This month I'm pleased to introduce Monica Wreede of Connectz! Monica is an accessory designer who was inspired to launch her business after her daughter was born. Learn about some fantastic resources that Monica can't live without, her experience with the patent-process, and business advice she would give her own girlfriend! As a special treat Monica has also shared a coupon code. Use "Connectz" for a 15% discount at checkout!
What made you decide to take the plunge into self-employment?When my daughter was born nearly 8 years ago, Inspiration to design fell into my lap. I wanted all of those cute, fluffly and pretty things for her but knew I couldn't afford to pay for them. That is when I started creating my very own lines of accessories for her. My intentions were to just make it a little hobby while staying at home and of course to gussy up my daughter. I then was getting tons of compliments on my daughter's accessories while we were out and about and that was my ah ha moment. Now I can stay home and make a little extra money on the side while being a stay at home mom. After a few years I got pregnant with my youngest son. I took a break for a little while and got back into designing. From there I wanted to offer more than just accessories. I eventually taught myself how to sew and starting my own children's clothing lines called The Boutique Kids.
Along the way, I stumbled into designing flip flops with my accessories attached. I knew there had to be a better & easier way of attaching accessories. That is when I designed & filed a patent on my new design. That is when Accessory Connectz was born.
What is the biggest challenge that you face as an entrepreneur?I would say my biggest challenge of being an entrepreneur would be trying to balance my daily life with 3 kids, time, a house to maintain, and funding. Funding has been one of the major challenges in starting my business. When you put money in that you really didn't have in the first place it becomes rather challenging to find more funds to put back into the business to make it grow the way you want it to.
If you had to give a piece of advice to a girlfriend that was thinking about starting her own small business, what would that be?If one of my girlfriends were to start their own business, I would of course support her in any way possible. I would also warn her of the challenges, time it involves & mostly funding to get it off of the ground. It takes a very dedicated & hard working person to succeed in this line of business. Especially stay at home moms.
What small business resources can you not live without?I have had great support from my local college. They have mentored me through situations and given me great advice for my next steps in business. I am also a member of Mompact. A very talented group of savvy women entrepreneurs who are facing the same challenges as me. We share resources and support each other the best way that we can. They have helped me tremendously throughout my journey.
Recently you stumbled upon a unique design that you filed a patent on. What did you learn from the patent process?The patent process is quite scary. I had no idea where to begin. I contacted local attorneys around my area and we did not have any that handle patents. I was referred to my current patent attorney and started the whole process. It's not like you can just say "hey" I need a patent. There are countless hours researching for anything close to your invention, attorney fees, claims, professional drawing fees, and filing fees. The scary thing is, after all of that hard work and money spent you are still not guaranteed a patent from the Patent Office. It's a nail biter.
You design both children’s clothing and accessories- what makes designing for children different than designing for adults?I can say that children's clothing & accessories have been my niche ever since my daughter arrived. She is the one who has mainly inspired my designs. I love designing unique & frilly things for girls and I even have a little boys line of products. Although I have designed for women many times, children's design is mostly where my inspiration & passion is. Over all, I just love to design!
This just in! The Dallas Market Center announced the finalists of The Next Big Thing, a national product search contest – and Accessory Connectz made it to the final 3! If you have a chance, visit this link, http://www.dallasmarketcenter.com/blogs/knowitall/2012/04/vote-for-your-favorite-the-next-big-thing-finalist/ please cast your vote to help Monica win a prize package worth more than $12,500 including a $2,500 cash prize, exhibit space at the January 2013 Dallas Total Home & Gift Market, a profile in one of Dallas Market Center’s award-winning custom publications, consultations from leading industry experts regarding branding, public relations, visual merchandising and much more.
Ready to use that coupon code? Visit Monica's website and find her on Facebook and Twitter!