Today in our Meet the Maker series, we’re getting to know the lovely Wynne McCormick, who runs Crowns for the People from her studio apartment in Brooklyn, New York. Welcome, Wynne!
LBC: What inspired you to take your leap as an entrepreneur?
Wynne: Turning 40, feeling physical pain going to my corporate job, and receiving some surprise money (yes, that happened) all in the same year. I had been hand-making crowns for girlfriends, turning 40 around that time, and was simply ready to start a grand new experiment.
LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?
Wynne: I originally wanted to make crowns that I myself would want to be given. I love textiles, tailoring, and embroidery, and I thought that I could project different ideas onto a single form – that is, the crown. I thought a business that sold nothing but crowns was a very whimsical and unique idea, albeit niche. Another twist was that the crowns are geared towards adults, acting as a temporary reprieve from adult seriousness and real life.
LBC: How would you describe what you create?
Wynne: I create beautifully tactile, emotionally intelligent, and boldly thoughtful, tailored crowns for people who seek meaning, connectedness and fun through their gift-giving. My crowns help make visible all of the moments in life, small and big, that deserve notice and celebration.
LBC: Where can we find your products?
Wynne: At my site www.crownsforthepeople.com (all of the crowns ordered directly from my site arrive in a beautiful red shiny box tied with a bow!) Some of my collections can be found at Amazon as well as several retail locations in the U.S. and internationally (I can say that now that I’m selling in England and Mexico as of July 2016!)
LBC: Walk us through your typical work day.
Wynne: I am up by 6am most days. I reserve my mornings for my labrador, Drummer. We are out the door by 6:45am and off to the park. And then, the rest of the day is totally dependent on what is pending i.e., a trade show coming up, bills to pay, etc. I try to do most administrative tasks (which are endless) in the morning. Anything creative is done later in the day.
LBC: What are 3 things makers should think through when they initially decide to start a business?
Wynne: 1 – Take “the good opinion of others” in stride. Everyone thinks that they know. Everyone. The “shoulds” that will come at you will be breathtaking. For me, this endless exercise of filtering advice, absorbing some and discarding some, strengthened my ability to stay centered in what I was doing. It’s important to be tested and this will test you.
2 – Pay attention to those in the “arena.” These are the folks to watch and learn from. They understand how much work is required and they understand the holy act of putting yourself out there. Those who are not in the arena, don’t have the same understanding and wisdom.
3 – You need some cash. It costs money to make stuff, but it also costs money to sell stuff. It’s good to have some cash flow at the ready because there will be plenty of unexpected costs. You don’t want to have to compromise too much and you don’t want to have to stop too early in your journey due to lack of money.
LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?
Wynne: Lists and a schedule. I am a planner. I call it my choreography. Just staring at a schedule will make me feel more in control. I schedule deadlines, but I also schedule tasks leading up to the deadlines (very important). It’s as though I need to have my left brain take over, because it tends to be my right brain that gets overwhelmed. Once I have a new version of the latest list and schedule, I can choose to tackle the endless small tasks or I can go deep into a project without fear that I’m taking my eye off the ball.
LBC: Tell us about a few of the best business decisions you’ve made to date.
Wynne: 1 – To keep going. It’s been a perilous journey in some ways and I always leave the option of quitting (shame-free!) on the table but the act of persistence and the gifts that show up as a result has been my greatest teacher.
2 – To not rent a studio (yet). Low overhead is everything. I live in a studio apartment with a labrador, and it currently doubles as my office/studio. It has required me to make some compromises – i.e., any extra space is utilized for fabric, inventory, and all other supplies -but it has allowed me to avoid very real rental costs.
LBC: Please share one mistake or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back/overcome it?
Wynne: When i first started doing trade shows, my crowns were over-priced for the wholesale market, and yet I did it anyway. I did it anyway because I had hope that there might be some buyers, and that I might get some sense of the market by putting myself out there. Buyers showed me a lot of appreciation, but not a lot of sales. As a newcomer, it was really demoralizing, and I did not expect the shock and horror of buyer sticker shock as they walked by my booth.
By the end of the first day of the second show, I decided to have a new objective for the remaining four days of the show. Instead of sales, my goal would be to educate myself in manufacturing overseas in order to solve my price point issue. I had tons of conversations with fellow sellers (and some buyers) who were well-versed in producing product abroad. By the end of the show, I had a new manufacturer and a new price point.
LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?
Wynne: Evernote – I do everything in Evernote. Everything.
Left brain desk/Right brain desk – I got this idea from Austin Kleon (author of “Steal like an Artist”), I found myself driven to insanity when I had to clear off my work table every time I had accounting and other administrative tasks and needed table space. I finally bought a real desk from West Elm where all business is done, and my work table is now dedicated to design and making. Relief!
A Singer presser – This was a discovery I made while browsing Amazon. I was in desperate need of finding a solution to applying adequate heat to the fusible that I used to line my crowns. An iron simply did not do an adequate job when it came to doing bulk work. The presser was a life changer. Now that I manufacture most of my crowns, I use it to press the crowns before they are sent out via orders.
LBC: Suppose we had a time machine. If you blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?
Wynne: Crowns for the People would be one of the first destinations for people to go to when they are planning to celebrate someone.
LBC: What’s one thing you would eat, if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life?
Wynne: Quinoa with sautéed kale and sweet potato, topped with a fried egg.
LBC: Your musical playlist is full of…
LBC: Share one of your guiltiest pleasures.
Wynne: Podcasts. I’m a podcast maniac.
LBC: What’s your favorite quote and who said it?
Wynne: “Kindness is my religion.” – Dalai Lama
Thank you, Wynne, for sharing your talent with us! We absolutely love what you’re doing with Crowns for the People, 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!