Archive for September, 2011

100th Client!

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Leigh SilkunasLate last week, I crossed a fun milestone:  100 Alesya Bag sold.

The best part was the 100th client was Leigh Silkunas, who had just written a blog post about whether or not she should get an Alesya Bag.  (Her Mom voted no.  GASP!)

I’m thrilled to reach this mile stone in under 90 days.  It feels really good.  Thanks again Leigh, I hope you’re enjoying you bag.  And tell your Mom “Hi!” from me.

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Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

I have a fever. And I’m achy. And I’m not eating anything but toast. Are entrepreneurs even allowed to get sick? Sigh.

~All my best from my bed.

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Official Work Schedule

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Thank You Note from Rifle Paper Co.Stephanie, our nanny for the past year, had her last day with us on Thursday.  She had a wonderful opportunity to teach English to students in France.   Of course she took it – I would have killed her if she didn’t.

That doesn’t mean I’m wasn’t super sad to see her go.  My daughter loved her and Stephanie made all our lives better.  We loved having her in our home and wish her only the very best in her new journey.  (If you’d like to follow along, Stephanie has promised me she will keep us up to date on her blog.)

Today, the new nanny starts.  I won’t mention her by name, because I don’t think that’s fair to her.  As you may have noticed I didn’t mention Stephanie by name until now either.

Along with the change I’ve adjusted my schedule.  As I’m sure many of you can relate, I’m still trying to figure out my actual work hours.  Before today I officially worked from 9:00 – 5:00 PM (minus commute) Monday – Thursday.  Now I’ve changed my hours to 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM Monday – Thursday and 8:00 AM – Noon on Fridays.

I’m telling you this because I get a lot of questions and have a TON of discussions with other women about “How I Do It.”  I changed my schedule because I work better in the mornings.  We’ll see how it goes, but already today I’m feeling more productive.

Generally, I work from an office.  This is a MUCH better for situation for me as I get easily distracted at home.  I’m still considering working from home on Fridays, but it makes me worried.  I might make it my coffee shop day as well.

Do you have a regular work schedule?  Or have you worked something else out?  I’d love to hear about it.

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Ambassador Bags – An Update

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Alesya Bags Ambassador NotesToday the ambassador bags were supposed to go out.  Alas, there was a printing issue with their business cards (wrong paper) so we’re hoping for a ship date of tomorrow.  While I’m frustrated with the printing process, I trust my printing partner and know we’ll get it right.  I just hate making anyone wait. I’m sure you know the feeling.

The issue was I wanted a certain thickness to the paper.  The same as my business cards.  These ambassadors need know they are very important team members.  They’ll be getting the same treatment as any full time employee would – a real bag, the real packaging and real business cards.

Besides, that’s just the way I do things.

Speaking of the ambassadors, I’ve had lots of requests for other ambassador programs.  One of the biggest reasons I’m doing this program is to test the college market.  Is there a desire for a nice bag among students?  Or are they happy to shove their laptop in a backpack?  Will they put the Alesya Bag on their Christmas list?  Or do they need Target gift cards more?

I already know there is a need in the professional market.  More specifically, thanks to Corporette I’ve also seen a need in the law firm market.  If you can think of another market that’s under served, I’d love to hear about it.  Perhaps another ambassador program will be in order!

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Where I Was on September 11th

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

On September 11, 2001 I was living near San Jose, CA and up at 5:30 AM to get ready for a 7:00 AM Toastmasters meeting.  When Matt Lauer said they had “reports a plane hit the World Trade Center” I called my father at work.  We both agreed it must be a small plane and someone was protesting the stock market.

In the next hour we realized this was clearly not the case.

I got ready and went to the meeting at a local restaurant.  When I walked in the news coverage was being broadcast over the sound system.  There were screens set up and everyone was staring at them in silence. As I sat down the South Tower fell.  The loss of life just didn’t compute at that moment.

After an hour or so I got in the car and tired to call my parents.  At home.  At work.  All the cell phone lines were tied up.  Finally I got a hold of my grandma.  “Are you worried these people are coming to California?” my grandma said, “Don’t worry, they’re not.”  In a day of complete chaos, my grandma managed to make me feel better.

Then I drove into the office.  At the time I worked for the magazine Electronic Business which was owned by a larger publishing company called Cahner’s (now Reed Business Information).  We followed the news and by Noon we were sent home.  I was exhausted and fell asleep for several hours.

Around 5:30 PM I realized I forgot my phone at the office.  For work,  I’d taken a few flights from California to Boston and there were three phone calls from friends calling to see if I was on one of the planes.  Sadly, my friends were not far off in their line of thinking.

The next day at work we found out two men in our company, Andrew Curry Green and Jeff Mladenik, died on American Airlines Flight 11 which was traveling from Boston to LA.  I did not know these men.  I may have been on a conference call or two with them, but our office in California was small and I interacted with very few people in Boston.  It was terrible, shocking and almost unbelievable news.

Both their wives sent out heart wrenching emails talking about Andrew and Jeff, the men they were and their final days.  Our company set up funds for each family.  I donated as did my family and friends.

As I followed the news insistently for the next few months I tried to figure out why it at all happened.  I’m not sure I ever really did.


On the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 I can’t help but reflect on the changes in my life since then.

I’ve moved away from California, back to Michigan and now to Charleston, South Carolina.  I met my husband, was engaged and got married.  I worked for a company I loved, had to leave it and started my own company.

My grandmother is no longer with us.  My two-year-old daughter is named after her.  I sure wish the two of them could meet.

As I’m watching the coverage I think of the 9/11 heroes and the lives they have missed in the past ten years.  I cry.  Then I cry some more.

By listening to the stories I feel like I’m honoring the heroes in some small way.   I can’t do anything to change what happen to the thousands of people affected, but I hope they know there are millions of people who think of them every year – and not just on the anniversary date.  I hope that means something to them.  Their sacrifice means a great deal to me.

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European Distributor

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Paddington Bear Alesya OpeltDoes anyone know how to get a European distributor?  Or even a mail house? I’ve had at at least 10 requests for bags in Europe, but the cost is so much – $150 + VAT – that it’s simply prohibitive.  How can I get around this cost?

PS – Yes, that is me c. 2004 in London, at The Tower of London with Paddington Bear.  Photo taken by my then boyfriend, now husband.

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Labor Day

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

Tomorrow is Labor Day – a national day of rest.  Officially.  But I won’t be observing this year.

My other job (You know I have another job, right?  I’m Josh Linkner’s booking agent.) is going well.  Very well.  Josh had an amazing summer.  His book was named one of the Top Ten Best Business Books of the year by Amazon.  He added a certain NBA Hall of Fame basketball player to his venture firm.

Earvin Magic Johnson and Josh Linkner Detroit Venture PartnersAnd to top it all off the Obama Administration named him one of the Champions of Change.  He received the award at the White House last month.
Josh Linkner Champions of ChangeAll this fabulous-ness has been fantastic for bookings.  You might call me to book Josh this fall, but I won’t be able to help you.  Josh is booked so solidly, I had trouble getting a half hour meeting in for someone last week.  Wait, I take that back, if you want him on Thanksgiving you could get him them.  I’ll even throw in a turkey – no charge!

As you can imagine, I’m super busy with that job.  Which is a good thing!  But it’s left me little time for the big Alesya Bags projects.  I’m keeping up with the day-to-day, but not the stuff that will grow the business in a meaningful way.

To remedy that, tomorrow I’ll be in the office.  Emailing, orchestrating and generally catching up.  But more importantly, moving forward.

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Get It Out There

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

First Alesya BagsBefore I launched the company, I was very secretive about it.  I didn’t post pictures of the bag on the blog.  Heck, I didn’t post pictures of the packaging, the logo, the website…not one thing.

People were not happy about it.  I had comments on this blog like “why all the secrecy?”  People I knew emailed me and ask to see photos and I wouldn’t let them!  This was serious.

I didn’t even post this photo when the first bags went out (review bags to Penelope Trunk, Arianna Huffington, Shameeka Ayers, Kate Trgovac and Tory Johnson) because I didn’t want to let even the whiskers of the cat out of the bag.

I won’t do it that way again.

Now that people get what I’m doing, they are coming out of the woodwork!  Everyday I get introduced to someone new who wants to help me.  I meet with people who want to see the bag.  Vendors want to see if I can give their business.  Friends even say they can’t believe how “professional” the site looks.  HA!

Lesson learned – YOU have the vision, but others don’t.  Launching FAST is important.  Secrecy is not.

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