Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Entrepreneur Women In Charge Event

It's never too early to plan to attend this event! This conference, sponsored by Entrepreneur Magazine, presents focused sessions on topics such as online marketing, networking, and others. In addition, you will get a unique opportunity to pitch to the editors of Entrepreneur magazine and on why you and your company should be featured in their website or magazine. A definite must-go! Located in Miami, FL. January 29, 2008.

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Blogging Expo, Entrepreneurship Conference

BlogWorld & New Media Expo: This is the world's largest blogging conference, tradeshow and media event dedicated to the promotion of new media and blogging. Located in Las Vegas, NV. November 8-9, 2007

Second Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference: For those in Arizona, this conference has all sorts of events for entrepreneurs, from networking opportunities, information about funding, and connection to other helpful entrepreneur resources. Speakers include Michael Gerber, author of "The E-Myth." Located in Phoenix, AZ. November 8, 2007.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Expos and Teleseminars

Protecting Your Intellectual Property Rights for Online Businesses: This is a valuable teleseminar which talks about protecting intellectual property rights for online businesses. Topics include selecting and protecting a trademark, using copyright law, protecting your company's trade secret, and how to protect yourself from IP lawsuits. OCtober 30, 2007.

Women with a Purpose Business Expo: Support women owned businesses or learn about starting your own woman-owned business. Speakers will address issues such as networking, financing, marketing, time management, and much more. Located in Greenbelt, MD. November 3, 2007.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Elements by Dawn

Dawn Brandt is the creative force behind Elements By Dawn, a jewelry company which officially began in June 2006. Dawn creates stylish jewelry, heavily textured with bold colors and daring lines, suggesting passion and excitement. Through pattern and texture, her pieces deliver movement, visual and tactile interest. Dawn uses color and form to invoke emotion and energy out of each design. Her designs are available at Etsy and CircleCircleDotDot online boutique.

“I’ve managed restaurants, worked the sales counter, and even worked as a customer service instructor in the airline industry. I guess you could say I know how customers want to be treated and what they generally expect from a business. I think this experience helps me everyday! I also recently graduated Magna Cum Laude with my Bachelors of Business Administration. I feel this aspect of my education will help my business as well. I think it is a real shame when a talented artist cannot continue because of poor business decisions.”

Business Challenges
“Like most new ventures, just knowing where to find reliable information can be difficult. In the beginning, simply gathering and filing all the proper paperwork was a little daunting. But the biggest challenge was finding space for my business. There was a time when the business literally took over the entire house! I quickly learned how inefficient it was to have supplies and equipment in practically every room of the house. One weekend my husband and I moved my workbench into its own space and dedicated a walk-in closet for all of my supplies, packaging materials, and photography equipment. Everything finally has its own space. Now I can focus more energy into creating than searching for my hammer!”

Pricing Items
“For some reason this always seems to be a difficult decision for many artists. It is difficult because separating yourself from the product is not an easy task. Unfortunately, many artists who may not be comfortable with their talents may undervalue their work; and on the flip-side, artists who are inexperienced may overvalue their work and find themselves not selling anything! I personally research a number of suppliers and purchase the highest quality materials at the lowest prices, thus being able to offer affordable prices to my customers. In a nutshell: I use a traditional mark-up formula.”

Marketing Products
“Marketing is a combination of 4 key elements: Product, Placement, Promotion, and Price. I have a product that is superior to most of the traditional sterling silver jewelry on the market today. I researched my materials, developed prototypes, and have tested the tarnish-resistant properties of the Argentium™ sterling silver in real world scenarios. I have also researched my pricing methods and they are also sound. The final two elements, promotion and placement, are still in the works. I am just beginning to promote my jewelry more intensely since finishing school, and I have added a few additional outlets (consignment) for my jewelry as well.”

Targeting Customer Needs
“I subscribe to various trade magazines which keeps me up-to-date on fashion trends. I also listen to my customers to get an overall idea of their wants and needs. It is because of my customers that I almost exclusively use Argentium™ tarnish resistant sterling silver in my jewelry designs. Many customers shy away from traditional sterling silver because it tarnishes easily and requires special care to keep it looking like new. The Argentium™ alloy virtually eliminates the need for polishing.”

Engaging in Low-Cost Advertising
“I blog and have started advertising on a few high-traffic websites who cater to the indie business and to consumers looking to replace or avoid big-box merchandise in favor of handmade products.”

“Many things motivate me. I want my children to grow-up having a mother for a role model. I want to inspire them to pursue their dreams, as I have. I want to know that I have done “the best that I can” when the day is finished. I want to support my family emotionally and financially, and crafting jewelry helps me accomplish this goal.”

Recommended Business Resources
“There are so many resources available! I would recommend starting at the library, Chamber of Commerce, or local college. You can find any number of books, videos and CDs at the library that not only cover the craft you are interested in, but can also assist in the business aspect of crafting. The chamber of commerce can give a list of programs for start-up businesses and offer support for established businesses too. Many colleges offer helpful programs for business owners as well.”

Design Inpired by…
"Objects from the Art Deco period. The bold lines and symmetry really speak to me."

Words of Advice-Research
"Never underestimate the power of research!"



Dawn Brandt
Elements by Dawn

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

IE Tip 55: Google Analytics: Where are your visitors coming from?

Do you know where your website visitors are coming from? If not, then try Google Analytics,which offeres features that allows marketers and business owners to place tracking codes in website pages to determine how visitors are getting to your site. You can track specific time periods and compare them to other date ranges to determine certain visitor trends. You can also use this in conjunction with Google AdWords to learn which keywords are most profitable to your business.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Quick start, Start ups

QuickBooks Just Start Event for New Entrepreneurs: An event to motivate aspiring entrepreneurs to finally kick start their businesses! Located in Seattle, WA. October 24, 2007.

Start Up LA: A conference committed to building the startup community in Los Angeles. This conference is more free-flowing, blending scheduled speakers with open topic presentations that guests can sign up at the day of the event. Located in Los Angeles, CA. October 26-27, 2007.

Ladies Who Launch LIVE: Listen to aspiring speakers, attend educational workshops-all for jumpstarting your business now! Located in various places. October 25, 26, Nov. 1 and 8.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Phantom Limb and Handmade Detroit

Stephanie Tardy of Phantom Limb (“The Stuff You’re Missing”) sells adorable cards, books and paper assemblage art wholesale and online. She also creates one-of-a-kind items from re-fabed skirts, roomy bags and crocheted scarves, all with the idea of re-using great materials and playing with a clean, assemblage aesthetic.

Stephanie started Phantom Limb in the fall of 2005 under the encouragement of her friend Carey Gustafson of Glass Action. Shortly after, Carey and Stephanie joined forces with Alicia Dorset of Lish Magic to form Handmade Detroit, an urban craft collective that produces many events including the Detroit Urban Craft Fair. Since then, Handmade Detroit added a few core members to the group, and but their mission to spread the word and provide opportunity for handmade artists in Michigan hasn’t changed!

Customers of All Ages and Genders
“I’m not sure I have a typical customer. Children are drawn to my love of color, men love my use of maps, and women tend to love anything writing-based, like my journals and stationery.”

Juggling Act
“I have a part-time position as a designer with a newspaper and spend the rest of my time on Handmade Detroit and Phantom Limb. I’d say it’s more like crafting is my full-time job as far as time spent, but both are creative outlets.”

Financing a Business

“At first I was doing [my business] all for the love … every dime I made I put right back into supplies. I don’t think it takes a lot of startup cash to be a crafter these days, at least for me it didn’t. Setting myself up on Etsy and MySpace, talking to the handmade store owner a mile away, using thrift and cast-off materials, these were all the low-cost beginnings of my business.”

“We still run Handmade Detroit this way: All the money collected through merchandise and vendor fees goes into craft show venue rental, flyer printing, web hosting, all the stuff that makes our group grow and able to provide more outlets around the city.”

Consigning Challenges
“Get everything in writing for consigning! Turn a notebook into a ledger or make a little consignment sheet to keep track of everything you agree on like what you will be paid and when, how much you sent, etc. Realize that consigning with distros is a whole different ballgame than consigning to brick and morter stores, which tend to be more professional and prompt but harder to get in with.”

Finding Retailers
“Research! Of course you can look at other crafter’s web sites and see where they sell. But I’ve had a lot of success by asking crafty friends in other cities to recommend their favorite shops or ones I would fit in with. Friends know you and your goods and if they know the shop owner, it’s an instant connection to talk to them.”

Indie Marketing
Handmade Detroit is in a unique position to build up the DIY movement in Detroit and we have been interested in long-term recognition and creating a market for handmade items more than straight-out marketing.”

“That being said, I approach promotion for both Phantom Limb and Handmade Detroit like they are indie bands. In other words, a lot of low-cost and word-of-mouth marketing. Since Detroit also has a thriving music community (and all of the Handmade Detroit ladies are music geektresses), we also have naturally attached ourselves to the indie rock scene here. Like bands, the group and I use flyers and posters to get the word out about upcoming shows, giving them to other businesses, art venues and coffee shops. We have a long list of forums, profiles and other online outlets that we post on regularly.”

“In terms of some tie-in ideas: We’ve put our logo mitten pins on too many guitar straps to mention! We’ve given t-shirts to bands to wear on stage in exchange for an on-stage mention, and we’ve done handmade merchandise for other bands. We work with like-minded groups to tie in handmade products, too. For example, we’re working with a local online pop culture magazine to cross-promote and reach each other’s audiences. It’s important to always be reaching out to a new market and potential customer with like-minded ventures, so we do a lot of that.”

Generating Press
“Journalists and bloggers are always looking for new things to write about and so I try to get at least one piece of press for both each month. It’s always a combination of networking, e-mailing and media releases to secure press. Blind press releases are never as good as knowing the writer at your intended target, but e-mailing a personal note to a specific reporter can be just as good. It’s also important to keep in touch with your press contacts. While they can’t write about you all the time, they do know other media people and may even turn into a customer!”

“Keeping a list of updated contacts is also crucial. Spend a little time identifying good fits for your business. Think about angles of your goods, and don’t be afraid to pitch story ideas to the media, especially at smaller outlets like community newspapers. Don’t forget business press, who are always looking for small businesses to feature. Telling the story of your business is better than product mentions because it gains a true following.”

Keeping Up with Customers
“Because I do so many craft fairs, I am able to talk to my customers. They can tell you a lot, and sometimes unabashedly, about your goods and what they like and want.”

The DIY Community
“Being part of a community of makers motivates me constantly. The support in DIY community is just unreal. From the small things like if you’re having a bad day, to the big things like idea sharing and collaboration. This inspires me daily to get up and do more.”

Recommended Business Resources
SCORE is a biggie. Also, check out community calendars for free and cheap business classes. Many banks, SBAs and local Chamber of Commerces offer interesting and low-cost options for upping your business smarts. They also provide great connections with non-crafters: Printers, bankers, lawyers, etc.”

Phantom Limb was inspired by grade school libraries and children’s books. I miss the smell of the library in 3rd grade and most of my creations have a bit of that memory in them! Clean design, sans serif fonts, Wes Anderson’s design aesthetic, Richard Scarry’s use of color, Pippi Longstocking movies, and the unique musical beat, the decay and beauty of the city of Detroit also inspire me.”

Amazing Mentors
“The other ladies in Handmade Detroit, craft fair leaders and the folks doing good and important DIY work are basically my mentors; or at least, I admire their work immensely. Kelly Pettibone of Naka, Faythe Levine of Handmade Nation, the folks at Craft and Etsy and Venus, Autumn from Strange Folk, all the people who put on Craft Congress, and so many more. I admire the strength of their ideas and it motives me to bring more good things to Detroit.”


Stephanie Tardy
Phantom Limb
Handmade Detroit

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