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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cartier Women's Initiative Awards

A big thanks to Obse at the Alliance Francaise for turning me on to the Cartier Women's Initiative Awards, a $20K award to women entrepreneurs in 6 regions.  She emailed me about on the 11th and the application was due by end of day on the 14th, but I decided to go for it.  Talk about frustrating!  The on-line application had a bug that prevented it from "saving" unless there was something in every single field.  I had to completely rewrite the application once - the second time I got smart and copy-pasted it into a word document.  Thank goodness, because I had to completely redo a second time!  Unfortunately I was in the middle of the executive summary and hadn't copied it into my document yet, so I ended up writing it 3 times!  An email came out around 3:00 in the afternoon letting us know there was this little problem.  A bit late.  Still, I do believe that my second effort was better than my first.  Not sure about the third summary...

I could use the $20K but I think the odds are slim that I will be a finalist much less an award recipient, but I don't care so much about that.  What was great about the process was that I really had to think through where I was, after 2 years, with my business and where I wanted to go with it.  And I determined the following:
  • was a good way to start selling right away, and I made some money.  However, it is a long way from the original vision and I think, all things considered, that I need to get back to it.  I'll still continue to sell a few things on etsy but that's going to take a back-of-the-bus back seat to my wholesale efforts, which have flagged.
  • I'm going to focus on 3 products:  sleeves (laptop/iPad/ereader), reusable sandwich bags, and wine bottle gift bags.  I think these have the best wholesale potential.
  • I've got to simplify.  No more straps - too time-consuming and therefore costly.  No attempts to be "artistic."  That wasn't part of the original vision, which was geared more toward colorful and cheap.  And I'm sorry, but let's face it, I am not artistic.  I do, however, have a good eye for color so I should capitalize on that and leave artistry to the crafty people on etsy.  I've always thought of myself as a more of a manufacturer than a crafter.  Maybe do a project once in awhile for fun, but mostly need to figure out how we can churn out products that are one-of-a-kind, colorful, and functional, but simple and inexpensive.
  • Really need to nail down the standardization of sizes and design and get patterns made.
  • Absolutely have to step up my sales efforts.  I realized that I need 30-70 wholesale orders at the minimum level to break even this year.  That's a lot of orders! 

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