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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