Friday, January 19, 2007

Peggy Li Creations

Meet Peggy Li, the creative brain behind Peggy Li Creations (PLC), a company specializing in handmade jewelry designs that are deceptively simple, with “artisan craftsmanship mixed with contemporary approaches to contrast, color, texture and composition.” Peggy has built a successful brand, with her designs gracing the magazine pages of Lucky and Oprah and adorning celebrities from TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Medium, and CSI: Miami. Here Peggy shares her tips on getting to know your customers and marketing your brand, and recommends her favorite business resources.

A Balancing Act
“I had a full time job for the first five years of my business. I've been part-time for over a year now. Working both jobs gave me a lot of freedom for my business, but not a lot of time for sleep! You essentially live, breathe, sleep your business when you have to juggle both. But I understood the tradeoff I was making.”

“I wake up, check email, [and] head off to the day job (3 days a week). Answering emails and then filling orders are my priority. After those tasks, it is PR, new designs and updating my website.”

Knowing your Customers
“My typical customer is a woman in her 30's who appreciates simple, clean design that is timeless, unique and feminine…I keep my eye on the latest trends by shopping, reading fashion magazines and doing the pop-culture thing and watching lots of movies and TV (which I would do anyway!).”

Getting the Peggy Li Name Out
“[I send press kits out] to the appropriate magazine editor as well as [make] the occasional cold call. I only cold call if I feel the magazine or whatever is a good fit for my product. Know about the magazine or person you are going to talk to before you call! The more knowledgeable and professional you are, the better your chances.”

“I regularly look for fashion websites and request reviews of my sites or products. I have found that magazines and websites that focus on shopping or fashion have been the best drivers of sales for my site. I [also] write a blog about fashion and my business, which is a great way to help drive traffic to your site.”

“Having a good website is very useful, since you can always refer press to your site to see your product and learn more about you…I use paid advertising like Google Adwords with a very targeted keyword for my business…I make sure my site is search engine- friendly and looks as professional as I can make it. This allows my site to be found easily by someone online and gives them an easy shopping experience when they arrive. The site must have clear pictures, helpful descriptions, and a way to contact me with any questions.”

From Lucky to Buffy
“I had met the costume designer for Buffy previously (as a journalist) and sent her a press kit and samples and they liked what they saw and put it on the show! That was my first placement and those relationships have held me in good stead ever since then. I don't recommend this method for everyone -- a press kit and line sheet should do the job. Mostly, you need to remember to be persistent and not let the rejections (and I've had more of those than yeses) [get you down].”

Encountering Challenges …
“Right now the biggest challenge is deciding how to grow my business, setting new goals..., and not losing momentum…[Another] challenge is being able to take rejection and stay committed to the business. It takes a lot of work and it is a *business* -- you have to learn about your industry and make business decisions and not just be an artist.”

And Persevering Through Them
“I love to create beautiful things that people enjoy. I love the challenge of running a business and learning how to make that better. [However, you have to] know your strengths and weaknesses. Stay persistent. Know your market and try and learn as much as you can about your business. Dream big, but don't forget to set realistic milestones for yourself!”

Recommended Business Resources
“I frequently read The Switchboards Forum to network with other small business owners. I'm currently listening to "The E-Myth" on tape, about entrepreneurs and small business. I read fashion magazines and learn about other businesses and what they are doing to be successful -- you can learn a lot from your peers, or by seeing what designers you admire do.”
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