Author Archives: Anna Brindley

Shoestring and a dream

by Anna Brindley

Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines shoestring as: a small sum of money: capital inadequate or barely adequate to the needs of a transaction.

The synonyms – chicken feed [slang], chump change, dime, hay, peanuts, pin money, pittance, mite, song, two cents – made me laugh when I thought about potential titles for this article: Chicken Feed Dreams, Chump Change Dreams, Peanuts and Dreams???

Recently on HARO there was a query for entrepreneurs who started their businesses on a shoestring. Because I had done so much on my own for my business with so little money, I epitomized the shoestring startup concept.  Here is an excerpt from my article on that topic for ShoestringVenture.com:
I worked as if I had no capital. Anything I could do on my own, even with a learning curve, drove my strategy. I quickly became, as Entrepreneur magazine called it, the Chief of Everything Officer .  I wrote my business plan, designed the pajamas/loungewear, sewed the first prototype (and a few other WIP prototypes), designed the logo (friends gave input and voted), built (with templates) my website, presented and sold the product to a couple of boutiques, wrote my copy and blog entries, sent my PR queries, created my hangtags and labels, wrote my own patent and applied for my trademark—to name a few. Pattern-making, marking, grading, and sample production are all outsourced within the US. I employed a legal services website to help build my LLC. In hindsight I would take less expensive route on that as well.

I’ve learned loads of lessons on this journey. Check out the full article for the rest of the story (still unfolding as I write this)…

Will you endorse me?

by Anna Brindley

It’s election time and candidates are asking, “Will you endorse me?”. One such politician asked me for mine. He came to my house in person talking about things that are important to me.  He told me that he felt he had to make a stand and get involved. And then he closed me – I was sold. After we spoke, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities in our worlds:

Since the beginning of September, I have been working on my promotional campaign for next spring. I took pictures, wrote clever marketing words (at least I hope they were clever), and packaged it all together in a bulk mailing of postcards. After the mailing, I started dialing the phones, essentially asking:

  • What do you think of my policies?
  • Do we care about the same things?
  • Do you think I have your concerns in mind?
  • Do you think I will do what I say?

 

My purpose for all of this?  Of course, I want the “big kahuna” endorsement. If I could align with the big dogs – in my case Neiman Marcus, HSN, and Travel and Leisure magazine as of this writing – then I could get my message to the masses and hopefully get more endorsements.  The expected return on my time is more customers as a result. So, what if I don’t get these “endorsements”? At a minimum, making personal connections is still worthwhile. In fact, it might be the best thing I get out of my campaigning efforts.  Valuable feedback is another benefit of mixing with the people.  For example, one “voter” told me that she loved my product, but that her “people” may not understand it. She also said she might be more willing to endorse my policies if the price of admission were a little lower.

As I try to round up my big endorsements as a still unknown “candidate”, I have to go to the people.  I may even need to go “door to door” to get my votes (i.e. grassroots marketing and word-of-mouth PR). Who knows, that may be the best strategy anyway.  After all, the business experts all say you have to “create one customer at a time.”