Well, it's already 2008 and I did NOT make it through 1/2 of the Entrepreneurs I was hoping to feature. I will continue the interviews through the beginning of January, or middle or sheesh, maybe through February. Thanks for being patient - I think I took on more than I could handle (oh gosh, I admitted I was wrong....wait, wait I said I think, I am not sure...) One of my resolutions is to post regularly, 3 times a week - I would list the days, but uh, well first let's see how I can manage this with all my other duties.
So here goes:
I mentioned earlier how I met Katherine Type way back in 2003. I spoke with her at great lengths on the phone and was so happy to find another entrepreneur that was willing to talk with me. Again,I was shocked she even picked up the phone. She loved my products (so she said at the time - no kidding I think she did) and also had some advice for me. Katherine was an expert to me, and she knew what she was talking about. She had an established site and I was in awe my products would be on the site.
Not only did she take the products with my amateur photographs she stuck with me through the "um a few of our tiles came all goopy" phase. She has always been a champion of my work, and put my products in the best possible light. She is NOT one to pass the buck, or blame the designer. When you have been around the block a few times (the Children's Industry Block, come on people keep your mind out of the gutter) some boutiques will throw you under a bus when an error occurs, whether it is our fault or the sales channel. Katherine knows we (well her and I) are both here to give the customer the BEST experience, and the BEST product.
She is also one of my oldest accounts - my first on line presence if you will, and she has seen the business grow and change. Her advice is always welcome, and her insight is a huge help. I am so happy to have met her through the "internet", gosh that sounds like I met her through on-line dating, and to have become friends with her. It is makes this job so much more fun when you have a friend on the other line (she is based on the East Coast, and I am on the West Coast) to commiserate with.
Katherine Type, Owner & Founder of
The concept for Babybox was started in 1996 and the site launched in 1997. At that time there were very few upscale boutiques on line that offered customers unique specialty gifts with personalized service. With the exception of a handful of "Super Stores" on line, there were none that carried a specialized selection of luxury gifts for baby. We decided to create a website offering these gifts in elegant gift box packaging. Whether customers order a pair of baby socks or a cashmere baby blanket, each baby gift arrives in a classic white box, tied with our signature periwinkle ribbon and finished off with a diaper pin and a hand written gift card. We also pride ourselves in providing superior customer service, creating excellent relationships between our customers and staff.
The industry has definitely changed in the last 11 years, we started our on line presence in the basic baby gift category. We capitalized on consumer demand for "convenience technology" -- especially the demand created by busy parents with young children at home; working moms with little time or expecting moms. We found there was a need to have an on line source for shopping, should there not be the availability of an upscale brick and mortar store for selling unique gifts. It was shortly thereafter that I realized more and more of my customers were shopping for themselves as well, so we opened up our product range to cover not just gifts but many children's and baby's products.
Best and Worst Part of Job
I love so many aspects of my job. I love the start of the day when I get a chance to review all the previous days orders; I love to see where all the orders are coming from, to welcome back my repeat customers, as well as reviewing all of my new customers. I also love finding new products that no other stores have yet, and once adding it to my site, watching and waiting to see how well they do. I feel so happy when I find something and it works! I try hard to keep Babybox.com fresh and current with unique and specialized gifts and products that are new to the markets. At the same time though, it is comforting to my repeat clientele to have some classic gifts always available, that they know will always be there. These become standard baby gifts that are purchased again and again as a safe choice.
My least favorite part of the job is having to explain order delays to our customers on custom items. I feature so many designers on BabyBox.com, which all have different lead times. Although everyone tries to do the best they can in the normal time frames, sometimes, delays occur and we just have to call the customers and explains. You just have to hope that your customers are understanding and patient - unfortunately this is not always the case.
Working with New Artisans and Designers
I am very open to many types of products, but will usually only feature companies that produce artwork of excellent quality, with the fine detailing, obvious care by the designer, and I look for products that are unique and often carry an interesting background and story behind why they were created. I also build strong lasting relationships with all of my vendors, so it also helps having a designer who is easy to work with (Jamie Lentzner and I are very close and for anyone else who works with her an attest, she is an angel to work with). - oh my, she made me blush :)
Balance with Children
Originally, like many other entrepreneurs, my decision to start a home-based business had to do with my (at the time) future desire to have a family. Staying close to home and raising children seemed to be the perfect balance. I soon discovered when Alexander, my son was only 3 months, nap time and bedtime were my only productive times of the day. Now, I have two children, Amanda who is 2 1/2 and Alexander is 6 - I could never survive without my nanny who helps me 5 days a week, all day. I still feel very involved with their daily lives and am 'around' at home, but with help, I am able to juggle everything in a more manageable way.
But, as much as I love working and owning my own business, even with all of my help, keeping up with the demands of my children and my business is stressful and makes me exhausted. I try my best however to give my children 100% of my attention when I am with them, but there are times when I still feel guilty that I should give them more. I just have to try and make each moment special and I truly feel it is quality more than quantity. I love my work, but I love my children more. You just have to make a balance - I figured out ways to make them my little helpers so they could feel included in "Mommy's business". It is like "bring your child to work day", on a regular basis.