pinterest last night thinking about what I’m going to be making over the next few weeks and gearing up. We’re doing Halloween first.
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What are your hobbies when you’re not working?
When I’m not working, my hobby is actually cooking. Now that my kids have taken interest it’s really fun to get in the kitchen with them and let them create and spend time with them. I also like to shop, I just like to tune out and be by myself and go get lost in stores. I don’t know if that’s just my love for retail, and I certainly don’t always buy, but I just love to be by myself and mill around.
How do you balance work and your personal life?
By being here part of the day and when I go home I know I’m home. I’ve got my work stuff that I want to get back to after the kids go to bed, but I try to be engaged in the moment when I’m there. So when I’m here [at the store] I don’t do home things and when I’m home, with the kids, I try not to work on work things. And it’s hard, it’s probably the hardest part. But I’ve tried to make [my children] more of a priority by going to all their games and going to all their activities, and just trying not to miss any minute of anything — regardless of how tired I am.
What’s next for Eggshells?
Christmas, holidays, fun. It’s the end of cooking class season. They stopped at the end of September and so now the store is just going to fill up with all the fun new stuff for the fall and Christmas. We’ll have Holidays in the Heights, which comes up in November and we still have our third Thursday every month. So we’ll just start looking at those activities and thinking about how to get people in here.