Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pinterest: Secret Boards


Have you discovered Pinterest's latest tool: Secret Boards?

You can create up to 3 secret boards and when you add pins to that hidden board, no one will be able to see it but you.

Doesn't that defeat the purpose of Pinterest? Well, actually people have been asking for this tool for a long time. Here are some ideas on why you may choose to utilize the tool:

  • Keep track of gift ideas
  • Prepare a marketing campaign that you're not ready to share publicly
  • Plan a special event 
  • Hide all those Justin Bieber pins so friends don't judge

I am using secret boards this holiday season with my bestie. Instead of spending $ on each other this holiday season we're each pinning virtual gifts like we have endless budgets. Then on a pre-determined day we'll reveal our pins to each other like it's Christmas morning. I am already up to over 50 pins (with an estimated retail value of a bazillion dollars). But it's the thought that counts, right?

Thanks Pinterest!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012

Spotlight Entrepreneur: Susan Cannella and Helen Denny of Gardening Gals

This month I am so pleased to introduce you to The Gardening Gals.  Meet Susan Cannella and Helen Denny, founders of the Charlotte-based raised bed gardening company.  Whether you're looking to have a little vegetative guidance or want the gals to jump in and get dirty- Susan and Helen are there for you! From rain barrels to compost and all the blooms in between the gals are there to walk you through the process.

How did the two of you decide it would be a good idea to go into business together?
Helen: Susan and I have been friends for almost 10 years.  About three years ago, the two of us worked together as camp counselors for a summer camp at our swim and racquet club.  We found that we really enjoyed working together and that we made a good team.
Susan Cannella

Helen Denny

Do you find the gardening industry to be a male-dominated field, and if so have you had to overcome any obstacles?
Susan: We primarily build raised bed gardens, and deal mostly with men as far as purchasing materials such as lumber through a building supply company and soil through a landscaping company.  On the other hand, our customers have been mainly women from whom we have gotten a lot of positive feedback for owning our own business and offering the service that we do.  We do come across the occasion quizzical look from a customer after having explained that WE would be the ones building the bed and filling it with soil.  I suppose they have a moment of disbelief that two women would be doing the labor.  

With Fall approaching, what are some things that we should think about doing in our gardens? 
Helen: Some plants might still be producing.  I am still getting tomatoes, peppers and egg plant.  I will freeze most of tomatoes I harvest at this point by blanching them in boiling water just until the skin starts to split and peel away. Once they reach that point, remove from the water, let cool, then peel.  The skin will slip right off.  I freeze the tomatoes in zipper lock freezer bags and use them in recipes throughout the year.

If your plants have finished producing, now is a great time to clean up the summer garden by pulling up the old vegetation, work organic plant food into the soil, and plant fall vegetables.  Spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are just a few vegetables that can be planted at this time.
Home Page Bed

You don't have to have a green thumb to have a great garden...
I love to garden with my kids, what are some tips you could provide on getting children excited about gardening?
Susan: Most children love the idea of helping with a garden, and they can participate and just about every aspect of tending to a home garden.  The more involved they are, the more rewarding the experience will be and the more dedicated they will be.  Let your child choose some of the types of plants you plan to grow.  Let the garden be a science experiment.  Plant some items by seed and some by plant and make observations.  Children love to water but should have some guidance.  I find my own children are sometimes too eager to pick vegetables.  Remind them to harvest the vegetables when they are truly ripe.

What advice would you give to a friend who was thinking about starting her own business?
Helen: I would certainly encourage anyone to start a business.  In our case, we turned a hobby into a small business where we can make a little money, but more importantly have fun! We truly love working together and helping our customers.  I would encourage any friend to stick with an area of business that they feel passionate about.  Keeping an open mind and knowing that your business might change or offer different services over time is also important. 

Thinking about sprucing up your yard and investing in a raised bed garden? Give the Gals a shout!  

Fan them on Facebook 

Gardening Gals, LLC

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Spotlight Entrepreneur: Kelly Mistry of MyFairyTaleBooks

This month we are happy to spotlight Kelly Mistry of MyFairyTaleBooks. In 2009 Kelly and her husband launched their personalized children’s book company.  They offer a large library of adventure, fantasy, and holiday themed books where your child is the main character of the story.  On top of books, they also offer personalized Music CDs, DVDs and other fun accessories.

Tell us about your target market:
Our customers are looking to give a unique gift to the children in their lives.  When a child receives a book from MyFairyTaleBooks they discover that they have been cast as the main character in the story.  With customized details such as hometown, special dates, sibling and friends names, a MyFairyTaleBook becomes a story that your child wants to read again and again and preserve forever as a special keepsake. 

There are other companies out there that sell personalized children’s books. What sets you apart from your competition?
When you shop with MyFairyTaleBooks you feel secure in our online environment, you find our prices competitive, you are impressed with the product ratings provided by customers and you are pleased with the customer-service that we provide. 

Your company is growing. What is next on the horizon for My Fairy Tale Books?
This past year we have focused a lot of time, energy and market research on a unique, one-of-a-kind personalized book called The Good Friend.  We have partnered with a talented author, an amazing illustrator and expect to put it into production in early 2013.  This fall we have launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring awareness and to raise funding for the production of the book. We are offering some fun rewards to donors that fall in line with our anti-bullying theme.  We’re very proud of the book, we’ve received some fantastic feedback from audiences who have previewed it, and we can’t wait to share it with the world!

What advice would you give a friend who is looking to launch her own business?
Write a business plan! Our business plan has brought clarity to our mission and has given us qualitative and quantitative milestones to help us measure our success.

What is the most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur?
Maintaining a work-life balance is hard, but one of our top priorities as a family.  We want to teach our four year old daughter the importance of working hard, but we also want to be sure that we have enough fun time to play hard as well!  This summer we took our first vacation since launching our business back in 2009. It was long overdue, but not possible without help from trustworthy staff that could help us keep customers serviced while we enjoyed a few days away.

You mention your daughter, how does she inspire you?
Maya inspires us every day. We read her the manuscript for The Good Friend to ensure that she connected with the storyline, and we always look at our product offering and ask ourselves if these are products that we would want for our child.

MyFairyTaleBooks offers a large variety of children’s products that you’ll love to give to the little ones in your life.  A personalized book is a gift that will be cherished for a lifetime. Connect with MyFairyTaleBooks through their website, on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and be sure to stop by their Kickstarter campaign to lend your support.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Spotlight Entrepreneur: Shelley Oppedisano of Macaroni Kid

This month I'd like to introduce Shelley Oppedisano of the Fort Mill/Tega Cay, SC branch of Macaroni Kid.  What a treat it was to strike up a conversation with a fellow entrepreneur from my local area. Shelley is a WAHM: A work at home mom. While juggling motherhood, she also co-edits and co-publishes Macaroni Kid.  

For folks that have never heard of Macaroni Kid, what service does it provide for local community?
Macaroni Kid is a hyper-local website and weekly e-newsletter built for moms in the Fort Mill / Tega Cay, SC community.  Our main focus is sharing the best events for kids and families in our area and we run articles on everything from kid crafts to dinner recipes.  We also work closely with local businesses that are of interest to our target audience, coordinating specials and events for our readers.

What are some of your favorite family-friendly activities in the Fort Mill/Tega Cay area? 
We tell moms to check our Facebook page everyday because there is always something fun going on.  For example, Macaroni Kid recently sponsored a “Pinkalicious” tea party at Shug-A-Bug Kids Spa for girls.  The tea party consisted of fingernail painting, “glamour shots”, an etiquette class and catered snacks.  A fun event coming up is the National Costume Swap Event we’re doing with The Bump Maternity Boutique in Fort Mill.  Moms can bring old Halloween costumes during our drop off week and receive a ticket for a “new” gently worn costume.  

A lot of the moms in your network are multi-tasking Mama's. How does Macaroni Kid work with moms who are looking to promote their businesses?
One exciting promotion coming up is our first Macaroni Kid Fort Mill “Independent Consultant” guide. For four weeks (starting mid-September), we are highlighting local moms and their direct sales companies. We want to create awareness to local moms that there ARE options out there that will allow them to work from home. Options that are not scams, and options that will be fun!   Local fundraisers are always our favorite activities to be involved in.  It’s a great way to meet the community, build your brand name and support a great cause.  For example, we are active supporters of Team Saving Savannah and are helping coordinate Savannah’s Spirit Night at BT’s Burger Joint on Wednesday, September 5, 2012.  Come by and check it out- good food for a great cause:

What is the biggest challenge you face as Co-Editor/Co-Publisher?
A lot of businesses and advertisers want access to our audience, but if we go too far in that direction, we lose credibility and lose our voice.  So it can be a challenge balancing our relationship with local businesses with the interests of our audience.  The core of our business is sharing relevant, useful content with moms and families- so we’ve chosen to limit advertising to what’s appropriate, which sometimes means saying no.   

What is your #1 tip for balancing work and family?
Have lots of coffee in stock at your house and always sit down for family dinner! 

Thanks so much to Shelley for taking the time to share the benefits and fun that Macaroni Kid brings to the local community.  To reach Shelley and Macaroni Kid visit their website, become a fan on their Facebook page, or sign up for their Twitter feed.