I’m very excited to introduce you to a very creative business owner, Rachel LeRoy of HipMaps. Rachel designs custom maps for weddings, retreats, vacation rentals, etc. Not only is she a mapmaker (I adore maps, and have a certification in GIS) but she creates beautifully designed physical and digital projects to elevate an experience to the next level. What I love about Rachel is that she dove 100% into being an entrepreneur, learning so much along the way, and is 100% jazzed about what she is doing and creating (I can totally relate!). Hot holiday tip – she also makes custom jigsaw puzzles and geography puzzles for kids. I love the idea of making a custom puzzle of significant places in one’s parents lives, for example, for an anniversary present.
Check out her website which has fun visuals that explain the concept of HipMaps and all her social media links!
When did you start your business, and why did you create it?
I initially started consulting in late 2019 and tried to launch personal maps for weddings in March 2020 the same week that the pandemic closed the entire US down! I spent a year regrouping, learning, and rebranding to HipMaps, which I officially launched in June 2021.
Tell us about your business and what makes you unique in your field.
I am the founder and owner of HipMaps where I design custom maps. I help hosts stand out from the crowd & enhance their guests experience with personal maps of their favorite places – they share their recommendations for restaurants, shops, hikes/walks, wineries/breweries, attractions, and things that make their area special. What makes HipMaps unique is guests can see their location right on the personal map on their phone with our free smartphone app, read the host’s comments on each place (Best burger in town!) and get directions. I love helping people spread joy, and these maps are great for weddings, reunions, milestone birthday/anniversary celebrations, business events, retreats, AirBnBs & vacation rentals, inns, lodges & more. There are not many map designers out there to begin with, and I’m the only one who has an app for personalized maps!
What do you feel makes your audience special?
The folks that are drawn to HipMaps want to GIVE. They want to take their guests experience up a notch and stand out from the crowd of others who host similar events or have similar businesses. They want to share with their guests and create a better connection with them by sending them to their favorite places. Spreading joy is definitely a common theme!
Has anything surprised you about starting a website?
The amount of options that one has for design & function of a website is mind-boggling. I definitely could not handle it myself and am grateful for the creative direction that I received.
Did you create your own website or hire it out? Do you use WordPress?
I hired Cornucopia Creations to create it on WordPress. The owner, Marcia, is in my local chapter of the networking group that I love – Polka Dot Powerhouse.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?
If you feel you are lacking in some area like marketing or sales or business planning then take classes & go to webinars to learn about it, do not ignore it. You don’t necessarily have to do everything yourself, but you should have enough knowledge that you can create a good strategic plan, and then eventually hire out the pieces that you do not like or are not great at.
If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?
I would probably not try to launch a business during a pandemic because that is crazy! I would save up more money as well, because I want my business to be as self-funded as possible and I underestimated how much smartphone app development would cost.
Do you have an email list? If so, did you start it when you launched?
Yes I do, and I started it right when I launched.
Is this your only job? Did you launch your business while working another job?
I worked part-time while I was ramping up and now this is all that I do. I have never worked so hard on something, and I because I love it so much it does not even feel like work!
How do you promote your site?
I’m active on social media (primarily Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn & Pinterest), I attend a lot of networking events, I send cold-call emails to industry professionals that I want to partner with, I speak on podcasts & in interviews, and I rely on referrals.
Who are your favorite bloggers or podcasts right now? Or what is an influential book that you’ve read lately?
The best book I have read for women in business is Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead by Tara Mohr.
The Tech with Heart podcast with Michelle Calloway provides a lot of great information from a variety of business professionals.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Thanks to the pandemic I also design custom jigsaw puzzles, using client’s own photos and creating a map to go with them, as well as personalized geography puzzles for kids. Examples are on my website.