To accomplish great things, we must not only act but also dream, not only dream but also believe.” – Anatole France
Peggy Schafer Vincent is the mother of 2 boys ages 12 and 14 and founder of Comfy Cozy, inc. She designs magical glow-in-the-dark pillowcases and apparel from her home-based business in East Fallowfield, Pennsylvania, about an hour west of Philly.
MG: Where do you sell your products?
PV: comfycozy.com– Hoping to branch out to catalogs again and retail stores this fall.
MG: How has new technology affected your personal life/business? What technology tools do you use?
PV: It makes my head spin, eats up precious time and makes me crazy. That being said, I wish most of the new technology had been around when I started my business 17 years ago! I’m amazed at how “easy” it is to launch a new company and immediately have social media and internet outlets to introduce it to the world.I didn’t own a computer or printer when I started my business, had to go to Kinko’s to make copies of artwork. When I finally got a computer, you had to PAY for the internet by the minute, web site creation was a nightmare. I went to the library to use their computer software or “borrowed” the software for my home computer. There was no cell phone or email – ACK! How did we EVER make it this far??
MG: Where do you find inspiration for your products?
PV: trade publications, etsy artists amaze me, not sure what else to say here….
MG: Define your style?
PV: whatever. For someone that came out of the fashion industry, I’ve long since lost a defined style.
MG: What did you learn in the fashion industry that helped you become a better business owner?
PV: Having worked in the fashion industry teaches you just how quickly trends can change. For my business, I choose to have designs that are more classic and timeless than trendy. Simply from an investment standpoint, it keeps costs down and reduces inventory. That being said, for clients that want custom designs, I’m always happy to create the design they want.
I also worked both sides of the fence in the industry. I was buyer for a major retail chain which gave me a lot of power to negotiate price with manufacturers and have input in the product line. I was able to request exclusive colors and products, change design elements and packaging.
When I became a Sales Manager for a manufacturer, I was able to understand where our buyers were coming from and didn’t see their requests as “demands” but appreciated that they knew their customers and only wanted to merchandise that would sell on their floors.
All of this helped when I started my own business because I had no misconceptions about what ANYONE would want:) My experience also taught me how to price my product for both wholesale and retail business.
MG: What is the best way to sell to a catalog or retail store?
PV: Reaching the buyer is often the hardest part of selling to anyone. Be prepared for lots of “no’s’ and talking to the wrong buyer before reaching the correct one. Have all your information in a short, sweet sales pitch. Everyone’s time is limited and most buyers aren’t going to be swayed with a big song and dance presentation. Know their markets, the type of merchandise they sell and the price points. If your products don’t meet all of these needs, they aren’t going to be interested.
MG: Tell me about your typical day.
PV: My typical day is about to change. Up until this week, my day included a 2.5 hour job at our elementary school as a recess aide. I’m happy to report that I have resigned as of tomorrow:) School will be out for the summer so my boys will be home for a couple weeks. The first week of July will change again. My oldest will be going to be a Counselor in Training at a Cub/Boy Scout camp for a month. That leaves me with one child. I foresee lining up lots of “kid exchange” days with his friends so I have a couple full days alone.
My plan is to be up by 6am, take the dog for a walk/run and be in my office by 7am.
Getting in a few hours of work, do something with #2 for a bit, then work a few more hours. The interruption with my recess gig was a total drain on my productivity, so I’m looking forward to being able to work for more than 2 hours at a time. (I can give you a more organized hour by hour plan if you’d like).
MG: How do you juggle work and family?
PV: not very well – depending on how you look at it. When my kids are home I tend to let the boys activities and/or actions distract me. Their “playroom” is in the basement under my office and boys are NOT quiet when they play. When my kids are in school and it’s just me and my dog, I am productive and focused. At the end of the day, I am a mom first and business owner second. Some days I want it to be the other way around so that I can grow my business.
MG: Three tips you would like to give to moms who are thinking about starting their own business
PV: Just three? I could go on and on:
- know your market
- don’t create/buy/order inventory until you have a market. This is not field of dreams and customers won’t always come out of the cornfield!
- don’t go into debt thinking that in a few years you’ll be able to pay it back
- keep your finances separate. i always have and know too many folks who didn’t – not a good idea)
- stay positive about your product
- keep positive, encouraging people around you
- get help – you do not know it all!
- never give up – but know when you have to change
MG: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
PV: WOW – big question! In 5 years my oldest son will be in college and #2 will be in 11th grade. I can’t even imagine it at this point. Professionally I want my business to be on solid footing. I don’t have a goal to have a HUGE business, but successful to the point where it is financially viable, helps support our family and be a creative outlet. I have an idea that I may NOT be doing exactly what I am right now and that Comfy Cozy may morph into a different company with different products…we shall see.
Within 5 years I want to have written and published 2 books, maybe 3.
MG: What else would you like to add?
PV: Being a small business owner and mother are the 2 most difficult and rewarding jobs in the world. Combining them and working out of your home is a gift and a curse!
In addition to my line of Glow-in-the-Dark pillowcases & Keepsake Calendars, I also offer Custom Screen Printing services.
My main focus is to work with small businesses to print apparel and other accessory items (totes, towels, blankets etc) that help promote their brand, business or logo wear for employees. I offer options to fit their budget, have low minimums and pricing that they can afford. I offer the same services to organizations (Scouts, Schools, Clubs, Churches, Sports Teams) and keeping the cost down so every member can afford a shirt or sweatshirt.
To see examples of the Custom Designs, click on this link: http://comfycozy.com/catalog.php?category=32
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