Archive for May, 2012

Zippers, Samples & Babies

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Alesya Bags Package 1Last Thursday, the final piece to the puzzle arrived – the zippers, zipper pulls and interior Alesya Bags tag.  I was thrilled to be able to approve them all.  This is fantastic for a few reasons – but first and foremost, it keeps our timeline on track.  Now the factory can officially move forward with production of the final samples.  A VERY good thing.

I also just received the news that the final samples bags will be in Charleston on or before June 2nd.  This allows me to get the photo shoot scheduled which is a big linchpin in the process.  This includes scheduling my favorite photographer and stylist along with other help since I’ll only be two weeks out from surgery.

Alesya Bags Package 2I also need to find a model or models, scout locations, procure props, schedule hair and make-up folks…the list goes on.  People think this part of fashion is glamorous – but it is not.  The outcome is glamorous.  The rest is just really bleeping important.

The photos are used for everything.  The website, press materials, buyers, print materials, emails – you get the idea.  And you have one or two days to get it right.

People have asked me “Are you going to take maternity leave?”  To which I say “Do the three days I have to stay in the hospital count?”  I’m not a superwoman, or super mom, or even Mom Enough – barf, don’t even get me started there.  Just a business owner who knows things can’t come to a complete standstill because I’m having a baby.

Alesya Bag Package 3Will they slow down?  Of course.  Can I shut down my email and look it next month?  Nope.  And I’m OK with that.  It is what I signed up for.

If you’re on Baby Watch 2012, tomorrow is the big day.  I’m feeling very done and the birth can’t come a moment too soon.  My ability to keep up with work has slowed considerably in the past week and I’ve hand to throw my hands in the air with a few projects.  Big learning from my first child – make your health your first priority or pay later.

When we have any news I’ll post it.  Crazy to think I’ll be increasing my family’s bottom line by 25% in just about 24 hours!

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Packaging Change

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Alesya Bag BoxFor the Fall 2012 line there will be a change in packaging.  Since I’ve received so many comments on the way the bag is boxed, I wanted to tell you what is going on and why.

I love my original packaging.  Stitch Design Co. created it with my initial direction and totally exceeded my expectations.  I wanted the box to be very high end – something you would keep.  My mom likes to keep ribbon and wrapping paper in old retail boxes and I had visions of Alesya Bags clients using their boxes again and again as well.

The packaging was VERY well received.  People raved about it to me…they even Pinned it.  It was exactly the response I wanted.

Alesya Bags Tissue and TapeAt the beginning of 2012 my father (who handles my accounting) and I closed out the books for 2011.  It was an interesting exercise because it was my first year in business and we’d just had a flurry of sales from the holiday season.  While I came close to breaking even, I most certainly did not.  I’m still operating this business in the red.

My dad looked at my major expenses and started reciting them off to me.  “Cost of Goods Sold (the bags themselves), Marketing (logo creation, design, photography, etc.), Internet Expenses (website creation, upkeep, online sales platform) and hmmm…Packaging.”

Crap.  Packaging.  I knew it was expensive, but had no idea it would make my top five line items.  That wasn’t good.

A lot of companies add the cost of packaging into their final retail price.  I had not.  The price of the bag is only related to the actual cost of the bag.  Looking back, perhaps this was a mistake.  Or perhaps I just wanted the high end packaging so badly that I didn’t care.

Even Penelope Trunk's cat loved the packaging!

But I have to care.  I can’t run this business in the red!  And now that I have the start-up costs behind me it is really obvious what my ongoing costs will be.

The boxes are purchased in quantities of 500.  Each box is $8.50.  Once you add on the tissue paper, card and shipping box the cost goes over $10.  Plus the cost to actually package the bag which is around $5.

I couldn’t stomach the thought of changing the packaging.  The box was part of my vision for the brand.  My marketing ego was getting the best of me.

But then then I got some hints.  A client in New York City said she saw another Alesya Bags box when she was going to throw hers out.  (She thought it was a good thing – “You are taking over the city!”)  I had one of my own boxes rip and had to get rid of it.  And one of my best friends Charlotte said “I kept the box for several months and finally had to throw it away because I just didn’t have room for it.  But it made me sad!” (I know, she’s too kind.)

The evidence was clear.  As much as people liked my boxes, they ultimately had to throw them away.  Sigh.  That’s not good for a Top 5 expense.

Final Alesya Bag Box PurpleThis time around the box will be different.  As you might have guessed, that is the rendering above.  This will be strong enough to ship the bag so I won’t need two boxes.  Tissue will still be included, along with a dust bag.

My overall packaging costs will be cut by more than 50%.  This is a VERY good thing for a new business.  Cutting costs means you can stay in business!

But what do you think?  Will you miss the high end boxes?  Should they return for Christmas?  Do you think clients would be willing to pay more for gift boxes?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on my packaging saga.

 

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Wait List Growing

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Alesya Bags ZipperThank you to everyone who has signed up for the wait list.  Every new name that shows up gives me a little kick of adrenaline.  The list is up over 730 people!  I can’t wait to send an email to each one of you when the new bags come in.

This week I’m waiting to see the final zippers and zipper pulls for the new bags.  It’s the final piece to the production puzzle!  (Well, at least we hope.)

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Sell Sheet

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Alesya Bags Sell SheetAfter hiring Jim, one of the sales tools he asked for was a Sell Sheet (pictured above).  I’ve done these at other organizations – at ePrize we called it a one sheeter – and it is a useful tool.  The trick is to decide what information REALLY needs to be on there and what can be left off.  There will always be a pull between readability and amount of text.

After a bit of back and forth this is what we came up with.  You can download the full PDF if you want to read it word for word.  While I still contend my demo video is my best sales tool I wanted to post this sheet so you could see what else we’re using.  I’m sure many of you use similar marketing materials.

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Jim Debetta

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Jim DeBettaAs many of you know, my next big goal is to have Alesya Bags in retail outlets.  To do this, you need to get in front of buyers.  While I could go to buyers myself, I decided to get a hired gun.

Why?

I wanted someone who knew the ropes.  Had existing relationships.  Could educate me on the process.  Was a pro.  My goal was to find the fastest path to the greatest numbers of buyers.

Enter retail product placement specialist Jim Debetta.

Jim has helped thousands get their products in stores.  He knows the business inside and out.  He’s connected me with professionals he trusts.  And he’s FAST – Holy Toledo.  I’ve never met someone as quick to respond as Jim.

I met Jim at Spark & Hustle last year in Atlanta.  He gave a great presentation about how to sell to major retailers.  After his talk I stalked waited for him in the hallway so I could meet him in person.  At the beginning of the year we officially started working together.

Jim Debetta Spark and Hustle

Jim mobbed at Spark & Hustle

** Side note on conferences – Josh Linkner always told me the goal of attending any event was to make one or two really great contacts.  Don’t get worked up if the entire seminar isn’t perfect for you or the keynote speaker sucked. Josh is 100% correct – I’d go back to Spark & Hustle just to meet Jim again. **

We are in the process of introducing Alesya Bags to stores.  While I’m not ready to share specific progress yet – I’m a firm believer that everything is sales is talk until you get a contract or check – we’ve had some encouraging feedback.

Jim is compiling a list of retailers who want sample bags.  Just like many of you, we’re waiting on pins and needles for the new bags so we can send the samples out!  We don’t want to miss the all important holiday season and have deadlines to hit.

After the buyers see the samples they will decide whether or not to do a test.  This could be anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred bags.  Some of the larger chains might also decide to do regional tests.  I’m open to it all!  As soon as we have a contract in place I will let you know.  Exciting!

I’m proud to have Jim on my team.  Contact him if you’re looking for a great team member too.  Also, Spark & Hustle has expanded it’s reach this year.  Here are the 2012 tour dates – Jim will be Atlanta again.  Very reasonably priced!

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