Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Monica Fullerton. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Monica, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today Let’s kick things off with your mission – what is it and what’s the story behind why it’s your mission?
Living the military life is both rewarding and challenging for military spouses. We are faced with the unknown frequently, our spouses deploy, and military families re-locate on average every 2-3 years. Because of this it makes it hard for spouses to hold a career doing something they love. The military spouse unemployment rate has been at 24% for nearly a decade and that number only continues to increase. But what I can tell you is that the military community is filled with so much talent, strength, and grit. I was so inspired by our community and I knew I wanted to do something to help bridge a high military spouse unemployment rate and doing what you love with entrepreneurship. That’s when Spouse-ly was born. An online marketplace to shop a wide variety of products and services created by military & first responder families. It is through our one-of-a-kind marketplace that anyone can shop small and make a big impact. For our community it is so much more than a place to shop it’s providing flexibility and stability in a world filled with the unknown. Our mission is to support and champion military families seeking income-generating opportunities no matter where the military life takes them.
Monica, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
I am a proud Air Force spouse, twin mom, and corporate businesswoman turned entrepreneur. Although I was very lucky to have a full-time remote career that could move around with our military lifestyle, that is not always the case for my fellow military spouses. It boiled my blood to see so many incredible spouses having issues finding the right career and being placed in roles that they were way overqualified for. I spent the past decade in a career that I was not truly passionate about, I finally got to the point where I said enough is enough. You can do what you love while living a life on the go and entrepreneurship is a great path for that and I am going to help others do it too!
I have long dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur but wanted my efforts to support a greater purpose than just starting a business. In an effort to provide highly-transient military families, as well as those that have previously served, a space to market their products and services regardless of their duty station, I launched Spouse-ly. I have remained diligently committed to nurturing a community that emphasizes learning and income-generating opportunities for the creators, makers, and entrepreneurs within the military & first responder family.
I encourage more people to purchase with purpose and help support those who support us by supporting their businesses through our one-of-a-kind marketplace. Whether you are a vendor, customer, or supporter you are truly helping us continue to move mountains and turn dreams into reality. Since launching right before the global pandemic I have been bootstrapping and self-funding, we have seen a vendor growth rate of 550% and 60% revenue increase YOY. Our mission is not only viable it is impactful! We recently made the Forbes Next 100 List and have been named on the Mighty 25 List by We Are The Mighty as one of the most influential leaders supporting the military community. Help us put more funds in the pockets of our nation’s heroes!
Have you ever had to pivot?
I moved from a small town in Ohio to South Florida for college with big dreams of becoming the next Oprah…just kidding but in all fairness, I loved the power of communication and how it could help inspire others to be the best that they could be. My plan was to stay in South Florida forever and grow my career there in Broadcasting & Communications. Well little did I know, I ended up getting back together with my high school sweetheart from my small town in Ohio while finishing my Master’s degree. He was about to commission into the Air Force and I had a very hard decision to make. Was I just about to give up everything I worked so hard for to start living the military life? It can be hard to have your own identity as a military spouse and it requires a lot of moving around and an unknown lifestyle. There was no way I was going to be able to have a career doing what I wanted. I decided to go for it, I spent the first few years not saying I was a military spouse because I didn’t want it to limit me from my own personal career goals, but in reality, it did. I had to pivot in so many new ways, including going into an industry that I knew nothing about but it provided the flexibility I needed. Many military spouses have to pivot, and to be honest we are good at it. We make it work no matter what, but I hope to empower more people to see that you can follow your dreams no matter what the circumstances are, you might have to go through more hoops and hurdles but it is possible! I am finally right where I am supposed to be and I am alongside some of the most amazing makers, creators, and entrepreneurs I have ever met!
Learning and unlearning are both critical parts of growth – can you share a story of a time when you had to unlearn a lesson?
Growing a business from the ground up is hard, especially when you are bootstrapping. You are wearing many different hats and it can become extremely hard as growth continues to happen. Oftentimes we find ourselves at a place where we know we need more help but can’t afford to bring on more help. This is where it can get very tricky, people will raise their hand to help with is amazing but sometimes it’s not always the help that you expected. I learned very quickly to go with your gut on things and if something doesn’t feel right or that person might not be a good fit- don’t try and convince yourself otherwise. I can’t really talk about the huge lesson I learned, but it all boils down to there are people out there who will take advantage of first-time founders, especially female founders, and then there are some people who truly want to see you succeed and are willing to help in any way possible. Always go with your gut, the second you second guess that feeling is when you could possibly end up making the wrong decision on something. Now I am a big believer that there is a lesson in everything, even if it didn’t have the outcome we wanted. We only get stronger and wiser and we continue on this journey and learn from our mistakes and failures.