Category: Podcast

Vanessa Victoria comes from a rich history of educators, scientists, craftsmen, artists and entrepreneurs.   She worked with her sister to launch Nuvula, a new and exciting concept in fashion.  The company started as an avant-garde experiment aimed at joining all of the arts with positive social and environmental messages coded in poetry.  Their mantra: art, responsible manufacturing and true sustainability.

Several years ago, I was out shopping during the Christmas holidays and I stumbled upon a line of clothing that literally stopped me in my tracks because it was so unique.  I was compelled to write a note to myself that this was a brand I wanted to watch.  The overall design of colors, textures and structures really spoke to me.  A few months ago, I found my note and decided to reach out to Vanessa because I really   wanted to know the backstory and the inspiration behind the product line.

During our conversation, Vanessa and I discussed the importance of having a holistic vision and mission which permeate every step in the design and manufacturing.  We also talked about how critical it is to bring your own voice to the table through product design.

 

Her Philosophy

Wear your imagination.

 

Her Advice to Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs

  • In the beginning and throughout, use great effort and work and show commitment to your work
  • Be frugal with your capital and put it in the right places when you’re launching
  • Think thoroughly to make sure your product brings something new; gather ideas for what people need and better those products and bring them to the planet in a wholesome way

 

Links
http://nuvula.com/

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Denise Stern is a serial entrepreneur who saw a need for quality newborn care after the birth of her twins.  She leads an elite team of Baby Nurses (RN’s & LPN’s), Newborn Care Providers and Multiple’s Specialists that provides evidence based education to new parents and they provide nurturing care to newborns.  Let Mommy Sleep is built on the idea that families can thrive when parents are able to sleep at night.  Denise has a become both a standard bearer and a change maker in her industry.  By allowing parents sleep at night, families can thrive during their day.

We discussed the keys to becoming an empowered woman.   With regard to creating a new product or service, a key takeaway for this episode is that inspiration can be drawn from investigating those transitional points in life that create new or surprising needs.   Once you have this outlined, start brainstorming on unique ways to meet those needs.

Her Philosophy

  • Starting a company is like eating glass and staring into the abyss.’ You have to do lots of things you don’t like.  ~Elon Musk
  • The first one through the door gets the bloodiest.

Her Advice to Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs

  • Lead by example.
  • Hire an awesome staff and highlight them as excellent role models when you can.
  • Do the boring stuff first.

Links
www.letmommysleep.com

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Leslie Pierson is passionate about solving life’s challenges through product design.  She created and launched The Good Hangups Reusable Magnetic Hanging System.

During our conversation, we discussed manufacturing challenges as well as lessons learned about crowdfunding through kickstarter.

 

Her Philosophy

Trust your crazy ideas and then you hustle, hustle, hustle to make it happen.

 

Her Advice to Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs

  • To find good suppliers:
    • Ask the following questions:  What are your lead times?  What are the regular costs and the shipping costs?  What additional fees will be charged?  What is the lead time needed  to get the materials?
    • Get samples of each material prior to committing to a supplier.  Determine which supply is best for your materials
    • Make sure you have qualified backup suppliers as well.
  • If you can speed up the process for making or assembling your product, your cost will be produced

Links
www.goodhangups.com/

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Molly Gordon is a Master Certified Coach known for her creativity, humor, and commitment to helping clients get off the merry-go-round of serial self-improvement and into the slipstream of infinite possibility. Her current focus is helping men and women who are working on large scale world problems ranging from climate change to hunger to terrorism, helping them to tap into the creativity, resilience, courage, and wisdom they need to keep up the good work without burnout.

During our conversation, we discussed Molly’s journey to becoming a coach. We also talked about getting into the right mindset so that we can achieve our objectives.

 

Her Philosophy

Out beyond right and wrong there is a field and I will meet you there.     ~Rumi

 

Her Advice to Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs

  • Just do stuff because you are infinitely creative and resilient.  So, there are more ideas where that one came from.
  • See what happens, evaluate and then go and show up and try the next thing.
  • Remember that delight in the entrepreneurial journey is in taking action.  It’s not in trying to figure out how to get it right.

 

Links
http://shaboominc.com/

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Katie Everds is passionate about the outdoors and created the product she always needed but could never find.   She developed and launched The Tillow, a large beach towel combined with a pillow and waterproof storage, to simplify the lives of beach and pool goers.

During our conversation, we discussed strategies for working with manufacturers.  We also talked about how to create a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Her Philosophy

If someone can do this, then why can’t I? There are people out there just like you who are wildly successful.

…always continue to build myself  up and say, “It can be done.”

 

Her Advice to Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs

  • To find a manufacturer, ask around and try to find a contact who can help you
  • When working with manufacturers:  1) Be in constant communication; 2) Get samples prior to full production; 3) make sure the transfer of money happens through reputable and track-able sources;
  • No matter how far along you are, people will continue to doubt you; there seems to be a negative stigma to entrepreneurship
  • Start small – dream big but set your expectations well
  • If you have product idea, try to make a prototype yourself and ask people if they like it; find the feasibility in your product so it’s not a huge waste – listen and adapt
  • Do your research to see if your idea is really something that people want – tell others about the idea and get their reactions
  • How to create a successful Kickstarter campaign:
    • Do a lot of research
    • Realize that your video is very important
    • Promote your campaign –   Spend time developing a strong contact base in order to increase awareness of the campaign
    • Set a reasonable goal; it shouldn’t be too low or too high

 

Her Kickstarter Video

 

Links
www.thetillow.com

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Jenny Mae Miller and Kristine Carlton started their business as pioneering spirits, right out of technical design school.   During their final quarter of school, true to their pioneering spirits and out-of-the box thinking, they started their business with the purchase of four industrial sewing machines.   Through their company, Sewn Product Services, they operate as product developers and production managers servicing the apparel, soft goods, and wearable technologies industries.

Our conversation focuses on service development and highlights the idea of thinking beyond the immediate needs of your customer.  The key question is, “What adjacent services can you create that will minimize your client’s overall hassles?”

Her Advice to Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs

  • Realize that no is the beginning of a conversation, not the end of a conversation.
  • Be able to listen to the quiet voice of intuition that is inside you and follow it.  The stepping stones to our best path are laid out in our intuition.  If we can be quiet and listen to that voice we’ll have a clear map on where to go.

Links

http://www.sewnproductservices.com

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Maryon Attwood is a studio artist who co-founded Cook On Clay ceramics.    She creates specially formulated oven to table platters that withstand thermal shock and can be used safely in the oven, as well as for serving and presentation.

During our conversation Maryon emphasized the importance of quality and introduced the idea that excellence  cannot be separated from consumer expectations.

Her Philosophy

Returning people to the table… as part of the farm to table movement.

Her Advice to Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs

  • If you just do what you know and you believe in what you’re doing, things will be okay at the end of the day.
  • In the first years, it can be very challenging.  You have to be courageous.  You have to be willing to take risks.  You have to be smart.  You have to be thrifty when it counts. Determination is very important.
  • Go for it!  It’s great to be your own boss.
  • Do it while you’re young!

Links

http://www.cookonclay.com

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Sherrill Mosee set out to create an organizational fashion bag for busy women.  As a result, she designed and invented MinkeeBlue totes.  Like many women, she often carried two or three bags to work.   Sherrill came up with a novel design that facilitates consolidation of everything into one bag.  As a result, she has been awarded a patent for her invention.

The idea of creating and launching a product can be very intimidating at first.  There are many challenges that must be overcome.   During our conversation, we discussed the obstacles that Sherrill faced throughout her journey and she provides some great insight on creating solutions through networking.

Her Philosophy

Keep it moving.  Give yourself a chance to see if you idea will work out.

Her Advice to Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs

  • Understand your product category as much as possible
  • Make sure that your idea is unique; figure out how to differentiate yourself
  • Figure out how much money it will take to get started
  • Start off very small and grow from there; Don’t spend a bunch of money initially

Her Biggest Challenge

  • Manufacturing – the challenge was in learning and understanding the costs of developing and manufacturing a bag and getting it shipped; this includes sourcing and receiving raw materials, making the product, packaging, testing, freight charges, fees, etc.

 

Links

minkeeblue.com

Philadelphia Fashion Incubator

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Michelle Moy is the Co-Founder and CEO of Up Dog Toys.  She and her team make functional, cool, modern dog toys for the design savvy pup and owner.  Michelle works full time alongside her husband and Co-Founder/CMO, Billy Shih.  Her favorite co-worker though is her corgi, Odin, who was the main inspiration for starting Up Dog Toys.

Michelle and team started out as a successfully funded Kickstarter in Fall of 2014 and have been growing as a small independent company since.  They are continuing to produce more colors of their first toy, The Odin, and will be expanding their line soon.

In our conversation, we discuss the many fears that can arise and how important it is to get past those fears when starting a new venture.

Her Philosophy

Done is better than perfect.

 

Her Advice to Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs

  • Ask a ton of questions about anything that you don’t know.  Don’t be afraid to speak up and just ask.
  • Be true to yourself.
  • You can do more than you think you can.
  • Stay driven and really believe in yourself.

 

Links

www.updogtoys.com

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Vanessa Chan is an entrepreneur, consultant and angel investor.  She is also co-founder of re.design, a company that brings consumer product innovations to market.  Vanessa’s first product is, tangle-free & stylish headphones, called Loopit.   The launch included a very successful Kickstarter campaign.  Loopit has been featured in such places as The Today Show’s Next Big Thing and QVC.  Vanessa has a B.S.E. from Penn (class of 1994) and a Ph.D. from MIT, both in Materials Science & Engineering.

Vanessa’s product idea fills a great need, is innovative and yet was inspired by the combination of two ordinary items.  What other needs can be filled by combining two unrelated things?  This is a good question to consider for those who are trying to create new products or services.

Her Philosophy

Life’s a journey.  Embrace it.  It’s not about the outcomes.  Those outcomes will come.  If you sit there and fret about the outcomes, you’ll forget the journey.  If you forget the journey, you won’t get the outcomes.

Her Advice to Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs

  • Find your source of inspiration by being observant and interacting with the world
  • For crowdfunding campaigns, use a factory made prototype
  • Embrace the transition to entrepreneurship as a journey this may help to minimize fear; it’s about learning and if you know you’re learning, then there really is no fear.
  • Take the energy, whether it’s positive or negative, that’s being aimed at you and figure out how to harness it so that you can grow as a person
  • Step outside of your comfort zone even though it doesn’t feel good
  • Make sure you understand your costs and the price that a customer is really willing to pay for your product
  • Figure out why you want to be an entrepreneur.  What is it that you want to be doing?  Are you doing this for financial reasons, to learn something, etc.?  Do something that will bring you joy rather than being an entrepreneur because it’s a trendy thing to do.
  • Understand:  1) Are you creating something that people need and want?  and 2) Are you able deliver it at a cost that will allow you to actually make some money?

Links

http://www.redesign.studio/

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