Everyone’s business could use a little help these days, so every month we’re featuring a different small business to help promote shopping locally and to support community members.
Westchester mom Julie Michals never thought about being an entrepreneur and owning her own business, but after looking for her next career move, she decided to take the leap to become her own boss. Since October, Michals has operated Card My Yard West L.A. and is bringing smiles to people across the community by staking their front lawns with colorful signs to help celebrate all of life’s happy moments from birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and everything in between.
Get the scoop on this month’s business spotlight by reading below!
Q. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. A. I’ve lived in Westchester for more than 10 years. My husband Tim and I moved here from Marina del Rey after we had our first daughter. We now have two daughters ages 11 and 9, as well as a cat named Miss P who has been a part of our family for almost 13 years now. I’ve lived in the West L.A. area since 1997.
I worked in entertainment marketing and sales for more than 20 years for companies such as Sony and the NFL. My job provided amazing experiences and growth, but as the industry evolved with the many different platforms to watch content, it dramatically changed the needs in the industry. In early 2020, prior to the pandemic, I knew I was going to be impacted by a reorganization. My last day was March 10, 2020, so I had made plans to take a few months off to spend more time with my family, bake bread (which I never did!), catch up with friends and network before pounding the pavement to look for a new job. Then the pandemic happened and those plans changed.
During this time, a friend of mine who used to be in the entertainment industry reached out to me to catch up and asked me if I would ever consider having my own business. I never really thought of it, so I was intrigued. He recommended an audio book called “The E-Myth Revisited,” and I listened to it diligently. The book is about why some small businesses don’t work and what to do about it. It provided a solid foundation about why franchises exist and what makes a franchise successful.
I then reached out to a franchise broker and vetted a few high-risk franchises and fortunately, I chose not to pursue them. The businesses that I looked into didn’t fulfill me personally; either I didn’t love the brand, it wasn’t an industry that I was passionate about or it was financially risky, especially during a pandemic.
By summer, my sister, who was looking into doing something on her own as well, had mentioned the lawn rental sign business. I started to look into it as well and discovered “Card My Yard,” which happened to also be a franchise. Having knowledge about how to navigate the franchise world, I was able to pull up their disclosure document on my own to see that it was a business that was very doable. What intrigued me about Card My Yard was its brand, the community tie-in, the quality of their product and the two women that created it and their story.
The company was started by two stay-at-home moms in Austin, Texas who value family and the spirit of bringing joy to their community. Card My Yard is in the happy business. When I had my informational meeting and interview I thought to myself, “Wow, I would be like Santa Claus, but all year round! This is awesome. I’m in!”
My sister agreed, and so a few months later, I signed on and officially opened Card My Yard West L.A. in October 2020. My sister signed on as well and owns Card My Yard Torrance. Since then, it’s been really fun.
Recently, I had orders celebrating a Bar Mitzvah and a 98th birthday. To be a part of making a celebrant’s day a little extra special makes me feel great about what I do. The gratitude flows both ways in this business. It’s a unique business where the customers are excited from the beginning to the end of the ordering process.
Another great thing about Card My Yard are the fellow owners and corporate team. We have a private Facebook Group, and there’s so many creative ideas on different ways to wordsmith an order, best practices, stories of inspiration, as well as funny staking stories out in the field.
Last but not least, the overall 100 percent peer-to-peer support in our group is important to show that as owners we are in this positive movement together. Ninety four percent of the owners are women, which I value personally and professionally.
Q. What makes your business unique? A. What makes Card My Yard unique is the nature of the business: bringing joy! Customers are excited to go to our site, see all the options, and choose what they want. It’s fun and it’s also easy. They don’t need to lift a finger. We set up and pick up. I usually send a text with a photo of the sign to the client once it’s complete, and the reactions are always, “OMG, it looks amazing!” or “I love it! Thank you!” It’s all about spreading happiness, and I’m blessed to be a part of it.
Q. What do you like about running your business and being an entrepreneur? A. What I love about running my own business is the personal flexibility and the positivity it brings to others. Having flexibility, especially right now, allows me to play a major role in supporting my family’s day-to-day needs. I have the ability to set aside time to do things with my kids on a weekday afternoon like take them to the beach, bake a crazy cake, or seek out the best Boba place in L.A. with them. As an entrepreneur, it’s amazing to see the natural growth of my business just four months in; organic search and word of mouth has played a big role in my increased business flow.
Q. What else would you like the community to know about your business? A. Card My Yard has a fully integrated e-commerce website and it’s very easy for customers to place an order. Also, my business is contactless, which allows me to continue to operate. And of course, “Skip the Card, Stake the Yard!”
Q. What are some of your favorite local businesses? A. This is a tough one! I’m a foodie, so my favorite businesses tend to be restaurants such as KC’s Crepes, Ayara Thai and The Good Pizza. I also love Yoga Bliss and The Mane on Lincoln; it’s great supporting fellow female owners like Lara, Brittany and Ashley.
Visit cardmyyard.com/west-la to learn more and check out available designs.