Luxaby Lily :: Confidence to Do Big Things

Molly is the owner of Luxaby Baby & Child in Princeton, New Jersey. and is also a “regular” around here as LaunchHER Pro & LaunchHER League Member.  We are thrilled to share her newest project with you, Luxaby Lily, a children’s story.

“…you were the one with the magic all along.”

Luxaby Lily Childrens Book Confidence and Self Esteem

Luxaby Lily is an encouraging tale of a young girl who finds the confidence to do big things by Molly Hillenbrand Vernon.  Lily is a character many young children can relate to…at times she feels shy, scared, and like she doesn’t fit in.  Lily’s parents help her overcome her fears with the help of a pair of shoes and a {not so magic} potion.  By the end of the story, Lily comes to realize that those “things” weren’t really magic at all, but they did give her the confidence she needed to help her through.

Some of life’s greatest joys are a result of someone believing in you, and giving you the confidence to believe in yourself!


Molly is the owner of Luxaby Baby & Child in Princeton, New Jersey. and is also a “regular” around here as LaunchHER Pro & LaunchHER League Member.

Fine Print: This book was given to LaunchHER free of charge as a gift from the author.  The opinions expressed in this article are that of LaunchHER.

The “little things” :: A Special Thank You from LaunchHER

To say that we don’t get caught up in the number of Facebook fans LaunchHER has, would be a lie.  In fact, as we’re writing this, we have 2,504 fans.  Of course we keep track!  This is the community we interact with on a daily basis.  We use our Facebook page as a place to promote your business, share our business articles, and as a place to just “chat”.  Not only that, but we are sincerely flattered when we see people share LaunchHER posts, or recommend our page to other small business owners.  Facebook fans are very important to us.

LaunchHER Legal and Marketing for Women in BusinessAt one of our usual Monday Meetings about a month ago, we chose a random milestone {2,500 fans} and decided that once we reached that milestone we would offer something special to express our thanks.  We didn’t make a huge hoopla about it, just a simple post here and there, because we want our Facebook page to continue to be a community not just a place where people just come for “free” stuff.  This is about you, and the immense support you have shown us and to the entire LaunchHER network.  We are happy to have reached over 2,500 Facebook Fans!

Maybe you’re asking, what have I done?

You “liked” a recent Freshly Launched post.

You shared.

You introduced yourself.

You found inspiration.

You gave support.

You “liked” another business’ page.

You commented.

You participated in Look @ Me Monday.

You read.

It may seem like a little thing to you, but to us, it’s ALL about the “little things” because they add up to great things. Great, BIG things.

So please, join us tomorrow to see what BIG things we have in store for you – it is a one-day exclusive that we have NEVER offered before.

xxoo, Tracy & Kara

LaunchHER Top 40 :: Profiles of Women Entrepreneurs 2011

Over the past 12 months, our tongue-in-cheek 40 Under 40 list of women-owned brands has become our most-read post. While the idea behind that list was to fulfill Kara’s personal goal of being named to a 40 Under 40 list while she was still, in fact, under 40, profiling amazing women entrepreneurs was thrilling.

So without further ado, we present the…

LaunchHER Top 40 :: Profiles of Women Entrepreneurs 2011*

In no particular order, but in keeping with tradition…in reverse alphabetical order, of course. {wink, wink}

  Molly Vernon {store owner/author}





    Jennifer Untermeyer {travel expert/entrepreneur}





  Amber Toste {boutique owner/fashion lover}





women in business becky sturm 3 way beauty   Becky Sturm {beauty business expert/inventor}





   Kim Stoegbauer {party stylist/editor/HGTV blogger}





   Leigh Standley {artist}





  Jessie Senese {party supplies}





   Anna Ryan & Selena Srabian {nurses/inventors}






   Mally Roncal {makeup artist/inventor}






   Cassandra Rippberger {graphic designer}






   Angela Parks {designer/blogger},





 Jo Packham {publisher/entrepreneur},



   Heather Mellstrom & Stephanie Monge {designers}





   Nikki McGonigal {author/crafter}





   Holly Mathis {interior designer}





   Jami Lindberg {entrepreneur/social media maven}





   Natalie Jost {designer/curator}





   Cathe Holden {graphic designer/writer}





   Valeria Guerrero {graphic designer/entrepreneur/founder}





   Sally Gemignani {party supplies}





   Jenny Ford {shoe designer/sugar lover}





   Lara Field {pediatric dietician/gluten-free guru}





   Tauni Everett {founder}





  Wendy Estes & Tiffany Harris {entrepreneurs/style mavens},





   Erin Edwards {jewelry designer}





   Rae Dunn {ceramic artist}





   Elizabeth Dehn {beauty writer & skincare creator}





  Anne M. Cramer {clothing designer}





   Bridget Connell {handbag designer}





   Jenni Clark {children’s clothing designer}





   Kim Christopherson & Kris Thurgood {DIY mavens}





  Grace Bonney {blogger/author}





  Jennifer Berson {publicist}





  Holly Becker {author/founder of decor8}





   Maureen Anders & Adria Ruff {graphic designers & party stylists}



*******************************launchher photo courtesy Megan Norman Photography

We are continually inspired by the women we meet, and are enjoying every minute of our own journey as women entrepreneurs.  Cheers!

~Kara Jensen Zitnick & Tracy Corcoran, LaunchHER

First time visiting LaunchHER? Welcome!

See what we’re all about



* This article is the sole opinion of LaunchHER. No payment or other consideration was exchanged for inclusion.

Photo Ready Holiday Outfits that Shine {Big Kids Edition} by Luxaby Baby & Child

Molly Vernon from Luxaby Baby & Child is back with her holiday outfit picks for the Big Kids.  If you’re looing for the little ones, head over here.  Whether you are having professional pictures taken for the holiday card or just preparing for the holiday revelry; Molly has your cuties covered!

Luxaby Baby and Child Holiday Outfit Picks Princeton New Jersey

Child – (5-7yrs)

This is the age to WOW! Put them in something fabulous ( it won’t be long before they won’t let you anymore). I have two favorites this year that I think are so incredibly stunning. Baby CZ’s Harper Dress in Navy and the amazing Gold Damask Party Dress by Rachel Riley. I’ve watched the girls light up when they try these two on and they photograph beautifully.

Luxaby Baby and Child Holiday clothing Picks Princeton New JerseyLuxaby Baby and Child Holiday Outfit Picks Princeton New Jersey










For the boy – it is time to take it up a notch. A blazer that is either textured or in a fun print is perfect for this age. I absolutely love a brown velvet cord blazer but if you really want to hit the ball out of the park the Tartan Blazer by Baby CZ is the way to go. Complete with elbow patches and leather buttons it is timeless and festive.

Luxaby Baby and Child Holiday Outfit Picks Princeton New Jersey

Youth (8-12yrs)

This is when things start to get tricky as they start having – wait for it- opinions on what they want to wear. I have had great success with this age group when you put the young girls in a fabulous skirt and simple top. My pick for this year is the Baby CZ Petticoat Skirt in either a solid or a fun print. Pair the solid skirt with a nice silk top or the print with a solid top in either navy or pink (my favorite would be the Baby CZ silk beaded shirt) and you have one fabulous party outfit!

I do have another favorite look for the more ‘sporty’ girl at this age – a tunic top and leggings. Baby CZ makes a gorgeous liberty print tunic made dressier with a beautiful satin bow to give it a dressier look and it is easy and fun to wear!

Luxaby Baby and Child Holiday Outfit Picks Princeton New JerseyLuxaby Baby and Child Holiday Outfit Picks Princeton New Jersey

Luxaby Baby and Child Holiday Outfit Picks Princeton New Jersey


For the boys it is all about the blazer!!! You can not miss with the Vineyard Vines Two-Button Blazer in Navy. Pair it with his favorite Vineyard Vines tie (I suggest choosing one which showcases his favorite sport so he won’t mind wearing it) and you have the picture of handsome.

Luxaby Baby and Child Holiday Outfit Picks Princeton New JerseyLuxaby Baby and Child Holiday Outfit Picks Princeton New Jersey











As always, you need to keep your children’s taste and personality in mind. You are not going to have a successful photo shoot if your kids are irritated by what they are wearing or don’t feel like themselves in the clothes you picked. Let them LOVE it and let their personality shine in the photo. Catch them in a candid moment when they are walking down the stairs instead of the posed couch shot. And hey, while you’re at it – jump in the photo too! Believe me, your friends want to see you as well.

Happy Holiday to you and yours from all of us at Luxaby Baby & Child!

 Sharing Molly’s picks has become a holiday tradition of sorts here at LaunchHER.  We know that you’ll agree her taste is impeccable, and she knows kids so well!  Molly Vernon is the owner or Luxaby Baby & Child located in Princeton, NJ and online, as well as a LaunchHER Pro and a member of the LaunchHER League.  Tis the Season!


Photo Ready Holiday Outfits that Shine {Infant & Toddler Edition} by Luxaby Baby & Child

Sharing Molly’s picks has become a holiday tradition of sorts here at LaunchHER.  We know that you’ll agree her taste is impeccable, and she knows kids so well!  Molly Vernon is the owner or Luxaby Baby & Child located in Princeton, NJ and online, as well as a LaunchHER Pro and a member of the LaunchHER League.  Tis the Season!

Luxaby baby and child holiday outfits

It is both the most exciting and stressful time of the year. In the midst of doing our every day jobs we have added the stress of finding the perfect gifts for young and old. On top of this is the ever popular family photo to send out to all your loved ones near and far. I may not be able to help you pick out all your holiday gifts but I can give you a few of my favorite outfits and advice for dressing your kids for the ever coveted Holiday Card.

Infants (up to 24 months)

How amazingly adorable are they and equally fun to dress up. You could pretty much put them in a onesie and they would receive oohs and aahs on the spot. However, if you want to add some flair – and let’s face it that is what the Holiday card is all about – it’s time to show off what 9 months of hard work brought to your family.

My personal favorite dress for infant girls this year is the Bow Print Ruffle Dress by Rachel Riley – so amazingly adorable and classic. For the infant boy – a classic sweater with a hint of a holiday print is too cute for words. My pick for the infant boy is the Fairisle Monty Sweater in Brown and Red.

Luxaby baby and child holiday outfitsLuxaby baby and child holiday outfits











However, if you are like me, and want to show off the angelic face that you created with an amazing close-up I suggest donning a fabulous hat. For the girl, the Hat & Mittens set by Sarah Louise is picture perfect. For the boy, Baby CZ’s Peruvian hats are beyond adorable and shows off those chubby cheeks in style!

Luxaby baby and child holiday outfitsLuxaby baby and child holiday outfits








Toddlers (2-4yrs)

Now that they are walking and running everywhere it is time to showcase some fabulous shoes! Rachel Riley Slipper Shoes are the most adorable addition to any toddler girls outfit and incredibly comfortable to wear. Match a silver pair with my favorite toddler Holiday dress this year – Baby CZ’s Boucle Anna Dress – and you have a stunning combination.

For the toddler boy, there is nothing more classic than a pair of navy pants and a classic looking Sweater – my favorite being Baby CZ’s Cashmere Silver if you are looking to match the Boucle Anna Dress. Wahlah! Now you have a match made in Holiday heaven and a photo worthy of a Winter Wonderland backdrop!

Luxaby baby and child holiday outfitsLuxaby baby and child holiday outfits

Luxaby baby and child holiday outfits

Check back because we will reveal Molly’s picks for the big kids later this week!

5 Reasons to Support Small Business Saturday

5 Reasons to Support Small Business Saturday

by Jenny Ford, Monkey Toes Shoes

small business saturday minneapolisI love that LaunchHer supports women-owned business!  And I’m thrilled and honored to be a part of it, I just adore Tracy & Kara to pieces.  They asked me to try to get the point across about why to support local, and a lot of times women-owned, businesses.  I haven’t always been perfect about this – I totally admit.  But I’m making a change, and I get that we can’t purchase EVERYTHING at a local boutique, but when we can, we should.  And here’s why…

  1. Your dollars keep the community full of thriving businesses
    and shopping centers looking pretty – ghost towns are ugly!
  2. You’re not only helping the boutique owners, but you’re
    keeping small businesses (the actual products), like mine, thriving too.  The
    smaller boutiques don’t ask us to give them discounts, they pay a normal and
    fair wage for it, which keeps everyone happy.
  3. You are reinforcing the value of taking the leap of faith
    and becoming a business owner. Entrepreneurship is hard, folks, go give them a
    financial pat on the back.
  4. Even though sometimes you may spend a little teenie bit
    more than at those box stores, your generating good karma.
  5. You’re going to find incredibly unique gifts at these
    little shops.  You’ll never have to worry about showing up to Aunt Betty’s house
    with the same gift as your brother – and you know you want to top your brother’s
    gift, right?!

I hope you’ll join myself and my family in supporting small business and shopping local, when and where you can.  If there is something you cannot find locally; ask your favorite store to carry it – they love hearing from their customers.

Happy local shopping and Happy Holidays!

Event alert –  Meet Jenny and her Monkey Toes at Little Feet & More on Small Business Saturday (November 26, 2011) in Cherry Creek North in Denver, CO.

Jenny Ford is a LaunchHER Pro, LaunchHER League Member, owner of Monkey Toes Shoes, and editor/founder of Sugar Loco.  She lives in Denver Colorado with her family.

LaunchHER Gift Guide 2011 – Wrap up the cheer!

LaunchHER Gift Guide 2011 – Wrap up the cheer!

A little known fact about us is that we love to give gifts! With the holidays quickly approaching, we are anxious to pick out the perfect gifts for each of our family members and friends. We want to help our readers find the perfect gifts too, and that’s where you come in. We are inviting you to include a product from your shop in the LaunchHER Gift Guide.

launchHER gift guide handmade gift picks 2011 christmas

What is so special about LaunchHER? ::

  • approximately 78% of our readers/fans are women ages 25-44
  • we utilize our social media networks to spread the word! f:1729 t:4009 in:445
  • we promote and share your business and product throughout November & December with a link to the guide on our sidebar.

Important details ::

  • Keep in mind that we are looking for “giftable” products to feature. Fun & unique ideas for women, men, kids, etc.
  • Fees – $25 to participate {FREE for LaunchHER League Members}
  • The featured product description & photos are due to {} by October 26th, 2011.
  • LaunchHER reserves the right to limit products and/or shops in certain categories due to demand.

There are only 25 spots available for the 2011 LaunchHER Gift Guide and they will go fast. Sign up today, and get your products noticed this holiday season. {cheers!}

Update: The 2011 LaunchHER Gift Guide is full.  If you are interested in other advertising opportunities with LaunchHER for the holiday season, or becoming a LaunchHER League member, please contact Tracy Thank you!

LaunchHER PRO :: New Biz Top 10 List

LaunchHER PRO :: New Biz Top 10 List

PRO :: Molly Hillenbrand Vernon of Luxaby Baby and Child

LaunchHER says ::  Molly’s initial PRO piece was such a huge success, and we’re thrilled today for her to share her Top 10 list of consideration when starting a new venture!  Whether you are just starting our or looking to {re}launch this year – what incredible advice to read and follow, from a seasoned pro!  Huge thanks to Molly, and many congratulations on the continued success of Luxaby Baby and Child!

In HER PRO words ::

In January 2009 I formed Luxaby Baby LLC with the idea of combining my favorite designers of classic children’s clothing and gifts into one cohesive Collection. I had a hope that over the next 5-6 years it would grow into an online website, trunk show business and possibly even a retail store one day. Well, less than a year later I had done all three. In a time where most people were closing shop I took a huge risk and opened a high-end retail children’s store in one of the worst economies we have seen in decades. By some miracle (and a lot of luck) it worked but not without making many mistakes along the way and having a very steep learning curve on what it takes to run a successful business.
Here are the 10 things to keep in mind when starting your own venture:

1.Analyze Need. Is the market over-saturated with your product or is there a need for it somewhere. There was not one classic children’s clothing store in the area where I lived so I knew I had something different to offer that would appeal to my target customer.

2.Take advantage of economic opportunity: The top-end designers would not have given me ( a first-time retail business who didn’t even have a launched website yet) a chance to carry their line had they not just experienced a tremendous downturn in other stores buying their clothing due to the current state of the economy. This was the perfect time to come into their lives – a fresh new store who was looking to buy their clothes. They needed to take some risks and fortunately I was the risk they were willing to take. 

3. Try it out with your friends first. If you can’t trust your friends opinion than who can you trust?! I decided to have a mini ‘trunk show’ to see if my friends (who represented my target customers) would love the clothes as much as I do and be willing to pay a little more for quality clothing for their children. After a few months of trunk shows and lots of private appointments it became apparent that there was a strong need for this style of clothing in the area.

4.Create an online presence. I decided to create to promote the items I had and make them accessible to friends who were not living nearby. What better way for everyone to see these amazing clothing lines than a great website which showcases the clothing and gifts?! Through word of mouth – and friends forwarding the link to friends – the online portion of my business started to pick up and spread all over the country!

5. Social Media – HUGE marketing tool that is so underused. Now that I had a website and a pretty good customer base with my trunk shows the next step was to market it all. Facebook and Twitter are free social media tools that give you the ability to create and market yourself the way you want. A facebook page and twitter account for your business adds a personal connection which creates a loyal customer fan base where they feel like they know you already when they walk into the store or purchse from your online store. I love seeing other moms out there promoting themselves and definitely feel a strong urge to support them the way they support me!

6. Be Passionate about your vision. I always heard “Do something you love and then find a way to get paid for it.” Or was it my husband who finally said to me one day “you need to find a better way to justify buying all these clothes for the kids”. Either way, I was passionate about kids clothing and finding a way to make it into a business.  I believe so strongly that children should dress like children.I can go into a long lecture on the fact that kids are growing up way too fast and kids need to be kids etc..But honestly, classic children’s clothing NEVER goes out of style and can be passed down through generations. There are going to be many times you will be challenged on your vision or criticized. Believe and stand by what you are doing and selling because if you don’t these remarks could derail you – don’t let it. No one can please everyone and provide exactly what everyone wants or needs – be respectful of their remarks but stick to your guns. You are selling your passion and not theirs.

7. Negotiate – Don’t ever be afraid to ask for something. The worst they can say is no. Let’s face it there is nothing that is not negotiable nowadays: rent, website charges, shipping charges – you name it! In the beginning, every dollar counts!

8. Make nice with those doing exactly what you are doing.This is something I feel very strongly about. I have never, nor will I ever, bad-mouth another store in order to make mine seem more appealing. We are all in this together folks. If you truly believe in your store and believe in what you are selling there is no reason to bad mouth the ‘competition’. People shop at your store because they love your store. Period. The customer will decide where they want to shop – you don’t decide for them. I think it is bad practice and just plain bad manners to put down others in your community who are working just as hard as you are. Go and introduce yourself – see what they have that you don’t offer and send people there when they are looking for something you don’t have. Believe me, they will do the same back to you and everyone wins then. Learn from each other, support one another – it will only help you in the long run.

9. Advertise Everywhere. In the first year of your new business it is so important you budget enough to advertise in every single media outlet. Newspapers, Magazines, Social Media, School Auctions, Radio etc…After 1 year of this you will get a feel of what really brought people to your store. Many people will say how they heard of you and be sure to take note of that. At the 1 year mark cut back on everything but the ones that really made the difference. Focus on those in a big way. Buy the full-page ad in the one magazine that worked the best instead of all those 1/4 page ones you were putting in everywhere. I started out with close to 25 different advertising venues and am down to 5 which work the best for my particular store.

10. Give back. If you find yourself having even moderate success with your venture it is your duty to give back. Let me tell you greed has never gotten anyone anywhere.. I don’t know anyone who can’t spare even a little bit to help those in need. I have been lucky enough to be able to combine my two passions – my store and Operation Smile into one. We donate 10% of our sales to Operation Smile providing life-changing surgeries for children all over the world. Our customers feel good knowing that with every purchase they are helping fund this wonderful organization.. 

Okay, so I couldn’t get down to 10, so we’re including 11! :)

11. NEVER EVER give up! Don’t take no for an answer when you believe in something so strongly. After months and months negotiating with a very weary leasing agency who had just seen another children’s clothing store close in the area I received a call that the final decision was a ‘no’. That was not a possibility to me. I drove to their offices that afternoon with print-outs that I handed to every person in that room with reasons #1 thru 10 why they were making a huge mistake and why I believed in my vision.  You can’t argue when something is right there spelled out on paper in black and white. I read through that list 1 thru 10 emphatically stating in each point why what I was doing was different than anything that had been done before and would not fail. I knew I would not leave that room without a lease on that space and they knew it too. Perhaps they gave in to me because they were sick of having me come to their offices over and over again, or perhaps the old-school handouts did the trick, either way 24 hours later that storefront was mine…and the rest is Luxaby Baby & Child history.

Be sure to follow Molly and Luxaby Baby and Child on Facebook and Twitter!

LaunchHER PRO :: Marketing 101 {Preparing Product for Market}

LaunchHER PRO :: Marketing 101 {Preparing Product for Market}

It’s a new year! Define your workback schedule to ensure success at Market!

LaunchHER PRO :: Rebecca Kaykas-Wolff

LaunchHER says ::  You may remember Rebecca Kaykas-Wolff as the dynamo entrepreneur behind Petit Couture, who was recently {freshly launched} here on LaunchHER.  Today, Rebecca brings the wisdom that she has accumulated from many years in “Corporate America” and as an entrepreneur, to share with us how to develop a Marketing Plan and Calendar in 2011.  Rebecca has achieved incredible professional success, and we are honored that she is sharing with us today! So, break open a Diet Coke, or pour a cup of coffee, sit down and enjoy!  There is so much wonderful and valuable information below… we’d love to hear your thoughts, too!

Petit Couture

LaunchHER PRO :: Marketing 101 {Preparing Product for Market}

by Rebecca Kaykas-Wolff

Marketing 101: It’s a new year! Define your workback schedule to ensure success at Market!

As you wouldn’t leave home without your calendar (app or paper version), so too consider creating a workback schedule, and cadense, to define some of the tactical items that will make up your products to ensure that your brand is spot on for Market dates.

For those of us nurturing small boutique apparel businesses we generally sell two different ways – wholesale and direct.

Selling direct is relatively straight forward, and with social media technologies taking a forefront in digital marketing easier than ever to elevate your brand and products. For my business, Petit Couture, I’ve largely grown it using Facebook and Twitter. I love the flexibility that self-publishing provides and I LOVE having a more direct relationship with customers. I use the direct portion of Petit Couture’s business to bolster sales (obviously, the margin is better) and build the brand. That said, I just caution to be cognizant of your pricing strategy to ensure that you don’t undercut retail partners with sales promotions they are not able to support themselves. Sharing pricing strategy and discounts is just good business practice, but can be challenging for small businesses to manage. That said, keeping it simple is best and offering discounts on merchandise that is either discontinued, ‘seconds’, or limited time incentives will generally be ok. And, at the end of a season I work with flash sites (e.g. Totsy, Gilt, Zulily, The Mini Social, etc.) for cost recovery purposes and liquidate merchandise at cost.

To sell to the trade, it’s critical to understand retail purchasing cycle, process and event strategy. Generally speaking, buyers for stores (physical and online) purchase a season out and shop either/all National tradeshows or local market days at either sales representative shows (usually in a hotel in regional markets) or at a Market Center like California Market Center where all of the showrooms carry manufacturer’s products. A great online resource for US apparel tradeshows can be found HERE.

Seasonality for wholesalers looks something like this:

Winter (Jan / Feb Tradeshows) ::

Buyers are purchasing Spring immediates and Summer to order

Spring (March Tradeshows) ::

Buyers are purchasing Summer immediates and Fall to order

Summer (August Tradeshows) ::

Buyers are purchasing Fall immediates and Spring to order

Fall (Sept / Oct Tradeshows) ::

Buys are purchasing Resort / Holiday immediates and Spring to order

If you’re going to market it’s important to outline all of your workback (tactical items you have to ‘do’) steps to ensure that you have a successful show either in person or via rep. My checklist for Petit Couture includes (this obviously applies to direct as well):

1.)            Budgeting

2.)            Design and Sourcing (fabric, trim)

3.)            Pattern construction and marker production

4.)            Sample Set production (factor in three rounds)

5.)            Model Selection (fit and photos)

6.)            Photography

7.)            Sales and Marketing Collateral Creation (brochures, linesheets, website, pricing, sales sheets)

8.)            Press/Reviews

9.)            Display and Event Equipment Purchase

The items listed above are a fraction of what goes into market prep – especially for a first show. Most items can be reused, obviously. But, if your business is a seasonal business then collections need to be refreshed with every major season. For companies that manufacture domestically turnaround and workback schedules can be tightened, but for those that manufacture out of the country the turnaround can be tricky. So, factoring in your timeframes associated with each of the general ‘buckets’ above could save you from some surprises. So, for example, a workback schedule could look something like this:

Budgeting (1 week)

Design/Sourcing (1 month)

Patterns/Markers (2-3 weeks)

Sample Set Production (4 weeks)

Certification* (2-3 weeks)

Models (2 weeks)

Photography (3 weeks)

Collateral (1 month)

Press (ongoing J)

Display/Equipment (2-3 weeks)

Shipping (2-3 weeks)

Of course some items happen concurrently, but generally speaking some activities can’t happen without others happening first. And, it’s great to have an at a glance view of your workback schedule so you know the timeframe you need to operate within as you go to market. Based on the above examples, you could estimate about a 3 month cycle leading up to a trade event or web launch if you’re in the direct business only.

The beauty of small business ownership is that it is MUCH easier to streamline process, and there aren’t a ton of people who need to ‘sign off’ on your work. However, in the same turn resources are slim and wiggle room is lean.

Any business requires planning in order to be successful. Some of us more naturally are inclined to pursue our days calendar free and often times, that leads to missed calls, meetings and opportunity. It just doesn’t make great business sense. So, helping define your go to market rhythm will help as you refine your business processes and have a successful market showing.

Good luck this season!

Petit Couture

Be sure to follow Rebecca and Petit Couture on Twitter and Facebook.  You still have time to use the LaunchHER promo code from the Petit Couture {freshly launched} feature as well!  Just enterr code 20FORFRIENDS upon checkout to receive 20% off your Petit Couture purchase!  

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!

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