Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Stephanie Milfeld and I own the store with my mother Gloria Rogers. We both grew up in central Florida and decided to raise our families here in the sunshine state. I went to King University in Bristol, Tennessee (a small private university) where I received a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. After teaching for a few years I realized the stress and demands put on educator’s in today’s society was not for me. I began working for our family’s printing business, while volunteering at a local elementary school when I had the time. We both enjoy traveling, spending time with family and going to Disney.
What exactly is Z and Q?
Z and Q is a unique children’s boutique where every brand carried gives back to a cause, community or organization. We carry products wide range of products starting with newborns, such as clothing, accessories, backpacks, lunch boxes, toys etc.
What inspired you to start Z and Q?
I really wanted to open a children’s store in our area because there really isn’t anything close to where I live that isn’t a big box brand store or that has unique/quality children’s products. On the other hand, I wanted whatever I started to have a purpose. I wanted to show my girls that you can be anything you want including an entrepreneur but you also need to learn to give back. Whether you are giving monetarily, volunteering time, or even sharing a snack with a friend who forgot to bring one, you need to learn how to contribute because there may come a day when you need assistance and I sure hope someone would be there to help you in your time of need. We, as general human beings, have the responsibility to care for others in any way that we are able to. That inspired me to carry brands that do just that! So we began to research items that we wanted to carry and only carry items from companies who give back. Promoting these companies, as well as our own, and their initiatives gives me pride in what we are doing. If you are going to purchase items for your children/grandchildren anyway, why not purchase products that have purpose behind them that can help others.
How did you come up with the name?
The store is named after my two daughters Zoe (age 3) and Quinn (6 months), two letters of the alphabet that are often overlooked.
Each brand you carry gives back to a cause, can you tell us about that?
So every brand that we carry gives back to a cause, community or organization. Some of the companies we carry like Bella Tunno and Hatley are large corporations, while other brands like My Little Itch for example is just a mother making bow ties out of her home and giving back to ICP research for high risk pregnancies due to her own experience with it during her own pregnancy. Each company whether big or small gives back in some way shape or form. We personally give back to the Education Foundation of Osceola County (the county that we work and reside in) and their program called Bookmark Buddies, which helps hundreds of 3rd grade students in our area. Being that both my mother and I have backgrounds working in education it was really important for us to pair with an organization that helps teachers, students, and educators in general and this foundation could not be any more of a perfect match.
Is there a favorite product?
My favorite product is our Z and Q clothing line because the designs are unique and the fabric is 100% pima cotton and so soft. My daughters both have sensitive skin so having a fabric that doesn’t irritate them is sometimes difficult to find.
What is your favorite part about running Z and Q?
My favorite part about running the company is meeting all the wonderful people that walk through the door, parents grandparents, & children. Seeing their faces light up when they find a product that they love and hearing them say “I love what you guys are doing.”or “It’s so nice to have something like this close by.” By making such a simple purchase that they could make elsewhere they decided to do it in our store because it has a purpose.
What is your least favorite part about running Z and Q?
My least favorite part is probably the numbers and paperwork side of the business, the not so fun stuff that you have to do.
How do you spread the word about your company?
We use social media (Facebook and Instagram) as well as advertise in some of our local magazines. We also try to go to at many networking events near by that we are able to attend. We are apart of our local chamber of commerce and have signed up to be a part of a few different festivals where we can showcase our products and what we stand for. Anytime someone is having a mom’s night out event or asks for raffle baskets we try to put something small together with our business card inside. Any chance there is to do a live video for someone’s blog or social media page or newspaper/magazine we do it to get our name out there. I always carry business cards with me, and I also dress my girls in the clothing from the store and post pictures of them in the clothes or using the products on my my own social media. In addition, we give out canvas tote bags with our logo and information on them when someone makes a purchase (in lieu of a traditional paper or plastic bag) and ask that when they return to bring it back for a discount. This encourages them to carry our bag around even after they leave our store which is free advertisement, rather than throwing away a paper or plastic bag when they get home. We try to make a warm welcoming environment when people enter the store, we offer water and snacks free of charge and hope that just the simple word of mouth will help our business.
Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
Don’t give up! If you find something that you are passionate about stick with it. It won’t be easy, there will be days when you feel like nothing is going the right way or you wonder how you are going to continue with it, but the great moments will soon outshine the dreary. Work hard for your business, go above and beyond, put in the hours, pay attention to the small details because at the end of the day no one else will care more about the business than yourself so don’t expect them to.
Do you have a favorite quote or go to saying?
When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.