Sunday, May 11, 2008

Tired, But INSPIRED!!! - Part Two

More from our Chicago trip...

Remember, Liz types in Green and Missy types in Pink.

Well, After shopping all day on Friday, we started to panic about putting the finishing touches on our presentation to the editors of Country Living magazine. One of the most important parts of our trip to the Country Living Magazine's Womens Entrepreneur event, was that we were selected to pitch our product to the editors of Country Living. We were excited and very nervous about out pitch. We were only allotted a few minutes to do our presentation and then the editors would take a minute to ask us questions. We knew roughly what we wanted to say, but hadn't worked out the presentation itself or the timing of it.
So, with only about 12 hours left before our presentation time, we had work to do!!
We practiced and practiced!

and practiced, and practiced, and practiced....til we were punchy and incoherent!

The Hotel Monaco was really beautifully decorated, and our room was really nice. One of the neat features of the hotel is that they would loan you a pet for your stay - a goldfish. So, naturally, we HAD to take advantage of that service!! But, only after I determined that I was not going to be responsible for feeding and taking care of it - I didn't need goldfish homicide on my conscience!
We named the fish Wanda, of course. And, we pitched our product to Wanda over and over again!!

Wanda was a fabulous listener, hardly ever critical, and very orange

More pictures of our beautiful room:
Now you know one of the reasons it is my favorite Chicago hotel. Wouldn't you love to live in a bedroom like this?

The first event of the day on Saturday was our pitch your product time slot, then the actual conference would begin. I was so nervous, I could hardly stand it. I was literally sweating!I was feeling a bit queasy, and the walk through the morning drunks didn't help much. Missy forgot to mention it was St. Paddy's Day and the crowds were gathering to watch the dyeing of the river. We pranced through the drunks and lost tourists with our darling little mannequin!
But, I had a new outfit to wear, and we were totally prepared, and it went well! We met some really neat people in our waiting room, and got some really positive comments from our fellow presenters as well as some of the Country Living ladies that we met. It was a very positive experience. I feel like, no matter the outcome, the experience was incredible. We learned alot and met some really great people.
I feel like I have to mention one lady in particular, Sharon Singleton. She owns Singlelicious. She was a hoot! I couldn't find a website for her, but here is a youtube clip from her appearance on Oprah last year.

I would not be a bit surprised if we see her on the Food Network someday!
There is nothing I can add, Singlelicious really had to be experienced in person to be believed!
Here is a picture of one of our dresses that we took with us:

It is our Phoebe dress in Ginger Blossom fabrics. I feel like the presentation went well, and we were surprised to learn later that Nancy Soriano, editor of Country Living, was sitting in our presentation. I am glad I didn't know she was there at the time, I might have completely freaked out!
I second that, thank goodness we didn't know!

The Country Living Event was officially titled, "Country Living’s Women Entrepreneurs: A Celebration of Creativity Event". It was sold out and there were about 600 attendees. The speakers were so incredible. I joke to my friends that to those of us in the clothing and design and crafting industries, they are like rock stars!
The first speaker of the day was Anna Griffin.

One of the things in our goodie bags was a damask clipboard and pad from Anna. She was interviewed by the editor of Country Living magazine, Nancy Soriano.

Some things Anna Griffin said that I wrote down...
- Find inspiration everywhere - in everything visual.
- Make sure you get out of bed in the morning with eagerness to do what you love.
Change is good - you can always count on it - don't be fearful.
- YES AND - are her favorite words. Look for opportunities, ask for them, and say yes.
She also shared some business-specific advice and information that I found interesting, but don't want to bore those of you who aren't interested in business.

I found this picture online of the seminar and you can see us in the second row!!

The next session was a panel discussion and the panelists were: Heather Bailey (one of my all-time favorite fabric designers), Beth Ferriera (of etsy), Lena West (total computer guru), and Anna Fox and Donna King (of the totally fab catalog, Room Service Home). The moderator of the panel was Susan Mernit (technology guru who was blogging before blogging was cool! Also happens to be the sister of Nancy Soriano).

What can I say about these fabulous ladies?! Wow. I wrote down so much good information, advice and inspiration!
Good stuff from Heather Bailey:
-Take your time. Learn how to use your tools and take the time to fix things.
- Blogging enables customers to see your product in a personal way.
- Get involved. Go see what others are saying, promote their blogs.
- Be genuine. Represent yourself as you are and people will take interest in that.

Good stuff from Beth Ferriera taught us all about etsy. Very cool site. If you haven't exprienced etsy yet, you are missing out!

Good stuff from Lena West:
- Know what you want! Know exactly what you need. Write it all down. How much, if any, do you want to do on your own?
- Hire people to work for you and stick to what you do best.
- Be consistent
- Send love to other's blogs, so they will send love to yours
- Go ugly early. Don't worry about what your website looks like, just get it out the door! Get yourself out there!

Good stuff from Anna Fox and Donna King:
- Utilize your best assetts.
- Manage your customer's expectations. Anticipate and deliver what they want.
- Know what you want the end result to be. Keep the faith.
- Encourage your customers to share your site with their friends.

The keynote speaker was Tamara Monosoff. She is the author of two books: The Mom Inventors Handbook

and Secrets of Millionaire Moms

The title of her talk was, "Unleash your Dream with Boldness and Creativity". I am currently reading a book that she recommended by William Ury, The Power of a Positive No. The premise is that you can only say yes when you can truly say no. It is hard to explain, but the book makes it make sense.
Some good stuff from Tamara's talk:
- Leap and the net will appear. Take Action. To leap and take risks is to act. When we finally take the leap, what is unpredictable and unexpected is the network of you teachers and mentors who are your net.
- Overcoming Doubts - Fear is real... fear of failure, financial loss, disappointing family and friends and success itself. Acknowledge and address your fear. Gain knowledge. Build support (brain trust). Plan.
- Read everything, go to conferences.
- Pull together a support network of friends, family, organizations. Recruit people with special skills and whose opinions you trust, and knowledge that can help you.
- Plan. It can help save you time and money. The plan doesn't have to be complex, but create it from two perspectives - emotional and practical.
- What changes do you want to create in your life? Describe in writing how you see your business. Define: What am I building and why? Short and long term goals? Why, where and how would people buy my product? What is the work to be done?
- Is this business plan supporting my ultimate life dream?
- We need to believe in ourselves if we ever expect to achieve the life we want.
- Don't keep your dreams to yourself - speak about them with conviction and take the steps necessary to make them come true.
- Look to others who inspire you.

The last segment of the day was the panel led by the 2008 Women Entrepreneurs of the Year. It was fantastic and there were lots of nuggets of good information!
There were some really fabulous women included in this group of honorees. I tried to find a picture of them online all together at the conference, but I wasn't able to.
You can read all about them on the Country Living website though.
Some comments I wrote down (sadly, didn't note who said what, though):
- A team is powerful!
- Show up on your list of things to do.
- Start where you want to end
- Be the company you aspire to be the day you open the doors!
- Pay for marketing materials.
- Fake it until you can make it.
- Pea Soup Recipe for Success:
*Planning and Preparation
*Patience and Persistance
*Passion and Purpose
also surround your self with positive people and pat yourself on the back!
- No is your vitamin.
- Go to tradeshows and get to know those in your industry.

Like I said, there was lots of other good information too - mostly business related as opposed to the more motivation type info that I shared in this post. It was so inspiring and really moved me to realize what kinds of things I needed to do right away to work towards my dream of making Sweet Funky Vintage a success. I would highly recommend this conference to others who are thinking about turning their passion into a profession, even if it is going to be some time in the future.
I don't want to forget, I have to mention the nicest gals we met a the conference and went out to dinner with - Paula Prass and her daughter Jennifer, as well as their friend,SO fun to meet them. Thanks for the dinner invite, girls. We are waiting for that fabric! Anita. Such a nice group of ladies - and super talented. We love Paula Prass Designs and Mimi's Collection so much, we have started carrying a few of their canvas wall art items and infant door hangers. So beautiful!
Here is a picture of them that I shamelessly stole (sorry girls - have to show how cute you are!) from Paula's blog:

I want to be sure I credit everyone show correctly, so here goes - From left to right - Bari J. Ackerman of BariJ, Anita Hopper of Refind Originals, Paula Prass of Paula Prass Designs, Joanna Figueroa of Fig Tree Quilts, Heather Bailey, one of my most favorite fabric designers and a great blogger, and Jennifer of Mimi's Collection. We are so delighted that Paula has announced on her blog that she has signed a contract to design fabrics for Michael Miller Fabrics. What fabulous news! We cannot wait to see what she has in store!
I don't have any more pictures from the weekend. We ate breakfast on Sunday at the Corner Bakery, where Liz has gotten me completely addicted to their cinnamon raisin toasty bread thingees. I have even driven into DC to get them since I have been home!!! Then we headed to the airport, where we discovered at the airline counters that both of us had suitcases that were overweight. This was before the airlines adopted the rediculous restriction of only 1 bag per person. So, basically, what they told us was that we could check 2 bags each weighing 50 lbs. But our single bags were over the bag limit by like 6 pounds. So, I ended up forking over $17 for a flimsy airline duffle bag and threw 6 pounds worth of crap (I mean valuable stuff...) into it. But, alls well that ends well, right?!
It was a very fabulous experience!!!


Paula Prass said...

You both did a great job of compiling a packed weekend into an interesting read.

Tasha said...

What a trip! I am in love with that phoebe dress! So good to be tired and inspired, eh?!

Shar said...

Wow! How fun! I've always heard that Chicago was a great city to go to, but now I really want to go. And I definitely want to stay at the Hotel Monaco. But no pet rental for me. I don't do animals.

I love your Phoebe dress. It makes me wish I had a little girl. Maybe next time.

Julie said...

I just found you blog, awesome. I took my company to the event in Chicago last year, did the pitch your product thing. It was an amzing weekend, really learned alot about myself. You guys have awesome style , best wishes for every success.
Thanks for sharing< julie