Headshot of Gloria Williams, founder of Footnanny.
Gloria Williams founded Footnanny as a way to promote self-care while carrying on her mother's and grandmother’s family remedies. — Footnanny

The long-term growth and success of any business comes down to two factors: a great product and strong brand awareness. While Gloria Williams, founder and CEO of foot care brand Footnanny, always had the former, it was a famous endorsement from Oprah Winfrey that brought about the latter.

As Winfrey’s personal pedicurist, Williams credits the daytime television star with giving her the support and encouragement she needed to start and grow Footnanny. Winfrey had encouraged her to channel her passion for foot care toward building a brand of her own. Then, a 2012 tweet recommending Footnanny generated “priceless” feedback, said Williams — as did the appearance of the brand on Winfrey’s holiday “Favorite Things” list for seven years in a row. In that time, Footnanny has also received press on several high-profile spots, including “Good Morning America,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and “The View.”

As Williams has learned, finding press coverage as a small business can be challenging, but with patience and persistence, it’s more than possible.

“Start with local press and then use social media for reaching national press,” she said. “Make sure you have an account on every free social [media] platform.”

[Read more: A Complete Business Guide to Public Relations]

Building a future by honoring the past

Oftentimes, the best business ideas stem from lived experience. Williams believes that everyone’s self-care regimen should include taking care of their feet — a lesson she learned from her own mother.

As a child in suburban Chicago, Williams used to accompany her mother, a natural healer from Alabama, when she would visit ailing neighbors and give them rubdowns with her homemade lotions and oils. She taught her daughter how to combine massage with aromatherapy to promote wellness.

“Always follow your gut when you make decisions.” And if you’re still not sure of what to do, she added, it’s OK to take a day or two to figure out your next move.

This experience not only sparked Williams’ career as a licensed pedicurist and reflexologist, but it also served as the inspiration for her future business.

Footnanny’s line of creams, soaking salts and essential oils were born out of the natural healing creams Williams’ mother and grandmother passed on to her. Footnanny’s products are designed specifically for feet in a range of scents, the most popular of which are lavender, eucalyptus, chocolate, tea tree, olive oil and rose lime.

Meeting the challenges of entrepreneurship head-on

Even with the right product and press, first-time entrepreneurs often face a steep learning curve, with unexpected challenges to overcome.

When Williams started Footnanny, she found it difficult to keep track of daily online transactions. This led her to begin using a special bookkeeping software geared toward e-commerce businesses — a move that has made all the difference in managing the rapid growth of Footnanny.

“My online business was growing so fast, like many others,” Williams explained. “[Bookkeeping software] was the missing piece of the puzzle.”

[Read more: 5 Common Bookkeeping Mistakes New Business Owners Often Make]

For all aspiring entrepreneurs, Williams has an important piece of advice: “Always follow your gut when you make decisions.” And if you’re still not sure of what to do, she added, it’s OK to take a day or two to figure out your next move.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published January 04, 2022