Miss Joy Sumner is living proof that dreams can come true.
Growing up in Georgia, she was a kid entrepreneur who used to create businesses just for fun.
Now, she’s a fourth grade teacher who has combined her love and passion for teaching with her entrepreneurial spirit to create the teacher boutique Olive + Ivory.
We’re so grateful that Miss Sumner recently took time out of her busy schedule to talk to us about what it’s like to be living her dream! She also shares how she’s able to juggle life as both a teacher and a business owner, the simple routines that help her stay on track with her health and wellness journey, and the best advice she has for families who are getting ready for back-to-school.
Q: First off, congratulations on all your success in the classroom and with your teacher boutique Olive + Ivory. You’ve said that it was always your dream to own a teacher boutique. So, how does it feel to be living the life you’ve always dreamed of?
A: “It feels unreal! I am so blessed to be able to teach and to run my own small business. I love that I get the opportunity to make other teachers smile when they receive a package from us. I know when I shop from other small businesses, it makes me so happy! I love being a part of that. I’ve also been able to work with some major brands that have bought my products as wholesale items and it has been amazing! God has blessed me more than I can imagine with the success of my business. It is not something I could have predicted!”
Q: Life as a teacher and a business owner can probably get pretty complicated at times. How are you able to juggle both day in and day out?
A: “It is definitely something that is not for the faint of heart. During the school year, I decided that I would set aside certain afternoons after work to prepare inventory and ship it out. When orders got really heavy, I can’t say I didn’t spend a lot of Saturdays working on my business! However, it helps me to stick to a schedule and reach out and ask for help! I’m lucky that my mom helps me prep a lot of inventory while I’m at work!”
Q: What has teaching taught you about being a business owner and how has being an entrepreneur enhanced your teaching skills?
A: “This is an interesting question! I’ve never thought about how the two compare before. I would have to say that teaching has taught me how to delegate and plan ahead, which corresponds to the skills you need as a business owner. Being creative in my business has definitely pushed me to be creative in teaching. Teaching involves quick decisions and thinking, which is necessary if you are an entrepreneur.”
Q: What’s one thing about teaching that you didn’t realize until you became a teacher? And what’s one thing about being a business owner that you didn’t realize until you established Olive + Ivory in 2021?
A: “I didn’t realize how much teachers think about their students and their well-being. When we wrapped up the year, I was in disbelief that the family we created would never be together again in my classroom. While my students probably won’t think about their previous teacher going into the new year, I sure will be missing them!
Businesswise, I didn’t realize how stressful working for yourself can be. It’s up to you! Taxes, inventory, shipping, etc. But, I didn’t realize how many relationships I would establish with other teachers and brands on social media. That makes up for the stress – most days!” (Laughing)
Q: During the school year, what is your schedule like? What time do you usually wake up and how are you able to get everything done that you need to in a 24-hour period?
A: “My day starts around 4:45 a.m.! I am up by 4:55 a.m. I spend a few minutes reading my Bible and praying to prepare myself for the day to be my best self. Then, I’m out the door by 5:30 a.m. to get to the gym and get a workout in before work.
By 7:00 a.m, I am on my way to school. My kiddos show up in class by 7:30 a.m., so before they arrive I write the agenda on the board, sign in, and talk with my co-workers and teaching team.
Our day ends at 3:15 p.m. and I try to complete any school-related work during my planning time so I can leave at contract time! Then, if it is a boutique work day, I’m back at my house by 4-ish to prep inventory, package orders, or update listings on the website.
I try to finish all my work by 6-6:30 p.m. so I can relax the rest of the evening and spend time with my family. I try to be in bed by 9:30 p.m. to prep for the next day!”
Q: Have you created any simple or easy routines to help you focus on your nutrition and wellness journey?
A: “Yes! I love knowing that I am giving my body the opportunity to be its best self. I aim to run 30 to 45 minutes, four to five times a week. I also try to get in 100 to 120 grams of protein a day and make sure to get certain vitamins and supplements in!”
Q: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far from having to juggle both your teacher life and business life?
A: “I’ve learned to be flexible and learn to deal with the unexpected the best I can. Juggling both has taught me the necessity of rest, most importantly. It has taught me that you cannot do everything, all the time. Slowing down and relaxing, while it seems counterintuitive, is necessary for the health of not only your body but your mind.”
Q: What’s one thing that you wish people knew or understood more about teachers? And what’s one thing that you wish people knew or understood more about business owners?
A: “I wish more people knew how overwhelmed teachers can be and to give them grace! Teachers often leave work to care for their families or go to another job (like me). We give 110% at work with our kiddos and we have their best interest at heart! I also wish that people knew how much business owners want their customers to be happy and how much they have on their plate.”
Q: As a teacher and business owner, what advice do you have for families who are getting ready for back-to-school right now?
A: “Honestly, to enjoy and soak up the last few days of summer. Go into the school year with a refreshed and excited mindset. The best things happen when people are learning!”
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