Friday, August 27, 2010

Feature Friday featuring Vanessa Coppes of Envjewelry

Welcome to another of our Feature Friday articles which are proving hugely popular - today we're chatting with Vanessa Coppes from Envjewelry

Thanks for talking to us today Vanessa, can you introduce us to you and your company?
Bold, stunning and beautiful are just a few words that have been used to describe my jewelry designs.  Taking elements from my homeland, the Dominican Republic, and mixing them with classic and contemporary trends of fashion, I have been able to successfully launch my costume jewelry line in Staten Island, New York in June, 2009.  These very diverse and unique pieces are little works of art that you can wear and they will definitely strike a conversation wherever you go.   enV caters to all women who love jewelry and fashion, but most of all to those who dare to be different.

Where did the idea of running this as a business come from?
Being creative was always easy for me. I could just look at something and find different ways to use it, or just change it. I was always curious in subjects related to the arts. I disliked Math, with as much passion as I loved Literature. It just wasn't "fun".

I've also always had a job and the need to keep my mind busy. Ten months after I had my son, and being at home, I decided I had to do something for my creative sanity (that and I found cleaning to be very boring ). So I picked up an old hobby, making jewelry. Using techniques I had learned through the years and brushing up on new ones, enV by Vanessa Coppes was established on June 16, 2009.

What do you love most about your business?
I truly love the fact that it's mine.. so, If I need to, I can pace myself. I do enjoy working in my PJ's. I also love meeting women and other artists who enjoy this craft as much as I do. Everyday is a new opportunity to make it better and different. It keeps me on my toes and gives my life balance.

What would you like to change?
I am still learning how to manage my business on a daily basis. I still dislike administrating it. So, if I could go back I would advise myself to be a little more organized with the administrative part of the business, understanding that although it isn't "fun", it's completely necessary for it to be successful.

What is your aim for the next year?
I am aiming to branch out, exploring other venues to sell my jewelry and accessories. I am also finding many of my online colleagues approach me for advice on how to market and run a business. So, consulting is definitely on my agenda as well as getting a lot more exposure.

Where do you ultimately see yourself?
When I dream, I dream big...I seriously see my jewelry, not myself, on the cover of a magazine. So all of my energy is focused on getting more known. I don't, however, want to compromise the balance, flexibility and comfort that I get from working from home. So, as long as that balance isn't disturbed too much and as my son gets more independent, I see myself getting busier.

What are your Top 5 tips for new Business Women?
I cheated, I have 7:

Tip 1: If your heart believes in it, follow your dream. It may be a hard step to take, but you must be able to step outside of the box and dare to do.

Tip 2: Take advice from business professionals who have succeeded in taking the path you wish to take. They know what they're talking about, therefore should be able to give you sound advice.

Tip 3: Be unique and stick to your company's identity. As tempting as it may be to copy someone who may be doing more business than you, in due time, people will start to recognize your efforts, and will flock towards what you offer, attracted by it's authenticity.

Tip 4: Learn how accounting works. If you don’t know how to bill and collect money that is owed to you, keep track of your receipts, or have a fundamental knowledge about accounting procedures, find a qualified accounting firm. It is very important to keep accurate and detailed records of all transactions (sales and purchases). If you have time, and the extra money, take a few accounting and business courses at your local community college to further your knowledge of how to run your business. If you can do it yourself, you will be able to save money and keep afloat during hard economic times. I use Quickbooks Pro and it has worked wonders for my company.

Tip 5: The reaction from the customers who use your services or purchase your products, not only sales, should help you measure your success. Many companies have forgotten what customer service is really about. It is the key to your success. Satisfied and unsatisfied customers talk about your product and services. Bad news tends to travel faster than good news unfortunately.

Bonus Tip 6: Create a sample of your product or services to give away. Contact local charity events to find out if your your product or service can be donated.

Bonus Tip 7: Network, network, network. I have joined Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Digg, and possibly others I can't remember... they have helped me stay current and searchable on the Internet, and gotten me even more customers than I could've gained on my's also helped connect with other amazing women, and we've been able to offer each other invaluable support.

If prospective clients want to buy some of your fabulous pieces, how can they contact you?
I can be contacted on my website at or they can drop me an email at; as I mentioned, I'm also on Facebook at and they can tweet me at

Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy life to talk to you today Vanessa - your pieces are truly unique and it's inspirational to see that a successful business can be run alongside bringing up children and having a family.

Remember, if you are a businesswoman running your own business and would like to be featured on one of our upcoming Feature Friday articles, please drop us an email to with the words "Feature Friday" in the subject line and we'll get back to you.  And remember to join us at our forum where you can meet like minded businesswoman for advice and chat

Friday, August 20, 2010

Feature Friday featuring Amy Russell of It's Your Choc

Welcome to another of our fabulous Feature Friday articles - today we'll be chatting with Amy Russell of It's Your Choc.

Thanks for chatting with us today Amy - can you tell our readers a little about yourself and your business:
Hi, I'm Amy and I'm 36 years young, a wife to Jon and mother to Lucy!
It's Your Choc was started in November 2008 after I was made redundant. I needed something part-time and flexible to fit around my daughter and our life. At It's Your Choc, we make personalised and promotional chocolate bars which can be used for any occasion. Every bar is unique and can be designed to your own requirements with your input every step of the way.
Where did the idea of running this as a business come from?
I originally bought a semi franchise but soon realised this was quite limiting. So we rebranded - got our own name, logo and website, and introduced some new products. Since then, its gone much further than just the franchise ever would ever have!
What do you love most about your business?
Every order I produce is for an occasion, be it a wedding, birthday, Christmas, birth announcement, product launch, whatever. I love seeing people's faces when they collect their bars and see the designs we have put together for them. Even though they have already seen them via email, nothing beats seeing the real thing!
What would you like to change?
I wish I had taken the time to set things up better when I first started. I started on the dining room table and am still here 2 years later! I have got so used to it that I am now finding it hard to move to my "office" upstairs!!
What is your aim for the next year?
I would like to introduce some new flavoured chocolate, as well as white and dark so that I can meet customer requirements. Also, I really would love to move more into corporate gifts/promotion - when you next have a coffee in a hotel, I want one of my chocolates on the plate with that coffee!
Where do you ultimately see yourself?
Eventually, I see myself working with a team of wonderfully talented people who love wrapping the chocolate and creating that perfect bar as much as I do!
What are your Top 5 tips for new Business Women?
Tip 1 Dont be afraid to ask for help and advice, but be strong enough to not take it if its not right for your business
Tip 2 Take the time to get yourself set up properly. If you need a desk space to work get this first, try not to make do with the dining room table
Tip 3 Take time out for you and your family. Work is always important but your family should always come first. That email really can wait till the morning
Tip 4 Don't spend a fortune on fancy software if you don't need it. Use Excel for your accounts, for instance, to get you started
Tip 5 Enjoy what you do - when you stop loving your business its time to rethink!
How would a prospective customer contact you?
We can be contacted via our website at or by email at We're also on Facebook at and on Twitter at http://www/
Thanks so much for talking to us today Amy, your products look wonderful and I can see just how much you love doing what you do - and who doesn't love chocolate!!!
If you've enjoyed this article and your are a businesswoman running your business from home and would like to be featured, don't forget you can drop us a line at and put the words "Feature Friday" in the subject line (otherwise it might get missed!) and we'll be in touch with you.
Also, don't forget our fabulous new forum where you can chat with like minded businesswomen - and we all know just how important networking is! Find us at

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Choosing a Venue for your wedding.

When choosing a Venue for the most important day of your life, there is more involved than just providing a pretty setting for your photographs.
It has a direct influence on guest numbers, the kind of entertainment you can have and any special touches you may wish to incorporate.
A major consideration when deciding where you hold your wedding is down to budget.

Here are a few pointers on what you should do to find the right location for you as a couple.

- Decide on the priorities you have for choosing your venue. ie, the look, the size, and the atmosphere.
A lot of times it comes down to a gut feeling you have for your venue. Its a bit like the dress, in that you know its "the one".

- After you get engaged, the venue is probably the very first thing you will arrange.
Many venues get booked up years in advance, more so for summer Saturday's.
If you are a little flexible on dates, and especially days of the week, you have more chance of securing the Venue you want.
- Recommendations from friends and family are helpful with venue choice. But it has to be remembered that each person has their own specific wants and requirements, and what one person likes, another may hate.
- You cannot over estimate the importance of research. Get googling and also request lots of brochures.
If you have all the information, you can wittle it down to your favourites, and then create a shortlist, ensuring that you are not going to locations that are completely inappropriate.

- Have a list of questions for the Venue for everything that is of upmost importance to your plans.
Sometimes in the excitement of seeing somewhere we really like, we can forget to ask specifics.

- Don't make a snap second decision, take away all the information and ponder it.
Look at a few locations before making a concrete choice.
Is there somewhere better that can offer you a better deal, be just as pretty or suitable for the look you want etc.?
 Pore over small print in Contracts, and check all the fine details.
I speak to a lot of brides that have had venue price hikes, and venue exclusivity taken away.
If you have solid written documentation of all details, then you have a fall back if there is issues.

- Finally enjoy looking.
All too often, it can feel like this enormous pressure to find this perfect place.
Remember this is your special day, and should be a reflection of what you have always dreamed of, not what you think other people might expect.

Photo Credit:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Feature Friday features Vanessa Walilko of Kali Butterfly

Welcome to another of our Feature Friday profiles of woman run businesses - today we'll be talking to Vanessa Walilko who is the owner/designer for Kali Butterfly, a fabulous handmade jewellery company basedin Chicago.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat to us today Vanessa - can you tell our readers more about you and your company?
My name is Vanessa Walilko and I own and operate Kali Butterfly. I make aluminum chainmaille jewelry and clothing as well as beaded armor pieces and sculptures. I also teach chainmaille jewelry classes throughout Chicago, Illinois. I've been making beaded jewelry since I was 8 and I started making chainmaille about five years ago. I just love working with my hands and having the ability to give form to whatever ideas I can dream up. I'm meticulous, which comes through in my work--I'm obsessed with taking lots of little things and putting them together to make wearable pieces of art.

Where did the idea of running this as a business come from?
As I mentioned, I've been making jewelry for nearly all my life, but I didn't think that I could make a living off of it. I had spent several years doing what was expected of me, and working in safe jobs, even if I wasn't particularly thrilled with them. One day, I just got fed up and departed from the safe path. I wanted to be able to do what I love, so I decided to start a business. I don't want to be doing anything else aside from making jewelry, so I'm determined to make this work. Thankfully, I've spent the past four years working for jewelry designers, so I've learned a lot about what works and what doesn't work when starting and growing your own business.

What do you love most about your business?
I love the fact that I get to do what makes me happy every day. There are few things I love more than making jewelry for people. When a customer tells me that they wear a piece they purchased all the time, to me that means that they really love it. I also enjoy being able to teach chainmaille and to give people the opportunity to use their hands to create a piece of jewelry. It's so satisfying to watch people light up as they're making something that brings them joy.

What would you like to change?
I would love to have more wholesale accounts to provide a steadier income. Aside from consistent sales, wholesale accounts would help me better live my ideals. I make aluminum chainmaille jewelry because aluminum is 100% recyclable and endlessly recyclable. I love the idea that if someone got tired of one of their pieces, they could just toss it in a recycling bin. In order to do a craft show or art fair, you should have about four times as much inventory as you actually hope to sell in order to keep your booth looking full. That's a lot of jewelry! I would prefer only to make pieces that I know people want instead of making pieces and only hoping that someone will want them.

What is your aim for the next year?
Next year I hope to have at least 15 new wholesale accounts and to be more situated on my path as a business owner. I also hope to have more international orders. I've sold pieces to women in Australia and Russia, I'd like to add a few more countries to that list. My plan in the next year is to start making instructions for some of my beaded animals. I designed many of these pieces years ago and I hope to start sharing them with the public.

This past year has been an experiment--if I had to put everything on the line, what would I do in order to make my dreams a reality? So far, I've been working hard and building a fulfilling life for myself and things are coming together in a way that I didn't think was possible. I recently won the People's Choice Award and second place in the Wirework category in the Bead Dreams competition for my chainmaille jacket. Step by Step Wire Jewelry magazine also published my Squares with Flair project in their latest issue, and just accepted another jewelry project for an upcoming issue. I've done things in this past year that I didn't think could happen, so I'm excited about facing any new challenges in the upcoming year.

Where do you ultimately see yourself?
I'd love to be known as the aluminum chainmaille jewelry queen! Ideally, I would have a studio/storefront in New York City with three to five employees. My pieces would be in galleries throughout the United States. I hope to keep applying to competitions, winning awards and getting more attention for my work. I would also love to start selling some of my chainmaille fashion pieces on commission, since those are my passion projects. I hope to continue publishing projects consistently and selling my jewelry-making instructions to the public.

What are your Top 5 tips for new Business Women?
Tip 1 - Never give up. Starting and running my own business is easily the most daunting task I've ever undertaken. I don't know how many times I've thought that it would be easier if I just decided to work in an office and receive a steady paycheck. At the end of the day, I keep working at building my business because it's really the only thing I want to be doing, and the only thing that makes me happy. If you have a dream, be willing to pour all of your time and energy into making it happen. The rewards are worth both the risk and the fear.

Tip 2 - Be shameless. I spent a long time making jewelry for myself and putting it on my website, hoping someone would notice me. Unfortunately, that's not how things work. If you want people to notice you and what you're doing, you have to put your work in front of as many people as possible. I don't feel comfortable bragging to people I don't know, so I've had to train myself to tell people about what I'm doing. I've also gotten used to doing craft fairs and art shows, applying to every competition that seems relevant to what I'm doing (especially the contests with no entry fees), and posting everything on Facebook and my blog. There are so many things vying for people's attention--you need to be able to provide consistent content to your fans in order to keep them interested in what you're doing.

Tip 3 - Get organized. It's never too early to keep track of expenses and file all of your receipts away in an orderly fashion. As your business grows, you'll be happy that you started organizing all of your paperwork at the very beginning. Having all your receipts in one place also makes tax time a lot easier, especially if you have consignment accounts in a number of places.

Tip 4 - Surround yourself with supportive people. I'm very lucky to have a close circle of friends who support everything that I do as an artist. I spent a number of years with nay-sayers in my life. Negative people are a drain on your energy. As a small business owner, your energy is your greatest resource--don't let anyone take that away! When I talk to my friends, their excitement for me gives me added inspiration, and I feel ready to take on any other challenges that arise.

Tip 5 - Set specific goals for yourself. When running your own business, it's very easy to think about the big picture and get overwhelmed. In order to keep yourself from panicking about everything that you have to do, set specific goals for yourself. One of my goals for this year is to have a piece in a juried exhibition every month. In order to reach this goal, I keep track of calls for art that happen around the country and apply when I feel that my work is relevant. Specific goals help keep your energy focused so that you can see results from your plans.

If any of our readers would like to contact you regarding your fabulous items, how can they do that?
I can be contacted via my website at or by email at; I'm also on Facebook at or I can be tweeted at

Thank you so much for talking to us today Vanessa - your items are truly unique and stunning!!

Don't forget to check back next Friday when we'll be featuring another woman run business on our Feature Friday slot.  If you'd like your company to be featured, drop us an email at with the words "Feature Friday" in the subject line.  Also, if you haven't already, make sure to join us on our new forum at - lots of businesswomen chatting and networking!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Feature Friday featuring Viv Smith of Poppy Sparkles

Welcome to another of our excellent Friday Feature articles featuring new women run businesses - today we're talking to Viv Smith, the designer/owner of Poppy Sparkles.
Hi Viv - thanks so much for taking the time to chat to us this Friday.  Can you tell our readers something about you and your business?
I’m Viv Smith, a self-taught jewellery artist and the owner, designer and jewellery creator of Poppy Sparkles. I am based near Blackpool, Lancashire. I have been making jewellery since my early teens. Poppy Sparkles was launched this year, 2010, and offers handcrafted jewellery, predominatently bridal jewellery. The majority of my jewellery is made using Freshwater Pearls, Swarovski Crystal and sterling silver. I aim to create beautiful jewellery using high quality materials, that are designed to be lasting pieces to treasure.

Where did the idea of running this as a business come from?
Ever since I began making jewellery as a young teen I have sold bits and pieces. In more recent years I started to sell online with some success. With two young children, I am currently on a career break and decided that this was a perfect opportunity to put more time into creating jewellery, promoting and selling it. And so, Poppy Sparkles was launched earlier this year. With a real love for Freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystals, it seemed logical to focus on Bridal jewellery. Plus, I love being a part of the magic of someone’s wedding and helping a Bride to look her absolute best with well-chosen accessories.

What do you love most about your business?
I love creating beautiful jewellery, especially custom orders. Interacting with customers and creating a piece that is just perfect for them in style and colour is perhaps the most enjoyable and satisfying part of my business. But, in all honesty I love all of it – except the paperwork and accounts side!

What would you like to change?
Jewellery is notoriously difficult to photograph. At the moment I am trying to find the best way to capture my jewellery on camera – looking at different backgrounds, lighting etc, as well as trying to learn how to use my camera to its full potential. I want to ensure that each and every image I have shows my jewellery off properly, so for now the thing I want to change is my product shots.

What is your aim for the next year?
Over the next year I hope to develop my website further, adding an online shop so that people can buy direct through my website. I also want to begin to establish Poppy Sparkles locally and nationally as a place to source quality handcrafted jewellery, especially Bridal jewellery.

Where do you ultimately see yourself?
Ideally, I would love to be a full time WAHM. Realistically, it is extremely difficult to make a full-time living from creative work. Bearing this in mind, I would like, once my time being a full-time mummy at home comes to an end, to be able to return to work in a more part-time capacity. Obviously, if I were to be able to do Poppy Sparkles full-time I would be extremely pleased.

What are your Top 5 tips for new Business Women?
Tip 1 Write a business plan – it helps you work out where you want to go and how to get there
Tip 2 Keep up to date with paperwork
Tip 3 Create a network of supportive people around you, for WAHMs who may struggle to network whilst at home with children, the internet and social media, like Twitter, is a valuable resource
Tip 4 Have some proper time for your different roles i.e. quality time with family, dedicated time for the business
Tip 5 Enjoy what you do!

All your pieces are so beautiful - if a client was interested in purchasing, where can they contact you?
I can be contacted via my website at or by email at; I also have a Facebook page at and you can Tweet me at

Viv, all your pieces are stunningly beautiful! We wish you the very best of luck in the future and thank you so much for talking with us today.

Remember, if you are a woman running your own business and would like to be featured on our regular Feature Friday, please drop us an email to and put the words "Friday Feature" in the subject line and we'll forward on the information to you.  If you're interested in joining our forum, you can find us at - we'll be happy to see you there!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A wedding planner , I don't need one of those ! - Do I ?!!!

Most of us, when it boils down to reality, have far from a Royal budget but in focusing on that one special day we all still share much of the same issues.
Basically having enough money, enough time makes for some hard decisions especially in this economy.

The first days of engagement are a blissful time when all that is focused on is shared love, but then REALITY can hit and the actual planning of the day looms, and sometimes it can all seem a bit ominous.

You, of course may love planning, DIY in weddings is all the rage at the moment,  but for some, all the organisation that goes into such a special event may be a nightmare, and they may have absolutely no idea where to start.
This is where a some professional help can be vital.
A wedding and event planner can assist you in all the nitty gritty and logistics of creating a day the way you envision, working with you to make your day "yours".

Weddings are a major stress inducer, even when things are going well, we always have that fear in the back of our minds that something will go wrong or we will have forgotton important details.

If you imagine your wedding as a project and each part of the planning as working towards project completion and your wedding planner as a project manager , they will do what a manager does best ie. management.

Your planner will deal with suppliers, doing all the leg work and research for you, negotiating discounts for you and finding you the very best for the best prices and to your direct specifications.
This leaves you the time to relax in the run up to your special day knowing that someone is making your day top priority.

The wedding budget is probably the most important part of the planning process as the day basically hinges on it.
Sometimes couples can end up wasting money through not enough research.
This is where a professional help can be so valuable, through contacts in the wedding industry a planner/co-ordinator can negotiate, and secure savings and discounts.

Sometimes too, couples can get carried away with big ideas they have for their day that are very exciting but sometimes not practical.
The planner will help to find creative ways to make the big day special and distinctive, realising the couples vision without blowing the budget.
A planner can also act as a go between against suppliers, family and anyone that makes the path to your perfect day difficult.

On average, according to statistics a wedding can take up to 250 hours to plan.
These days how may people have that much free time ?

But isn't a planner expensive ?
Some planners charge a percentage of a wedding budget and some charge a set fee but a good planner should strive to make back their fee in the savings they make for their client.

I don't want to lose ownership of my wedding, will a planner not take over ?

In fact a planner should work with you to create the vision you have of your day and usually offers several services from initial supplier and venue searches through to on the day management and of course the full co-ordination option, and everything else in between.

But I have a co-ordinator at my venue ?

This may be true, but a Venue Co-ordinator deals with your venue, nothing else.
They don't act as an intermediary if your family are driving you bonkers. They don't find another florist if yours is sick. They don't get you to the church on time, if your transport breaks down.
A wedding planner is in essence your own P.A. They are on hand to answer your questions when you have that mini freak out, they are there to act as a shoulder when everything gets a little too much, they sort out every little detail exactly the way you want it, so that dream you have had since you were 5, becomes reality

It is a personal choice to have a planner but one that should be considered for the reassurance it brings.
If I can be of any assistance to you with your wedding or event , don't hesitate to contact me