Happy Halloween everyone! Tonight is going to be so much fun.? Disney would be proud; we are representing Peter Pan this evening.? We are going with 2 of my nephews, so we will have Captain Hook, Peter Pan, Wendy and Tinkerbelle wandering the streets of
Charleston tonight!? ?
I totally feel like life is on fast forward.? Iâ€™m getting calls and emails from friends, who have seen the recent article, http://www.goosecreekgazette.com/articles/2007/10/31/community_news/121101nemom.txt?
I have gotten interest from a grilling store in Denver, I met with my graphic designer today to discuss our next round of work (brochures with real products, photos for the website, advertising etcâ€¦) and I received and email from
Taiwan giving me the tracking number of my NEXT 100 sets!!!? One thing I had forgotten to mention about the weekend getaway.? I was talking to the gals about how the response has been so positive that I was worried that 50 sets would not be enough as some people on the waiting list have told me they want to order 5 at a time!? I had tossed around the idea of ordering 100 to be air freighted, but the freight cost would have killed me.? This is where sometimes you just need others to bounce ideas off ?of and you find yourself saying â€œDUH, OF COURSE, why didnâ€™t I think of that??!!!â€? ?
They had suggested ordering 100 sets in bulk with the packaging broken down and I could assemble them here (literally at my kitchen table after the kids go to sleep) to save on freight charges and also labor costs.? ?Shortly after I wrote the last post on Monday, I fired off a quick email to
Taiwan explaining this to them.? They must have already had all the machinery still set up from the little sample run, because I got an email this morning saying that 100 sets where in route as of this morning!? WOW!!!? Now the pressure is ON!? I need product shots (still need really good ones, my last ones didnâ€™t work out like I had hopedâ€¦), I put the pressure on my poor web guy to get my shopping cart / e-commerce / new and improved website done, Iâ€™ve ordered packing supplies such as bubble wrap and boxes for different size ordersâ€¦ my brain is tired tired tired.? Iâ€™m so excited and so scared and so many things all at once, I canâ€™t really think straight.? And then there is the guilty about what I am NOT thinking about.? ?Iâ€™m NOT thinking about gathering the girlâ€™s stuff for trick or treating and NOT doing more with their school and NOT really all there when they talk to me in the car and want to play ISPY.? I can actually now play ISPY while my brain is who-knows-where!? I can actually ISPY on auto pilot.? The norm these days is for me to get in the car and arrive at a destination, and not remember how I got there.? I hope other Mompreneurs are doing the same thingâ€¦then I wonâ€™t feel so bad!? ?
Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charmsâ„¢? www.grillcharms.com
This is kinda 4 blogs in one.? I just kept a running?journal and decided to post all at once.??What a BLAST!!?
October 26, 2007?
Mompreneurs Weekend Getaway!
Today has been quite a crazy day already.? This is the weekend of the Mompreneurs getaway in PA so Iâ€™m sitting here at the airport waiting for my flight.? My morning started like thisâ€¦ I had an email waiting for me this morning from Taiwan giving me the FedEx Tracking number of my first pre-production samples!! YIPEE!!!? I am so excited and scared to death!? They just HAVE to be right!? I have had samples of my Grill Charmsâ„¢ by themselves but pre-production samples are samples of the whole kit and caboodle.? (The complete set, in the packaging, with my graphics, all set and ready to go)? They are like the true â€œdress rehearsalâ€ before doing a full production run.? I know when they get here Iâ€™m going to be terrified to open them.? He has sent 2 complete boxes and if they are to my liking, then we will do our first production.? If there is something wrongâ€¦ (I donâ€™t even want to think about it) but if there is something wrong, then that means more time and more money.? So that was at 8:00 this morning.? Then at 9:00 I got a phone call from a local reporter doing a story based on my Mompreneurs Press Release.? Yesterday I received an email from the editor asking if they could interview me for the story.? I had suggested 2:00 yesterday afternoon (during nap time of course) but he had asked if this morning would be okay.? â€œCertainlyâ€ I saidâ€¦ (I donâ€™t ever want to inconvenience the press!) My flight is at 12:16, so after emailing Taiwan about how happy I was to hear the news about my pre-production samples, I put on Doraâ€¦ or was it Oobie? anyway, I put the kids in front of the TV and hopped in the shower real quick.?? Okayâ€¦ You know meâ€¦ the queen of TMI, but Iâ€™ve got to keep it real hereâ€¦ I knew Iâ€™d be nervous on the phone with the reporter and I didnâ€™t want to â€œpitâ€ my outfit I was wearing to PA, so to keep calm and cool I did my interview locked away in my home office upstairs in my â€œunmentionablesâ€.? The interview went really well I THINK and I donâ€™t think she could tell that I sweating bullets half naked while my girls were downstairs jumping on my bed just one wrong move away from the emergency room!? My husband (and biggest fan) was down there managing the situation so I wasnâ€™t too worried.? ?
So now here I am at the airport with a little more stress.? My husband is a pilot, so I fly freeâ€¦? Thatâ€™s only a good thing when you actually get on a flight!? We are always stand-by which is an adventure all unto itself.? Right now Iâ€™m trying to get on the direct Philly flight, which is now delayed 30 minutes and oversold.? I have learned from years of experience though, that this doesnâ€™t mean I wonâ€™t get on, it just means that the next 30 minutes are nail-biters.? Will I make it???? Will I not??? Will I have to go through Charlotte? Maybe DC?? Will I get there today?? Maybe tonight?? Maybe tomorrow?? So here I sit typing away trying not to think too much.? Oh, while I was here I did get another little ounce of business taken care of.? I scheduled an appointment with my patent attorney.? The final draft of my utility patent is ready for my signature, so Iâ€™ll do that Monday while the kids are in motherâ€™s morning out.? Of course she said â€œmake sure and bring a check!â€? I wouldnâ€™t dream of arriving empty handed.? Okay, I guess thatâ€™s all I have for nowâ€¦? Iâ€™m probably just going to keep a running blog all weekend and post it all at once on Monday.? I canâ€™t wait to get up there!? Actually, just sitting here alone at the airport is kinda fun.? The girls are at Chuck-E-Cheese with daddy, mommy has some â€œme timeâ€, life is good! Now if I can just get on that flight!!! To be continuedâ€¦..?Yipee!? I made it!!? (First try I might add!)?
October 27, 2007
Here I am in the hotel with my roomies Janene (Trending Solutions) and Susan (Ebizgirl).? Today we went to QVC Studios for a studio tour and it was a hoot!? What a well oiled retail machine!? It was a riot, halfway through the tour someone in the group (not ours) asked our tour guide how the vendors get on QVC.? The guide made mention of the product searches and made a comment about Oprah doing her search there.? Of course I had to pipe up and say â€œI was here for that!!â€? She then said â€œOh, do you have a product?â€? And I said â€œWhy yes I do as a matter of factâ€¦.â€ And went into a 60 second infomercial!? It was soooo funny!? We are having such a great time.? Dinner last night was unbelievable.? We went to a really nice steak house down the road and tonight, itâ€™s Italian, yum yum!? It was so nice to sleep in and not have to worry about getting anyoneâ€™s breakfast but mine.? ?
October 28, 2007
I am back in Charleston already!? Where did the weekend go???!!!? Yesterday afternoon we took a tour of a local winery and Susan discovered that she actually likes it! ?She was particularly excited because that meant she could partake in her new favorite variety with dinner.? We had such a blast during dinner and got tons accomplished.? He worked at a feverous pace in planning the next getaway. (Maybe
Chicago in the spring) There is an entire itinerary that will be sent to Pat and Ellen to look over. ?This morning we took a field trip to the Philly Ikea.? That in itself takes a full weekend!? My flight was at 2:00 so I was dropped off at noon to leave plenty of time to get through airport security while they went into downtown
Philadelphia.? All weekend I was amazed at the wonderful ideas and knowledge that was shared.? We took turns stating a problem or issue in our companies and we would collectively brainstorm until we came up with a solutionâ€¦ or at least beat the issue to death!? I think in 1 comment Janene single handedly increased Susanâ€™s business, built brand loyalty and solved her staffing issue all at the same time!? There were eureka moments through-out the weekend.? I know I have a lot of work to do implementing all the fantastic ideas that were thrown around.? I needed to have my notepad out and ready at all times.? It just amazed me what the collective mommy mind can accomplish!!? See yâ€™all next year!!!?
October 29, 2007
Itâ€™s 9:11 and the FedEx guy just left.? I canâ€™t lookâ€¦.? Jason has the box half way opened and the girls needed some more apple slices, so he is too preoccupied with them.? So there the box sitsâ€¦? Oh, I need to take a picture, hold onâ€¦. Alright… Iâ€™m going to tell him to take them outâ€¦(I feel sickâ€¦ heâ€™s giving me the fake drum rollâ€¦)? OMG THEY LOOK AWESOME!!!!? They look BETTER then they did in my head!!? I canâ€™t believe it!!!? Boy oh boy do I have tons to doâ€¦? Uh-ohâ€¦ Iâ€™m late taking the kids to school, not time to celebrate, gotta go!!!?
Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charmsâ„¢? www.grillcharms.com
I’m quietly getting some work done while my children are playing “paleontologist” this morning. They each have a compacted dirt egg on which to perform their archeological dig. The 5 year old just finished and found her buried dinosaur. I overheard their simple, but powerful, conversation:
3 yr. old to 5 yr old: “WOW Mirmir, I’m so PROUD of you.”
5 yr. old to 3 yr. old: “Yup, C-buds, all you have to do is NEVER give up. If you give you, you won’t get it. So just don’t give up. OK”
It was the sweetest,? most heartfelt conversation. We can learn so much from our children just by listening.
Not to mention it’s SO nice to have something come out of their mouths that I’m proud to say we’ve passed down (as opposed to the “DAMMIT” my daughter exclaimed last week as we walked up to her kindergarten gate, and when I was shocked, simply explained that she had learned it from me).
I did my first real impromptu interview this past weekend and it had nothing to do with Grill Charmsâ„¢!? Both my mom and I are breast cancer survivors so every year we do the Susan G Komen Race for a Cure 5K.? My mom and a group walk and this year I ran.? Last year I had only had my surgery 2 months prior, so I walked, but this year my littlest sister and some friends ran.? About a minute or so after crossing the finish line I had a microphone in my face.? It was such a GREAT experience having to think on my feet.? Itâ€™s wonderful practice for when Oprah comes calling!?? Here is how it wentâ€¦?
It was a lot of fun being interviewed; I just wish I didnâ€™t look like total cr-p!? This just goes to show that you never know when you will have to be â€œonâ€ and as a â€œMompreneurâ€? I know there will be many more times when â€œthink on your feetâ€ skills will come handy.? I have a lot to work on, but all and all Iâ€™m happy with my first time on camera.? More importantly, ladies, if you are overdue for your Mammoâ€¦ Make that appointment NOW!?
Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charmsâ„¢? www.grillcharms.com
I share my startup journey on a blog about starting a clothing line from scratch. One of my blog readers sent us a scathing (and unsolicited) critique of our Baby Fabulous website – well, she really spent the majority of it letting us know that everything about our STYLE, from our business name, logo, & color scheme, to the designs on our shirts, is “unappealing as a whole”. So, walk on by, we’re not going to please everyone, it takes a zillion styles to make the world go ’round.
But the part that stung a bit was her personal critique of me (based on my personal blog I can only assume) “you hold yourself back WAY too much”.
I wanted to scream against that at the same time I wanted to face it. Part of the selfish reasons for doing the startup clothing blog was to hold myself accountable – make myself feel like if I was going to be talking the talk, I’d have to keep everything on the up-n-up. And here one of my readers was, holding me accountable and basically telling me I talk too much of the talk and need to keep walking, and all I wanted to do was rant about the billion ways she’s wrong (I have launched my own products, have a celebrity clientele, have a strong customer base, lots of press, and on and on!!! No one who “holds themselves back” goes that far, right?)
But after taking a day or so with this, I’ve given myself a new perspective. I DO spend moments of my day that aren’t focused on the business. But I DO do enough. I try my hardest and I try my hardest not to lose my focus on my family; the whole reason behind all of this business stuff. A LOT of my energy goes to my kids and I’m going to remain unapologetic about this. So the business grows a little slower while my kids are little and this precious time with them is flying by…there’ll be time enough for growth as the years go on, and they’re off to school more often…
Iâ€™ve come to realize that this whole mompreneur? thing is similar to playing dress up and living a double life.? Today I had a meeting with my trademark attorney and you would have thought I was dressed up for Halloween a little too early.? I left the gym today to drop the girls off at school looking very unlike myself.? Instead of the usual Old Navy T-shirt, board shorts and flip flops, I had on a black suit/skirt, a pearl necklace (not real, but it looks like it), matching pearl earrings (also not real) and a decent pair of black pumps.? The entire morning, you would have thought I had on a bozo the clown suit!? Donâ€™t get me wrong, Iâ€™m not complaining AT ALL about the comments; I actually think itâ€™s really fun!? I feel like Iâ€™m living this double life.? Iâ€™m â€œRegular-Momâ€ most of the time, but every once in a while I change into â€œSuper Mompreneur!â€? Very few people (outside friends and family) know anything about what I do.? (IE, the people at the gym I go to, the people at the girlâ€™s preschool etcâ€¦)? One of the teachers said as I picked the girls up today â€œI donâ€™t know where you went or what you did, but Iâ€™m sure you did it well!â€? I enjoy dressing up now just as much as I did when I was a little girl.? I LOVE being a mom more then anything, but I also get a big kick out of â€œplaying dress upâ€ and meeting with attorneys over French Vanilla Coffee in their big fancy conference room downtown and talking in big fancy words that I can actually follow and strategizing about courses of action to protect myself when larger companies try to infringe on my intellectual property.?? Now here I am, back to my t-shirt, board shorts and no shoes pounding away at my computer while the girls nap and have quiet time.? It was a ton of fun this morning playing dress up.?
Onto what actually happened at the meeting.? The trademark attorney what I found through my local SBA office, has been working with me via email and knew my case.? I had submitted my trademark and it was initially rejected.? This a very common, but I decided instead of trying to fight it myself and risk the possibility of losing, Iâ€™d just fork out the bucks and pay the professionals to fight my battle for me.? He said we have a very strong case and the USPTOâ€™s reason for rejection (that my trademark name was too â€œdescriptiveâ€) was something that we can most likely overcome and is a rejection he gets a good bit.? Because I went to him through the SBA, he did not charge me anything for this consultation or any of the investigation so far.? He is even going to submit my response to the rejection for free.? The meter will start running for anything he does after that, but I am so appreciative that he is doing all this work now without starting the clock.? It was a really good meeting and I do feel like he will win my case for me.? Of course he could not guarantee anything, but based on his past experience, he thinks we are in the clear.?
The travel schedule for our Boca Beth Program has been a whirlwind!? Now, with only a handful of local and state-related trainings and concerts?left in 2007, I hope to settle into my blogging on a more regular basis and share some great things we have been sharing nationwide with fellow educators.
It’s funny, in every presentation I make, the Dora, Diego, Dragon Tales shows get mentioned … these children’s programs have truly opened up the eyes of parents to show them that little children CAN learn a second language quickly, it CAN be a fun process, it CAN be done before middle school (and should be!).
Now, our jobs as parents and teachers (we are our children’s first teacher on this earth), is to interact with our children, make the journey of learning fun, and model great behavior when it comes to all aspects of life.? Be it keeping our cool during tense traffic, lending a helping hand to an elderly person in a store, being kind to a mentally challenged child in a public setting or simply picking up garbage along the side of our public roadways, reading a good book during a few minutes of down time?……….. our children are watching our every move, and we need to be on our best game as often as possible.
When I train a group of teachers, bringing to them my passion for second language learning among the young children of today, I have other things on my agenda that need to be shared.? Yes, I want all of them to realize the many benefits derived from introducing two languages simultaneously into a young child’s life.? I also want these fellow educators to realize these following points:
I love what I do – training others who impact the lives of children daily.? I love what I share – bilingual music and movement that provides a fun and easy way for parents and teachers to introduce Spanish & English to little children ages 1 – 10.? I hope you love what you are doing to make this world a better place.
Happy Educating!? ?Sea feliz educando!
Monday night I actually made a wonderful â€œsales callâ€ without even meaning too.? This story just illustrates that when you are passionate and believe in what you are doing, people respond.? I had dropped the girls off at their gymnastics, tap and ballet class, so I had some time to spare.? I went wandering around a shopping plaza looking for something to spend my money on.? I went into a very interesting looking store that I had not noticed before.? The gal behind the counter was so friendly and talkative; we both just started yuckin it up.? She then made a comment about her vendors. ?Because the majority of my first
PO will not be here until after the first of the year, I had not planned on doing any wholesale orders or even sales efforts until I had my product in off the boat, so my mind was on information gathering, not sales.? When the gal behind the counter (who just so happened to be the owner) said something about her vendors, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to ask her a few questions about what she likes in a vendor.? I had absolutely NO intention on giving any sort of sales pitch; I am just always thirsty for information.? I want to be the vendor all retailers want to deal with, so what better way then to ask a retailer what they look for in a vendor.? Curiosity got the best of her, and she asked about my product.? ?
As any good inventor does, I had a sample (several) in my purse for just such an occasion. I told her my story, showed her my stuff and she said right then and there, she wanted to carry Grill Charmsâ„¢ as soon as I had them!? I was so blown away by her enthusiasm for my little product; I was walking on air the rest of the night!? She even said that she had friends who had retail stores in Maine and
Atlanta that would want Grill Charmsâ„¢ too!!!? The moral of the story, ALWAYS be prepared and just talk, talk, talk.? You never know where a conversation will lead.? Iâ€™m still on cloud nine!!?
My daughter received a “Horseland” movie for her 5th birthday and the theme of the first story is “Doing your personal best”. The whole concept is “compete against yourself only”. Every design I create, every trade show I do, even every web page I create, I’m constantly trying to remind myself to do just “do my thing”.
Walking in to set up for our first trade show was very overwhelming. All these BIG companies having BIG booths built up by professional builders and there we are, hand-carrying a couple boxes of samples to our booth – but it didn’t matter. We weren’t competing against them, we were there to show our stuff, to do our thing. We had boatloads of confidence and we got orders!
My daughter’s movie served as a nice reminder for me and got us talking about practice and doing the work it takes to be ready when it’s time for the “big show”. I think this is a crucial thing to remember when starting a business because it’s easy to look at the competition and start comparing yours to theirs. But you can’t do this too much. Sure, you have to study the market, know what’s out there and what prices the industry are holding, but you have to do your own thing. It’s how you’ll set yourself apart as a startup.
For our next trade show, competing against myself means how much better can I make our booth this time? How much can I improve our product offering, our display, our presentation? I can only measure our improvement based on how far we’ve come and whether or not I feel I did my personal best.
Now that I’m back into the groove of my business after summer break (yeah, I know, it’s waaaay past summer – but I’m just now starting to feel like I’m getting a routine again!), I’ve been paying a lot more attention to my hubby’s processes. And I have to admit – he gets things done, even if his methods make me cringe sometimes!
It’s obvious that hubby and I have two very different approaches to life, and that carries through to the business. We both get things done, but they’re done in completely different ways.
We’re learning from each other though! He’s learning to plan a lot more, and is becoming more organized. I’m taking weekends off and am trying to cut down on my research-filled client responses, focusing just on the question at hand. Working together has definitely shown us that merging our approaches a bit can actually make us more efficient overall in the long run.