Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Cravings

Courtesy of Annie's Eats

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Spotlight Entrepreneur: Melanie Berger of Mariwear

Melanie Berger of Mariwear
Melanie Berger of Mariwear
This February we are spotlighting Melanie Berger- owner and creator of the innovative loungewear line Mariwear. If you're a mom like me, you've been caught in the carpool line or at the bus stop in some less than flattering ensembles that would make for a suitable submission to a worst-dressed list. Why the lack of attention to our appearance? It's not that we don't want to look good, it's more likely that we just don't have the time to pull together a stylish, comfortable alternative to our mismatched socks, tank and pajama bottom or yoga pants.  That's where the lifestyle apparel line by Mariwear comes in.  Melanie's story is like many entrepreneurs I speak with. They crave for something to be brought to market for years and realize at some point that they are the person to take the leap and do it.

Melanie has done her research to achieve both form and function with style.  What's more, products are manufactured in the USA with luxe fabrics that are CO2 neutral. And for February she's extending a special, risk-free promotion. Enter code: LUV2SHIP at checkout and take advantage of both FREE SHIPPING and FREE RETURNS. (See for details)  I can't wait to place my order and become carpool chic!

After you've had a chance to read Melanie's Q&A, hop on over to her recently launched Kickstarter campaign to view a fun behind-the-scenes video of Melanie in action. She has a new product line in the works and you have the opportunity to be a part of it!

Tell us about your business and target market.
I founded the business with a vision and a dream to introduce a new, innovative product to women that didn’t currently exist in the marketplace.   Two years in product development working with industry experts resulted in this exciting alternative for women to change out of their bra at the end of the day and into apparel that still allowed them to feel good about the way they looked.  Mariwear was designed for women by women and has built-in shape and support.  No wires, no fasteners so it is comfortable enough to sleep in – hence, women only have to change once.  The concept is to:  Lounge in Confidence, Sleep in Comfort and Rise in Style.
Originally conceived as “loungewear you can sleep in and sleepwear you can lounge in”,Mariwear has rapidly evolved into lifestyle apparel.  It is resonating with women for a multitude of reasons and Mariwear’s uses expands many age groups ranging from young moms to women in their 60s.  Women seek comfort and want to “still feel dressed” when staying at home with their children, rushing kids to the bus stop, working from home,     entertaining house guests, yoga, travel, spa treatments… the list goes on and on.

When did you decide it was the right time to take the leap into self-employment? 
When I awoke one day and realized that this product was waiting for ME – not someone else to bring it to market.  I had waiting more than 10 years for that someone else and all that time my desire for it never waned.  More importantly, I found myself surrounded by friends who all expressed the same desire.   At this point I had already had already had a successful career, spent 15+ years doing the parenting, school commitments, charity work etc and was out of the intense demands of parenting.  While it is difficult to fully predict the demands of this type of venture, the timing seemed right.

What is the most challenging aspect about being an entrepreneur? 
Recognizing that you can’t do it all.  Your life as you once knew it would never be the same.  Things that you once did and likely took for granted are the things your friends are still doing but you have to remind yourself that your are on a journey and it is taking you places that you’ve never been before and that is part of the adventure.  Letting go of the desire to live both lives.

What is your #1 tip for balancing work and family? 
Force yourself to step away in the evenings and some on the weekends – especially if you work from home.  PLAN and SCHEDULE time into your calendar to do things fun that you and your spouse/family enjoy.

What small business resource(s) can you NOT live without? 
Networking is my number one resource.  I thrive on meeting new people, making new connections and finding ways to extend the business.  I get a thrill each time I meet someone and then make a “six degrees of separation” connection.  I believe everyone you meet will take you somewhere new on some level and that people drive business.

What advice would you give to a friend who was thinking about starting a business? 
First and foremost, challenge yourself to see if you genuinely are wired to not only take on the challenge, but be passionate about it even in the tough times.  There are many resources (books, online etc.) that give you opportunities to do some self-evaluation and reflection about who you are and what it takes to pull it off.  BE HONEST when going through this process.  Even if it shows it’s not the right thing for you, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t a great person: just that this isn’t the right path.

Favorite social media site? 
Facebook – so easy to connect with people on a personal level

What book has been an inspiration to you as an entrepreneur?

When you’re not working, what is your favorite activity?
Being anywhere in the warm sunshine.  Walking, biking and hiking.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?
I would like Mariwear to transform the way women dress at the end of their day and to become a staple in every woman’s wardrobe so that she can get comfortable but still feel good about the way she is dressed.  To make this happen, I envision Mariwear making it onto the shelves at higher end stores such as Nordstrom and Bloomingdales while licensing it through other retailers in mid-level locations.

Would you like to connect with Melanie?

And don't forget to: