Voss Babe Female Entrepreneur Series — Kate & Erica Mcllquham, Co-Founders & Owners of Livingston Co. & Rock Your Phone
For many entrepreneurs and small businesses, social media can be an absolute game-changer! All it takes is one viral post and a business can suddenly take off.
At Like A Voss Social Media, we’re highlighting female entrepreneurs who are killing the online game. This week’s spotlight is on Livingston Co., owned by sisters-in-law Kate and Erica McIlquham!
Their laser teeth whitening studio is primarily located in Kingston, Ontario and they also do pop-ups in other cities and locations. Their teeth whitening process gives customers immediate results and will have you walking away with more confidence in just one session.
Livingston Co. Rock Your Phone is their line of unique stone phone grips. Each phone grip is unique and is given a unique name. They are beautiful and meant to help elevate your life. The grips are made with agate stones that have countless benefits to your spirit and being.
Mandi interviewed Erica and Kate about their secret to success in business and in life. She also got some awesome insights into what it’s like to run two businesses under the same brand (kinda), and how they have used social media to connect and grow.
A Little Bit About Being a Female Entrepreneur
How long have you been in business?
We have wanted to start a business together for a number of years but Erica took the selfish route and had two kids and Kate got a furry friend named Opal. We incorporated the business at the start of June 2019 and haven’t looked back!
What made you decide to break away from the 9–5 and start Livingston Co.?
Funny story, we didn’t break away from the 9–5 we’ve just added to it. Oi! We both still work full-time Monday to Friday jobs and Livingston Co. is our full-time side hustle — we can sleep when we’re dead. We were itching for something outside of our full-time gigs, not only doing something that we love but that we knew others would love too.
What do you love most about being a female entrepreneur?
It’s about independence, being able to trust our intuition and see it all come to life under our fingertips. We also have been so blown away by the support — literally across the nation — we feel like we have this huge supportive entourage bubble surrounding us that we sometimes don’t see, but we know they are there. People encouraging us, supporting us and lifting us up. It’s incredible.
What is the hardest thing you have had to overcome as a female entrepreneur? Something you did not foresee when you decided to start Livingston Co.?
As a female entrepreneur, one of the hardest things we’ve had to overcome is broadening our business to a wider audience. Making our business inclusive and diverse — we want to strive for that and it’s been a challenge to make it happen. Beyond that we are lucky to have each other, we both have different skillsets and we work together really well so most challenges that are thrown at us we can come together as a united front and overcome them fairly smoothly. Read: fueled on a lot of Reese’s, wine and laughter that turns into names for our Rock Your Phones.
Kate: What is one thing about working in the teeth whitening industry that people would be surprised to learn? Do your nursing skills help you?
Hands down results because people walk away in as little as fifteen minutes with brighter, whiter teeth. The skeptics that walk through our door always walk away happy and sometimes the biggest champions of our entourage. My nursing skills definitely help me, largely on a human level — you learn so many soft skills with nursing and we truly utilize those in this business. We want our customers to feel at ease and like a retreat from their everyday hustle and bustle. We try to curate an experience for people and have them walk away not only with a brighter smile, but feeling confident in themselves too.
Erica: How do you handle two businesses, a FT job, and being a Mom? Aren’t you tired?
Mandi, is that a trick question? Yes, I’m tired. But I’m happy. All of the roles I play make up who I am and are a large part of me and work together. Our mission at Livingston Co. is to “Elevate Your Life” — we live by this! We started this business to elevate our lives and bring joy to others. What’s better than that? I want to live a life where I am constantly growing and Livingston Co. allows Kate and me to grow and learn and have a lot of fun doing it. Being a mom I love being able to show my kids what it looks like to go after your dreams and try something new, I think it’s super important to model the behavior you want your kids to learn.
And Now Onto The Social Media Questions!
Do you have a favorite social media platform? Why?
Instagram and it’s a love/hate relationship. We love engaging with people on Instagram and it allows us to post information in a variety of ways. There are no limits. It’s allowed us to expand our business worldwide, shipping Rock Your Phone products literally across the globe. Also a large number of teeth whitening clients have found us on “The Gram” and messaging us because they hear and see about the incredible results.
What made you decide to start using social media as a way to promote your company?
Mandi, is this another trick question? Are you thinking we should have placed an ad in the phone book? Using social media allows us to reach people who we may have never met otherwise. We have people contacting us to book teeth whitening or buy a Rock Your Phone who just “stumbled” across our page(s) online — we see it’s power and we are very grateful for it.
How has social media impacted your business? Would you say that it’s an effective marketing tool?
100% — it’s allowed us to connect with people, for them to get to know us via Instagram stories so they can connect us with our brand. We’ve had people stop us in the streets locally asking if we were one of the gals from Livingston Co. and we freaking love it. Recently someone came up to us and told us that our presence on social media is excellent and that they hear so much about us online. This tells us that we are doing something right, even though we often have no clue.
What advice would you give to other businesses and entrepreneurs who want to use social media as a way to connect with customers?
Don’t do what others are doing — it’s okay to be inspired by others but we feel we are successful because we are comfortable with ourselves and are comfortable sharing our funny quirks with the world. We have fun with it and we don’t take ourselves too seriously — we play around with it and similarly to creativity in other areas of our business, we try to be open and creative with our process around social media. Know that you’ll make mistakes, you just have to roll with them and work through it. Social Media is a large part of any business nowadays and can’t be looked past, similarly to us hiring out the accounting function within our business, if this is something you aren’t willing to work on — know that the option to have someone skilled to take this on for you might be something worth considering. We can’t always do it all. Know that are things you will excel at and others that you’ll need help with.
And Now Onto The Social Media Questions!
Kate is a born and raised Kingstonian. She grew up in Pittsburg Township on a farm and is known to collect friends and brass animal figurines. Kate went to Queen’s University and now works for Home Cardiographics, which provides cardiac monitoring Canada-wide. Kate has a Bernese Mountain Dog named Opal and spends her spare time playing a lot of recreational sports, baking up stunning desserts, doing puzzles, online shopping, teaching her nieces and nephews off-site commentary and cottaging all summer long. She’s been known to promote Yeti when she’s not promoting Livingston Co. and Rock Your Phone, of which she is co-owner. Kate values all of the relationships in her life and she understands that life is about fostering those relationships and really enjoying interactions with others. Kate doesn’t take no for an answer and is extremely driven and determined to make the people around her realize their potential.
A Little More About Erica
Erica is a Newfoundlander turned accidental farm dweller with dreams of living a life of purpose and achievement. She is passionate about connecting and building relationships and thrives on the energy of others. She is building a career and legacy by creating a diverse, thoughtful and progressive culture by leading thoughts, others and ideas forward. A champion of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and mover and shaker in all of her roles. Having a creative outlet and learning/developing new skills has always been a focus for her life. By day Erica is the Associate Director, Development at Queen’s University. By night, co-owner of Livingston Company and Rock Your Phone. Erica is a wife, mother of two and has a Border Collie named Utah and a #ladysquad of chickens. A true romantic and dreamer, Erica doesn’t like to settle for mediocrity and believes that life is about evolving, changing and growing.
Know Any Voss Babes?
Do you know female entrepreneur(s) who love social media as much as we do? Contact us today — we’d love to tell their story!