Biz How-To’s

Biz How-To: Cheekie Charlie

by Cat on December 10, 2012

It’s putting one in front of the other when you are building a business, big or small. And I’m especially partial to hearing about how fellow moms find their way to launching a biz or product. Bree at the studio had a chance to ask Carla of Cheekie Charlie about the very steps and inspiration in the creation of her adorable and inventive “bibsies”….
 I see that you were a designer turned stay-at-home mom. How did your previous experience in design help you in getting a business off of the ground?
I moved to NYC from Dallas to pursue design. I graduated from FIT and started working in branding as soon as I graduated. I met my husband at work actually, we both share the same passion for design. As a designer turned stay at home mom, I wanted to combine my two loves: my daughter Charlie & design. Having a background in branding and a supportive and creative husband helped me have the confidence and motivation to start Cheekie Charlie
You spoke a bit about wanting to create a product that makes mom’s lives a little less hectic. Was there a specific ‘aha’ lightning bulb moment when you realized that this was it?
Once we had Charlie, I knew I wanted to stay at home and raise her. She was always drooling/teething and I hated those big ugly bibs. She actually hated them more, she would tug, yank and pull them off. I was tired of changing her outfits from excessive drooling and I was over the regular bibs. I just wanted simple, functional and modern. Charlie & her personality was the biggest inspiration for the brand. She definitely has her cheeky moments and the brand is all about creating an unexpected spin on everyday basics.
In what ways did being a mom to a newborn help to you understand what qualities a customer might be looking for?  
I quickly learned that time moved incredibly fast, and trying to find ways to make everyday tasks easy/faster was a constant struggle.
So I wanted to create something to make life with a baby a little less hectic, less wardrobe changes, less laundry but still be affordable. 
What tools did you use in order to launch your own business? 
Having a design background helped tremendously. I was able to manage the entire designs process:
From sketching out the bib & onesie set, sourcing patterns, creating a logo and all the graphics for the website and packaging, to directing the photo shoot.
 How do you balance a new baby and a new business?
This could not have been possible without my husband. He has been the ultimate support. Whether it’s a second opinion on design or watching Charlie while I screen print tote bags, he has been there for me and Cheekie Charlie. There have been many late nights & for once- it wasn’t actually Charlie keeping me up! Doing something I am passionate about helps me focus and get through it. 
Any advice for moms who might be toying with launching their own businesses?
Do your research, keep focused & make sure you are having fun! At the end of the day, spending time with Charlie is my number one priority, so anything that takes my time away from her has to be worth it.

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Design: West Elm Headquarters

by Cat on November 12, 2012

This is one from the archives…some snapshots of the West Elm headquarters in Brooklyn back from spring. Meg and I were given a wonderful tour of their offices and I was struck by how lovely their reception area was. Another example of how your work space can be a great showroom for your ideas and products!

 

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Biz How-To: Product Packaging

by Cat on September 26, 2012

I’m a sucker for smart but simple product packaging and in my retail boutique I know that customers appreciate the feeling of getting two products in one. I recently tried a new candle line at my boutique by Simpatico. And the double whammy with this line are beautifully scented candles (tea scented!) poured into reusable hobnail glass containers…

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Biz How-to: The Birth of an Idea

by Cat on September 10, 2012

Michelle Harris is a lawyer and designer of Pillito, a fashionable pill bottle with a built-in timer so you never forget when you last took your pills. Not only does Michelle have a busy work schedule, but she is also in the process of adopting. It has been a grueling process fraught with months of endless waiting. How does she manage all aspects of her life? We asked her a few questions to find out.
Where did the idea for Pillito come from? How did you start developing the idea into a product?
Actually, I came up with the idea for Pillito when I started thinking about adoption.  I’m a twin to a male and my entire life I’ve been fascinated by whether we’re governed by DNA, nurturing, or something in between, something entirely our own.
To avoid the emptiness of the wait which inevitably comes with adoption, I decided to see if I was related by DNA or otherwise to my two inventor grandfathers.  My background is in writing and law. I’m not the engineer type, but I soon realized invention is like writing: it’s problem solving.   I traveled to Peru to learn Spanish and work in an orphanage. I love traveling without a watch or phone but I couldn’t remember if I took my vitamins in the morning. I wanted a fashionable, discreet, pill bottle and none was on the market.  Pillito was born.

What were some of the challenges you faced in developing Pillito as a product and company? What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
I’ve worked full-time while doing Pillito mornings, nights, and weekends.  The only challenge for me has been finding the right people with whom to work.  The funding is more of a waiting game than a challenge but one should start looking for capital and knowing costs as early as possible. That’s where people become involved. Check references, not friends, and only work with people are are instantly dependable.

How do you manage your personal life while developing Pillito?
Dependable co-workers are required when you have so  much else on your plate, like adoption, which is unpredictable.   I’ve managed a full plate by keeping incredibly systematic about non-negotiable but boring matters, like paying bills, laundry, and exercise.  While I love catching up with friends, I schedule in advanced and set phone dates. I miss impromptu socializing but that will return, I hope, with some a lessened work load. But if a lessened work load doesn’t happen, then that’s okay too.

What advice do you have for women looking to adopt?
Just like adoption, Pillito has been a celebration of time and the unknown.  Many people’s sadness stems from unrealized expectations.  People expect their children, partners, life, or themselves to be a certain way and when reality doesn’t meet expectations, the gap saddens.   So let go of the expectations.  I have no clue what my baby will look or act like.  In truth, neither do mothers who have their children with husbands.   Thus, I’m trying to use this waiting, this Pillito invention, as preparation to see the positive, live in gratitude, and harmonize with the unknown.

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Happy Friday: Crafting the Craft Room

by Cat on July 6, 2012

Where do you all go when you are inspired to make, pontificate on something creative? Etsy had a post with House of Earnest on how to create a special space for your creative energy. Hmmm…hard to imagine not being creative if I had that rug underfoot!

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