Welcome to Later’s SelfMade series, where we showcase small business owners, their journeys, and tips for aspiring entrepreneurs.
We spoke to Marissa Grootes, founder of STIL, a purpose-led company that sells organizational products and planners.
Marissa shares the inspiration behind the brand, why consistency matters, and how her team has grown an Instagram community of over 30K followers.
Inspired by the Dutch word for style, STIL represents a minimal and sophisticated way of living.
A quick glance at STIL’s organizational product line, and you’ll see modern colors with pops of gold — mirroring the dreamy aesthetic on STIL’s social media feed.
And this isn’t by accident.
As a self-proclaimed pen-to-paper person with a background in design, Marissa found herself on the hunt for “a planner that looked professional, fit my style, and was highly functional.”
Marissa Cristina Grootes, founder of STIL
But her search was futile when one planner after another didn’t meet her needs: “I started researching the highest tier of planners you could get, different price points, and discovered that young, professional women were underserved in this space.”
Many planners targeted moms and their busy schedules — something she couldn’t relate to as a millennial in her 20s.
Using everything she learned, she created a hand-bound planner and gifted it to a few girlfriends for Christmas. They loved it.
“One thing led to another, I quit my full-time job, and created STIL.”
Fast forward six years, and Marissa has built a successful business that’s been featured in publications like Fast Company and US Magazine, and has an engaged digital community.
Later: What tactics have helped you grow your community on Instagram?
Marissa: Consistency is key. We’re very active on social and use Instagram Stories to communicate our story.
We also use them to engage with our community and gather feedback using polls and questions.
When we’re working on a new planner, we’ll ask: what colors do you want? How can we improve our products?
This year, we also started hosting an Instagram Live every two weeks on Saturday mornings. I either do it alone or am joined by a co-host — usually another woman-founder.
Going live lets me engage with our community in real-time and share other business owner’s stories.
Love to get organized? With Later’s free desktop app, you can schedule your social media posts months in advance. Start planning now!
Later: How far in advance do you schedule and plan your social media content?
Marissa: While we plan our marketing strategies much further in advance, we typically plan our social media calendar within 1-2 weeks.
This allows us to schedule and publish original, organic content that will resonate with our audience and stay top-of-mind.
Later: How has Later been an asset to your team and business?
Marissa: Later makes it easy to stand out on social. By using one platform for all of our shared social content and assets, we’re able to build and manage our calendar in a collaborative way.
The Analytics tool helps us create better content for our community and reach new audiences, while the Media Library and Preview tools ensure our Instagram feed is cohesive, consistent, and on-brand.
We frequently use the First Comment and Auto Publish tools too — can I just say we love all of them?
Later: What are your social media goals this year?
Marissa: To continue to grow. Last year, our goal was to get to 30K followers and we reached it!
Our new growth strategy is to host or be included in a monthly giveaway, usually in partnership with other women-owned businesses.
And a major goal for me personally, is to be even more present with our customers through our live streams. I want to have monthly touchpoints where I ask how they’re using the planner, give productivity tips, and answer questions.
Later: What’s your #1 tip for small business owners getting started on social media?
Marissa: Remember that you are the number one champion for your brand.
When I first started, I didn’t want to have my brand tied to me — because I feared that if people got tired of me, they’d get tired of my brand.
But the two don’t function without one another.
I created the brand so I am the best person to speak about it and sell it. When you’re first starting out on social media, you have to be the biggest salesperson for your business.
Later: What podcast would you recommend to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Marissa: If you’re looking for e-commerce tips and topics, the Shopify podcast is an amazing resource.
Another favorite is the WorkParty podcast by Create & Cultivate — it’s full of inspirational women entrepreneurs.
Later: Can you ever really “turn off” when you run a business? How do you juggle work-life balance?
Marissa: Building a business takes a lot of time, energy, and money. So work-life balance is basically impossible [laughs].
But the one thing I’ve learned (and I live by this): If I’m having a bad day, I know I won’t be productive. So I’ll take the day off and use it to recharge.
If that means going outside, taking myself out for lunch, or watching Netflix all day, then I’ll do that.
Usually all it takes is a good night’s sleep and I’m good to go. Give yourself time to rest!
*Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
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