How I Went From Small Biz Owner to Marketing Exec without Formal Schooling

She Runs It: How I went from Small Biz Owner to Marketing Exec without Formal Schooling

In 2021, I took the step that would change my life forever. I had spent the previous three years building my own small business from the ground up – a vegetarian cafe in Kirkcaldy, a mid-sized town on Scotland’s east coast, just north of Edinburgh. The cafe was growing when the pandemic arrived on Scotland’s shores, and before long, our steady stream of business was interrupted as the world quickly shut down around us.

The pandemic’s unwelcome arrival brought one piece of silver lining: for the first time in years, I had a bit of time off, and the opportunity to evaluate my young career. I thought through the ins and outs of my business – what I enjoyed and what I disliked – and came to an eye-opening conclusion: I was happiest at work when I was marketing my cafe – but as the owner and operator of a brick-and-mortar business, I had very little time to dive into the marketing work in detail.

It was 2021, and my life was at a crossroads: should I wait out the pandemic and continue to build my business, or pursue something that felt more fulfilling – and risky? Eager for more, I took a leap of faith and decided to dedicate my time to pursue a career in marketing.

That decision led to more daunting questions: how could a small business owner with limited experience and no formal training carve out a career in a competitive field like digital marketing? I went to the internet, of course, and through a bit of luck, I stumbled upon a guiding star called Furlough.

At the time, Furlough was still in its early stages as a growing digital community of marketers, entrepreneurs, brand owners, and other digital professionals collaborating with one another. I was able to connect with Furlough’s CEO, Joe Casanova, who offered to take me under his wing as a marketing apprentice. I jumped at the opportunity to join Furlough – and quickly realized that this apprenticeship would be different than anything I’d seen before. I wouldn’t be doing menial tasks while trying to learn from others. Instead, I was given the opportunity to perform hands-on, meaningful work right away.

I tried my hand at various marketing verticals, and before long, I discovered that email marketing was a perfect fit. With the help of the team at Furlough, I engrossed myself in all things email marketing – and after a few short months – I was working directly with brands as a marketer with Furlough.

I remember working on my first brand, Pchee Bum, like it was yesterday. I researched the brand and was instantly filled with a rush of mixed emotions. Mostly excitement, knowing that I’ll be working with this influencer-owned business that’s brimming with potential. At the time the athleisure brand was turning over $120k per month, and somehow, my mind already had all these ideas about how we can help grow from big to colossal.

Although the nerves were definitely there too. It was still technically my first-ever professional shot at growing a brand through marketing, it was the brand to ever work with Furlough as an agency, and because Pchee Bum was burned by their previous email marketing agency, we were also building their strategy from scratch.

There was a lot at stake with this partnership, and I didn’t want to mess things up. But this collaboration with Pchee has only thrived since then. We helped them scale to 300% in sales, in just one year. On top of that, we’re turning over an annual revenue of almost a few bucks short of $1M, through email marketing alone.

It gets better…

The product demand was so high, they had to expand their upgrade from a 2,000 SQFT warehouse to a whopping 10,000 SQFT.

As I mentioned, I was a business owner once too, and this level of expansion, of growth, of evolution, is monumental, to say the least. And to be part of these milestones is nothing short of amazing.

From that first brand, we picked up momentum and took on others. Furlough helped me develop my skills and discover this leadership potential that I never thought I had. I’m now directing a team, leading the way on multiple multi-million dollar accounts.

While it’s important for every marketer to know that learning never stops, the confidence that Furlough’s team had in me helped ignite the fire that I needed to be where I am now.

That being said, I have one intention. Right now, women hold just 29% of corporate board positions. I hope to be living proof that women when given a chance, can make significant changes in whatever industry they may choose (even those that are male-dominated).

As I continue to climb the ranks in a role I had only dreamed of, I intend to leave the ladder down, just like all those amazing human beings who have left it down for me. I leave the ladder down for those who have the heart and the courage to pursue not just the view, but the journey up. Because it truly is an uphill battle, but surrounded by the right people and grounded by the right mindset, it’s all worth it.

Roslyn Fawns is an email marketing specialist and the co-founder at Furlough, a digital community of marketers, entrepreneurs, brand owners, and digital professionals that fosters growth through collaboration. Prior to her role at Furlough, Roslyn was the owner of a small bakery in Scotland, and had no formal marketing training. She took a leap of faith in 2021, joining Furlough as a marketing intern, and quickly climbed the ranks to become a partner at the company. She currently leads one of Furlough’s marketing teams, managing multi-million dollar brand accounts.

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