Monday, October 29, 2007

Expos and Teleseminars

Protecting Your Intellectual Property Rights for Online Businesses: This is a valuable teleseminar which talks about protecting intellectual property rights for online businesses. Topics include selecting and protecting a trademark, using copyright law, protecting your company's trade secret, and how to protect yourself from IP lawsuits. OCtober 30, 2007.

Women with a Purpose Business Expo: Support women owned businesses or learn about starting your own woman-owned business. Speakers will address issues such as networking, financing, marketing, time management, and much more. Located in Greenbelt, MD. November 3, 2007.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Elements by Dawn

Dawn Brandt is the creative force behind Elements By Dawn, a jewelry company which officially began in June 2006. Dawn creates stylish jewelry, heavily textured with bold colors and daring lines, suggesting passion and excitement. Through pattern and texture, her pieces deliver movement, visual and tactile interest. Dawn uses color and form to invoke emotion and energy out of each design. Her designs are available at Etsy and CircleCircleDotDot online boutique.

“I’ve managed restaurants, worked the sales counter, and even worked as a customer service instructor in the airline industry. I guess you could say I know how customers want to be treated and what they generally expect from a business. I think this experience helps me everyday! I also recently graduated Magna Cum Laude with my Bachelors of Business Administration. I feel this aspect of my education will help my business as well. I think it is a real shame when a talented artist cannot continue because of poor business decisions.”

Business Challenges
“Like most new ventures, just knowing where to find reliable information can be difficult. In the beginning, simply gathering and filing all the proper paperwork was a little daunting. But the biggest challenge was finding space for my business. There was a time when the business literally took over the entire house! I quickly learned how inefficient it was to have supplies and equipment in practically every room of the house. One weekend my husband and I moved my workbench into its own space and dedicated a walk-in closet for all of my supplies, packaging materials, and photography equipment. Everything finally has its own space. Now I can focus more energy into creating than searching for my hammer!”

Pricing Items
“For some reason this always seems to be a difficult decision for many artists. It is difficult because separating yourself from the product is not an easy task. Unfortunately, many artists who may not be comfortable with their talents may undervalue their work; and on the flip-side, artists who are inexperienced may overvalue their work and find themselves not selling anything! I personally research a number of suppliers and purchase the highest quality materials at the lowest prices, thus being able to offer affordable prices to my customers. In a nutshell: I use a traditional mark-up formula.”

Marketing Products
“Marketing is a combination of 4 key elements: Product, Placement, Promotion, and Price. I have a product that is superior to most of the traditional sterling silver jewelry on the market today. I researched my materials, developed prototypes, and have tested the tarnish-resistant properties of the Argentium™ sterling silver in real world scenarios. I have also researched my pricing methods and they are also sound. The final two elements, promotion and placement, are still in the works. I am just beginning to promote my jewelry more intensely since finishing school, and I have added a few additional outlets (consignment) for my jewelry as well.”

Targeting Customer Needs
“I subscribe to various trade magazines which keeps me up-to-date on fashion trends. I also listen to my customers to get an overall idea of their wants and needs. It is because of my customers that I almost exclusively use Argentium™ tarnish resistant sterling silver in my jewelry designs. Many customers shy away from traditional sterling silver because it tarnishes easily and requires special care to keep it looking like new. The Argentium™ alloy virtually eliminates the need for polishing.”

Engaging in Low-Cost Advertising
“I blog and have started advertising on a few high-traffic websites who cater to the indie business and to consumers looking to replace or avoid big-box merchandise in favor of handmade products.”

“Many things motivate me. I want my children to grow-up having a mother for a role model. I want to inspire them to pursue their dreams, as I have. I want to know that I have done “the best that I can” when the day is finished. I want to support my family emotionally and financially, and crafting jewelry helps me accomplish this goal.”

Recommended Business Resources
“There are so many resources available! I would recommend starting at the library, Chamber of Commerce, or local college. You can find any number of books, videos and CDs at the library that not only cover the craft you are interested in, but can also assist in the business aspect of crafting. The chamber of commerce can give a list of programs for start-up businesses and offer support for established businesses too. Many colleges offer helpful programs for business owners as well.”

Design Inpired by…
"Objects from the Art Deco period. The bold lines and symmetry really speak to me."

Words of Advice-Research
"Never underestimate the power of research!"



Dawn Brandt
Elements by Dawn

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

IE Tip 55: Google Analytics: Where are your visitors coming from?

Do you know where your website visitors are coming from? If not, then try Google Analytics,which offeres features that allows marketers and business owners to place tracking codes in website pages to determine how visitors are getting to your site. You can track specific time periods and compare them to other date ranges to determine certain visitor trends. You can also use this in conjunction with Google AdWords to learn which keywords are most profitable to your business.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Quick start, Start ups

QuickBooks Just Start Event for New Entrepreneurs: An event to motivate aspiring entrepreneurs to finally kick start their businesses! Located in Seattle, WA. October 24, 2007.

Start Up LA: A conference committed to building the startup community in Los Angeles. This conference is more free-flowing, blending scheduled speakers with open topic presentations that guests can sign up at the day of the event. Located in Los Angeles, CA. October 26-27, 2007.

Ladies Who Launch LIVE: Listen to aspiring speakers, attend educational workshops-all for jumpstarting your business now! Located in various places. October 25, 26, Nov. 1 and 8.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Phantom Limb and Handmade Detroit

Stephanie Tardy of Phantom Limb (“The Stuff You’re Missing”) sells adorable cards, books and paper assemblage art wholesale and online. She also creates one-of-a-kind items from re-fabed skirts, roomy bags and crocheted scarves, all with the idea of re-using great materials and playing with a clean, assemblage aesthetic.

Stephanie started Phantom Limb in the fall of 2005 under the encouragement of her friend Carey Gustafson of Glass Action. Shortly after, Carey and Stephanie joined forces with Alicia Dorset of Lish Magic to form Handmade Detroit, an urban craft collective that produces many events including the Detroit Urban Craft Fair. Since then, Handmade Detroit added a few core members to the group, and but their mission to spread the word and provide opportunity for handmade artists in Michigan hasn’t changed!

Customers of All Ages and Genders
“I’m not sure I have a typical customer. Children are drawn to my love of color, men love my use of maps, and women tend to love anything writing-based, like my journals and stationery.”

Juggling Act
“I have a part-time position as a designer with a newspaper and spend the rest of my time on Handmade Detroit and Phantom Limb. I’d say it’s more like crafting is my full-time job as far as time spent, but both are creative outlets.”

Financing a Business

“At first I was doing [my business] all for the love … every dime I made I put right back into supplies. I don’t think it takes a lot of startup cash to be a crafter these days, at least for me it didn’t. Setting myself up on Etsy and MySpace, talking to the handmade store owner a mile away, using thrift and cast-off materials, these were all the low-cost beginnings of my business.”

“We still run Handmade Detroit this way: All the money collected through merchandise and vendor fees goes into craft show venue rental, flyer printing, web hosting, all the stuff that makes our group grow and able to provide more outlets around the city.”

Consigning Challenges
“Get everything in writing for consigning! Turn a notebook into a ledger or make a little consignment sheet to keep track of everything you agree on like what you will be paid and when, how much you sent, etc. Realize that consigning with distros is a whole different ballgame than consigning to brick and morter stores, which tend to be more professional and prompt but harder to get in with.”

Finding Retailers
“Research! Of course you can look at other crafter’s web sites and see where they sell. But I’ve had a lot of success by asking crafty friends in other cities to recommend their favorite shops or ones I would fit in with. Friends know you and your goods and if they know the shop owner, it’s an instant connection to talk to them.”

Indie Marketing
Handmade Detroit is in a unique position to build up the DIY movement in Detroit and we have been interested in long-term recognition and creating a market for handmade items more than straight-out marketing.”

“That being said, I approach promotion for both Phantom Limb and Handmade Detroit like they are indie bands. In other words, a lot of low-cost and word-of-mouth marketing. Since Detroit also has a thriving music community (and all of the Handmade Detroit ladies are music geektresses), we also have naturally attached ourselves to the indie rock scene here. Like bands, the group and I use flyers and posters to get the word out about upcoming shows, giving them to other businesses, art venues and coffee shops. We have a long list of forums, profiles and other online outlets that we post on regularly.”

“In terms of some tie-in ideas: We’ve put our logo mitten pins on too many guitar straps to mention! We’ve given t-shirts to bands to wear on stage in exchange for an on-stage mention, and we’ve done handmade merchandise for other bands. We work with like-minded groups to tie in handmade products, too. For example, we’re working with a local online pop culture magazine to cross-promote and reach each other’s audiences. It’s important to always be reaching out to a new market and potential customer with like-minded ventures, so we do a lot of that.”

Generating Press
“Journalists and bloggers are always looking for new things to write about and so I try to get at least one piece of press for both each month. It’s always a combination of networking, e-mailing and media releases to secure press. Blind press releases are never as good as knowing the writer at your intended target, but e-mailing a personal note to a specific reporter can be just as good. It’s also important to keep in touch with your press contacts. While they can’t write about you all the time, they do know other media people and may even turn into a customer!”

“Keeping a list of updated contacts is also crucial. Spend a little time identifying good fits for your business. Think about angles of your goods, and don’t be afraid to pitch story ideas to the media, especially at smaller outlets like community newspapers. Don’t forget business press, who are always looking for small businesses to feature. Telling the story of your business is better than product mentions because it gains a true following.”

Keeping Up with Customers
“Because I do so many craft fairs, I am able to talk to my customers. They can tell you a lot, and sometimes unabashedly, about your goods and what they like and want.”

The DIY Community
“Being part of a community of makers motivates me constantly. The support in DIY community is just unreal. From the small things like if you’re having a bad day, to the big things like idea sharing and collaboration. This inspires me daily to get up and do more.”

Recommended Business Resources
SCORE is a biggie. Also, check out community calendars for free and cheap business classes. Many banks, SBAs and local Chamber of Commerces offer interesting and low-cost options for upping your business smarts. They also provide great connections with non-crafters: Printers, bankers, lawyers, etc.”

Phantom Limb was inspired by grade school libraries and children’s books. I miss the smell of the library in 3rd grade and most of my creations have a bit of that memory in them! Clean design, sans serif fonts, Wes Anderson’s design aesthetic, Richard Scarry’s use of color, Pippi Longstocking movies, and the unique musical beat, the decay and beauty of the city of Detroit also inspire me.”

Amazing Mentors
“The other ladies in Handmade Detroit, craft fair leaders and the folks doing good and important DIY work are basically my mentors; or at least, I admire their work immensely. Kelly Pettibone of Naka, Faythe Levine of Handmade Nation, the folks at Craft and Etsy and Venus, Autumn from Strange Folk, all the people who put on Craft Congress, and so many more. I admire the strength of their ideas and it motives me to bring more good things to Detroit.”


Stephanie Tardy
Phantom Limb
Handmade Detroit

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

IE Tip 54: American Marketing Association: Discover Your Marketing Power

The American Marketing Association (AMA) is one of the largest professional associations for marketers, with 38,000 members worldwide. As an indie entrepreneur, the AMA is a wonderful resource since you are most likely the sole or primary PR/marketing person for your company. The AMA website contains a lot of articles and resources on marketing topics, and although some of them are more academic than practical, the articles contain industry-specific statistics that may be useful for those of you writing business plans and need to find industry data for your specific business line. Some articles worth a quick read include those on branding and multi-cultural marketing.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Marketing, Preparing Business Plans, Networking

Tips for Marketers Coping With a World Where Messages Don't Matter: Online Web seminar on how personal publishing, digital video, podcasting and social networks are changing the media world. Sponsored by the American Marketing Association. October 16, 2007.

Preparing and Presenting a Business Plan: This workshop provides a step by step process of developing and writing a business plan directed towards getting equity financing. Located in Pleasanton, CA. FREE. October 17, 2007.

eWomenNetwork Accelerated Networking Event: Fun networking event for women entrepeneurs. Located in San Jose, CA. FREE. October 18, 2007.

How to Navigate the Marketing Industry: Class designed for owners of small and medium-size businesses interested in learning about marketing basics such as branding, designing a marketing campaign, and more. Located in Phoenix, AZ. October 19, 2007.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

IE Tip 53: Indie Public

A Myspace for indies? Yes, Indie Public is a cool social networking site for the independent art and design community. Meet fellow indie creatives or supporters, visit forums, or join a group! It has almost 3,000 members so far, but it keeps on growing every day. Spread the word!

Visit Indiepublic

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Help Out A Fellow Indie!

Alicia Freile of Gauchita is a fellow indie entrepreneur who is currently studying for her masters in design management in Australia. She's currently writing her thesis on the challenges of running an indie business and would like your help in filling out some surveys for her research.

Here's her description of her thesis:

"A part of my study here I am required to write a thesis. My thesis is on the difficulties that indie business owners encounter when they find success quickly and their business grows faster than they can handle, causing much stress and strain on other areas of their lives...A big part of this thesis will have to do with how the indies get their work produced; if they continue to make it all by hand, if they outsource to other crafters, do they get it manufactured, or do they alter the way it is made to make their business lives easier...My aim for this paper (since it is an academic one) is to either have it published or present it at next year's CraftCongress in Pittsburgh (if I'm in the US then...) so I'd really like to try and help others with this, which I think is a fundamental part of the indie business community."

Help her out! Seems like she's out there trying to do some good for the indie community. If you're interested in filling out the survey, please contact her at

Friday, October 5, 2007

Tiny Tales

Lara Frankovitch's quest to find the perfect way to capture her baby's "firsts" led her to create Tiny Tales products, which are clever kits that makes capturing poignant baby memories easy! Each kits contains notepads to document baby firsts, themed dividers to easily organize memorable milestones, and an acrylic box to safeguard these memories. Definitely perfect gifts for expecting moms and new parents! Here she shares her inspiration behind Tiny Tales, experiences, and business challenges:

The Birth of Tiny Tales
"I had the idea for a Tiny Tales-like product before my son was born. I have this problem called perfectionismitis, which results in many started but not finished projects....I knew it was unrealistic to create the perfect baby book with all the demands of a young baby and being a first-time mom, [so] I created a system to buy time until I was ready to create the most amazing baby book known to man. I designed some cute notepads, got them printed and padded, wrapped a shoe box with baby paper, and cut a hole cut in the top. Every time my son did something newsworthy I wrote it down on the paper and put it in the shoe box. Guess what? My son is 20 months old and the box from his first year is under the bed. But I’m not stressed about it because I know all the stories and dates are there, safe, and waiting for my creativity to arrive."

"Around the end of his 1st year, I started to think I might have an idea that would appeal to other moms. I researched starting a company, and decided it was low risk and low overhead, and something I could build while keeping my day job. I officially registered Tiny Tales as a business in November 2006."

"The product has come a long way from the wrapping paper shoebox prototype, and I consider June 2007 as my official re-launch with the design and website as it is now."

Typical Customer
“The vast majority are women. I thought Tiny Tales would appeal mainly to baby shower goers, but I sell almost as many Toddler Tales as I do Baby Tales. The customers who buy Baby Tales are typically buying for someone else as a gift, and the majority of Toddler Tales customers seem to be buying for themselves. In fact, I have quite a few orders where Baby Tales is a gift, and the giver also orders a Toddler Tales for herself!”

Getting the Confidence
“Since I have been out of college, I have been a technology project manager, mostly working as a consultant. Working with so many different companies has given me the confidence to walk to a new client and establish myself as an expert. I can apply that confidence to my business and push for what I think is best for Tiny Tales. It is my company, and if I don’t stand up for it, then no one else will. Not that I always know what is right!”

Financing the Business
“Luckily I haven’t had to put up too much capital to get the business off the ground. I ordered a small quantity at first, and my sales kept pace to pay for the materials. I wasn’t making any money, but at least I didn’t have a ton of upfront expenses. Getting the website design up was the largest expense in the beginning. Now all the materials are the biggest expense because I order in larger quantities to get better discounts.”

“Sending samples to mommy shopping blogs has been worth it for the majority of the blogs I have submitted to. The best was UrbanBaby – a total surprise and it hadn’t even contacted me... I didn’t even receive a notice Tiny Tales would be featured – I just opened my email and there was the newsletter. Then the orders started flooding in! Luckily it was a Friday so I had all weekend to fill orders. I have also been in the local newspaper. I sent a press release announcing the company, and they came out to interview me for the business section. I have placed ads in a few MOMS Club newsletters, but with limited success. The ads are so cheap though that I might try again with a different ad design.”

“I have figured out the number of kits I need to sell each day to make this my full time job. It is a high number and seems out of reach, but that is what I am working towards. I dream about what my day will be like not having to put on “work” clothes and drop my son off at daycare. Being able to go for a jog in the middle of the day. Being able to work outside on my laptop. That is what motivates me, even when it seems like too much work.”

Words of Advice-Avoiding “Analysis Paralysis”
“I’ve been very lucky that I can go as fast or as slow as I want in building the business. It took a while to get the product design just right, and I’m glad I didn’t feel a rush to force it. My advice to someone just starting out is to do a lot of research, but don’t let yourself get into “analysis paralysis.” Find people you can bounce ideas off of that will give you honest feedback. So much is uncertain in running your own business, and it can make you feel like you are alone in making all of the decisions (which you basically are), so having someone who will listen while you think out loud can be invaluable.”
Lara Frankovitch

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

IE Tip 52: Trade Show Exhibitor Association

New to exhibiting in trade shows? The Trade Show Exhibitor Association (TSEA) is a great initial resource for trade show novices. As the industry voice for exhibitors and event marketers for the past 30+ years, the TSEA provides knowledge on effectively promoting and selling products. Check out their tips on exhibitor etiquette, creating a winning booth, preshow promotion, and more!

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

IE Tip 51: Trade Show News Network: Online Resource for Trade Shows

Need to know what tradeshows are in your industry? The Trade Show Nets Network (TSNN) is a leading online resource for trade show, exhibition, and event information. It currently contains information on 15, 000 trade shows, public events, conferences, and exhibits, and offers listings of industry suppliers and trade show venues.

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Monday, October 1, 2007

Blogging and Book Publishing

Business Blog Basics: Learn about the basics of blogs and how they can be a powerful marketing tool for your small business. Located in Birmingham, MI. Oct. 1, 2007.

The Secrets Behind Book Publishing: A must for aspiring published writers! This panel of distinguished book agents and editos will cover issues such as approaching an agent, recognizing common mistakes that new authors make, and marketing and publicizing your book. Located in New York, NY. October 2, 2007.

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