November 19, 2009
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I didn’t finish up my search marketing strategy planning like I’d hoped (damnit!) so it looks like I will prolong my pain one more day. Somehow I got distracted with other things that weren’t bag-related. I met with a former Microsoft colleague who had some contract work that he wanted to offer me in December. Oooh cash flow…sooo tempting. I also recently took on the task of being a college alumni interviewer, and today I interviewed a prospective student, and then wrote some candidate assessments and uploaded them to the feedback tool. Maybe I should use this face-to-face opportunity to trick–I mean recruit– unpaid high school interns to help me with my business.
I did manage to review a few revisions of the website layout, and we’re about 95% close to being done with the layout and design. Next week we’ll get started on building the beta site. Yahoooooo! Looks like tomorrow I’ll be busy finalizing web copy (*sigh*), and wrapping up the search keywork copy (yuck). Fun fun fun.
Let’s hope tomorrow is more productive!
November 18, 2009
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Just a few days after receiving the scam letter from TM Collection, I got another “bill” from a fraudulent company called IDM, based in the lovely country of Liechtenstein. Similar to the other “invoice” I received last week, IDM offers the opportunity to be published in a fake trademark journal, and as a bonus, they’ll send you a free CD-ROM. They don’t specify what will be on that CD-ROM. For all I know it could be a bootleg version of Windows 95.
To the scam artists at IDM: if you want to cheat people out of their money, at least learn something from your shady competitor TM Collection. TM Collection’s fake invoice was printed with high quality paper and colored ink, and they didn’t use scotch tape to affix a picture of my logo to the pseudo billing statement. You also charge $1890, which is more than 15% higher than TM Collection. Do your research. I know times are tough now and the economy’s got everyone in a tizzy, but that can’t be an excuse for sloppiness.
I received a package from my purse organizer samplemaker today, and it was full of patterns and swatches of materials. It looks like I have to order quite a few different things before I can get the production started. Luckily he also gave me the names of the places he gets his raw materials from, so that’s a relief.
I spent most of my day working on my Google search keywords and copy. With the help of Google’s keyword generator, I came up with hundreds of iterations of “eco-friendly purse organizer” and “eco-friendly laptop bag”. I hope I can wrap this up tomorrow so I don’t have to think about search marketing for a really long time.
Thanks for reading!
November 16, 2009
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This weekend I stuck a bottle of juice in my purse and walked around not realizing that I hadn’t screwed the cap on tight enough. Fifteen minutes later when I reached into my bag to grab the bottle, I noticed that it was half empty. I opened my purse and was horrified to see a large puddle of juice at the bottom of my bag. I freaked out because because I had my new iPhone and headphones in there. I yanked out my purse organizer sample and the juice just beaded and then rolled off. I forgot my purse organizer was water-resistant! My leather purse is ruined, but my purse organizer is as good as new, and all of the stuff inside it (Coach wallet, iPhone, keys, business cards) was protected from my juice assault. Hooray!
Today turned out to be way more productive than I thought it would be. I had a lengthy discussion with the bag manufacturer and his production guy. He claims that he’ll have the pre-production sample of the briefcase done by end of week. Let’s hope he’s telling the truth this time. I also got a call from my purse organizer samplemaker, and he’ll be getting started on the laptop sleeve samples next week. He also gave me the name of a local manufacturer who he recommends for my purse organizer production. But before I meet with those folks I need to order some parts that need to be die-cut, which could take a few weeks. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get the purse organizers launched in time for the holiday season, but I’ll certainly try.
Thanks for tuning in!
November 12, 2009
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I’ve spent most of my day doing weird administrative tasks. One thing I needed to straighten out was a bill I got from FedEx. The bill stated that I sent a package weighing 23 pounds, even though it was actually just 2.3 pounds. The record also shows that the box I sent was one of their own FedEx standard sized small boxes, and there’s no way I could cram 23 pounds in there unless I filled it with silver coins or fishing weights. I took way too much time this morning scrambling around my office for my receipt, which I somehow misplaced. Luckily when I called FedEx there wasn’t much of a fuss. They put me on hold while they checked the delivery records, admitted the error was their mistake, and credited my account.
I’ve also spent a lot of time playing admin assistant this afternoon, trying desperately to set up important conference calls tomorrow with my key vendors. Looks like tomorrow’s going to be a busy day: I have calls set up with my bag manufacturer, my purse organizer samplemaker, and my web designer. I hope I don’t jinx the meetings because it’s going to be Friday the 13th!
My battery only has 8% left, so I better post this before I lose everything. Bye!
November 11, 2009
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I just picked up my purse organizer sample, and I am extremely happy with it. The samplemaker did an incredible job! Let’s hope he can do the same caliber work on the laptop sleeves. I have no doubt that he will nail that one, too. I just hope I can find a local manufacturer who can replicate the sample craftmanship.
I don’t feel like blogging about anything else because I am so happy about the purse organizer. I plan to bask in my happiness for the rest of the evening.
This was me this morning:
This is me now:
See you tomorrow!
November 10, 2009
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My samplemaker emailed me last night to let me know that the purse organizer sample is in-transit. He sent a picture of it and I’m really happy with the quality of his work. He was tasked with constructing something that was cost-effective and simple enough for any manufacturer to make, and based on the pictures it looks like he met those goals. If I find that the sample is finished, I’ll need to re-start the process of finding a manufacturer (again). Luckily this samplemaker has good local connections and may be able to help me find someone who can manufacture my smaller goods. I wish I’d found this samplemaker earlier! Oh well, better late than never.
Working on my PR plan is taking longer than I thought. I’m trying to compile a contact sheet of eco-conscious and fashion media outlets, and this research is taking a long time. I still have tons of twitter leads and blogs to look through. It looks like it may take me till the end of the week to finish this task. After that it’s back to website development. Fun.
Dinnertime! See ya manana.
November 9, 2009
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A lot has changed since September 2008 when I started building my business. Back then I didn’t have my product fully figured out, and my vague launch plans were generic and “traditional”. I’ve spent the last few days thinking through my launch strategy, and it looks much different from my original approach.
Eco-fashion/eco-design blogs and twitter accounts have popped up left and right, so my publicity push will likely begin there. And although my products will primarily be sold online, my offline business development efforts will be focused on distribution in “green” and eco-friendly boutiques in SF, NYC, and Portland. And of course, I’ll experiment with a few traditional avenues like search marketing. I feel like my outreach plan is measurable and managable. Now I just need to figure out the boring logistics :). If anyone has any other ideas for (cost-effective) marketing or distribution, feel free to let me know. All suggestions are welcome.
Some good news: after last week I thought my manufacturer had abandoned me and scammed me out of a down payment, but it looks like he’s back from the dead now and says that the briefcases are on track to be finished this month, and the tote bags should be completed early Dec. I’m really hoping this production timing doesn’t slide: it’s already cutting it pretty close. If for some reason my manufacturer screws up and I can’t make the holiday season, please consider buying a loved one a bag to celebrate February’s Black History Month.
November 5, 2009
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To compound my real-life trademark worries, today I received a suspicious international letter from “TM-COLLECTION, P.O. Box 201, HU-9701 Szombathely” postmarked “Trieda Classe” (not even first class!). The letter stated that for a one-time, low cost of just $1650, I could be listed in a publication called the “TM-Collection 2010″. Of all of the trademark junk mail and scam artists that have sent me mail over the past few months, I was surprisingly impressed by how nice this fake letter layout looked. They even cut-and-pasted my color logo from the USPTO site to legitimize the offer. It’s like those direct mail postcards that use your name in the copy to personalize the mailing. They try to make you feel special.
I googled the company name and saw that many people had received the same letter, and sadly, some people had fallen victim to this company’s illegal activity. I hope they didn’t also fall victim to the Nigerian bank scam.
I hope that other entrepreneurs who receive this letter will google the company name like I did and see that this is all a lame scam not worth anyone’s time. And perhaps other entrepreneurs and blog readers will respond the way I did, by opening up a new gmail account and emailing the bogus company email@example.com with the subject line “Here’s the payment”, and sending them lots of pictures of lolcats.
On a happier note, I drafted another version of my press release, and I think it’s coming along nicely. As I was writing this press release I actually felt a sense of accomplishment, and for the first time ever, the product launch felt very real.
Let’s hope the momentum continues!
November 4, 2009
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I’d drafted a launch press release a few months ago, but when I re-read it today I decided it was garbage and tried to start over. But then writer’s block set in again. By lunchtime I had only written (and re-written) just 2 sentences. I also emailed my copywriter friend and asked her for some help. I realized that my writing paralysis wasn’t going away so I decided to change gears and work on my next wave of bag designs.
I’m currently working on a laptop messenger bag that I think will be a great addition to my line of products. If you check out my website in December and you find that the totebag or briefcase ain’t your cup of tea, then you might wait for the Spring 2010 messenger bag. But then again, given my bad luck with manufacturers, that might be Spring 2011!
OK, it’s dinner time. See ya!
November 3, 2009
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As you’ve probably guessed from the title, my production has been delayed again. Argh. Apparently over the last week-and-a-half my production was put on hold while my manufacturer addressed the needs of another (bigger) client. It’s difficult for me to see my projects being delayed, because I’m used to working for large, established companies that had a lot of money and weight to throw around. I’ve never been the poor, small client who was neglected for a larger one. It sounds like this is fairly common in the manufacturing industry, and that’s why start-up designers have such a hard time getting their products launched. I’ve learned a lot from this first production wave. I hope that the next round is much smoother.
My web designer and I decided to postpone booking the photographer until the first week of December. By then we will have all of the products finished, and the photographer’s schedule would be much lighter. We’ll have all of the website built out, and all we’d need to do is drop in the photography. The only good news about this delay is that my laptop sleeves and purse organizer might be going into production around the same time, so it might be possible to get photos of those too.
Ending the day early so I can get ready to see Steve Martin at Benaroya Hall tonight. A good way to end a blah day.
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