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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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

IE Tip 54: American Marketing Association: Discover Your Marketing Power

The American Marketing Association (AMA) is one of the largest professional associations for marketers, with 38,000 members worldwide. As an indie entrepreneur, the AMA is a wonderful resource since you are most likely the sole or primary PR/marketing person for your company. The AMA website contains a lot of articles and resources on marketing topics, and although some of them are more academic than practical, the articles contain industry-specific statistics that may be useful for those of you writing business plans and need to find industry data for your specific business line. Some articles worth a quick read include those on branding and multi-cultural marketing.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Marketing, Preparing Business Plans, Networking

Tips for Marketers Coping With a World Where Messages Don't Matter: Online Web seminar on how personal publishing, digital video, podcasting and social networks are changing the media world. Sponsored by the American Marketing Association. October 16, 2007.

Preparing and Presenting a Business Plan: This workshop provides a step by step process of developing and writing a business plan directed towards getting equity financing. Located in Pleasanton, CA. FREE. October 17, 2007.

eWomenNetwork Accelerated Networking Event: Fun networking event for women entrepeneurs. Located in San Jose, CA. FREE. October 18, 2007.

How to Navigate the Marketing Industry: Class designed for owners of small and medium-size businesses interested in learning about marketing basics such as branding, designing a marketing campaign, and more. Located in Phoenix, AZ. October 19, 2007.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

IE Tip 53: Indie Public

A Myspace for indies? Yes, Indie Public is a cool social networking site for the independent art and design community. Meet fellow indie creatives or supporters, visit forums, or join a group! It has almost 3,000 members so far, but it keeps on growing every day. Spread the word!

Visit Indiepublic

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Help Out A Fellow Indie!

Alicia Freile of Gauchita is a fellow indie entrepreneur who is currently studying for her masters in design management in Australia. She's currently writing her thesis on the challenges of running an indie business and would like your help in filling out some surveys for her research.

Here's her description of her thesis:

"A part of my study here I am required to write a thesis. My thesis is on the difficulties that indie business owners encounter when they find success quickly and their business grows faster than they can handle, causing much stress and strain on other areas of their lives...A big part of this thesis will have to do with how the indies get their work produced; if they continue to make it all by hand, if they outsource to other crafters, do they get it manufactured, or do they alter the way it is made to make their business lives easier...My aim for this paper (since it is an academic one) is to either have it published or present it at next year's CraftCongress in Pittsburgh (if I'm in the US then...) so I'd really like to try and help others with this, which I think is a fundamental part of the indie business community."

Help her out! Seems like she's out there trying to do some good for the indie community. If you're interested in filling out the survey, please contact her at

Friday, October 5, 2007

Tiny Tales

Lara Frankovitch's quest to find the perfect way to capture her baby's "firsts" led her to create Tiny Tales products, which are clever kits that makes capturing poignant baby memories easy! Each kits contains notepads to document baby firsts, themed dividers to easily organize memorable milestones, and an acrylic box to safeguard these memories. Definitely perfect gifts for expecting moms and new parents! Here she shares her inspiration behind Tiny Tales, experiences, and business challenges:

The Birth of Tiny Tales
"I had the idea for a Tiny Tales-like product before my son was born. I have this problem called perfectionismitis, which results in many started but not finished projects....I knew it was unrealistic to create the perfect baby book with all the demands of a young baby and being a first-time mom, [so] I created a system to buy time until I was ready to create the most amazing baby book known to man. I designed some cute notepads, got them printed and padded, wrapped a shoe box with baby paper, and cut a hole cut in the top. Every time my son did something newsworthy I wrote it down on the paper and put it in the shoe box. Guess what? My son is 20 months old and the box from his first year is under the bed. But I’m not stressed about it because I know all the stories and dates are there, safe, and waiting for my creativity to arrive."

"Around the end of his 1st year, I started to think I might have an idea that would appeal to other moms. I researched starting a company, and decided it was low risk and low overhead, and something I could build while keeping my day job. I officially registered Tiny Tales as a business in November 2006."

"The product has come a long way from the wrapping paper shoebox prototype, and I consider June 2007 as my official re-launch with the design and website as it is now."

Typical Customer
“The vast majority are women. I thought Tiny Tales would appeal mainly to baby shower goers, but I sell almost as many Toddler Tales as I do Baby Tales. The customers who buy Baby Tales are typically buying for someone else as a gift, and the majority of Toddler Tales customers seem to be buying for themselves. In fact, I have quite a few orders where Baby Tales is a gift, and the giver also orders a Toddler Tales for herself!”

Getting the Confidence
“Since I have been out of college, I have been a technology project manager, mostly working as a consultant. Working with so many different companies has given me the confidence to walk to a new client and establish myself as an expert. I can apply that confidence to my business and push for what I think is best for Tiny Tales. It is my company, and if I don’t stand up for it, then no one else will. Not that I always know what is right!”

Financing the Business
“Luckily I haven’t had to put up too much capital to get the business off the ground. I ordered a small quantity at first, and my sales kept pace to pay for the materials. I wasn’t making any money, but at least I didn’t have a ton of upfront expenses. Getting the website design up was the largest expense in the beginning. Now all the materials are the biggest expense because I order in larger quantities to get better discounts.”

“Sending samples to mommy shopping blogs has been worth it for the majority of the blogs I have submitted to. The best was UrbanBaby – a total surprise and it hadn’t even contacted me... I didn’t even receive a notice Tiny Tales would be featured – I just opened my email and there was the newsletter. Then the orders started flooding in! Luckily it was a Friday so I had all weekend to fill orders. I have also been in the local newspaper. I sent a press release announcing the company, and they came out to interview me for the business section. I have placed ads in a few MOMS Club newsletters, but with limited success. The ads are so cheap though that I might try again with a different ad design.”

“I have figured out the number of kits I need to sell each day to make this my full time job. It is a high number and seems out of reach, but that is what I am working towards. I dream about what my day will be like not having to put on “work” clothes and drop my son off at daycare. Being able to go for a jog in the middle of the day. Being able to work outside on my laptop. That is what motivates me, even when it seems like too much work.”

Words of Advice-Avoiding “Analysis Paralysis”
“I’ve been very lucky that I can go as fast or as slow as I want in building the business. It took a while to get the product design just right, and I’m glad I didn’t feel a rush to force it. My advice to someone just starting out is to do a lot of research, but don’t let yourself get into “analysis paralysis.” Find people you can bounce ideas off of that will give you honest feedback. So much is uncertain in running your own business, and it can make you feel like you are alone in making all of the decisions (which you basically are), so having someone who will listen while you think out loud can be invaluable.”
Lara Frankovitch

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

IE Tip 52: Trade Show Exhibitor Association

New to exhibiting in trade shows? The Trade Show Exhibitor Association (TSEA) is a great initial resource for trade show novices. As the industry voice for exhibitors and event marketers for the past 30+ years, the TSEA provides knowledge on effectively promoting and selling products. Check out their tips on exhibitor etiquette, creating a winning booth, preshow promotion, and more!

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

IE Tip 51: Trade Show News Network: Online Resource for Trade Shows

Need to know what tradeshows are in your industry? The Trade Show Nets Network (TSNN) is a leading online resource for trade show, exhibition, and event information. It currently contains information on 15, 000 trade shows, public events, conferences, and exhibits, and offers listings of industry suppliers and trade show venues.

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Monday, October 1, 2007

Blogging and Book Publishing

Business Blog Basics: Learn about the basics of blogs and how they can be a powerful marketing tool for your small business. Located in Birmingham, MI. Oct. 1, 2007.

The Secrets Behind Book Publishing: A must for aspiring published writers! This panel of distinguished book agents and editos will cover issues such as approaching an agent, recognizing common mistakes that new authors make, and marketing and publicizing your book. Located in New York, NY. October 2, 2007.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Cartolina Cards and Dominion Post and Salvage

It's obvious that Fiona Richards loves paper. As the owner of not one, but two separate stationery companies, Fiona is surrounded by unique designs, intriguing images, and colorful patterns all day. Dominion Post and Salvage (DPS), her first card company, features labor intensive, handmade cards for the sophisticated buyer. This line combines the beauty of vintage ephemera with the sophistication of modern design to create a visually and emotionally compelling style. To address the younger market, Fiona formed Cartolina, which features equally chic and unique stationary at a lower price point. Cartolina combines old block prints and antique cartouches with twentieth century lead type and contemporary colors, resulting in a fresh modern twist to stationery design.

"[I was] educated in Scotland. I have a fine art background - painted pictures for a living for a long time and then worked as a graphic designer for 15 years - I "apprenticed" under 2 very talented designers . I have an "old school" knowledge of graphic design which I think really helps because I have a good knowledge of traditional typography and lithography. I understand the techniques that traditional offset printers use and this really helps me get good service, good deals and a great product from the printer. I have a serious aversion to digital printing and very low tolerance for bad typography!"

Accepting Success
"[The most challenging part about having a business is] getting over the fear of success. I have had many sleepless nights wondering how I was going to deal with large orders, inventory control, etc. Nowadays I am past that stage and when i start freaking out about the amount of work that has to be done I just take a deep breath and remind myself how fantastic it has been to have had such good success so far, and that I should celebrate if I run out of cards because it means that we are doing WELL !"

Conquering U.S. and Canada
"We sell to stores all over Canada and the US. We sell to about 200 stores. Some stores are national stationery chains like Paper Source, national gourmet stores like Wholefoods and others are home decor stores and gift stores. We sell to lots of florists and also garden centres."

Landing the First Wholesale Account
"We live in the country - an 8 hour drive to a city. So I was going to Vancouver for the weekend (8hrs) and I took a small box of cards to one of my favourite shops to see if they liked them (at this time I was still a graphic designer). They bought them all. Two weeks later Lisa called me, after seeing my cards in this shop, to see if i would like to work with her and she would take care of all the sales. So I never did another sales call after that first one! I am a terrible sales person!"

Making Contacts at Gift Shows
"We have our products every year at the New York International Gift Fair(twice a year), as well as the San Fransisco Gift Fair(twice a year). We also have our products at the National Stationery Show in New York every spring. These shows are the best way to sign up new accounts. We also make sure that we have new products to launch at the New York show twice a year."

Generating Press
"We have had good luck with the magazines - we just write a nice letter to them and send a box of samples - nothing fancy - just friendly. We have never spent any money on press releases or media packs. We have had wonderful 3 page spreads on our company - we have had loads of seasonal features and lots of general good press."

"I think that press releases and media kits are a huge waste of money and it kills me when i read about new indie designers spending a fortune on expensive PR stuff."

The Power of Blogs
"We always send product updates to the main design blogs - design*sponge and poppytalk-three times a year before the shows. We have very good response from the blogs. We often get new retailers directly from being blogged...and it's free. I do believe that you have to be quite active on the blogs - make frequent comments etc. so that the blogger gets to know you. I think that blogs are an amazing phenomena for small business - such a generous group of people."

Business Challenges
"At the moment the problem for us is the fall in the US dollar. We do so much business State side ( We are in Canada). But the US economy is making a bit of a dent in the exchange rate so we may have to raise our prices - OR buy more supplies in the States to bring our costs down. If the US economy continues to slide we will definitely look at doing more international business in Japan, Australia and Europe."

"I love to see business happening. We live in an extremely remote area and I love that fact that I can do business successfully with beautiful shops in Manhattan from my cottage at the lakeside. I am excited by the fact that I can hear that fax machine spitting out orders every day.......though the fact is that I am deeply involved in this business now - there really is no choice at to whether I am feeling 'motivated' or not - the business chugs along and if i don't get into the studio everyday and take care of orders it will implode!"

Inspired by...
"Vintage design from every era - no matter how you look at it, in the quest for REAL inspiration you will always end up back at the old-stuff - you don't find inspiration at Walmart."

"My husband - he is a briliant designer and illustrator and has taught me a lot over the years."

Words of Advice: Focus, Learn, and Follow Through
"Focus on an industry you love, don't just jump on a current bandwagon. Learn to do everything yourself. It will save you a lot of time and money if you understand every aspect of your industry - including the boring stuff like web development, marketing, PR, accounting etc. After you have done masses of research and you are prepared to commit yourself to your business - work hard and take pride in what you do. Don't spread yourself too thin - focus on a niche and grow slowly."

"All new businesses cost money - being self employed is not CHEAP - as soon as you recognize that you have a position in the market, invest as much money as you can. I hear so many people always trying to get the best price and the cheapest deals when they are starting out, I think this is the wrong time to save money. Most people will barely break even in their first few years of ANY new business. Being a self employed craft person is not a get-rich-quick plan! Work hard, grow your business and the money will start to increase - and as your volumes go up, your costs will come down and you will make more money - it's a basic business plan."

Fiona Richards

Thursday, September 27, 2007

IE Tip 50:

Need some cash or have some to spare? Prosper is the first people-to-people lending marketplace for consumers. Prosper bases its lending principle in a time when people formed personal credit communities and people acted more responsibly towards each other-resulting in better interest rates to borrow or lend. Borrowers can request loans of up to $25,000. They also have to indicate the maximum interest rate they would be willing to pay. Lenders can bid on listings by indicating the minimum rate they would like to accept. When a borrower and lender are matched for a loan, Prosper handles the tasks for payment and collection of the loan.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

IE Tip 49: Woman Owned: Business Networks For Women

A wonderful resource for women entrepreneurs, started in 1997, and through word of mouth has grown to serve over 1.5 million women business owners all over the world. Offering "no nonsense" business advice, the site provides straightforward business information, as well as networking opportunities and resources for women.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Entrepreneurship Panel, Podcast Expo

Step Up Women in Entrepreneurship Panel: Listen to leading women entrepreneurs in fashion, finance, legal services, and marketing candidly speak about their successes and challenges in starting a business. Located in New York, NY. Sept. 26, 2007.

Podcast and New Media Expo: We know how podcasts are gaining popularity as marketing tools. This annual convention educates individuals and companies about how to produce high-quality audio and video digital content (for podcasting), grow a loyal audience, and market your content creatively. Located in Ontario, CA. Sept. 28-30, 2007.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Computer Bags

Computer Bags
Computers are so utilitarian and boring, why not spice them up with one of these vibrant laptop cases and sleeves? (Wouldn't that make work less Probably not.)
1. Angie Green Sequined Laptop Bag by Abbi New York.
2. Cherry Blossom Laptop Bag by Janine King Designs.
3. Gray Felt Laptop Sleeve by Working Class Heroes.
4. Multi-striped Laptop Bag by Dory Designs.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

IE Tip 48: Boss Lady: Because Women Run Businesses

Run by Lauren Bacon and Emira Mears, a pair of business partners and best friends, Boss Lady contains a chockfull of entrepreneurial tips and information from their own experiences in running their own business. Lauren and Emira are currently co-authoring a book on starting a business, but until their book is published, please check out their site here.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Marketing Classes, Transitioning to Self-Employed

How to Successfully Transition from Employee to Self-Employed: Class will discuss basic strategies to making the transition from employee to self employee. It will also provide key approaches to accelerate your transition, and give resources to help put your plan into action. Located in Birmingham, MI. Sept. 17, 2007.

Marketing Magic Workshop: Learn smart marketing strategies such as branding, networking, internet marketing, and public relations. Sponsored by Center for Women. Located in Charleston, SC. Sept. 18, 2007.

Lunch and Learn: Business from the Heart: Series which covers essentials of "marketing with heart" by going to the core of who you are and how you relate to people. Located in Portland, OR. Sept. 20, 2007.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Women For Hope

Pam and Tom Swider run Women For Hope, a web-based business which provides information and resources about various women-related issues such as sexual assault, domestic violence, heart disease, and ovarian cancer.

At the heart of Women For Hope is a shopping boutique that features fun and unique products for women. All the products featured are made by companies that are women owned or run. Pam and Tom also have their own awareness jewelry line in which 10% of the proceeds is donated to the charity connected with that specific cause.

In its quest to combat women-related causes, Women for Hope has partnered with national and local charities that deal with cancer, sexual assault, domestic violence, eating disorders, and AIDS.

Here Pam shares her stories and thoughts on starting Women For Hope:

Pam’s Story
“I am a rape survivor. It was a long road to recovery and the thing that really kept me going was hope. I found that hope in lots of ways, especially from the crisis center I went to and knowing that I wasn’t alone. I also wanted a way to give back to those that helped me and help others every day. My husband, Tom, has a background in counseling, so he really understands where I am coming from. He also taught self-defense classes and knows how important information can be when you are dealing with a trauma. He was right on board with my idea of a company that brought women together to help each other. We work together to make Women For Hope a reality.”

A Balancing Act
“Tom and I both work full time jobs. We have the benefit of working together and both wear a lot of hats. Weekends are pretty packed with working on the site, making jewelry and doing art shows (which we just started) We also work in the evenings, but try to have at least one night during the week when we take a breather.”

“We both have our bachelor’s degrees. I have worked in sales and marketing. Tom has done sales and also [experience in] training and presenting. We also both have started businesses, which didn’t work out, but taught us a lot. Because of our backgrounds, we take things one step at a time. With us both having marketing experience, which has helped us think out of the box and look at things from that point of view, rather than from an artist’s point of view as far as promoting the company.”

Business Challenges
“Finding money to invest into the business is always a hurdle, as well as getting the word out about us to the general public. Time management is always a challenge-reminding ourselves that we need a break every once in a while.” “The most challenging part has been to keep up the slow and steady pace we are on. I think when you start a business, patience is extremely important. It is tempting to try to find that one thing that is going to make you “hit it big” and unfortunately, that just doesn’t happen. The worst thing to do is have big expectations when you are trying to get things off the ground and then getting disappointed. We both learned that from our previous business ventures. We keep each other in check and remind ourselves on a regular basis what our focus is and how we need to take small steps to reach our goals.”

Best of Show
“Our best experience so far was last weekend, we just revamped our display and changing it from kind of basic to a new look. We are using a “woman’s dresser top” as our model. We added big wooden boxes that are like jewelry boxes to display the jewelry. We also added lots of Gerber daisies (our logo and theme of the website) to accent the display. It got lots of ooohs and ahhs and we had a lot of people stop by.”

Marketing Avenues
We market our items mainly through the web. Because of the agreements we have with the non-profits, some of them have put links on their sites to our sites. This has helped both with customers finding us from them and also raising our search engine appearances.” “We also use word of mouth and carry cards with us always. I wear the jewelry as often as I can. I say I am a walking billboard!”

Generating Press
“We have done press releases ourselves, but the biggest press opportunities have come from the cancer charity we work with doing press pushes and including us in this.”

Motivated by…
“The fact our business helps others is a big motivator. It is amazing when we hear from someone how wearing one of our bracelets helps them get through the day. Or getting an email from someone who has been assaulted thanking me for telling my story. It is when I get those that I know I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.”

“We are also motivated about the usual…being our own boss, working for ourselves, financial security, and the pride of owning a business.”

“We are inspired by strong women and men who make a difference. For example, we recently had the opportunity to meet Angela Shelton. She was an actress/writer in Hollywood who decided to do a documentary about women in America. Her hook was to interview all the other Angela Sheltons across the US. Once she started talking to them, she discovered that, like herself, the majority of them had been raped, abused or sexually abused by family members. Her journey leads her to confront her abusive father and in the process find herself. The movie is called “Searching for Angela Shelton.” It was amazing to watch and she was amazing to meet. She has made it her life mission to help those who are survivors of abuse and though she is constantly confronted with stories of trauma, she is uplifting and positive. I hope to be able to touch just a small part of the people she has with her mission.”

Words of Advice-Follow Your Dreams
“ Do what you believe in. Be patient and take each day one day at time. If you have a dream, don’t be afraid to follow it and don’t let someone talk you out of doing what you know is right.”

Pam and Tom Swider
Women for Hope

Thursday, September 13, 2007

IE Tip 47: Craft Revolution: Helping Creative Business Owners Navigate the Waters that Lead to Success

Run by a group of talented crafters, designers, and entrepreneurs, Craft Revolution provides business tips, craft news, and other helpful musings targeted to the indie craft community. They also started podcasting this past August-check out their initial episode here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

IE Tip 46: SBA Office of Women's Business Ownership: Resource for Women Entrepreneurs

The Small Business Administration's Office of Women's Business Ownership (OWBO) assists women achieve their dreams and improve their communities by helping them start and run successful businesses. Check out their website for a great list of women's business centers (organized by state), as well as inspiring success stories of women entrepreneurs who have fulfilled their business dreams.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Women's Expo, Web Class

Build a Web Business: Want to learn how to build a successful web business? This course series uses a suite of online tools to brainstorm a business idea, determine its profitability, write content and build a web business. Students will graduate from the class with a working web site and a blueprint for a successful online business. Located in Reno, NV. September 11, 2007.

Great Women's Expo: Mingle, connect, and network with other women in the West Coast's largest event for women. Keynote speakers include Suzanne Somers, Carnie Wilson, and Fran Drescher. Located in Los Angeles, CA. September 15, 2007.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Midnight Firefly and Allison Biggs Graphic Design

Whether it’s building a website, developing jewelry designs, or creating paper and stationery products for her shop, Allison Biggs does it all with creativity, style, and passion. She started her first business, Midnight Firefly in 2004, creating gorgeous handmade and limited edition jewelry. In the last three years, her style and skill in jewelry design has grown significantly, to a point where she has finally felt like she has come into my own. She is also a freelance graphic designer who enjoys working with other small-business entrepreneurs in a variety of web, print, and media design projects. From her interest in design and a love of paper products, she began designing stationery products which are available at her Etsy shop.

Combining Her Background with Business
“I have a bachelors degree in graphic design. This has helped me with my graphic design business, and paper/stationery, but it also helped a lot with my jewelry design business as well. I believe all the same principals and aesthetics apply themselves to jewelry design, but in a three dimensional way. It helps immensely to be able to do my own branding, websites, and business cards."
A Balancing Act
“I work part time as a graphic designer at a local newspaper, but I still consider working on my businesses as a full time job. Balancing time can be tricky. When you work for yourself, sometimes you feel guilty if you’re not spending every single minute doing something related to your business. There are some points when you just need to walk away and make a conscious decision to take care of yourself, because in the long run, you’ll get much farther.”

Believing in Your Business and in Yourself
“I think that most challenging part of starting your own business is believing in yourself and your ideas. When you start your own business, a lot of people will make you doubt yourself. As long as you believe that you can succeed, and use that belief to build and better your business, there’s not really much that can stop you!”

Generating Press
“For Midnight Firefly, I’ve sent out press releases to highlight different events in the business, such as our donation to the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. This was picked up by a local paper that did a story on the business. For my paper/stationery design, I was able to participate in the media only portion of The Sampler, where they send separate samples to different media contacts.”

Low-Cost Advertising
“Promo swaps and swag bags are a great way to get your product out to people, just make sure to pick the right venue! Also, there are many online blogs that are very affordable for the amount of exposure they give you.”

Business Challenges
“Gaining exposure. Advertising, no matter how big you get is a continuous task. Even if you reach hundreds of people, there are still billions more out there who have never heard of you, and you have to convince them that they need what you have.”

Motivated by…
“Knowing that I don’t want to live an ordinary life. Having goals and a purpose constantly keep me moving. And nothing is a better motivator than a small taste of success.”

Recommended Business Resources
The Switchboards have been an invaluable resource since they day it began. I also recommend reading Guerrilla Marketing. Not everything is 100% applicable for every business, but it gets you thinking about your marketing strategy in an entirely different way. If you’re a woman in need of some business inspiration, defiantly visit Another Girl At Play. It will get you out of a funk when the road ahead seems more than daunting.”

Discovering Inspiration
“I take a lot of my inspiration from nature and fine art. Depending on what I’m working on, my inspiration can come from the materials themselves. I love to let my imagination run wild and see what happens. My ideas hardly ever end up the way they began, but that’s one of the things I enjoy the most!”

Words of Advice-Be True
“As an artist, I’ve found that nothing is more important than being true to your ideas. Once you start designing because you think something is trendy or in style, the magic and soul of your creativity is lost, and so is the joy of the process.”

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Craft Inspiration

Designer's block? Books and other resources that inspire you to create.

Craft Inspiration

Craftivity: Innovatively cool projects by author Tsia Carson, the force behind Supernaturale.

Scribbles Giant Coloring Book: Coloring book for the young and young-at-heart.

Wreck This Journal: Who says journals have to be pristine? Keri Smith encourages, no, requires you to go all out and wreck your journal-step on it, throw it against the wall, splatter paint---all in the name of unleasing creativity.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

IE Tip 45: American Institute for Graphic Arts (AIGA)

AIGA is the oldest and largest professional membership association for creatives in the design field. Its goal is to inform, communicate, inspire, and validate designers and the design profession. Some really handy resources for freelancers or design entrepreneurs are the "Design Business and Ethics" brochures that are published periodically on topics such as educating clients and recognizing legal requirements faced by design firms. The website also has a sample of a standard agreement for design services that you can customize depending on your design engagement.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Pottery by Tasha McKelvey

Tasha McKelvey creates beautiful, yet functional pottery, ceramic buttons and jewelry. In a mass-produced world, her work shines and stands out, as she seeks to make handmade art to make “our surroundings a little more human.” The passion and love for clay art is evident in her products-each texture, each line, and each color combination seems to be lovingly created and chosen with intention.

“I worked as a Potter’s Assistant in high school – so I learned some aspects of the business at a young age. In some ways, I modeled my business too much on my mentors’ business when I could have been marketing my work more effectively. It took me five years to figure that out.”

“I also have a degree in Studio Art – which gave me what I need to know to create my work but was vague on how to make a living from my work.”

Customer of All Ages
“My customers are aged from 5 to 85 and slightly more likely to be female then male. Until a few years ago, the vast majority of my customers were baby-boomer females because I only made functional pottery and marketed it through Fine Art & Craft Shows and Galleries. I always knew that my work would appeal to my contemporaries if only I could find venues that attracted them. Once I got involved with the Etsy community, I was able to connect with Indie Shoppers through Etsy and Indie Shows.”

Listen and Experiment
“I listen to what my customers and potential customers say when I am at retail shows. I like to experiment with new designs and am always thrilled when they are well-received.”

“With my ceramic jewelry, I try to pay attention to trends and I take them into consideration when I design new work.”

Start Up Challenges
“Just figuring out how to run a business when you’re 22, out of school and just want to make your art. There was a big learning curve. I read books on running a craft business and learned from my mistakes.”

Picking the Right Type of Show for the Product
“I steer clear of shows that have a commercial feel about them – my work is appreciated by buyers who are looking for handmade products. I once gave a ‘commercial-type’ craft show a try because it was a slow time of year and I figured ‘what the heck,’ but I ended up feeling like I wasted three days even though I still made a profit. Being at a venue where your work is under-appreciated in favor of mass-produced items being passed off as ‘handmade’ is a depressing experience.”

Craft Shows As Marketing Tools
"I find that the best way to market my work is by making it readily available for purchase in venues such as retail shows and online. In both cases, having good images of my work is an absolute must.”

“I often pick up wholesale accounts and press coverage from both retail shows and selling online.”

Business Challenge
“My biggest challenge at the moment is producing enough new work for my Fall retail shows and the Holiday Season. It is a terrible feeling to know you could have sold twice as much if only you had had been able to make more.”

“I love creating new work and the faster it sells the sooner you get to make even more new work.”

Recommended Business Resources
“The book Crafting as a Business by Wendy Rosen, The Switchboards, Etsy, Indie Craft Shows, and my own art and craft business blog.”

Inspired by…
“The tradition of making beautiful useful objects by hand.”

“The potters I have worked alongside since I was a teenager and all of the other helpful professional artists and crafters I have met over the past 7 years.”

Words of Advice-Learn, learn, learn
“Learn as much as you can about the business end of making and selling handmade work. Do your research before you start a business. Expect to do a lot of hard work.”


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Business Reads

Here are some good business reads for indie entrepreneurs.

Business Reads

How to Start as An Illustrator: Authored by artist Keri Smith, this is a simple, yet rich (and full of links) guide to starting an illustration career.

Fast Company: Great magazine for business leaders.

My First Book of Business Etiquette: Owning your own business means interacting with all types of people-from managers, clients, suppliers. This book details essentials such as how to schmooze, conduct meetings, etc.

Creatively Self-Employed: This book by Kristen Fischer discusses life of the creatively self-employed-from taking the initial plunge, dealing with clients, to maintaining balance. This book shows you how to build confidence in your work, cope with rejection, and maintain a strong business.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Advice for Artists, Lecture on Crafting

Practical Advice For Artists: This lecture by Ashley McLean of McLean Fine Arts provides straightforward, no-nonsense advice on the business side of art for visual artists interested in obtaining exhibitions, building their résumé, promoting their work, and finding gallery representation. Located in Los Angeles, CA. August 28,2007.

Creatively Speaking: Crafting Culture: Lecture and thoughts on the growing craft phenomenon. Located in Seattle, WA. Sept 4, 2007.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Annette Piper

Annette Piper creates beautifully classic one-of-a-kind and limited jewelry featuring gemstones and pearls. Based in Australia, Annette started selling her work locally in 2004 and eventually expanded to shows in neighboring areas in 2005. She was a gemologist for a number of years before she started designing and making jewelry from her home studio.

Annette is inspired by nature, legends, and art. Her passion and dedication to creating quality pieces has led her to source gems from all over the world, ensuring that her customers can find the right piece of jewelry for that special occasion or for every day wear.

Background in Jewelry
“After finishing high school I started work in the jewellery trade, working for a manufacturing jeweller. After a couple of years I decided to do a course in gemology and gained my Diploma of Gemology in 1986 from the Australian Gemological Association. I kept working in the trade until 1989 when I married and repeated moves with my military husband made it easier to work in other fields.”

“Having a background in the trade has been invaluable. I already knew a lot of the ‘tricks of the trade’ by being around a workshop environment. Studying gemology and having a passion for gemstones has defined the type of jewellery I create, [and] makes me more confident when purchasing stones and fosters a confidence in my clients that they are dealing with someone who knows their trade.”

Typical Customer
“My typical customer would be a women over 35 years – one who has confidence in who she is and knows what she likes. She appreciates quality and something a little different yet doesn’t like to stray too far from timeless style.”

Balancing Parenthood and Business
“I have three children. I work during school times and after the children are in bed. During holidays and weekends I can do a bit of work if I have orders or need to prepare for a show. I have been working at my bench since the children were quite small so they are quite used to me working there – they come and watch for a while, ask a few questions and then wander off again!”

Business Challenges
“Falling into a ‘no mans land’ category in the jewellery field. I am not a jeweler – as a rule (at least here in Australia) they emphasize the metal and the stones are an embellishment, whereas I have all the emphasis on the stones/pearls. But on the other hand, I am not a ‘beader’ either as I only use gemstones and pearls. However I do tend to appeal to people who can appreciate the fact that I am different whilst still retaining a stylish/elegant feel.”

“Getting my target market online – a lot of Australia is still not online! Finding suitable places to market my site are a constant frustration – they tend to be aimed at the younger, hip end of the spectrum which is probably the majority of users down here!”

“Finding suitable high-end shows are also a problem. The majority are either * big business/aimed at the wholesale/gift trade, * limited to an art gallery exhibition or * at the other end of the spectrum at a market/fair level – none of which are particularly suitable for my jewellery! Once again this is more of a result of how things work in Australia – ‘indie’ is a bit of an odd concept to most and ‘craft’ means potpourri bags and unprofessional workmanship (note, cities do have a small presence of ‘indie’ but its small and only slowly gathering momentum). There is a real need for the public here to be educated on how much better hand crafted items can be and more shows held to showcase the talent we undoubtedly have tucked away!”

“Overcoming the perception by family and friends that they could have anything they wanted for free! The more I sell, the less they ask for now!”

Selling Outlets
“At a local artisan outlet, online and in person. I also have three retailers – a bricks and mortar boutique, a gallery and an online gift store.”

Landing a Wholesale Account
“A client of mine was wearing my jewellery and was asked by a boutique owner where she had got it – so I got an email from the boutique owner, quite unexpectedly! The next boutique owener saw my jewellery at a show and thought it was perfect for her store. The gallery owner found me online and I gained the online gift boutique via a business forum.”

Show Experiences
“ I have exhibited at a local jazz festival for the last couple of years and although not run off my feet, it was certainly worthwhile attending. I have done private shows and these are always well received and great fun to do – meeting lots of new people and getting wonderful feedback on my jewellery is very satisfying!”

“My worst ‘show’ was a local market – I had a feeling it wouldn’t be suitable but apparently I had been requested. Well, whoever requested me forgot to turn up!!!! It was a disaster!”

Pricing Items
“I don’t do the standard markups – I use a formula as a guideline which takes into account the time taken and the cost of materials, but will go up or down depending on the item and what the market will bear. As I live in a rural area my clients aren’t prepared to pay as much as someone who lives in the city. Some items also take a lot of time to make – I can’t possibly charge the full amount of my labour or no one would buy it – so I take a hit on some items and make a bit more on others to even it all out.”

Ways of Marketing Products
Online – directories and press releases, having your signature in emails and business forums - these all bring prospective clients to my site. I have an irregular newsletter that I send out to subscribers and clients. Elsewhere – print media, letterbox drops, word of mouth. Letterbox drops for a specific event have worked brilliantly. Print media hasn’t proved to be cost effective at all. Word of mouth is still the best advertising.”

Low-Cost Advertising
“[I participate] in business forums that allow your website to be listed in your signature. I also have a cross promotion arrangement with a gift store – I provide some small items of jewellery and discount coupons for the store to give to their clients (that meet my target market) as a ‘bonus’. In return they provide me with some samples and some discount vouchers. I include their sample and voucher with my online sales and a voucher in my carry bag for all in-person sales. This has yet to generate sales that can be identified as coming from this method, but it all has to help!”

Recommended Business Resources
Bruce Baker’s CD’s are invaluable for selling at shows!
Yahoo group – Marketing Artisan Jewellery
Yahoo group – Joolcrafting
Australian business forum –
US creative business forum –
Australian jewellery forum –
Marketing websites -,

Inspired by…
”Looking into gemstones – each stone can be its own little world with its patterns, inclusions, colour(s), lustre, and so on. Art and mythology also have an effect on my designs and combinations. I also love old movies and movie stars of the 40 and 50s – when women were typically portrayed as stylish and elegant.”

Words of Advice-Know, Research, and Present your Product Well
“Research your market – if what you are making doesn’t appeal, then you have to seek out your target market, or you have to change what you are making to fit the market you CAN sell to.”

“Pay attention to the details. If you notice, chances are someone else will as well.”

“Know your product and be able to answer any questions about what has gone into the finished product.”

“Presentation is paramount to enhancing your image. Dress and present your goods according to your target market.”