Where are they now: Angie Chua of bobo design studio

Angie Photo

Bobo Logo1.jpg

 

Are you wondering what happens to my Brick House Branding alumni post-graduation? What they do with the momentum and new-found knowledge? Curious about where they take their businesses in the year following all that hard work?

 

I’m back with another installment in my “Where Are They Now?” series and I’m doing-cartwheels-excited to show you the serious waves my BHB graduates are making!

 

Angie Photo

 

SAY HELLO TO ANGIE OF BOBO DESIGN STUDIO

You might recognize Angie from Team Lucky Break.  But before Angie was a part of my team, she was a client and a BHB graduate. I’ve been uber impressed with her since I first met her at Craftcation, and watching her grow her brand has given me many a proud mama moment. Cheers, Angie!

 

 

Lucky Break: Why and when did you originally launch your company?

Angie: I launched bobo in 2008 making handcrafted makeup bags. I was working at a pharma startup that ended up closing its doors during the economic downturn of 2009. Unsure of what my next job was going to be, I began putting more effort into bobo. I had grand dreams to turn it into something, but looking back, it was definitely a hobby at best.

 

Shortly after losing my pharma job, I started my career in brand advertising, and that consumed my life until 2017 when I decided to give bobo the college effort I always dreamed of.  So while I started in 2008, I really consider 2017 the start of my company.

 

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bobo design studio, BEFORE Brick House Branding

 

 

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

Angie: I always joke that I had been a “long time stalker turned client,” but it’s true!  I had been following Lela and her work for a while.

 

The second I quit my job, I threw down coin to work with Lela in BHB because I needed her to blow down this house so I could build it up again properly.  I figured that I had the disposable cash at the time and thought I should tap in the help early instead of waiting till I’ve made every mistake and then trying to scramble the funds together to get that lifeline from her.  So the decision to rebrand wasn’t even really about the rebrand itself, it was about utilizing Lela’s resources while I had the financial wiggle room to do so and set the foundation for my business.

 

 

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

Angie: I knew BHB was going to be challenging work. This wasn’t the first time I had  seen a “build your target customer worksheet” or read about branding. What I did not expect was how much of an emotional process BHB was going to be. This is where Lela really shines.

 

She helped me build a deep connection to my brand and my work in a way that transformed everything for me- how I view my products, how I think about my brand, how I talk about my brand, how I create content, and how I want others to view and experience it.

 

 

bobo design studio, AFTER Brick House Branding

bobo design studio, AFTER Brick House Branding

 

 

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

Angie: I had joined some online groups, “masterminds” so to speak, and taken one “target customer” online course.  While the info I learned was useful, it was all very “cookie cutter.”

 

Nothing was groundbreaking. Nothing was actually focused on my business, and it was information that could be easily found googled from a blog post somewhere on the internet. I knew Lela was the real deal, so I didn’t spend too much effort searching the web for SEO friendly blog posts by people who were not authoritative in the space.

 

 

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

Angie: The biggest obstacle was nailing down the essence of my brand in a way that felt authentic, not just to me, but to my customers. I have ADHD, and I tend to be all over the place creatively (and in life), but finally ironing out my “core” helped me reign in the ideas, edit my products, and made the creation process more straightforward.

 

bobo design studio's Instagram feed, before + after Brick House Branding

bobo design studio’s Instagram feed, before (left) + after (right)  Brick House Branding

 

 

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

Angie: It is night and day. My brand is growing in ways that I can only attribute to Lela and BHB. Before BHB, I had no direction. I walked into fabric stores and walked up and down the aisle to see what prints spoke to me. I’d spend so much on prints that I’d bring home and never end up using.  I was waiting for the fabric to speak to me to generate inspiration. It’s very much an artist’s way of thinking.

 

Now, I think like a brand instead of an artist.  I think about my customer, where they are going, what colors and patterns they gravitate to, what complimentary goods provide value to their life? That fuels my decision-making process, and in the end, I create a more cohesive collection of goods that speak to them (and me!)

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

Angie: 100%.  People used to love my bright prints, not because of what bobo meant to them. My bags acted as great gifts; purchased by someone needing a unique gift in a pinch.  It almost was a placeholder for something of meaning. My goods didn’t end up with someone who drew a connection to what I created.  In the end, it didn’t have any real intrinsic value to the person who was buying my bags or the person receiving it.

 

But once I re-branded, I began to see repeat customers. I saw people who tagged me in photos using my bags when they traveled (which is in the context of my brand- Wanderlust goods), they began to see themselves in the brand and built loyalty to my products.

 

 

bobo design studio, AFTER Brick House Branding

bobo design studio, AFTER Brick House Branding

 

 

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

Angie: I have two significant ones-

  1. I was asked to be a part of this branding case study! I think in my final survey for BHB, I said a goal of mine was to be a “before and after” case study! Ta Da!
  2. When one of my favorite organizations, Dear Handmade Life said they wanted to do a blog post and feature me on a podcast revolving around the evolution of my brand, how I handle social media as it pertains to my branding, and how I stay authentic to my business.

 

Sometimes branding is the work that people don’t see and takes the most effort behind the scenes. To have someone else externally take note, and acknowledge the intangible parts of the business that I’ve poured my heart and soul into- it’s so validating, not just for me as a person, but for the investment in working with Lela.

 

 

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

Angie: BHB taught me to narrow my focus and hone in on a niche. Strangely the opposite result occurred- it gave me more creative freedom to create relevant products and gave me permission to make product decisions that would or would not ultimately serve my customer.

 

bobo design studio, AFTER Brick House Branding

bobo design studio, AFTER Brick House Branding

 

 

Lucky Break: 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?

Angie: If I could go back in a time machine and give myself some advice, it would be to sign up for this sooner. It’s never too early to think about branding. It will only save money, pain, and emotional heartache by tapping someone in as early as possible.

 

Investing in branding is not dependent on how far along you are or how big of a brand you are- it’s about investing in building a proper foundation. It’s about how well you understand what it is you do, the value you bring, the visual and verbal communication of that value, and understanding your customer on a deep level.  It’s about valuing your business enough to invest in it, and take it seriously.

 

Thanks for catching up with us, Angie. We can’ t wait to see what comes next for you and bobo design studio… We’re cheering you on!

 

If you’d like to build a stronger, smart brand in 2019, then I hope that you’ll consider joining me in the winter semester of Brick House Branding. This 9-week brand development mentorship 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 opens on October 2!

 

Where are they now: Harmony Todd of Old Soul Artisan

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OldSoulArtisan_Logo

 

Are you wondering what happens to my Brick House Branding alumni post-graduation? What they do with the momentum and new-found knowledge? Curious about where they take their businesses in the year following all that hard work?

 

I’m back with another installment in my “Where Are They Now?” series and I’m doing-cartwheels-excited to show you the serious waves my BHB graduates are making!

 

HarmonyTodd

 

Say hello to Harmony of Old Soul Artisan

 

I’m thrilled to kick off this round of catching up with my Brick House Branding graduates with Harmony Todd of Old Soul Artisan. After digging deep in Brick House Branding, Harmony fully embraced her brand’s dark side + emerged with a beautiful, focused brand. Welcome, Harmony! We’re so glad to have you here.

 

Lucky Break:  Why and when did you originally launch your company?

Harmony: I launched Old Soul Artisan in September 2014. I had just finished graduate school and spent the summer evaluating career options that had at one time seemed logical but were now surfacing questions about whether any of them would lead me to the life I wished to have. The cure to some of this anxiety came in the form of creativity by resuming an old hobby I had of making candles. The beginnings of my company were similar to many makers: I made candles for fun, gave them to friends, someone mentioned I should start selling them, and so I did! Within a few weeks I had created a small product line, designed simple labels that I printed at home, and got a booth at the local farmers market.

 

 

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

Harmony: By early 2017 I had been in business for a few years and had grown a small following of customers and a handful of wholesale accounts. My business was growing, but very slowly. I was struggling with the feeling of working all the time and some weeks having very little to show for it in my bank account. Most of my sales were from repeat customers. While that let me know I had a great product, I realized I had a problem attracting new customers or new stockists. I felt like I was just spinning my wheels and that my marketing and brand messaging must have been so disconnected that my brand wasn’t able to stand out.

 

Lavender4oz

Old Soul Artisan packaging and logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand.

 

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

Harmony: The most significant realization is that I needed to niche way down. Lela said something to the effect of “when you try to speak to everyone, you speak to no one.” The exercises in Brick House Branding led me to visualize the company I wanted to build. I realized I needed to put more of my own artistic flair into it. It dawned on me that I had given up a career for the pursuit of creative freedom and that my company had not been reflecting the creativity I had bottled up inside of me. BHB helped me infuse this creativity with a brand story that targeted a niche market and the result has been a company that is more genuine and unique.

 

 

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

Harmony: I manufacture all my items, so everything from scent development to pouring and labeling candles is done in-house. Additionally, I built my own website on Shopify, wrote all the new copy, and designed my wholesale line sheet.

 

However, trying to DIY everything was one reason I had found myself in the position I was in, so I tagged in several professionals for help. I hired a wonderful graphic designer who was also a photographer that had experience with other brands with a darker aesthetic so I knew she would understand the look I was going for. She helped bring my vision to life by updating my logo and designing new product labels and marketing materials. After having my labels professionally printed (which look much better than anything I could have printed at home), I shipped my items to my designer to have them photographed. The investment was worth it. Not only do my items have a much more professional and sophisticated presentation, but outsourcing this work saved me a lot of time and stress that these tasks used to create.

 

OldSoulArtisan-Purification-4ozsoycandle (2)

Old Soul Artisan packaging and logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand.

 

 

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

Harmony: The biggest obstacle was learning that everything takes longer than you expect it to. In the end, everything worked out and I was able to launch the new branding on time but it was a big lesson learned in project planning for the future. The biggest problem I ran into was with my printer. I expected to have my labels printed in two weeks but it ended up taking about six weeks because they weren’t color matching correctly. I ended up having to change label paper due to this but it actually turned into a positive outcome since the textured paper enhanced the leather-bound book cover design of my labels.

 

 

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

Harmony: It has changed a lot! Before the rebrand I was directing everyone to my Etsy store. My photos were OK but certainly not professional. There was always a voice in my head that said “in the future…”. In the future, I will have a website or better photography or this or that. There were always things that I was unhappy with, most of it because I tried to DIY everything that I simply didn’t have the talent for. After finishing Brick House Branding I now feel much more empowered to get out there and talk about my company, and with the additional information learned in LBU feel ready to pitch retailers with confidence.

 

 

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

Harmony: The reaction was amazing! When I launched the new branding (and website) I received great feedback about it. My customers loved the new direction of the company. A cohesive brand story is incredibly important and my customers could immediately identify exactly how much work went into this rebrand. The products are basically the same but the new presentation and storytelling that has been interwoven into each of the scent descriptions has been an exciting change to my customers. I’ve also begun to see more press and retailer notice that I imagine will only help my company to continue to grow.

 

 

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

Harmony: Even though I’ve been in business for four years now, there has always been some nagging thought in my head questioning the sustainability of my business and its potential for growth. Due to the positive reaction to the rebrand I finally feel like, “Yeah, I can make this entrepreneur thing work!”

 

OldSoulArtisan-9ozSoyCandle-Ritual (4)

Old Soul Artisan packaging and logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand.

 

 

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

Harmony: It simply wouldn’t have been possible without BHB. Lela asked all the right questions that got me thinking about things in an entirely new light. Without the trainings, worksheets, feedback, and coaching calls I would have never been able to get my brand story as cohesive as it is now. Hiring Lucky Break Consulting was the best professional development investment I’ve ever made.

 

 

Lucky Break:  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?

Harmony: You have got to go into this with an open mind and be willing to objectively analyze your business. You need to be prepared to change things you may not have expected to when you started the process and also be willing to invest in upgrading things like photography and packaging. My rebranding experience required a lot of soul searching. It was hard work but absolutely worth it.

 

Be patient and expect there to be delays in the launch timeline. Rebranding can be a massive project. There can be hiccups along the way, especially when you tag in other professionals to help. It took me 14 months to finish the rebrand.  Please be gentle with yourself and keep generous amounts of wiggle room in your project timeline.

 

Finally, enjoy the process! You will learn a lot about yourself and your business along the way.

 

Thanks for catching up with us, Harmony. We can’ t wait to see what comes next for you and Old Soul Artisan… We’re cheering you on!

 

If you’d like to build a stronger, smart brand in 2019, then I hope that you’ll consider joining me in the winter semester of Brick House Branding. This 9-week brand development mentorship 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 opens on October 2!

 

 

Meet the Maker: Meg Sutton of Belle & Union Co.

Meet the Maker - Meg Sutton of Belle & Union

Meet the Maker - Meg Sutton of Belle & Union

 

Have you missed our “Meet the Maker” series? We’re toying with the idea of bringing back this series as a regular blog feature, so drop a comment below if you’d like to meet more of our favorite makers and hear the stories behind their success!

Today we’re excited to introduce you to Meg Sutton, who founded Belle & Union back in 2011. Now run by Meg and her husband Josh, Belle & Union is well-known in the maker community for their letterpress prints, handmade wrappings, and gorgeous housewares. Brimming with old-fashioned American wit, wisdom and style, all Belle & Union goods are made 100% in the U.S. (no really, 100 PERCENT). Thanks so much for joining us, Meg… we’re thrilled to share your story!

 

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

Meg: After working for a year as a graphic designer in an advertising agency, I was not feeling fulfilled creatively. I had worked in a boutique shop in downtown Savannah, Georgia, where I fell in love with letterpress. After finding a press in an antique mall in Florida, I quit my job and began designing my collection. One year later we launched at the National Stationery Show and the rest, as they say, is history.

 

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

Meg: As with most creatives, I had on rose-colored glasses about entrepreneurship – believing my days would be filled with doodling and product development. I quickly learned that having a business is 10% creative and 90% wearing all of the other hats related to actually running a business.

 

Meet the Maker - Meg Sutton of Belle & Union

 

LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Meg: We started out mainly as a paper goods company, but grew to add a variety of kitchen items and housewares. We believe in creating small-batch, hand-crafted artisan goods from American materials. We’ve found our niche in the foodie market, so many of our goods have that twist, whether that is through letterpress printed greeting cards with food puns, screen-printed tea towels with food patterns, or actual cooking elements like hand-carved utensils for your kitchen.

 

LBC: Walk us through your typical workday.

Meg: No day is typical! Being an entrepreneur is a lot of fire-fighting – if I am not putting one out, I am probably starting one. I read once to make a list of 5-6 things the night before, so you can hit the ground running in the morning. It has really changed my workflow and allowed me to be more productive. I can usually accomplish on a Monday and Tuesday what used to take me all week, just by being thoughtful and intentional about what needs to be accomplished. No day is typical, but each usually has emails, some sort of work on new product development, supply chain management, production, and order fulfillment.

 

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

Meg: 1) Finances. Know your numbers from day one. You may not like them, and may need help doing them, but you need to make sure you are actually making money and pricing your products correctly.

2) When you do launch, what is going to make your product different? Being handmade or illustrated isn’t enough anymore. Within our industry, the market is flooded with hundreds if not thousands of greeting card designers, so we had to differentiate ourselves from the crowd.

3) That leads to the third thing, and most important: You need to know your “why.” If you just want to make pretty things, that isn’t enough. Running a business is hard work; there is a grind day in and day out, and some days will be tough. It isn’t all doodling and flexible scheduling. Staying true to your “why” and connecting it with your purpose is what will keep you going.

 

Meet the Maker - Meg Sutton of Belle & Union

 

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

Meg: If we can help bring joy to someone, be a light in their day – that’s why we do what we do. The memories we awaken in others with our hand-crafted gifts, or a handwritten note from a loved one – we are helping to create treasured moments in people’s lives. Staying focused on this mission of connecting generations past and present is why we do what we do, and what keeps us going each day.

 

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

Meg: From the beginning, it was important to me that all of the products that we make or have made for us be 100% American made – from the materials to the final production. It’s taken a lot of extra effort, especially with textiles, to oftentimes create our own supply chains. For example, our tea towels took almost a year to develop, from working directly with the West Texas farmers to start, reserving our cotton (much of American cotton is sent overseas for production), to it being loomed in the Carolinas, to finally being stitched and then screen-printed in Georgia. It was a massive undertaking with lots of research and sampling. But now that the chain is established, we can rely on it and know that our quality is the best it can be. For us, our commitment to American made is something we can truly stand behind – knowing we are helping to establish and continue jobs stateside and that our goods are of artisan quality.

 

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

Meg: When I was first preparing to launch, I had saved every penny from custom work to fund our booth at the National Stationery Show in New York City. It took literally every dime I had to launch at that show – and we were received so incredibly well, far beyond what I had dreamed. What I hadn’t thought through (again, know your numbers!) is what it would actually cost to produce all of that product that I had just sold. After calculating it out, it was going to be around $25,000 to create all of the inventory I needed to fulfill orders. After several breakdowns, I pulled myself together and made it work. Now I always make sure to take the time to know exactly how much everything is going to cost start-to-finish before we get too far down the road.

 

Meet the Maker - Meg Sutton of Belle & Union

 

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

Meg: Over the years we have created a few products that specifically give back to Veteran causes. Having seen firsthand how difficult military life can be (my husband spent 6 years in the United States Army), it was important to give back to the men and women who give so much for our country. One way we honor them is by our commitment to American made goods, but we have gone above and beyond that by donating money to various support groups to help Veterans and their families.

 

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

Meg: 1) We have an online inventory management system that is the control center for all of our orders – our wholesale orders are manually input, and our website orders automatically filter in. It allows us to keep everything in order, and anyone can check and see the status of an order or inventory at any given time. Organization is key in running a smooth operation, and having this platform set-up from the beginning has been a huge factor in keeping us efficient.

2) I highly recommend getting an accountant from the beginning. Even if you run everything yourself, having that person to double check your work is invaluable. We didn’t start with one, and made a mistake where we weren’t filing the proper employee taxes for a few years. That was not a fun or cheap error that could have been caught early on if we had that system of checks and balances with finances.

3) We recently completed work on our “business bible” (it only took five years!). Even when you are starting out, I think it is important to set this up early on. Put down on paper how things work – the proper way to package products, fulfill an order, etc – it’s your operations manual. By having it down on paper, when you do go to hire, you can easily hand that document over to someone and all of the expectations and how-to’s for the business are right there in black and white. It is easy to think in the beginning it isn’t necessary, but it only takes a few minutes to record your process in that moment, than to try and go back and do everything all at once. We have to treat our small businesses like big businesses from day one.

 

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

Meg: In 2018, we are launching our flagship brick-and-mortar location, which will be our biggest adventure to date. As part of the shop, which will also house our studio, we plan to offer workshops, everything from letterpress printing to hand-lettering, and even a quarterly supper club. We want to create community with our supporters, encouraging people to slow down and enjoy the sweet moments in life, gathered ’round a table filled with smiles and laughter. In a few years, I hope to find the shop thriving in this new journey.

 

Meet the Maker - Meg Sutton of Belle & Union

 

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

Meg: Something sweet. I have a terrible sweet tooth that is constantly getting me in trouble!

 

LBC: Your musical playlist is full of…

Meg: An eclectic mix… everything from oldies, Broadway show tunes (hello Hamilton on repeat 24/7), pop – whatever I am feeling at that moment.

 

LBC: Share one of your guiltiest pleasures.

Meg: Self-care is so important – so I make sure to take time for just me. I usually get my nails done or get a massage at least once a month. I used to feel guilty about taking the time out of the workday to focus on me, but I’ve found it to be so important to my mental health. So I suppose it isn’t that much of a guilty pleasure after all!

 

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

 

Want to see your brand featured in our continuing “Meet the Maker” series? Drop us a line: hello AT luckybreakconsulting.com. Please use “MEET THE MAKER” as the subject line and be certain to include your web address. We look forward to hearing from 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!

 

Meet the Maker 2016 Roundup – Part 2

Meet the Maker 2016 Roundup Part 2

Meet the Maker 2016 Roundup Part 2

 

My team and I had a crazy-good time with our weekly “Meet the Maker” series this year! Each Monday, we introduced you to another product-based business that’s creating beautiful things and making waves in the process.

Last week, we shared Part 1 of this roundup series, where we’re highlighting each of the amazing makers who played with us on our MTM feature this year.  Today we’ll wrap things up with Part 2, so I hope you’ll grab a drink and cozy up for another hefty dose of year-end inspiration!

 

Meet the Maker - Gates of Burly Stone

T. Gates Councilor of Burly Stone

high-quality men’s grooming products

 

meet the maker - this paper ship

Joel and Ashley Selby of This Paper Ship

whimsical illustrations + paper goods

 

Meet the Maker - Sweet Jenny Belle Bakery

Jennifer Rodriguez of Sweet Jenny Belle Bakery

sweet, edible works of art

 

bonblissity meet the maker

Elissa Choi of Bonblissity

single-use hand and body scrubs

 

Melissa Camilleri - Meet the Maker - Compliment

Melissa Camilleri of Compliment

gifts to uplift

 

Meet the Maker - Wynne of Crowns for the People

Wynne McCormick of Crowns for the People

beautifully tactile crowns for of all ages

 

Paul Ocopek of Modern Moose

Paul Ocepek of Modern Moose

fun, well designed and affordable home decor products

 

Amanda Wright of Wit & Whistle

Amanda Wright of Wit & Whistle

witty and whistle-worthy greeting cards and paper products

 

Megan Eckman of Studio MME

Megan Eckman of Studio MME

approachable embroidery for modern stitchers

 

Annika Bentiz Chaloff of Married & Bright

Annika Benitz Chaloff of Married & Bright

quirky yet delicately handcrafted lingerie

 

Luke and Abby Hatteberg - Wayfaren

Luke and Abby Hatteberg of Wayfaren

high quality, travel-inspired goods

 

fattysundays3

Ali and Lauren Borowick of Fatty Sundays

gourmet, fun-flavored chocolate covered pretzels

 

Meet the Maker - Little Minnow

Lizzi and Mary Bradley of Little Minnow

hand-printed and sewn accessories

 

Sarah Swell Jewelry

Sarah Greenberg of Sarah Swell

handcrafted precious metal jewelry

 

Want to see your brand featured in our continuing “Meet the Maker” series? Drop us a line: hello AT luckybreakconsulting.com. Please use “MEET THE MAKER” as the subject line and be certain to include your web address. We look forward to hearing from you!