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Molly Fienning Takes Babiators to New Heights

March 7, 2017
babiators

Babiators are easily one of our top “go-to” brands for our kids, so we’re excited to introduce you to their co-Founder, Molly Fienning. After graduating from Harvard in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Molly lept into a career at IBM. But as the legend goes, she was soon selling covetable kids eyewear from her kitchen table and gaining a cult following with one of the best customer service policies we’ve encountered (you lose ‘em, they’ll replace them!). Read on to hear what Molly has to say about making a dream into a reality.

babiators

Babiators hold a special place in our hearts. I mean, is there anything cuter than a baby in sunglasses? How did the idea for Babiators originate and did you really grow the brand to a multi-million dollar business in under 5 years from your kitchen table?

I might be biased, but I agree there are few things cuter than a baby in shades! The idea for Babiators originated from my time as a military spouse. My husband Ted was a fighter pilot for the Marine Corps, which issues aviator sunglasses to protect their pilots’ eyes from sun damage and glare. I thought, why not make aviators for babies – aka “Babiators” – to protect kids’ eyes too?

When we launched, my partner Carolyn and I cold-called hundreds of children’s boutiques from our dining tables. Within nine months, we were retailing our shades in 75 stores and had signed Nordstrom up to become our first major account! Today, six years later, we’re in 3000+ doors and Nordstrom is still a great partner of ours (we’ve also added major accounts Bloomingdales, Saks, Buy Buy Baby, Diapers.com and others). We’ve sold over 1 million pairs and generate ~ $6 million in revenue annually.

babiators

“When we launched, my partner Carolyn and I cold-called hundreds of children’s boutiques from our dining tables. Within nine months, we were retailing our shades in 75 stores and had signed Nordstrom up to become our first major account! Today, six years later, we’re in 3000+ doors and Nordstrom is still a great partner of ours. We’ve sold over 1 million pairs and generate ~ $6 million in revenue annually.”

Wow! Your growth is amazing! You just launched a new frame style, The Navigator. We’re so excited to have a new style option for our little ones to get them to wear shades. Why is it so important for kids to protect their eyes and how do Babiators accomplish this? 

We believe that kids are born to explore, a truth we love and wouldn’t change for the world. Outdoors on awesome explorations, however, children receive three times the annual sun exposure as adults. In addition, kids’ eyes are even more susceptible to sun damage than adults’ eyes because of their larger pupils and clearer lenses.

At Babiators, we’re spreading the word that 100% UV sunglasses aren’t just a stylish fashion accessory, they’re a healthy necessity. No matter what the brand, we’d love for all parents to protect their kids’ eyes from harmful UV rays.

babiators

You co-founded the company with your husband. Do you have any advice for mamas wanting to start businesses and successfully work with their spouse? Any tips you’ve learned along the way?

I love working with Ted. There is no one I trust more in the world, and our goals are completely aligned for the business. That said, there have definitely been moments that weren’t easy. We learned that it’s important to set boundaries so “talking shop” doesn’t take over the relationship (for us, the rule is no work conversations after 7pm). We also love using the MBTI personality type analysis. There’s a short online test you can take to learn your MBTI type and thus discover how you work/communicate/stress differently from your spouse to honor your own and his or her needs.

babiators

“Outdoors on awesome explorations, however, children receive three times the annual sun exposure as adults. In addition, kids’ eyes are even more susceptible to sun damage than adults’ eyes because of their larger pupils and clearer lenses.”

You’ve created a cult following with your brand. What was the moment when you first realized your business was a success and what did that feel like?

I first realized we were onto something in a hospital at 3AM, the day after our first son was born! I was feeding him and couldn’t fall back asleep, so I picked up the latest issue of US Weekly (while my husband slept on the ground next to me). I opened the page to a photo of Mariah Carey’s baby nursery, where her son, Morocco, was propped up in his crib and stylin’ in our Black Ops Babiators!

I literally jumped for joy on the hospital bed after seeing Babiators in print for the first time. My husband woke up startled by my bizarre behavior and we broke into laughter. We have since seen some of the coolest Hollywood kiddos around sporting our Babiators from the children of Sarah Jessica Parker to Khloe Kardashian to Rachel Zoe. Ellen DeGeneres even featured us on her annual Mother’s Day Giveaway episode – a pinch-me moment, for sure.

babiators

You have a charitable component to Babiators as well, delivering sunglasses to hospital pediatric units. Tell us more about that.

For the past few years, we’ve donated hundreds of pairs of Babiators to hospitals around the country, and we’re now ramping up a larger effort this year – which we’re calling our Future’s So Bright campaign. 

This campaign was inspired by a brave boy named Finn Blumenthal, who was born with Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) disease and whose mother was looking for a fun and heartfelt token to lift spirits after her three-day old son’s open heart surgery. The nurses brought him back to his mama in our Rockstar Red shades and his newborn hair styled in a mini-mohawk! It had a profound impact on us that Finn’s family’s “bright spot” during those difficult days at the hospital was Finn styling in his new Babiators. He is an inspirational 2.5-year-old and a VIP member of the Babiators family!

This month, we launched limited edition “Shark Finn” Babiators (in shark gray, as sharks are Finn’s fave animal). We’re donating 10% of proceeds to the American Heart Association for CHD research. Please check them out for Finn!

 

Through this Future’s So Bright campaign, our dream is to offer more moments of fun and play to other children facing difficult times in hospitals. If a pair of Babiators can make one sick child happy during his or her hospital stay, that’s enough for us.

babiators

Quote you love: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Best advice you’ve ever been given?: Life is short, do what you love.

babiators

What are your 3 pearls of mama wisdom?

  1. Love What You Do. Building a business is a long road, so it is important to truly love what you’re doing. You might not love every aspect of your job, but a general feeling of excitement to show up most days and produce work is crucial. Otherwise, it is easy to burn out.
  1. Be flexible.  If something isn’t working, it is ok to adjust your path. We all learn through experience and need to be adept at changing course (instead of holding steadfast on a failing decision and going down with the ship).
  1. Persevere. As mothers, we all know that there is no quick fix to success. We’ve learned resilience as we love, care and fight for our children. It is not dissimilar for your business. A million small decisions contribute to whether or not your business thrives. Take that next baby step directly ahead of you, and keep on trucking.  

babiators

“If something isn’t working, it is ok to adjust your path.”

Exlusive heymama perk! Want to get your kiddos geared up in the latest shades? Babiators has offered 25% off using code HEYMAMA25 until April 1st, 2017.

Molly Fienning is the co-Founder of Babiators and lives with her husband and two children in Charleston.

Business

What I Wish I Knew Before Going Freelance

February 23, 2017
going freelance

We’ve long admired Nicole Neves, and we’ve recently tapped her to join the heymama team as an official Ambassador in LA. She first caught our attention while managing a full-time career as the Director of PR and Events at Guess and being a mama to her two little boys, but now we have full-on heart eyes for how she is kicking butt with her own PR business, Sequin Productions. With new clients coming on board every day, Nicole has learned a thing or two about what to do and what not to do when starting out. Are you thinking of making a change? Read on for her tips.

going freelance

The Hustle 

I knew I’d have to hustle when I decided to start by own business. I knew it would be a grind. But, having done the same thing in the corporate world for more than 15 years, I felt like I was prepared and ready to hit the ground running. A few of my brands are relatively new and don’t have big budgets, so I really have to hustle to get them great press. This means utilizing my previous contacts and pushing for them to still support me, plus my clients.

Selling Yourself 

Sales was never a part of my day-to-day responsibilities, nor has it ever been a strong suit of mine as I’ve never considered my personality to be assertive enough. Unfortunately, clients don’t always come knocking on your door. You really have to work at it and sell yourself to potential clients, and be persistent. I’m definitely more on the humble side when it comes to talking about my work, but at the same time, I’ve made a conscious effort to push myself to get out there and show what I can do for my clients.

Time Management

This is probably my biggest issue as a freelancer. I want to be able to network and socialize with press, influencers and potential clients, but I also need dedicated office days to get work done — then squeeze in gym time and balance the crazy schedule of my two toddler boys. It’s an endless exercise in multitasking, and, needless to say, it’s hard to do it all. There are days where I feel like 24 hours just isn’t enough. As a result, I find myself in the office at 2am, or working on the weekends. It’s been a gradual process, but I try to make strides every day when it comes to both time management and prioritization.

It’s Okay to Say “No”

Another challenge I face as a freelancer is the art of learning when to say “No” — whether to potential clients or invites to social outings. It’s always been a struggle for me, but in the end it’s not fair to my clients, my family, or myself if I’m taking on too much and stretching myself too thin. I can’t do it all, and that’s perfectly ok. I once heard a great quote that really aligns with this way of thinking, and that is: “Quality is the best business plan.”

going freelance

Never Burn Bridges

It’s a bit crazy how badly this can bite you if you are not careful with relationships. I always try to stay true to myself and make sure to be kind to all colleagues, bosses, friends and vendors. You never know when a person will circle back in your life that can support you in a current endeavor.

Discuss With Your Family

Discuss the big decision with your loved ones. My husband fully supported my decision and was my biggest cheerleader throughout the process.

Seek Advice/ Find a Mentor

Socialize and connect with people in your industry who have gone freelance, learn from them and ask questions.  I sat down with my best friend who is in the same industry (also as a freelancer) and had her walk me through all the steps involved in getting started on my own. 

Business Name

Get creative and figure out a business name that represents you and your work. I chose Sequin Productions because my Instagram handle is @MySequinLife and I knew I wanted to utilize my Instagram audience to get the word out about my business.  After I knew my business name, I ordered simple business cards on Minted with my company name, email and phone number. You never know who you will meet, and where, so it’s always best to be prepared with a business card.

Spread the Word

After I gave notice at my corporate job, I contacted past colleagues, vendors and friends to let them know about my new business. I posted on all my Social media platforms about my new career move, which really gave me a lot of leads for current clients. Then, I joined entrepreneurial groups like heymama to connect with other women who could help amplify the PR for my company.

Incorporated or LLC

Decide if you want your business structure to be Incorporated or LLC. I worked with my financial advisor to learn the differences before making this decision.

going freelance

Business Account & Credit Card

Start a business account. I suggest having your personal and business account at the same bank. I also opened up a business credit card to help keep my business expenses separate from my personal expenses.  

Business Mission 

Take time to develop the purpose of your company within a business plan.

Research Potential Clients

Always do your homework before going after a client. Research their web site, social platforms and check their LinkedIn to see if you know anyone that works for the company. All connections are key, no matter how slight or random they may appear to be.

Save Money

I saved money for about a year to make sure I was financially stable enough to start my own business. This meant having money in my new business account when I started my company. Since I was uncertain about my future salary income, I gave myself a cushion of three months basic living expenses.

401K

Working in the corporate world for more than 15 years, I was collecting a healthy 401K that was also being matched by my employer. Once I got on my feet with my own business, I created my own 401K that I could contribute to on a monthly basis. We all want to retire someday, so make this a priority and create your own version of a 401K that works for you financially.

Community & Colleague Support 

I was pleasantly surprised by all the encouragement I received from my personal family and friends, as well as my social media followers, when I announced that I was starting my own business. People really went out their way to help me when I needed guidance, and love when I needed support.  

When I told my then-CEO, he not only supported my future endeavors, but also asked if I could take them on as a client. It felt nice to know the company where I worked for so long still wanted me to be a part of their extended family. My previous employer is still a client and I love working with them — it feels like home and served as a perfect transition to this next phase of my career. Another unexpected surprise that has helped secure additional clients is my relationships with previous colleagues. Three of my current clients came by way of previous co-workers, who knew I was freelancing, and reached out to hire me at their new companies.

going freelance

Nicole Neves is a lifestyle blogger, mama to two boys and owns her own PR business, Sequin Productions. In her spare time she is an LA Ambassador for heymama and discovering new adventures, here.

Living

This Mama Sold Her Company And This Is What It Was Like

February 1, 2017
Rachel Pitzel

A mama after our own hearts, Rachel saw the need to create a community for moms, moms-to-be and families called Club Momme. Apparently, others thought this was pretty rad too and Rachel sold her business to mom.me in 2015. Fast forward to today, Rachel has her own consultancy, Rachel.xo, and manages strategy, influencer outreach and creates custom experiential events.  

Rachel Pitzel

What was the biggest thing you learned creating and growing your own business to a point where you were able to sell it?

Two things really stand out for me.

The first, was business is constantly evolving, and you need to continuously evolve along with it. Now in the age of social media, we need to constantly stay on our toes and be open to trying new things. Once you get comfortable, you’re in trouble!  I simply cannot plateau, I need to be constantly pushing forward and evolving.  

The second is planning. Doing so is great, but you need to be flexible to grow along with your business. While I like plans, calendars, and schedules, greatness never follows a strict roadmap. For instance, when I first started my business, we agreed not to take on investors. Selling was never our intention, but it was the best thing for the business, and for me as well!

What did it feel like to actually sell your business? Were you a little sad/nervous or were you 100% pumped to see your baby go?

Selling your business is kind of like having a child grow up and go off to college. You are so happy and proud, and you want your baby to flourish and grow. I knew that my company could evolve into so much more than I was able to offer it. My specialties are in ideas, strategy, execution, business development, social media and collaborations, but scaling a business and managing people are not my strengths.

Just as you would feel so happy for your child to go off to school, there is an intense sadness as that little baby that you spent all night rocking to sleep when they were sick going off and being independent. It took me several months after the sale and working for the company who acquired my company to be ready to move on and go to the next thing.

Rachel Pitzel

Speaking of moving on, what was your game plan post sale? Did you know right away what the next steps were? If not, what did you do to help figure it out?

My initial game plan post sale was to work for the parent company who acquired my business. Beyond that, I could never imagine walking away from my organization that I put my blood, sweat and tears into before and during the sale.

I had an inkling as to what I would do post-sale, but it took some time for that vision to become clear. After 9 months of working for the parent company, I was ready to take my next step. It was scary, as are all great changes in life. I call it my pivot. Jenny Blake has a great book and podcast on the topic which has been really helpful in my journey. Sometimes you just need to take the next step without knowing exactly where you are going or how you will get there. Rather, you rely on faith.

I am a big believer that hard work, motivation, connections and putting out the right energy will take you places.  Initially I took some time off (not much!) and really enjoyed time with my family and traveled a lot. I took a lot of meetings, talked to people, and spent time thinking, “Who am I right now?”, “What do I want?”, “What is important to me right now?”, “What am I loving and what do I want to devote my time and energy working on?”.  I was really unhappy for a period of time working for someone else after being an entrepreneur for so long. It took me some time to figure it out.

But you know what? I am still figuring it out. Opportunities come up and you have to decide what is right for you and there are constant little pivots along the way. My best advice is to surround yourself with good people, follow your passion and the direction your heart is pulling you. Trust your own instincts!

We couldn’t agree more! If you had a theme song what would it be?

Girl on Fire by Alicia Keyes

Rachel Pitzel

Words you live by: Find your tribe and love them hard.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?: Collaborate! Build a community. Never take no for an answer. Don’t take things personally. Sometimes I still do, (okay, a lot), but I try!

What are your 3 pearls of mama wisdom?

1. Don’t stress the little things.

2. Your parenting style depends on your kid, so don’t worry too much about how everyone else says to sleep train, potty train, etc. Find the best method for YOU and YOUR child.

3. Empower your husband/partner.  Don’t nitpick how they parent, as an empowered spouse frees up so much time for you to do your own thing!

Business, Living

Bigger Isn’t Always Better: The Rise of the Micro-Influencer

January 26, 2017
Screen Shot 2017-01-20 at 8.56.16 PM

By Nicole Best

Let’s be honest. When you see your following surge on Instagram it feels good. Am I right? But if your numbers are flat, don’t despair. Brands are starting to come around to the fact that it’s not always the numbers that make an impact, it’s the engagement. If you have built an audience that trusts and values what you have to say, and sometimes recommend, it can be worth more than the number of overall followers you have. Our friends at Matte Black, a culture marketing firm and creative studio, agree. Read on to hear what they have to say on The Rise of the Micro-Influencer…

A digital influencer: the term heard ‘round the world. As a surplus of individuals have oversaturated a market that was once undefined, lifestyle, coffee, beauty and travel influencers have become commonplace, so to speak. These people have created an industry that is is so attainable, it almost acts as a surplus of talent. So, with this overcrowding of an industry, how do we sift through each of these individuals and differentiate between Influencer A and Influencer B?  

As a brand, when you look at an influencer on Instagram, Snapchat, what have you… are you more concerned with their reach or their engagement?

Let’s do a little math to figure it out: if someone has 4 million followers and gets .5% engagement per media, is that better than an influencer with 30K followers who gets 10% engagement per media? The answer is no.

This is where the term, ‘active user’ comes into play. An active user is someone who is following another person with purpose. Active users are engaged and genuinely interested in the people they are following. These people are important because as a brand, wouldn’t we prefer to see 100 clicks back to a website to buy a product off of one post, than see 100,000 impressions but no ROI? 

As important as exposure is, hitting your key demographics with what we consider the micro-influencer is a more strategic route for a brand. The micro-influencer has a dedicated, niche following. They have a community of users that deem them the expert in their fields; the Beyonce of their craft, following their every step with a magnifying glass.

The micro-influencer is interactive, constantly engaging with their community and ensuring they are heard. This person is creating an enviable, yet tangible lifestyle, and their community not only wants to be a part of it, but already feels like they are. These influencers are tapping into the consumer’s modern desire to be a part of something unique in a world where content is fleeting, as our friends at Forbes noted.

He or she is also more cost effective. Because even though they can’t necessarily prove how they’ve helped other brands, they’ve curated a community that deems them the expert in their field.

For example, let’s say you are a skincare brand and you want to tap into the enviable life that Sincerely Jules has created. Yet, maybe 10% of her followers care about her beauty routine. I.E. you’re wasting dollars hitting 90% of a community that really doesn’t care about you. With the same amount of budget, you’d be able to activate 10 influencers with 50K followers in different niche, demographics to really expose your brand in key markets, ultimately seeing better engagement. To top it all off, these influencers aren’t yet represented by management who control deliverable and can ultimately compromise the authenticity of the partnership.

So let’s forget about follower size. Let’s forget about the cost associated with the following; the traditional CPM’s that actually don’t mean anything in digital marketing.   We need to measure ROI differently; there are a lot of intangibles that you can’t put into a spreadsheet. Let’s measure clicks back to a site, total impressions reached. How many new eyes are coming to your page and seeing your products for the first time? How much brand awareness are we increasing?

Because there is such a thing as being too popular. And social media influencers who start seeing declines in engagement with increases in follower sizes are the ones who realize this.  

Looking for insta-inspiration? Head on over the Shape Shift Report to discover 40 micro influencers in Travel, Food Fashion, Men’s Lifestyle, Fitness, Beauty, Lifestyle, Creatives, International and our favorite, Mommy.

This article first appeared in the Shape Shift Report, a trend and insight publication by the culture conduits at Matte Black. For more inspiring insights, follow along on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Business, Fashion

A Sit Down With… Iva Pawling, Founder of Richer Poorer

January 25, 2017
Iva Pawling

We have a special place in our hearts for anyone who is a self-described Chief Fire-Put-ter Out-ter. Amen mama. Iva Pawling is the co-founder and CEO of Richer Poorer, a line of innerwear that includes socks, the perfect T’s and the newly launched, bralette, that has the attention of the editors at Racked. Only 5 years after her initial launch, Iva’s company was acquired. This California mama didn’t sail off into the sunset after her sale, instead she launched another company, Pointe Studio. Bravo!

Iva Pawling

We live in loungewear and love what you’ve done with your line, Richer Poorer. What do you think has been the secret to your success?

There’s no secret! Lot’s and lot’s of hard work. My co-founder Tim and I have been really methodical about how we’ve grown Richer Poorer. What started as an idea for a sock brand and really developed into this idea of “Innerwear” over the course of a few years of listening to our customers and understanding what it was they wanted next from us. Our decision to move into new products very much comes from them, along with what is it that we’re all wearing around the office that we want more of. Understanding what exists in the market and what we can make better has been essential to our growth.

What was your background in prior to starting your company and how did it influence you?

I’ve been in fashion since college. I started my career as an assistant at Kate Spade in New York. At the time, they had a great program for newbies where you would spend your first few months jumping from department to department for a few weeks to really understand how the machine operates as a whole. From there, you determine what spot suits you and the company best. It was such an in incredible first job experience. After that, I moved to Hawaii and I worked in PR, focused on (as best as you can on the islands!) fashion for a small firm. I then moved to California to work for my sister who has the jewelry brand, Gorjana. That’s really where I cut my teeth in the world of a new brand and what it took to grow it. I got bit by the entrepreneur bug there and left after about four years to start Richer Poorer.

When you launched your women’s t-shirts, they sold out in a day (wow!). How did you market these shirts and what surprised you the most about those incredible sales?

It was so exciting! Our product development team worked their tails off on our t-shirts and muscle tanks to make sure we were releasing a great product into the market. We mimicked our men’s “In My Tee” campaign that everyone loved, where we featured friends of the brand, young and old, and told little bitty stories about who they are and what they do. It made it really relatable while still feeling aspirational. It also helped that women were tired of spending $100 on a cotton tee-shirt and our $30 price point made it a simple purchase. Oh, press from Vogue and Who What Wear didn’t hurt!

Iva Pawling

You went from startup to getting acquired. What did you learn during that process and would you do anything differently?

Anyone that has gone through the acquisition process will tell you just how arduous it is. My best advice is to be loose with expectations. No matter what side of the deal you are on, buying or being bought, It takes a lot of effort and commitment to get through it, and it often times isn’t a simple and smooth process. I, like many women, want to keep people happy and it’s hard to do during an acquisition. We were lucky to have a really good group on the other end that tried to make it as painless as they could, but it’s just tough. And most importantly, have a great attorney.

Do you have a company mantra or set of ideals that mean something to you? If so what are they?

I have two! Honest Hustle and Elevate Everyday.

Honest Hustle speaks to our humble beginnings and how we operate as people and as a company. Tim and I started Richer Poorer with littler more than a few dollars and determination. There was no seed round to hire great talent. We had to be really scrappy with how we did things and had to get as much as we could out of very little. While we now have almost 30 employees and departments and budgets, we still expect everyone to operate with that mentality.

Elevate Everyday speaks to not only what we hope our products do for our customers, but how we want people to think of Richer Poorer. We have a – no asshole – policy. We don’t hire them and we won’t work with them. Elevating each other up on a daily basis is so important to a healthy office culture and what we hope to pass on to our audience. We are happy to come to work everyday and hope to make our customers happy daily.

Iva Pawling

“We have a – no asshole – policy. We don’t hire them and we won’t work with them.”

We often hear that the best advice is to follow your gut. When have you gone against the grain and done something just because you felt it was the right thing to do? Did it work out?

My goodness, yes! Starting Richer Poorer was a massive leap of faith. Six years ago when we started the company, socks were not something you started a brand with. Everyone thought my business partner and I were insane. My gut told me that we were going to be early to a trend that was going to be something of value, so I listened to it. I think what’s most important though, is knowing that sometimes your instinct will be wrong, and even when it is, there is a learning lesson within the experience that sometimes may be more valuable to you than had you gotten it right.

We love to collaborate with people here at heymama and it seems that you guys do too. Can you tell us more about these partnerships?

Collaborations are great. We try and work on partnerships as much as we can, whether that be on actual product, content or trips. From a marketing perspective, obviously getting the other brand / companies audience to know our brand is really valuable. From a personal perspective, some of my closest friendships I’ve made from this industry were born from collaborations.

We want to snuggle up in the pages of your Instagram feed! Do you manage this internally or do you work with an agency? What has been the most important aspect in growing your following?

We handle it internally. We hired an agency to do it and they fired US after two weeks! We’re really picky with what we want on our social channels, what is on brand for us, and what our audience wants to see from us. Knowing who we are as a brand and being consistent with that has been the most important part of growing our following.

Iva Pawling

“I think what’s most important though, is knowing that sometimes your instinct will be wrong, and even when it is, there is a learning lesson within the experience that sometimes may be more valuable to you than had you gotten it right.”

Who do you look to for inspiration on Instagram?

I’ve tried to back away from the perfectly manicured feeds lately, and really pay attention to the ones that have something valuable to say, like @words_of_women and @be.the.love.today, or make me laugh, @womenirl and @prattprattpratt. Chris Pratt is seriously the best.

What do you see as the next big trend in innerwear and how do you stay on top of industry trends?

Bralettes! We just launched ours last month and they’ve mostly sold out over the holiday season. Racked featured them, and we’ve gotten so much great feedback on them. I think the generation under my old, 30-something self, has all but burned underwire bras. I think we’ve hit a nerve with customers because ours are not lace. They are made of an incredibly soft modal cotton and are really cozy. Comfort is the name of innerwear trends and we try and suss out what the next item is that we can design better, make more affordable, and fits seamlessly in the world of Richer Poorer.  

We love your philosophy that you need to take care of yourself to be a better mother and wife for your family. If you had a full day with nothing pre-scheduled, how would you spend it?

With no child, I would workout, get a massage and take a nap by a pool. No devices, and a book in hand.

With a child, I’d spend the day at home and go on a stroll to the park. Our life is pretty busy, so I love nothing more than our days at home being lazy and playing.

Iva Pawling

Running a business and being a wife and mother is busy. Do you have any time-saving hacks that you’ve incorporated into your daily life?

Less sleep! I wake up really early to get my workouts squeezed in before the house is awake which is the only way for me to fit it in my schedule without taking time away from everyone else. And this past year, Amazon Fresh. Not having to go to the grocery store anymore has saved us a few hours during the weekend which is time back for me with Ford.

We know you love beauty products almost as much as we do. Do you have any beauty rituals that you can’t live without?

I have become an absolute cult follower of Glossier. I do not have time to spend 20 minutes doing my makeup in the morning, so taking care of my skin is most important, and having a fast makeup routine is second. Their products are my fav – cleanser, moisturizer, concealer, brow gel, highlighter – all of it!

What 3 things would you tell a mama with a dream who wants to build her own business?

1. Things aren’t what they seem. It’s really easy to look at all these moms on Instagram that are juggling it all and feel like you should be doing the same, on your own. What you don’t see on Instagram are the nannies, family members and close friends who are picking our kids up from school and helping us keep our heads on straight.

2. Shoot for the stars, but judge yourself fairly. It takes a long time to build a business. Our society has gotten really good at holding up the instant success story. That is the absolute exception, not the norm. It takes a lot of years, tears and hustling hard to get a business started and to grow it.

3. It’s okay to pick work sometimes. I had a really hard time with this one as I would be absolutely guilt ridden when I had to prioritize time at work or travel sometimes, over Ford. I firmly believe Ford will be totally fine if I have to be gone at times that he wants me home. Ford knows he is the most important thing in my life, but that doesn’t mean that he is the most important thing in every minute of every day. If he really needs me, I without a question drop everything, however missing a school performance for the most important meeting of the year is simply necessary sometimes.  

Iva Pawling

“Things aren’t what they seem. It’s really easy to look at all these moms on Instagram that are juggling it all and feel like you should be doing the same, on your own. What you don’t see on Instagram are the nannies, family members and close friends who are picking our kids up from school and helping us keep our heads on straight.”

Heymama Iva Pawling is giving all of our readers a special treat: use code HEYMAMA to get 20% off your purchase 

Business

5 PR Mistakes NOT To Make When Starting Your Business

January 18, 2017
Jenelle + Lily_Kisha Batista Photography

One of the most important things when starting your business is getting it seen by as many eyes and ears as possible. Word of mouth and spreading the word organically is helpful, but incorporating a PR strategy into your launch is a must. With countless products and services hitting the market daily, having a solid game plan during the early days will have your brand thriving for years to come. heymama member and PR professional, Jenelle Hamilton shares her secrets to finding success in the magical world of media. Read on…

Jenelle Hamilton

As a PR professional working in the industry for over 15 years, I have worked with dozens of brands across all categories. From large corporate companies to boutique start-ups. But no matter the size, I have seen some PR blunders that are commonly made and can hinder the success of your brand. Below I share 5 of the mistakes to NOT make, when starting or launching your business:

1. NOT Allocating A Budget For PR

Now I know what you are thinking, of course a publicist is going to say this! But I am honestly not suggesting this because I am looking for new clients. I am recommending this because it is the most efficient way to raise brand visibility and get the results you want. Look at it this way, if you were facing legal action, you’d hire a legal professional to help and advise you, right? Most people wouldn’t try to represent themselves in court, they’d want a professional to guide them through the process. The same principle can be applied to PR. Publicists are professionals in their field, who have built close relationships with the media over a long period of time, sometimes decades. They know exactly what editors are looking for and how to present it to them, which makes the process a whole lot easier for them, and you.

Can a business owner secure placements by themselves? Absolutely! I know many brands who have come to me with much success, having obtained fantastic press themselves. However, those are the lucky few and they seldom know how to maintain that momentum over an extended period of time. When you work with an experienced publicist who has great relationships in place, they can help get your products in front of the media quickly and can secure steady coverage over time. I have had clients tell me that they had personally sent out hundreds of emails to the media and got zero responses. When you work with a professional, they know how, and when, to speak to the press, as well as the best ways to get you to your goal – and quickly.

I would strongly suggest you crunch the numbers and allocate a budget for at least 3 months of PR services to get you started. This will give you a good foundation to build your company on, so if you choose to continue alone after this period, you will at least have had a solid start.

2. NOT Doing Enough Research

If you are lucky enough to have the funds to hire a PR professional or firm, then be sure to do some research, before signing on as a client. Over the years, I have heard so many horror stories of clients that have come to me after a “publicist”, had promised them the moon, and did not deliver. Tip: If a publicist says they can guarantee you placements in A and B magazine, or on X & Y TV show, be weary. Nothing is ever guaranteed when it comes to PR, it is all subjective based on an editor’s interests and what excites them. A good publicist knows who and what to pitch, but only paid advertising is guaranteed.

Make sure you do some research. Speak with the potential publicist and ask questions about clients they have worked with in the past. If they have worked with clients similar to your brand, find out the results of the project and ask what they feel would be realistic for you. You have the right to ask for case studies or references from past clients and once you feel comfortable, then sign on the dotted line. Doing this upfront research will be worth it in the long run and will save you time, money, and wasted energy.

Jenelle + Lily 2_Kisha Batista Photography

3. NOT Considering Timing When Planning Your Launch

For business owners and start-ups without a budget for PR, the good news is that you can still get coverage through your own outreach. It may be more challenging and harder to get to the editors, but it is possible.

The most important thing for you to do is think about timing and using your common sense when planning your launch. For example, if you are launching an SPF cream, obviously the June, July or August issues would be when editors are writing about summer skincare. Therefore, you should plan to reach out to editors before those issues hit the shelves. The same goes for say, a skiwear collection. If you want to get into the winter issues (Dec, Jan or Feb), then plan to launch way before those dates. Remember, editors work 2-3 months in advance of those issues, so plan to reach out to them at least 3 months before the issue you are targeting. So, if you want to get in the June issue, you should plan on contacting the editors in March or April. So many people launch late and miss amazing opportunities to be included in a story. Make sure you plan accordingly.

4. NOT Researching The Editor Before You Hit Send

The number one rule in PR is to make sure you know what an editor writes about, before reaching out to them. Pick up a copy of each of the magazines you plan to target. Bookmark stories from the websites you hope to be featured in and jot down the editors’ names. This is a simple way to research what an editor has written about in the past.

I have had clients come to me, saying they reached out to literally hundreds of editors and didn’t get even one response. When I ask them to show me their list of people they emailed, I often see they were pitching the entirely wrong person. If you have a great product and they like it, they will feature it. Just make sure you are reaching out to the correct contact.

5. NOT Making It As Easy As Possible For The Media

Editors are very busy and receive hundreds of emails each day. You have more of a chance of being featured if you make it super easy for the editor you want to work with. Be sure to include all relevant information they might need in your email such as website address, price of the product or service and where it can be purchased. Editors will feature a product they weren’t so keen on in their story, for the simple fact that the info was there and ready to go. Don’t make that mistake. Be as thorough as possible and it will increase your chances of getting a placement in your dream publication.

Happy pitching!

jenelle hamilton

Jenelle Hamilton has worked at high profile PR Agencies in Europe and New York, but after having her daughter, started her own PR consultancy, Jenelle Hamilton PR and has the flexibility to spend time with her family. You can follow her Instagram adventures here.

 

Photos by Kisha Batista

Fashion

MEMBER PROFILE: Amy Nobile

January 5, 2017
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Name: Amy Nobile

Company: ASH + AMES

Title: Co-Founder

Website: www.ashandames.com

Instagram accounts: @ashandames and @amynobile

Kids: 2

amy nobile

We love spending time with heymama member, Amy Nobile. This bestselling author, turned television producer, turned jewelry company co-founder is juggling work, life and motherhood with style and grace. This mama is also whip-smart, has an inner stand-up comedian waiting to get out and spends her free time building schools and houses in Haiti. Oh, and she is one of the friendliest and loyal women we know.  

Words you live by: “Everything happens for a reason” and “Life is about connecting with others on a meaningful level without expectation”.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?: The only guarantee in life is change.

amy nobile

Your business partner is also your best friend. What advice do you have for women wanting to collaborate with friends?

That’s such an excellent question – and we get asked it a LOT, since business partnerships with close friends statistically don’t work out well. We started out writing books on motherhood and marriage and had a shared set of values both personally and professionally that were really strong. We also trust each other implicitly, and when there’s an issue between us we confront it, get through it, and poof! It’s gone after that. Also, we have very complementary skill sets – so we can divide and conquer pretty easily. But definitely expect some bumps in the road in that first year as you’re figuring roles and responsibilities out.

A portion of your proceeds go back to women in developing countries. Tell us more.

We founded ASH + AMES almost instantly after a volunteer trip to Haiti, where we saw female artisans making bracelets out of cow horn and wood. For us, there was no point in creating a company unless there was a tangible give back component.  Currently, we give back 100% of the proceeds from all the jewelry made in Haiti right back to those communities. We travel back frequently and enroll kids in schools and build homes. Also, anyone who hosts an ASH + AMES trunk show can donate 10% of revenue to any charity of her choice, which we love.

amy nobile

Can you think of a really challenging moment in your career? Why was it so difficult and how did you overcome it?

After we wrote our best-selling books and did a whirlwind of media including Oprah, Today Show, etc., we did NOT expect to feel so totally stuck. We knew we had more to do – but had no idea what direction to go in, so we dropped everything and headed to Haiti with a group of women to volunteer. Once again, everyone was scratching their heads thinking ‘What are they up to now?’, but we just had a feeling – that really cool feeling when you just know something exciting is around the corner – and followed our gut. ASH + AMES was born so quickly after that.

What does the perfect day in NYC look like to you?

To me, NYC is like a mystical, magical friend that I want to spend every minute with. I honestly don’t love a place more. This city is just as gorgeous to me on a crisp sunny Fall day as it is on a mucky after-the-snowstorm slushy one. And, I feel blessed and lucky to live here every single day.

amy nobile

What’s your happy place?

I love being curled up with my kiddies and husband just about anywhere. Preferably with a buttery Chardonnay and a Sefte blanket around me.

What are your 3 pearls of mama wisdom?

1. Don’t stress the small stuff.  My kids are now teens, and how I wish I wouldn’t have worried about them not eating peas and carrots, or how quickly they learned to read.

2. Savor the really good moments, because in a flash, they’re gone. Don’t worry so much about the really tough moments, because they’ll also pass quickly.

3. Your kids are NEVER too old to cuddle with. My 14 year-old son will drape his arms around me (in public!) and my daughter still lets me crawl into her bed every morning to cuddle.

amy nobile

Business, Fashion

13 Moms Who Crushed It In 2016

December 30, 2016
moms of 2016

For many, 2016 was a rough one. Perhaps Mercury was in Retrograde for a little too long, or real life was looking a little too much like a bad reality TV show. But, for these 13 ladies, 2016 was pretty darn rad. Before we say so-long to 2016, let’s take a moment to marinate in all the good that these mamas did in the world.

  1. Lauren Bush Lauren, CEO and Co-Founder, FEED

We’ve long admired FEED CEO and co-founder, Lauren Bush. Inspired by her own travels around the world and witnessing the effects of hunger worldwide led Lauren to starting her business that gives back to break the cycle of poverty. We had the pleasure of working with Lauren this past year to help support her mission to feed kids in need worldwide. 9 years, and 90 million meals later, this mama is the definition of beauty both inside and out.

Follow: @laurenblauren

moms of 2016

  1. Alli Webb, Founder of Drybar, Author

Not only did this mama take her side-business of doing her friends hair into nearly a $100 million dollar business, she wrote a tell-all book, Drybar: The Guide to Good Hair for All, to share her tips and tricks with anyone wanting to master their mane. Thank goodness for our blowouts!

Follow: @Alliwebb

moms of 2016

  1. Angela Ahrendts, Senior Vice President of Apple Retail

Recognized as one of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women, Angela Ahrendts, formerly of Burberry, has traded in fashion for tech and is revamping retail at Apple. Ahrendts believes that community is key and by the end of this year, she will have redesigned 95 Apple stores so they feel more like town squares. She has introduced “Teacher Tuesdays” to help teachers incorporate technology into their classrooms and will be introducing coding classes for children in 2017.

moms of 2016

  1. Daphne Oz, NYTimes Best-Selling Author and Co-Host of ABC’s The Chew

Our list of New Year’s Resolutions include picking up a copy of Daphne Oz’s new cookbook,The Happy Cook: 125 Recipes for Eating Every Day Like It’s the Weekend stat. Anyone who can make preparing meals both healthy and easy is a woman after our own hearts.

Follow: @daphneoz

moms of 2016

  1. & 6. Katia Beauchamp and Rebecca Minkoff, Fashion & Beauty Superstars and TV Hosts

We love when mamas collaborate and we can’t get enough of the new show that features some of our favorite mamas, Katia Beauchamp (Birchbox) and Rebecca Minkoff (Fashion Designer). Project Runway: Fashion Startup is like the original Project Runway, The Apprentice and Shark Tank had a baby and brings together aspiring beauty and fashion entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges to score start-up funding.

Follow:

@katiawb

moms of 2016

@rebeccaminkoff

moms of 2016

  1. Joy Cho, Founder and Creative Director of Oh Joy

This mama has had such a stellar 2016 that she ended it with a move to a bigger space! Joy Cho is an inspiration with her whimsical designs, delightful daily posts and colorful outlook on life. You may recognize her designs on your kids’ band-aids, gorgeous wallpapers or her latest uber exciting collaboration with Target. Her latest collection is inspired by rainbows and clouds (swoon!) and we have a lot more to share in our upcoming interview.

Follow: @ohjoy

moms of 2016

  1. Dana Walden, CEO of Fox Television Group and Chair for Alliance For Children’s Rights

Dana Walden has spent her career bringing shows like “Family Guy” and “Fuller House” to families around the globe, but she knows life isn’t as always perfectly scripted. Walden spends her free time giving back to the foster care system and in 2016, was honored with the National Champions for Children Award at the 24th annual Alliance for Children’s Rights dinner. The dinner alone raised $1.5M to improve the lives of young people in the foster care system. A dedicated mother to her own two children, we need more people like Walden to give back to those in need.

moms of 2016

  1. Randi Zuckerberg, NYTimes Bestselling Author, Founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media and Editor in Chief of Dot Complicated

There truly isn’t anything this mama of two can’t do and to say that she is an expert in managing the ever evolving landscape of our digital lives is an understatement. Post managing marketing for Facebook, Randi became a NYTimes Bestselling author, won an Emmy, started a media company and in 2016, created and executive produced her own tv show called Dot, which airs on Sprout. Having Randi leading our littles in the wild west of their new online realities is a mama’s dream come true.

Follow: @randizuckerberg

moms of 2016

  1. Queen Rania of Jordan

Queen Rania of Jordan has become one of the world’s most vocal advocates on behalf of Syrian refugees. Recognizing that every 7th person in her country is a Syrian refugee, she is taking a stand and imploring the world to take notice. Queen Rania shares she believes in conviction, courage, compassion and creativity and trusts that everyone can do their bit to change the world for the better. If you are looking for a cause to support in 2017 and want to join Queen Rania’s efforts in this global crisis, visit Global Citizen to learn more.

Follow: @queenrania

moms of 2016

  1. Jenni Fleiss, Co-Founder of Rent the Runway

We can’t count the times we’ve been complimented on our latest outfit, only to exclaim, “It’s Rent the Runway Unlimited!” (If you don’t know about this monthly service, you need to sign up stat.) and we have Jenni Fleiss to thank for that. And now, the Rent the Runway Foundation has partnered with UBS for the second year of Project Entrepreneur. Women entrepreneurs are invited to apply in the competition and educational program to compete to win $10,000 and a spot in a five-week accelerator program to scale and create high impact businesses. Women supporting women? We love it!

Follow: @jennycarterfleiss

moms of 2016

  1. & 13. Paige Appel and Kelly Harris, Co-Founders of Bash,Please

When Paige Appel and Kelly Harris brought their two companies together and formed Bash, Please, we couldn’t wait to join their party. The duo lends their creative expertise to clients to create the events of their dreams and has won the hearts of people like Martha Stewart. In 2016, the two turned their sights on opening their first brick & mortar shop, Midland, in Culver City, CA. Chances are, if these two style mavens love it, we will too.

Follow:

@paigeappel

moms of 2016

@kellyharris

moms of 2016

Business

What You Really Need To Do To Get Your Brand Noticed

December 3, 2016
get your brand noticed

You have a unique gift to share with the world and now, more than ever, women need a voice. It’s no longer acceptable to sit around waiting for the right time or the perfect business strategy to share your message or your movement or your work. The world needs to hear from you now so you can make the kind of contribution and impact that only you can make.

That means it’s time to get visible.

Whether you’ve just started getting visible with a new business or are growing your visibility along with your brand, I get that sharing your voice and promoting your work isn’t always easy or comfortable. Because even if you have plenty of time to dedicate to getting visible and even if you have a great business strategy to guide you, there’s still one thing that can hold you back: your mindset.

We don’t talk about the mindset piece of visibility often. But we should, because the real reason many of us struggle to get visible is that our fears, doubts and limiting beliefs are standing in our way. And if you want to start sharing your work with greater confidence and more ease, you need to get familiar with your mindset around visibility so you can figure out why you aren’t taking action on what you already know you should do.

Though we all have fears, doubts and limiting beliefs that are unique to our business and ourselves, among female entrepreneurs there are some common beliefs that keep us feeling stuck. I’m sharing four of these limiting beliefs with you today to help you explore your own mindset around visibility so you can start making an impact with your voice and your work now.

“If you want to start sharing your work with greater confidence and more ease, you need to get familiar with your mindset around visibility so you can figure out why you aren’t taking action on what you already know you should do.”

I’m not _________ enough.

It’s hard to take action when you aren’t feeling like you’re “enough”. You might not feel good enough, attractive enough, thin enough, smart enough, young enough, old enough or experienced enough to get visible in the way you’re envisioning. (As you can see, this belief can take many forms.) What it really is, though, is just a story you’re telling yourself about yourself that likely isn’t true. In fact, the question I dare you to ask yourself when this kind of thought comes up is “Says who?”

I haven’t found my voice.

You wouldn’t have a business or a brand if you didn’t have a voice – it’s why you felt passionate enough to start it in the first place. Yes, your voice might need refining or be evolving. But you need to acknowledge that you’ve already found it. You know what your work is about and what you want to share with the world and believing anything else is an excuse.

“You wouldn’t have a business or a brand if you didn’t have a voice – it’s why you felt passionate enough to start it in the first place.”

I don’t have anything new to say or share.  

If you think someone else is already talking about a product or service or movement like yours, you’re probably right. So there is some truth to this belief because it’s all been done before. BUT, you haven’t been the one to do it. And because you have your own style and approach, your work will feel original to people who get to experience it – if you give them the chance.

I’m going to fail.

Yes, you might fail, and it probably won’t feel good. But letting your fear of failure stop you from getting visible is a failure in its own right because it prevents you from moving forward. So, you can stay stuck where you are or you can start getting visible and see what happens. It’s usually worth the risk and, even if you fail, you’ll learn a valuable lesson or two along the way.

When it comes to getting visible, we all face limiting beliefs that hold us back from taking action. But we forget to recognize that we have a choice. We can keep believing them or we can question their truth and let them go.

“Yes, you might fail, and it probably won’t feel good. But letting your fear of failure stop you from getting visible is a failure in its own right because it prevents you from moving forward.”

If you’re ready to get in the right mindset to share your voice and your work, I’m inviting you to join The Visibility Challenge: 5 Days to Stand Up and Stand Out. We’re kicking off the FREE challenge on December 5th with an inspiring group of women entrepreneurs. To learn more and sign up, CLICK HERE.

Ashley Gartland is a life and business coach for creative and service-based women entrepreneurs who want to grow their businesses, reach their personal and professional goals and define success on their terms. As a former writer, editor, author and event planner, Ashley has more than a decade of experience getting visible and building creative businesses. You can learn more about Ashley’s work and coaching services at www.ashleymgartland.com.

 

Business

5 Tips To Grow Your Company Without Losing Your Core Values

November 30, 2016
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Having the fortune of working for what I consider to be some of the world’s greatest media brands from Elle, to InStyle, to Goop and Refinery29, and then later getting to consult for similarly amazing start-ups and scaled companies alike, I have gotten to find patterns, similarities, and cultural indicators that these companies have in common. I wanted to share what has been foundational to their growth and success, despite a rapidity that can be handicapping for even the most stable infrastructures. There is a bit of a formula for the success and brand longevity as companies go from small to big that I wanted to share.

1) Create core values or guiding principles

Let’s be honest, decisions are hard. And they get harder and harder as you get older, especially when you have a family at home. However, just as you might for your family and your children, you can make your life a whole lot easier at work by putting together a list of priorities and values. Create it early on, as it will be the bible for everyone’s actions at the company. It should be thought about for all hires, given out when people start and written somewhere clearly on a wall, as well as referenced often by company managers and leaders.

This also becomes your company’s filter for decision-making, ensuring that you are not only generating an outward product that reflects what you believe in, but also creating a way of dealing with things that reflects what you believe in. For example, a previous company that I worked for wrote, “no” is not in our vocabulary. In other words, there was always an answer. So if your gut was “no” to a client issue, you had to find an alternative. You had to take the same approach to an internal conflict. At one of the greatest brands in the world for example, Nike, one of their core values is “Be a sponge. Employees at Nike must be curious and lenient with new ideas, whatever their source.” Ultimately, this encourages active listening and an open-ness to change and evolution.  These things will make you think, but best to plan ahead and set the framework and culture early so that as you scale, things stay intact.

2) Make style guidelines and invest in branding

We tell our children, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but the fact of the matter is, we judge books by their cover. We buy things that we think are “pretty” or that we relate to and go to places that have an environment that make us feel good. You’re not going to get people to consider your product without great packaging, and you’re not going to be able to articulate your brand without a great design that truly evokes the ideas that you’re trying to create. This is something you need from the get-go. A friend of mine at a design/consultancy firm, We Are January, shared the quote, “design is like a mom, nobody notices when she’s around, but everybody misses her when she’s not.” Invest early in a style guide, a logo, and colors, as this will help your potential consumers and partners understand what you’re about and will prevent people from sharing your brand with the wrong interpretation.

3) In the early days, service is the most important thing

Be long-term greedy. Do not make a hasty decision on a client or customer for a little bit of extra financial gain, as reputation is everything at this stage. Instead, make sure that you do everything possible (within reason!) to ensure that you are keeping customers –and staff! happy in the nascent days of your business. Those customers will be your number one marketing tool, and they are technically “free” at this juncture.

4) 80/20 is a real thing

Going along with keeping your customers happy, you will get eighty percent of your business from twenty percent of your customers. I had a former manager have to painstakingly convince me of this time-and-time again, as I chased after every potential client as a seller. In that position especially, the thought of turning down a client was pure sacrilege. After being trained by a former manager to keep lengthy call logs and to book as many meetings with potential clients in a week as I possibly could, I thought it was an obvious numbers game. But the truth was, in taking on such a large potential list, I did not have time to properly prep for any meetings and really understand what would be helpful for these clients’ businesses. Coincidentally, I didn’t even have time to follow-up with them in order to get the deal done when I had a great meeting! It was completely counter productive, yet I was working harder than I had ever worked. When my manager stepped in and reduced my list and forced me to focus and prioritize, a funny thing happened. My numbers doubled and I had more time than I had ever had. Why? I had higher retention (hello efficiency!) and much higher close rates as I got to know my clients businesses and what they really wanted and needed much better.

Similarly, you don’t have to, and shouldn’t work with everyone. This goes for marketing and financial partnerships alike. Create a framework and goals for your partnerships, and if these partnerships do not check all of these boxes, then do not move forward with them. Find someone that is going to be able to help you check all of the boxes, as when you’re small, especially, you have a world of options to select from and align with. Choose wisely.

5) Set goals and KPI’s across your business

Know what you’re working towards! As a runner in college, it became ingrained in me to set goals and to gently increase them, and even challenge myself. As a business, how can you get anywhere without knowing where you are going? Just as you set your mission, vision, and brand guidelines to guide your everyday decisions, set numerical benchmarks that everyone across your company knows and owns. Even if they’re “fake numbers” and you have no living clue how you’re going to get there, make them. So if it’s for sales, pick a number after some research in your category and amongst your competition. If it’s for social growth, do the same. Tell yourself what you want to be able to accomplish, and it’s funny how the universe will step in sometimes and help you chart your path towards it. Even if you don’t hit those goals, it will help you determine where you should be and to reset.

xx,

Allison

Alison Koplar Wyatt has always sat on the business side of the Publishing world, but found a niche in the native content space first at Elle Magazine overseeing their digital properties and then later, as the first advertising employee at Refinery29. After spending five years working with a team to make R29 a household name, she then went to Goop to do the same. She is a free agent now, and is now proud to be working with yours truly on her “real” passion – helping creative and entrepreneurial women THRIVE.

Photo by Stevi Sesin

Business

How to Go Hunting for your CEO

November 30, 2016
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By Syama Meagher

 

Scaling your business requires a capable CEO who can steer the ship, make short and long-term decisions, and keep everyone on track. The CEO will also report in to a board of directors, and can marry the bottom line of investor/financial needs with the day-to-day operations of the business. A great CEO will ultimately give you the opportunity to be the Chief Innovator or Chief Visionary of your business. Not all founders should be, or need to be, CEO of their companies. Being the CEO can kill your dream if you are not into financials, managing teams and be willing to separate what’s right for the business vs. what you feel is right. If you think you are ready to hire a CEO then read on to make sure you land yourself a good one.

Evaluating Skill Set and Experience

Bringing a CEO onboard requires that they have a strong skill set and set of experiences that you don’t have. To avoid redundancies, make sure you have a solid list of your core competencies. In addition, you should evaluate your goals with your business. Are you interested in selling it eventually? How big do you want your business to be? Identifying your long-term goals will assist you in finding the right CEO who can make it happen.

“Bringing a CEO onboard requires that they have a strong skill set and set of experiences that you don’t have.”

Personality Profile

I wish there was a Match.com for finding a good CEO. It’s certainly challenging to meet someone who can share a vision for your business, yet also has the right personality to execute on it. A CEO’s primary responsibility is managing the all-star team, and therefore all the major department heads on your big or small team should meet with the CEO to test for fit. A CEO that has been brought on by investors or the founder in a small company without any briefing will be greeted with some resistance- primarily because people are afraid of change. To ensure a smooth transition and high levels of performance, really think about the personality fits of your current employees.

“A CEO that has been brought on by investors or the founder in a small company without any briefing will be greeted with some resistance- primarily because people are afraid of change.”

Hide and Seek

Finding your dream CEO will take time. Angel List is a great place to post your job opening. Angel List attracts innovative businesses and employees in a primarily tech dominated space. I also suggest to my clients that they talk to their current CPA’s and lawyer’s as they tend to travel in C-level circles working with investors, founders and CEO’s. LinkedIn is also a valuable resource to seek out CEOs and vet for experience.

A note on Interim CEO’s

I’ve served as an interim CEO for fashion companies in the past and it’s been useful for companies in two ways. First, it’s great for startups that know they need some guidance and direction as they build the structure and are hiring more key players. Secondly, it’s helpful for brands that are in transition and are having difficulty finding the right long-term fit. An interim CEO will be on board for 6 months to 1 year. A long-term CEO should be someone with your business 5 years +.

How much will this cost?

Expect to pay a full-time CEO between $75,000 – $400,000 a year depending on experience and the size of the business. You can hire a part-time CEO, but that is only really effective in smaller startups. Alternatively, you can hire a strategic consultant who can help groom you with CEO skills and the cost will range between $150-500 hourly. This is not a bad idea if you just need some direction and an experienced advisor.

What exactly should your CEO be doing?

I love Steve Robbins’ job description for a CEO:

A CEO should be doing “everything”. Everything includes:

1. Setting strategy and direction.
2. Modeling and setting the company’s culture.
3. Building and leading the senior executive team.
4. Allocating capital to the company’s priorities.

In essence, the failure or success of the company will rest in the hands of your future CEO. This is why hiring a CEO can be such a difficult process and time consuming. Most startup founders will want to stay on as long as possible as the CEO of their ventures, and most investors will want you to stay on as well. Your impact on your business and getting it this far is impressive and all parties involved, employees and investors, will need your passion and vision to stay strong. Good luck making this big decision for your business!

Syama Meagher is a retail strategist and CEO of Scaling Retail. She works with fashion brands and retailers on product and brand launches internationally through ecommerce, wholesale and brick & mortar. Syama has previously worked for Barneys New York, Gucci, AHAlife and Macy’s.  To build your brand and create a profitable business visit www.ScalingRetail.com and email hello@scalingretail.com
Fashion

Professional Gifter Simone LeBlanc Says Ditch The Bottle Of Wine, Here Are 5 Gifts The Hostess Will Actually Enjoy

November 18, 2016
hostess gifts

Photo by Morgan Pansing

Have you ever been given a gift that is just so perfect it brings tears to your eyes, but are left dumbfounded and lost when trying to do the same for a loved one or friend? Finding the perfect gift is a true art form and making an impression beyond a token bottle of wine is not as easy as it seems. Thankfully, there are people like LA-based Simone LeBlanc who are gifted at the art of gifting and can be called upon to create the most refined gifts that leave an emotional impact. Since forming her company in 2011, Simone has artfully created the perfect gifts for celebrities, philanthropists and everyone in between and specializes in carefully curating the perfect selection of items together in the most refined and luxurious package. For those of us who are staring into the upcoming holiday season like a (rein)deer in headlights, read on to discover how Simone has grown her business from a passion to a profession.

Simone, you’ve been called a “Professional Gifter” and the “go-to” resource for finding refined gifts. Were you always the one friends called on when they needed advice on the perfect gift?

I have been known to be a bit of a ‘secret source’! I deeply care about gifting and how we can use objects to convey emotion; how do we create connection and messaging through gifting? I have always designed, fabricated, explored, created…if  my hands aren’t building or shaping in sync with my ideas, I am not truly in my element.

How did you transform your talent for gifting into a business?

As a former personal life-stylist, I created objects and gifts that resonated with my clients and their networks. I noticed a huge gap in the gifting space – no one was creating gifts in the tone that felt right for my needs. I needed a company that could provide me with fresh, personal and unique gifts in a volume capacity at a moment’s notice. I knew that if my clients needed this, others would as well.

The personal touch, the value of human connection and streamlined function are the core of my business as it is today – the source that makes tasteful, quality gifting easy. We work with businesses large and small, event planners, private clients and everyday customers. It’s something I enjoy tremendously.

“Great entrepreneurs get out of their comfort zone. I like to take calculated risks and push beyond the edge of what you thought possible. If you’re excited about what you’re up to, others will follow your lead.”

Did you have someone who really influenced and helped to develop your ideas in the early days? A mentor? What was that like?

I’ve had a few mentors and influencers, each contributing to where I am today. My first most significant was a teacher that I had in college while studying fashion in Paris – he guided me in the value of exploring ideas to their fullest, but the importance of working within real world deadlines and being able to communicate your vision to an audience succinctly. The next was my first philosophical and spiritual teacher who facilitated a deep understanding of transformation, intention, and a perspective on the human journey and now motherhood; all teachings that are a foundation of my everyday. Currently, I have a select group that I work with as my business grows into new territories. These current relationships have been cultivated over time. I’ve found that your mentor comes to you when you’re ready for them.

It appears that you can find the perfect gift for anyone for any occasion. How do you go about sourcing all of your products? Do you do it alone or do you work with a team?

I’m pretty much always ‘on’, so sourcing for me is really about editing and deciding what works best where. An object may catch my eye and inevitably, if it doesn’t make sense now, it will at some point down the road.  At this point, my sources run deep…I lead this sourcing, but always welcome the point of view of my team. If they see something that feels right – I want to know, and I want to assess!

With the holidays right around the corner, we’ve been thinking about the perfect hostess gifts to bring this season. Can suggest five gifts so good we’ll be invited back every time?

 

Shop Ila’s decadent and completely useful Wildflower Honey: available in our Fine Soirée giftbox:

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Heather Taylor Home kitchen towel sets – a great go-to hostess gift : available in our Joyful Morning giftbox:

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Valerie Confections x Commune Good Mix Bar: available in our Modern Holiday giftbox, perfectly bold and full of seasonal ingredients for Fall + Winter:

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Maison Louis Marie candles in my favorite woodsy scent, No. 04, Bois De Balancourt. Available in our Relaxation giftbox:

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Herbivore’s Coconut Bath Milk Soak – perfect to help soothe that tired hostess! Available in our Relaxation giftbox:

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One thing that sets you apart is your beautiful packaging. How have you approached branding and what are some things that you’ve learned along the way?

Thank you! I do spend a lot of time thinking about packaging and details. As far as branding overall, it’s about balance. Our brand voices is a combination of my instinct and personal point of view mixed with my respect and appreciation for my audience and customers. How can I say what needs to be said in a way that will connect, resonate, inspire and feel true? I deeply trust my instincts, but I do rely on sounding boards. I need second opinions, and this is where collaboration comes into play as well.

You’ve created gifts for everyone from celebrities to philanthropists. How did you market yourself in the early days and get so many influential clients?

I honestly have to say it’s been word of mouth mixed with old school entrepreneurial hustle. I do this for the love of it and the fact that it’s smart business, and people need it. True passion, an open ear to the feedback of your customers mixed with resiliency and hustle will get you anywhere you need to go. Because if there’s no path, you find a way to create it. As far as marketing specifically, I did not have any experience in this area before starting my business. I just knew that I had something that people would want and would solve their problem, so that allowed me to be open about sharing it.

hostess gifts

Photo via Joie

“True passion, an open ear to the feedback of your customers mixed with resiliency and hustle will get you anywhere you need to go.”

What is the most memorable gift you have ever been given? Why was it to special?

A handmade miniature ceramic boot with grosgrain ribbon from 1890’s France. It’s the first gift my husband gave to me, after our first date. He was compelled to bring it to me against the advice of the shopkeeper and everyone around him; let’s just say it was not your typical ‘I’ve been thinking about you after our first date…’ type of gift. When I opened the box, I was shocked at how apropos the gift was. Unbeknownst to him, I collected miniature shoes and 1890’s France is an era that I love. I knew then that my life was about to take an entirely different direction, and it quickly did.

We often think the perfect gift would be the gift of time. If you had one day completely to yourself, how would you spend it?

An early am wake up and a walk in the woods with my daughter Lillian. (Preferably the redwoods of Northern California). Making breakfast as a family, taking a simple trip to the farmers market and then a few hours to just play. Currently, that play is about making clay objects. Lillian and I are creating miniature tea sets. I’d love to wrap up the afternoon at the Korean Spa by myself, and then have a couple of friends over for dinner at my house.

“How can I say what needs to be said in a way that will connect, resonate, inspire and feel true? I deeply trust my instincts, but I do rely on sounding boards. I need second opinions, and this is where collaboration comes into play as well.”

Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions that you look forward to?

Yes! We host Thanksgiving at our home, which I love. We stay in pajamas as long as possible, and Lillian (who is 2) has taken up our family tradition of setting the table with flowers and foliage from the garden along with a mix of our favorite flatware (brass, from my parent’s wedding) and place settings. We fold the linen napkins together, which is something that she is working very diligently on learning! We give thanks around the table – which of course always makes me a bit teary eyed. Then it’s games, rest and general laziness and a stop in from friends here and there. The morning after, we pull out my Grandmother’s Gumbo Pot and make a delicious turkey soup with the leftovers. It’s a cozy time of year around here!

Can you share 3 Pearl Of Wisdom on career and motherhood?

1. For Motherhood, I welcome and rely on the tried and true saying that “It takes a village.” This is a foundational point of view that I love – it calls up the importance of community, compassion, leadership and humility. It’s a constant reminder to me that I don’t have all of the answers, and that’s okay, and that’s how it’s always been in the lineage of parenting. Motherhood is a journey into an unseen territory, and you can call on the wisdom of a trusted community all the while bringing your voice and intuition to the conversation.

2. In business, knowing your strengths is essential. Bringing in the right team is paramount and knowing when to jump in and when to get out of their way is key.

3. Great entrepreneurs get out of their comfort zone. I like to take calculated risks and push beyond the edge of what you thought possible. If you’re excited about what you’re up to, others will follow your lead.

hostess gifts

Photo by Morgan Pansing