Taking the Leap: From Zookeeper to E-Commerce Entrepreneur

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My name is Taylor Scarboro and I am the founder/C.E.O of sugar & succulents. It’s still weird introducing myself as a C.E.O.; I instinctively want to downplay this enormous achievement and sum it up into a lesser title. I’m working on that.

I’m 26-years-old and live with my husband in Mechanicsburg, PA. I am strong-willed, driven to succeed, and slightly impatient. I am a quick learner, a hustler, and I’m learning to slow down to appreciate the simpler things in life. Living more out of intent was actually one of the reasons I started my company.

My business, sugar & succulents, was born out of my quarter-life-crisis. 

My husband and I were married in June of 2015. At the time I had a job that I could no longer say I loved. I was a zookeeper (yes, really!) and while I loved the animals I cared for, I was no longer happy with working weekends and the salary I was receiving. It was a very tough decision to leave the career I’d built, but I don’t regret it. More recently, my husband and I discussed our future plans and we decided on an opportunity for his career which resulted in us moving three hours from where we were living. Jobless in a new suburban area was NOT part of my life plan: so I changed that situation. 

While searching for job opportunities, I realized I was being extremely picky. I didn’t want to work weekends or nights, I didn’t want to commute very far, I didn’t want to settle for something I didn’t love. There were a lot of “I don’t wants”. So I reframed the question to find what I did want. I wanted something that can move locations with me, I wanted flexible hours and vacation time, and then I realized I might have to become my own boss! 

Throughout this process I’m finding my own voice. While I’ll always find inspiration from others, I need to be a leader and initiate my own path with this company. I thought about things I like and things I don’t like and what I want and need compared to what’s available. Eventually I narrowed down my interests and sugar & succulents was born!

I have to give a shoutout to a fellow boss-girl, Tricia Derry of Vintage Alley Rentals. She worked with me for adding some vintage/rustic decor for my wedding and seeing her small business grow so quickly was really inspiring. Watching her success prompted me to consider my own capabilities as an entrepreneur. What started out as hired business, grew into a friendship, and she is now a mentor for me. 

The name of my business came from two of my favorite things. I absolutely love desserts and sweets. I also love fresh greenery and plants, especially plants that are hardy and difficult to kill.

My main aspiration for sugar & succulents is to become a lifestyle brand associated with simple goodness. Clean, fresh homes constructed by the use of products like wool dryer balls and decorated with repurposed, preloved antiques, lived in by healthy bodies nourished by home cooked meals and goat-milk soap.

I enjoy incorporating vintage pieces into decor and thrive off of the cleanliness of natural products and the timelessness of white linens. I adore bringing nature indoors, and eating wholesome meals with family. I live for summer nights and fireflies, crisp autumn leaves and campfires with good friends. I truly think these simple pleasures should be indulged. I created this website to inspire others to create the home they want, by making what they can, or buying what you they afford. I hope sugar & succulents allows my customers to embrace their own sense of style, their homes, and their truest selves. 

Originally, the most challenging thing about becoming an entrepreneur was finding resources. I had this great vision in my head and no way to achieve it. I was doing a lot of online research and getting conflicting information about how to set up an business, insurance, websites, advertising, and anything else you could google. I ended up going to a local university (that I did not attend) and asking for help from the Small Businesses Development Center. My contact there, Robin Burtner, has been so amazingly helpful and responsive. I still email her multiple times a week.

Today, I am focused on finding internal validation. With a traditional job, you have a boss to correct or credit you with your downfalls and achievements. Right now I’m going with my gut with decisions like purchasing inventory or the look of my website. Its difficult to gauge if I’m doing the right things, making good choices, or offering a product that people other than my mom want to invest in. I am dedicated to growing my brand through my aptitude for this niche, and I am driven to find the customers and followers that support the lifestyle.

 


by Taylor Scarboro, 26

My name is Taylor Scarboro and I am a female entrepreneur currently living in Mechanicsburg, PA. I am currently a one woman production, with support from my family, friends, and my amazing husband. sugar & succulents was created a way to find myself. I think young women often get lost following the crowd, social norms, and mainstream ideas. I wanted to get away from what was expected and focus on what I was truly passionate about.

@sugarandsucculents

BUSINESS/CAREER GOAL: Own a lifestyle bland synonymous with enjoying a simpler, present life. Inspiring others to live less out of habit and more out of intent.

SCHOOL: Chatham University for Biology

RECOMMENDED READ: 25 Things Every Woman Should Have By 25

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