Archives for posts with tag: mompreneur

Shop is Closing for Two Weeks

The Work At Home  and running your own business thing has its perks!  I’m taking a vacation from the shop to hang with the kids.  Many working moms can appreciate this break you just have to take.  I’m hitting the OFF button.  After I started up the shop again 6 months ago, it’s been non stop trying to grow and ramp up here in our new country and market.  The Canadian Dollar slippage hasn’t helped us and growth in the USA market certainly has its challenges.  I’m grateful to have such a loyal customer base and Baby Wisp has a recognized brand name which has helped keep the flow… But…I’m wiped out!

Sooooo……No more hair bow making, hair clip packing, headband photographing and baby toddler photo editing and website updating for me…well, for two weeks anyways. 🙂

California Toddler Girl So Cute

Latest photoshoot with American Toddler Girl

I hope you took advantage of the big discounts on the star spangled patriotic fourth of July sets as I am busy packing up all those orders this weekend!

 

I am taking a much needed two weeks off!  Emily is still working full time in Toronto and is available to assist you in anything you need EXCEPT shipping out Baby Wisp products.  Feel free to contact her via email, facebook or instagram.

Next Ship out June 30

You can grab 20% off orders over $25 from now until June 28 with coupon BREAK20.  

Find out more here

Christmas is a great time to give and receive gifts for your children that are bright, sparkly and glittery.  It’s during this time that I am especially proud of Baby Wisp and our commitment to lead, cadmium, and mercury – free products.

Vintage Rosettes - Luxurious Accessories for the Holiday

Here’s our latest creation for the bigger girl – vintage rosettes on satin headbands. Notice the handwrapped satin and acrylic gem centers.

I see tonnes of products advertised to children that contain crystals, paints and metals.  Some come out and say that their products do contain lead and some make no mention of it.  As a mother of small children, I see first hand that my kids play with tonnes of items throughout a day and sometimes put these products to their mouths  without thinking.

And that is the danger of lead injestion or absorption for kids, in that they “mouth” these products and injest lead.  Even trace amounts of lead can affect children moreso than adults.  This article is quite informative about what to look for and how to protect yourself when purchasing toys & jewellery http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2009/09/17/f-lead-exposure-children-safe-levels.html

When I launched Baby Wisp, my daughter and all my family and friends who could wear the products were wearing it.  There’s a personal responsibility, integrity and connection with my products that ensures that I will choose safety over profits.    I wonder though about companies that are looking to make a fast buck.  How can we as consumers protect ourselves from this?  Are there any government checks that ensure companies are operating in a legal & responsible manner?  Well, that question was answered for me this October when Health Canada called me to meet about Baby Wisp’s adherence to the Children’s Jewellery Regulations.  Hair accessories fall under this category of consumer products.

I am versed in the regulations and in fact, exceed regulations by testing not only for the mandatory lead content restrictions but also the voluntary restrictions of cadmium.

Image                          Mercury Free

We test the metals of the clips but also the rivets within the clip, the paint covering the clip, the paint on the logo of the clip and all the gems used in our products.  We have over 25 separate tests by an accredited laboratory on file thus far.  (That’s expensive but worth it!)  I was in fact, relieved when they came to visit our warehouse and check on our goods and requested to meet with the owner of the company.  That sounds strange, doesn’t it that I was relieved?  But consider this:  for one thing, Baby Wisp has become a big enough company that Health Canada had us on their radar to visit us in their cyclical enforcement of the regulations (under jurisdiction of the Canada Product Safety act) and secondly – that means they are doing a job for the Canadian Public to ensure that companies take responsibility for what they are bringing to market for consumers and protecting us from harm.  Both from a business and a consumer standpoint, this is very comforting to know the system is working.  Our government is taking our children’s safety seriously and so are companies like Baby Wisp.

   Baby Wisp Partnership with regulators

The Safety officers and I sat down and talked about the products, testing, and some new upcoming regulations that are currently voluntary- one being Cadmium regulations.

We have been voluntarily testing for this also for our own peace of mind.  Cadmium is a highly toxic substance, three-qua

No Cadmium in our products

rters of cadmium usage today is in nickel-cadmium batteries. It is suspected that manufacturers have started to replace lead, which is highly restricted in children’s products, with cadmium. Cadmium is a low cost metal, easy to work with, and has similar characteristics to lead. Check out this link to learn more about cadmium and its threats .

It’s pretty scary to think that manufacturers are aware of the hazards of this substance and they still choose to use it as a substitute to lead, in children’s products of all things.  The only reason to do this would be to get products cheaper, get around current mandatory lead limits, and save money on expensive laboratory testing.

Baby Wisp - Knows What We're Doing

This is not meant to be a scary post at all, only thought it was a good opportunity to make our customers aware of what to look for / what questions to ask when buying metallic or embellished products for your children during this gift giving season.   Maybe you didn’t know this about lead, mercury and cadmium but we did …and thought you should know that we care and why you should too.

Baby Wisp has a rock solid conscience about what we sell so when you’re considering buying something that seems like a good deal this holiday season, please ask yourself who you’re buying from and whether they take steps to put their customer safety first.

What do you do when you have a side business that takes up your nights and weekends, work full time at a corporate gig and have a hubby and two small children under 3 years old?  I had to make a choice on how I was going to handle it all.  Whichever choice you make, is best for you and your family so no judgements here. I’m so lucky that Intuit – Quickbooks gave me the opportunity to share my “big story”  – can you relate?

I started this blog not just to talk about baby wisp products but to also share the entrepreneurial journey I’m on.  I often share articles or videos related to the business growth.  I’ve met a lot of other moms with businesses that want to talk about how to grow our businesses together so why wait for the coffee dates when we can share over our blogs!  🙂

Are you a budding entrepreneur also?  Or have dreams to become one?  I’m always drawn to entrepreneurs with high energy and positive messages and having watched this video of Spanx founder, Sara Blakely I think you might enjoy it too.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2012/03/07/undercover-billionaire-sara-blakely-joins-the-rich-list-thanks-to-spanx/ .

 

It’s thrilling to hear how she took a great product and idea to new heights.  What an elite club of women she has joined, to be recognized in Forbes Billionaire list and also become a household brand.  Self-made and 100% privately owned is the other very impressive part of her story.  It comes back to the Dragon’s Den dilemma doesn’t it, is it possible to keep your company to yourself but still take it to “the next level”?

 

I recently saw the question posed on Mally’s Bibs Facebook Fanpage as the owners consider auditioning for Dragon’s Den in just under a week.  Their bibs are already a national favourite as this is a very cool Canadian Mama and her hubby owned company.  They currently design and manufacture their products in BC, which is no easy feat, given current market trends and margins.  I met them both last year at the One of a Kind show in Toronto and have nothing but pure respect for their accomplishments including global distribution in a competitive market.  That’s not even mentioning the quality bib that has lasted so long and still looks new – here’s the bib I have- so cute isn’t it  (picture courtesy http://mallybibs.com/item/hippo-leather-bib ):

Mally Bibs

My favourite Mally Bib

 

Having only read and watch the video about the Spanx creator and read a few articles, a consistent perception about her has emerged.   She appears happy, genuine and high energy plus has personal  involvement with her products in the design, marketing and future direction.  I find myself appreciative of how she is sharing her positive insights into success.  Not once does she talk about things she didn’t do or waste time focusing on bad stuff other people do.  I think this keeps you positive and ensures that by limiting your negative posts, you can keep yourself moving forward.  She has reminded me to try to focus on growth and keep the positive messages flowing.   At times, you may be down of course, but what you project should be what you want to be associated with, right?   I continue to see that a public brand perception is closely linked to your personal brand image.  I want mine to be positive and happy!

What kind of brand image do you want to project and how do you take steps to project that?  Do you share the good stuff?  Do you know of any other great female business owners that have a strong and inspiring brand image- who keep you feeling positive about what you do and what you can potentially accomplish?

Did anyone watch Dragon Den last week with the pancake guy?  Here’s a summary article without the nasty and uncomfortable silences of the show after they insulted him and booted him off : http://www.sherwoodparknews.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3462463

The dragons were quite mean to him and well, in short – he looked like a fool.  People tell me all the time “You should go on Dragon’s Den” and this kind of episode makes me cringe and is exactly why I would not do it.  I’m not saying never, I’m just saying I better have a darn compelling argument I can back up with dollar signs!    I don’t have a thick enough skin to be torn apart and humiliated like this…YET!

Summary of show:  Dude tried to sell a “pancake mix in a bottle that you just add water to and shake”.  This way kids and “on the go” parents can quickly have great tasting and healthy pancakes.  It’s a neat idea but it failed. Not being privy to his whole story, the show framed poor business acumen as the  primary  factor for the rise and fall of the pancake man (pardon the pun).  What I connected with in this episode was the rejection he was facing and the choice to either give up (as the dragons were advising) or keep going.

 Is that delusional that he’s still going 5 years later with dismal revenues and losses?  

Or is that Inspirational because he believes in his idea and isn’t going to let anyone tell him otherwise.  Watching that episode in current state?  EEEK.

 I reflected on my own experiences trying to get Baby Wisp off the ground.  I made successful rounds at tradeshows, indie and farmer’s markets to start out Baby Wisp when I used to make the products all by myself by-hand and then when I hired two people to handle the production in Edmonton. Here’s a picture of me with my then 1 year old daughter in the summer ’08 at my booth at the St.Albert Farmer’s Market.  Coincidentally, where two boutique owners approached me to wholesale to them and started the retailing evolution of Baby Wisp.

  I thought the Baby Wisp brand and product were pretty successful then as a side business venture. I truly believed in it.  I chuckle looking at this picture because I was so proud of my Linen N Things pop up tent  ($89.99) that had a broken leg I used milk jugs filled with rocks to weigh down from flying away on windy days.   Look at my lil baby girl, it just seems so long ago.

I met so many other small business owners and connected with my customers face to face.  I felt it was getting my brand “out there” and had decent sales for such a low ticket item.   I thought I was on a roll, things were getting big up in here!  THEN…

I got a rejection letter from the busiest farmer’s market in Edmonton in 2009.  The letter simply stated “REJECTED – NO VALUE ADD” .  I have the actual letter tucked safely in my office for posterity.

 At the time I received it though-I was so pissed off.  “No value-add” .  What the heck does that mean?  No Value Add – pffff….what do they know!!!  I think I even emailed back something about explaining what that’s supposed to mean.  ooops, it was in the heat of my rejection ok!!!…But I was in actuality- deep down, past the “offended” emotion; I was upset.  Upset that there was a possibility that they might be right.   

The rejection didn’t roll off me.  But it didn’t make me hang it up either.  I guess by my own rationale, I was as delusional as the pancake dude, wasn’t I?  As a business owner you need to be the strongest champion of your brand and product in the face of any opposition.

However, you need to understand your market, your numbers, your timelines and a strategic plan on how to get there.

Pancake dude didn’t portray that.

Fast forward a couple years since I was told Baby Wisp has no value-add… the Baby Wisp brand and our offerings are a galaxy away from its humble beginnings.  We went from 5 stores that summer to approximately 225 stores carrying the product today.   Thousands of accessories leave the warehouse every month.  Thousands of people believe we have value-add.  

So you GO- Pancake Man.  You G-O!  Check back in with us in a year.  I want to know how that story ends.

It seems only fitting to talk a little about Steve Jobs today as he just passed away yesterday.  There’s been a flurry of link sharing, odes, quotes, biographical content and inspiration flying about on twitter, facebook, and generally,all around us.  Celebrating the impact of one man on our generation…globally.

I just saw this video of his stanford address again.  I vaguely remember watching it a few years ago but it didn’t resonate as much as it does today.  Partly, because of his death and partly because I am probably older and understand a few of his points a bit more.

You can watch the video here: http://youtu.be/UF8uR6Z6KLc

Inspired by Steve Jobs

Baby Wisp does not own this image

These are the quotes that I can relate with:  “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do,” ….

“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.”

I like what he’s saying both from a career and relationship standpoint because I feel that I have found both.   I recently celebrated my 8th wedding anniversary and Baby Wisp is 3 years old tomorrow!  With 100% sincerity I can tell you that that as the years roll on, all the learning and growth is getting better and better.  You can hear my passion for BabyWisp when talking to me.  I bounce up in the morning to go to work and at night, it’s the last thing I check on (after my kids hehe).  I am the main part of my children’s lives in their formative years.  This flexibility with my family life would not have been possible if I had returned to a corporate position after giving birth to my son.  The success with the brand’s growth is really a great reward but like Jobs asserts, it’s really not the core of what drives me every day.

I was on the phone yesterday with a computer programmer I met while I was an I.T. consultant at a large consulting firm (few years back now)  and we were catching up as it had been some years since we last spoke.  I told him what I was up to with the “hair clip business” and I expected him to laugh/ scoff.  But he didn’t.  He said, “Good for you!  You were looking for something more and now you’ve found it.  ”  It was really sweet to hear this.  I didn’t have to explain anything to him.  It’s like the years didn’t matter, all that happened in between didn’t matter, he knew me and he knew what would drive me to throw everything into Baby Wisp.