Posts in product
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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109 | Discontinuing an entire product line & starting over with Alicia Heater, Slightly Stationery

Do you remember when you first started your business? How about your first card? Do you ever go back and look at work you were doing in those early stages and wonder, what was I thinking?! I know from experience it can be cringe-worthy or just hilarious, but that’s the beauty of the business journey!

Today on Proof to Product we’re welcoming Paper Camp alum, Alicia Heater of Slightly Stationery, to share her business beginning. When Alicia started Slightly Stationery, it was with the belief that women be encouraging and loving to each other through the timeless art of handwritten notes (Oh, and that these handwritten notes should make people chuckle, and also be super cute, too.) Today, continuing this spirit of mutual support, a portion of all Slightly Stationery proceeds go to the Malala Fund to help girls around the world receive a good education.

On Episode 109, Alicia talks about how she started her first line, the changes she made along the way and what she learned at Paper Camp. We discuss the financial challenges of business and why giving back is a key  part of Slightly Stationery’s mission and values. Alicia also shares the importance of taking advice, not being afraid to start over, and what it’s like today to have cards in more than 400 stores throughout the U.S. including Paper Source and Anthropologie.

We hope you enjoy this fun episode, and that it inspires you to look back at how far you’ve come in your business journey too!

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108 | Shifting our definition of success with Ginger Lyons, Buffalo Girls Salvage

Hey friends, welcome back to Proof to Product! Today’s guest is Ginger Lyons, a serial entrepreneur who believes positive attitude, abundance mindset, and perseverance are the keys to a successful business model. A military veteran, Ginger is the creator behind Buffalo Girls Salvage, a jewelry design company that transforms salvaged copper, metal and bullet casings into beautiful, handmade pieces.

Since 2012, Ginger’s company has been inspiring women and honoring law enforcement officials through creative designs. She is also passionate about investing in mainstreet America, supporting small businesses and coaching female entrepreneurs.

On today's episode, Ginger and I talk about her incredible “backward” business journey. She shares what it was like to have a storefront, employees, national manufacturing network and the opportunity to appear on Shark Tank, and why she pivoted her business to stay true to her ‘why’. We talk about how our definition of success often changes over the course of time, how entrepreneurship is always a choice, and the importance of sharing our journey to help others.

I hope you enjoy Ginger's story of growth, strategic pivoting, and the lessons she learned along the way!

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107 | The long game of licensing & surface pattern design with Jeanetta Gonzales

Welcome back to Proof to Product, all you small business hustlers, and creative entrepreneurs! Today we have a great episode in store for you with guest Jeanetta Gonzales, a Los Angeles-based graphic designer, and illustrator. Jeanetta began her career as a graphic designer working for corporate companies such as WedMD, Mattel and The Disney Store. She later parlayed her digital and fine art skills into surface design working as a textile designer and style guide designer for consumer products and creating illustrations and art that she licenses to manufacturers for products sold online and in major retail stores. On top of all of this, Jeanetta also runs her own online store where she sells her art on print items, mugs, fabric, home decor items and more.

On today’s episode, Jeanetta shares her experience with licensing and tells us why you have to be in it for the long game. We talk about why relationships are so important in business, why it’s necessary to create art and products with a unique point of view, and her goal to spread joy through a variety of creative means.

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104 | Turning a Hobby Business Into a Thriving Retail Shop with Audrey Woollen, Urbanic

Hey Friends, have you had the chance to visit the famous Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Los Angeles? This mile long street located in Southern Venice is home to amazing creative galleries, internationally recognized brands and one-of-kind local shops like, Urbanic Paper Boutique. Audrey Woollen founded Urbanic thirteen years ago, and since then, her original lifestyle brand and retail shop has attracted a great deal of press, a large social media following, and has developed collaborative signature lines with some of the nation's top designers.

On today's episode, Audrey shares how she discovered her passion for paper and product based business. She tells us how she got started, how Urbanic has evolved over the years, and how she turned her weekend hobby into a thriving retail shop. Audrey also talks about the challenges she faced along the way, including an IRS audit in her third year, and the store getting robbed at times. Audrey brings us into her journey, talking about the passion she has for her industry, the creative community which she's in, and why creating a strong customer experience is so important to her and the brand.

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099 | Pivoting to custom wedding work with Emily Asher, Emily Rose Ink

Today on the 99th Episode of Proof to Product I’m joined by our friend and Tradeshow Bootcamp alumni, Emily Asher. Emily is an artist, calligrapher and the owner of Emily Rose Ink, a boutique wedding stationery studio based in Chicago. Emily started designing wedding stationery as a side hustle while working as a high school English teacher, but since taking the leap to make it her livelihood, her wedding stationery has been featured in countless publications and blogs, including Vogue, Martha Stewart, Style Me Pretty, and Oh So Beautiful Paper.

Early on in her business journey, Emily made the decision to intentionally narrow her focus, from art prints and greeting cards, to custom wedding stationery. Although this felt like a risk at first, this allowed Emily to perfect her design aesthetic, grow customer relationships, and solidify her business foundation. As a result, Emily’s wedding stationery business took off and her designs made celebrity status. Seriously… She just did Hillary Swank’s invites!

On today’s episode, Emily shares her startup story. She talks about how she got her foothold in the stationery industry, what inspired her to dive fully into her business, and why it was important for her to narrow her focus to solely doing custom wedding work. Emily also shares what she learned from celebrity weddings, how she manages her growing business today, and what’s coming up next for Emily Rose Ink!

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095 | Customer engagement with Amy Tan, Amy Tangerine

Hey friends! This week on Proof to Product I’m sitting down with Amy Tan, founder of the creative lifestyle company, Amy Tangerine. I’m really excited to have Amy on the show, because not only is she a creative entrepreneur that designs online content as well as fun, tangible products like t-shirts and craft supplies, she also teaches workshops around the world, makes YouTube videos, consults with awesome brands and wrote the book, Craft a Life You Love. Amy believes everyone has a story to tell, and her mission is to inspire women everywhere to feel joy and confidence by infusing creativity, fun, and intention into the everyday.

On today’s episode, Amy shares how she got her start as an entrepreneur and how her business has evolved over time. She gives advice for curating an authentic and organic social media presence, and the best way to approach contracts and collaboration. We also talk about her favorite mediums, how she connects with her audience and how she decides which partnerships and collaborations to say yes to.

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094 | Creating strategic business plans with Emily Marks, Carina Paper Co

This week we have a great episode in store for you – one that will definitely resonate with any of you who are hustling through a day job to fund your dream job. Emily Marks, once a forensic accountant, took the leap and left a stable job to pursue her passion. She is now the businesswoman behind Carina Paper Co., a stationery company inspired by her Italian heritage and from her heart as a new mom, wife, daughter, and friend.

On today’s episode, Emily gives us all the details on how she turned her side hustle into a full-time gig. She tells us the reason she left her job with a major accounting firm and how her former role actually helps her in business now. We talk about the importance of strategic planning, project management, and how being in a state of discomfort provides space for personal growth. Finally, we talk about the danger of overthinking things and why sometimes, you just have to go for it.

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091 | Simplicity in business with Viola Sutanto, Maika Goods

My guest this week is Viola Sutanto and she’s here to tell us how she made the leap from solopreneur to serial creative entrepreneur, and how she successfully runs multiple product-based businesses. I first met Viola in 2008 or 2009 when she owned the brand Chewing the Cud, a letterpress greeting card company that also sold reusable fabric gift wrap, which distributed to more than 1000 stores nationwide.

Since then Viola has founded MAIKA, a stylish and sustainable soft goods brand inspired by delightful trade and everyday living, and co-founded LimeLoop, a recently launched full-circle shipper packaging company. What impresses me most about Viola, in addition to her superhuman ability to run multiple businesses is how she manages to maintain the same core values across all three companies- although unique in their offerings, each represents a desire to create sustainable, well designed, products that solve problems for their customers.

On today’s episode, Viola and I talk about transitioning from one business to the next, using trial & error to find manufacturing partners overseas, building a team, and time blocking. We also discuss Viola’s perspective on managing transition, how she aims for simplicity in business and what’s up next for her new ventures.

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089 | Freedom versus stability with Rachael Hetzel, Pistachio Press and Briana Feola, Brainstorm (Part 1)

This week I’m sitting down for a special two-part interview with two incredible entrepreneurs – Rachael Hetzel of Pistachio Press and Briana Feola of Brainstorm. Both have been on the podcast before to share their startup stories and I’m really excited to have them both back to shine a spotlight on what it means to keep things small and intentional as business owners and still grow in revenue and creativity.

Rachael Hetzel is the owner of Pistachio Press, a boutique letterpress printing and design studio based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Founded in 2007, Pistachio Press produces a wholesale line of sweet and slightly snarky stationery products that are sold nationally and internationally. Pistachio Press also creates social invitations, business stationery, and prints commercially for a variety of clients. If you want to hear Rachael’s start-up story, head back to check out Episode 11.

Briana Feola is the co-owner of Brainstorm, a print shop and collaborative design studio working from a historic mill in Dover, New Hampshire. Brainstorm is rooted in the production of original art prints inspired by science, nature, and the outdoors. They design for people and companies that appreciate the creative process, enjoy collaboration, and want to make something tangible in an increasingly digital world. Briana and her husband, Jason Snyder shared their co-founding story back on Episode 8,so put that one on your listening list too!

Today is Part 1 of my interview with Rachael and Briana. On this episode, we talk about freedom versus stability, why there is pressure to keep up with the Joneses and why we can’t worry what others are doing. We also talk about overcoming FOMO, letting go of constantly optimizing and not being afraid to stick to what works best for your business.

On Part 2 which will air on Thursday, we’re talking about why bigger doesn’t always mean better, knowing your why and communicating your company’s core values so that you’re attracting the right type of clients, customers, and team members.

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087 | Leadership vs management skills with Natasha Case, Coolhaus (Part 2)

Natasha Case is the CEO of Coolhaus, a Los Angeles based ice cream company specializing in unique, sweet-meet-savory flavors. This is Part 2 of her interview. If you missed Part 1 which was Episode 86, I recommend you head back and listen to that one first.

In Part 2 of her interview, Natasha talks about her approach to scaling, how she tackled grocery and scoop shops at the same time, and how she continues to entwine the three arms of the business to support each other. We talked about how she balances deadlines and creativity, the importance of thinking outside the box, and how Natasha’s perspective of leadership and management has changed over the years. Natasha also shared the importance of building new relationships and innovating ideas that keep Coolhaus on top of its game as zealous expansion continues.

Here’s the background scoop on Coolhaus in case you missed it earlier- Natasha first began exploring the concept of “Farchitecture” – or, Food + Architecture – in her graduate architecture program. She started baking cookies, making ice cream, and combining them into “cool houses”. In 2009 she met co-founder Freya Estreller, and together they staged Coolhaus’ unforgettable launch in a refurbished postal van at the famous Coachella Valley Music Festival.

In less than ten years, Coolhaus has snowballed into a nationwide company. They now distribute to 6,000+ grocery stores ranging from Whole Foods to Safeway to Publix markets with 30 SKU’s including hand-crafted ice cream sandwiches, artisan pints, and chocolate-dipped bars. Natasha has been named Forbes 30 Under 30 for food and beverage and Zagat’s 30 Under 30 in New York City. She is also the co-host of the Start to Sale podcast, where she invites the brightest entrepreneurial minds to discuss all that it takes to build a company from launch to exit.

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086 | Launching with a minimum viable product with Natasha Case, Coolhaus (Part 1)

Natasha Case is the CEO of Coolhaus, a Los Angeles based ice cream company specializing in unique, sweet-meet-savory flavors. The inspiration for Coolhaus started when Natasha was exploring the concept of “Farchitecture” – or, Food + Architecture – in her graduate architecture program. She began baking cookies, making ice cream, and combining them into “cool houses”. In 2009 she met co-founder Freya Estreller, and together they staged Coolhaus’ unforgettable launch in a refurbished postal van at the famous Coachella Valley Music Festival.

In less than ten years, Coolhaus has snowballed into a nationwide company. They now distribute to 6,000+ grocery stores ranging from Whole Foods to Safeway to Publix markets with 30 SKU’s including hand-crafted ice cream sandwiches, artisan pints, and chocolate-dipped bars.

Natasha has been named Forbes 30 Under 30 for food and beverage and Zagat’s 30 Under 30 in New York City. She is also the co-host of the Start to Sale podcast, where she invites the brightest entrepreneurial minds to discuss all that it takes to build a company from launch to exit.

We covered a lot of ground in this interview. So much so, that we’re going to break it up into two separate episodes. Episode 86 is Part 1.

On today’s episode, Natasha tells us how studying architecture led her to discover her entrepreneurial spirit and how she turned her side-hustle hobby into a national business. She shares why product development and innovation is not just about market research and data but also about trusting your intuition and how Coolhaus launched with a minimum viable product.

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083 | Exhibiting at craft shows with Danni Hong, oh hello friend

Danni Hong is a designer, business owner, and lover of all things paper. She started oh, hello friend in 2008 and has been hustling ever since at craft shows and trade shows worldwide! Her ultimate goal thru her business is to convey joy thru oh hello friend products and brighten someone’s day.

Danni attended Tradeshow Bootcamp’s Paper Camp prior to exhibiting at her first wholesale show, but she has a lot of experience exhibiting at craft shows near and far which she talks about in today’s episode. We also talked about Danni’s journey of scaling up and scaling down. She shares her experiences exhibiting at craft shows near and far. She also talked about her experience opening a brick and mortar shop and how she decided which products to carry in her store. Danni also discussed what it was like operating three different arms of her business.

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081 | Discontinuing products with Sarah Parrott Bianculli, Parrott Design (Part 1)

Sarah Parrott is the founder of Parrott Design Studio and I’m excited for you to hear her story. Parrott Design Studio is a letterpress studio in Sebago, a lake town in Western Maine. The studio was established in 2007 by Sarah Parrott with a small Print Gocco, an inexpensive and easy to use screen printing tool that originated in Japan. That same year she took her first course in letterpress, learning to use a Vandercook press.

In 2008 she purchased her own press, an 1898 Golding Jobber platen press. At the time there were no courses to learn on that type of press, and she spent a year teaching herself how to use it. She fell in love with the centuries-old artisanal printing technique and the process of feeding the press one piece at a time, one color at a time. In 2010 she left her job as an event planner to pursue Parrott Design Studio full time.

Sarah is one of our original Tradeshow Bootcamp alumni. She attended our very first round of Tradeshow Bootcamp classes in 2011 before exhibiting at the National Stationery Show in 2012.

We covered a lot of topics in this interview. So much so, that we’re going to break this up into two separate episodes. Episode 81 is Part 1.

On this episode, Sarah shares how she started her business with a Gocco printer and Etsy shop, how her business model shifted from retail to custom to retail and wholesale, how she expanded into new product categories, why she strives to find local manufacturing partners and we also talked about her process for deciding which products to discontinue.

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Wholesale strategies and developing your product line with Katie Hunt

For our Thanksgiving break, we’ve lined up something special just for you.  We’ll be airing two episodes I recorded with my friends Kelly and Caroline at Creative Biz Rebellion.

These ladies were kind enough to have me on their podcast, not just once, but twice. The first time we talked about all things wholesale, and then then invited me back to talk about trade shows. This week we’re running both episodes over here on Proof to Product.

Big thanks to Kelly and Caroline for having me on their show.  If you’re not already familiar with Creative Biz Rebellion, go check it out. Kelly and Caroline do an amazing job of supporting product based businesses through their programs and podcast. They were also guests on Proof to Product — visit the links below to find them over at Creative Biz Rebellion and here on Proof to Product.

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How to know if you’re ready for tradeshows with Katie Hunt

For our Thanksgiving break, we’ve lined up something special just for you.  We’ll be airing two episodes I recorded with my friends Kelly and Caroline at Creative Biz Rebellion.

These ladies were kind enough to have me on their podcast, not just once, but twice. The first time we talked about all things wholesale, and then then invited me back to talk about trade shows. This week we’re running both episodes over here on Proof to Product.

Big thanks to Kelly and Caroline for having me on their show.  If you’re not already familiar with Creative Biz Rebellion, go check it out. Kelly and Caroline do an amazing job of supporting product based businesses through their programs and podcast. They were also guests on Proof to Product — visit the links below to find them over at Creative Biz Rebellion and here on Proof to Product.

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080 | Using personal savings to grow a $23M business with Christina Stembel, Farmgirl Flowers

Christina Stemble is the founder of Farmgirl Flowers, which she started 7 years ago from her living room table. She invested $49,000 of her personal savings to start the business and Farm Girl Flowers is projected to hit $23M in revenue for 2018.

Christina disrupted the floral industry with new options for consumers, less waste and higher quality products. Farmgirl Flower arrangements are designed by hand, in-house in San Francisco California.

On today’s episode, Christina is sharing why it is so important to know your numbers, the struggles of scaling and how she’s pivoted more times that she can count. We also talked about how she’s been proactive about business education and why she focuses on caring about people, but not what they think about her.

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079 | Leveraging influncers to sell products with Alison Prince

Alison Prince is an e-commerce expert and a woman on a mission. She is a business-savvy determined woman who knows how to create something amazing out of nothing. Over the last seven years, Allison has started eight e-commerce businesses, many of which are multi-million dollar brands. She’s sold everything from apparel to technology to household items — she’s sold everything under the sun — growing dollars into millions and pennies into thousands.

On today’s episode, we talk about how Allison built her deal of a day website and then leveraged best selling products to create their own site and brand. She also shares how she leverages influencers to sell her product and why testing your product is the most important thing you can do in e-commerce.

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077 | Investing in professional development with Tanya Wheeless, Happy Grace

TSBC Alum, Tanya Wheeless is the founder of Happy Grace and author of three workbooks on soulful living. She has leveraged her decades of experience as a CEO, senior executive in the NBA, and community leader to teach women how to live the good life while struggling to balance work and family.

In 2016, Tanya saw a need in the market for physical products that busy women could use daily to motivate and center themselves. With that, Happy Grace was born! She took all of her coaching goodness, combined it with her love of paper and created a beautiful line of guided journals, inspiration decks, lip balms and more. When she’s not working, you can find her traveling the globe with her husband and son.

On today’s episode, Tanya shares why she never wanted to be an entrepreneur, how she’s weaved both products and services into her business and why she prioritizes and invests in professional development.

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075 | Shifting from wholesale to licensing with Shelley Seguinot, I'm Inkpressed

TSBC alum, Shelley Seguinot began her creative journey in 2013 when she opened I’m Inkpressed, a wholesale stationery company specializing in children’s products. As the paper industry evolved and she saw the digital market expanding, she adjusted her business to focused her effort on the art licensing world. She now licenses her art to various companies that put her work on a wide range of products.

On today’s episode, Shelley shares how she left a 20-year career in law enforcement to start her businesses. She tells us how she got her first licensing deal, fears she had when she first started licensing her art and why it’s so valuable to find mentors and community if licensing is something you want to pursue for your business.

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