Archive | August 2012

Screw Money, Give Us Some Time!!

Time and money seem to be two things that an entrepreneur can never get enough of. While my personal favorite of the two is money, I’m coming to realize that time can be just as valuable when there’s a TON to do but only a few people to do it! Sometimes, I wish I could be like Patrick from Spongebob, with nothing to do! In between creating pitch desks, working through financial projections, developing our website, deciding on a business model….dude, Shawn and I are so busy, we don’t even know how to finish this sentence.

During our training session at the accelerator today, we were charged with an interesting activity: to track the tasks we are spending our time on by hour, each day for one week.  We were also encouraged to track those times that we felt most productive and to note the times that we ate (something entrepreneurs don’t do as often as they should because it takes up both time and money). Seeing as my current schedule looks like THIS:

I definitely have some prioritization to do! Less TV watching and procrastination, and more strategic planning!

To all of the entrepreneurs out there: Shawn and I are sorta new at this and would love some advice! How do you fit it all in? How do you find your most productive times? Let us know in the comments.

Kristen P.

Looking for Resources or Inspiration? Here are SeamBLiSS’s Top Ten Sites for the Emerging Fashion Designer!

Sometimes, we could all use a little help. For an emerging fashion designer, help might come in the form of inspiration, mentorship, or even a class or conference. Since we at SeamBLiSS are committed to helping up-and-coming designers meet their needs, we’ve created this handy-dandy list of websites that offer resources for this very talented group.

Plus, who doesn’t love a Top Ten list? NOBODY, that’s who!

1. FashInvest

Top-of-the-line site that combines business and fashion. Includes industry news and info about useful services and upcoming               events.

2. StartUP Fashion

Great articles and blog posts on everything from marketing to textiles. Features “how-to’s”, as well as recommended reading lists and a fantastic database of boutiques.

3. Business of Fashion

The go-to site for fashion industry news and thought-provoking commentary. We read this one every day!

4. Indie Design Association

Offers free resources, articles, and training info. Also sponsors events and webinars on topics such as costing and pitching to retailers.

5. FashionCollab

Co-produced by Atelier 36 and StartUP FASHION, this organization offers seminars, events and tools for the emerging independent designer.

6. The Fashion Potential

Wonderfully informative site for anyone looking to break into the fashion industry! Features reports, workshops, and advice for all stages of the fashion start-up.

7. Fashion-Incubator

Extremely informative site that gets into the nitty-gritty of producing and manufacturing your line. A must-visit for fashion design professionals.

8. NYC Fashion Info

Fantastic resource for all designers based in the NYC area. Find info about showrooms, production, wholesale, and events.

9. The Emerging Designer

Great blog featuring posts on topics all up-and-coming designers should know about, including PR, trade shows, and marketing.

10. BurdaStyle

Amazing community for any and all people who love sewing or would like to learn. Offers an extensive pattern store and a lively discussion forum.

Did I miss any? What’s your go-to site for fashion industry news/resources? Let us know in the comments!

Kristen P.

The Chicken and the Egg…and the Entrepreneur

So, what in the heck could the age-old “chicken or the egg” problem have to do with an entrepreneurial e-commerce company? Frankly, Shawn and I have been asking ourselves and our mentors the same question! However, this question has a surprising amount of applicability to a new business.

Basically, the “chicken or the egg” question boils down to “where do you start?” In our case, we need to decide which group of customers we should “go after” first. SeamBLiSS is all about bringing independent designers and everyday people together; thus, we have two customer groups to choose from: sellers (designers) and buyers (shoppers). So, which group should we sign up first?

On the one hand, our wonderful designers are our source of revenue. They post the great items, which then sell and lead to $$$ for the designers! In addition, the designers are the ones who sign up for our monthly subscriptions and listing fees. From a purely financial standpoint, it seems like we should focus on getting designers to the site and using it actively before attempting to attract the end consumer.

But, if there are no buyers to actually PURCHASE these garments, nobody will make much money, SeamBLiSS included! Also, if there isn’t anyone around to buy a designer’s work, what’s the incentive for the designer to stick around and keep posting their items? Why in the heck should they pay for a service that’s not going to bring them any sales?

Anywho, Shawn and I are still working on solving this age-old problem. We’re currently leaning towards simultaneously signing designers and consumers, but we’ll get back to you and let you know how it went.

Now, time for some eggs. Or maybe some chicken…

Kristen P.

O Mentor, Mentor! Wherefore art thou Mentor?

O Mentor, Mentor! Wherefore art thou Mentor?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name.
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.
It’s lovely how Shakespeare used “ordinary” words to describe the longing Juliet felt for Romeo. Although, I am no literary expert, we almost feel this same desire as we search for the perfect mentor or advisor to help spur the growth of SeamBLiSS. As highly exaggerated as this may seem, it takes not only a great team (which I believe we have) but it takes someone who has the “been there, done that” mentality to force us to answer hard questions about our business.
Sports analogy approaching: You can think of it as a highly touted football recruit looking over his 26 college scholarship offers. He can only choose one. He will base his decision answering one question. Which college will give him the best opportunity to reach his ultimate goal: playing in the NFL. We are in a similar setting asking a similar question: Which mentor will give us the best opportunity to reach our ultimate goal: building a successful business that solves a problem.
We have met several mentors and our brains are in overload at the moment as we process tons of information. A lot of the information has indeed been useful and much of it is also irrelevant if the mentor does not understand our space. Our job is to do our best to explain and convey a clear and concise message so all people, including mentors, understand what our intentions are.
We would love to hear your thoughts? What are you tips on conveying a clear and concise message?

Shawn

The Almighty Dollar and the Itty Bitty Startup

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Wouldn’t it be awesome if you got tons of money just for having a great business idea? Picture this: the second that the inspiration strikes, the sky opens up and mounds of cash rain down upon you.  I think that this must be every entrepreneur’s (ok, maybe every person’s) dream.

Yesterday was the official “day one” of SeamBLiSS’s accelerator journey, and we’ve already gotten some fantastic advice. Some of what we’ve learned has been, to be completely honest, a bit overwhelming! As it turns out, having a great idea for a startup is really only half the battle. Having an idea is not gonna “make it rain” on you! Also, Fry from Futurama is not going to hand you all of the money you need. You need to have a plan to monetize your fabulous business idea!

We at SeamBLiSS are trying to work out a revenue model that will work for us, as well as our buyers and sellers. We really do want to make it afford for the consumer to obtain one-of-a-kind designer items, and we are truly passionate about giving independent designers the means to make a living doing what they love! We’re currently toying with several different models, including listing fees, sales commissions, and monthly subscriptions, and have been discussing different options with advisors and mentors. However, we think the best thing we can do is ask our customers, especially our FABULOUS beta users!

As we improve our site and our services over the next few weeks, we look to build our relationship with our current designers and get their feedback. We also hope to gain some great new users for SeamBLiSS!

Current and potential SeamBLiSS users – feel free to let us know what you think in the comments!

 

Kristen 

So, I just met you, and this is crazy…

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As SeamBLiSS moves along the “legit startup” track toward the start of the accelerator next week, it’s got me wondering: what is the most important skill an aspiring entrepreneur can have? I’m sure we’ll get a crash course in this during the accelerator, but still, I feel like we need to know NOW. Is it raising capital? Writing an amazing business plan? Brewing coffee? Seriously, somebody tell me!!

Actually, I think plenty of people have already told me. Pretty much every article, blog post, advice column, etc. that I’ve read about entrepreneurship, or even just about business in general, has said the same thing: NETWORKING is the most important skill in your business arsenal!

We’ve all heard the stories: people who’ve found their dream jobs through networking connections, people who’ve found their biggest sales clients through networking, even people who met their spouses through friends of friends! Obviously, these connections can be quite powerful!

However, networking is also harder than it looks. If you’re like lil’ old me, it’s not that easy for you to walk up and strike up a conversation with a complete stranger, even if you know you should! I always feel like I don’t know what to say to start out, and am also kind of worried about coming off like a jerk, especially if I’m asking for a potential investment!

Fortunately, I think networking might be one of those things for which “practice makes perfect”. We at SeamBLiSS had the privilege of attending a networking event for the TechLaunch accelerator program on Monday, and it was a really great way to just “jump right in” to talking with mentors and possible angels. Everyone we spoke to was incredibly supportive, and gave us some great advice! Also, I definitely started to get more comfortable with the whole networking thing as the event went on.

So, if you’re nervous about networking, my advice is to just start doin’ it! You’ll never get better until you start trying! Remember: practice makes perfect, in sports and in business!

Be sure to check back here soon for more Adventures in Entrepreneurship!