Kt Steppers in Mickleton, N.J. was started in June, 2008 and is all about offering a unique, custom and personalized product for just about any occasion in a child’s life.
‘Ah ha’ moment that led to launching the business: I think I knew I would always start a business, so the urge was there. I just needed to figure out what I wanted to do and do it. I was always creative and loved art and drawing, etc., so when I received a step stool for my second son as a gift I had that ‘ah ha’ moment. A few months later the first “stepper” was conceived when a family member was looking for something unique and personal for her best friend’s son.
Ideal customer: Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.
Landing first customer: Family members were my first clients.
Measuring Success: Brand awareness. Over the last year I spent most of our efforts building our brand Kt Steppers. Being on national TV with E!News in 2009 for the holidays was our first big success break with brand awareness.
Biggest Struggle: Convincing larger distributors that we will have the capacity to meet demand. I have been in talks with a number of companies that want to distribute and ‘brand match’ our steppers with their products, but haven’t taken the leap with us to get the partnership sealed. I plan on pursuing and overcoming this skepticism with facts and ‘back-up’ information that we will meet capacity demands.
Surprise!: The time and effort needed to promote your company. Getting promoted is no easy task.
Getting Sales: Utilizing social media. Being visible on Twitter and Facebook has opened up many doors that pretty much fund the business. I recommend any businesses starting out or small business to use these avenues of promotion. I don’t think I would have grown as quickly as I have if it weren’t for Twitter and Facebook. I also promoted our product to celebrity families and now can be recognized in many ‘famous’ homes and have been photographed in their kids rooms and nurseries.
What I wish I would’ve known: That I would not be able to do it by myself. I now know that I can ask for help and will find it. Join Networks for women/mom owned support. We are all in the same boat and ‘paying it forward’ only helps you grow together.
What keeps you up at night (business-wise!)?: If I missed any opportunities and spending our budget wisely.
Ever tempted to throw in the towel and just get a job?: Of course – especially as a mom-preneur. I think I will always question my priorities and if I am doing what is right for my family with my (our) time.
Moving Forward: 2011 is going to take Kt Steppers to a new level. So my next goal is to finalize deals and not take no for an answer.
Pricing, Getting it Right: Do your homework. Research your competition and manufacturers. Understand wholesale pricing and buying supplies in bulk.
Funding: For me, we started with $2,000-$3,000 from savings to build a functioning website and make samples of product. We’ve invested more money since, but that is all we started with. I’ve heard the doors for SBA loans are open these days, so if I had to start over I would go that route with local banks.
A few good tips: Don’t shy away from offering your product for wholesale or drop-shipping. The more avenues your product is available and promoted, the more orders at ‘full price’. Since my product is personalized, I work with a number of retailers that I offer drop –shipping for and it has been a great way to make Kt Steppers a ‘household’ name.
Must-read Online Resource: Retail Minded – I have learned a great deal through the webpage. There are resources, consultations, and it is just a great source for the industry. I also follow SCORE and read the SBA.gov website a bit.
The absolute best part of owning my business is: working my own (crazy) hours.
If I had to start over again, I would: have started Kt Steppers sooner.
I never imagined: time management would be so difficult.
If standing on a rooftop facing crowds of aspiring or struggling small business owners, I would shout: my favorite quote from Ronald Reagan: “ Entrepreneurs and their small enterprises are responsible for almost all the economic growth in the United States.’’