Thursday, May 31, 2007

IE Tip 18: Be in the Know

Stay ahead of the curve by knowing the trends before they become mainstream. is fueled by 11,000+ trendhunters all over the world who are in search of the next cool thing. Start with the two-minute guide to trend spotting and innovation and be inspired.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

IE Tip 17: Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration is an invaluable resource for those wanting to learn the ins and outs of starting and running a small business. Take their boundless free online classes in topics like finance and accounting, business management, or e-commerce.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

IE Tip 16: Find Your Voice:

Tired of listening to long-winded voicemails? Register at and opt to receive your voicemails as emails for FREE! No more wasting your time retrieving voicemails and make more time for things that really matter.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Workshops and More

How to Track and Get Results: How to Make Your Website Work for You: Free presentation that will help you identify web design issues, monitor your site, and write for your web. Located in Lakewood, CO.May 29, 2007, 6:30-8 pm.

Getting Unstuck Workshop: Interactive workshop that will get into the core of what's keeping you from moving forward with your business. Located in New York, NY. May 29, 2007, 6-8 pm.

Marketing Thought-Ideas that Drive Results: Workshop that focuses on marketing ideas and strategies that bring results. Located in Santa Clara, CA. May 31, 2007.

Crafterbation: Social networking event for crafters. Located in Pittsburgh, PA. May 31, 2007.

Blogging as a Business Tool: Speaker series with Marc Orchant, Chief Evangelist at Foldera and ZDNet blogger on using blogging as an effective business tool. Located in Albuquerque, NM. May 31,2007, 11:30-1:00.

Art Star Craft Bazaar: Features work by over 100 artists and crafters, including interactive craft demonstrations. Located in Philadelphia, PA. June 2, 2007.

The Needle Art's Market: Market attracts upscale, independent needleart buyers from all over the United States and abroad. Features 900+ booths and more than 430 needleart suppliers. Highlights include over 300 hours of business and technique classes, Retailers' Luncheon, Fashion Show, Sample It!, Silent Auction and the Galleria Reception. Located in Columbus, OH. June 2-4, 2007.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

IE Tip 15: Women In Technology International: Build, Empower, Inspire

WITI is a global organization of women who use the power of technology in their profession, whether it be marketing, sales, or management. Explore the WITI community, or browse network events, teleseminars, and conferences in its many regional networks.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

IE Tip 14: FTC Consumer Complaint Form: Fight Back Fraud

Do you have any internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints? Fill out and submit a complaint form with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and they will investigate your complaint.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Entrepreneur Events

We're making money now -- help! How to go from one-woman band to managing a team: Panel of experts talk about how to grow your business and deal with payroll, employment law, discrimination, and other administrative issues. Located in Sherman Oaks, CA. May 22, 2007, 8-10 am.

Special Talk about Entrepreneurship by Magic Johnson COO Kawanna Brown: FREE talk about entrepreneurship and business given by Kawanna Brown, managing partner and COO for Magic Johnson Enterprises. Located in Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA. May 22, 2007, 5:30 pm.

Friday, May 18, 2007

2 Hounds Design

Meet Alisha Navarro, the owner of 2 Hounds Design, a company which makes designer dog collars and leashes using silk fabric, batik prints, handloomed silk, and jacquard ribbon from all over the world. She specializes in Martingale Collars for larger breeds, but offer collars for all breeds and sizes. Here Alisha shares her company history, business challenges, and helpful tips.

Typical Customers
“Most of my customers have sighthounds (ie, Greyhounds, Whippets, Italian Greyhounds, etc) but I am finding a growing market of martingale collar customers because trainers so often recommend them. My customers usually work with adoption groups or breed rescue organizations, but do not fit easily into age or gender categories.”

From Engineer to Business Owner
“ I quit my “real” job as an Engineer just over 3 years ago and I work more hours and I work harder than I EVER worked at my “real” job, but I love what I do and never regret my decision [to make 2 Hounds Design my full-time job.]”

How Her Education Helped in Her Business
“Oddly enough, I have a Master’s Degree in Applied Physics. ..I have a very analytical brain. I still use these skills even though I no longer work in any of these fields. My research background combined with my insane need to know everything (HA!) is what helps me find new sources for fabric, ribbons, etc. I have also used my programming background to help me design and update my own website, which helped tremendously in the beginning because I didn’t have to pay anyone to do these things for me.”

Hiring Her Employees

“I [currently] have 4 employees. I hired my first employee to help me build inventory for shows, she sewed at home and worked just a few hours/week. I got a huge wholesale order one week, asked if she could come in and work with me in my workroom and she started working more hours because business never slowed down after that. I have since added 3 other employees.”

Encountering Challenges

“The stress! I stress every day about whether my orders are shipping fast enough (custom work takes time) or whether my website is updated often enough. You name it, I stress about it. I find that I am one of those people that can’t get anything done unless there is a deadline. The more I have to do, the more I get done.”

Best and “Worst” of Show

“My best AND worst show experiences are actually the same place. There is a huge greyhound gathering in Dewey Beach, DE…The first year I went, my space in the tent was LITERALLY under 6 inches of water. My husband built a bridge for my customers because they couldn’t even get to my table." (See pix below)

“The event turned out great, we sold a lot of collars and people smiled and used our bridge and we all called it the “boardwalk” and had a great time.”

Unsolicited Press, Good Press
“So far, all of the press I have gotten was unsolicited. Country Living magazine contacted me last year and asked me to send collars, I did but honestly didn’t think anything would come of it, but I was in the October issue of the magazine. I have also been in Skirt! Magazine (with my hounds! ) and the Charlotte Observer. I am planning to start doing press releases this year and I am keeping my fingers crossed!”

“I am inspired by the things around me. Sometimes a costume in a movie will inspire me, sometimes a picture in a magazine will grab my attention.”

Mentors-Good People Who Do Good Things
“My mentors are people who do good things for other people. I love what Oprah has done for the country with her charities and starting the book club to get more people reading.”

Recommended Business Sources
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber is an ABSOLUTE must for any business! I learned so much and it caused me to take a totally different approach to my business and my personal life has improved greatly.”

Words of Advice – Blood, Sweat and Tears
“Don’t give up! It takes patience, sweat, tears, and even blood to get a business of the ground but it is SO worth it!”


Alisha Navarro
2 Hounds Design
Phone Number: 704-283-1547

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

IE Tip 13: Better Business Bureau: For Better Business

Not sure about dealing with a particular business or merchant? Go to Better Business Bureau, and find out about a company's history, contact info, and complaints that were filed. For example, I recently searched for Fire Mountain Gem Beads (a bead mail-order and catalog company) and found that it had a satisfactory record and had two resolved complaints within the last 36 months.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

IE Tip 12: The Sampler: Sample and Contribute

Discover The Sampler, a neat and fun promotional marketing tool that really aims to reach your target customers. Each month, indie crafters, artists, and stores send in samples of their products to a contribution pool of other indie businesses. The samples are photographed, posted to the site, and sent in as packages to Sampler contributors and subscribers. A great way to really send in a piece of your business to customers worldwide.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Shows, Networking, Workshops

How to Conduct a Productive Meeting: Class that teaches techniques and dynamics of small group meetings. Located in Birmingham, MI. May 17, 2007, 7:30-9:30 AM.

Fine Art and Designer Crafts on Bleeker: Art and crafts design show. Located in New York, NY. May 20, 2007, 11 am to 6:30 pm.

Younger Women’s Task Force Networking Event: Networking event for women to build their leadership and professional skills. Sponsored by the Younger Women’s Task Force. Located in Boston, MA.

Business Etiquette Workshop: Provides essential etiquette skills, especially for businesses dealing with customer service and clients. Located in Santa Clara, CA. May 16, 2007, 9 am-4 pm.

Bazaar Bizarre: Meet your favorite crafters selling their amazing wares at this popular nationwide craft show. Located in San Francisco, CA. May 19-20, 2007.

Michigan Etsy Craft Extravaganza: Show of Etsy artist and crafters from all over Michigan get together for one day of sweet crafty goodness. Sponsored by Etsy. Located in Royal Oak, Michigan. May 20, 2007, 12 pm-6 pm.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

IE Tip 11: Looking for indie craft shows and events?

Visit Indie Craft Shows, a user-driven calendar of craft shows, festivals, and other events featuring indie, handmade items. List your event, or browse events from all over the country.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

IE Tip 10: Be Reminded

Yes, you are one busy bee, juggling family, friends, work, a business. Register for a free service with Memo To Me, and you'll never have to miss important family occasions, work deadlines, and business meetings. Program events you need to be reminded of and when you need the reminder, and the service will sent reminders via your email. Upgrade to the platinum edition, and have reminders sent to your mobile phone or pager.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Craft Fairs, LawYours

LawYours: Connecting Startups and Law Firms: FREE event that connects law firms and entrepreneurs who are creating a start up and seeking venture capital funding. Located in Palo Alto, CA. May 10, 2007.

Got Craft?: Fun and unique event featuring a modern twist to the traditional craft fair. Located in Vancouver, Canda. May 12-13, 2007.

Maven Craft Fair: Craft fair featuring works of emerging indie artists and designers. Located in San Francisco, CA. May 12, 2007.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Cioccolatina: Handmade Natural Skin Care

Akua Wood founded Cioccolatina in November 2002 in response to her frustration in trying to find a natural range of toiletries to moisturize her skin, as well as to fulfill her need to work at home in order to look after her disabled daughter. Now, only 4 short years later, Cioccolatina has formed a cult following with her fine range of shea butter, olive oil, and other natural skin products. Akua shares her experiences in building Cioccolatina:

Typical Customer
“I have a diverse range of customers all over the world. The typical customer being 28 years of age and mainly female.”

Balancing Act
“Although I am self-employed, I work part-time. I do not have any full time job and have to balance my time as a “mother/wife/business woman”. As a parent, I work hard and long hours and have very little time for myself.”

Typical Akua Day
“Most of my working days start at 07:30 and finish at 22:00. This is mainly made up of responding to customers’ emails, packing/dispatching orders and answering telephone calls.”

Where to find Her Products
“Cioccolatina products are sold mainly via my website. Our retail shop in Sonning (Berkshire- UK) will soon be open to the buying public.”

Keeping in Touch with Customers
“As a business woman, I tend to follow the trend by generally reading specific magazines.”

Challenges in Building a Business
“The most challenging part was providing customers the right products which I have been able to achieve.”

“[Other challenges include changes in] market trends, problems to overcome with suppliers being late with deliveries or packages getting lost in the post. You need determination and pre-planning.”

Inspiration in the Mix
"Mixing up a cream with natural ingredients that my customers love to purchase and use."

Her Father, the Mentor
"My father who introduced me to the use of herbs at a very early age."

Words of Advice: Research and Spend Wisely
" Starting a business seem to be easy. The difficult bit is sustaining it. My advice for any one starting out will be to research on your target market and spend wisely by printing your own labels."
Akua Wood

Thursday, May 3, 2007

IE Tip 9: Linked Connect and Network

LinkedIn is an online network of more than 10 million professionals worldwide in 130 different industries. You can create a profile, post your resume, add contacts, connect with colleagues, and all that good stuff. But for indie entrepreneurs, you can also use this site as a free marketing tool by increasing the visibility of your business and enhancing connections with possible customers. Read this informative article on other ways to use LinkedIn.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

IE Tip 8: Designer Coop

Formed in response to big-box, mass retailers, Indie Finds is a designer-run cooperative that have teamed up to increase awareness of indie shops and boutiques. To be a member, you must have a website selling indie goods with a .com or .net URL, and be able to provide your own photos. As a member, you are free to participate in any ad opportunities. This is a great and low-cost way to increase your brand exposure and awareness both online and offline.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Help Girls Rock Out

The Willie Mae Rock Camp is a non-profit New York City summer day camp that serves girls 8-18 years old by offering them a chance to learn how to play musical instruments, write songs perform, and “rock out” in a supportive artistic environment. The Camp is currently holding an online auction to raise funds to raise scholarship funds for future camp rockers.

Do some good and satisfy your shopping itch by bidding on some really cool items like this Hot Balloon Ride for Two or this awesome Alise Marie dress. And if you really want to make me happy, send this Hampton Weekend Getaway my way.

IE Tip 7: Another Girl At Play: Where Work and Play Coincide

On those times when you begin to doubt yourself, head over to Another Girl At Play and be inspired by 25 artists who have made their creative dreams real. Read the experiences, stories, and insights of women who have become successful creative entrepreneurs.