Melissa Funk is the CEO and Co-Founder of Lynn & Liana Designs. She is married to her husband Evan (who is also a co-founder of Lynn & Liana) and is a mother of two young daughters. She would call herself the visionary of the company. She recognizes areas the company needs to grow- love dreaming big.
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
I was blessed to be raised in a strong, safe, and secure home. I was given the opportunity to grow and develop hobbies, skills, and a good work ethic. To be honest, school was not my strong suit as I was more interested in my friends than my grades. I never dreamed of doing post-secondary school or taking on a career. I didn’t think I had the potential to do much with my life. I knew I enjoyed taking care of kids so naturally I decided I would work, get married, have kids, and become a stay-at-home mom. That felt like a safe enough path for me to take. I graduated, started working in an office setting, and started having kids. I knew there was some leadership potential in me that I was utilizing in certain areas of my life but never pushed that side of myself to really develop it into something more. And as I started having children, nurturing them and helping them grow up well became some of the only real goals I had in life.
Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.
While I was pregnant with our first child my husband and parents were introduced into a product called Eco-Poxy. (This Eco-Poxy is the resin we use to design our boards today). We are good friends with the manufacturer of this resin and they showed us how to use this product and design with it. They suggested we try using it to create art pieces. This was not something I was interested in. My parents and husband naturally have very entrepreneurial spirits and had been itching to start something up but that was not a goal I had in mind. As the months went by, my family started really entertaining this resin serveware business idea and started designing products. Since I was at home all day with a newborn I agreed to start a social media page and help start up a website. Again, I wasn’t interested in starting up a business, but I wanted to be a supportive wife and knew that I had some skills I could utilize to help the company grow. As the business started to take off I became more interested in helping out. I quit my office job to work in the family business and filled holes wherever the company needed. I started developing our marketing department and helped design a new and improved website. As we were a new company with a very tight budget I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to lead where the team needed direction and learned on the fly how to help run a manufacturing business. Our business coach we met with every week started noticing some real leadership potential in me and started pushing me to think of myself as a potential CEO for the company. At first, this thought was terrifying, but I knew deep down he was right. I started traveling for work and attending sales trade shows and that’s really when I found a new side to myself. I grew in confidence and really felt I had something special to offer this company and the world. That’s when I took on the title as CEO and have never looked back.
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business /initiative? What motivated you within to say “YES, go for it!”
We quickly recognized that designing with resin was a very beautiful but uncommon form of art. We knew we wanted to do something with this resin and when pairing it with a wooden cutting board we saw the potential in this type of product that would serve as “functional art”. We knew the only way we wanted to continue designing products was if we could turn this into a large-scale business, so we believed in our products, started posting online and moved ahead in each of the markets that presented itself.
Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?
As a company, we are solving a problem many individuals and companies have. Getting high quality, handmade products produced in North America with a reasonable price is virtually impossible. We have found a way to keep our products handmade in Canada but mass produce on a large scale which helps keep prices reasonable for both D2C and B2B.
Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?
I have two main challenges that I face each and every day as a growing leader. I struggle with imposter syndrome as a leader, feeling like I do not have what it takes to help run this company and often feel out of my league. My business coach, who we meet with twice a month, has been helping me combat this feeling for quite some time. He reassures me I have what it takes and pushes me to believe in myself. At the end of every day I do my best to write out where I brought value to the company today, just a few practical things I did in the day to help drive business forward.
I also struggle with pleasing people-pleasing. I very much strive for a peaceful life and try to avoid creating conflict, which has been a hindrance to the company. To cope with this I’ve been trying to remind myself that conflict and issues do not define me as a person. Trying to remind myself that conflict is a part of life and it’s how you deal with it that defines who you are.
While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?
As like any other business, the pandemic threw us for a loop. We were just starting to branch out into B2B sales and started seeing our wholesale customers cancel their orders and close down their stores. We were quite concerned and knew we had to pivot. We decided to invest into a better, more user-friendly website that would allow for more D2C sales and that transformed our business. Coming into the holiday season of 2020 our retail sales skyrocketed. We were consistently hitting sales records and working harder than ever. As things started to settle we noticed retail stating to dip and wholesale starting up again. It’s all about being agile and ready to pivot!
Personally, the pandemic was hard. Running a business and having two toddlers in daycare became extremely challenging. Anytime our kids were slightly sick we could not get childcare, which meant working from home or finding family to watch them. I couldn’t have been more thankful for the flexibility that running a business was able to provide for us.
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
A couple of things I am extra proud of is our ability to take on risk as a company and try new markets. Borders do not scare us and we are willing to take on new challenges. Along with the help from our Canadian Government we’ve been able to travel and sell in new regions such as Europe, the Middle East, Japan and potentially even South Korea! We’ve also partnered with some really neat companies and had the privilege of getting our boards in over 100 celebrities’ hands. One of them being Meghan Trainor, who absolutely loves our products and has since become a great customer.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
I would love to see other young women reach their fullest potential. I honestly believe, if I can do what I am doing, anyone can. I have discovered a whole other side to myself that I never knew existed and am doing things I never thought I’d be capable of. I want more young women to experience this and start to believe in themselves as leaders and entrepreneurs.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?
It’s hard to pick just one, but I would say it is absolutely critical to surround yourself with people who will support you. Without our business coach, financial advisors, accountants, family, friends, and of course our great team, we would not be where we are right now. They have helped us transform into what we are today and keep us moving forward in a positive direction. We are who we surround ourselves with.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?
We should be proud. We bring a new energy and a refreshing perspective to the business world. We do things different and we are consistently breaking the culture of what was once a male dominated workforce.
With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
You were made for more. You are capable, you are smart, you are talented and you were made for this. Dream big, blue sky dreams. Believe in those dreams and put actionable steps on paper to make these goals and dreams happen because YOU CAN DO IT!