Monthly Archives: November 2013

Meet Evelyn Cucchiara – Inventor Of The Qr Stone

Let’s say you’re standing in line at the grocery store and start up a conversation that turns to your current business venture.  Most likely, you don’t have your cards with you, the kids are running out to the car,  but you still want to exchange info with the woman you just met in line.  If you had a QR code on a ring or necklace, the woman could quickly scan it and it would take her right to your web site or email newsletter sign-up page.  QR stands for quick response.

Offering a quick scan is more professional than searching through your purse to find your last, probably stained business card.

QR jewelry is Evelyn Cucchiara’s great idea.

With a background as an art therapist and art teacher, Evelyn runs an art studio for kids aged two to seven in her home.  Running into moms everywhere from the PTO meeting to the gardening center, she wanted an easy way to share her contact information and to gather followers, so she built it herself.

A QR code can be generated from the URL of any web site. (There are lots of free apps to do it).  Evelyn took it one step further and designed a QR code to fit into jewelry.  “Women never have pockets for business cards anyway and it’s so cumbersome to look for one in your handbag,” she said.

Attending networking events will become so easy with her creation. Plus, there will be no business cards to deal with after you get home.  “It would take me so long to input all of the information I gathered at an event and then, I’d feel so guilty that I had all these great potential customers and wasn’t reaching out to them,” said Evelyn.

Evelyn, like so many women, has several business ventures.  In addition to her children’s art studio, she is a productivity mentor with a blog called: The Hopeful Life.  So she created her QR Stone to let her feature different codes.

“If I’m attending a business seminar, I insert the code for opting in to my coaching newsletter.  Around town, I carry my art studio QR Stone necklace or ring.”

Her biggest challenge: “Most women don’t understand yet how a QR code works so educating my target client base is a big part of my marketing.”  She’s targeting women entrepreneurs to buy her QR products. “They’ll be able to easily connect with others without exchanging business cards.  I wanted to offer a simpler way.”

Contact:   [email protected]

[email protected]

www.thehopefullife.com

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Meet Shawn Hull – Founder Happiest Days Designs

Sometimes inspiration for a successful venture comes from someone else’s work. That’s what happened when Shawn Hull was shopping with a friend and came across some custom-made dinnerware with simple drawings on it.

“I loved the idea of hand drawings transferred onto porcelain,” said Shawn.

She had always been artistic, working in the theater as an actor and director and helping with community outreach.  But drawing and creating products seemed like a great idea and something she could involve her husband in as well.

“I started by doing a ton of research to find out how to transfer a drawing onto china,”  she explained. From there, Shawn came up with the idea to create a line of pottery that celebrates family milestones such as weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and births.

Her first creation was a Bridal Bouquet plate that she made for her brother-in-law who was getting married.  “He loved it and it gave me the validation I needed to move forward,” she said.

Shawn created other designs and transferred them to plates, platters and cups.  In addition to the Bridal Bouquet, she drew what she called Apple Tree Fine, Apple Tree Folk, ‘Tree of Life and Sweethearts.

Starting with very little investment, Shawn posted her designs on the crafty web site Etsy.com.  This allowed her to manage a store front without having to create one. Her designs started to sell and then something big happened.

“A reporter from the New York Times was doing a story on interesting custom gifts for new couples and found our things on Etsy,” she recalled. “We were featured in the wedding section–it created a big buzz and lots of orders.”

Despite the increase in orders, Shawn was able to deliver everything within her normal time frame of two to four weeks.  “In the beginning, we used a friend’s kiln to fire all our work, but as our business developed, we invested in our own kiln.”

Shawn started marketing her customized dishes at a crafts fair, but realized it was the wrong venue. “People like to leave ( a craft fair) with something (in hand) but our designs are customized.  Shoppers often wouldn’t have all the details of the event or the correct spelling of things they wanted on the gift.”

They soon realized they needed a web site.  Shawn’s husband is the techy one of the family, so he built an e-commerce site for them to showcase their newly-named  company – Happiest Days Designs.

One of their best sellers is the Story of Us Hearts which is a larger bowl in the shape of a heart and smaller hearts placed inside.  The smaller hearts have special events in the couple’s lives written on the hearts and can be added to the bowl over time.  “Many of our customers are repeat customers who shop for other friends or for more events in their own lives,” said Shawn.

Meet Jayne Benton – Founder, My Cupcake Party

Whether you’re assisting an orthopedic surgeon or frosting a cupcake, precision is key.  Jayne Benton left her career as a Physician’s Assistant when her family moved to the East Coast.  With two young children, she focused on motherhood rather than going back to her career in the OR.

“I always loved baking, especially cupcakes,” said Benton. When one of Jayne’s girlfriends asked for a silent auction item for a charity event, Jayne thought, “I don’t have a vacation home to offer up but I could provide a kids’ party with decorated cupcakes.”

With more than 90 items up for auction, Jayne’s ‘cupcake party’ got the most bids.  Then, the moms who didn’t win her party asked her if they could pay her to put on a cupcake party for their children.

“I didn’t really have a structure, it was just something I loved to do,” said Jayne, who wasn’t sure she could create a business around teaching kids how to make cupcakes.  Some skeptics even asked, “who will pay for you for that?”  But, every time she brought her creations in for the school snack, people asked: “Where did you get those cupcakes?!!!”

Jayne’s cupcakes are so amazing because a lot goes into the presentation.  For example, for Halloween, Jayne used shredded wheat on a small tray to simulate hay. Then, she set owl, ghost and witch cupcakes on top of the ‘hay.’  For one party, she served the cupcakes in ice cream dishes and for another one, she  served the cupcakes in French fry baskets.

The next challenge was how to create a cupcake decorating class?

Using her own kids and neighbor’s kids as a test, Jayne developed a model class.

“Many people ask how I can fill a whole hour and a half party with cupcake decorating,” said Jayne. She starts by teaching the basics about baking the perfect cupcake even though she bakes the cupcakes in advance. Next, she teaches which tools to use for various decorating projects.  Explaining the various kinds of frostings that can be used and how to color the frostings takes a lot of time.

“There is so much to do from coloring the frosting, to cutting candy, to staging the cake,” she explained.  When the children arrive, the table is set with decorating kits for each child and samples for inspiration.

The local Park and Rec department asked her to teach a class as an after school. It turned out to be a great way to grow her party business.  Best of all, her classes aren’t just for kids.  My Cupcake Party can be for ‘tweens, holiday workshops, mom’s night out, mother- daughter events, Girl Scouts, women’s groups, neighborhood get-togethers, baby showers or just for fun!

Jayne handles everything from the invites to the ‘goodie’ bags.

“We can customize the cupcakes and the party theme to fit any specific interest,” she said.  “If you can imagine it, we can create a cupcake party for it.”

She’s so busy, she had to hire three additional people to help her manage all the parties on the schedule – and her helpers are moms, of course.

Contact:  [email protected]

Be sure to mention VentureMom!!!!

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