Spring Gifts Have Arrived!

SpringGifts-Collage-copy

 

gift-guide

Want to get a sneak peek at more upcoming new gifts? Check out Spring Gift Guide now. View the digital version HERE or head over to the SendOutCards Gift Shop to get physical copy for yourself! Happy sending!

Send a Greeting Card and Change a Life Today!

Peggy Vincent Explains What Aspiring Work-at-Home Moms Need to Know about Pricing, Promotion and the Loneliness Factor | Podcast #006

comfy-cozy-3Peggy Vincent is the innovator of the glow in the dark pillowcase.  She was a young, single professional when she launched her company, Comfy Cozy, Inc. in the mid-1990s.  Peggy shares how her products, company and expectations all changed with marriage and children.

Common Threads

Peggy and I first met around the year 2000.  We belonged to a small, online mastermind of work-at-home moms we called SuperWAHMz.   Lynn Korff, of Korff Ceramic Originals, hand-picked our group who provided support and camaraderie as we each grew our businesses.  Lynn also created the The Mom Pack.

If you are just starting out, I can not stress enough how important it is to find a tribe.  You need other work-at-home-moms, like you, to bounce ideas off.

Both Peggy and myself have backgrounds in merchandising and national sales, so we speak the same language, and sometimes finish each others’ sentences.    In the podcast, we offers tips for creative moms on how to launch a product and run a business from home with small children including proper pricing, promotion and dealing with the loneliness factor.  Plus, Peggy offers insight on how the work at home experience changes when the kids become teens.

Be Willing to Change Direction

Kandas:  Sum up your business in three sentences or less.

Peggy:   Comfy Cozy,inc creates whimsical and inspirational gifts featuring the “original” Glow in the Dark Pillowcases. We also offer Custom Screen Printing for businesses, schools and organizations. Our focus is creating fun and functional products that meet the needs of our customers.

Kandas: Why did you choose to start your business – do what you do?

Peggy:  Always had a goal to start my own company. Created first pillowcases and decided they were the product to form new company around.

Kandas:  Where do you find inspiration?

Peggy:  Originally from my nieces & nephews, other family members. Trends & personal interest took over when I started to market the product.

comfy-cozy-2Kandas:  What makes you different from other people in your industry?

Peggy:  Comfy Cozy,inc. is the only line of pillowcases with the type of “magically” transforming Glow in the Dark images. My line is also cross generational and is not just for kids.

Kandas:   Why should someone purchase from you instead of your competition?

Peggy:  Our print quality, dedication to detail and selection.

Kandas:  For whom are you thankful? Who do you appreciate?

Peggy:  My husband, children, parents and extended family.

Kandas: What are some of your favorite books?

Peggy:  Easier to give authors: JRR Tolkein, Katrina Kennison, Robert Ludlum to name a few. Genres: Irish history, espionage, autobiography & inspiration.

Kandas:   Define your style?

Peggy:  Home decor – leaning toward some version of country chic but you wouldn’t know that if you walked into my house;) personal – comfortable without looking dowdy!

Kandas:   Tell me about your typical day.

Peggy:  Up at 5:30 w/ kids. #2 out the door at 7. Coffee w/ husband til 8/9. In my office by 9. Work til 1. Have a part time job t/w/th so I’m out the door by 1:15. Home by 6:15. Dinner, finalize homework check, relax with kids for a bit before bed. Wait for Scott to get home, usually by 9/10 ok 11. Bed. With 4 of 5 trips outside with our adorable Beagle:)
How do you juggle work and family? Carefully. Some days are better than others. Primarily I only “work” when our children are in school. There are times when I work in the evenings but try to not go back and forth from office to “family” space. It’s difficult to shut down your business brain, shut the office door and not go back in, but it’s important to let your family know you can separate the two.

comfy-cozy-1Kandas:   Three tips you would like to give to people who are thinking about starting a business in your industry?

Peggy:  Comfy Cozy, inc. is not in just one specific industry so answering that question won’t be direct.

  1. What I would tell anyone is to research other products on the market, examine every aspect of product development that goes into pricing and to establish a retail price that the sell on the market. Many people just say “this will sell at ‘x’” then realize that they either can’t cover the cost or their profit margin is not enough to sustain the business.
  2. Be realistic about how much time you can dedicate to your business AND more importantly, what you will need to do if suddenly you need to dedicate more. Can you and your family support the changes and what will the effect be.
  3.  Be willing to change direction. I realize that I should have made some changes to my product line, marketing strategy and business plan several years ago.

Kandas:   How have you grown as a person since starting your company?

Peggy:  I’ve learned that I did NOT know everything about running a business, should have minored in business and that I’m not as organized as I thought I was. I also started this company before I was married with kids. I would never have guessed that the professional, aggressive and all work/no play me would prefer building blocks and playing in the mud! I’d call that “personal” growth that required an acceptance that my “professional” growth would take a back seat for a while.

Kandas:   Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Peggy:   More productive on a day to day basis since our boys will both be in college – ACK! No longer selling pillowcases but doing more custom printing without carrying an inventory. Possibly be out of this business completely. Be able to call myself an author and have written a book or 2.

Kandas:   What else would you like to add?

Peggy:   At this time I am assessing where I am, my business plan and if this is what i want to do anymore. The “thrill” is leaving and determining what that means and where the road will take me is a huge door to open, walk over the thresh hold and shut the door with a feeling of satisfaction, accomplishment but eyes focused on the future and NOT looking back.

Wrap Up

Your definition of success is your own and you cannot let anyone else define it for you.   Businesses, like children, grow and evolve.  Sometimes you need to coddle the baby and sometimes you need to stand back and watch it play.

Connect with Peggy Vincent

Take Action

Leave a comment with your tips for aspiring work-at-home-moms.

Click here to learn how I get paid to be nice.

Interview: Sandy Schmidt of You are Special Patterns and the Olde Country Cupboard

Note: It is with profound sadness that we report, Sandy Schmidt passed away on Sept 5, 2013.

 

Sandy Schmidt of Starke, Florida, cancer survivor and mother of one, shares her experiences owning two businesses simultaneously. 

MG:  What is the name of your business?

SS:  I have two pattern companies You are Special Patterns and the Olde Country Cupboard.

MG:  Where do you sell your products?

SS:  I sell my products on line via facebook and my blog, plu in CountrySampler magazine and craft shows.

MG:  How can our readers find your products?

SS:  I have 2 pattern lines: www.theoldecountrycupboard.com and www.youarespecialpatterns.com

Primitive Doll by Sandy Schmidt

MG:  How has new technology affected your personal life/business? What technology tools do you use?

SS:  I use the internet exclusively. Since I joined facebook , I would say half of my business comes from it. I started a wholesale site on facebook and it has surpassed my wildest expectation.

MG:  Where do you find inspiration for your products?

SS:  I love dolls and Christmas, most of my ideas come late at night , just before bed. I love Raggedy Dolls, most of which I have on my You are Special site. Christmas items are on the Olde Country cupboard site.

MG:  Define your style?

SS:  I would define my style as country/primitive. I don’t do the extreme prim, love it but don’t use it in my patterns. I find that in my area, the more cutesy country sells better.

MG:  How many kids? Age/Gender?

SS:  I have one Daughter Samantha Flanders who recently started her own craft business SouthernBelle Scentz. She has always helped with shows, but has taken over the tart and some of the sewing for me.

MG:  Tell me about your typical day.

SS:   I stay up late usually go to bed around 3:00 am. Get up about 10:00, do pattern orders, start on sewing orders in middle of afternoon, take a break for fixing dinner and catching up on emails and such. then usually start back to sewing after dinner, not unusual for me to sew 10-12 hours a day especially closer to show time, it is more like 14 hours a day.

Raggedy Annie by Sandy Schmidt

MG:  How do you juggle work and family?

family life, It is just me and husband at home, daughter is married and lives down the street. It is easy to craft, hubby works shift work, and is usually working 12 hours shifts in the daytime or night shift, then sleep after night shift, So I have a lot of time to myself. When I want, easy to take time off and be on my own schedule.

MG:  Three tips you would like to give to moms who are thinking about starting their own business?

  1. Start out slow, don’t take on more than you can handle especially with small children. My daughter rarely took naps, so it was extremely hard to sew and craft when she was little, I was a stay at home mom and really didn’t start my pattern business till she was in kindergarten.
  2. Go to shows and see if you product sells, if not, be willing to adapt your product for the market.
  3. Have a good support system in your spouse, make sure he is behind you 100 percent, because of the time involved. Hubby used to entertain my daughter when I got stressed with orders, he would always take over once he got home and told me to get my orders and stock done, he has always been behind all the way.

MG:  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

SS:  I was diagnosed with lymphoma stage 4 cancer 2 years ago. been through chemo, now in remission. So hoping to take my business to next step through wholesaling and going to a big wholesale show next year. I advertise in Country Sampler, but want to make my business grow, for my daughter to take over one day.

MG:  What else would you like to add?

SS:  I guess what else I would to say, it is a very competitive business and be prepared for a lot of hard work. Nothing is more satisfying to me, than to hear, someone tell me they love my dolls. I love being at a show and looking up and seeing aline of customers willing to stand in line to buy my products. It fullfills me in a way, that is hard to understand, crafting takes my mind off my illness and keeps me sane. I want to leave a name for myself, that people will be recognize long after I am gone from this world.

Interview: Diane Long of D’s Stitcheree

Diane Long

Diane Long, owner of D’s Stitcheree in Surprise, Arizona

Diane Long, owner of D’s Stitcheree in Surprise, Arizona offers some candid advise based on her 20 years of home-based business experience.

MG:  Tell us how you got started?

DL:  I started D’s Stitcheree in 1992 after my children were grown. My oldest son was in the Marines, my youngest son was a Junior in High School. I had always wanted to own my own business. Owning an Embroidery business just came at the right time. I was working a full time job outside my home. Now I was able to be home when my son got home from school, do a job that I loved AND make money at it.

MG:  What advise would you give a woman looking to start a home based business?

DS:  Learn as much as you can about the business you want to start then have faith that you can do it AND… ALWAYS keep your business money and personal money seperate. Also, surround yourself with other women business owners even if they are not in your business. We need to be a support for each other. Like SuperWAHMZ.com I don’t know what I would have done without you all over the years.

Dogs Rule Embroidered Tote Bag

Dogs Rule Embroidered Tote Bag by D’s Stitcheree

MG:  What would you have done differently?

DL:   Things I would have done differently: I would have paid into disability and set up a retirement account. I never gave any thought to the future and here I am, 20 years later, 60 years old and NO retirement. I have paid into Social Security but we all know how that is going.

NOTE:  SuperWAHMz.com are 7 women business owners who have offered moral support to each other for over a decade and business advise to other women looking to create a work-at-home business.  

What You Should Know about HOMEOWNERS Insurance

Susan Gonzalez

Susan Gonzalez, mother of three, is a Liberty Mutual Insurance Agent based in The Woodlands, Texas

courtesy of Susan Gonzalez

Homeowners insurance provides you financial protection in the event that your home is destroyed or damaged due to unforeseen or catastrophic event. In addition to your home, homeowners insurance also covers your belongings (or personal property) and can reimburse you for medical expenses and liability claims resulting from property damage and personal injury to other people caused by you or members of your family.

A homeowners policy will also pay for additional living expenses (or ALE). ALE will cover your expenses if you are forced to move into a hotel or apartment temporarily because of a covered loss to your home.

TYPES OF COVERAGE

There are two basic types of coverage offered under residential property policies:

ALL RISK (the most comprehensive coverage also referred to as an open peril policy) – offers the broadest protection and covers all perils unless they are specifically excluded by the policy. You should always carefully review the excluded causes of loss section of your policy. Even the most comprehensive policy will exclude certain types of loss (damage caused by flood, for example).

NAMED PERILS – (also known as specified perils coverage) offers narrower protection than an all risk policy and covers only those perils specifically named under the policy. A policy that offers named perils coverage will also contain exclusions to perils named under the policy. If you are thinking of purchasing a policy that provides named perils coverage only, it is important make certain that the policy provides coverage for the perils that most concern you.

PLEASE NOTE: It is not uncommon for homeowners policies to provide all risk coverage on the dwelling and named perils coverage for the personal property. Please visit the OPIC Policy Comparisons Page for more information on the types of coverage offered by specific companies.

CLAIMS SETTLEMENT

Residential property policies also offer different methods of repairing or replacing your property:

REPLACEMENT COST – pays for all necessary expenses associated with rebuilding or repairing damaged property, up to the policy limits, less any applicable deductible amount.

ACTUAL CASH VALUEfactors in depreciation costs to your claim and pays you the costs to replace or repair the damaged property, less this depreciation and less any applicable deductible amount.

PLEASE NOTE: Most insurance companies that offer replacement cost will initially pay for the loss on an actual cash value basis. The company will pay any additional costs associated with the “replacement cost” once repairs have been made to the property, or the damaged property has been replaced.

FLOOD INSURANCE

Residential property policies do not cover damage caused by flood. Most residential property policies define flood to include: surface water, waves, tidal water, storm surge, tsunami, seiche, overflow of a body of water, or spray from any of these.

Flood Insurance can be obtained through your insurance agent from FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program

Important Questions to Ask Your Homeowners Agent

COVERAGE QUESTIONS:

  • Ask what policy they are selling. Is it the HO-B, HO-A, HO-3 or another policy.
  • If it is an HO-A, ask if any coverage has been added to the base HO-A policy. Verify what they tell you with an independent source (such as the OPIC policy comparison chart www.opic.state.tx.us/)
  • If it is another policy (i.e. a company’s national policy) ask how it compares to the HO-B or the coverage you currently have. Verify what they tell you with an independent source (such as the OPIC policy comparison chart)

NEVER take “It’s basically the same coverage as you had before” for an answer.

REMEMBER, EVEN WITH THE AMENDMENTS, THE HO-A IS A NAMED PERILS POLICY AND DOES NOT COVER ALL PERILS COVERED UNDER THE HO-B OR OTHER “ALL RISK” POLICIES.

RATING QUESTIONS:

  • When getting a quote, ask the agent if this is the best rate offered to any applicant by any company the agent represents.
  • If you are not getting the best rate, ask why not.
  • Ask when and how much the company’s last rate increase was.

NON-RENEWAL – Ask about the company’s policy regarding claims and non-renewal?

REMEMBER – check the Texas Department of Insurance website for the company profile (CLICK HERE to go to TDI Company Profiles Page). This profile shows the financial rating of the company as well as the complaint ratio, and any enforcement actions taken by the Department against the company.

 


Susan Gonzalez,  mother of 3, is a Liberty Mutual Insurance Agent based in The Woodlands, Texas.  She offers Home Owner Insurance,  Auto Insurance, Personal Liability Policies, Life Insurance, Renters Insurance, Condominium Insurance, Flood Insurance and can be reached at 832.339.3243.