Friday, January 26, 2007

Event Bliss, SchotlandPR, and Portland Mamas, Inc

A triple threat-that sums up Marlynn Jayme Schotland. As a full-time mom and the founder of three thriving businesses (Event Bliss, a custom stationery and graphic design studio, SchotlandPR, a public-relations firm specializing in mama-owned/family-owned businesses, and Portland Mamas Inc., a local resource and networking organizations for mom entrepreneurs), Marlynn's wealth of experiences and knowledge is a pleasure to share! Here she talks about her life as a mother, her business tips, and her motivations and inspirations:

Life As A Mom Entrepreneur
“I am a full-time mom to a 2-1/2 year old son and have a baby girl on the way! I think most parents would agree that there is no such thing as balance [between motherhood and business]; it is the mythical beast that needs to be stricken from all parenting magazines and books and all business articles. I like to say that it’s just living life on a scale, and sometimes the scale tips more toward parenting and sometimes it tips more toward business. There is never a total and equal balance.”

“I work whenever my son is napping, sleeping, at night, on weekends, etc. I purposefully have structured my businesses so that they are truly family-friendly and I make them work for me: most of my clients are also moms, and my son comes with me to 90% of all meetings, because the nature of my clientele and my businesses allows me to do so. I also make sure to schedule in playdates as well, which are just as important for me as a mom and as a business owner whose target audience consists of mothers, as they are for him as a kid!”

Typical “Marlynn” Day
“I think most moms who work and have kids home with them full-time will agree there is nothing typical about any day… like today for instance, I could be working on the following: for Event Bliss, two different wedding stationery designs, my new stationery line, three Mama Calling Card designs, updating my website and reconfiguring/cursing my cart, and promotional postcards for a business design client; for SchotlandPR …an 8-piece speaker’s kit for one client, writing a press release for another, and brainstorming how to package a new product launch for yet another client; for Portland Mamas Inc... updating the Events Calendar, writing a blog post, checking in periodically with the Forum, responding to anywhere from 20 to 100 emails…That sums up what I did today for the most part in between hanging out with my son, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning up constantly, and consuming lots and lots of chocolate!”

Making Her Mark
“The majority of my clients come through word of mouth, and after about six months I started getting a steady stream of repeat clients and their friends and family. I do newsletters to my database every once in a while, offer products or gift certificates for various events that reach my target market, put business cards in coffee shops and fun retail stores, and just generally get the word out where and when I can. Media relations and not marketing has definitely garnered the most amount of business in one chunk of time for me, but overall I think it’s just all of the little things I do here and there that have cast a greater net of customers.”

“About once a year I will spend less than $100 on a small online boutique ad with a media outlet I know my customers love or on a couple of ads with small online businesses that I want to support. I’ve been able to work out some co-marketing partnerships too where I’ve gotten free ads in exchange for a product or service. That said, if I had a lot of extra cash lying around, I would probably do more ads just to get the name out there more. But I don’t, so I stick with mainly marketing and PR tactics to build my business.”

Knowing Her Clientele
“I send targeted surveys to past clients, as well as do my own market research and analysis of the related industries. Surveys are critical, and I do them for all of my businesses whenever I can.”

Obstacles Along the Way
“Funding has definitely been and continues to be a constant challenge, especially since I have been using savings. Right now, however, I have a lot of plans for expansion of the businesses and those plans will need upfront spending which will likely require business loans.”

“Other than that, I think my initial main challenge was finding others in similar situations who could share advice, resources, and really talk about what it is like to be a mom AND a business owner. I was involved with several professional organizations, but none of them offered me both – it was either a moms’ group where we talked about mothering, or a professional group where we talked about how to increase business. That’s why I started Portland Mamas Inc. – I knew there were other moms out there who wanted to start their own businesses too, but wanted to talk about things like how to find good childcare, how to structure work times versus play times, how to balance relationships with partners and also how to balance new accounting spreadsheets. ”

What Keeps Her Going
“The constant support of family and friends, the thrill of coming up with a new design for a client or for myself, the “I love it!” happy comments and smiles from happy clients; helping other moms and watching their own small businesses blossom; coffee and chocolate; the fact that when I wake up I answer to myself and that no matter what happens, I can say that I did what I dreamed of doing and that is enough to motivate me to do anything else.”

“[My mentors are] all of the women in Portland Mamas Inc. – I learn from them each and every day. And it’s cliché, but my mother, who has always been a working mom and now runs here own company.”

Recommended Business Resources
“[I recommend websites such as ] SCORE, SBA, Portland Mamas Inc. , local and national business publications…and magazines such as Entrepreneur, Inc., [and] Fast Company. I’m a mom so I don’t have time to read many books these days, just magazines and online publications!”

Words of Advice
“Find others who run their business the way you want to run yours and learn their secrets. Ask people about their mistakes and how they overcame them. Research like crazy, especially before making any large purchases. Be prepared to work long, long, long hours and be committed to making it work. But make it work on your terms. Only you can determine what success means to you, and remember that ultimately, at the end of the day, all of the successes and all of the failures rest on your shoulders and yours only (at least in the beginning). Most of all, have fun with it and make sure you have a solid support system of friends, family, colleagues and contacts.”

Marlynn Schotland
Event Bliss
Portland Mamas Inc.

1 comment:

SayitBetterKare said...

In addition to, "co-marketing partnerships" she and your other readers can forge other kinds of money-saving partnerships that actuall generatel more visibility and value than traditional "solo" advertising & promo. See the article on ross-promotion at . Kare Anderson, author, SmartPartnering, Walk Your Talk & more