Meet the Maker: Valerie Smith of Klei Beauty

Valerie Smith of Klei Beauty

If you’re a fan of minimalism, clean beauty, and gorgeous design, then you’re going to love Klei Beauty.  Founder Valerie Smith recently sat down with us to discuss why setting yourself apart is essential, and how she learned the hard lesson that not every opportunity is an ideal fit.  Welcome, Valerie!

 

Valerie Smith of Klei Beauty

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

Valerie: I was working in the fashion industry, feeling stuck and uninspired. I’ve always had a passion for DIY self-care projects, so I started to create Klei while working full-time. A year and a half later, it’s my full-time job and I couldn’t be happier.

 

LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Valerie: Klei is a line of self-care products, designed to be fun and customizable. The line currently includes a few clay masks and cleansers, bath soaks, floral facial steams, and facial oils.

 

LBC: Where can we find your products?

Valerie: I’m currently carried in 50+ boutiques nationwide, and sell products on my website.

 

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

Valerie: I first thought that every product needed to be made and packed by me. I’m now learning just how much that hinders growth, so I will partner with a factory in Michigan to mix and pack all of my clay products.

 

LBC: Walk us through a typical workday

Valerie: I like to start my day by making some coffee and sitting at my desk to review emails and create a task list for the day. As a small business, it’s important that I constantly work to reprioritize tasks, as every day is different. After answering emails, I’ll get started on packing orders and restocking inventory as needed. I’ll then work through my to-do list, with a few breaks to take my pup Billie outside, until it’s time to go home.

 

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

1. Start small, and don’t be discouraged by not having what you think is enough money to fund your business. Not having much to put into Klei is what really forced me to plan ahead and think about what was worth investing in, and what wasn’t.

 

2. Trust your vision and process, but be open to change. The beauty of having a small business is being able to constantly improve and change how you do things, in order to keep up with what you’re learning about your industry.

 

3. Don’t be afraid to say no to proposed opportunities. Not every opportunity is worth your time or money, no matter how much someone tries to sell it to you.

 

 

 

 

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

Valerie: Starting your own business is really scary, but in the most exciting way. When I start to doubt myself, I think of how far I’ve come in less than 2 years, and that I’m fully self-employed because of my own choices and decisions.

 

LBC: Tell us about the best business decision you’ve made to date.

Valerie: Investing in new branding. Setting yourself apart in the beauty industry is hard, and I’m really excited to launch a new look for Klei soon.

 

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

Valerie: I tend to say no to opportunities that I believe aren’t worth financial investment, but I don’t think the same about my time. After one recent disaster of an in-store experience, I’m learning to value my time as much as I do my finances.

 

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

Valerie: 1. Instagram – Has led to so many amazing opportunities 2. Canva – Amazing for creating professional design templates 3. Shopify – This is the best e-comm platform, with the most amazing customer service.

 

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

Valerie: This is hard for me to answer, truthfully. I have a plan for 2019 (new branding, being carried by a large national retailer), but beyond that, it’s hard to say.

 

LBC: Share one of your guiltiest pleasures.

Valerie: Any of the Real Housewives shows.

 

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

Valerie: “Don’t yuck my yum” – Mary Murphy, my mom. Can be applied to my love for the Real Housewives franchise.

 

Thank you, Valerie, for sharing your talent with us. We’re looking forward to seeing your new look and all the wonderful things ahead for you and your company. We’re cheering you on!

 

 

5 Productivity Tricks for Entrepreneurs

Lucky Break Angie showing us her 5 productivity tricks for entreprenuers

 

Running a small business means being a professional juggler. Only you’re not juggling balls you’re juggling bowling pins, and they’re conveniently on fire.  I’m here to share 5 productivity tips for entrepreneurs because when you’re a small business owner, you’re not just creating a product. You’re also a salesperson and a finance person. You’re the admin. You’re even a web developer/IT person. Layer that on top of additional obligations that you have at home. Perhaps you’re a parent or have another full-time job to make ends meet.

 

Whatever it is, there are what feels like a never-ending number of hurdles and roadblocks to prevent you from getting through your day and achieving your goals.  But for me, productivity is less about managing time, and more about managing energy and anxiety.

 

5 Productivity Tricks for Entrepreneurs

Lucky Break Angie showing us her 5 productivity tricks for entreprenuers

 

I’m Angie and I’m a member of Team Lucky Break. I also run my own product-based business called bobo design studio where I create a line of lifestyle products for travelers and wanderlust seekers. In addition to my product-based business, I also have a service-based business where I create hand lettering and illustrations for brands and for licensing. Oh, and I also live and struggle with ADHD. Needless to say, I have a lot of experience in working against the odds to get things done.

 

When I speak of ADHD, I’m not speaking of it as a descriptor for how I get distracted. I am an actual, clinically diagnosed, working with medical professionals ADHD sufferer. Lela and I often joke that ADHD is an epidemic among entrepreneurs, and I’m not betraying her trust by sharing that she struggles with the ADHD beast, too.  Attention disorders can be challenging no matter what career path you choose.

 

In terms of productivity, I’m far from having it all dialed in and figured out. My biggest struggle with regards to the ADHD is sticking to any one system long-term.  The way my brain builds habits is different than most. Consider my list of 5 productivity tricks, tools, and hacks a suggestion of where to start. Iterate on a system that’s going to be beneficial for you, even if that means frequently evolving to stay motivated and engaged in your productivity habits.

 

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Lucky Break May 2019 Calendar

May 2019

The May 2019 Calendar is here. April has been a challenging month as we get the site ready for re-launch, but kittens, we are in the home stretch!

 May 2019 Calendar

 

We have our monthly call with our LBU Coaching Community on the 14th.

 

I am so excited to teach a free photo styling workshop on Facebook Live for the 16th. So be sure to mark your calendars and get your questions ready!  Anything you ever wanted to know about how to prep for a product photoshoot will be spilled in this free 1-hour session.

 

We launched our Mastermind Think Tank Group last month. We host monthly group calls for this closed group of serious entrepreneurs.  No topic is off the table. I roll up my sleeves and get in the trenches with you!

 

And we will be closed on Monday, May 28th to observe to gather ourselves, harness our chi, and celebrate the summer! (translation: lots of wine, nachos, and sunning on patios)

 

There is an insane amount of new things happening, so make sure you are following along on all we have cooking this March via our mailing list as well as on Instagram! @lelabarker and @luckybreakconsulting

 

DOWNLOAD THE MAY CALENDAR

 

May 2019

 

Meet the Maker >> Carina Lawson of Ponderlily

Featured Image - Ponderlily

I’m excited to share another installment of our ongoing “Meet the Maker” series, featuring Carina Lawson fo Ponderlily.  For this ongoing series,  leading business owners share morsels of wisdom and give us a peek behind their brands. Carina is especially lovely and she makes some of the most beautiful planners on earth, so I’m eager for you to meet her!

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Meet Carina Lawson of Ponderlily

 

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

Carina: As a motivated woman with big dreams, a blossoming career as a business analyst, and a family who I love more than anything, I found myself being pulled in all directions. I was caught in a never-ending cycle of being busy, successful, and exhausted. I wanted a planner that was made sustainably, helped me create a sustainable schedule, and that was also stylish. I’ve always wanted to create a product that helped women with their life-balance and something that fulfilled my creative side, too. After managing other people’s organizations for many years I thought that with my passion for stationery and sustainability combined with my experience in operations management gave me a wonderful opportunity to start my own business.

 

LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Carina: I help women with full lives make smarter, meaningful decisions about how they spend their time. I use ethically sourced materials to make planners and diaries that bring attention to routines and rhythms that bring intention – to even the busiest days.

 

LBC: Where can we find your products?

Carina: You can find our products in our online store and in select retailers in the Middle East and England.

 

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

Carina: As a luxury stationery brand for people with full lives seeking to create more space for intentional living.

 

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LBC: Walk us through a typical workday.

Carina: I take my children to school, head to the library to work on Ponderlily for a couple of hours. I then go into my 9-5 job, while my family runs the day-to-day operations. I pick up my children from school during my lunch break, give them a snuggle and catch up on their day. I head back to work until 5. This is all possible because thankfully, my family runs the day-to-day operations at Ponderlily while I’m at work and my work/kids’ school/home is only 10 min from each other! Once my children are in bed, I continue to work on my business for a couple of hours. I don’t work on Fridays. During the high stationery season, I take time off work to dedicate myself 100% to Ponderlily.

 

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

Carina: 1. Validate your idea –  do a lot of research with what you consider your ideal clients. Send them questionnaires, have them look through your prototypes, and get their feedback. We have to put the customer at the center of this process.

2. Consider your finances – your business finances should start and stay separate from your personal finances. And pay yourself a salary from the minute you make your first sale. I think it makes things a lot more real when it comes to making decisions about your business.

3. Find your tribe – find the people who’ve been there, who’ll cheer you on when you’re doing all the things and hit a major milestone in your business. Your friends and family may not get what you do so it’s important that you surround yourself with entrepreneur friends to cheer you along and provide you with advice when needed.

 

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

Carina: The vision I created for my business. I remember why I started and who it’s for: I can only serve my customers from a place of calm and not chaos. I recognize that if I’m operating from a place of overwhelm, I won’t be able to make the best decisions for myself or my business so I take breaks, take deep breaths, and take a good walk to put things back into perspective!

 

LBC: Tell us about the best business decision you’ve made to date.

Carina: Working with an experienced branding agency to help us with our branding. I knew we needed to have a strong visual presence and working with Aeolidia has been one of the best business decisions I’ve ever made.

 

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

Carina: I didn’t look into a contract as closely as I’ve been trained to do – I let my entrepreneurial passion get the best of my trained business analyst brain and I made a huge oversight: I didn’t question why there wasn’t a deliverable schedule in the contract. Production for our first batch of planners was delayed and this mistake cost me dearly. However, I learned a lot from this experience: approach my business like a business, bring people on who’ll be active partners and not talk down to me because I don’t have experience in the industry, and trust my instincts – if something doesn’t sit well or doesn’t seem right…it probably isn’t.

 

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

Carina: Asana, G-Suite, and One Note.

 

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

Carina: You’d probably see our company in more high-end department stores.

 

LBC: How have your interactions with Lucky Break influenced your business?

Carina: Phenomenal! The team is incredibly professional, Lela knows her stuff and genuinely wants to help your business flourish – every question gets answered and we wouldn’t have a wholesale program without Lucky Break.

 

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LBC: What benefits have you seen from taking classes, working with a mentor, and/or building community around your business?

Carina: I learned everything I know about the stationery business from classes I’ve taken online. I’ve also had mentorship sessions, especially related to production. I’m very grateful to a growing online community in creative groups I’m a part of who share their knowledge when I have questions.

 

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

Carina: Sushi.

 

LBC: Share one of your guiltiest pleasures.

Carina: Popcorn!

 

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

Carina: I really don’t like my own cooking. My repertoire in the kitchen has become quite boring and working 9-5 AND running a business on the side makes me tired…and hungry. I’m not gonna lie but I often visit my parents and my in-laws at meal times on weekends (and with Tupperware in hand) just so I can bring their food back home.

 

 

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

 

 

An Interview with Max Rhodes, CEO of Faire

Interview with Max Rhodes

An Interview with Max Rhodes, CEO of Faire

 

Over the last few months, I’ve been exploring the Faire wholesale marketplace (formerly Indigo Fair) in an effort to help readers determine if Faire is right for you. In an interview with Max Rhodes, the CEO of Faire, I invited him to the table to respond directly to some of my findings and the feedback gathered from the artisan community. I’m honored that he took me up on the offer and I’m eager to share our conversation about the pros and cons of Faire, alongside Max’s thoughts about the evolution of the wholesale landscape.

 

I’ve published Max’s responses in their entirety without editing.

 

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LELA: What does Faire look for in a maker? What factors do you consider when reviewing a brand’s application?

MAX RHODES: We carefully evaluate each maker that applies to join Faire, and there are several factors that we look at to determine which to accept. Among those are the number of stockists they are currently carried in, the category and quality of products, and their overall brand aesthetic. When appropriate, we will also cross reference a brand’s social media presence to gauge how well their products might sell on our marketplace.

 

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LELA: How does Faire vet potential buyers on the platform?

MAX RHODES: Like makers that apply, we also review every retailer to make sure they are a good fit for our marketplace. We fully vet each retailer to confirm that they are legitimate retailers, meaning that they must actually sell goods, ideally in a brick and mortar environment. There’s no shortage of fraud in ecommerce, so we have a team dedicated to making sure that doesn’t infiltrate Faire.

 

LELA: What can you share about the algorithm that predicts a brand’s visibility on the Faire platform? What factors into that algorithm and how can makers maximize their visibility?

MAX RHODES: The recommendations that retailers get are informed by a variety of factors, including: the type of retailer they are, their profile and products, the kind of items they have historically purchased, and conversion rates for a given brand (in other words, whether or not retailers are ordering once they visit a brand’s page and if those items are being returned or not). The recommendations can vary greatly by retailer because they are curated and catered specifically to their business needs.

 

 

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LELA: One maker I spoke with raised a concern about tax ID numbers as it relates to her responsibility to collect sales tax. Her concern was that if she’s ever audited by the state, she’ll need to produce the resale certificates from her in-state retailers that prove that those sales were exempted from sales tax. If she fails to do so, then she can be held responsible for not having collected the appropriate tax, leaving her to settle the bill and any related penalties.

As I understand it, artisans don’t have access to that information about their retailers via Faire. How would you instruct her to handle that? Could a Faire artisan contact Faire representatives if they were under audit and gain access to the necessary certificates to absolve them of any tax liability?

MAX RHODES:  Faire is a reseller and all purchases made by it from any Faire.com wholesaler are for resale on its platform and therefore should not be subject to sales tax. Faire exercises commercially reasonable efforts to ensure that any goods sold on its platform are purchased by resellers for resale in their ordinary course of business. As such, sellers should not incur any sales tax liability for sales made on the Faire.com platform. We encourage any maker who is in need of assistance regarding a tax related inquiry to contact Faire’s customer support team.

 

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