Freshly Launched :: Amy Cornwell Designs

Freshly Launched :: Amy Cornwell Designs
Launched :: Amy Cornwell

LaunchHER says ::  We admit it. We LOVE jewelry.  And, the more personal, the more unique, the more custom… the better!  We were thrilled when we were introduced to Amy Cornwell and her personalized pieces.  I admit it.. I’m kind of drooling over the Rust Flower and Pearl Necklace… come on… don’t I NEED this for Valentine’s Day? :) Enjoy reading Amy’s story and checking out her wonderful brand!

In HER words ::

Hi! My name is Amy and I’m in my early 30’s, married and have two kids (a girl and a boy). I originally started making jewelry in High School (1996ish) to raise money for a spring break trip. I started my business making beaded jewelry then expanded into personalized, hand stamped jewelry. That is when my business really took off. 2010 has been my best year yet!
I love making personalized items. Hearing the stories behind each one – whether it be a name, special date or quote – is so inspiring to me. I’ve had customers who have made memorial pieces for a parent who passed away and the fact that they share their story blesses me deeply. Customer service is so important to me. My business has grown mainly through referrals and little other advertisement. I have heard from so many people that they received an Amy Cornwell item and now they want to share that with someone else. I love hearing back from a customer who has one of my designs and what they think about it. It brings me joy to bring joy to others through my creations.
About the process: Each item is made with care in my home studio and if I don’t like the way something looks, I’ll restamp it. Every letter, number and shape is stamped individually and then the piece is polished for an hour to give it a beautiful shine. Each piece is placed in a small gift bag so that it is ready for giving. As of now, I am the only designer working on each and every item, but I hope to have at least one assistant later in 2011 to help me with shipping and packaging. The neat thing about my design process is that some of my customers are the designers! If they see something they like but want to change it up or make the charm larger, sometimes it ends up being something I feature in the shop.
Thank you for reading, and I hope to have the opportunity to make something special for you or your loved ones in the near future!
You can find out more about Amy through her blog, and shop for her incredible pieces on her site and in her Etsy shop!  Be sure to follow Amy on Twitter!
Just for LaunchHER readers :: Entre the code “launchHER” on your order through http://www.amycornwell.com/ and receive 10% off your order, now through 1/31/2011.
P.S. From LaunchHER… are you getting the latest from LaunchHER right to your email in-box?  Sign up for our Feedburner, and don’t miss a thing!  xoxo

Freshly Launched :: Busy Breathers

Freshly Launched :: Busy Breathers, LLC
Launched :: Michelle Staley

LaunchHER says ::
As mothers, we have a special place in our heart for stories like Michelle’s.  We are inspired by her story and how she used a challenging situation as inspiration to create a new and innovative product that will help hundreds of families in the future! 

In HER words ::
Caring for a healthy baby can be overwhelming at times, but when you’re caring for a child born prematurely, it seems even the simplest task becomes a major undertaking. Consolidation and convenience become vitally important when trying to pack the normal necessities of infant care along with those necessary for special health conditions.

I know this first hand. Our son was born three months premature, his lungs were severely underdeveloped. After he spent four months in the neonatal intensive care unit, I was very excited to finally get my little boy home. This happiness however was overshadowed by fear about my baby being on oxygen 24 hours a day for the next two years.

Along with this fear was my frustration of having to carry a purse, diaper bag, bottles, oxygen bag-along with my baby and equipment. I knew there had to be a better system to carry all of these items but I could find nothing available. Because of this frustration, I decided to design my own oxygen backpack so I would only have to carry one organized system. I knew that this backpack would help mothers that have children on oxygen, as well as others that have to be on oxygen, get back to their busy lifestyle with more ease and efficiency. This was the beginning of Busy Breathers LLC.

Our BUSY BREATHERS Oxygen Backpack is the better system to carry all of your oxygen and medical items in one convenient and attractive bag. “500,000 babies are born prematurely each year, and many of those will go home requiring oxygen tanks and equipment.” The statistics of the National Lung association put over a million people on oxygen any given day in the United States. That means that theoretically, bags from Busy Breathers could be in millions of homes someday!

Huggies brand diapers recently recognized me for my innovative idea, as well as my tenacity to take it to market, with a $15,000 grant from its new Huggies® MomInspired™ Grant Program. I have also added 19 more health related products to my website and continue to work on innovating my bag designs and other products.
Just for LaunchHER readers :: Use code LaunchHER upon checkout and receive 10% off your entire purchase! Offer ends March 1, 2010. 

Find out more about Michelle through her Site, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

New to LaunchHER :: Toile Tales

New to LaunchHER :: Toile Tales
Welcome :: Lori Kim and Amy Branton

We are thrilled to welcome Toile Tales to the LaunchHER family, as a new sponsor!  A wonderful handmade shop for everything knitted, crocheted, embellished or sewn… they are a fantastic duo with a fabulous brand! 

You can check out their shop, stay up to date with the latest through their blog, and follow them on Twitter and Facebook!

*This is a sponsored feature , if you are interested in more information about becoming a sponsor on LaunchHER please click or contact us {hello@launchHER.com}

Freshly Launched :: Southern Stitches and Brer Rabbit Designs

Freshly Launched ::  Southern Stitches and Brer Rabbit Designs
Launched ::  Laurie Anderson

LaunchHER says ::  We love the idea of Heirloom pieces, and appreciate finding an entrepreneur who is not only creating these wonderful pieces with incredible care, but is making it possible for others to, also!  This wonderful entrepreneur is teaching others her craft and passing on what she’s learned from her years in business.  Enjoy her story!!

In HER words ::

My name is Laurie Anderson and I am the owner and designer of Southern Stitches and Brer Rabbit Designs. Southern Stitches began when I decided to quit my job and begin a cottage business doing what I love most; designing and sewing. Fine Heirloom Sewing and Custom-made Embroideries is the focus at Southern Stitches, althogh occasionally I create something trendy. I also enjoy teaching sewing and embroidery techniques. I have many sewing tutorials available at Southern Stitches that have benefitted sewing enthusiasts worldwide!
Since 2003, I have been a regular contributor and a commissioned designer for Sew Beautiful Magazine. I am very honored to have had my creations published in many issues and featured on the cover of the magazine twice. As a commissioned designer with a focus on children’s wear, I have really taken interest in pattern drafting and creating embroidery designs specifically for babies and children. I have a love for classic children’s wear. I love beautifully detailed children’s apparel made with love and with the distinctive hand touches of smocking, embroidery and sweet pleats. I also enjoy the whimsical look of the latest trends for babies and children. For me, fashion is art, and the artist in me loves to create and design sewing patterns and unique machine embroideries specifically for infants and children. Children’s wear should always maintain the classic elements that have, for generations, adorned beloved little ones.
As Southern Stitches grew, I looked at all aspects of my life, including where I put my energies in my cottage business. I wanted to expand in certain areas, so I decided that I needed to build a new brand based around what I love most- designing for children. It was out of that love for designing for children, that I started a new business in July of 2010. Brer Rabbit Designs was born and bred in the briar patch (a.k.a. my sewing room), where enchanted fairy tales come true. Brer Rabbit Designs is devoted exclusively for children’s wear and design. I offer classic, unique e-patterns, smocking designs and specialty machine embroidery designs including in-the-hoop designs, machine applique and machine shadow work designs.
You can find out more about Laurie through her Southern Stitches store, Etsy shop and blog, and also at her brand new Brer Rabbit Designs store and blog!  Be sure to follow Laurie on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with the latest news!
Just for LaunchHER readers :: Enter code LH-20 for any ePattern(s) or embroidery design(s) and receive a 20% discount on your total order. Email your order to receive an invoice with the discount.  

LaunchHER PRO :: Learning From My Mistakes… Lessons from the Trenches

LaunchHER PRO :: Learning From My Mistakes… Lessons from the Trenches
PRO :: Jenny Ford, Monkey Toes
LaunchHER says ::
Welcome to our 2nd LaunchHER PRO feature!  Our first PRO article, by the Blogarista, was a smashing success and provided so many great ideas to our LaunchHER family.  Today, we are thrilled that the incredible entrepreneur behind one of our favorite woman-owned brands is willing to share her insights with us.  We have each read this a half-dozen times, and each time, we get chills!

A huge thanks to Jenny for her honesty and sincere desire to help those starting out.  What incredible value there is in learning from those who have “been there, done that.”  Enjoy this candid feature, and share your thoughts with LaunchHER readers through your comments – let’s together provide a boost to {women owned} brands!

In HER {PRO} words ::

I think entrepreneurs are looking for a mentor to hold their little insecure hands in attempt to do it right and not make mistakes. I am a firm believer that you MUST slip-up from time to time to learn these invaluable lessons.  I know that might seem a little harsh, but it’s true.  You can read a million and one books about business, talk to thousands of business owners, take classes, etc., but the thing that truly pounds it into your head the best – actually taking the steps and falling a little (or a lot).  And it’s ok, we’re human, we rebound….we survive!  And hopefully that makes you THRIVE as an entrepreneur (at least that is my wish for every one of you who puts your time and money on the line to achieve MA-JOR success.)
I must preface all of this with this… I’ve made tons of mistakes and I will continue to make them.  No one is exempt because you know what?  Hindsight is 20/20 and there is always something we could have done better.  But what will make you truly better is learning from them, forgiving yourself and moving on.
Well, after a lot of soul searching I finally came up with some mistakes…actually, after searching through millions of mistakes I was able to narrow it down to ONLY 5.  HA!

Overspending…I still have to keep myself in check with this one.  At one point when I was a single mom and giving this Monkey biz a go – for real, full time, I ran my company into the ground financially.  I had to pay my personal bills and the company bills and when times were really good (before the big economy flop) stores were ordering and money was great.  Then the economy tanked…stores were going out of business left and right.  Consumers weren’t placing orders and guess what?  Sales began to decline.  It all happened pretty slowly, but it’s taken years to recover…yes- YEARS.  It took a hit on my personal credit and my business credit. I look back and think about the frivolous things I purchased when the money was rolling in.  Seriously, did I need more “cute” pens when I’ve got tons sitting around my office that work just fine?  Really, do I need coordinating file folders, when no one will EVER lay eyes on them?

I think about how many ways I could have been frugal, saved every penny, but the dollar signs got me spending.  Wrong train of thought.  It helped me to seek out ways to cut costs – a really simple way, FREE boxes for shipping from USPS.  How simple is that?  I was buying plain cardboard boxes.  How much did that expense cost me?  A penny more than free is more than it should have cost me. 

Look, I am a total optimist and my attitude is always forward thinking – oh, things will get better and hopefully next month will be better, and better and better.  But let’s also be realistic too – do you need those extra sticky notes? Is it crucial to running your small business?  Or is there some other way you can make notes on something (a piece of paper that’s already been printed on and a paper clip perhaps).  I know these seem like really small things, but they all add up. 

Ask for help before it’s too late…As I was going through the situation above, I did it alone.  I’m not gonna lie, it sucked, it sucked bad.  I was a giant stress ball repeating my favorite mantra “well, no one is gonna die”.  I shouldn’t have kept this big financial secret because I wasn’t getting an outside perspective.  I was defeated emotionally until my major rock-bottom experience – creditors calling and suppliers cutting me off from goods.  What do you even begin to do when you have sales, but can’t fulfill them?  Finally, after a tear-filled conversation with my Dad, my now CFO, he saved my bum (to put it nicely).  We had a major come to Jesus about the company’s REAL situation.  He analyzed all of my receivables, my payables and assessed what it would take to get out from under the monster I had created.  He loaned me money so I could continue the business and he took over my books, something I should have done a long time ago.  It was then that I realized I should not be in charge of financials (a harsh reality that I can’t do it all, and do it all well). I should have had him handling things all along, not just before it got bad.  Lesson learned! 

Costs down, Sales up…This one goes hand in hand with overspending.  My Dad’s words ring through my head on a daily basis – you’ve got to get your sales up and your costs down.  Seems easy enough, right?  Find new suppliers, figure out new and less expensive ways to make things all while increasing your sales.  Always be looking for new and inexpensive ways to get sales and try to think outside the box.

Capture that Trademark before someone else does…(Kara is going to love me for this one) You might be thinking the same thing that I did years ago – a trademark does not have to be officially filed for through the USPTO, because it all comes down to “first use in commerce”.  Which means, the first person to use the term or name in a transaction (someone purchases the product or service from you)  is the rightful owner.  Which IS true, however someone CAN file for your trademark and actually receive the rights to it without your acknowledgement.  YEP, someone can snake it out from under you if you have not filed for it.  And do you know how you get it back?  A nice little legal battle (I’m probably being a little over-dramatic here, but that’s what it felt like – a battle).  I went through this drama last year and I’m guessing you can figure out the story… Someone had filed for the term Monkey Toes (different spelling), was a children’s company and it prohibited me from getting my TM, even though I had been using the term since 2001 (with records proving it).  Seriously, you never know when you might need the actual documentation for the trademark.  I’d never have gotten a licensing deal had I not owned the TM.  It’s $350 to file through the USPTO vs. what you could spend on attorney fees and potentially paying someone to go away for your TM.   This was a costly mistake for us. My recommendation – do it now…That should be a given start up cost.  Seems pretty obvious, but make sure you can get the domain name, search the USPTO, twitter handle, Google the name and see what comes up all before working on the website or having a logo done.  This will save you a giant headache in the end.

Hiring Friends…I read an article recently that gave the advice – “if you don’t think you can fire them, don’t hire them”.  I thought this was great.  I’ve had many, many friends/family members say “I can paint shoes for you” or “I can lace and package them”, but truly unless that is their area of expertise (yes, a professional shoe lacer) – I would advise against it.  I had a minor explosion (oxymoron) with a friend over some work they did for me.   I didn’t fire them, but I know what I should have done better, or simply not hired them at all.  Set clear boundaries and expectations for the work.  Meaning – you will be doing this on your own time, at your own location – because it is a distraction and I don’t get other work done, which in turn means  why did I hire you because I could have spent the time with you sitting right here doing it myself and not paying you for it.  (Phew, gotta love a giant run-on sentence to get your point across).  If it’s even questionable that you might not be able to comfortably set boundaries and correct them because it could interfere with your friendship, then don’t hire them.  End of story.
As I mentioned above, there are a million more mistakes I’ve made in the archives.  It humbles me to put it all out there for the world to see, but I am human and I survived to tell you the story (see my fave mantra – “no one is gonna die”).  I hope you can learn something from what I did and I hope that you’ll share yours with the readers of LaunchHer, who knows, maybe you’ll save someone from a big one!

You can find out more about Jenny and Monkey Toes by following them on Twitter and Facebook.  Be sure to check out her site… and stay tuned for more incredible content by Jenny and our LaunchHER PROs!

Freshly Launched :: Kayteedids Couture

Freshly Launched :: Kayteedids Couture
Launched :: Kate Woertman

LaunchHER says ::
All three of my children have “lovies” – yours?  If your little ones do, then you know the importance of finding that special blankie that you can introduce to your child… and then buy 3 of, “just in case!”  We first fell in love with Kayteedids by checking out their gorgeous blankies… and soon discovered that Kate offers so much more and is an incredible woman and mother to know and learn from.  Enjoy her story!

In HER words ::

I am a wife and a mom who happily gave up a social work career to stay home and raise my daughter Kaylee in 2009.  During all those infant nap times I found myself drawn back to my sewing machine mostly to make things for my new baby just as my mom had done for me.
Having a child has opened my eyes to the world of fun things that kids and moms “need”!  I am a huge advocate of breastfeeding so I’ve designed my Nursing Covers for even the shyest of moms. My Blankies, Loveys, and Loop Loveys are all spin-offs of gifts I received and found ways to make more exciting and usable. My latest addition is the playmats!  I found that the playmat I made for Kaylee has transitioned into so many different things as she grows.  They start as great mats for tummy time as infants, move to “picnic” blankets for snack time, can be used in a pinch for changing diapers, and are lightweight blankets!

 

And now that she is getting older, I’m finding new accessories that are so fun for a little girl to have, like hair bows!  My daughter is my inspiration (and tester!) for everything in my shop.  Lucky girl has a million hair bows and too many blankets to count!
Growing up my dad nicknamed me Katydid (yes, like the bug) and that is the idea behind the shop name. Since I’m not a fan of bugs, my husband helped me tweak the name for a unique spin on the spelling.

 

I come from a long line of seamstresses. My grandma taught my mom to sew and my mom taught my sister and me.  I am enjoying continuing on with the skills that my mom instilled in me and even though she has since passed away I delight in knowing that she would be proud of Kayteedids. 



I love to sew in general, but mostly I love to design and create an item with someone specifically in mind.  Custom orders are my favorite! 

You can check out Kayteedids through their site, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter!
Just for LaunchHER readers :: Enter code LaunchHER at checkout and receive 15% off!!

LaunchHER Law :: Make It Easy

In this season of gift-buying and gift-giving and on-line shopping, I need to take a break from the hardcore legal stuff and share with you all a few things that have been on my mind.

Here at LaunchHER, Sallisha and I love nothing more than promoting women-owned brands. I think you know that by now! But there are times, especially when preparing our LaunchHER::40 Under 40 and our LaunchHER::Gift Picks , when we just are not able to promote some of the fabulous brands and business ventures we love. And here’s why:

1. We Don’t Know Your Name — not your business name, but your actual name. Especially for the 40 Under 40 Profiles, there are wonderful gals we couldn’t include, because we couldn’t figure out their names! Promote your brand, but let people know a bit about the name behind the brand, as well.

2. No Headshot — we want to see the face behind the brand! And you know what? So do your customers. With the 40 Under 40 Profiles, we had to actually revise our picks during the writing process after we went to some sites and couldn’t find a headshot of the brains behind the brand. Invest in a good headshot. You will use your headshot in so many instances and across so many platforms. Truly an expense you won’t regret.

3. We can’t find you on Facebook — notice I didn’t say you weren’t on Facebook. You may very well have a wonderful Facebook page for your business, but we couldn’t find it. Make linking to your Facebook page from your website super simple. We love to promote across many platforms, but when your business isn’t on Facebook, you are losing out on additional promotional opportunities. (And if you aren’t on Facebook, why not?!)

4. We can’t find you on Twitter — you may very well be on Twitter, but again, we can’t find you. Sometimes people tweet under Twitter handles that are different than their business names. While it’s okay to have a twitter handle that is for more personal use, we always recommend you tweet under your business name, at the very least (it’s an extension of your brand, after all). Just like Facebook, make linking to your Twitter account from your website super simple. We absolutely LOVE promoting other brands over Twitter and are, quite frankly, a little sad when we aren’t able to because we can’t find your account.

5. Bad Product Photos — promoting you and your products on-line is difficult when your photos don’t do your products justice. There were are least 2 products I personally wanted to feature in my Gift Picks that I just couldn’t do. I either have these products or have seen them in-person and they are adorable! And absolutely perfect for gift giving. Imagine my disappointment when I went to the site to grab a picture for the profile and the pictures didn’t even look like the same products! I know product photography is challenging. But again, you will never regret investing in good product photography. Your sales will increase and others will be more inclined to promote you. I know I will.

Take the time to incorporate the above 5 suggestions into your business and who knows? YOU might just be featured on LaunchHER!

Kara Jensen Zitnick, Esq. is an attorney specializing in flat-fee legal services for small businesses, including Trademarks, Copyrights and Patents.  She is available for consult and retainer and can be reached at kara@launchher.com or on Twitter at @launchHERLaw.

Welcome New Sponsor :: Venetian Decor

Welcome new Sponsor ::  Venetian Decor
Welcome :: Pam Beattie

A blending of Shabby-Chic, eco-chic, French, Boho and refined but relaxed glamour styles blend together for the one of a kind signature style of Venetian Decor® Brand.  Since it’s inception, Venetian Decor® has seen their fabulous furry fashions everywhere from palatial flats in Glasgow, Scotland to private homes in Beverly Hills, CA! 
Not only are her designs scrumptious, but they are individually crafted one of a kind pieces, and make a very personal statement as a gift to a family member of loved one (or just for yourself!).

You can find out more about Pam and Venetian Decor through her site, and by following her on Facebook and Twitter!

ps… Interested in finding our more about Sponsorship?  Contact us hello@launchher.com xoxo

Freshly Launched :: Sarita Baby

Freshly Launched :: Sarita Baby
Launched :: Sarah Gaylor

LaunchHER says :: Between Kara and me, we have 5 children, and are always on the lookout for fun (or funky!) accessories.  The colors and designs from Sarita Baby are not only fun, but functional!  As you’ll read, shopping is Sarah’s 2nd hobby… and well… ours too. :)

In HER words ::

Sarita Baby is a line of modern funky baby accessories made out of designer fabrics.  I started the line in 2007 after the birth of my 1st child in order to fulfill a need in finding “modern” baby accessories.  At the beginning I would make things for my Daughter and for something to do.  Little did I know that I would be doing this full time and actually have my products in stores!
The products that I make are bibs, dresses, toy tethers (my best seller) diaper clutches, stuffed giraffe toys and more.
I am inspired by the colors around me and definitely fabrics.  I am ALWAYS shopping for fabric online which is my second hobby, I suppose!
You can follow Sarah and Sarita Baby on Facebook or Twitter, and of course find the latest at her shop!
Just for LaunchHER readers :: 
Enter code LH20 to receive 20% off your entire purchase!  The discount will be refunded to you via paypal after your purchase is complete.  Happy Shopping!

LaunchHER Scoop :: The Holiday Photo How-to

LaunchHER says ::
If your weekend agenda looks anything like mine, you are looking forward to the annual family Holiday photo as well as many opporunities for great candids with parties and programs galore.  And if you are as type-A as me, you’ve already laid out outfits and brainstormed color schemes to try to get that perfect shot so that those receiving the card will think that my 6,4 and 1 year old are perfect, gorgeous angels who weren’t just throwing Cheerios at eachother this morning.
 
We’re thrilled that Molly Vernon from Luxaby Baby and Child is joining us today with the Holiday Photo How-to! Molly is a 30-something mother of two who has grown her business from a dream that launched in January 2009 to a thriving retail business with both an online presense and storefront.  She has been wonderfully successful, and we are looking forward to learning more from her experiences in our LaunchHER :: PRO series!  Enjoy!  (And smile for those photos!!)

 

The Holiday Photo How-to :: by Molly Vernon of Luxaby Baby and Child


‘Tis the season for holiday gatherings which often means the token holiday picture of your family. What began as a simple card with a message of good cheer has turned into a stressful event that you prepare for and think about all year! The Holiday Card is a chance to show off your gorgeous family and put them in the homes of every single person you know. Now, what to wear:

1.Pick one color that works with your favorite background. Silver is a fabulous color and looks great on both boys and girls and with any surrounding. My favorite piece this year is the Silver Damask Dress by Rachel Riley paired with her gorgeous silver slipper shoes for the girls and a Baby CZ Silver Cashmere Cable sweater for the boys which they can layer over a button-down shirt of any color. I would suggest Navy which really pops and gives mom and dad a chance to wear something navy-fabulous.

2. Coordinate colors but don’t match perfectly. If you have one dress that you absolutely love for one child – work around it. Don’t buy the same exact item for the other siblings – choose something in the same tones, but that is more suited for each child. This Papo D’Anjo Tartan dress is a mix of beautiful blues and greens. For an older child, I chose a Papo D’Anjo liberty print blouse in the same hues and topped it with a gorgeous royal blue velvet blazer. For the boy, I chose a Vineyard Vines button-down collared in shirt which also carries the same blues and greens and layered it with a Green Cable Sweater from Vineyard Vines as well. The result is a coordinating family shot which also depicts the personalities of each child.

3. If you are dressing twins it is fun to mix and match, but buying the same dress for both is a no-no. If you can find a style that you love, see if you can find it in two different prints. Or, if you find a print that you love see if there are two different styles available in that print. Here, I have the Chloe Dress by Baby CZ. A gorgeous ruffled silk dress that is hard for any mom of twin girls to pass up! Choose one in the Navy with Cream dot and the other is a gorgeous Wine color with pink dots. Same dress, but two different prints looks adorable when put together and speaks to each child’s coloring and personality.

4. My most important holiday picture tip is to have fun! I am a big fan of candids – capturing a moment of silliness, playfulness where there is personality and you don’t all look like statues of yourselves. Have fun and enjoy being together as a family because that is exactly what you want your holiday picture to show – your love for one another.
Happy Holidays from Luxaby Baby & Child!
You can find out more about Molly by following her on Twitter or checking out her website! Look for more to come from this dynamic entrepreneur through our LaunchHER :: PRO series!