Missed the Wholesale Matchmaker Screen Share tour?

Wholesale Matchmaker Screen Share Tour

Earlier this week, I hosted a live screen share tour of my Wholesale Matchmaker service. I invited visitors deep into the belly of the software and behind the curtain of my matchmaking process in a candid peek at this powerful wholesale tool, which is designed to streamline buyer outreach efforts while keeping you focused and accountable.

 

I captured the tour on video in case you couldn’t make it to the live event. I hope you’ll pour a mug of something delicious and dive in for an intimate peek into the biggest project in Lucky Break history…

 


I’m proud of the way that Wholesale Matchmaker has helped hundreds of creative, product-based brands save time while building their confidence and building smart business systems, too.

 

If you’ve been thinking about joining my Wholesale Matchmaker community, then there’s no time like the present. Last week, I announced that I’m retiring LBU Live, the intimate wholesale mentorship that I’ve taught for the past three years. I’ve merged the LBU curriculum with the matchmaking power and software tools of Wholesale Matchmaker to help my members create unstoppable retail programs.

 

I’m calling this new membership tier the “LBU Cohort” and it’s designed to amplify the education and support within Wholesale Matchmaker in a big way. This video explains more about the LBU Cohort, but here’s what you need to know right now: the cohort is open for enrollment twice per year for just ten days.

 

The doors are open right now, and I’ve rolled out the red carpet for members through Monday, February 13th. There is a cap on participation so that I can be absolutely certain that I serve each of my members well. And if we reach capacity before February 13, then I’ll need to pull up the drawbridge and seal off the cohort early. Long story short: I wouldn’t dilly dally.

 

Have questions? Reach out to my Client Concierge team and they’ll be happy to get you squared away. Ready to reserve your seat in Wholesale Matchmaker? I’d love to have you!

Meet the Maker – Stephanie Maslow Blackman of Metalicious

Meet the Maker - Stephanie Maslow Blackman of Metalicious

Meet the Maker - Stephanie Maslow Blackman of Metalicious

 

Today we’re excited to take you “behind the scenes” with Lucky Break client and Wholesale Matchmaker member Stephanie, who runs the artisan jewelry company Metalicious from her studio in New York, NY. Stephanie handcrafts family heirloom pieces from recycled metals and ethically mined gemstones – and the result is nothing short of stunning. Welcome, Stephanie – thank you for sharing your story with us!

 

LBC: What inspired you to take your leap as an entrepreneur?

Stephanie: My dad had his own computer business when I was growing up (hello, nerd family). I loved that he had the freedom to work on things he loved the most and that he could take vacations with us whenever he wanted. He was an incredibly hard worker and he taught me that failure is really an opportunity to learn how to succeed.

Growing up it seemed totally normal to be an entrepreneur, so even when I worked for other jewelry companies I knew it was only a matter of time before I had my own business. 12 years ago when my first son was born, I took a leap of faith and started Metalicious. I worked out of a small corner of my bedroom during his naptime and at night, and sold my jewelry at craft fairs on the weekends.

Over the past 10 years I’ve grown my online business to where I can rent studio space and have 2 part time employees. I feel incredibly grateful. Now it’s my own kids who think about what kind of business they will run someday. My little one loves to brainstorm ideas about how to increase sales. He even did a video “review” of my jewelry on YouTube.

 

LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?

Stephanie: When I first started Metalicious I didn’t have a plan (which is step 1 of what NOT to do). My jewelry was very geometric with hard edges and no gemstones, no color, just sterling silver, brass and bronze. I thought it was very chic and very “New York.”

Well, customers would ask me all the time to add gemstones and color, but I didn’t listen (step 2 of what not to do). After two years, my sales weren’t increasing so I finally swallowed my pride and opened myself up to my inner creativity.

The flowing swirls and colorful gemstones that now define my line brought in wonderful, new customers: people looking for alternative engagement rings and unique wedding bands. Metalicious.com is now the place to go for couples looking for something different from what’s already out there.

 

Meet the Maker - Stephanie Maslow Blackman of Metalicious

 

LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Stephanie: I create wearable art. Jewelry that tells your story. I feel so lucky to be able to hear the stories of my customers: the mom buying buying a ring for her daughter to remind her to be strong in the face of bullying; the couple buying wedding rings that connect them to their childhood when they walked through wheat fields together; the architect proposing to his fiancée on a mountaintop. Each story is unique and I am so grateful to be a small part of their journey in life.

 

LBC: Where can we find your products?

Stephanie: Online exclusively at Metalicious.com – but I’m working on connecting with retailers so that more people can find my work in person.

 

LBC: Walk us through your typical work day.

Stephanie: As a mom, wife, and business owner, it’s pretty hectic. I wake up at 6 or 6:30 and it’s a frenzy of eating, showers and getting dressed before my husband and I split walking our boys to school. Then I walk to my studio – everything is walkable in NYC and it gives me time to get into the right headspace for the day.

Once I’m at the studio, I read emails, answer customer messages, and try to get through my Inbox. My assistant Rebecca comes in 3 days a week, so when she’s there we’ll talk about the tasks we need to accomplish for the day, goals for the week, and chat for a little bit over tea. She is like my right arm at work and a wonderful person, so I really enjoy our chat time. Then depending upon what is due that week and what my goals are for the day, I will do some benchwork, work on the website (listing new items, working on photos, etc.), do research for a blog post, post on social media, plan out new designs, do “big picture” planning, etc. I work most days until 4-5pm, when I pick up my kids.

I try to carve out family time for the evenings and weekends and stick to that as much as possible. Establishing boundaries is really important for me – otherwise I could work. All. Night. The best thing I ever did was to start a ritual where I take 15 minutes before bed every night to plan out my schedule for the next day, which gets everything out of my head so that I won’t forget it the next day. It has done wonders for my productivity.

 

Meet the Maker - Stephanie Maslow Blackman of Metalicious

 

LBC: What are 3 things makers should think through when they initially decide to start a business?

1) What is your goal with your business? What is the reason for it to exist?

2) Is there truly a need for what you’re selling (outside of family and friends)?

3) Would you be happy spending 60-100 hours per week doing this?

 

LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?

Stephanie: I think it’s a combination of things. Exercise helps me reduce stress, so I try to do small workouts 3-4 times a week. I also feel better when I have a plan, so I use a planner where I write out yearly, weekly and daily goals. When I feel a little lost, I go back to my goals and they help center me.

 

LBC: Tell us about a few of the best business decisions you’ve made to date.

Stephanie: Hiring someone to help me with doing the things I’m not good at, or things that take me away from big picture thinking, is always a great decision. When I get to a point where I spend more time doing repetitive work and less time thinking about how to grow, then I know that I should look for someone to take some things off my plate. Rebecca’s position has grown from doing shipping and running errands to brainstorming marketing ideas, doing customer service, running reports, etc. You can always start by hiring someone just a few hours/week and go from there.

 

Meet the Maker - Stephanie Maslow Blackman of Metalicious

 

LBC: Please share one mistake or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back/overcome it?

Stephanie: I was really resistant to learning about SEO, and got lazy about updating keywords. My business, which had always grown year-to-year, went flat. Luckily as a small business, I was able to make changes quickly, so I put in the time to learn about SEO and keywords, then updated my listings. Within a few weeks my business was back on track, and I learned a powerful lesson to not get complacent or lazy. You can always learn more and make adjustments in your business to stay on course.

 

LBC: Is there a cause or organization that you contribute to that you’re particularly passionate about?

Stephanie: Living in NYC, I literally walk past soup kitchens, homeless people and food lines every single day. So I’ve chosen City Harvest as my cause. They rescue over 150,000 pounds of food per day from supermarkets, restaurants, and banquets and deliver it directly to food banks and community shelters in over 500 programs across the city. They host mobile greenmarkets where they give away bags of veggies to families each week in 5 of the most needy boroughs. It’s an amazing program to volunteer for, and at the end of each year I contribute to them on behalf of my customers. Last year I was so grateful to be able to donate enough to feed 2,000 families. I’m so thankful for my awesome customers, who enable me to give back to my community.

 

LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?

Stephanie: 1) GoDaddy bookkeeping: Since my business is all online, I’m able to link all my accounts here so I can see a snapshot of how my business is doing (profit/loss). I check it daily to make sure I’m on track to hit my financial goals or to see if I’m overspending anywhere.

2) Endicia for shipping: I use the Dymo label printer with it and it changed my life. No more waiting on lines at the post office; we just print our labels and drop our packages into the mailbox. And Endicia gives free tracking, which helps me give great customer service.

3) Excel: I’m a spreadsheet maven and love analyzing my numbers. So I use Excel to create reports to track my social media, bestsellers, sales, and even to create pricing. I would kiss Excel on the mouth if I could.

 

ethical-crafted-metals

 

LBC: Suppose we had a time machine. If you blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?

Stephanie: In a few years, Metalicious will continue to grow as an online presence. We will have a small team of people working to delight our customers and create fresh, delicious jewelry designs. Metalicious jewelry will be available in a select group of retail stores across the world so customers can see and feel the jewelry in person.

 

LBC: You’re a member of our Wholesale Matchmaker program. Can you  share a bit about how being a WMM member has affected your business?

Stephanie: I found Lela right before she opened Wholesale Matchmaker and I signed up as soon as I could. It’s helped me develop linesheets and has systematized my outreach. I feel like I have a solid foundation and have been contacting stores since December.

Since joining WMM I’ve put together gorgeous linesheets that I’m proud to send out to retailers. Having everything in one place makes it really easy to do outreach and follow up, and the email templates are not only helpful but they save me tons of time figuring out what to write. I also love the calendar with the reminders, it keeps me focused on building my wholesale business on a regular schedule. I’ve been working on outreach steadily and now that I have the support of WMM I feel confident that I can make it happen.

I also did a 1-on-1 call with Lela when I was designing my website. She honed in on what made my brand unique and gave me great, actionable tasks to make a website that I’m really proud of and that resonates with my customers. Lela is a generous, kind-hearted, super smart woman and I feel so lucky and grateful to have found her and the Lucky Break team!

 

Meet the Maker - Stephanie Maslow Blackman of Metalicious

 

LBC: Lela recently made the decision to retire her flagship “how to wholesale” program LBU Live, and is rolling that extensive curriculum into Wholesale Matchmaker. You were among the first to join the LBU Cohort within WMM! Can you tell us how you feel about embarking on this new experience?
Stephanie: I am really excited about the LBU cohort because I’ve already gotten so much out of the community in the ways of support and information from the other members. So the thought of having access to the LBU program at such a great price with the additional support of other members in the group going through the same hurdles I am is an incredible gift.

 

LBC: What’s one thing you would eat, if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life?

Stephanie: It would absolutely be chocolate. It’s a big deal when I tell my kids I love them more than chocolate and if I wasn’t already married I would marry chocolate. It’s kind of scandalous now that I think about it.

 

LBC: If you could hire someone to do just one thing that you sort of loath doing, what would it be?

Stephanie: Helping my kids with their homework. I hated homework as a kid and would do anything to avoid it, so now that I have to help my own kids it’s like torture. Please send us a tutor!

 

LBC: What’s your favorite quote and who said it?

Stephanie: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -Eleanor Roosevelt… That one line helped me shift my mindset about self-confidence in a big way.

 

Meet the Maker - Stephanie Maslow Blackman of Metalicious

 

Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing your talent with us!  We absolutely love what you’re doing with Sarah Swell, and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for you and your company. We’re honored to work with you and we’re cheering you on!

 

Interested in Wholesale Matchmaker? Now is the time. The LBU Cohort offers 12 months of matchmaking + 12 months of wholesale education and support. A limited number of spots are made available just twice per year for 10 days – and the LBU Cohort just-so-happens to be open to new members right now! But don’t wait too long – the LBU Cohort is only open for enrollment through Monday, February 13, 2017. If we reach capacity before that date, then it will close up tight early and won’t reopen until June 2017. Click here to learn more and enroll!

 

The Lucky Break Calendar – February 2017

LuckyBreak_February2017

Whew! Those first 31 days of the year flew right on by, didn’t then? I hope you’ve been busy refining your collections, reviewing your pricing, and pitching your hearts out to wholesale buyers, and I encourage you to keep going as we roll into February.

 

It’s been a busy month for Lucky Break, too. I welcomed in a new semester of BHB, LBU Live, and my only live GMP class of the year + my team has been busy putting the finishing touches on some other H-U-G-E projects to boot… a podcast, LBU Cohort, and design services, oh my! I hope you’ll stay tuned to see all of the goodness I have coming down the pipeline for you. I pinky promise it’s worth it!

 

Whatever you’re working on this month, know that I’m cheering you on!

 

Lucky Break February Calendar

Studying good branding? Start here…

good branding

Can I be honest for a moment?

 

There’s a lot of really mediocre branding out there. 

 

I’ve spent some time meditating on why that is and I think it boils down to two essential things:

 

1. Many of us sort of fell backwards into our business, which means we skipped some of the critical work of brand development: thinking critically about our target audience, understanding where we fall within the marketplace, cultivating meaningful differentiation.

 

2. Resources are limited and we’re cobbling together our brand development on a shoestring budget.

 

Does that feel familiar? I imagine that it might. One of the most important things I think that we can do as brand owners is to immerse ourselves in the study of extraordinary branding. It widens our scope, helps us step into a new mindset, and raises our personal bar. All good things…

 

If you’re in search of creative brands who are hitting it out of the park, then I’d like to introduce you to 36 of my personal favorites. These brands- many of whom are small + mighty with artisan roots- offer fertile ground for inspiration. I’m drawn to them for four primary reasons:

  • They know who they are as brands.
  • They have a deep understanding of their target audience.
  • They’re not afraid to let their personalities shine.
  • They bring the heat when it comes to presentation, putting their best foot forward with stellar graphic design + outstanding photography.

 

I encourage you to carefully study brands both inside and outside your product category. Instead of looking exclusively at brands which share an aesthetic that resonates with you, explore new brands and see if you can ascertain, simply by looking at their websites:

 

Who is this brand trying to attract?

 

Dig deeper: what clues (text, images, packaging, price, product design) lead you to that conclusion?

 

How do all of the pieces mentioned in question #2 come together to create a cohesive whole? Does anything feel out of step?

 

What can you learn by watching these brands in action?

 

 

APOTHECARY

Laurel Whole Plant Organics

May Lindstrom

Juniper Ridge

S.W. Basics

Madame Scodioli

Tata Harper

 

 

PAPER + GIFT

Rifle Paper Co.

Emily McDowell

Lovelane Designs

Freaker USA

Cards Against Humanity

Poopourri

 

 

JEWELRY

Betsy & Iya

31 Bits

The Giving Keys

Upper Metal Class

The Brave Collection

Figs & Ginger

 

 

FOOD + SPIRITS

Wondermade

Big Spoon Roasters

Sugarfina

Jeni’s Ice Cream

Fat Toad Farm

Bittermilk

 

 

HOUSEWARES

The Wooden Palate

American Heirloom

Hedley & Bennett

Farmhouse Pottery

Coral & Tusk

Byrd & Belle

 

 

 APPAREL + ACCESSORIES

Shinola

Primary

So Worth Loving

Thinx

Johnny Cupcakes

Heart of Gold Apparel

 

 

I’d love to hear from you! Which brands resonated deeply with you? What stood out for you about them? I hope you’ll drop a comment below so we can chat about it.

 

If you’d like to build a stronger, smart brand in 2017, then I also hope that you’ll consider joining me in the spring semester of Brick House Branding. This 8-week brand development incubator dissects awesome brands and then helps you build your own, brick by brick, with me working right alongside you to cheer you on and ensure that you’re on the right track. Enrollment is closing in just a few days, but there’s still time to grab a seat… I’d welcome an opportunity to work with you!

 

Thinking about hiring a designer through Fiverr or 99designs? Please think again…

Fiverr or 99designs

Fiverr or 99designs

 

When I first started my business, I was a severely resource-constrained single mother, which is a gentle way of communicating to you that I was horrifically broke. Launching a brand is an expensive endeavor, and I often hear from my clients that they’re feeling the financial squeeze that frequently becomes the hallmark of the first few years of the entrepreneurial journey. While I’m all for bootstrapping and pinching pennies where possible, I’ve learned that the graphic design that represents your brand is not an area that’s well-served by cutting financial corners.

 

Many of the brands that I work alongside are consumer packaged goods. Think: beauty products, candles, gourmet foods, etc. The graphic design that surrounds all of our brands- regardless of product category- plays a significant role in both the efficacy of our marketing efforts and the determination of value that consumers attach to our products. That perception is critical for every brand (I’m looking at you stationers, jewelers, ceramicists, apparel designers…), but it’s especially important for these packaged goods.

 

As they shop online or in-stores, consumers have no way of ascertaining how delicious that granola will taste, how restorative that eye cream will be, or how strongly that candle will smell. They actually take all of their cues from the packaging design. Design influences the kinds of fans the product will attract, in what stores it will be sold, and how much you can charge for it. These are critical facets of your brand, and they shouldn’t be left to chance. But that’s precisely what you do when you hire designers through 99designs or Fiverr.

 

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Pause that thought for a moment…

 

Fiverr is a platform where you can hire anyone to do almost anything starting at just $5. It’s ripe with peeps in search of design work. 99designs is a bit different: it’s a graphic design marketplace where you can post a project, host a contest, and attach a pot of money as the prize. Designers submit work, you pick the winner, and they score the sum of money you offered as bounty. The higher that sum, the more interest your project will illicit and (theoretically), the more submissions you’ll have.

 

DANGER, WILL ROBINSON…

 

Lucky Break clients often share that they’re planning to pursue design through these platforms and- when they do- I immediately flip the switch on my blinking neon “danger” sign and caution them against proceeding in that fashion. Here’s why…

 

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