128 | Utilizing an Ambassador Program with Danielle Nagel of Dazey LA

Being a product based business owner takes a lot of creativity on all fronts- in your designs, in operations, your marketing and how your reach people and tell your story. Now there are so many different platforms and technologies it can be hard to know where to start or which platform to choose. On today’s Proof to Product episode with Dani Nagel, the founder of Dazey LA, we sit down to talk about the importance of finding platforms that work best for your creativity and that start your kind of conversation. 

Dani founded Dazey LA as a fashion brand focused on empowering women through conversation and community. She intentionally built a business that supports her personal values. Each design is hand drawn by Dani and then manufactured to order in Los Angeles, California. 

On today's episode Dani and I talk about how her corporate and startup experience shaped her business perspective. We discuss sustainability, community building, and how Dani built Dazey LA from the ground up. Dani talks about how transparency and showing behind the scenes processes of her marketing and product development has helped her business. And we dive into Dazey LA's ambassador program, which tools they use, how they structure it, and how it has helped them build the retail side of their business. 

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127 | How I moved our team's emails & drive files to a new domain in under an hour with Katie Hunt

If you were following our rebrand earlier this year, you probably remember that there were two technical pieces that really scared me as we were rolling out the rebrand. 

The first was switching over our Instagram handles and making sure that we were keeping our larger account as our primary account for Proof to Product going forward.   You can hear how I did that here on a past podcast episode.

The second thing was switching over our email accounts. And I don't know why this made me so nervous. I think it was because we were on the Google platform and we had so many files in Google Drive -- calendars, files, etc. I felt like it wasn't just switching the emails, it was also making sure all of those files migrated over to wherever we needed it to go. I basically wanted everything packaged all nicely under our new Proof to Product domain.

After several months of dragging my feet, I made the switch in two phases..  I did it myself in Google Suites and it took me less than an hour. I was pleasantly surprised with how simple the process was, so I want to share the steps with you here:

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126 | Knowing you’re enough with Kelly Higdon of Calibrate Your Year

A few weeks ago I posted a poll on Instagram asking how many people out there were also feeling pulled  in too many directions. More than 50 responses came in, 100% agreeing they felt overwhelmed and overscheduled. It might be the time of year, it might be the season of business, but I think we can all agree we need to find a way to create some blank space on the calendar. To handle this situation,  I asked my friend Kelly Higdon of Calibrate Your Year to join me on Episode 126 of Proof to Product. 

For some background, Kelly is a former psychotherapist turned business coach who helps entrepreneurs grow their business without the soul suck. She believes that a successful business is one that contributes to a happier life and when she isn't working, she's traveling with her family, dabbling in art and listening to live music.

On today’s episode, Kelly and I talk about burnout. We talk about knowing you're enough within your business, and Kelly share how she manages to block off over 200 days a year for rest and family time. Yep… you read that right… 200!!!

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125 | Moving from wholesale to licensing with Erin McManness of Paper Raven Co.

As product-based business owners and entrepreneurs, so many of us are under constant pressure to juggle the design and operations sides of our businesses. It can be hard to focus on both moving product and creating the designs for that product, especially when we’re juggling online, wholesale and licensing accounts. Turns out, you don’t always have to do it all. Today’s Proof to Product guest, Erin McManness, is a Paper Camp alumni who’s lived every side of the business and decided to stick to the parts that are most fulfilling for her. I’m excited for you to hear her story. 

Erin is an illustrator working in Atlanta, Georgia. She's been freelancing full time for five years under her brand Paper Raven Co., which started as a small greeting card line and now includes licensing for an assortment of cards, gifts, fabrics, and home décor. Erin incorporates her values and love for the environment in her work by printing all of her cards on 100% recycled paper in the United States. She also donates $1 from every sale to her reforestation partner, One Tree Planted. Over the course of her career, Erin has collaborated on projects with companies like Macy's, Target, Trader Joe's, Publix, and Aldi. In October, she's releasing her second book, The Art Starts In The Heart: An Inspirational Guide To Making Meaningful Art.

On Episode 125, Erin and I sit down to cover all of the above. We talk about how Erin has built the licensing arm of her business, the pros, and cons of flat rate and royalty payments and why she's made the decision to ramp up her licensing arm and slow down on the wholesale side. We also talk about Erin's new book, so enjoy!

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124 | How do I know if a store is a good fit for my products with Katie Hunt

You’ve likely heard me say this here on the Proof to Product podcast and in our emails, but I’m a firm believer that relationships are the key to running and building a successful business.

Everyone from our team to our customers, to our colleagues, to our vendors plays a significant role in our personal growth as well as the development of our company. Your relationships with wholesale buyers are no exception.

BUT HOW DO YOU FIND THE RIGHT STORES?

HOW DO YOU CONNECT ON A PERSONAL LEVEL WITH THE BUYER?

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF A STORE IS A GOOD FIT FOR WHAT YOU SELL?

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123 | Packaging Your Products without breaking the bank with Katie Hunt

Can we talk about product packaging for a minute? You want your products to look unique and stand out from the crowd, but you don’t have to break the bank to do it.

There are so many packaging options available, and it’s important to know when to follow the crowd and use standard packaging and when to get creative and do your own thing.

Ultimately, your product packaging must make it easy for the end customer to understand what your product is and how they can use it. And, from a business standpoint, you want to ensure that your packaging looks great, is scalable and doesn’t cut into your profit margins. Here’s where to focus.

- Keep it Simple

- Keep it On-Brand

- Keep Costs Down

We dive into each of these during today's episode.

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122 | Four key take-aways from Paper Camp

I’m recording this on a Sunday evening, just two short days after I finished hosting our 16th Paper Camp conference and I’m just now getting a chance to reflect on everything we did at Paper Camp and the amazing feedback we had from our students.  In this episode, I want to share some of their key take-aways with you here on this episode.

But first I want to preface this conversation by saying we cover a lot of ground at Paper Camp.  This is our signature program and we’ve helped over 1,000 small businesses on how to get their products on the shelves on their favorite retail shops.   We talk about product development, sales tools for wholesale, sales strategies - working with reps and tech solutions like Faire, marketing to wholesale buyers and the nuts and bolts of exhibiting at shows.

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121 | The Joy of Missing Out with Tonya Dalton

Do you ever sit down at the end of a long day of work, after checking box after box off your to-do list and still think, wow, I have so many more things I should get done. This feeling of overwhelm is common for small business owners and mompreneurs alike and it’s the reason today’s guest, Tonya Dalton, was inspired to write her new book, The Joy of Missing Out. 

You may remember Tonya from Episode 26 of Proof to Product, where she shared her start-up story of founding inkWELL Press and how she built systems and processes for both work and home. Since then, Tonya has been featured on Real Simple, Entrepreneur, Inc., Apartment Therapy, Lauren Conrad, and HGTV. In 2019, Tonya received the  Enterprising Woman of the Year Award and was named North Carolina's Female Entrepreneur to Watch by The Ladders. Tonya is truly a productivity expert and has made it her mission to help other women reduce and remove the overwhelm in their lives through her inkWELL Press products, liveWELL Method Course, Productivity Podcast, and book that comes out October 1st. 

On today's episode, Tonya takes us behind the scenes of The Joy of Missing Out. She shares her motivations for writing the book, why she chose to weave stories in as lessons, and the power of saying yes and no. I also discuss a personal story of my own that Tonya shares in her book. If you’re looking for ways to reduce overwhelm in your life and carve out more time for the things that matter most, this one's for you!

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120 | Managing a wholesale & retail e-commerce shop with Kaitlin Fontenot, Kait Studio

On the Proof to Product Podcast we cover so many topics, from marketing and operations to tradeshows and product launches, but today I’m super excited to have Kaitlin Fontenot on the show to talk about what every product-based business absolutely needs to be successful in our modern world - a well-built eCommerce platform. Kaitlin is the founder and lead designer of Kait Studio, a branding and web design company specializing in retail. Kaitlin is passionate about helping entrepreneurs feel more confident with their online presence so that they can show up in other areas of their business where they are needed daily. In addition to running a successful studio that develops e-commerce sites, as well as digital marketing, social media, and branding strategies, Kaitlin is also a mom and head of a rapidly growing team. 

On Episode 120, Kaitlin and I sit down to talk about how you can best prepare before building an e-commerce site and ways to manage both online wholesale and retail shops. We talk about hiring, building a team with intention, and the importance of delegation. Kaitlin and I also discuss some misconceptions some product-based business owners have about e-commerce platforms and she shares a few important social media marketing strategies you definitely should start leveraging today. 

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119 | Sustainable sourcing in fashion with Kelly Shanahan, The Ziran

Behind every great business is an even better story. Kelly Wang Shanahan, creative director and founder of the Ziran fashion design company has just that - an amazing story. Kelly officially started her line in June, 2016 after becoming disillusioned with the luxury fashion industry, particularly its waste and fast fashion mentality.

While researching ancient fabric techniques in China, Kelly discovered a special fabric called Xiang Yun Sha silk and instantly fell in love with its luxurious beauty and cultural significance. Today all Ziran pieces are made from this special silk, which is imported from China, and designed and manufactured locally by Kelly in Los Angeles. 

Today on Episode 119 of Proof to Product, Kelly shares the long process of finding the silk, building a relationship with the silk boss in China, and gaining exclusive rights to use it with our products. Kelly shares her passion for sustainability, what inspired her to keep going through this long process, how she leverages story and influencer marketing, and why relationships are a key component to business success. 

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118 | NY Now & National Stationery Show Summer Recap with Katie Hunt

This past week I traveled from Los Angeles to New York for two trade shows — the National Stationery Show and New York Now. We had just over 35 alumni exhibiting between the two shows, and while I was there, I had the chance to catch up with them about their exhibiting experiences.

Today’s compilation episode features interviews with 8 of our Paper Camp alumni. We talk about why each chose to exhibit where they did, they walk us through their decision-making process, what their goals were for the show and… tips they want to share with you all! Hope you enjoy!

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117 | How to Time Your New Product Releases with Katie Hunt

Creating new products and tinkering with new design ideas is why most of us went into business. It’s the draw of the creative process. We love to brainstorm, create and then create some more. And it keeps our businesses exciting and alive—for us and for our bank account.

Releasing new products is our ticket to business growth. It sets us apart from the competition and shows retailers that we're serious about our business and our product line. But it’s important to realize that timing is a major factor with new releases, particularly when you’re selling wholesale.

At Paper Camp, we talk a lot about scheduling and timing, but the three things we need to consider are:

- Timing

- Frequency

- Reorders

We dive into each of these during today's episode.

Don't forget to download our free workbook:  How To Build a Profitable Product Line or connect with us in our Friends of Proof to Product Facebook Group 

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116 | How to know if you're ready for an Integrator with Kristin Kaplan

As entrepreneurs and product-based business owners, there comes a time for all of us when we have to make the decision to pivot. The pivot period can be a tough and turbulent time, but today on Proof to Product, my friend Kristin Kaplan is here to tell us how she managed to gracefully pivot away from her successful wedding planning business after 10 years to begin working as an integrator for online entrepreneurs. Kristin now creates strategic plans, action steps and manages profitable, sustainable businesses. She is also the host of the Planning for Profit Podcast, the creator of The Pricing Workbook and the founder of Plan to Profit, a monthly program to help visionary business owners reach their goals. On top of all that, Kristin also balances life as a wife, mother to three kiddos, organization addict, beauty & skincare lover, marathoner, and wine drinker (she needs at least one vice to manage all of the above).

On today’s episode, Kristin and I are talking about what it means to be an Integrator - what they do and how to know if you’re ready for one. We also talk about pivoting in business - the fears surrounding it but also how it shows growth as a CEO and money mindset, particularly how to positively frame your thoughts around money. If you’re looking for advice on how to manage it all, or how to make your pivot period easier, this episode is 100% for you! 

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115 | Scaling a handmade jewelry business with Dani Paquin of Agapantha

We’ve heard a lot of fun origin stories on the Proof to Product Podcast, but today’s episode with Dani Paquin, founder of the jewelry company Agapantha, is an extra sweet and serendipitous start-up story. Dani founded her jewelry company in 2004 somewhere on a dusty road as she was touring the United States as a singer-songwriter. Between tours, Dani worked at her home in Brooklyn assembling jewelry for other designers, but at that moment on the road, she finally realized she had to bring her own designs to life. So Agapantha was born and an important artistic shift was made. 

What does Agapantha mean? It's the first flower that Dani's grandmother taught her to say. Today, Dani pays homage to her and the inspirational women in her life by naming each collection after someone special. Her delicate, minimalist layering jewelry that is sold in boutiques around the world and Agapantha recently celebrated 15th years of business. 

On today's episode, Dani shares her start-up story. We talk about how she slowly and thoughtfully grew her jewelry line over the years and how she scaled production for a handmade product. Dani also encourages all of us to just keep going - because you never know where things will lead. 

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114 | E-Commerce Strategies & Abandoned Cart Emails with Arianne Foulks, Aeolidia

Has being an entrepreneur and your own boss helped unlock new skills or uncover new parts of your personality? It definitely has for Arianne Foulks, founder of Aeolidia, a design studio specializing in designing and developing custom e-commerce websites using Shopify, as well as logo design, product packaging, product photography, content creation, and business naming. Before starting Aeolidia in 2004, Arianne was shy and avoided talking to clients over the phone. Today, after 15 years in business and growing her team to more than twenty-three employees, Arianne is bold in her business. She speaks and teaches at events, hosts business owner brunches, and looks forward to talking with people about their companies.

On today's episode, Arianne and I chat about how she built her agency and grew her team over the years. We talk about common misconceptions some creative entrepreneurs have, the advantages of using Shopify, and the importance of abandoned cart emails. Arianne also shares details about the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program, an investment program that helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses through education, capital and support services. 

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113 | Why you can’t rely solely on social media for sales with Nicole Walters, The Monetized Life

Have you ever come home from a long day at your corporate job and realized like, “Okay, so my job is feeding my family, but definitely not my soul.” What do you do? Well, today's Proof to Product guest is telling us how she figured it out. By age 28, Nicole Walters was a highly-paid executive at a Fortune 500 company, managing multibillion dollar accounts, but something wasn’t right. So Nicole quit her corporate job, and she made waves when she quit in front of 10,000 people while live streaming on Periscope. She went on to open her own private business and product development consulting firm, The Monetized Life. 

As Nicole’s audience ramped up so did her revenue—she made $11,000 in the first three weeks of working with small business clients full time. Now, when she’s not hanging out with her husband and their three foster kids, she shares her secrets to earning “passive income” with other entrepreneurs through her wildly popular online course, 1K1Day. “I teach people how to add commas to their bank accounts,” says Nicole. “They learn that they don’t have to trade time for money.”

On today's episode, Nicole and I sit down to talk about common mistakes she sees eager entrepreneurs making and why old school sales strategies still work. We also talk about why you can't rely solely on social media for sales, the importance of having multiple revenue streams and why you need to treat your business like a business from day one. 

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112 | Scaling a Subscription Based Business with Samantha Barnes of Raddish

Hey friends, have you heard of Raddish? It’s a super cool monthly cooking club that empowers kids to build confidence in the kitchen and beyond. Today’s guest, Samantha Barnes the CEO and founder of Raddish, founded the company after working as a middle school teacher. A mom of two, Samantha realized the kitchen was the best place to connect with her kids in a meaningful way, and in true entrepreneurship fashion, she was inspired to start her own company. Samantha’s passion for family is visible in every aspect of her company. As a female founder, she is committed to running results-oriented and flexible company built on autonomy, working smart, and a positive work/life balance. 

On today’s episode, Samantha and I dive into her subscription based business model and how it has evolved over time. The two of us talk about her business journey, how the company started out of her garage, how her team has evolved, the logistics of getting her product to market. We also talk about the pros and cons of running a subscription based business, how she learned how to delegate, what she does when she’s feeling burnt out.

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111 | Realizing You Don't Want an Empire with Kiwi Schloffel, Craft Boner

On today’s episode of Proof to Product I’m sitting down with a gal I greatly admire, who I have had the pleasure of working with for a few years now through Paper Camp and my Proof to Product Mastermind coaching program. Meet Kiwi Schloffel, the brains and brawn behind Craft Boner, a stationery gift brand with the sole focus of making people chuckle. That’s a common theme in greeting cards, Kiwi takes it seriously. Her goal, in her own words, “Is to make you laugh. Not in the ha-ha-I’m-being-polite kind of way but actual big belly laughs that make your eyes water and give you an annoying stomach cramp because you just can’t stop.” 

Over the course of the last eight years, Kiwi opened a retail space then decided to leave that retail space. She expanded her product line to more than 300 SKUs across multiple product categories and then recently discontinued over half of those products. She amassed an Instagram following of over 16,000 people just like that, and today we are talking about all of it. Kiwi and I sit down to talk about the transitions, the fears, and how making these shifts have allowed her to do fewer things even better within her business. Kiwi acknowledges that she's still figuring out her next steps, and that’s why this interview is so important. At the end of the day, no matter how successful, aren’t we all just trying to figure it out? I hope you enjoy this fun episode! 

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5 Tips When Applying for Scholarships with Katie Hunt

Scholarship applications for our Paper Camp conference opened today, July 5th and will stay open until July 12th so I wanted to hop on here and share 5 tips for how to put your best foot forward when applying for scholarship opportunities, like ours.

A little background first…. Giving back is an important piece of the Proof to Product mission and we offer one full tuition scholarship to each and every Paper Camp conference and e-course that we offer.

Since 2011, I’ve awarded over $100,000 dollars worth of scholarship funds to our students. And, in that time my husband and I have reviewed tons of scholarship applications.

Here are our 5 ways to stand out in your scholarship application.

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110 | Business partnerships with Minna Khounlo-Sithep & Jacqueline Snyder, The Product Boss

So many of us are solopreneurs, but have you ever met another small business bad-ass and totally clicked? That’s what happened for today’s guests, Minna Khounlo-Sithep and Jacqueline Snyder, voices behind The Product Boss Podcast.

For some background, after Minna had her first child she was inspired to start Lil' Labels, write-on kids labels that are sold at retail giants like Amazon, Walmart and Jet. At the same time, Jacqueline was running her own product based business, Cuffs Couture, and growing her international sales. Jacqueline reached out to Minna in a business Facebook group, and the two totally hit it off. Today, Jacqueline and Minna work together to teach business owners how to grow their product-based businesses with smart strategy and a community around them. In addition to running the podcast, they each still own their own businesses.

On Episode 110, we’re all sitting down to talk about the pros and cons business partnerships, how Minna and Jacqueline divide responsibilities, and what to look for if you’re considering taking on a new partner. We also talk about how Minna and Jacqueline juggle their multiple businesses, and they share their top tips for product based business owners.

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