Entrepreneur’s new marketing skills help her sustainable toy company succeed

Milton & Goose owner developed storytelling and email newsletter strategies to connect with new customers.

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Shari Raymond examines a play pizza kitchen under construction.

The entrepreneurial spirit that animates Brooklyn mom Shari Raymond might be best summed up by her motivation to start her company, Milton & Goose: “When I couldn’t find it, I decided I would just make it myself,” says Raymond.

What Raymond couldn’t find was a high-quality children’s toy kitchen that would look beautiful in her apartment, was made in the U.S., and would be safe for her 1-year-old son. (Milton & Goose products are made from premium materials with non-toxic finishes.)

In 2017, Raymond launched her business, and later expanded her product offerings to include bookcases, benches, play food sets, aprons and oven mitts. As she’s grown her business, Raymond has also built a sustainable supply chain, set up her own manufacturing facility in Connecticut and basically learned the business hands-on.

“I had no background in product design, so that actually led to a very steep learning curve in getting the business off the ground,” Raymond says. “I had to research a lot and figure things out on my own.”

Continuing to learn and grow her business is important to Raymond, so in 2022 she sought out the online course offerings from Verizon Small Business Digital Ready. The Selling With Storytelling course, she says, “prompted me to go deeper into the subject of storytelling in general."

"I feel like everything I’ve done since that course is about how I market. It was a mindset shift,” Raymond explains.

That mindset shift helped her think beyond simply posting photos of new products on Milton & Goose’s social media accounts. “There are so many different ways to connect with a customer,” Raymond says. “It’s not just about the product or the brand, but it’s about me, me as a mother—my story.” A recent fifth anniversary sale, she says, not only outperformed usual sales at that time of year by threefold, but also generated a 10% boost to her email distribution list.

In fact, combining the strategies from the Selling With Storytelling and the Email Marketing courses on Digital Ready, Raymond says, was the blueprint for success for the anniversary event: “Between the narrative storytelling aspect and the focus on email gathering, both of those directly contributed to the success of that sale.”

Raymond says another course, called Operating Efficiency Essentials, explained how to assess staffing and systems for efficiency. “This led to our team getting together to take a closer look at our various operations with an eye towards reducing inefficiencies,” she says. “We still focus heavily on reducing inefficiencies, particularly in our manufacturing facility.”

All of which helps Raymond to keep building her business and meeting her mission: to create beautiful products that are built to last for generations. “I’m proud that we’re building a business that we, and everybody who works at the company, can be proud of,” she says.

With Verizon Small Business Digital Ready, an individual user's experience may vary and results are not guaranteed.

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