Marie Tillman, founder of Mac & Mia, a curated children’s clothing service, and co-founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation, a nonprofit that provides academic scholarships for veterans and their spouses, is a force. After the loss of her husband in Afghanistan, Marie started her foundation which has invested more than $15 million in educational support to individuals committed to a life of service both in and out of uniform. Then, inspired by her own experience as a working mother of five (yes, five!), Marie launched Mac & Mia, a clothing service that curates stylish looks for kids aged newborn to six years old. Read on to check out more about this mama.
Mac & Mia is a result of my own experience as a working mom. We have five kids, so things can get a little crazy! When my now five year old was born, I started looking for ways to simplify my life and outsource little things so I could spend more quality time with the kids. Trips to the mall and spending hours online shopping were some things I knew I could live without, and I quickly realized that other mothers feel the same way. At Mac & Mia, we take care of the shopping so parents can get a little more time back in their lives.
I spent hours, weeks, months thinking about the concept and one day my husband said, “Just do it or someone else will and you’ll kick yourself.” And so I did! I pulled together a little money for inventory and a website. I moved the cars out into the driveway and set up the garage to pack and ship boxes from my house. It all sort of snowballed from there.
Growing a business can be really exciting but also super challenging. Some of the key things that helped us scale were:
1. Hiring a great team. You can’t do it all by yourself!
2. Learning to let go and trust other people. As a business grows, it’s impossible to manage every little detail. Find great people and trust them to execute your vision.
3. Focus. It’s easy to get distracted, but keeping an eye on the core of your business can help focus resources.
I spent hours, weeks, months thinking about the concept and one day my husband said, “Just do it or someone else will and you’ll kick yourself.” And so I did!
I’ve been fortunate to know some great leaders, and I constantly look to them for inspiration and guidance. I think being a good boss means listening first. It’s important to understand where people are coming from so you can meet them where they are.
Quality means a lot to us. I hate when I buy something for my kids and it falls apart or fades after one wash. Our team works hard to find pieces from both established and emerging brands to offer our customers unique items they’ll love. For us it’s all about delivering discovery and delight!
Learn to let go and trust other people. As a business grows it’s impossible to manage every little detail. Find great people and trust them to execute on your vision.
We’re in a digital world and people love to share; social media has been big for us. It’s an outlet that works well with our business and provides a unique, genuine way of interacting not only with our customers, but with influencers, bloggers, and vendors, too. Kids naturally bring so much joy and playfulness, so that’s what we want to convey.
As for strategies: be authentic and build meaningful connections with your customer and community. It’s important to use these channels to engage with a loyal customer, not to simply advertise to them.
There have been so many positive things that have come from my experience with the Foundation, but meeting the scholars we support and hearing about how we’ve changed their lives is one of the most rewarding things.
Pat’s Run is a 4.2 mile run/walk held each April to celebrate Pat’s legacy of leadership and service. On April 22, 2017, over 30,000 participants, volunteers and spectators will unite in Tempe, Arizona and at Tillman Honor Runs nationwide to honor Pat and raise scholarship funds for the Pat Tillman Foundation’s Tillman Scholars program. Proceeds from the race directly support scholarships for Tillman Scholars who embody Pat’s commitment to service, learning and action. People interested in participating, but unable to make it to Tempe, may sign up for one of 30 Tillman Honor Runs nationwide or register as a Remote Runner in their local community at www.patsrun.com
I started journaling when Pat was deployed and continued to write after his death. It was a form of therapy for me and was so helpful as I sorted through some really complicated times. I never thought those ramblings would end up in a book, but as time went on and I met more people working through loss, I realized my experience could be helpful to others. There is something so comforting in knowing you are not alone in your experience. I always encourage people to share their stories; it helps us all realize we are more similar than we are different.
My first husband had an amazing spirit, and really lived life to the fullest. I knew the best way to honor him was to keep living, as difficult as that was in the early days. I kept coming back to that notion time and time again. Losing a spouse was one of the most difficult things I’ve faced and such a personal journey, but some of the best advice I got along the way was to do what works for you. There’s no right way to mourn or live.
Losing a spouse was one of the most difficult things I’ve faced and such a personal journey, but some of the best advice I got along the way was to do what works for you. There’s no right way to mourn or live.
I think the secret is to be flexible and to have a good team. No day is ever the same. With kids ranging in ages from 15 years to 3 years, things rarely go as planned, so flexibility is key!
When I’m home with the kids, I try to focus just on them and not check email or take work calls. They are my number one priority always, and I want them to feel that.
I love home design and spend probably way too many hours at night searching Pinterest for ideas. My friend Julia Buckingham is an amazingly talented designer and has helped turn all those Pinterest boards into a reality.
Savor the good and don’t worry too much about the bad. One thing is certain, everything changes.
People offer so much advice and input from the second you get pregnant, but do what works for you and your family.
A dance party puts everyone in a good mood.