Monday, February 26, 2007
Sorry for the late posting, but Business Week is searching for women who were previously on the CEO track in corporate America who left to become entrepreneurs. Nominees must have left a management position and be running their own businesses at the time of nomination. If you have a female mentor or role model who fits the criteria, send her story in! Nominations close March 1, 2007.
Interview Skills Panel: Featuring a panel of experts (career coaches, etiquette experts, recruiters) that will help you get the skills you need for a successful interview. Learn how to make an interviewer bump you to the top of the list, on the first impression. Located at the Craft Gym, San Francisco, CA. February 28, 2007, 6:30-8:30 pm.
The Revolution of Craft: Fair featuring independent designers, crafters and artisans. Sponsored by the Nashville Craft Mafia. Nashville, TN. March 3, 2007, 12-5 pm.
I Heart Rummage: Featuring 50 of the Northwest’s indie designers and crafters. Includes a live DJ and brunch at the Crocodile Café. March 4, 2007.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Meet Heather Flottmann, the designer and owner of Liliputians NYC, a hip, indie clothing label specializing in custom, boutique childrens clothes. Her delightful line of handcrafted items reflects her love of bright colors, vintage design, art, and whimsical themes. In addition, all her creations are heirloom quality, limited editions or even one of a kind.
From Lily to Liliputian
“The concept for the liliputians label was born in NYC on May 12, 2004 with the arrival of my[daughter] Lily Belle. She is the inspiration, and she is my muse. Liliputians became a reality about a year later with the completion of the liliputians NYC web site, http://www.liliputians-nyc.com/.”
”Liliputians NYC started as a part-time venture, but is becoming more and more of a full-time proposition; something that I’m striving for and welcoming.”
A Balancing Act
“I’m a proud parent of a 2-1/2 year old girl, Lily. Running a home-based business has been the perfect solution although sometimes a very delicate balance. The bulk of my work is done during nap time and late at night when she’s sleeping. Fortunately I’m able to do much of my web maintenance while watching my daughter since my ibook is portable.”
“My business is rapidly growing, but my responsibilities as a parent stay the same. I have to do more work in the same amount of time. Lily starts Montessori school next fall so that will help considerably, giving me more time to devote to my business.”
Knowing Your Customers
“My customers are typically mothers of small children or grandmothers. There are exceptions to this though, as I also sell women’s clothing. I sell to people all over the world, although the majority of my sales are to the US and Canada.”
“As a children’s clothing designer, I’m always particularly observant of the clothes children are wearing at the playground, what’s in boutiques, what items are getting included in magazines, etc. I also spend a lot of time looking at forums, parenting/children’s magazines and web sites, and do see what the competitors are doing to make sure I’m in line with the current fashion scene yet still offering something unique.”
When Time is of the Essence
“Time management is the biggest challenge and doing everything myself. I do all the web maintenance, ads, pr, design, photography, etc. It can sometimes be overwhelming, but I’ve found that organization and sticking to a schedule helps. A sense of humor comes in handy too!”
Advertising an Online Business
“Since liputians is an online business, my advertising has essentially all been online. I run ads on websites that target my audience as well as actively pursue getting reviewed on suitable web sites.”
“I educated myself about SEO for my website to get top ranking in search engines, have swapped links with other indie businesses I like, liliputians is included on a few top site lists, and I’m constantly looking for free review opportunities.”
Generating A Buzz
“Liliputians submits press releases about 2-3 times a year when we offer a new collection or have news that is worthy of issuing one. I also contact editors for product inclusion or reviews on web sites and for print.”
“At this point I do all of my own press work, but I’m reaching a point where it’s just too much for me to keep up with with everything else. I would love to hire an outside press PR firm. I’m particularly impressed with 32Flavors PR and would love to hire them to help get my business to the next level.”
“My daughter Lily is my inspiration and muse. I create things that reflect my interests and tastes and know she will like too.”
“My parents [also] inspire me as they work from home long-distance for a company and have created a niche for themselves in their field and have had great success doing something they enjoy.”
Recommended Business Resources
“There isn’t a particular book I would recommend, but would tell other small business owners to utilize the internet. There is a wealth of free information! I subscribe to a couple of newsletters for web maintance/html/java tips and SEO. I’ve gone online for answers about taxes, business paperwork, and other things.”
Words of Advice
“Do something you love since it will take a tremendous effort to get your business started.”
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Monday, February 19, 2007
Inside Secrets to Building a Successful Home-Based Business: Network luncheon featuring a guest speaker and vendor presentations. Sponsored by Moms Making Money. Located in Arcadia, CA. February 24, 11:30-2:30 pm.
All Media Party: Networking event and after-work, cocktail party for media professionals. Sponsored by Media Bistro. Located in San Diego, CA. February 21, 2007, 6-8 pm.
Etsy Tea Party: Weekly meet-up at Etsy Labs to introduce the space and have tea with fellow crafters. Located in New York City, NY. February 21, 4-6 pm.
Friday, February 16, 2007
You dream it and Carey Bunker will create it! Carey, the owner of Lass’od Moon Designs, creates custom invitations for every phase of your life-from birthdays, to weddings, to birth announcements. Here she talks about her business, her family, and everything in between.
In the Business of Love
“My business is creating handmade custom invitations (or announcements ) for brides, moms-to-be or any one in need of an event invitation. We also provide access to over 500 different favors. We have the big books from Carlson Craft for those brides who are short on time and a full line of wedding gifts and accessories from Cathy’s Concepts. I’ve been in business two years as of February, 2007.”
“My typical customer is the first time bride, usually in the 25-35 range, though I’ve worked with older and younger brides.”
“I am the mother of two boys, one of whom stays home with me during the day while the other is in school full time. It presents a real challenge to getting done all that I need to do. But I’m fortunate to have support from my husband and family who can watch him if I’m getting behind.”
“My typical work day –I wish I had one! Each day seems to bring its own set of challenges, but I mostly work in the afternoons, early evenings and after the kids go to bed if need be.”
Planning From Scratch
“Making a business plan is probably one of the most important things you can do (I say this because I flew by the seat of my pants, and still do, but I wish I had sat down in the beginning, researched a bit more and really considered all the costs).”
“Most (like the favors) are keystone, though with the handmade invitations, it really depends. I try to keep the costs minimal, but still make enough to pay the bills. If I see a client is concerned about cost, I’m happy to suggest any number of ways to save money. You can’t be in this business and not be accommodating. I also want the brides to get what they want—if they’ve got their heart set on a certain design, I’ve been known to offer discounts to help them out.”
Stretching Her Marketing Dollars
“I mostly market online (relying heavily on SEO) and Google’s adwords. I also attend a lot of bridal shows throughout the year, which is really key to getting to know my main clients (brides) and getting my products out there. I’ve had horrible luck with newspaper advertising. There’s a saying that a potential customer has to see your ad at least 8 times before they’ll really act on. For that money, I can attend 2-3 bridal shows.”
“[Another] free way I advertise is though my company’s blog. Google loves their own blogs, so it’s a great way to get exposure for my site. I also include my website on any forums that I belong to. I have also listed by site on as many wedding related sites as possible that offer free link exchanges…. We [also] have a couple of local papers that publish articles about new businesses for free.”
Keeping It In the Family
“I haven’t had to outsource [my labor] yet, but I have bribed my sister into helping me over the next few weeks. Each year has brought more business, so I’m not quite sure what to expect, but it’s already busier than I had anticipated for this year.”
Friend and Mentor
“I have a good friend who has owned her own business for almost 10 years (but worked for the previous owner for many years before that). She’s always willing to answer my questions and let me vent about vendors who’ve dropped the ball. She’s great with advice too.”
What Keeps Her Lassoing the Moon
“Love (as corny as that sounds) and color. I also love to watch those insane million dollar weddings. You just never know where the next trend or big idea is going to come from.”
“I’m also motivated by creativity. I love weddings and I love being able to help people make this part of the process easier.”
Recommended Business Sources
“I’ve found a lot of help at www.I-Wed.org and another private forum that I belong to for stationers. But mostly, it has been trial and error. I’d also recommend The Switchboards and WAHM.com.”
Words of Advice
“Patience. Patience. Patience. Building a business from scratch takes an incredible amount of time. It’s also more expensive than most realize. There are many things to consider when first starting out. How will you pay for it? How will people find out about you? Are there things you are willing to sacrifice to make that happen? Are you willing to work for peanuts (or to be in the hole for a while)? What are your goals for the next 5 or even the next 10 years? Which is better…strawberry or grape jelly?”
“Perhaps the most important question you can answer for yourself is what will it take for you to feel successful? Is it a lot of money? Is it enjoying what you do? Is it both? Believe in what you do, and there’s no way you can fail. It’s kind of like the quote from Field of Dreams –“if you build it, they will come” (sometimes it just takes a while).”
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Check out their website-this is a must-go event for aspiring and even established entrepreneurs!
Friday, February 9, 2007
Megan Cole of Casto Creations creates one of a kind and limited edition jewelry designs using gemstones, pearls, crystal, glass, and precious metals. In August 2002, she attended a jewelry-making activity and she was hooked from there on out. Of course, her passion for jewelry is not surprising, as jewelry design runs in the family and Megan’s grandparents cut stone and designed award winning jewelry. Here Megan talks about her turning her passion into a successful business:
The Casto Customer
“Casto Creations customers tend to be females of all ages, and even a few men who love to buy unique gifts for their significant other. They are folks who love direct customer service and attention along with top quality jewelry.”
Working From 9 to 5
“A typical work day …starts bright and early at 5 a.m., getting ready for the hour commute to the “real” job…until 5 p.m. when [I arrive] back home to sit down in front of the computer to work on the website and answer e-mails. If there’s time during the week some jewelry design gets accomplished, but that’s typically what the weekends are for.”
“I think the most challenging aspect of starting a business was actually having the mindset of being a “business” instead of a hobbyist. The decision to sell my work as an actual business was fairly stressful. I make jewelry because I love it but I would have ended up drowning in jewelry if I hadn’t decided to sell it to others. After making the decision, the second hardest thing was organizing myself as a business instead of a craft. Setting goals, putting together a website, advertising…all these things were new and scary. But I kept on going, pushing through the doubts and focused on the future.”
“Getting my name out there is a huge challenge, especially in the jewelry industry. There are hundreds of small jewelry designers trying to get their names seen and heard, and an equal number of people making their own jewelry as a hobby. Finding a niche in such a large ocean is a constant ongoing effort.”
“Selling at craft shows is how I first started selling my work. My first show cost me $20 to enter and I sold $80 in product. I was thrilled! I thought I’d done absolutely fantastic. Of course, if I did that today I’d probably cry, but that’s the difference in experience. I’m much more choosy about what shows I attend. My worst experience has to be when it started raining, after several very hot days, and I found out that my tent leaked!”
“Pricing [products] is always a tough thing, but I’ve finally come up with a formula that factors in the price of raw materials, labor, overhead expenses along with any other charges may apply for the piece. Under pricing work is a beginner’s mistake that I continue to struggle with.”
From Her Mouth to Yours
“Word of mouth is the best and most reliable source! The next best thing is using Constant Contact to send out newsletters to current clients. Keeping current clients is much easier than finding new ones.”
“My marketing includes internet banners purchased on various independent websites as well as ads in national magazines purchased via Indie Finds, a group of independent artists who pool their resources for greater influence to compete against the “big box” stores.”
“My approach is very laid back and fairly informal. I’ve sent out one press release, but mostly I contact independent venues (i.e. Rare Bird Finds, Nole Style & Beauty) directly via e-mail. Soon I plan to create a press packet to send to local boutiques.”
Keeping on the Fashion Pulse
“I subscribe to several fashion magazines as well as several industry related magazines. I browse the internet a lot and frequent various fashion related forums to interact and find out what people are looking for.”
“Beauty in the natural stones created by mother nature amaze me – I’m constantly discovering new stones and am astounded by nature’s variety.”
Recommended Business Resources
The Switchboards is a fantastic, unlimited resource for women business owners. Indie Finds is a wonderful group of independent artists who are finding their way through the world of advertising together. Lightning Bug Designs is an amazing small business with smokin’ web design skills. Reasonable Insanity – join strange people with great advice – not just for jewelers.”
“I’ve become a huge fan of Amy Peters as well as Nicole of Yen Jewelry ."
Words of Advice
“Learn as much as you can to get the basics of your ‘art’ or ‘craft’ – it’s hard to undue a bad impression due to lack of skill if something goes wrong with an item purchased early in your startup. And do as much research as possible in as many different venues as possible. Go online, go shopping in B&M stores, go to arts and craft shows, and ask people you know what they are looking for in a product. And most importantly, be open and willing to change.”
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
This weekend, I read an old magazine article on “The Art of Doing Nothing,” which talks about the importance of undertaking periods of silence and contemplation to stimulate efficiency and creativity in our lives. For entrepreneurs in the creative and design field, this is an important concept, as our businesses are based on designing and creating products or services. In order to start or maintain a successful business, we are constantly on our toes, innovating new products to please our customers.
When the mind is too busy, the mind becomes too full. Think of a cup filled to the brim, with no room to absorb new information, new knowledge, or new ideas. Ideas then become stale and may even lead to creative blockage. Once in a while, it is necessary to flush out the old stuff to find space for new things. Empty out our cup by pouring out the contents.
Detoxifying the mind, however, is not as easy as it seems. For me, the state of doing nothing can feel uneasy, even scary at times. However, practicing the art of doing nothing allows us to open our minds and declutter, allowing us to pay attention to things that matter. It also allows us to find things to inspire and reach new creative heights.
The Art of Doing Nothing: Simple Ways to Make Time for Yourself by Veronique Vienne and Erica Lennard
Monday, February 5, 2007
South Bay Craft Group Meeting & Workshop: Craft group started by Crafterster readers in the South Bay, California area. This week they are making handcarved stamps. Feb. 7, 6:30-9 pm. Located in Campbell, CA.
Entrepreneurial Skills Conference: Includes 2 days of conference sessions, participation in the Business Simulation Challenge, materials, exhibits, continental breakfast,lunch and reception. Feb. 8 and 9, 2007. Located in Mountain View, CA.
Florida Creatives Happy Hour: Monthly networking event for entrepreneurs, filmmakers, thespians, bloggers and podcasters, artists, designers, architects. Feb. 11, 2007, 6:30 – 9:30 pm. Located in Maitland, FL.
2007 DIY Convention: Offers panels on podcasting, licensing music, blogging, MySpace/YouTube success, book publishing and digital entertainment. The event focuses on creating, promotion, protecting and distributing independent film, music, books and digital media as related by people who have achieved success. Feb. 8-9, 2007. Located in Los Angeles, CA.
Friday, February 2, 2007
San Francisco, Barcelona, Singapore. No, this is not my travel itinerary, but just a few of the numerous “futuristic secret agent” characters featured in Liz Goh’s delightful line of baby onesies, tees, and paper goods under her company, Goh Girl. Somewhat of a superhero herself, just like many indie entrepreneurs, Liz is an efficient one-woman operation-designer, artist, creator, marketer, accountant…you name it!
“For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to do something in the creative arts. However, growing up in an environment where the creative arts wasn’t understood or nurtured, I didn’t embrace my passion until several years after I graduated from college. In my spare time or during off hours after my 9-5 job, I enjoyed drawing. I started illustrating these oddly cute characters that gained some popularity amongst my family and friends. Many of those close to me started encouraging me to do something with these drawings so I made the plunge and started my own small business. In 2005, gohgirl was born and I printed my illustrations on women’s tee’s and note cards.”
“I was totally overwhelmed with the business aspects of starting/running a company. I had the idea for the product but felt like I didn’t have the knowledge of how to get it developed. For example, I had the final illustrations I wanted to use on tee shirts but I didn’t have the tee shirts, didn’t know the cost of the shirts, where to buy the shirts, how to buy the shirts, who would screenprint them and what those costs would be, etc.”
“I got over these challenges by just jumping in with both feet and figured everything out step by step. Initially, I was scared and not wanting to do anything to move forward but I knew I wanted to start a business so it didn’t matter what I didn’t know. I just educated myself. I did some research online and started off by registering my business name, getting a business license, a resale license, etc. and with each step, I felt myself becoming more confident in understanding how a business operates.”
Best of Show…
“My best [shopping show] experience was a 2 day event. The show was well organized and the organizers were very friendly. I found it especially nice that the organizers visited each vendor booth to introduce themselves. I was also surrounded by nice neighbors so it was a bonus having such a friendly atmosphere. I think having such a positive vibe adds to having a great show experience.”
And Worst of Show…
“My worst experience is not because of the show or the organizers but I was just in the wrong market. The audience wasn’t right for my products. It was very frustrating and disappointing since I had really high expectations about the show and sales.”
“Since I’m a new business, I mostly do everything on my own. I also try to incorporate my talented friends/family to assist me with PR. A good friend just wrote a press release for me!”
“For marketing, I signed up with several business directories featuring independent businesses. I work with Indiefinds.com, Risingdesigners.com, The Happily Handmade Giveaway, The Sampler, and the Switchboard swaps. When I have the budget, I do advertise in shopping blogs … I contact local papers, shopping/fashion related blogs, and send information to magazines.”
Hit and Misses
“So far, it’s been a hit or miss with the different methods… meaning I may advertise in a blog one month that drives a ton of traffic and sales but the next time I advertise in the same blog, I receive little traffic and sales. I haven’t quite figured out what works best yet.”
“ [In addition,] my biggest challenge is trying to find marketing/advertising avenues that are inexpensive. I don’t have a huge budget for it but at the same time, I need to get my brand name out there.”
With a Little Help from Friends
“Right now, I ask my friends/family about what items they would like to see. I run all my illustrations/ideas through a select group of people before developing the final product. I also have a question about this in my e-newsletter sign up so visitors/customers can share product ideas with me.”
Passion and Persistence
“I motivate myself and it also helps that my significant other is VERY supportive. Doing something creative, especially in clothing is my passion and goal in life. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue this at this time in my life and I want to give it everything I have. I will succeed because I love my job!”
Recommended Business Resources
TheSwitchboards.com, Mals-e.com, Statcounter.com, Wordpress.com, Business.gov.
Words of Advice
“Don’t be easily discouraged. In business, you’ll encounter those who totally understand and love your products and then there will be those who absolutely don’t like it. Get used to the fact that not everyone is going to like your designs or products. That’s just life. The only thing you need to do is be confident in yourself and your products.”
“You’ll also make many mistakes along the way but don’t look at it as failure. Instead, they are all lessons towards growing your business and increasing your knowledge about running a business.”