Kawaii Buddieswebsite- http://www.kawaiibuddies.com
SPECIAL CODE FOR COAST READERS: coast15 EXPIRES OCT 3 AT MIDNIGHT
When did your business launch? 2006
What is your business about? What is it that you do/sell? I make fun, geeky, cute and creepy jewelry and accessories. Everything from pinup jewelry to fur winter gear to miniature food jewelry.
What gave your the inspiration or motivation for your business? I saw some cute stuff that I liked and I tried to make something similar. It was honestly horrible. But it inspired me to try more and before long I developed my own style and it made me proud when people looked at my work and said "Wow!"
Do you do this full time/part time? Well, it's complicated. I am a stay at home, work from home mother so I kind of do everything full time.
How has your life changed since starting your business? I have made more friends through this business than anything else. People who come along and appreciate my work and we instantly hit it off.
What is the biggest obstacle you have encountered? Finding a target market. It's a somewhat conflicting obstacle really. My items are a bit of a niche product and locally speaking, they aren't highly sought after. I sell more online to people in different countries than I do locally. It is sometimes discouraging but I also realize that one of the reasons people don't seek it, is because they don't know it exists. Many times when people see my products in person, it opens up a whole new world to them.
What is something you thought was going to be hard, but turned out to be simple, in regards to your business? Understanding marketing. At least it seems to be easy for me. I don't know why. I am often told that maybe I should have gone into marketing but I am quite capable of coming up with sales plans that seem to work well for my own small business. Not sure if I could have done the same for large companies! Haha!
What has been your biggest success to date? There was a customer a few years ago who ordered a hat. I took it to the post office to ship it off and they told me that because of import restrictions in Italy, nothing could be shipped in which had any sort of stitch work (clothing, hats, stuffed toys, etc). I messaged my customer, telling them I was sorry and offered them a refund or a store credit to anything that wasn't sewn. They asked if I could send the hat to a friend in the US who would be visiting them in Italy soon. I did so and later they sent me a picture of the hat on a snowman (the wife was too shy to be in the picture), in front of the Colosseum in Rome. It suddenly felt like a piece of me was there and that was rather special. They sent along a lovely thank you note with the picture that made me feel lucky to be in the line of work I am in- bringing happiness to people through all the cute and lovely things I can create.
Do you have any big plans/ideas/launches planned for 2015? I am always working on new products! I never have special launch dates but I work on trying to get big batches of new stuff out 2-4 times a year.
What would you like to share with COAST readers about your company/business? I absolutely love customer pictures. It makes me feel like a small part of your life since I put so much of my time and creativity into my products. It makes me happy doing what I do.
Lastly, what is the advice you would give to someone looking to start a company or business similar to yours? Do something you love, for the love of it. Not for the business of it. If you have to make money, do what you have to do, but it is my firm belief that if I were doing something I hated, I wouldn't be able to do it for long. I take custom orders but for the most part, all of my original products are something I love myself, for the art of it, the creativity behind it and the pride it fills me with.