Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized’ Category

Hazel Lane & ArtInFact Magazine Win April Amber Grants

Friday, May 9th, 2014

Last week we announced the April Amber Grant finalists and today we’re elated to announce not one, but two winners.

Big congratulations going out to both Hazel Lane and ArtInFact Magazine!

Please take a moment to check out our interviews with each winner below.

Hazel Lane
Ashley DeKellis & Samantha Strom
http://www.hazelln.com

Hazel Lane Co Founders

Hazel Lane is a subscription box service that helps people explore the world, without having to leave home. Every month they send a carefully curated box of surprise goodies from that month’s selected city, taking great care to represent that place’s unique spirit and flavors. San Francisco’s box was foodie focused, while LA’s was sun & health. NYC will be fashion-forward, and Austin will be WEIRD!

We asked Ashley & Sam a few questions about their venture, and here’s what they had to say:

1. When spotlighting a new city each month, you must encounter many products. How do you select the items and businesses you feature?

We do find a ton of swoon worthy companies and products in every city. We work with our network, our members, friends, friend-of-friends, bloggers and anyone who wants to nominate a brand. Because we are committed to featuring locally-made, small brands that are eco-friendlier, our pool of products is automatically narrowed down. We also tend to feature a lot of female-founded businesses. Our final decision is usually when we both say “I have to have this and so-and-son would love it too.” It’s very scientific. =)

2. Do you get to go to these places and personally pick out the products yourself?

One day we will. That’s our goal! We’re lucky that we have enthusiastic supporters and members who help out in the meantime. We recently had a subscriber email and tell us she’s sending US a product she thinks we will like from a city she thinks we should feature. It’s a lot of fun to see people get so excited and engaged with the process from start-to-finish.

3. What is your favorite product you’ve found so far?

Oh this is a tough one! We really love everything we’ve put in the boxes so far. The top three are probably: Poco Dolce Chocolate and *plastique from San Francisco & Miss Marissa by Ebba from the Brooklyn box.

4. If you could visit one city in the world, right now. What would it be?
Paris, France! We have wanted to travel to Paris together since college. Ashley was a fashion major and took 4 years of French. With that knowledge under our belts, we can at least say “pardon moi, Ou se trouvé Le centre commercial Le plus proche?

Translation, Excuse me, where is the nearest shopping mall?” That’s all we really need to know, right?

5. Do you have any advice for any other moms out there looking to start their own business?
Yes, It sounds cliche because it really is…”Do what you have a passion for”. There is so much work that goes into starting a business. From web design, pricing, product selection, legalities, budget…but most of all time not spent with your family while working on the business. It’s been a struggle working on something you hope will benefit the future of your family but in turn requires a significant amount of time away from them. I’m still trying to balance work and family and honestly have a hard time finding a happy medium. Just surrounding myself with positive people, asking for help (babysitters, friends and mother-in-laws) and the overall love for my family helps keep the dream alive and flourishing.

ArtInFact Magazine
Semhar Woldeyesus
http://www.artinfactmag.com

ArtInFact

ArtInFact Magazine is content platform for entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, and independent brands in New York City. It was created to provide early adopters with coverage of creative startups and micro-trends.Their chief goal is to empower independent creatives and small-scale entrepreneurs who have not been able to garner press attention, but have incredible products and services.

Here’s what Semmi had to say:

1. How well did the ladies on your team know one other before starting ArtInFact? How did you meet?

We first met each other four years ago at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. None of us are originally from New York City, so we quickly bonded. Getting adjusted here can be tough at first, especially when you don’t know anyone. But we really lucked out! We collided over a common interest in not only building our profiles as entrepreneurial, creative storytellers, but also supporting the endeavors of the people we feature. After graduating, we kept in touch. Despite working for different channels and media platforms, we continued to cheer each other on and support one another. We all had big dreams before coming to the city, and our friendship has empowered us to continue achieving them. Knowing each other is a real privilege; we are basically like family!

2. What inspired you to launch a magazine together?

We were inspired to start ArtInFact Magazine because we realized that so many entrepreneurs and creative professionals in this city could not get their stories told. In our day jobs, we kept noticing how independent brands and startups couldn’t get the same kind of coverage or attention as mainstream brands. New York is a city built and run by entrepreneurs from all different sectors. Yet the startups that get routine coverage are often tech ventures or companies that have major investment backing. We wanted to create a platform for those who don’t have a celebrity cosign, but truly care about their work and have a remarkable product. We are here to capture the independent spirit of New York.

3. Once you’re officially registered as an LLC, what will be your first plan of action?

Once we are registered as an LLC, we plan to roll out ads and take ArtInFact Mag into the real world with events, pop-up sales, and partnerships with independent brands. Although we are a content platform, one of our top priorities is to empower creative startups beyond telling their story. We are dedicated to building a community, not just an audience. Our events will also be linked to a mobile app where startups and creative professionals can register their company and get noticed!

4. Do you have any advice for those who are in the startup business in NYC looking to get in touch with you?

We are always on the hunt for new startups or ideas. If you are based in the NYC area, all you have to do is pitch us via our contact page. In your pitch, don’t be afraid to get personal. Tell us about your work and what inspired you to get started. And it doesn’t matter if you haven’t sold millions of units or are just starting out − we want to know about you! As we’ve learned in our own journey as a startup, the most important thing is to just do it. By working consistently, producing a lot of work, and putting yourself on a deadline, you will reach new heights.

5. What’s the most rewarding part of owning your own business?

To have full autonomy over the quality of work we produce and to be able to tell the stories of people we feel truly play a vital role in our communities is a great feeling. As entrepreneurs, we have put ourselves in a position to empower others. The most rewarding feeling is when a reader reaches out and tells us how a story impacted them or when an entrepreneur we’ve profiled expresses thanks. We understand how tough it is to get noticed and we are constantly in awe of underdogs. That’s who we are here for. Starting your own business involves so much risk, every story we publish is an opportunity to encourage other like-minded spirits to keep going! Failure only happens when you quit.

We’re honored to be able to help each of these fantastic businesses in a small way! Stay tuned for more inspiring applications and winner interviews, and don’t forget – the deadline for our May Amber Grant will be here before you know it!

Online Transparency Goes a Long Way

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Whenever we help startups with their marketing, we preach the importance of being open and honest about who they are as a company.

Who they are as a company ultimately boils down to the individual people involved in the project.

In a world where it’s easier than ever to find out exactly who you’re doing business with and what others have to say about them, transparency is no longer something that gives you an edge – it’s essential.

If you’re not willing to tell potential clients and customers exactly who you are and what you stand for, they can find someone who will. And that someone else is likely just a few clicks away.

Makes sense, right? What doesn’t make sense is that we weren’t practicing what we’ve been preaching.

We took a long hard look at our website and realized that we had some work to do in the transparency department ourselves! We sat down as a group and thought of every question that a woman interested in applying for a grant might have for us and then we answered them here in our new FAQ Page.

Then, we decided to ditch the stock photography and tell you exactly who we are by sharing the photos and bios of our advisory board members.

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We hope that these efforts help to give you a better idea of who we are and what we stand for – and please, if you have any questions that we haven’t answered – let us know.

Pig of the Month Wins March Amber Grant

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Congratulations to our latest WomensNet.net Amber Grant Winner, Lea Richards.

Lea is the President of Pig of the Month, a mail order meats company specializing in BBQ.  Continue on to learn more about her company, her motivation, and her advice for women entrepreneurs…

WN: Congratulations on winning the March Amber Grant!

LR: Thank you so so much!  This is amazing!

WN: Where did the idea for Pig of the Month come from?

LR: I had just left my job in finance, and moved back home to try and figure out the next step.  Father’s Day was coming up, so I ordered ribs from a competitor for my Dad. When they came we were so disappointed by the quality of the meats and presentation that my dad remarked that I could do a better job — so, we researched it a little bit, and gave it a go!  We named it Pig of the Month since you can get all sorts of different kinds of piggy products delivered to you every month.

WN: How did you find others to get involved?

LR: It’s grown very organically.  I’ve hired people that I have come across during normal business activities.  For instance, our sales guy used to be our FedEx rep – he impressed me so much that I just knew I had to have him on board. Hiring is tough, so if you see someone in action that impresses you it never hurts to ask them to join you.

WN: We know that you emphasize customer service.  Talk about how you make your customers feel appreciated.

LR: I think it’s very important to make every part of an interaction with your company a positive, memorable experience.  We use custom shipping notifications that are really funny, along with custom shipping labels to make even the mundane more fun.   When customers call us we always answer with a smile, and since we only have 2 people doing customer service, they typically remember you and ask about your family, the weather where you are, etc. to make the customers feel like they really are a part of our family.  Every little thing counts!

WN: How do you plan to change the way this generation looks at food?

LR: I think we need to move away from mass produced foods with unrecognizable ingredients to whole foods that are made fresh.  We’re doing it through the products we sell, and the informational videos and blog posts we do on our site as well.  It’s important to us that we make sure our customers know why our products may be a little more expensive, but a lot better for them.   Let’s get rid of the preservatives and nitrates once and for all!

WN: What advice would you give to other women who are interested in starting their own business?

LR: Just get started!  The hardest part of starting a business for me was taking all the research and information from courses, etc and actually putting it into action.  Once you get going though, you can easily test every element of your plan out and see what actually works for you.  Don’t compare your success with anybody else’s – this might be their 3rd attempt, or 4th year in business.  You never know the backstory, and its not fair to compare your middle to their end – it will only leave you feeling bad.

New Study Says Women Entrepreneurs Shouldn’t Work With Their Husbands

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

A new study published in the American Sociological Review found that women entrepreneurs who start new businesses with men are less likely to lead those businesses. Furthermore, if they co-found a business with their husband, there are even fewer chances for them to be in charge.

Previous studies have only examined the issue of gender in equality in established organizations, so researchers used a nationally representative sample of 362 mixed-sex start-up teams made up of a total of 882 entrepreneurs. Seventy percent of the mixed-set teams were husband and wife duos.

“Our explanation for more pronounced gender inequality in spousal teams is that when husband and wife work together, they carry with them the cultural expectations for the male breadwinner and the female homemaker roles into the business setting”, said Tiantian Yang from the department of sociology at UNC Chapel Hill.

The good news is, Yang and his team found that gender inequality can be reduced when people adopt organizational templates, like signing a formal operating agreement.

When a formal ownership agreement has not been signed, men are found to be 85% more likely to be in charge.

Has anyone out there co-founded a business with their husband? How’d it go? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

And while you’re at it, if you’re launching or have already launched your own business (with or without a man), apply for our April Amber Grant. This month’s deadline in coming up quick!

How to Spend Your Amber Grant

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

You know your business better than we do. And we’re not afraid to admit it.

Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t accept a little assistance. You do believe in the old phrase, “two heads are better than one,” right?

With that in mind, we have a valuable list to share with you. It contains some common start-up costs – plus some ideas from our own business experience. We’ve also included a couple items frequently described in Amber Grant applications. The common theme? An Amber Grant can help fund (or completely fund) each of these purchases.

Of course, this list doesn’t encompass every start-up cost. To make sure that you don’t miss anything, be sure to thoroughly analyze your business needs. And when you do apply for an Amber Grant, don’t forget to disclose just what you’d like to use the money for.

On to the list…

1.) Computer: Computers are perhaps the most commonly referenced expense on Amber Grant applications. You can easily spend over a thousand dollars on a high-end, super-powered machine. Or, you can find a useful starter laptop for just a few hundred dollars. The money you save on a cost-effective computer could be put to better use, maybe for …

2.) Incorporation Fees: There’s a wealth of benefits to incorporating your business. Among them are the protection of your assets, lower taxes, and the ability to establish good credit – even if your personal credit rating is poor. Legalzoom is one of the most popular sites to offer this service.

3.) Web Site Hosting: So you’re looking to build a website … but you need a host. Will you use GoDaddy? HostGator? Another service? Put in the time to find the service that’s right for your business.

4.) Inventory: Understanding demand for your product will go a long way toward allocating the appropriate funds. If you’re just starting out, however, more homework can be done to find where you can purchase materials that fit your budget.

5.) Marketing/Advertising: Will you run a PPC (pay-per-click) campaign on the web? Will you pay for a radio spot? How about Facebook advertising? Business cards? Carefully planning your course of action – and budget – will be critical toward developing a sustainable business.

6.) PayPal: It’s a juggernaut in the online payment industry. But unfortunately, the service isn’t provided 100% free of charge. Be sure to read up on their different options to see which (if any) is right for you.

7.) Employee/Intern: In the past, grant money has been used to hire short-term workers. While many interns join just for experience, a stipend or commission payment structure can be a wonderful motivator. Sometimes, when the right candidate is found, they can become a long-term member of your organization.

Study: Female Entrepreneurs Pay Themselves Less Than Male Entrepreneurs

Monday, February 24th, 2014

A recent study from Babson College showed that female entrepreneurs pay themselves less than their male counterparts.

The study surveyed graduates of Goldman Sachs’s 10,000 Small Business Program. And it determined that women who entered into the program had average salaries that were just 80% of male entrepreneurs’.

Patricia Green, leader of the study, admitted that the results shocked her research team.

“I’m not sure if it’s benchmarking against salaried women, I’m not sure if it’s a lack of confidence [and] I’m not sure if it’s negotiating themselves down first. Sometimes women have a tendency to say, ‘I couldn’t possibly ask that. I’d better recalibrate that before I put that number out there.’”

Ariane Hegewisch, a study director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, suggests that women may be more risk averse, “keeping more money in the business until they are certain it will work out.”

While there may be some conservative tendencies, we’d hesitate to make a blanket conclusion based on 1 study. The type of business you enter into certainly plays a role. And who says there’s one “right” way to allocate personal funds and business funds? Regardless, we only hope that women entrepreneurs take home a paycheck that reflects their professional efforts.

Stay motivated, stay focused, and stay strong.

-The WomensNet Team