It’s my pleasure to introduce a new feature here at Your Web Chick, a spotlight on small business owners and their online presence. I like to call it ‘Small Biz Celebrity’.
Tell me a little about you and your background. I’m an artist at my core. I was an art major. I had exhibited and sold my art from the age of 12 until I was 21. From the time I was in second grade, I knew what I wanted to do with my life and I had a plan. That plan changed when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 22. I was lucky to survive, but I was considered permanently disabled. That did not sit well with me, the person who had always done everything for myself, including earning my own income since I was a kid! (I started cleaning houses for elderly women when I was 10 or 11, and had quite a following based on word-of-mouth. I also baby sat, raked lawns, shoveled snow in the winter…anything I could do to make an honest buck.)
When I recovered from the surgery, not only did I have physical limitations, my natural artistic talent was gone as if it had been removed with my brain tumor. What had once come so easily to me, to translate what was in my mind into a drawing or painting, was suddenly an almost impossible, decidedly frustrating task. I tried so hard to get it back, but I couldn’t.
Tell me how you came to be small business owner. My identity as an artist was gone and I was faced with the question of, “Who am I now? What am I without my art?” But…I was exceptionally happy to be alive, so I knew I’d figure something out. For years, I tried different businesses from home, some partnering with my husband. We ran a desktop publishing business when we were first married back in 1992 for a few years. Then we had a business in the early days of the internet, doing mass distribution of people’s résumés (before the days of Monster – wish we’d had their investors!).
After that, I ventured into direct sales (out of necessity, really, since I couldn’t manage a 9-5 job like most healthy people I knew) where I’ve remained for 17 years. It just seemed the easiest thing to do from home. I tried many companies before my husband finally talked me into what I do today. And, boy, did he have to talk me into it! At the time he approached me about it, I was a consultant for a rubber stamping, card making, scrapbooking, etc. company and had been for almost 6 years. When he suggested I try becoming a rep for Slumber Parties (which is now Pure Romance), my initial reaction was, “Are you high? I went to Catholic school, I can’t do that!” He was so positive that I could, he signed me up and he bought the kit. The deal was I didn’t have to pay him back if I didn’t like it. That was 9 years ago this summer, and I thank him daily! I have the privilege of empowering women every single day, both at my parties and on my teams. I love sharing this opportunity whenever I can; I’ve seen it change lives – not only my own, but many, many others!! It’s amazing to watch!!
How did you know it was time to get a website online and what were you looking for in a designer? I knew an online presence was important, having run a prior business completely online. But since most direct sales companies provide a website for you, as is the case with Pure Romance, I didn’t have to look for a designer.
What is your favorite or the most rewarding thing about having an online presence? I love knowing my site can help people 24/7 and allow them to shop while I sleep (or when I’m otherwise unavailable).
What is your least favorite or the most challenging thing about having an online presence? Staying on top of my marketing, especially when it comes to social media. I have a Page on Facebook, and I’m better than I used to be about updating it, but I’m sure I’m not doing it anywhere near as much as I should be! I’m also on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. I also use those 3 social media platforms to promote a yearly fundraiser I do for brain tumor research, the Sharing Hope Dinner Dance.
What is your email marketing tool of choice, and why? In addition to a website, Pure Romance also provide its reps with a full media center, complete with email templates and a client database. That being said, I still prefer to use MailChimp for my client emails and updates. I guess I just like what I’m used to! I used ConstantContact for years, but my database grew so large, it was getting too expensive! So I switched a couple of years ago to Mail Chimp.
Thanks for joining me for this edition of Small Biz Celebrity. There’s still time to purchase tickets, advertise or make a donation to support the 10th Annual Sharing Hope Dinner Dance, coming March 7th to Cherry Hill, NJ.