Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays

I recently wrote a great article on resilience which will be published 12/26. It speaks about resilience being an over-used Corporate term, however our need for it as small business owners is undeniable!

How will you rest, re-energize and rejuvenate over this holiday season?  I'll be sure to share my article with lots of tips in case you need them.

I wish you joy, peace and success in 2012!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Spotlight Entrepreneur: Kristen Ford-Stevens of Cute Beltz

In our final Spotlight of 2011 we're happy to introduce you to Kristen Ford-Stevens, CEO and Founder of Cute Beltz.  We were thrilled to discover Cute Beltz leading up to our daughter starting Kindergarten.  Our school district mandates a uniform for elementary and middle school children and if your pants have belt loops, you must wear a belt! The Preppy-Girl Belt with a velcro closure was the perfect solution for our 5 year old.  Be sure and check out the Cute Beltz website for holiday specials this December!

Tell us a little about how Cute Beltz was born.
This is how it all started, “Mommy, my pants keep falling down!” It was a statement my toddler echoed many times, it was from those words after countless hours trying to remedy the problem that “Cute Beltz™,” a line of belts for children 6 months to 6 years of age was founded and thriving online in a matter of months.

I became very frustrated that the major outlets weren’t offering belts for toddlers.  So, I decided to research the toddler belt industry and found that there was no major competitor.  From that day forward, I put together a 3 year business plan to execute which has brought me to this point,  Now, we are planning for the next 3, very exciting!!

What are your top-selling products?
We have been very fortunate that one of our first belts introduced, Pink Flower Power Girls Belt is and has been our top seller for the last 3 years.  Also, our Nautical Boys Belt is currently our top seller for boys, due to our placement in the July 2011 issue of Parenting magazine.

For the holiday season we will be offering several gift sets which will include two belts for $20.00.  The offer will run from December 5 – 11, 2011.  Leading up to Christmas there will be many surprises along the way, so check in often at

What is your philosophy on customer service?
I am a strong believer in good, quality customer service.  I have always expected and demanded that an establishment have excellent customer service, so I give the same excellence to my customers.

I believe every persons question is valid, so I do my best to answer a request quickly and honestly.  I have found that many have appreciated my follow up thus referring Cute Beltz to their family and friends.

What do you enjoy most about being your own boss?
I enjoy being my own boss because I am working towards something I truly believe in which gives me great motivation to get up every morning with a “let’s go” attitude.  My spirit has always been one of an entrepreneur, so it is a joy to know that I am right where I was intended to be.

How do you juggle being a mom and being an entrepreneur?
I don’t know if I have quite mastered the “mom/entrepreneur” thing, but I work on it daily.  I know that I do make it a point to work while my kids are at school, which gives me about 5 ½ hours to get as much done as possible.  When the kids come home, I spend my time with them because I feel they and I need the time together.  Once the kids are in bed, I usually do a little (sometimes a lot) more work before calling it quits for the night.  My days are long, but I know my dream is being realized.

What is your advice for females who are thinking about starting their own business?
I say go for it!  BUT first do your research.  Many women start a business because they are bored, which happens quite often.  Take the time to research a business and find out if it is a realistic venture.  Do you have the financial resources, is there an immediate need for your product or service, is there a void in the market, etc.?  If you can answer yes, then take the next step and prepare a business plan.  This will be your guide as your business grows.

With all of the social media outlets, join a few and talk to people about what they think.  Locate a few people in the “industry” you want to enter via social media and pick their brain.  You will be surprise, many “industry” people will advise you via twitter and facebook.  Also, talk to your friends and mom groups to see if this would be something they would buy.  

Never be afraid to “toot” your own horn, because if you don’t do it, who will!  So, I say GO FOR IT, you never know, you may have the next GREAT idea. 

Thank you so much for Kristen for sharing her inspirational story.  To learn more about this high quality, handmade in the USA product visit Kristen on Facebook, Twitter or join the Cute Beltz mailing list!