Archive for March, 2009

Tradeshow chronicles

Posted by at 28 March, 2009, 9:14 am

March 20 1:13-
I’m going to try to keep a running a blog of this trip and post when I can, so dates and times might not be right. It is 1:14 Friday afternoon. I was trying to get on the 12:30 flight to Charlotte but it was full. Flying free is great, but you get what you pay for. No big deal though. Throughout the years of doing this flying stand-by thing, I have learned to just expect it to take all day to get where ever I’m going. “Travel days” are completely written off for me. The next flight to Charlotte is at 2:30 with a Chicago flight leaving Charlotte around 4:10. As long as I make this next flight, I’ll be good to go. Here in the Charleston airport, wireless costs money, so here I sit, NOT connected on my laptop and writing to you, but checking my email from my phone so if I NEED to address something major (like a killer HARO query) I can fire this sucker up when I get to Charlotte where there is free wireless! Hey… I didn’t get this far by throwing money away ya know!

10:15 Yeah, I made to Chicago!!! I got in at 6:05. Not bad huh? There was a lot of running through concourses to make it here, but I did it! I checked in to my hotel and then went to have some sushi. This hotel is safe and in a safe area so don’t worry, BUT having said that… it is by far the WORST hotel I have ever stayed at. There is a reason why this was the cheapest hotel in a 5 mile radius of the McCormick center. Again… I didn’t get this far by throwing money away. (Although, just between you and I, this is one of those times where I might have been a little penny wise and pound foolish) I’m not too proud to acknowledge my mistakes. Seriously… it REALLY is BAD!! I’ll only be here to sleep, so it is fine just fine. We’ll chat tomorrow.

3/21 9:31 Today was a wonderful day! It didn’t start out so great, but it finished fabulously. When I arrived, I found my pallet of shrink wrapped boxed sitting on a concrete floor. Every tradeshow is different, and I thought that most (including this one) included at least some pipe and maybe draping with the cost of the booth. (My fault for not reading every stitch of the fine print.) The cost of the booth included at 10×10 piece of concrete floor. EVERYTHING else was extra or you had to provide. The good thing about tradeshows is that they are used to last minute changes, so I simply had to go to the office and order some pipe. I had my own drape so it was not that big of a deal. It did catch me off guard at 8:30 this morning however.

I want to take a moment to do a little shout out to my fellow “Mompreneurs” . This is a testament to the quality and talent we have on the board when I say that every time I meet a fellow Mompreneur, I am BLOWN AWAY. A few weeks ago when I was in Denver, I caught up with Gwen Austin, inventor the RC Color Bugs and Oprah’s Next Big Thing finalist ( and when we got together, we talked like we knew each other for years. She put things in perspective like only a fellow inventor mompreneur could. Today I met up with Eva Winger  and once again, was humbled by the knowledge that she has for the “process”. I want to give a major “hat’s off” to you gals and to say that I’m proud to be associated with such an incredible group of women. It’s one thing to chat on an online forum such as and gain a sense of who people are and what they do, but when you actually meet these gals that you have come to “know” online and they are even more amazing in person, it just makes me feel so honored to be a part of such a spectacular group. 

So it’s bed time now. I’ve got a big (long) day tomorrow and can’t wait to get in there and sell some Grill Charms™!

3/23/09 11:30 So day 2 of the show is over and I have been constantly reminded of the main reason why attending tradeshows is so important. It is not the orders necessarily, but the contacts you make. When exhibiting at a show, you get to talk to people in your industry that have contacts and connections that are sometimes more valuable then the orders themselves. I was introduced to a family member of one of the largest grilling companies in the world, and he LOVES my product. I’m not sure what if anything will come of that, but just the fact that he knows of me and might be able to put me in touch with the “right” people is invaluable. There were some big buyers that stopped by like Bed, Bath and Beyond, JC Penny and HSN. I have tons of leads to follow up on when I get home and a few orders. This show is little different then Atlanta. At this show, very few orders are placed. Most of the buyers are from larger companies and the “dance” you do is… Intro, Schpeel, Exchange information, Follow Up, HOPEFULLY become a vendor, fill out a ton of paperwork, PO. The Atlanta show had more independent retailers, so I was dealing with the owner of the store most of the time, and he/she had the credit card in hand to place the order. You don’t see Mr. Bed Bath and Beyond whipping out the ol’credit card. I’m learning so much. If you do go to a show, find out what kind of show it is so you are not disappointed and most importantly, prepared for what you are about to walk into. Yesterday I saw Tyler Florence of the food network speak and today I saw and took a picture of Paul Deen. Since I was working the booth alone at the time, I didn’t have time to stand in the mile long line to get my picture taken with Paula Deen, but I snapped a quick shot of her on the way back from the bath room


So far, one of the highlights on the trip was meeting fellow “Mompreneur”® Eva Winger (Lizzie00) and MaryKay (kubit2me) The three of us went to dinner last night and just had a total blast!

(Phyllis was going to join us, but just couldn’t get away) It is amazing just how much us gal inventors are a like. We are a special, strange, rare and wonderful breed. We all sat down and talked like we had known each other for years. A tie for a “highlight” was when my husband popped into the show yesterday. He had a long layover in Cincinnati so he hopped on a flight to Chicago for a few hours. He was able to walk the show and just see how amazing and grand it is. I must admit, it was a bit weird seeing him in “my world”. Talk about world’s colliding! He is rarely around when I am in full-on Grill Charms™ mode. I think he was impressed with the whole thing and said he was proud of me, which means a lot coming from him. I know he’s proud, but I also know that there are times when he wished I could be more of the wife and mother that I was before Grill Charms™ was born. I think he was genuinely in awe. That did my heart good and put a real spring in my step. The mommy guilt sometimes weighs heavy on my mind, but seeing Jason, talking to him and commiserating with my fellow Mompreneurs made it all okay again… even if only for a little while. I’ve got one more day and then I pack up the booth tomorrow night and hopefully will get a flight out Wednesday. I couldn’t have done this show without the help of my mom and dad. THANK YOU both so much for taking such wonderful care of the girls while I was off chasing my dream. I love you!

Good night….

3/24 10:20 So the show is over. My head is in swimming. There are a lot of potential customers and reps that promised a lot of things and I’ve been around the block enough to know not to expect or believe most of what you hear, but I am still very optimistic. I do know one thing for certain, and that is if you are a product orientated business, going to tradeshows (especially the bigger and most prestigious of your industry) is extremely beneficial. Not only do I THINK I will have covered my costs, but I know I have the contacts needed to either take my business to the next level, license the product and at very least, license future products. These shows are where you will meet the people necessary to catapult your business where you want it to be.

Eva just did a radio show about the show and she totally hooked me up!!!  Check it out!

Well, I’ve got to hopefully catch a plane in the morning so I’ll say goodnight for now and talk more back in Chucktown.

3/25 4:20 What a whirlwind! Right now I’m sitting at Just Fresh again, like I did back in the day. Here is how my day went. Up at 5:45AM, caught the shuttle to the airport, had no problem getting to Charleston, at 2:30 my husband and youngest daughter picked me up, my hubby had to make phone calls so I drove. I went straight to the library to return a few DVD’s that were in the minivan and were about to be overdue, got in the carpool line and picked up my oldest from kindergarten, ran home, dropped off my husband, quickly got the girls changed into their leotard’s, got them drinks and snacks for the road, and threw their dance bag’s in the car. On the drive over, I called Eva and hired her to work on licensing my next “invention” because I just simply don’t have enough time in the day to do it myself. Now here I sit on the other side of town, suitcases still in the car, trying to work while the girls are at tap, ballet and gymnastics. Talk about going from Donald Trump to June Cleaver in less than 60 seconds! Such is the life of a “Mompreneur” ® It is REALLY great to be home.

3/28 11:30 Now that I’m home the work has really begun. I am sorting through the tons of leads from stores, manufacturer’s reps, media, distributors and folks that just plan ol want a piece of the action. In retrospect, one thing that amazed me was the people that came out of the woodwork to get in on the action. With all of the sales reps I met, I will pretty much have a lot of the US covered, which will hopefully help tremendously. I have been doing all my own sales since the beginning, so I’m cautiously optimistic about having help in that arena. I’m now following up on all my leads and filling orders that need to be shipped April 1. We’ll chat soon!

Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charms™

Category : The Journey of Grill Charms!

Animoto, Housewares and Guilt

Posted by at 16 March, 2009, 10:17 am

Hello hello!

Sorry for the long hiatus, but I was out west on our annual ski vacation. It’s a good thing that vacation was paid for last year! Like most Americans we have cut back on a lot of non essentials, but we’ve been doing that vacation for 8 years now, so it’s something we book and pay for ahead of time. Hopefully by this time next year things will be a little different.

For those Facebookers, I have finally gotten around to doing a biz page. Please be a fan of Grill Charms™ :

While on the Grill Charms™ Facebook page, check out the video…. How cool is that??!!! Okay, here is a little secret. That video took absolutely zero technological knowhow! You all know I’m technological handicapped, but even I could do that ALL BY MYSELF…. (Okay…so I had the help of a little website called

Oh, in case you are not a Facebooker, here…. check it out yourself:

If you go to  you can upload any pictures you have, add text, pick a song and within minutes have a professional looking video that you can post on your website, youtube, Facebook, anywhere! It can be used for biz or just for fun photos. I know this sounds like a commercial, but I swear, I just love it that much. The fact that it was sooooo easy got me hooked. There are free “sample” videos you can do, but to do a full length one is only $3.00. I totally thought it was worth it.

So we got back from skiing this weekend and now panic is setting in for the BIG tradeshow in Chicago. It’s the International Home and Housewares Show March 22-24. I will fly up on Friday, set up my booth on Saturday and be ready to rock and roll for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Hopefully by Tuesday night I will be able to pack up my booth and be on a flight home Wednesday. This particular show is the BIG dance. Here is a video of last year just to give you an idea of the scale:

I have to give a big shout out to my friends and family for helping me with the girls while I’m gone. I don’t know what I would do without you!! I’m going to miss my 4 year olds first soccer game on Saturday, so I’m not really feeling like “mom of the year” right now, but this is the path I have chosen and some sacrifices must be made. No time for too much mommy guilt… I just need to suck it up and press on. (I’m saying this more for myself, then for anyone else). The life of a “Mompreneur” is not something to be entered into lightly.

Yeah…. I’m in WAY over my head, but that’s kinda how I have felt since I started this crazy company, so “over my head” is sort of the place I live and have grown accustomed to being. I’ve prepared as much as I can, I’ve got my press kits done, my wholesale pricing sheets ready, the kids taken care of, my sell sheets, brochures and business cards labeled, my booth and equipment staged in Chicago, the hotel booked, the rental car reserved and my flights confirmed. It’s pretty much all over but the selling. I’ll give you the complete rundown when it’s over. Talk to you in a week or so!

Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charms™

Category : The Journey of Grill Charms!

Desperate times call for…smart measures

Posted by at 13 March, 2009, 8:04 am

I don’t know about you, but I have had it up to here with hearing how tough the economy is and how sucky the job market is in return. It’s a fact. Can we move on now? Because dwelling and moping gets us nowhere.

It is time to stop moaning about why your resume is getting no clicks and your emails are not getting responded to. It is time to be smart. Let me share this story with you. As a freelance writer I get a lot of work from my current client base. But I also find work on craigslist, mediabistro, morning coffee and other job boards. I am also always on the look out for new places to find jobs and often click on links within sites because you never know. The other day I saw a posting for a full-time job but thought perhaps they might be open to working remotely. But when I went to the link it was a placement agency and they wanted me to spend like an hour filling out this ridiculous questionnaire. I knew that would not be a good use of my time so I did some digging, found the hiring manager and emailed her my questions directly. She was out of the office so I got an auto-response directing me to another person. So I emailed her. Well, she got back to me immediately and said the position was not open to working remotely and the salary was below my ask. But, she did have a freelance position open elsewhere and she wanted to put me in for it.

So not only did I not have to waste my time filling out all the online forms (only to find out the job would not have fit my criteria), she directly submitted me to her client. I am still waiting to hear, but regardless, I made a connection and now have someone who will continue to look for me. And it was all because I decided to be smart and direct and take a chance. So go out there, be positive and be direct. Now more than ever, you need to take a chance to get noticed. Who can disagree with that?!

Category : Freelancing | Networking

If it Ain’t Broke…

Posted by at 4 March, 2009, 12:19 pm

As a freelance writer, I am always looking for my next gig. From networking to checking websites, this is practically a full-time job in itself. It is also overwhelming and exhausting. You always feel like there is more you can do, more places you should be listing your resume, more sites you should be trolling for jobs. And in my haste, I have gone to sites and spent hours uploading my work only to find out that potential clients offer what isn’t even minimum wage for most of the jobs they post. This is my own fault because I should have done my due diligence in the first place and even though a site may have been recommended to me, I should have perused to see what the pay was before wasting all that time. The bottom line is there are sites that pay off for me and I need to continue to know that they will pay dividends.

And you should do the same. I know that I command a pretty penny for my services. I have 15 years experience doing Marketing and Copywriting so where I might look for a job, is vastly different from where a newbie might look. And when I went freelance, I did adjust my rate and take things that paid less because I needed to build up my portfolio. This has helped me get work I might not have gotten before so it was worth it to work for a little less. But you also need to understand your value and have confidence in what you do. If you keep settling and working for pennies, you will never get back to where you deserve to be.

So don’t waste time trying all these new things and stressing over your next gig. Use what worked in the past for you and trust that it will again. Have faith in yourself, write everyday – a blog post, an email, a letter – anything to keep the juices flowing. If you write it, they will come.

Category : Freelancing

Sweden, Chicago and Hope

Posted by at 2 March, 2009, 9:51 am

New stuff:

I have checked with my guy across the pond and Grill Charms have officially arrived in Sweden! It’s funny how other people find different uses and value for the same product. Apparently over there, they are big sausage eaters. There are a million different kinds of sausages and grilling them is getting increasingly popular, and you guessed it… they can never tell which is which because they all look similar. Who knew that Grill Charms™ would solve the age old Swedish dilemma of whose sausage is whose!?

The international Home and Housewares show is coming up in a few weeks and last minute preparations are going on with that. I have figured out how I am going to manage with the kids and all I have to say is THANK GOD FOR FAMILY! I have been really stressed over who was going to help with the kids, each going to different schools and my hubby having to work and them having soccer, ballet, gymnastics, school etc…. But my mom and pa have totally taken a load off my mind by offering to do “anything I need them to do”. Thanks Mom, Thanks Pa!!!

I finished doing over 50 press kits to send up to Chicago that will be placed in the press room. For those of you going to your first show, make sure you find out where the press room is and how to get your press kits included. 99% of the time, it’s free and it’s a great way to get your stuff in front of all the right media for your field. The media always goes to the tradeshows to see what’s hot and new at the show, so if you are a new exhibitor, you want to make use your information is there for them.

As if I don’t have enough on my plate already, I’ve gone off on a little tangent and started another little project. Okay.. here it goes… The photographer that took my photo on the “about us” page
of my site as well as the one of the girls and I on my “Pink” page
is a friend and neighbor. For a photography class she was taking she needed a subject for an assignment, so she asked me. One of the pictures that came out of the assignment is a very moving and powerful (and a little shocking) photo that we entitled “Hope”. For just a tad bit of background, the reconstructive surgery that I had for my breast cancer is called DIEP. It is a relatively new and “all natural” procedure that does not involve the use of any implants. The resulting boobies look and feel “natural”. The primary market for this photo is to reconstructive surgeons that perform this procedure as the scars in the photo are completely un “photo shopped”. It is not only a powerful and inspirational photo, but it also shows the results of the procedure (to some degree). If you’d like to see the photo, here it is: WARNING… PG 13!
Me being the eternal entrepreneur though, I can’t help but try to think of other markets for it. I would love to find a great “home” for “Hope” on the cover of a best selling non fiction book about breast cancer. (of course, a % of all money raised will be going to find a cure) Okay… so these are the thoughts that keep me up at night. Ta Ta for now!

Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charms™

Category : The Journey of Grill Charms!