Friday, June 29, 2007

Sophie & Spice

Jill Pearson is the designer behind Sophie and Spice, a business which offers delightful things for your little ones, including baby bibs, tees, bodysuits, and name tags. She also offers mom calling cards, as well as customized photo collages in canvas and print. Jill is a professional illustrator and designer who, after having her first baby Sophie, was inspired to create things for her daughter. Quickly realizing a new creative outlet, Sophie and Spice was born!

Background in Illustration
"I have a BFA in Illustration from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. After college I did a lot of editorial illustration, which required me to market my "brand" of illustration. I think that really sparked an entrepreneurial spirit in me, and gave me the skills to get my products out there. I'm able to do all of my own design work, including my website, which saves me a tremendous amount of money."

Balancing Work and Business
"Sophie is only one now, so I am able to work during her nap and before she gets up in the morning. I also do some work when my husband is home. If I am very busy, then one of the grandmoms or a babysitter helps me out. It¹s really the best of both worlds, though it can be tough at times."

Outsourcing Products
"All of my products are printed, so I use a number of different companies.
Since it would require a lot of capital to purchase the necessary printers
to create my products, I felt that it was best to focus my available funds
on advertising."

Financing a Business
"Sophie and Spice is run under the wing of Jill Pearson Illustration and Design. I've been gradually adding more products and doing more advertising as I go. Since I have income coming in from the other freelance design work I do (mainly kids sports posters for photographers), I have not needed to take any loans to get things going. I already had a computer, home office, etc for my main business and my products are all made to order, so there was no investment in bulk ordering supplies. As I mentioned above, I do all of my own design work as well, including my website."

Pricing Items
"I take the production cost, my time involvement, and competitor's prices for similar products into account."

Marketing Products
"I use search engine optimization, Google Adwords, and write ups on blogs. I target my SEO and Adwords towards specific products. I find that when people do a web search for a certain product, they are usually more serious about buying it."

Low Cost Advertising
"Any kind of sites that offer free listings, press releases, etc. are a great way to get the word out there. I have found that Google will pick up content from some of these sites."

Business Challenges
"I wish I had more time to work on things, I have so many plans for products but with the other work I do, I simply don't have 8 hours a day to work on it. I also wish I wasn't so nervous about investing more money into advertising my business."

Motivated by...
"My family [who] believes in me, and love for what I do."

Recommended Business Resources
"The (for creative women in business), the Ispot (for illustration), and the Graphics Artists Guild. "

Words of Advice-Love Your Work
"Find something you love to do and it will never feel like work. If you plan to sell on the web, spend money on creating a professional looking website before advertising it. There is no sense in shelling out money to advertise a site that customers won't want to buy things from."

Jill Pearson

Thursday, June 28, 2007

IE Tip 28: Indie Beauty Network

The Indie Beauty Network is a business organization founded in 2000 by Donna Maria Coles Johnson to serve indie businesses manufacturing beauty products such as soaps, cosmetics, fragrances, candles, and aromatherapy products. Although you have to be a member to participate in some of the benefits that they offer such as products liability insurance, it is still fun to browse the website, which is chockfull of information on product suppliers, beauty recipes, and entrepreneur success stories.

Also check out Donna's blog, which offers insightful personal stories and anecdotes and how they relate to running an indie business.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

IE Tip 27: Craft and Hobby Association

The Craft and Hobby Association (CRA) is a trade organization that has been serving the craft and hobby industry since 2004. For entrepreneurs in the craft and industry market, the CRA is an invaluable resource for industry research material, seminars, and workshops relating to running a crafts business. In response to the increased interest in crafting over the years, the CRA has released a number of research projects, including information on popular craft activities, consumer buying habits, crafts and education, and other information pertinent to the crafts industry. Check out the RESEARCH section of the website - some articles require you to be a paid member, but some interesting articles such as The Impact of Hispanic Crafters on the U.S. Craft Industry is free to the public.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

IE Tip 26:

Do you have any websites, articles, parenting tips, food, and whatever else that you would like to share with other women? Submit them to Sk*rt. If Sk*rt users like what you submit, they can vote on it...and the more votes, the more likely your submission will make it on the front page. Front page submissions are seen by everybody- which is great free publicity for your product, website, blog.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Legal Workshops and Seminars

The Business of Art: A workshop to discuss the legal and business concerns relevant to visual artists who are setting up or restructuring their business, such as formation, structure, marketing and insurance. Located in Oakland, CA. June 28, 2007.

Primetime Legal Series: Trademarks: Free and open to the public seminar on trademarks. Sponsored by ASTIA. Located in Mountain View, CA. June 28, 2007.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Lil' Sugarplum

Monique of Lil’ Sugarplum creates delicate accessories for your little one-from scarves, hair clips, bobby pins, and headbands to suit every little one’s fancy. Her inspiration behind Lil’ Sugarplum is her two beautiful children. It began with the idea of wanting to make her daughter a baby bracelet and her son a cap… and the result of this endeavor? A thriving business called Lil’ Sugarplum!

Balancing Parenthood and Business
“I try to do as much of the business while the kids are napping or sleeping at night. On weekends I can do a little more when my husband is home to play with them. I purposely keep my business small and manageable so it doesn’t interfere with my family or children.”

Background-From Teaching to Making
“I have a teaching credential. I stopped teaching right before my son was born. The plan was always to stay home with my kids since the credential would always be there for me."

"I like to think I have good customer service skills and I enjoy hearing my customers talk about their children.

Business Challenges
“Lack of time and knowledge….The time issue never went away but for the knowledge part, I just researched my field all over the internet until I knew as much as I possibly could.”

Landed First Wholesale Account by…
“Walking into stores and introducing myself, e-mailing various store owners until someone said yes!”

Marketing and Advertising
“I check out The Switchboards a lot for all the free PR opportunities. I check out events locally to see how I can advertise too. [I also market through] well established blogs with lots of traffic!”

Motivated by…
“Providing a better future for my children and hearing the glowing feedback from my customers.”

Mentors and inspirations
“ My family and stay-at-home mom business owners.”

Recommended Business Resources
“I check out lots of messages boards—The Switchboards and Etsy. I also search the net for information… but I wish I had time to read more books.”

Words of Advice-Keep Passion and Fun Alive
“Be passionate about what you are about to embark on, have fun with it and be dedicated!”

Lil’ Sugarplum

Thursday, June 21, 2007

IE Tip 25:

Optimize and improve your website traffic by knowing where your hits are coming from. With, you can track your website stats for free, includign a highly configurable and invisible hit counter that you can insert on your webpage or blog. Get real-time detailed webstats and get the ability to analyze and monitor your website visitors in real-time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

IE Tip 24: Your Files Easily

You're away from your home office and realize that you need your important files from your computer? With, you will always have access to your files from anywhere where you have internet connection. Once you've uploaded your files to the box, you can safely store them online, or even share it with others.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

IE Tip

Here is an interesting way to connect innovators/inventors and possible investors together. Ideawicket is a platform that allows people to showcase novel ideas and creations and pitch to potential investors or corporations. Aside from posting their ideas, users can comment on other users' inventions, network with other users, and share ideas and innovations with friends. In turn, corporations and investors can contact inventors and run "innovation" contests.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Learn to Pitch, Get Published, and Scrapbooking

An Evening with Norm Brodsky: An Entrepreneur's Success Story: Share the evening with Norm Brodsky, a serial entrepreneur whose six businesses have been included in Inc 100 and Inc 500. Listen to him share his experiences with taking his company public, going bankrupt, and building his most successful business to date. Located in New York, NY. June 19, 2007.

Learn How to Pitch Yourself to Potential ClientsThe evening will include brief pitches (about 30 minutes total) from two business coaches to teach people how to impress on interviews and presentations and make a better first impression. Located in New York, NY. June 19, 2007.

How to Get Published: Author and professor Stacey Cochran will be at Borders Books to lead a seminar or how to get published. He will hand out copies of sample query letters for literary agents and will answer any question you have regarding the publishing business and getting your book in print. Located in Cary, NC. June 21, 2007.

Great American Scrapbook Convention: A two-day getaway for scrapbookers. Includes shopping for new products, workshops, networking, and learning new skills. Located in Chantilly, VA. June 22-23, 2007

Friday, June 15, 2007

Claudine Hellmuth

Claudine Hellmuth is a mixed media collage artist who has her artistic hands on a variety of projects-from custom artwork, scrapbooking products, to instructional dvds. In addition, she’s an author of the best-selling book Collage Discovery Workshop! and the newly-released second book Collage Discovery Workshop: Beyond the Unexpected! She is indeed one busy indie entrepreneur!

“ I went to the Corcoran College of Art + Design and graduated with my BFA in 1997. After college I worked as a web site designer until 2001, [after which] I went into business full time for myself. Yay! I wear many hats in my business: I am an artist, author, workshop instructor, illustrator.”

Signature Product
“ A big part of my business is creating custom artwork for people using their photos and incorporating them into my work to create something special for them.”

Typical Customer
“My typical customer is female between 30-50, usually hip, arty and fashionable and likes to have unusual things in their home.”

Minimal Start Up Costs
“I didn’t really have any start up costs. I started working on my business while I was still at my full time job so when I got laid off, it was a fairly easy transition because I had managed to build up my business enough where it was a full time job all by itself.”

Selling Products
"[I sell] on the internet and in a couple of galleries. I sell through my own web site, but I want to build a better store to sell more products there. I am thinking about getting an Etsy store and debating whether it would be better to do that or just have my own store on my own web site. I did sell through Ebay for a little bit too.”

The Delicate Art of Pricing
“That’s the million dollar question! I price [my products] at what I think I would pay for something like that. People tell me my prices are way too low, but then the artwork is selling well right now, so I feel like it’s at a good price. I play with the pricing every once in awhile to see if I can raise prices and keep the interest there.”

Effective Marketing Techniques
“I market through the internet and blogs (My blog brings me a lot of business and it’s free!) I also send out press releases to magazines [and other publications] to try to get print press coverage. I just started a really big press release campaign and am hoping it will turn up some results for me.”

Emotional Challenges
“I think the most challenging part is being scared if people will still want what I have to offer and what happens if one day they don’t …Worrying is the most challenging part of being self employed for me.”

Recommended Business Sources
Creatively Self Employed is a great book to read. It has interviews with tons of other creatives who are all in the same boat, so it makes you feel better about the challenges of having your own business. You are not alone.”

“I also hired Dawn of to help with my press release, She has a press release writing service with very reasonable prices, she wrote an incredible release for me.”

Inspired by…
“Materials and playing with art supplies. If I am uninspired, if I start playing with paint and paper, the inspiration usually follows.”

Words of Advice-Baby Steps
“[Do] not feel that you have to do it all at once, just take baby steps toward your goal, stay in your full time job and build your business on the side. You don’t have to do one or the other, you can build your business and then when the time is right you can go for it!”


Claudine Hellmuth
2457-A. South Hiawassee Rd PMB #106
Orlando, FL 32835

Thursday, June 14, 2007

IE Tip 22: Crafters For Critters-Combines Shopping and Helping

Crafters for Critters supports handmade, independent businesses/crafters/designers/artists and rounds money for animal rescue organizations. Not only do craft entrepreneurs get to donate to a great cause, they also get *free* advertising by being included in the website's link pages, plus free exposure to potential customers. A win-win situation for all!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

IE Tip

Want to discover new websites, photos, videos? Go to and stumble on a boatload of information on varied topics such as art, shopping, technology, and politics. Stumbleupon learns your interests and gives you recommendations based on your interests.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

IE Tip 21: Helping Easier

You want to donate part of your sales to your favorite charity? is an online donation tool that allows fundraisers to select their fundraising cause or charity, personalize an online page with a description of their cause, and a tell their family and friends about the fundraiser through emails or blogs. Donors can make donations online and funds are automatically transferred to the charity.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Workshops, Creativity Classes, Fairs

Women Power Selling Workshop: Seminar designed to enhance the selling strategies to include womens’ hidden powers in elevating sales and building a business. Located in New York, NY. June 13, 2007.

Creative Problem Solving For Entrepreneurs: Creativity workshop run by Gregg Fraley, creativity and innovation consultant and author of Jack's Notebook. Sponsored by the Capitol Creativity Network. Located in Washington, DC. June 13, 2007.

Renegade Craft Fair: Vendors feature a variety of handmade goods, including handbags and jewelry, baby gifts and paper products, clothing and and housewares. Located in Brooklyn, NY. June 16-17, 2007.

Friday, June 8, 2007

In Japanese, Kimonomomo literally means “something to wear” and “peach.” What a fitting name for Carol Ziogas’ company, which creates beautiful and luscious accessories made from gorgeous kimono silk fabric as soft and sweet as a ripe summer peach.

A Piece of Kimono
“I recycle vintage Japanese kimono and obi into new accessories any woman can wear and enjoy. Putting on a kimono is very complex. With Kimono Momo accessories, you don’t have to go through all that to look gorgeous.”

Balancing Work and Parenthood
“ I have two kids. The balance is really awkward sometimes, but other times the kids enjoy helping out. My daughter models kimono for me at shows and my son is actually interested in textiles.”

From Jeweler to Kimono Artist
“I spent nearly a decade as a jeweler doing art and craft shows on the west coast before my divorce. Sometime after that, someone stole all my tools and stock out of my car and I gave up on jewelry with no regrets. I went back to college, worked on a degree in Anthropology then dropped out to go back into business. I love working for myself. I’m a terrible employee, apparently.”

Meeting Challenges
“There’s always someone who says “When are you going to get a REAL job?,” but I don’t hear that much anymore. It took a while to convince my boyfriend that I could support myself with this business. He’s become one of my best cheerleaders over the past year or so.”

“[Another challenge is] keeping my kids from stopping me! They want to go shopping, have me cook dinner, take them to a friend’s house.... I tell them “These are mommy’s office hours. Bug off.

Landing A First Wholesale Account
“It was a local store where the owner made things herself as well as carrying a selection of designer clothes. She was very supportive and friendly. I was fortunate to find her.”

On Finding Accounts
“I ask around, drive around, walk around, read blogs about cities I’m interested in, that sort of thing. Sometimes we find each other by accident. My last account and I found each other when I came into his shop looking for directions. I had not thought of selling to him, but he liked my work and bought quite a nice selection from me the next day.”

Recommended Business Resources
The Switchboards has been a great resource. I [also] go to the library at least once a week and look around the business section. There’s a wealth of information there and it’s all free.”

Inspired by…
“The infinite variety of my medium. You would be surprised how many different types of silk there are, not to mention the dyes, etc.”

Personal and Professional Mentors
“A few professional textile business women I know and my mother. The pros taught me I could do this as a business, and my mother taught me to love the fabric for what it is.”

Word of Advice
“Take yourself seriously or else no one will.”

Carol Ziogas
Kimono Momo
(541) 815-1589

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

IE Tip 20: brings your daily dose of entrepreneurship and competitive advantage news and articles, and contains topics on finance, leadership, and decision making as it applies to business.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

IE Tip 19:

Research, research, research. That is one of the pinnacle advices to someone starting their own business. Now you can make researching a little less tedious by going to, which compiles industry news and market research on industries such as technology, food, drink, and energy. Even though these are not the industries your business is in, many industries are inter-related, and trends can carry over and affect your own industry.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Markets, Seminars

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.

Map Your Business Plan: Learn how to focus and write a one-page implementation plan for your business in one night! Located in New York, NY. June 6, 2007.

Social Networking Extravaganza: Networking event for creative professionals. Located in New York, NY. June 7, 2007.

Sellout Buyout: Monthly craft fair featuring more than 22 local artists and designers. Located in Sacramento, CA. June 9, 2007.

Etsy Art and Craft Summer Sale: Craft show sponsored by PSU Women's Studies Department and the "Walk of Heroines". Located in Portland, OR. June 9, 2007.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Rotem Gear

Jean Roth is an entrepreneur extraordinaire. Her businesses include Rotem Design Studio, a graphic design business for print, identity, and web design, and Rotem Gear, an apparel line of t-shirts and tops inspired by pop culture, ethnic, and urban designs. Other businesses include Unearthed Tees, a shop of geology-themed shirts, and Insinceri Tees, a fun tee shop full of glib lines, half-truths, excuses and empty promises ! (“We’ll Do Lunch”, “Loved your Script”, “The Dog Ate It”). She also runs LickiTees, a cuisine and wine-focused t-shirt shop,, a ceramic pet memory tile shop, and, which features youth-targeted urban t-shirts. One thing I can tell you-Jean is one busy woman!

“My work experiences include a wide range of types of businesses (academic, diplomatic, hi-tech, architecture, corporate and non-profit), which really helps me with the needs of different types of design clients. I’ve worked at UCLA, the Japanese Consulate General, the number one high-end Japanese audio-electronics company, a software company and the diamond exchange in Tel-Aviv, a non-profit educational organization that helps Jewish and Arab children in an under-served section of Israel, and two award-winning architectural firms.”

“I am very much influenced by my personal, educational and professional background, which has also taken me from East Asia to the Middle East… Visiting other places like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong-Kong, Turkey and Egypt, I am fascinated by the textures, typographies, rhythms and architecture of traditional, modern and colonial influences on urban life. The mix of culture, language, food and history is very much in my mind when I design, as well as American pop culture and humor.”

Typical Customer
“[O]ff-line sales are a mix, from teens and young adults to other adults, depending on the venue. Of course, what I offer will vary according to the market I expect as well.”

On Outsourcing
“My t-shirts are all printed by other vendors. At the moment most of my online shirts are printed and shipped by the print-on-demand company CafePress.”

“For direct sales I use a local printer who is lovely to work with. I support local business this way, and more importantly, I get to check everything first-hand.”

Challenge-Believing in Yourself
“Seriously, the hardest part is believing in yourself. Everything else – funding, marketing, selling – flows from that. If you don’t believe in what you do you will not be able to take care of those important parts of your business.”

“Women in particular tend to trivialize their own businesses with words like "my little website," and practically apologize for their products on their sites with copy that sounds like "pleeeease buy my little doodads." Can you imagine a man saying this?”

“Our businesses are creations that we put time and thought and talent and effort into. We must have pride in what we do and believe in ourselves. We do not have to be egotistical or obnoxious about it. As we see ourselves as serious business people, so will others, and that includes everyone from investors to customers to colleagues to potential advertisers and marketers.”

“That’s the most challenging part.”

Marketing and Advertising Products
“[I market through] SEO, targeted directories, targeted ads (blogs, Google, etc.), blog, e-zine and magazine mentions, and other businesses that affiliate my products or otherwise link to me, Web 2.0 –type “social networking” sites.”

“I have done blogads, with middling-to-negligible success, and Google adwords., as well as some link directories, blog directories, etc.”

”I love having the challenge of a of carte-blanche in design. I do my best work that way, just going by my gut, and so far I have been lucky enough to have clients who loved what I produced, whether it was web design, t-shirt design, animated ads, or printed materials.”

“Because of my oddly cross-cultural view of the world, I am also motivated by what the textures and typographies of the places I’ve lived and studied.”

Recommended Business Resources
“Soooo many … but anyone getting into their own small business should first check the resources at the United States Small Business Administration. You should also check your own state’s requirements for registering your business name. Also important is United States Patent and Trademark Office."

“Those in creative indie businesses will find a supportive and knowledgeable community at The Switchboards. I am also getting inspired by Ladies Who Launch these days.”

Words of Advice- Knowledge is Power
“[K]now what drives you. Closely related to believing in yourself is knowing what it is you do, or want to do, or are compelled beyond reason to do. I once saw someone ask in a forum “how did you decide what to design and sell?” That shocked me, sort of, because the way I see it, you know what it is you want to do – it is the thing you do well and what you will enjoy and believe in, and thus make work. How can you be successful in something you don’t love? An indie entrepreneur’s work isn’t a job, it’s a calling, and whatever it is that you do, it calls you, not the other way around.”

“[K]now your assets. What can you offer the world that few others can? It is often something you take for granted. Is it a skill set, a language, an access to materials or places or experiences? A point of view? A way of life? An inspiration? Silliness? A dedication to healthful living? A love of … what? Bring these elements into what you do. Maybe you love to make jewelry with silver flowers. But lets say you grew up speaking French … think about levering that into a product set that sets it apart from all the other silver flowers.”

“For me, it was combining my love of design and typography with my love and knowledge of languages and cultures. I also learned that where my t-shirts are concerned, rather than squelch my own quirky sense of humor I need to embrace it. This combination may be lost on some as it’s not middle-of-the-road, but it is what I do best, and it is unique, I believe.”
“That thing you take for granted may be what sets you apart. Nothing is silly or trivial. It’s a big world out there. Yes, there is a lot of competition, but there is even more opportunity.”


Jean Roth