Top 5 Conference Networking Tips

conference networking

Conference season is upon us. Let’s talk about networking. I’m Angie from Team Lucky Break, and I’m here to share my top 5 conference networking tips.

 

Surprisingly, many people don’t really know how to network. Seems simple right? Just go and talk to people! I hate to break it to you my friend, but networking is so much more than being friendly and bubbly. It’s about making meaningful connections in a sea of people. Many don’t realize that to successfully network, you need to have a strategy in place. I’m here to help you take the guesswork out of strategic conference networking.

conference networking

 

Top 5 Conference Networking Tips

I’ve gone to dozens, if not hundreds of networking events, conferences, trade shows, and business mixers. Some were for my business, bobo design studio, a lot more were for my previous roles in media and advertising. Doesn’t’ matter the content of the show, the rules are the same.

 

I’ve outlined five simple conference networking tips that I’ve learned over the years that will make you a smarter, more strategic attendee at your next big event. To help illustrate how one would implement these techniques, we’ll follow along with a hypothetical brand owner named Lucky who designs and creates her own line of adorable dog-themed stickers and stationery.

 

conference networking

(more…)

Meet the Maker: Leah Klasovsky of Leahlani Skincare

Leahlani Skincare

I’m excited to share another installment of our ongoing “Meet the Maker” series.  Here, we share morsels of business wisdom and a peek behind some of our favorite brands. This one is particularly special Leah Klasovsky of Leahlani Skincare.

 

Meet Leah Klasovsky of Leahlani Skincare

 

XsbaczKx

 

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

Leah: Realizing that my body was out of balance, I set out on a quest for healing. Fate led me to Spa Luna, a holistic esthetician school on the Island of Maui. With no prior knowledge of skincare and never having had a facial in my life, I felt a strong pull to trust my intuition… so off we went.

My husband and I packed all of our belongings and moved from Oahu to Maui to embark on this new journey. In life, we have so many defining moments… moments that change our very existence. My experience in the year I spent on Maui did just that, it changed my life.

For the next few years, I immersed myself in the world of holistic skincare and soaked in as much knowledge and advanced education as I could. I became a Spa Director at the Hilton Spa on Kauai and also had the privilege of having my own private esthetician practice. Working one on one with my clients during this time proved to be my most valuable education. I have had the honor of touching hundreds of precious faces over the course of years in my practice, each face told a story of skin longing to be heard and longing to be healed. I quickly learned how valuable my hands truly are, and what powerful healing tools they make.

(more…)

Meet the Maker: Hana Brewster of Quiet Clementine

Hana Brewster of Quiet Clementine

For several years, Lucky Break hosted a “Meet the Maker” series featuring inspiring makers and product designers we though you should know. We were honored to host dozens of artisans, from Kristen Pumphrey of PF Candle Co to Meg Sutton of Belle & Union. Each one graciously offered inside peeks of their entrepreneurial journeys, while sharing some of their favorite resources, and dishing advice for what they wish they’d known when launching their own brands.  After an extended hiatus, we’re excited to reignite the “Meet the Maker” series, and we hope it helps you stay engaged, empowered, and inspired.

 

We’re kicking things off with Hana Brewster of Quiet Clementine. Hana creates whimsical and playful pieces from ceramics that include sculpted jewelry pieces and statement dishes. Thanks so much for joining us, Hana… we’re thrilled to share your story!

 

Hana Brewster of Quiet Clementine

 

download-3

 

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

Hana: Prior to Quiet Clementine, I had two polymer clay focused businesses, one for jewelry and one for decor. I wanted to be a part of the handmade world, making something, and being able to work from home. I started with jewelry, because I had made some ceramic necklaces for my bridesmaids and enjoyed the process. Living in a small apartment with no space to make messes or to put a kiln made the choice to work with polymer fairly obvious.

Also, when I was in 6th grade, I went through a macrame jewelry making phase where I stayed in from recess to craft and try to sell necklaces to my teachers, so jewelry just felt like a natural fit to me. A few years into those businesses, my dad (who is a retired art teacher and amazing potter) encouraged me to make some ceramic pieces. I resisted for a while because I didn’t feel I had the skill to work in ceramics, but when I finally gave in, I was hooked.

Once I saw the first finished pieces, I think I knew I was done with polymer clay. I started making more pieces and posting them to Instagram. Then I started figuring out a plan for transitioning my business and how I was going to buy my own kiln. My business officially became Quiet Clementine in the spring of 2015 and I haven’t looked back since.

 

MEET THE QUIET CLEMENTINE COLLECTION

LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Hana: I create playful ceramics for color enthusiasts. I make small items, such as ring dishes, earring holders, mini planters, statement earrings, and necklaces. Each piece is inspired by vibrant color palettes and playful patterns and is handcrafted to bring fun and happiness to everyday life.

 

LBC: Where can we find your products?

Hana: You can find my products on my website, my Etsy shop, and at some amazing shops around the country, as well a couple international, which you can see on my stockist page.

 

download-1

 

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

Hana: Even though I had a couple of shops prior to Quiet Clementine, I still didn’t know that much about business, so I’m not sure if I really thought about how it would be defined. I just enjoyed making colorful, happy things out of a material that had so many possibilities and, as things went along, I started to understand my aesthetic more and more and what kinds of products I enjoyed making.

 

THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A TYPICAL WORKDAY

LBC: Walk us through a typical workday.

Hana: I don’t have a typical workday. I’m not a morning person, so I usually sleep in and then check emails and Instagram on my phone, which I know is a bad way to start the day!  After that, I start the kiln if it’s a firing day and I might do some computer work or answer/send emails if I need to or do a little product work.

After lunch, I go back to whatever the task is for the day. Each day is so different, depending on what products I’m currently working on and which phase of the process they’re in, but there are 3 different phases my pieces go through to become a final product. Some days I’m in the making phase, where I work in wet clay, creating the forms of the products. After that, I move on to the glazing phase, where I hand paint 3 coats of multiple glaze colors on each piece. For some products, that would be the final step, but I also apply liquid 22k gold to most of my pieces, so some days I’m applying gold and firing the kiln for the 3rd time.

For jewelry, there is yet another phase, so some days I assemble earrings. In between each phase are firing days, where I fire the kiln and then wait for it to cool. On those days (or whenever I need to), I might photograph or list new products, do computer work, start making more products, finish up a wholesale order, or just take a day to rest. My husband is my unofficial shipping assistant, so any orders that need to be packed up will happen after he gets home. I spend time with my husband in the evening and end the day by watching TV or reading a book.

 

BEFORE YOU START YOUR BUSINESS

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

Hana:

Make sure no one else is making your specific product already and if they are, figure out how you can make it unique and different from what’s already out there. Obviously, there are already a ton of people making jewelry or greeting cards, but you can determine what sets you apart from the rest. Having an idea of the feeling and aesthetic you want for your products will be helpful in understanding what makes you different.

Figure out pricing at the start and if you’d like to eventually do wholesale. You won’t want to have to dramatically increase your prices when you start wholesale. Of course, your costs and process will probably change from when you start versus a year out. You’ll find more cost-effective suppliers and your process will become more efficient, but having an understanding of pricing, in the beginning, will be beneficial.

Be aware of all the other roles that come with owning a small business. You won’t just be making the products you’re passionate about everyday. You’ll be the photographer, packager, shipper, admin, and many other things. Make sure you’ll be able to perform all of those tasks, at least in the beginning until you can, or want, to outsource those roles.

 

download-5

 

(more…)

5 Things I Learned By Opening a Brick and Mortar Shop

5 things I learned about opening a brick and mortar

Opening a storefront as a maker and product designer is no easy feat! Today I’m here to share the top 5 things I learned by opening a brick and mortar shop.

 

Hi there folks! I’m Angie and I’m a member at Team Lucky Break. In addition to working with some of the planet’s best brands at LBC, I also run a thriving product-based business called bobo design studio and I’m here to share the…

 

5 Things I Learned By Opening a Brick and Mortar Shop

 

In May of 2018, I was offered the opportunity to be part of a landmark retail experience in Downtown San Jose. I was selected by the city and an organization called San Jose Made to be part of an inaugural group of up and coming brands and artisans to bring quality retail to the area. I’ve spent the last nine months nurturing that shop. As my lease comes to an end, I’ve been meditating on the magical, complicated, exhausting experience of running my own shop.

 

Angie



The process of opening and running this store has been an incredible learning experience that can only be described as trial by fire. This was not a traditional brick and mortar where I had to locate a retail space, obtain permits, etc. My experience and reflection in this post focus on the operational side, being a maker, and opening a storefront.

 

With that said, I wanted to share some of these lessons. I hope they prove helpful if you’re considering opening a physical store for your own business. And if this isn’t in your business plan, don’t turn the dial just yet! There are good tidbits here that you can still apply to your business.

 

No amount of planning or preparation will get you ready.

When I was notified of the opportunity to have the store, I had almost no time to put it together. Running a brick and mortar was not on my radar, but when your home city says “you would be a great ambassador to our community and help bring quality retail to Downtown,” you just don’t say no to that.

 

angie blog_2

 

I had approximately 2 weeks from when the ink dried on the contract to the opening day which involved a massive street closure, big ribbon cutting ceremony, Mayor kissing babies… the whole nine. Those two short weeks was utter chaos. Creating enough inventory to supply an entire store, merchandising, finalizing packaging, and developing store operation procedures were things I had to learn and build quickly.

 

I could have easily obsessed over each minor detail and fussed over creating a wide variety of products to fill a shop, but the success is in being nimble as you go while staying true to your brand. The saying “done is better than perfect” could not be more relevant here.

 

You don’t get a return on the investment of a storefront unless you’re in it for the long haul.

There are investments you plan for, and there are others that you didn’t anticipate. There was so much I didn’t know about or factor into opening a store. The large amount of capital spent in setting everything up was rough to fork over. Even on my best sales weeks and months, if you factor everything in- fixtures, rent, parking, staffing, unforeseen maintenance, retail software packages, and insurance, there is a chance that you might not come close to breaking even. The investment in creating a quality, branded shopping experience in your store is one that pays back over the life of a lease that is closer to 5 years. But how many folks are ready for the risk of a 5-year lease?

 

(more…)

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.

 

bobo before 1

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!)

.

 

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!