Last week this simply lovely comment popped up on the Alesya Bags Facebook Wall from client and ePrize VP of Marketing & Creative Jen Todd Gray:
“I just have to say, your bag is a powerhouse. I traveled to New York today for a conference and my Alesya Bag held – no joke – 2 laptops, 2 iPads, chargers, 3 notebooks and more – AND it looked good. Sign me up for the waiting list for your Summer bags. I can’t wait to own another.”
I mean, an entrepreneur could live on a while on that kind of amazing comment. Shortly after client and VP of Business Development Lisa Feldberg posted this picture saying “The Alesya Bag is everywhere at the MMA!” Thank you Lisa!
Speaking of fab pictures, did you see that ePrize made a job offer over Instagram? It was marketing genius! Here is the now famous picture of ePrize marketing team members Jen Todd Gray and Janice Pollard.
Congratulations to Samantha Bankey on your new job! You’re joining a very innovative team. ~A
Many of you have asked, suggested and kindly insisted you needed something to give people when they ask about the bag. The request usually goes something like this “Whenever I open my bag to get my laptop out, people ask me about the bag. And then they want to know where they can get one. I need to give them something so they have your info! Can you send me some business cards?”
And frankly, this makes me do a fist pump and happy dance. But then I wonder – could I get one step ahead of this? Include a little something in each package to make it easy to spread the Alesya Bags story?
As part of the launch plan for the next line (details coming as soon as I have them) I will be sending out post cards to some members of the press. They are very simple – like the ones you see above – 5X7 with a big picture of the bag.
This fantastic idea is from Amy Flurry in her book Recipe for Press. I’ve seen Amy speak twice, have used her consulting services and keep her book as a reference. She’s also a terribly fun entrepreneur to watch run her business.
Amy’s feedback changed the way I thought about this latest line of bags. I’m excited to show you how her advice made me rethink the visuals. You’ll see a real difference from my previous two lines.
Recently client Jessica Davis asked me for something to use to pass along the Alesya Bags information easily. In fact, she asked twice. I sent her both the postcards from the first line and my business cars. We’ll see which one she likes best!
Now I need to hear from you. When you purchase a bag, what kind of materials would you like included? Are smaller cards better? Do you think the postcards are a good idea? Something different all together? Do let me know! ~A
* * * Update * * *
Both client Carrie here on the blog and client Jeanette over on Facebook mentioned what Bose does with their noise cancelling headphones. It’s such a relevant example I had to share. Take a look – they include Courtesy Cards in the headphone case.
Pretty smart! I look forward to making something like this to match the Alesya Bags brand. ~A
A half hour after I posted this update on my Shark Tank audition experience, I got an email. It was from the producer who had conducted my audition. Guess what? I made it to the 2nd round. I know, I was surprised too!
The next step was to fill out an even larger group of questions, submit to a background check, pull together photos of my business, a head shot (photographed by Charlotte Elizabeth Photographer) and a sample bag. The final step was creating a five minute video. I needed to answer questions like:
How much money do you need from investors and what percentage of your company/idea/product are you willing to give up (e.g., 10%, 40%, etc.)? Be specific.
How will the money be used?
What is so interesting or unique about your product/business?
Why will people feel they must have your product/business?
Is your product or business currently making money? If so, how much revenue has the product or business generated?
How or why does it work? (do a demonstration if you can.)
How much have you invested in your business/product?
When did you start inventing or become an aspiring entrepreneur? What influenced this decision?
Tell us something interesting about yourself.
I was under strict instructions to make the video NOT professional, but I still needed some help. Luckily, the team at The Modern Connection helped me edit the video while still making sure it was NOT up to their normal standards. (Hard when you’re pros like them.)
We filmed at my house, downtown, by the aquarium and at Caviar & Bananas. Some of my favorite clients came to help us out too – big thanks to Melissa Carr and Anne Machowski for make guest appearances (below). You can also see client Brenda Piaskowski in the background with her Alesya Bag!
Why is part of the picture missing? The new summer bags were featured in the tape! (Sign up for the Waiting List now.)
I also thought you’d get a laugh out of this screen grab of me with Modern Connection team member Jessica Turner. Some of my best acting folks.
Now we wait again. I’m not sure how many people make it to the 2nd round or what the exact next step is after that. I have heard if you make you’ll get a call before the end of the month. But you won’t hear anything if you do not make it. As always, I will keep you updated! ~A
Thank you for all your support and encouragement for my Shark Tank tryout! Before I go into the nitty-gritty, WSB-TV in Atlanta ran a story on the open castings. It will give you the full picture of how the day went. And if you don’t blink, you’ll see me waiting in line.
The casting call was on Sunday and I arrived on Saturday night. At 8:30 PM I went to the Fox Theater and there was no one in line – yet. In order to get some sleep, I hired two college students to stand in line for me. They were going to start waiting at midnight, but once I saw no one was in line I called them said they could start at 5 AM.
At 8:30 AM on Sunday morning I arrived at the Fox. Within 10 minutes I realized it was only fifty degrees and I had bare legs. Luckily one of the women in line saw me shivering and gave me one of her extra blankets.
Until 11:00 AM I spent the time posting on social media, chatting with my fellow hopefuls and answering texts that:
1. Yes! I was in line.
2. I was about #100 (#92)
3. No, The Sharks were not there
4. Yes, it was cold but I was OK
5. Yes, there a lot of people in line. (Found out later there were over 1,000 people in line and the producers ran out of wristbands.)
Around 10:30 AM my dear friend Shameeka Shy Ayers came to visit me in line. She gave me a little pep talk and promised me dinner that night. (The highlight of the weekend I might add.)
At 11:00 AM the producers started giving out wristbands and ushering us inside. As part of the first 100 we sat in a smaller theater one the second floor of the Fox. One of the producers got up and told us we’d have one minute to pitch and then answered questions. Some of the high/lowlights:
Q: Can we pitch 3 products?
A: Um yeah, remember that show we that person pitched 3 products to the Sharks?! NO! Pick your product and pitch that!
Q: What if we go over a minute?
A: Make it about a minute! We’re not timing you, but get your point across quickly.
Q: When will find out if we made it our not?
A: You’ll find out anytime between Monday and a year from now. Why a year from now? Well, we might have three corn dog people this year but next year we really need a corn dog person. OK, that was a bad example but you see what I mean.
Sitting with the other entrepreneurs was such fun for me. Everyone had a story and a dream. I met Jeff Larson of Glass Shiner who’s invented a commercial machine to clean and sanitize wine glasses. My friend Veronica James of Urbandillo was there as well. She’s got fashionable products the fold up in a ball (like an armadillo!) for packing. I’d be surprised if both of these folks don’t make it to the next round.
Around 1:30 PM I got my chance to pitch. It was in a big room (the one you saw in the video above) to one casting manager at a table. It was super casual and way more conversational than I expected. I thought it went very well – the casting manager said she was a bag person, was very surprised that the bag was a laptop bag, showed me her own bag and how it wasn’t working to carry her computer and at the end she even asked how she could get a bag.
I left feeling happy and relieved. Like I’d crossed off a bucket list item. So many people in line just had an idea, or a prototype but didn’t know what to do with it. I remember being that person. But now here I was, with a real product and a real company. It felt very satisfying.
I haven’t received a call back. I heard others have (go get ‘em NumNum and Dr. Thais!) and perhaps it’s not in the cards for me right now. Who knows? But I’m so glad I went. It would suck to wonder “what if?”
Again, thank you for being my virtual cheering section. It gave me the nerve to keep going. For now, the Shark Tank process is on hold. But you know what that means? Back to BAGS! I can’t wait to show you the new colors. New on that coming soon…stay tuned! ~A
The headline says it all. This Sunday in Atlanta I’ll be going to the open casting call for Shark Tank. Many you have asked when I’m finally going to take the plunge. The answer is now!
Am I nervous? Of course. But it’s more of an excited nervous. It’s a fun opportunity with not much to lose but some time. Rumor has it that I might have to wait in line all night long because the producers will only see the first 500 people. For those of you in ATL – please don’t tell me it’s going to rain Saturday night?
I need to work on my pitch and the written application. Questions like “What was your biggest disappointment?” and “Why is your business special?” need to be answered.
For the pitch I’m going to show why a boring man bag doesn’t work for stylish women. Since I can’t have live models I’ve asked Kevin Allison and his brother-in-law Robert Buchanan to help me with some illustrations. They came up with the concept below for the Tag It contest. (Smart, right?) I’m excited to see how they tackle my pitch needs.
Since I decided last week that I would go to the casting call I’ve has so many people come out of the woodwork with suggestions and advice. Do you have anything you’d like to add? A way you’d like me to pitch the bags? Advice about going on TV? Bring it on! I’d love to hear your thoughts.
As you know, I’m always working to make your experience with Alesya Bags the best it can be. I often ask for your opinion and implement those changes where ever possible.
Tomorrow you may be receiving a survey in your email box from the Re-Wired Group. They’re an innovation and design firm that we’re working with. If you see the email, we’d really appreciate it if you complete the survey!
I’ll be taking the results and using them to improve the company. Please be as honest as you’d like. Of course, if you have any questions please feel free to email me directly at email@example.com.
Congratulations to Holly Roberson who is the winner of the Tag It Contest! Holly lives here in Charleston and I can hardly wait to see her with the only Red Hot Alesya Bag.
Holly’s winning tagline is:
Wait, where is your laptop?
I know what you’re thinking, “That’s IT?!” Yes. I hear again and again and again from you that’s what people are always saying to you. I’m going to have this printed on a tag that looks like a laptop. It was super direct, simple and on point for the bag functionality. Thank you Holly for having the guts to say it!
Your ideas were mind blowing. I was so impressed with the creativity, thoughtfulness and understanding of the Alesya Bags brand. In fact, they were so amazing, I’m going to be using several of them this fall. I will continue to give credit where credit is due and share how I used your inspiration.
Thank you, thank you for your time and efforts. If you entered the contest look for your $20 Alesya Bags gift card coming via email. Look for more contests as we release the Summer line!
Fry’s Electronics is officially carrying Alesya Bags! They will have both the Black By Popular Demand and the Heavy Metal bags in all 34 stores across the nation. Fry’s ordered 10 bags for each store. So whether you live in California, Oregon, Texas or Arizona you’ll soon be able to drive over to Fry’s and check out Alesya Bags in person.
My partners at Pratt Industries packed all the bags yesterday. It was so exciting to see all those boxes ready to go. You can tell I’m just a little bit happy in the photo above. And that’s only half the order!
This a real full circle moment for me. My first job out of college was working for Alta Vista in Palo Alto, CA. The first day on the job I asked one of my co-workers – Mark Schulze – to show me something Californian during our lunch hour. Where did he take me? Fry’s.
Here’s the Fry’s in Palo Alto from the outside:
And here’s what it looks like on the inside:
And it even has crazy props like this too:
Now do you see why I code named the store “Saloon“? I was trying to give you a hint! Many of the Fry’s stores have their own look and feel. Here’s another one in San Jose, CA:
Fun, right? Yesterday when I saw the shipping label below it all really hit me. This is a big moment.
Thanks for sharing this milestone with me. I can’t wait to share many more with you. This weekend, we celebrate together! ~A
Taking a different approach on the tag concept, Will McCollum sent in this idea from San Francisco.
My wife, who is a fan of your bags, asked me to generate a submission for your Tag It competition. With that please see attached a two page PDF of my tag idea for your laptop bags. I must say I had fun doing this!
Will, you did your wife proud. The idea of a client being able to see the idea from all vantages point is extremely appealing. I’m happy to hear you had fun with it too – that was the point! ~A
House of Fifty Magazine sent me the longest questionnaire I’ve ever received. It included every questions imaginable – including asking when I was going on Shark Tank! The result was the lovely ten page article below. (To read as a PDF click here.) Thank you Janell Beals – I so enjoyed being part of your publication. ~A
You know the saying, "out of necessity comes invention."
For many years, i invested time and money on my wardrobe, only to have "the perfect outfit" ruined by a clunky, bulky, (okay manly!) laptop bag. So, i did what any other american would do: I designed my own line!