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Growing a Sports Bra For Nursing Mothers into a $330k/month Activewear Business

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Before I became a mother, I was a Personal Trainer, and so once I had recovered post birth, I decided to head back to the gym to catch up with clients, show Caden off, and do a bit of a work-out. As I was working out, Caden got fussy, so I went to feed her and this is when my ‘ah-ha’ moment came about! I battled my sports bra, trying to pull it up over my breasts to feed. Once I finally managed that, my boobs were then being squashed by the tight band. Milk was being pushed down and coming out too fast for Caden. It was a mess, and I was left infuriated. “This is impossible! There’s got to be a better way!” I thought. So, as soon as I got home, I went online to look for some quality nursing sports bras. There was nothing.

“Why has no one thought of this? How can mothers be expected to keep active and breastfeed when there’s nothing practical out there to do it in!”

I decided there and then if no one else would make the gear mums/moms needed, then I’d give it a go! I had absolutely no experience in fashion design, but I knew what was needed, so began drawing…

Flash forward 19 months, and Adam (my partner in life and business) and I have just welcomed our second baby girl, Ryan into the world! Four days later, $20k of nursing sports bras arrive from China, and are emptied onto our front lawn…here we go!

In 2020 we’re set to turn-over close to $7 million. Cadenshae (named after our first born Caden, her middle name is Shae) now employs 20 staff and is recognised as the leading activewear brand for pregnant and nursing mothers, worldwide. Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the USA and Canada are our target markets.

Why did you choose the maternity niche?

I didn’t really ‘choose’ it, it chose me! I stumbled across a niche market that wasn’t being serviced, so I decided to try service it! And luckily…for all involved, it turned out to be a profitable decision.

How did you validate the idea?

You mean validate starting the business? Easy. I went online when I desperately needed a nursing sports bra…there was nothing available, and I thought if I am struggling to find activewear that is affordable, practical, stylish and colourful during this time in my life…then I bet there are other moms/mums out there who are struggling too! Starting this business to me was a no-brainer…there was such a huge need.

Primarily, our demographic is pregnant women and new mums/moms. However, we have now launched a new range called ‘LEVEL,’ which is our non-nursing range, so just ‘normal’ activewear for our mothers who are no longer breastfeeding, but love our products and still want Cadenshae in their lives!

The co-founder is my gorgeous husband Adam, and if you must know, we met on a dance floor in a bar years ago! 😉

Did you have any experience/expertise in the area?

Not really! I had a little bit of business experience, but I had no fashion design experience, and no idea about the apparel/retail/maternity worlds to be honest! But I backed myself to be able to start this company, because I was so passionate about what we were doing. I truly believe if you’re passionate about something, and you have the ‘fire in your belly, ‘ then you’ll succeed. If you want something bad enough, you’ll make it work. Also, the research I did after thinking up the idea proved there was a huge shortfall in this market…so I thought if we did this right, we couldn’t go too wrong? I am a practical person and I love problem-solving, so this was so exciting to me, and I knew I could do it with the awesome support crew I had around me as well (now husband, parents, friends etc).

Have you raised any money? How much?
I had $20k which I invested to buy the first lot of stock (bras). That was completely my money which I had earned the old-fashioned way! Hard work! I sold my shares from a gym I partly owned in Australia a year or so before-hand, and the money from that was the initial investment for Cadenshae.

Any tips for finding first employees?

Yes. You have to go with your gut, trust that. Many people look good on paper, but they may not be right for the role. You need to find people that you connect with instantly, and people who are willing to learn, take direction, but also take initiative too once they know exactly what they’re doing and what is expected of them. Adam does most of the hiring for our business as he has a gift for judging a person’s character and work ethic based on one meeting. He hasn’t been wrong about anyone we have employed yet as they’re all absolute guns! Yes, get someone who has experience in what you need, yes, get someone who has the skills you need, but above all else – hire on their personality and what your gut and your intuition is saying – it’s always right.

Did you run any companies prior?

Sort of. I was a part-owner/manager (there were three of us) of a health and wellness centre/personal training gym. I’d never gone solo before. Previously, I was a medic in the NZ Army, a beautician and a personal trainer.

Business ownership is just something I’ve always wanted to do. I like the challenges involved in launching something and making it work. Before starting out, I could see that working for yourself has a lot of bonuses, a lot of stress for sure, but a lot of pros…so I wanted to do it. Working for other people doesn’t really fit my personality type to be honest! I’m a creative thinker, so I want the ability to think of something and see it come to fruition, not have to jump through hoops for someone else, or implement other people’s ideas…that’s not for me!

Family were behind us from the start, they knew we could do it. Friends weren’t too sure what to make of it all, but were supportive none-the-less!

What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?

The fact that something has gone wrong motivates me! I am a problem-solver, and I like things done quickly…so I stop whatever I’m doing and fix whatever needs to be fixed as quickly as I can. Our end goal is to remain the best in the business. We are currently, but we have to maintain that lead.

Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?

Invest with your own money and bootstrap it if you can – that’s if you want to remain in complete control, like we do. Trust your gut. Realise that sometimes profit isn’t always ‘King,’ and make decisions based on your heart – ‘heart over profit,’ if you will! It might cost you initially, but in the long run, you’ll be winning…consumers want more from their brands these days, they want them to stand for more, be more, give back…so aim for more than just profit – seek out what your customers would appreciate and give it to them. Give the people what they want!

What has driven the most sales?

We have a very strong social media presence, and we put a lot of time and resources into that. We work hard to be ‘available’ to our customers and to establish a genuine connection with them. We wanted to create a community of supportive mothers/parents who can all help each other out, and we have done that by being open, honest, real, and available. We put ourselves out there and it truly does result in repeat sales and customer loyalty – no doubt. People feel they know us personally, and they know what we stand for and what our brand is about…I feel like we have a special bond with our customers, and this is priceless to us, in so many ways!

What is stopping you being 3x the size you are now?

Money. Isn’t it always money? Investment. If we had a few million invested into the business we could be much larger, and we know that. We have toyed with this idea before, but having investors means you can grow as a business, but you lose complete control, and I’m not sure we want to do that just now. There’s also the DTC (direct to consumer) v stockists debate, should we remain DTC or expand into shops? We’re toing and froing on that one too…these decisions take time and need a lot of consideration…so that’s what we’re doing right now…considering our options.

How do you protect yourself from competition?

To be the best, you have to work the hardest, and I know we do. Also, we do not stinge on quality…the quality of our products is essential. We work the hardest, we create the best gear with the best materials, and we invest time to connect with our customers…that’s how we protect ourselves.

What apps could your business not run without?

Unleashed – for our inventory.

Asana – for general business planning.

Starshipit – for our shipping management.

What are the next products you’re working on?

We have just launched our ‘Shine Bright’ leggings which are made out of recycled plastic bottles, they are gorgeous and environmentally friendly! We want to make more items out of this material and try to help the world to reduce waste, and do so in a positive way.

Our other range we are focussing on is ‘LEVEL,’ the activewear for moms who are no longer pregnant or nursing…but just want to stay in our gear because it’s that good. 😉

Are there any releases you can tell us about?

We’re working on something a little different for next year, and I’m pumped about it! It’s called the ‘Kiardi” (a kimono and cardigan combined)! We’re also working on a merino range which will be so great for the colder months!

Where do you see the company in 5 years?

I see us turning over around $30 million, maybe more annually. I see us having a far larger presence in the US, Canada and the UK…we have a presence there now, but we want to be bigger and be as large in those countries as we are in Australia and New Zealand. I see a staff of 50, not 20. We sponsor the fabulous Alysia Montano, but by then we’d like to sponsor a few more professional athletes as well. I have so many ideas, I’m just hoping that in five years time, we’ve pulled off a good hunk of them.

What is current revenue? If you don’t mind sharing

Between 4 and 7 million. 😉

Would you ever sell?

Potentially, for the right price! But it would have to be to someone we fully trusted and who would hold on to the same morals and values we have…someone who would stay grounded, take care of the customers and give back to others who need it – that’s just so important to us.

If you enjoyed this interview, the original is here.

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[Super Guide]I recently came up with some of my current views on the world

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  1. Chaotic events are unpredictable. In a chaotic system, not making mistakes is the only thing you can do, and the best thing is to do nothing. All financial systems, market systems, and social systems are chaotic systems in the short term. 99% of people in chaotic systems do not admit that they live in chaotic systems, they are part of chaos.
  2. The Exponential event is almost invisible to the naked eye in the short term, and will scare people in the long term. Infectious diseases, compound interest, and knowledge storage are all Exponential events. Reading 5 pages a day, 10 years later, cognition will crush 99% of people. Humans are destined to ignore exponential events until it becomes visible to the naked eye, so infectious diseases are not preventable, so people who can realize the terribleness of compound interest mentally will sooner or later get rich. If an infectious disease infected 0.75% of people today, 100% of humans could be infected in a week
  3. Small probability events can be resolved by number of people. Selling and finding a wife are rare events. If the single success rate is 1%, after 200 attempts, there is a 90% probability of success. People with a large number of people are well-versed in small-probability events, and what they really have to overcome to solve the number problem is their emotions.

  4. No matter how you define “success”, the essence of success is to become a minority. Otherwise, you have no meaning to pursue. Therefore, the first step to success is to avoid becoming a majority. The road to pursuing wealth is essentially the road to constantly get rid of the poor. The road to the pursuit of happiness is essentially the road to constantly get rid of the unfortunate.

  5. Asymmetric events refer to events with extremely high potential returns and low risks. It is the lifeblood for businessmen and investors. Opening a restaurant, the probability of failure is 90%, the loss is 20,000$, and the monthly profit is 7,000$ after success. This is not cost-effective. There is no risk of failure in making short videos, and once successful, the potential benefits are great. To grasp asymmetric events, to accurately measure the risk-benefit ratio, this requires trial and error. The best asymmetric events are: "Successful failures with equal probability, but failures suffered linear losses, success in gaining exponential growth", but very few.

  6. I started to doubt the existence of willpower. I haven't concluded yet, but maybe: focus is more important than persistence, and love is more important than focus. Bravely pursuing your favorite business, lovers, and life model may be more important than tangling in something you don't like. This means that you can never force someone to succeed, you can only "inspire". A person's failure is partly because he is not really pursuing success.

In the future, I will update a series of articles on my fb homepage(https://www.facebook.com/Saika-economics-108940597417214/?modal=admin_todo_tour), which will tell you a bloody fact: entrepreneurship is a lonely road created by numerous failures and fears. Those who can reach the end of the road and take money are real warriors

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How to create a positive routine when working from home

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Week 2 of Covid19 self-isolation and we are well into the official Lockdown, here in London. 

We are all going through a time of unprecedented global uncertainties and anxiety. And unless you’ve experienced working from home before, you’re also experiencing a lot more time in and around your kitchen than you’ve ever thought possible.

I’ve used my lounge, bedroom and garden as offices for some time, and to stay grounded without the standard office life to break up the day, I’ve come up with a guideline structure that helps me get through the #stayathome times.  

Here’s how you can create a positive routine when working from home, or when forced to stay at home.

PICK THE RIGHT TIME ZONE

When the usual routine goes out of the window, and you’re all of a sudden having to spend more time at home, things can get tricky.  

With a new level of flexibility, access to colleagues and clients worldwide at various hours and resources available online at any time, it’s quite easy to get overwhelmed and lose track of the time of day. 

You may find yourself getting up at a strange hour, eating brunch at dinner time and feeling wide awake in the middle of the night. Don’t panic. A new time zone may actually work well with your organic body and mind clock. But if you find it to be unproductive, be honest with yourself and pick a time zone that serves you best.  

The 9-5 slot may be well ingrained in your programme, so sitting at your home desk by 9 may feel reassuring. But why not also test out new ways. You’re the boss. You may find your neurones come to life at dawn or become more creative later in the evening. Experiment with your time zones. 

Very little beats waking up naturally, alarm-less, for a productive and happy start of a day. 

CREATE A VOLUNTARY POSITIVE ROUTINE

If the idea of creating structure feels daunting and you fall into a more spontaneous type of personality who needs direction, call it a voluntary positive routine, and the game changes.  

Yes, the times are uncertain, but we can still control how we react to it all. Let’s take some control back by designing our own perfect day. 

Each day I make a list of the things I want or need to get done, then allocate an estimated time next to each task. Include your favourite essentials, such as meditation time, tea breaks, eating well, connecting and laughing, walking your dog, playing with the kids, moving, dancing, and doing something fun and creative, etc.  Basically as many things that you know will eat into your day, including procrastination habits. 

The time allocation is helpful to ensure I don’t over-stretch it, which could lead to feelings of disappointment.  Stop as you get to around 6-7 hours in total. We tend to underestimate how long things take. Ticking things off is rewarding and will make you feel good. 

Best to over-accomplish than to be left with a lot undone.

My positive routine to create the best day possible out of working from home, goes something like this:

  1. WAKE UP WITH GRATITUDE:  

As soon as I am aware of my awakening, I smile. Then I do a little 3, 2, 1…countdown and jump out of bed like a rocket.  I open the curtains, let the sunlight in and I greet my new day with a loud THANK YOU! 

  1. SHARE THE POSITIVITY WITH “GOOD MORNING!”:

I love wishing everyone a “good morning”. But if you don’t leave the house, it’s hard to find those opportunities.  So I send a happy message or voice note to my dearest ones, and sometimes post it on my social to share the positive vibes.

  1. HYDRATE AND REFUEL WELL: 

Before anything else, except for a mandatory trip to the loo, I rehydrate with a big glass of water, or better even warm water with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Followed by a healthy habit of refuelling my body with organic superfood powders diluted in water or juice (dreammagicsuperfoodpowder.co.uk).

  1. MAKE YOUR BED:

I make my bed almost as instantly as I get out of it. Even if I know I’m going back in it and might be working from there most of my day. A tidy and clear environment helps me feel better, and keeps my mind clear too. All positive ingredients for a productive day.

  1. MEDITATE:

If you’re not into meditating yet, believe the hype. Meditation has become a daily must for me. Even if I just manage 5 to 10 minutes, preferably in the morning to set my day on fire. It helps me get into the right mindset.  Bedtime is also a great opportunity to go inwards with a meditation. I enjoy Oprah and Deepak Chopra 21-day challenges and I regularly use Insight Timer or Calm.

  1. MOVE YOUR BODY!

Don’t forget to move your body. It’s amazing how much movement is cut down when you don’t get out for work.  There are so many new online PT training and classes. No excuses, there’s something for everybody. And while we’re still allowed to go outdoors for a daily workout, take advantage of it. Solo-dancing around the living room is also a secret hobby of mine. It sets me up with the right energy even before an important call or task.

  1. CRACK ON WITH YOUR LIST:

You’re almost set to go. Grab a cup of tea or coffee, and get cracking with your awesome list.  Start if you can with the least pleasant but most important and impactful items first. As you get more distracted and tired through the day, you’re more likely to still commit to those easier tasks. When you start losing focus, move to some of the more fun items: take breaks, move, walk, hydrate, meditate. Find what sparks you. And as you cross things off, big or small, celebrate achievements!

  1. JOURNAL:

Keep a journal to take notes throughout the day: morning lists, jot down ideas, release nagging thoughts, share daily gratitude and fun moments, create new plans, what feelings come up for you, and so on. You can have different journals for different content, or use the same for everything. Journaling releases tension, keeps your thoughts organised, encourages creativity, records ideas and boosts wellbeing especially when expressing gratitude and recounting happy times. 

  1. STAY CONNECTED

It’s so easy to get through to a whole day without talking to a human soul, especially if you live alone. Pets and plants are great listeners but make time to stay connected with your people people. Schedule in catch-up calls and online coffee breaks when possible. Check in with friends, family and neighbours who are also home-bound. Share tips and positivity, offer help and humour.

  1. SELF-CARE

I can’t over emphasise the importance of self-care in any given moment, and even more so during uncertain times of pandemic lockdowns and working from home.  There are many great ways you can be kind to yourself.  Meditation, journaling, moving around, reading a captivating book, hot candle baths, indulging in your favourite body cream, eating a healthy yummy treat, connecting with nature, doing something funny, asking for help with anything you struggle with, etc. 

CREATE VARIABLES AND NON-VARIABLES

My positive routine includes variable and non-variable elements. There are some things that I look to repeat on a daily basis and others that depend on what I need or want to get done that day. I then leave room for changes and spontaneity.

You can go creative with your list, until the non-variables of your positive routine become second nature.  You could write the MUST Dos permanently on a white board for example and leave space to add the other variable tasks below.  Or remind yourself of these with an acronym or mantra repeated on each page of your diary.

My daily deal-breakers include: Gratitude, Meditation, Exercise, Self-care, Connect with people, Create and have Fun. 

I hope you find value in this guideline, to help you make up your own positive routine. Consider what you always wanted to experience on a perfect day in your work life. If you are new to working from home, and need help creating a happy structure that boosts your wellbeing and productively, get in touch with us here at the Female Entrepreneur Association and let’s work on it together.

Words by Francesca dal Bello of Gr8fool Limited.

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How to Transition From a Sole Proprietor to an LLC by @DeborahSweeney

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Is it ever too late to change the legal structure you initially incorporated as? Not at all. The entity formed for a business at its offset does not need to be its formation forever. Entrepreneurs have the option to change structures that best fit their needs, and many begin as sole proprietors. For those that are ready to make the leap from sole proprietorship to another entity type, like an LLC, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

1. Determine if you are truly ready to opt out of being a sole proprietor.

There are certain aspects of incorporating as a sole proprietorship that cannot be found in other legal structures. A couple perks include the ability to be the sole owner of the business and call the shots. This allows entrepreneurs to exercise complete control over their startup and truly act as the boss. A sole proprietorship is the easiest legal structure to form with a simplified tax process and affordable filing fees. It’s also a great entity if you run a business from home, like an Etsy shop or as an online consultant, where you don’t need a physical storefront.

However, the biggest drawback to remaining a sole proprietor is that there is no separation between personal and professional assets. The owner is liable for everything that happens within the business. This can include everything from losing valuable information to assuming the company’s debts and even being served with a lawsuit. Without liability assistance, it can be tough for an entrepreneur with a sole proprietorship to expand their business and protect their assets.

2. Decide whether an LLC or another entity formation is your best fit.

Before you can incorporate as a limited liability company (LLC), you’ll need to determine what each entity can bring to the table and your business.

As one of the most popular entities, an LLC allows entrepreneurs to keep their personal and professional assets separate. This is especially helpful in the event of an unforeseen circumstance and provides a growing startup with an extra cushion of liability protection. It also provides flexibility in being able to choose either an S Corporation or C Corporation as your tax entity. For those that qualify as an S Corporation, careful planning will allow you to avoid paying significant employment taxes. Keep in mind, however, that it’s not enough to incorporate as an LLC and be completely done with the process. You’ll also need to apply for permits (like a Sales and Tax permit, per obligations in your city, county, or state), business licenses and insurance, a DBA (Doing Business As name), and an EIN (Employer Identification Number).

For those with big expansion plans, a corporation offers the best of both worlds. You’ll receive liability protection for professional and personal assets within a formal business structure. This entity allows potential investors to invest capital into your business, provides the ability to issue shares, and makes it possible to take your business public. As far as taxes go, what you pay in taxes is based on what you choose to pay yourself from the corporation. You also have the option to elect an S Corporation status after incorporating to tax the shareholders, instead of the income of the corporation.

3. Look into a partnership.

Want a little extra support? A partnership is tailor-made for entrepreneurs that want to go into business with a partner, whether that’s a family member or friend. This structure allows entrepreneurs to share profits and losses with a partner and make decisions together.

Keep in mind that much like a sole proprietorship where you are liable for everything within the company, in a partnership you are liable for decisions made along with the actions of your business partner. Consider drafting a written partnership agreement together. This will allow you to establish partnership terms and outline capital contributions from each partner and their percentage of ownership in the company. You may also further detail the rules for admitting a new partner and outline procedures for the voluntary and involuntary withdrawal of the partner.

Once you have determined which entity formation you’d like to transition to, begin filing the proper paperwork with your local Secretary of State and pay the associated filing fee to make the changes.

 

 

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation.

The post How to Transition From a Sole Proprietor to an LLC by @DeborahSweeney appeared first on She Owns It.



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