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Small Business Interview: T*Racy Design
As once said by the famous Virgil, They succeed, because they think they can. Much like this quote is the passion of Tracy Belben, an upcoming designer who is making her mark in the small business arena. Read below to learn Tracy's tips for starting a small business.
A: The freedom of being able to express myself and share my work with others. I started the business between architecture jobs, during the recession of 20092010. I've always enjoyed fashion and shopping, and didn't have the budget to buy new clothing and accessories as I had been able to before the days of unemployment. In an attempt to keep up the lifestyle, I started creating my own accessories to jazz up existing outfits, eventually realizing the attention from friends within the fashion industry. Your work its so bold, edgy, and whats the word? RACY!- One friend said. From that point onward, T*Racy was born.
A: The ultimate goal, at the beginning, was to express myself and generate some income to survive the recession between jobs. Eventually, the goal shifted towards designing a line, one that allows the customer to express themselves and generate a long-lasting brand. With this I also hoped to be recognized by a savvy, fashion-conscience demographic.
A: Yes, currently Im using Etsy.com and use the Square iPhone app (square.com). The app allows me to process orders when Im selling at trunk shows or for special orders through phone or email. Currently, I am collaborating with award-winning fashion designer Daniel Hernandez for a special collection that will be available exclusively through DH Studios, Inc.
A: Personally, I love Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest (I just started using it) as a way to connect with followers, and advertise events where I will be selling product or to announce new products that have been added to my website. Best part about using social media for advertising its free! When I receive orders from individual customers, online or at a show, I include a free bumper sticker or magnet of a large T*Racy lips logo. This reminds people of my brand, wherever they are. I also carry business cards everywhere I go.
A: This may come as a surprise, but business cards are the most effective. Face time with customers, potential collaborators, and press contacts are crucial. A well-designed, high-quality business card, in combination with a handshake, smile, and eye contact, grows a business and leads to sales.
A: Extremely important! Loyal customers are the people advocating your brand, by wearing the product and talking about it. Treat them well, appreciate them, and they will naturally sell for you because they love the product.
A: Currently, about 65%75%, since I participate in local fashion and trunk shows. The remaining customers are from all over the world.
A: I am constantly networking within the fashion community in and around New England. Websites like Meetup.com are great resources to meet people within your industry. I also attend other designers events to network, learn, and become inspired. Even if Im on vacation, I hand out business cards. Its a 24-hour business.
A: Yes and no. The design and production work is prepared at my home studio, but the e-commerce and social media aspect of my business is conducted while Im on the go, by iPhone or laptop. I can work anywhere.
A: Absolutely. I knew it would be hard, but didn't realize how much there is to learn, especially when it's not your background. You learn by doing, and "doing" is a challenge. It's intimidating starting a business! Making the leap and trusting yourself is the hardest part. Finding a support system, mentors, and partners is crucial to grow a brand.
A: As long as I can. The beauty of being trained as a designer is the ability to come up with new ideas. If something isn't working, you think of another creative option and test it. Over and over again...
A: I went through Architecture school. It taught me how to think by brainstorming concepts, presenting my work, and transforming an idea into reality.
A: If you have a great idea and strongly believe in it, dont let anything (including yourself) hold you back! Life is too short for coulda/woulda/shoulda excuses.
Check out another small business owners story. Small Business Interview: the Creative Strategy Agency