December 12, 2007
I am happy to introduce another successful entrepreneur to hopefully inspire everyone. I have only known her a few months, but we seem to have a lot in common. Like most of these great women I am interviewing - I met her through my blog, she read a post, and the rest is history. We have only spoken via emails and then she was nice enough to agree to do this interview. Her press on her site is very impressive as is her ability to stay positive in ALL situations. Take a gander at how Suzanne did it:
Suzanne Longacre, owner & founder of Suzibella
I started Suzibella in March 2002, 11 months after my third son was born. I left my "real job" of 10 years as a Sales and Marketing Manager for a company that designed and manufactured equipment to dry coatings on paper (exciting, huh?). It was definitely challenging, but not my passion. I left that position, moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvannia, and spent 2 years having fun decorationg my house. When my friends started having babies, it was a great opportunity to try out my creative side, and I began painting rockers, shelves,etc. to match their nurseries.
After each baby gift I created, I received more and more encouragement to open a store and sell my creations. Wow, I thought -- this is perfect. I can be creative and apply my business knowledge at the same time. So it was done. I rented a tiny space, about the size of an armoire, in a local retail store, painted up some pieces of furniture, and Welcome Baby was born.
I quickly realized that I needed to offer other products, and then needed a bigger space, and then more spaces in other towns, and it just mushroomed. I developed my Keepsake Box, and it was such a hit, that I decided to market it to other baby stores in addition to my own. Then that started to take off, and I realized something had to give. After considerable thought, I closed the retail side of my business and focused on the wholesale side.
In the meantime, I had tried to Trademark my company name, Welcome Baby, and learned that a huge retailer had trademarked the name for their line of baby clothing. Being the stubborn one that I can be, I decided to take them on, since I wanted to use the name for reatail stores, not products. When I changed my focus from owning retail stores to selling wholesale products, I realized this fight would not be won. I had to change the name, and now. After hundreds of ideas (I wish I could say that it just "came to me" but in this case it didn't); I chose Suzibella, after Suzy Bell, my nickname as a child.
Suzibella is only about a year and a 1/2 old. I quickly realized to grow, I needed another product, and although my company name did not come easily to me, the idea for the NappiSak did. There were other products on the market for carrying diapers and wipes, but none that had both the level of function and style that my design offered. I applied for a full patent on the NappiSak and it has been a whirlwind ever since.
I have to say that marketing the NappiSak has been the most favorite part of my job. I decided to do the celebrity marketing route, and it was a great decision and a heck of a lot of fun!! When I attended the Boom Boom Room last January, I learned 2 months before their birth that Marcia Cross's twins were girls. Although I wasn't asked to keep mum, I knew Marcia was not revealing the sex so it was a huge ethical dilema for me. Do I send the photos of the gender-specific NappiSaks to People Magazine to get the exposure, or do I respect her wishes? After much debate, I decided not to reveal it. I am such a beliver in karma, and the Power of Postivie Thinking that I knew if I did the right thing, I would be rewarded many times over.
Press, Celebrities & More
As a believer in the Power of Positive Thinking and the Law of Attraction, I decideed to test it. While on the flight to LA for the Image Awards, I sent out a request that I wanted to meet Oprah. I was sure she would be there, and you know the power of the Oprah effect. I followed the steps; Ask, Believe and Receive. Well, I have to say that I was totally disappointed, she wasn't even there. And although it was an amazing trip, I was a little rocked by the fact that it didn't happen. Though, at the Image Awards, where I actually got to walk the red carpet and meet celebrities, such as Vanessa Williams, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, America Ferrara, and LL Cool J - he even gave a shout out on video about my products, you can view it here.
I always feel it's bettter to have a positive attitude, and hapy to tell you that my request was eventually answered, just not in the time frame I imagined. In early September of this year my phone rang, and the caller ID came up....it said Harpo. And yes, that call IS as good as you imagine it can be. It still amazes me how lucky and fortunate I am, every time I need something (a new supplier, a PR firm, people to work for me, etc.) it seems the perfect person or company or idea just crosses my path. Now don't get me wrong -- it requires a ton of hard work, lots of networking, and the constant determination to be the best at what you do.