A Inside Peek at the Kiva Loan Process

A Inside Peek at the Kiva Loan Process with Print Therapy

Hi! Lela here. I recently passed my blog microphone to Shannon, Lucky Break’s Creative Director- and she generously gave you a peek behind her Hettie Joan brand launch. This week, I’m passing the mic to Melissa, Lucky Break’s Operations Manager a.k.a. “My Right Hand.” She’s a brilliant project manager and ball juggler here at Lucky Break, but she also has a pretty amazing stationery company as well.  I invite you to discover Print Therapy and then read on to learn how Melissa recently crowdfunded a $7,000 loan through Kiva to help her launch a new product collection.  

 

I’m a big Kiva fan… after all, who else invites entrepreneurs to borrow up to $10,000 to grow their business at ZERO interest, with ZERO fees, and without having your personal credit attached to the transaction? Kiva a reputable non-profit with a long track record of facilitating microloans to entrepreneurs around the world. And Melissa’s going to pull back the curtain and show you how it’s done. Take it away, M!

 

A Inside Peek at the Kiva Loan Process with Print Therapy

 

If there’s anything I’ve learned from being a part of the Lucky Break team, it’s that I’m not alone when it comes to my dreams being bigger than my wallet. The idea of starting a business can be intoxicating, but when you learn the dollar signs associated with that dream? That can be pretty darn sobering.

 

I spent the first three years of my business sort of floundering, trying new things, learning what worked, and learning what didn’t. Once I honed in on my niche (thanks, Brick House Branding!), and after a few brainstorming session (thanks, Lela!), I had a handful of ideas I knew I wanted to bring to market. The one thing I didn’t have? The money.

 

Although I had heard of Kiva before – in fact we lend through them as a part of Luck Break’s philanthropy efforts – I had never thought about attempting to raise a loan through them for my business. I mean who wants to fundraise? Who wants to raise money? Who wants to ask the people they know for help? I’ll tell you who. This business owner. And maybe you, too.

 

During one of my consultations with Lela, as we were discussing products and the financial state of my business (spoiler alert: I was out of money), she mentioned casually that she thought I could get a Kiva loan funded with relative ease. I’m not sure why, but I shrugged it off. I’m not the best at admitting that I need other people to help me, and asking people for money always feels a bit weird. But once I hung up the phone after our consultation, and the dreaming phase was over, and the get-to-work phase began, I realized that I needed to find money somewhere, and I needed to find a good amount of it, fast.

 

A Inside Peek at the Kiva Loan Process with Print Therapy

 

I’d like to tell you that I did my due diligence, studied Kiva and their stats, and took a few days to make my decision. In reality, I did a quick review of the site to understand their terms … and had my application started not even five minutes later. And about twenty-five days later, the money was comfortably in my account, ready to make those dreams a reality. Curious to know how it happened?

 

THE APPLICATION

 

1. The Application process was pretty straightforward, but it included creating everything you see on my lender page.  My story and my dream were just as important- if not more important- as statistical information about my business. Also important? A great photo that shows the people – and the heart – behind the business. The application is also where I indicated the amount I wanted to raise, and the number of months I wanted for my repayment terms.

 

Hint: You’re only allowed to have one Kiva loan active at a time, which means you cannot initiate a second loan while you’re repaying your first. Think wisely about how much money you’ll need – and don’t let fear talk you into a smaller number. First-time Kiva borrowers can tap up to $10,000.

 

2. About 24 hours later, I had a call scheduled with Kiva, and my application was approved (HOORAY!) on the call. We also discussed repayment terms, and, most importantly, what it would take to make my loan public. As it turns out, once you’re approved, your loan page doesn’t just go live on the Kiva site, for any and everyone to throw money at you.

 

3. My Kiva rep, Richard, informed me that I needed to have at least 22 people I’m personally connected to lend me $25 each within the first fifteen days in order for my loan to go public, and for any Kiva lender to be able to find it and lend to me. It’s important to Kiva to see that you’re committed to your own success and that the people who know you believe in you, too. If I didn’t hit that magical number of 22? My loan would effectively be canceled, never to see the light of day.

 

 

THE FUNDRAISING

 

1. As soon as my Kiva page was live, I wasted no time sharing it on social media – both through my business pages and through my personal page. I knew that I had 15 days to get 22 people to lend me their hard earned money, along with their belief and support. I shared daily on both Facebook and Instagram.

 

A Inside Peek at the Kiva Loan Process with Print Therapy

 

2. I then proceeded to stalk my lender page, and I’m pretty sure I wore out my mouse with all of the incessant refreshing. I was on pins and needles, nervous that I wouldn’t find 22 people who believed enough in me to lend me $25. In those moments, my lack of money was only matched by my lack of confidence. I. Was. Nervous.

 

3. As it turns out, people like to give their money to things and people they believe in. I had 50 people within my network – friends, family, old high school and college classmates, former co-workers – lend to me in the first two days, bringing in over 30% of the money I had to raise. I was on my way! My loan was now public on the Kiva page, available for all Kiva lenders to see.

 

4. 30% was great, but I knew the momentum would begin to slow down if I didn’t keep fanning the flame. I posted. I blogged. I newslettered. I posted again. I blogged again. I newslettered again. I talked about how the money would support my business. I talked about how the business would support my family. And I talked about how much their support would support me.

 

I harped on the fact that this was not a donation; my business dreams were not a charity case. I had every intention of paying every cent back. And the people who had already lent to me? I was able to send notes to them, letting them know how things were going, and sharing my gratitude with them. Every day I tracked how much money had come in, and what I had left to be fully funded. It was a great reminder to keep on talking.

 

A Inside Peek at the Kiva Loan Process with Print Therapy

 

5. On Day 20, I received a loan from “Tom”. It was my biggest loan by far, at $900. And it took me all the way to 100% of my goal. I had no idea who this Tom was until I received an email a day later from this mystery Tom, and his wife, Heidi. They were my high school classmates that I hadn’t talked to in 15 years, but they had been following along with my business on social media, waiting for the right moment to jump in to help. They found their moment. And it gave me my moment. I was funded.

 

6. In the end, 147 people lent their money to my campaign, most lending $25. I know less than half of them. I’m grateful for all of them (especially those of you who are reading this blog). That’s 147 people who said, through their wallets, “you can do this. I believe in you.” We all know money talks, but in this case, it really did.

 

THE FUNDING

 

1. Kiva is an all or nothing lender; if you don’t reach your goal 100%, you don’t receive any of the money. And when you reach your goal? You get every single penny. There is no fee associated with the distribution.

 

2. The money is distributed via PayPal, and it’s pretty instantaneous. One day the money isn’t there, and a few days after you’re fully funded… there it is!

 

3. This is a 0% interest loan, so what you borrow, you pay back. No more.

 

4. Kiva prefers an automatic repayment setup, where they withdraw the monthly repayment from your bank account each month. At each repayment, each lender gets a percentage of their loan paid back to them – usually a few dollars each month, depending on how much they loaned. Hint: When I was determining how much money I wanted to apply for, I built-in a cushion for a few additional months. I knew that it’d be hard to start making repayments while I was getting my new products ready to sell, so I allocated a portion of my funding to, well, re-funding my lenders.

 

5. After the funding is completed, it’s recommended that you continue to update your lenders with your progress, to let them know how you’re putting their dollars to work. Sure, they care about their money, but many of them care more about your success.

 

A Inside Peek at the Kiva Loan Process with Print Therapy

 

The beauty of the Kiva process is that you’re not getting approved by some guy at a bank who deems your credit or business savviness is worth investing in. You’re getting approved by normal, every day people who deem your dream, and your story, worthy. They deem you worthy. They believe in what you believe in, and what you’re trying to do.

 

So you believe in you, too. Put yourself out there. Tell everyone and anyone why you, and your dream, and your story, are worthy. And get that money, honey.
Hi, Lela again. *wink* How much do we love Melissa, eh? I’d love to hear about your Kiva experience… please pop a comment below and let me know if you’ve given Kiva a try- either as a borrower or a lender. And if you’ve discovered other creative ways to fund your business, then I’m “all ears” to hear about those, too!

 

Prioritizing Where to Invest in Brand Development: Behind the Scenes with Hettie Joan

Hettie Joan
 Hettie Joan

 

This is a special treat, my friends. I’ve passed the blog baton to Shannon, Lucky Break’s Creative Director and the mastermind behind newly launched lifestyle brand Hettie Joan. I adore working alongside Shannon on Team LBC and I was especially excited to have a front row seat as she rolled up her sleeved to build this new company.  Today, she’s giving you a behind-the-scenes tour of her brand launch.  Take it away, Shannon!

 

Shannon Miller of Hettie Joan

 

I hatched the dream for what has become Hettie Joan more than two years ago. If you’re working on a brand launch of your own, then I hope you won’t let that timeline scare you – the majority of this pre-launch work was concentrated within one six-month time period. But having such a long timeline gave me plenty of runway to think about what was most important to me in a company, and among my biggest priorities was having an extremely solid, well-rounded branding.

 

Unfortunately (as I think is often the case with branding), I had a champagne taste on a beer budget. Furthermore, my husband and I run a very tight ship at our house when it comes to our finances, so for me – while I did have my sweet husband’s full support and faith in what I was doing – the idea of taking out any kind of loan, using credit cards, or borrowing against our savings was completely out of the question. I recall one very eye-opening Private Strategy Session with Lela in which I lamented this fact, but she reminded me that where there’s a will, there’s a way; and sent me off feeling inspired to figure it out.

 

I knew that if I wanted this new brand to perform at the level I envisioned, I had to make meticulous spending choices and do some mega-prioritization of where I’d spend my money, time, and elbow grease. After calculating what I felt was an appropriate launch budget (far more than I initially thought, but far less than I probably “needed”) I worked out a plan for saving up my pennies. From there, I laid one brick at a time to build Hettie Joan from scratch, which I’m proud to have finally unveiled last month!

 

As a teammate here at Lucky Break, I often hear Brick House Branding students asking questions about where to best spend their money. How do you know where to make the biggest financial investments? How can I possibly afford to outsource all of this brand development work? What’s the smartest thing to DIY? And while the answers are different for every brand and dependent on so many things – from your personal finances and commitments to your personal skill sets or your product category – Lela asked if I’d be willing to share how I chose to spend my buckets of time and money. I’m more than happy to dive under the surface of my choices with you to help explain what pieces I prioritized, where I compromised, and what I decided to pause until a later date.

 

Hettie Joan

 

Things I prioritized:

 

  • Putting in lots of hours of hard work on my brand development from day one. Starting with the Brick House Branding curriculum before I even finalized my product line or my logo was incredibly helpful. Doing so guided me to make a lot of decisions that I initially expected would go a different way, laying firm groundwork ahead of time meant that I made much smarter, more strategic, and more informed choices about the direction Hettie Joan would take – from the visual design and brand voice to making changes to my products in a way that better reflected the heart of my brand.

 

  • Getting my trademark. Because I work with so many small brand owners through my work at Lucky Break, I’d heard dozens of horror stories regarding trademarks (or the lack thereof). I’ve even run a few small businesses myself in the past, but it never occurred to me before how important it was to invest in a trademark up front. I toiled and researched on my own to develop what I thought was a protectable name, and then the very first thing I did with that small pot of startup capital I’d saved was to enlist the services of an intellectual property attorney, Andrea Evans.

 

  • Developing a killer logo. I’m a career graphic designer, so if nothing else, I knew how important a good logo design was going to be. Initially, I designed a logo myself that I liked well enough – but I quickly realized that for several reasons, it ultimately wasn’t going to work. I had to go back to the drawing board for a new logo, but anybody who works in a creative field knows that performing your service for other people is a lot easier than doing it for yourself; we are our own worst critics. I was getting so frustrated by the process that I decided to bite the bullet and make the investment to hire an illustrator whose work I loved, and who I knew would be able to help me create something really special: Dina Rodriguez at Letter Shoppe. It wasn’t cheap, but ultimately it’s more than worth it.

 

  • Making sure my colors matched across my printed matter, custom fabric, and other raw materials.  I spent a lot of time and dollars to ensure that the colors I used in my designs looked as much the same in every medium as possible. For example, the navy blue I used needed to look as close as possible when comparing the computer screen and my notebook covers to my custom fabric, my bags’ woven labels, the thread colors, the dye color on my zipper tape, and so on. It was tedious and painful at times, but I know that paying attention to details like is what takes a product line from “good” to “great.” This required an investment of time and patience as opposed to money, yet still: dishing out the cash for brand new Pantone color books, then cross-matching with a printed Spoonflower color map and its associated digital swatch library, purchasing a complete color sample card from my zipper manufacturer… the list of the investments I made related to this task goes on, and it wasn’t an inexpensive undertaking.

 

  • Ensuring that the zippers on my pouches were of the highest quality. This is another oddball priority, but I went through the very painful experience of having one completely custom order go bust after realizing that, for several reasons, the quality was just not good enough. These zippers had been made in a specific length, color, teeth size, and pull style, so I couldn’t return them. The only option was to make a whole new order. I was so disheartened at the time, but now I’m pleased as punch with the quality of the zippers on my pouches. I have had so many comments on them from friends and customers about how nice they are – beautiful, well-made and smooth like butter – and I feel like they really set my pouches apart in quality.

 

Hettie Joan

 

Things I compromised on:

 

  • I settled on a semi-DIY website. I strongly value great web design, but I simply couldn’t afford custom development – not by a long shot. However, I do have some web design and a touch of coding knowledge in my background. So instead of investing in thousands of dollars in outsourcing my website, I went with a trusted e-commerce platform (Shopify) and invested $180 in a pro theme. From there, I was able to tweak a few things to customize it to my liking. I have lots more I want to do in the future, but so far, I’ve been able to handle it – and for that, I’m very proud and grateful!

 

  • I have bigger dreams for my packaging and unboxing experience than what they are right now. It was important for me that I made a good impression on my first customers without going broke, so I used my design skills and brand concepts to the best of my ability, spending money where I could get the most bang for my buck. For example, instead of custom mailers, I found affordable white boxes and mailing envelopes in low quantities, and purchased a big custom stamp of my logo from Lumi, which I imprint on each shipment with a deep navy ink. I use matching navy crinkle shred filler, and stash a small freebie or two inside each box (think: a small branded pencil sharpener for customers who buy pencils). So while it is lovely as-is, I know it can be better. I haven’t created any kind of branded package insert yet – like a branded postcard with a call to action for my customers. But that was a much smaller priority for me at launch time than some other things, and it’s something I’ll be able to easily add in when I’m able.

 

  • I paid for professional photography, but I had to make the most of a brief shoot and DIY photo styling. Photography is another aspect of branding that I’ve seen done both so right and so wrong through our work with independent makers and product designers here at Lucky Break. I knew I couldn’t afford to make a bad impression with bad photography. I had to make a decision about how much money I could afford to spend with my photographer (the lovely Kamin of Spark & Arrow). I was able to keep costs at a rate I could manage by…

1. Only booking a half day shoot.

2. Traveling to my photographer, who lives a couple hours away (instead of asking her to come to me).

3. Doing all the prop shopping and shot planning myself in advance.

4. Prepping for and organizing the photo shoot within an inch of its life.

5. Prioritizing what kind of shots I needed to make sure I walked away with.

 

  • I launched with a very limited product line, and I’m doing all of the sewing production myself right now – even though that’s not my long-term plan. I wanted to have a three or four-pack of pencils in multiple designs, but I could only afford one. I wanted completely custom packaging, but I am using as many affordable “off the shelf” options as possible right now. I ultimately want to contract my sewing out to individuals or a US-based factory, but that has a few more dollar signs attached to it than my bank account balance. All that to say: I’m happy with where I am, but it took some real digging to find enough self-confidence to accept that things will probably never be exactly where I want them. I had to bite the bullet and JUST LAUNCH ALREADY instead of waiting for everything to come together in the exact fashion that I wanted. My daily mantras became, “Done is better than perfect,” and “Everybody starts somewhere.”

 

  • I did all of my own copywriting and marketing, but I had to make some major concessions in the interest of time and money. I launched Hettie Joan alongside working a full-time job (hi, Lucky Break!), plus a part-time job, plus my local volunteer commitments, plus running around with my two very busy children. So while in my head, I dreamed of this massive ramp-up to launch, the most amazing social media marketing plan that ever existed, and some killer guerrilla marketing… that just didn’t happen. Not only did I have to make peace with the sheer lack of hours in my day, but I was also on a calendar deadline to provide the USPTO with proof of my mark in commerce in order to get my trademark. There was no way I was spending any more dollars on that than I had to just because I didn’t launch in a timely manner, so I pulled the ripcord and here we are!

 

Hettie Joan

 

Things I paused completely:

 

  • Blogging. Ideally, I would have launched with a handful of blog posts in the hatch – but that didn’t happen. I have, however, been working on a content plan for what I’ll blog about (thanks, BHB!) and I know it’s forthcoming – and will be awesome. Is it necessary? Long-term, yes. But was it a must-have for simply getting into commerce? No – which is how I made that decision.

 

  • A few products that I thought would be part of my premiere line. I really would have loved to have had a few more core products ready for purchase – I thought for sure they would be. But since money and the time were running low, and I had a perfectly fine selection ready for launch, I let them go. They’ll come when they come.

 

  • An email opt-in for new subscribers. I know how important having a great email opt-in incentive is and would have loved to have launched with one much sooner. I’m sure I could have focused on building my email list more in advance of my launch. However, I felt like it was something I could pause, so I launched without an opt-in, although I did ultimately implement one a couple weeks ago that I’m really excited about. And now, I’m glad I took a little more time to work on that piece because releasing it post-launch gave me something great to engage with my new followers about besides “Hey, look at my new website!” over and over again.

 

  • Wholesale. I fully intend to take on the wholesale by force, but I’ve completely paused that for the time being. I just wasn’t ready right off the bat, but I’m working on implementing how I can get there, sooner rather than later!

 

Hettie Joan

 

I’m a firm believer in the power of learning through shared experiences, so I hope this behind-the-scenes look at my pre-launch brand development choices has been helpful! I couldn’t have accomplished nearly as much without Lela’s guidance, through our BHB curriculum, Private Strategy Sessions, and the support of our LBU Alumni Coaching Community. Branding is one of those things where its hard to grasp much you don’t know until somebody introduces the deeper concepts to you – and I’m so grateful for the education I’ve received through Lucky Break for helping me see the light.

Hi… it’s me again, Lela. Isn’t Shannon lovely? I’m a lucky girl to have her on my team! If you’d like to share a cocktail with Shannon, then I invite you to join us at Craftcation, April 4-8 on the beach in sunny Ventura, CA. It’s our favorite business conference of the whole year and I firmly believe that half of the reason that Shannon stays on the Lucky Break team is because I take her to Craftcation.  It’s the friendliest business event on the planet and you can learn to sew a blouse in one session and sit in on a social media workshop in the next session. The Lucky  Break team will be there this year- it’s our third year in a row!- and I *might* just be the closing keynote.  Come play? Craftcation tickets are available right over here.

Where Are They Now? Jenny Frech of Soapy Gnome

Soapy Gnome packaging, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

SoapyGnome-Logo

 

Are you wondering what happens to my Brick House Branding alumni post-graduation? What they do with the momentum + new-found knowledge? Curious about where they take their businesses in the year following all that hard work? I’m excited to introduce you to another BHB graduate who’s making waves!

 

SoapyGnome-Jenny

 

MEET JENNY FRECH OF SOAPY GNOME

This week, I’m excited to introduce you to Jenny Frech of Soapy Gnome, whose bath and body line embodies the spirit of “koselig” – the Norwegian word for feeling warm, comforted, and cozy. Jenny recently rebranded Soapy Gnome after graduating from Brick House Branding and today, she’s sharing a bit more behind the scenes of that experience. Welcome, Jenny… we’re honored to have you!

 

LBC: Why and when did you originally launch your company?

Jenny: I’ve always known that I’ve wanted to own my own business, and I started several, none of which stuck. When I was working as a teacher, I started making soap as a hobby. As the soapmaking hobby started taking off in 2013, my husband suggested selling it at our farmer’s market. It was great timing as the main soap maker there had just retired. We created a local following and the business has continued to grow, primarily locally.

 

 

LBC: At what point did you know it was time for a rebrand?

Jenny: I started out with a drawing that I did myself. At the end of 2013, a store was interested in carrying my deodorant, so I hired a local artist to create a new gnome for me. But, I wasn’t consistent with fonts, colors, and the like, and I was still crunched for money. In 2015, we attended our first tradeshow. Our target customer wanted sturdier packaging, so we started looking into boxes. That’s when I invested in Brick House Branding and hiring a designer.

 

Soapy Gnome packaging + logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Soapy Gnome packaging + logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: Please share a significant realization about the brand development process that you discovered while in Brick House Branding.

Jenny: The biggest discovery is our branding word of “koselig” which is the Norwegian word that means a cozy feeling. We use that when bringing new lines and products into our retail store and when creating marketing materials. Having a focus word has made life a lot easier. When I told my mom about focusing our brand around “cozy” she said, “of course!” I’ve always been a flannel jammies, down comforter kind of woman.

 

LBC: What professionals did you tag in to help with the process, and what pieces of the branding puzzle did you DIY?

Jenny: I hired an awesome designer that I was following on Instagram. She spent a lot of time outdoors in nature, and her work felt very cozy to me. I went in with color ideas and a Pinterest brand board that really helped her out in the design process. We also ordered professionally printed boxes and labels.

 

Soapy Gnome packaging + logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Soapy Gnome labels, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: What was the biggest obstacle you encountered during the rebranding process?

Jenny: Cost. We started with bits and pieces as we could afford them. First, we paid for a new logo; then boxes, then labels.

 

LBC: How has your own perception of your brand evolved since graduating from Brick House Branding?  

Jenny: I feel more focused and less scattered. Having branding elements in place makes everything easier from social media posts to shelf talkers to new packaging designs.

 

Soapy Gnome packaging, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Soapy Gnome packaging, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: Are your products are being received differently by others since the rebrand? How has their reaction evolved?

Jenny: I think people appreciate the more polished, professional look.

 

LBC: Can you share a recent win that you’ve realized because of the rebrand? 

Jenny: My biggest win is probably different than most. We have a brick and mortar shop and we carry all things cozy: soaps, bath products, Turkish towels, wool blankets, teas, and socks. Having a focus on cozy helps our store have a defined purpose and gives our customers a really unique shopping experience. About 75% of our sales are local and business keeps growing. We’ve more than doubled our business in the last 12 months.

 

Soapy Gnome product presentation, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Soapy Gnome product presentation, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: How did Brick House Branding experience help shape your branding process?

Jenny: It made me do the really hard, deep digging work. It was frustrating, but worth it.

 

LBC: What do you wish you had known at the beginning of the brand development process? What advice would you give to someone who’s getting ready to start the brand development process?

Jenny: I feel like going through this process after being business for a couple of years was actually really helpful. Because I’d been in business for a bit, I knew who my best customers are, what products I enjoyed making, and what direction I hoped to grow my business. My knowledge two years in was definitely different than when I first started out.

 

Thanks for catching up with us, Jenny! We can’ t wait to see what comes next for you + Soapy Gnome… We’re cheering you on!

 

Soapy Gnome packaging, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Soapy Gnome packaging, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

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. While formal enrolment for the first semester of 2018 has ended, we may still have seats available. I invite you to inquire about availability!

 

Where Are They Now? Pam Rodgers of Stella Chroma

StellaChroma-After2

Stella Chroma nail polish rebrand

Are you wondering what happens to my Brick House Branding alumni post-graduation? What they do with the momentum + new-found knowledge? Curious about where they take their businesses in the year following all that hard work? I’m excited to introduce you to another BHB graduate who’s making waves!

 

MEET PAM RODGERS OF STELLA CHROMA

 

This week, I’m excited to introduce you to Pam Rodgers of Stella Chroma, who creates splurge-worthy small batch nail polish that is cruelty, paraben, phthalate, and “big 5” free. After graduation from Brick House Branding, her company Paint Box Polish underwent a rebrand to what is now Stella Chroma. Pam is here sharing the story of her transition today, and we couldn’t be more excited. Welcome, Pam… we’re honored to have you!

 

PamRodgers

 

LBC: Why and when did you originally launch your company?

Pam: I originally launched as Paint Box Polish in February of 2012. I loved nail polish and had grown bored with the color options available at local stores. I discovered nail polish blogs, and indie nail polish companies started popping up. I began researching and testing in early 2011 and then started selling on Etsy.

 

LBC: At what point did you know it was time for a rebrand?

Pam: At first, all money made from selling polish went right back into buying more supplies. When I started making (teeny amounts of) money, I decided to do this for real. I knew that meant trademarking, so I searched the database and found that Paint Box was already trademarked. I knew then that I needed to rebrand.

 

PaintBox-Before

Paint Box Polish bottle photo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: Please share a significant realization about the brand development process that you discovered while in Brick House Branding.

Pam: I discovered pretty early on that my brand was much more than my brand name, and my mind was completely blown. I knew that some brands really seemed to have it together and be super cohesive, but I didn’t think I’d be able to do that. I’m still working on it, but with guidance (and wine and hand-holding) I’ve gotten on the right track.

 

LBC: What professionals did you tag in to help with the process, and what pieces of the branding puzzle did you DIY?

Pam: Aside from Lela and the fab ladies at Lucky Break, I hired Erika Firm from Analog Creative Co. to come up with my logo and brand identity. I spoke with about 5 graphic designers, but Erika and I clicked. The background work that was part of BHB made the process with Erika much easier!

 

PaintBox-Before2

Paint Box Polish contributed swatch photo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: What was the biggest obstacle you encountered during the rebranding process?

Pam: We had to dig deep! Like, grab your shovel and work up a sweat. Then give up on the shovel and rent a backhoe. Rebranding is so much more than liking how your brand name looks in a particular font and taking some cute flat lay photos. You have to decide what your brand is and who you want your people to be. And let me tell you, that ain’t an easy feat!

 

LBC: How has your own perception of your brand evolved since graduating from Brick House Branding?  

Pam: My brand is much more luxe than I first thought it could be. And, to my surprise, people are loving it. Purposefully making your branding more high-end-looking allows you to price up. And people are paying it.

 

Stella Chroma nail polish rebrand

Stella Chroma bottle photo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: Are your products are being received differently by others since the rebrand? How has their reaction evolved?

Pam: I have gained customers at a much faster rate post-rebrand. Most are noting that my new look is what got their attention.

 

LBC: Can you share a recent win that you’ve realized because of the rebrand? 

Pam: I haven’t gotten to the point yet where I’m seeking out wholesale accounts on my own, but I’ve been approached by more retailers for wholesale accounts, and I know it’s strictly because of my rebrand.

 

LBC: How did Brick House Branding experience help shape your branding process?

Pam: Brick House Branding was my branding process. I thought I knew what I needed to do, but figured I’d let a pro like Lela Barker guide me along the way in case I had missed something. Ha ha ha! Yeah. What I was setting myself up for was a name change, not a rebranding.

 

Stella Chroma nail polish rebrand

Stella Chroma contributed swatch photo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: What do you wish you had known at the beginning of the brand development process? What advice would you give to someone who’s getting ready to start the brand development process?

Pam: That to do this properly, it’s going to take lots of time. If it’s quick, it’s probably not going to be right. And it can be difficult, but you can absolutely run your shop as your current brand while you are working on the rebrand. My shop was only down for a month while I redid the site. It could’ve been for less than that, but I added some padding in case something went wrong.

 

Thanks for catching up with us, Pam! We can’ t wait to see what comes next for you + Stella Chroma… We’re cheering you on!

 

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 for the first semester of 2018 is now open and will close on October 13, or as soon as we sell out of seats… so if you know you want a spot, be sure to mark your calendar today to ensure you don’t miss out. I’d welcome an opportunity to work with you!

Where Are They Now? Danielle Kindschi of Baby Blossom Co.

Baby Blossom Co. editorial photography, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Baby Blossom Co. Logo

 

Are you wondering what happens to my Brick House Branding alumni post-graduation? What they do with the momentum + new-found knowledge? Curious about where they take their businesses in the year following all that hard work? I’m excited to introduce you to another BHB graduate who’s making waves!

MEET DANIELLE AND CINDY OF BABY BLOSSOM CO.

 

This week, I’m excited to introduce you to Danielle Kindschi of Baby Blossom Co., who –along with her business partner and mom Cindy – creates affordable and hassle-free presents for new moms that don’t sacrifice style, practicality or quality. She was generous enough to share the rebranding experience that Baby Blossom Co. has recently undergone in the aftermath of her graduation from Brick House Branding. Welcome, Danielle… we’re honored to share your story!

 

Baby Blossom Co. - Danielle and Cindy

 

LBC: Why and when did you originally launch your company?

Danielle: We launched Baby Blossom Company in Spring of 2009 when we were on the search for a baby gift for a family member who lived across the country. We wanted to send something practical for the baby, but didn’t want to just send clothes stuffed in a box. My mom and business partner, Cindy, learned about floral arranging from my grandmother, and had the idea to turn the clothes into a flower bouquet. The mom LOVED the bouquet. We decided to start a little company and haven’t looked back!

 

LBC: At what point did you know it was time for a rebrand?

Danielle: Neither of us knew anything about running a business when we first started 8 years ago, so we really wanted to go back to basics and build a strong foundation. We actually weren’t planning on revamping our visuals because we had just rebranded 8 months prior to starting BHB. But once we started the program and learned how much more goes into a brand than just a pretty logo, we realized we needed something that better fit our brand message.

 

Baby Blossom Co. - Before

Baby Blossom Co. logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: Please share a significant realization about the brand development process that you discovered while in Brick House Branding.

Danielle: We had always thought that because we sold baby gifts, and anyone can buy a gift for a baby, that we didn’t have a specific MVP (or target customer). Boy, were we wrong! Realizing that we can’t be everything to everyone helped us narrow in on the people who are truly interested in our product.

 

LBC: What professionals did you tag in to help with the process, and what pieces of the branding puzzle did you DIY?

Danielle: We worked with a copywriter, trademark attorney, graphic designer, web designer, and photographer. Both of us are very limited on time, so we decided to use our business savings to tag in reliable professionals to take some of the pressure off us, and we are so glad we did. There were pieces that we DIY’d, but I had professional help to start us off. For example, I had our copywriter write a sample description for each of our product types, then I used the template to write my own. We worked with a photographer for a styled shoot, but I shot the individual product photos. A lot of the professionals we worked with were suggested through BHB.

 

Baby Blossom Co. - Secondary Logo

Baby Blossom Co. secondary logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: What was the biggest obstacle you encountered during the rebranding process?

Danielle: The rebrand turned out to be so much more time-consuming than we ever imagined!  We decided to work on a project or two at a time so that we didn’t get overwhelmed. Even though we tagged in professionals to help with many of the projects, there was still so much time spent sourcing the vendors, providing them with feedback, etc.

 

LBC: How has your own perception of your brand evolved since graduating from Brick House Branding?  

Danielle: I finally feel like our brand matches how I’ve viewed our company all along. Everything feels cohesive and professional and we have a strong foundation under our business. Every time I look at our new website, I have to pinch myself that it’s really ours!

 

Baby Blossom Co. editorial photography, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Baby Blossom Co. editorial photography, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: Are your products are being received differently by others since the rebrand? How has their reaction evolved?

Danielle: The new brand has only been live for about a month, so it’s a little early to tell. Our new website will launch in October, so I am excited to see how it is perceived all together.

 

LBC: Can you share a recent win that you’ve realized because of the rebrand? 

Danielle: We were approached by a large, well-known blog to collaborate on a baby shower. This is the first time we have been approached for a collaboration with an influencer of this size and I’m sure that the branding played a part in their selection.

 

LBC: How did Brick House Branding experience help shape your branding process?

Danielle: Not only did BHB provide us with the knowledge to rebrand our business from start to finish (seriously, Lela leaves no stone unturned!), but the exercises that were part of the curriculum made it an absolute breeze when working with hired professionals. We were able to hand over the workbooks we completed in BHB to the vendors instead of filling out a new questionnaire for each vendor. They were truly impressed with how thorough the information was and how well we knew our brand. It made the process a lot smoother and I feel it provided us with a better result because they were able to get an in-depth look at our brand up front.

 

Baby Blossom Co. editorial photography, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Baby Blossom Co. editorial photography, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: What do you wish you had known at the beginning of the brand development process? What advice would you give to someone who’s getting ready to start the brand development process?

Danielle: Lela was very honest at the beginning of the process and told us it would be difficult and time-consuming. While we were amazed at the reality of that statement, I can’t say we weren’t fairly warned and the outcome was so worth it!

Our advice is to go into a rebrand with a completely open mind and don’t be afraid to start from scratch. Give yourself plenty of time and don’t rush through the process.

 

Thanks for catching up with us, Danielle! We can’ t wait to see what comes next for you + Baby Blossom Co. We’re cheering you on!

 

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 for the first semester of 2018 is now open and will close on October 13, or as soon as we sell out of seats… so if you know you want a spot, be sure to mark your calendar today to ensure you don’t miss out. I’d welcome an opportunity to work with you!