Keep It Klose, launched in 2007 in Aurora, Colo., is a bra with pockets and a key hook.
‘Ah ha’ moment that led you to launching this business: I took my kids to Venice Beach, Calif. and a friend and I were jumping over the waves and she said, “I, lost my phone!” Then she screamed, “I lost my keys!” Both were stored in her bra. Fortunately, we found them both. So on the way to the car a bra with pockets came to mind.
Ideal customer/target market: All women who wear bras.
First customer or client? I went to a gift show and I had to take orders after I ran out of bras.
Measuring success: Success is a state of mind to me. It’s not measured by your how much money you have or how nice your car is, but by being grateful for what you already have. My goal is to help make a better me and a better world by not chasing the dollar bill but by helping others.
Biggest struggle: Money. We all know it takes money to make money. I held fundraisers, pitched to family members at reunions, put ads on Craigslist for investors. I needed inventory! I had done all I knew how to do to raise capital and no one was biting. So, there was nothing left for me to do but pray and trust in God. Then one day a friend came to me a said she would invest in me by taking money out her to 401(k). To me, that meant she really believed in me and my product. This allowed me to order inventory so that I can be more aggressive in my marketing. You can’t market without a product.
Surprise: Meeting so many people who have been so helpful and willing to help me for free or very little just because they believed in my product.
Promoting business: I work part time for an airline so I insert my flyer’s into the front seat pockets when a aircraft is sitting at my gate. I have received a lot of sales that way — so many that I’ve had to refund customers due to lack of inventory. But not for long!!
Ever tempted to throw in the towel and just get a job?: Yes. You get tired of hearing no. All those no’s wear on you after while. Then you start second-guessing your product. Maybe it’s not as good as I thought or it’s not going to work and then something positive happens and it reminds me that if this was that easy everyone would be doing it.
Pricing is always a challenge/advice on getting it right: Do your research. I went out and priced other sports bra’s and went from there.
Funding/advice on getting it? I needed $10,000 and a friend invested in me. Don’t ever give up: you never know who’s watching and just might invest in you.
The absolute best part of owning my business is: independence.
If I had to start over again, I wouldn’t: have wasted so much money.
I never imagined: finding funding would be so difficult.
If standing on a rooftop facing crowds of aspiring or struggling small business owners, I would shout, “If I can do it, you can, too. Don’t ever give up because if you do, someone else will take your idea and make it work.”