Meet Nikki & Matt O’Brien with Yard Love Columbus!
What did you do before starting your Yard Love business or what do you do along with your business?
I am a stay-at-home mom to five children. I took the summer and fall off because of our most recent addition in August, but I am also a full-time college student. My husband does the majority of the installs, but he is also the area director for five restaurants.
What is your favorite trick of the trade that’s made your job easier?
It depends on which one of us you ask! I am the one that puts each sign together. For me, coming up with a system for building each sign helps me make sure each sign has every single piece it needs. My husband does the installing. His favorite trick is slightly overlapping each letter to make them line up perfectly! He has OCD so it’s super important to him!
What is your favorite custom or unique sign you’ve done?
One of my favorite signs is the one that we placed for my mom when she finished her last round of chemo. (God-1 Chemo-0) We did it maybe a month after we got started. If I did that same sign today, it would be so much bigger and fuller, and have so many more graphics. Despite that, it will always be a favorite of mine because of what it represents.
Do you have a special response you’ve gotten from setting up a sign that you can share?
One Friday we had eight signs booked and six were for girls. Of course, all of them requested pink, purple, and blue. This was before we learned to load our inventory with TONS of generic celebratory graphics! A woman called me last minute, like 5pm, and asked if we could do a sign for her daughter that night…in pink, purple, and blue! After sorting through everything and putting together everything that we had already booked, I had to tell her that all we had left was lime green. I expected her to say, “Oh well, thanks anyway.” Instead, she said, “We’ll take it!” I was able to accent it with pink and blue and it turned out cute. She sent me a video later that day and literally text bombed me all day long with “Thank you so much!” “You guys are so amazing!” “We love it!” “You nailed it!” It was one of those days that made me feel thankful that I have a job where I CAN make people happy!
What is your favorite graphic?
I think I use a “We Love You” heart in every single sign!
What is one idea that helped you grow your business?
When we were getting started, I turned to our church family. We attend a fairly large church. I posted on our Ladies page and asked for their help/support. We offered them a price of $30. Keeping in mind that most of them are single income families and many of them work in our Christian school…we all know teachers don’t make enough! In return, we asked for patience, honesty, reviews, and pictures. This helped us in so many ways! We were able to practice on friends who would be honest with us and tell us what they thought. They left us amazing reviews and sent lots of pictures! Because of this, we have booked MANY signs! We see certain street names come through and we say, “isn’t that where so and so lives? Yes!” Those orders always say “saw in a neighbor’s yard”. We will always be so thankful to our church family for helping us get off the ground!
What was the hardest thing to get used to when you first started? How did you adjust?
Oh goodness, I suppose we weren’t prepared for just how popular we were going to be and how quickly our business would grow! We went from installing two signs in one night for the first time, to installing six the following Friday night, reaching our highest week in sales yet, and then doubled that amount the following week! We adjusted by investing more money into our business, purchasing more areas, and tripling our inventory. I think we finally have reached a comfortable place where we aren’t scrambling every weekend!
What advice would you provide to someone getting started?
Give signs away! Our biggest success came from offering super discounted pricing to our church family! Also, almost every time I get an order from another church, I offer them a lower price and often more than one day! They are always so thankful and tell their congregation that we gave them a discount and in turn, members book with us because of our kindness. The tradeoff is always worth it!
Tell us something that people may not know about you.
My husband often jokes and tells me I am so not a capitalist! He swears I would give every sign away for free if I could! I suppose it is funny that I run my own business, but making money is not my first priority and it never has been! I love what we do, and I love that I get to serve others!
Tell us about your family.
Matt and I have been married for almost seven years. His oldest daughter, Emma, from his first marriage, is ten. Together we have four children. Harper is five, Thea Caitlyn is also five (no they are not twins), Iris is 2 ½ and baby Reid is 3-months-old! My oldest two get SUPER excited to unbox each new order! They also love going through and telling me which graphics they want for their birthday signs. Which pretty much is every single one! They enjoy sitting in the garage with me while I work, and I often put them to work sorting my black alphabet letters! It was a great tool to use during quarantine to keep them sharp on letter identification and sounds. “Can someone hand me a B? What does a B sound like? And what words start with a B?” My step-daughter is a big gamer and I often ask for her help and advice on what colors to use when we get specific game requests. We love our big family and enjoy getting everybody involved!