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MadeFreshly + Handmade Success: Sweet Threads Interview

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As an online destination for new and vintage children’s clothing collections, Sweet Threads was born out of a love for hand-selected pieces. Getting their online start through Etsy, and now with a brick and mortar location (as well as a MadeFreshly shop!), this company is a unique, one-of-a-kind boutique business that has capitalized on social media and online marketing. With features in Apartment Therapy, Long Beach Business Journal, My Cakies and more, you’ll want to learn more about Sweet Threads below. Sweet Threads is a proud MadeFreshly shop, and one that we’re very excited to share.

Read more as Shella Garcia, an entrepreneur and MadeFreshly store owner, shares her story.

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Tell us about your business and the types of products you sell.

Sweet Threads is an online destination for NEW + VINTAGE Children’s collection of clothing, shoes and accessories. Vintage pieces and brands are carefully hand picked and curated with the idea of offering the market with unique kids fashions we would want to wear ourselves yet still playful.

WHERE WE GET OUR VINTAGE – Our vintage is carefully selected and hand picked from our obsessive thrift trips, estate sale hunting, and yard sale treasures. We are in it for the hunt and we love that we can share our gems with you! Each piece is hand washed or dry cleaned as best we can. Vintage means PreLoved and will have normal wear and slight imperfections which is expected and to be enjoyed.

Why did you start Sweet Threads and what is the story behind it?

Sweet threads was created from the ideas of two friends. While one friend had the idea of children’s fashions, while the other had a love for vintage, collaborated their ideas and developed a Vintage Children’s Fashion business.  As soon as we found our niche, we were obsessed with the idea. We later brought in the “NEW” designer brands as this is a reflection of how we dress. We like to mix it up. I may wear a vintage skirt, but my t shirt is store bought. We couldn’t wait to share our vision to the world.

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How do you get past fears and self doubt to share your awesomeness with the world?

By just doing it. I think it’s fear of not achieving my dreams that drives me and I honestly don’t think I’ll ever completely got rid of all my fears, but I just knew if I wanted to get from point A to point B there was no other way of getting there but by just doing it. So I had took that risk and decided to not look back. Just keep going forward.

What inspires you be an entrepreneur?

I’ve always been a creative person and thought I was good at being a creative but at the same time I had a lot of self doubt or fear of rejection. It was until I introduced our idea to social media that I started to realize I had something special. The positive responses from others sparked something in me. Knowing that our ideas were being enjoyed by other people than myself made me proud. So proud,  I knew I had to share it and the only way to nurture this idea was to become an entrepreneur.

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Where do you sell your products both online and offline?

We sell our products online at http://www.shopsweetthreads.com and offline at our brick + mortar shop in Long Beach, CA.

How do you manage a brick and mortar store, online store, and an Etsy store?

By having a brick + mortar, it allows me to work on the online store, Etsy and Ebay when there is downtime. I am also always on my phone which isn’t necessarily a good thing, but that’s the way I am able to give great customer service by responding in a very quick manner.

The way I manage inventory at the moment is when I list NEW + VINTAGE products on our main website and any vintage items posted that week will also list on Etsy and Ebay. Anytime a product sells in any of these 4 places, I immediately remove it.

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How did you make the transition from part time to full time?

At the time we were working demanding full-time jobs. So we started off small by opening up an Etsy store in December 2011 selling only vintage children’s fashions. About half a year selling there, we decided to continue online to gain an online presence and decided to open up our own official website in April 2012 selling NEW and VINTAGE Children’s fashions.

This was all around the same time when mobile boutiques were gaining momentum and thought it was a great opportunity to have face-to-face interactions with our customers and sell on weekends. Bought a VW bus and pimped out the vehicle with uber cute graphics and colors to resemble an ice cream truck. Took baby steps and decided the Rose Bowl Flea Market in September 2012 would be the best place to debut our new ride and business. It so happened that on our very first flea market experience, we met the customer who we knew could help us. They always say it’s who you know to break into an industry. We met one of the top baby bloggers, Ashley Jenner from http://www.thestorkandthebeanstalk.com. As corny as it sounds, life works in funny ways and I do believe we were destined to meet her that very day.

She wrote about us and featured our vintage children’s fashions on her blog. She was a real supporter from the beginning by using her creative outlet to let others have the opportunity to learn about our business. We continued selling monthly at the flea markets for almost a year before we decided to open a brick + mortar. By this time, we had gained a following on social media and when we found the spot in March 2013 we are in now, we decided it was time. We were ready to leave our day jobs to pursue our dreams. We officially opened our doors in July 2013.

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What made you decide to create your own online store?

We were selling vintage children’s fashions on Etsy and felt it was too competitive. When we decided we wanted to sell NEW Designer brands we felt it was the perfect opportunity to not only open our own online store but to also start gaining an online presence.

Share your experience with using MadeFreshly.

I really enjoy using MadeFreshly as they make it easy to create your own website by choosing pre-designed templates but still having the option to make design changes.

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What is your favorite feature of your MadeFreshly store?

The SEO Keyword feature helps us be found within Google.

What has been your biggest success with Sweet Threads?

The biggest success to date is that we opened up a brick and mortar store in Long Beach, CA. Opening up a brick and mortar gave us an opportunity to meet our customers and interact with them to explore our customers needs.

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What has been the biggest hurdle when you created your business?

Obtaining a following and letting people know that we’re out there. We knew there was a following for vintage children’s clothes but we weren’t sure how find them.

How did you overcome it?

The power of social media. Our favorite social media tool we love to utilize is Instagram. Instagram has helped our business tremendously as it helped us find our customers and obtain a following and maintain communication with our customers from all over the world.

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What do you love most about working on your business?

Best part is being able to bring happiness to our customers when they come into our store or see something on social media that triggers a memory. It’s very nostalgic for them to be able to bring happy childhood memories which is priceless to us. What also makes us happy is that we become friends with some of our customers based on their experience.

What success tips can you give to someone wanting to start their own online store with MadeFreshly?

Patience. It takes time to build anything and it can’t be done overnight.  The main thing that helped us out was creating that following to let people know who we are and where we can be found. Your biggest free resource is social media which is something anyone can build as long as you put passion into it.

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As with any business, Sweet Threads has had it’s share of successes and challenges. Learning patience, capitalizing on resources available and using online and offline business solutions has helped Sweet Threads become the success story that it is today. Are you interested in launching your online store, just like Sweet Threads? Creating your business with MadeFreshly is easy. Start by downloading our planner and get selling in as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Editor’s note: Thank you MadeFreshly for this fab interview and thank you Sweet Threads for being a part of our Shop Local Directory! Remember, if you decide to upgrade from the Starter Free Plan be sure to use the discount code “handmadesuccess” to receive 25% of your first 3 months!!!

A New Year + A New Online Shop for You From MadeFreshly!

madefreshly1It’s a guest post! We’re very excited to announce this brand new partnership with ourselves, MadeFreshly, and Handmade Success. In an effort to help handmade sellers in creating their online store, this partnership aims to provide some of the most creative and unique artists and designers with an online framework and easy-to-use website to sell their products.

Here at MadeFreshly, we keep it easy, simple and straightforward. We want to help you promote and deliver your product in one unified online store that is able to managed on-the-go. By setting-up an online store for your business, you can not only display your products visually, you can also reach a brand new demographic and audience through digital sales and transactions. Our platform offers you the ability to brand a home for your products, be easy-to-reach and available to your customers and expand your database. How could you say “no”?

In comparison to many other online e-commerce platforms, MadeFreshly is designed to be easy to understand and set-up. It is made for the independent, small business seller – YOU. We take pride in creating a great platform and product for our customers.

Why I started MadeFreshly:

I needed to create an online store for my clothing business. I used open source software, then tried just about every hosted ecommerce software that was out there. Even with a technical background in web design, it was hard to set up and customize the online store to get exactly what I wanted – and a lot of the designs that were available were just not up to my standards. I ended up shutting down the clothing business, but I kept thinking about how frustrated I was when trying to create the online store. With this in mind, I set out to make someone simple, well designed and fun to use for just about anyone. My partner and I spent years understanding usability and software design and madefreshly is the product of our love and labor. Ecommerce can be very confusing, and overwhelming so we set out to fix this! Although all sorts of business sell with MadeFreshly, we found that the handmade community is one of the most supportive communities of entrepreneurs – and this is why I wanted to start this partnership with Handmade Success. It falls along our core love of helping the “small guy” do what they love. We want to help you.

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Are you ready to sign-up for your online store? Sign up at the MadeFreshly Registration page. Once you sign up you will have to confirm your email before logging into your account. You will start off with the forever free plan. The Starter Free plan is perfect for starting a small store and for you to get acquainted with the platform. Once you feel up to it, you can upgrade to a premium plan that jives with you. Premium Plans have advanced feature like SEO, extra themes, advanced customization and lots more. Go to the Pricing and Plans page to find the plan that is right for your store. Setting up and designing your online store takes 5 minutes – we promise. Check out this link here for all of the juicy details.

Have questions? We have answers. Get started with registering for an account with us and, if you have any questions along the way, please do leave a comment or check out our support center. We can’t wait to see you on MadeFreshly!

Editor’s Note: I am so excited about this partnership with Trin Salaloy  from MadeFreshly! Be sure to check out the amazing Online Store Planner above to get all set up with your new online store. You can even check off tasks and take notes right from your computer! You can check out some of the cool shops that have already signed up here: https://madefreshly.com/samples.

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If you decide to upgrade from the Starter Free Plan be sure to use the discount code “handmadesuccess” to receive 25% of your first 3 months!!!

You can share your questions in the comments or email Trin at trin@madefreshly.com or me at kerry@handmadesuccess.com. Stay tuned each week this month for more posts about creating an amazing new shop for your business!

 

Success in 2014: Desktop Wallpaper + Inspiring Links!

success2014smallHappy New Year! I am so excited to embrace 2014!!! This year I am focusing on Handmade Success and my Yoga + Craft Workshops. I have a ton of great things planned on this site for us all to discover our own version of success this year. I am so excited and can’t wait to spend this year growing with you, sharing our stories and supporting each other!

I kept this month’s wallpaper simple and to the point. I thought you might enjoy this burst of encouragement every time you turn on your computer.

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Here are a few resources I am using to start creating success in 2014:

Thank you so much for helping make 2013 so great! I can’t wait to hear what you are creating for 2014! Share in the comments if you like!!! Big hugs and mucho support coming your way!

p.s. Stay tuned for an announcement of a cool partnership next week!

 

Let’s Make 2014 Amazing!!!

 

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Right around this time last year had just moved back to Arizona after living in Chicago for 13 years. It was during this time that I started seeing the name Leonie Dawson all over the place and reading blog posts about her Amazing Biz and Life Planners. I was so intrigued by this vivacious woman and all of the amazing testimonials from small business owners who had benefitted from these planners. But I felt overwhelmed at the time and did not order one.

Well, this Leonie kept popping up all year long. The more I read her posts and watched her videos the more I knew she could help me get where I want to go while also help me enjoy where I am right now. So, in October I took the plunge and joined the Amazing Biz and Life Academy! I have loved taking in all of the amazing information, resources, worksheets, courses, and guided meditations. I have been blown away by the content and I enjoy how I feel after reading or listening to it.

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At the beginning of this month Leonie released her 2014 Create Your Amazing Year in Life & Business Workbook. I knew that I wanted mine so I could be one of the small business owners who talks about how amazing the workbook is and how it has helped me reach my goals in both my business and my life this time next year. Once I realized that there is a part called “Celebrating and Releasing 2013” I knew that I wanted to share with workbook with you before the new year. I love the idea of focusing on the past year to help you learn from it, enjoy the moment and move forward towards your dreams.

I am all set to reflect on 2013 and start making some AMAZING things happen in my biz and life in 2014! Come join me! If you already have the workbook let me know and maybe we can help each other out. If you want to go buy yours you can go here. She has a Biz version and a Life version which are $9.95 and a combo version for $17.90. I opted for the combo version.

If you don’t know anything about these workbooks check out this link and watch the video too! If you don’t know anything about Leonie Dawson or want to know more be sure to check out her site and all of her free goodies! This includes her free Blogging and Biz Star Ebook.

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All of the links here will take you to more detailed descriptions and awesome testimonials. They are also affiliate links. Now that I have been in the Academy for 2 months I feel confident with how amazing everything Leonie offers and am comfortable sharing it here. Let me know if you are in the Academy too!

I can’t wait to dive into the beautiful pages of this planner to start creating an amazing 2014! Let me know if you will be joining me!

4 Finance Tips for The Creative Mind

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You prefer art to accounts, bows before business plans and thread over data.

You’d rather use receipts for your next paper mache project than enter them in your checkbook.

You are a creative and finances are not your game.  After all, finance is boring and you are not.  How does that saying go?  Nothing is certain except taxes and death.

See what I mean….

But what if it doesn’t have to be that way?

I’ve got four tips just for you to help push through the drudgery of business finance so you can focus on what you do best – being creative!

  • Find an expert you jive with.  

Finding a bookkeeper or CPA is a lot like finding a hairdresser.  Some are awkward and it feels as if your appointment will never end.   But when you find her – you know the one who blow-dries your hair just the way you like it.  She’s fun to talk to, does a super fabulous job and you can’t wait to see her again.  In fact, you don’t even mind paying.

Did you know not all CPA’s are dull?  (shhh – it’s a secret) When we’re not counting beans, a few of us are creative just like you.  You just need to know where to look.

The best place to start is to get recommendations from your creative community. Once you’ve got a few names, make some calls and interview a couple.  Don’t feel bad if you don’t connect.   Keep trying.  You’ll find “the one”.

  • Pick your poison – paper or electronic.  

To keep your costs down, you will need to do some of the paperwork yourself.  I know, sigh.  Big sigh.  But, the great thing about our world today is the ability to choose between paper or electronic.  If you’re a techie, there are a ton of programs out there to help with your finances.

These programs make it easy to key in your receipts (eye roll) and they will automatically categorize everything and create pretty little reports.

You can hire an assistant to get you set up.  (Fiverr is a great place to get questions answered or data entry services for inexpensive).  Then it’s just a matter of you maintaining it.  Leave the big stuff to your CPA – hand everything over once a month, once a quarter, and once a year.  They’ll do the dirty deed of filing your taxes.

But, you don’t have to use an electronic system.  If you’re like me, you love paper.  There is something so perfect about the shuffle of a paper, the sound of the stroke of your pencil across the page and the sight of a list that gives me goose bumps.  (No?)

The other fun thing about paper is the design.  As a creative, you’ve got an eye for design and so finding a fun system makes it a little less detestable.  And you can still hand it all over to your CPA when you’re ready.

Here are a few sources of paper-based finances:

The Fiscal Flamingo (shameless plug)

All About The House

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  • Focus on what’s important. 

Don’t get lost in the details.  Figure out the bare minimum that you need to do.  Forget about the rest and don’t feel guilty about it.  Not sure what the minimum is – hire a consultant for a one-time fee.

  • Don’t ignore it.

You know how when you don’t like to do something, you, well, just don’t do it.  Because you’re an adult.  You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.  I hear ya.

But listen; if you don’t take care of your finances, they become a big scary beast.  Before you know it you’ll have a gazillion shoeboxes of receipts (or maybe you won’t because you throw everything away – which is worse than a gazillion shoeboxes, by the way).  Everything gets out of control and you firmly plant your butt in the denial chair.

Don’t let it get to that point.

Come up with a plan for your finances and create a routine (aka money date).  Here is an example of my business routine.  Every Thursday, I turn on Project Runway, make a cup of chamomile tea and pour of bag of mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in a bowl.  I spend an hour entering my receipts into Quicken, filing them into an envelope and balancing my cash against what the bank says.  I complete my financial worksheets and file them in my financial three-ring binder.  I do this every Thursday without fail (unless I’m on vacation).  It’s become a habit.  An enjoyable habit, thanks to Project Runway, tea and chocolate.

As Tim Gunn says, “Make It Work!”

I bet you can come up with something better!

What’s your new money routine going to be?

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Taynia Aarnink – The Fiscal Flamingo

Bio:  Taynia is the founder of The Fiscal Flamingo, a sassy website dedicated to helping women navigate their journey from debt to decadent. When she’s not rallying big spendahs and turning them into dynamite savers, she designs blogs and websites at The Skinny Mermaid Design Studio.