Friday, November 30, 2012

Counting down....22 days to go.

Hi. If you're someone who celebrates "Turkey Day" I hope you had a lovely time. I sure did.

I want to tell you what's been happening with me, well really more specifically, with Nikki's Magic Wand. It's been a busy, busy time! We've been feverishly working on website edits and Julie, our creative guru, has been polishing up the site while the best friend and I have been taking in its wonder every day. It is almost right where we want it and I couldn't be more excited. First off, I, Nikki, have a website! That, in and of itself, is crazy to me. AND, it's a beautiful, professional site (hey, I can say that because it's Julie's creation). Julie just created the Facebook and Twitter pages and at last check, the FB page had almost 90 "Likes" in 2 days and Twitter has four "Followers". :) Hey, we're growing, step by step. I am getting ready for the BIG launch on 12/22/12 and there's SO much to consider and to do. I have been monitoring my Evite responses. I have been jotting down who would like VIP tickets. I have been preparing VIP gift bags. I have ordered the "Step and Repeat"(banner) with our amazing logo all over it, for the guests to stand in front of to be photographed. I have secured the photographer. We have been meeting with and e-mailing our business consultants ensuring that we're keeping the business aspect in check. We submitted our first ever Press Release and submitted it to a wire service. Fingers crossed it will be picked up. My mind is constantly moving, trying to stay on top of everything at once. I don't want to miss any opportunities to connect with people who could ultimately help me get the word out there in a major way. I have to mention something here.  This project has really revealed the true mettle of my friends and family. The support and love I have been shown during this journey, up to this point, has been absolutely amazing. I have a friend, who lives in Michigan, who has been talking about Nikki's Magic Wand non-stop. She's been handing out post cards and spreading the word like crazy.  She is just one example, among MANY that have shown me their hearts during this ride so far. I also have to mention how thankful I am for Miyoshi Anderson, Founder of Pittsburgh Fashion Week. She has graciously agreed to partner with me on the event by spreading the word about the Wand and the launch. I am thankful for her guidance and event planning tips. She is a true gem.

2011- When we last went down memory lane, Julie had just shown us the logo and the love was instant. She immediately set about the task of branding. What will the company feel like, look like, make people think of when they think of it? Neither the best friend nor I are flowery women. She rides motorcycles and can fix cars! :) We knew we wanted the Wand and the company to be chic, sleek, simple, elegant---blacks and golds and grays. We wanted the product and company to walk among the Nars, the MACs, the Chanels. This is an important point because once you decide that, it will need to speak to everything you do going forward--business cards, website, stationery. The brand has to be consistent and focused. Yet, something else I needed to learn.  Thankfully this wasn't hard for Julie to grasp because she is that type of woman and knew instantly what we were after. She presented us with catch phrases and mottos that were cool, funny and sassy. Just wait until you see her packaging. It is all of those things I just listed. So, we were rolling along. We had the logo and the color scheme and "look" established. The design guy, Vince was checking in from time to time with designs for the wand and we had meetings to discuss his progress. We talked about how long it should be, what the tip should look like, what material to make it out of. After those discussions we got to the point where we were ready to produce our first EVER prototype!!!!!!!! Wanna see it?

Isn't it gorgeous? I cannot tell you how excited I was when this little piece of plastic came in the mail. And, oh my goodness, it worked!!!! It really got the inside of my make-up tubes CLEAN! Like there had never been anything in them originally. So, the next step was to take it around, show it off, let people try it out and gather feedback.

I'll stop here. As always, thanks for reading and for taking this journey with me. Until next time.

22 days 'til the Launch and I am nervous, happy, anxious, but ready!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I am thankful....

2011--When we last chatted, we had just plunked down the $1000 deposit for the design guy and he set about taking our rough drawings and ideas about what it should look like and began to design a working product. We sent him near empty lipgloss tubes so he could understand the problem close up, see the common length of tubes and begin to craft a tool that would work universally. We left him to his own devices to complete those tasks, while we set about some other things. At this point, we still only had a provisional patent so we couldn't do much in the way of distribution channels and the like. Shoot, we didn't even have a solid design so it was not yet time to talk seriously about who would sell it. Sure we had plans, "We'll get on HSN, QVC, be in Sephora, Ulta, etc." but we couldn't approach anyone in those areas yet. During this time, however, I did approach someone who would prove very valuable to our business. I had seen some logo and branding work that a young woman named Julie had done for a business colleague. Her eye was great so I decided to contact my business colleague and ask for her contact information. Julie was/is both creative and smart in the ways of marketing (She had recently graduated with a degree in Marketing from a great school). She and I met, signed the obligatory non-disclosure form and got to work. I discussed what I'd like her to do, initially it was simply to design a logo, but you'll soon see just how much she ultimately did and thankfully is still doing for Nikki's Magic Wand. I'll stop here because I want to share some present day stuff with ya. Oh, wait, I do want you to see the awesome logo she designed...

Here's what's so cool about our creative Julie, she designed it so that it looks like an "N" (Nikki's) but when you place the logo at the spot where the cap meets the Wand and pull apart to use, the top of the "N" looks like an "M"(Magic) and the bottom looks like a "W"(Wand). I was happy dancing for days when she first showed it to me. :)

11/21/2012-- Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and even though I spend time every day writing down things that I'm thankful for (everything from Peanut Chews to my children's health :)) I wanted to take a moment to make a note of things that have been going on for which I am eternally grateful. As you know, we're getting closer and closer to THE BIG LAUNCH and it's time for focused work and checking off tasks. I have sent out the Evite (following up the Facebook invite) so I can get an accurate count for food, drinks and other goodies we're providing. So, during this time of work and preparation, I want to remind myself....

I am thankful for:

1. Excited friends and family who keep telling me how proud they are of me. Amazing feeling.
2. Friends willing to travel for the event, right before Christmas, to be by my side during one of the biggest days of my life. Mindblowing.
3. Having a beautiful venue in which to have the event. Happy.
4. My 15 year old daughter telling me that she brags about the venture all the time. Sweet Child.
5. Trying my best to make the most of my mother's journey was cut short at 33 and I feel like it's my duty to chase down this dream for me and for her. Want to make her proud.
6. Having a business partner with whom I can laugh, talk serious business and who can talk me off of most mountains. My Stress Buster.
7. The Philadelphia High School for Girls (233 and beyond), Bookclub, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Miyoshi Anderson, Darcel Madkins, Bennie Nunnally, The Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence and the list goes on and on and on. Good connections are vital.

This 9 to 5 chick/Business owner has been running ragged and I am so thankful for a few days "off" (although business owners are never off, I'm finding out) to relax and re-group.

Please enjoy your holiday, if you celebrate and thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pay People For What They Do...

2011- When we last chatted about how this all got started we were at the point where I'd FINALLY found the person that would ultimately get this thing made. It's interesting how you can get through a good portion of your life and not know that entire industries exist. I guess I suspected something had to happen behind the scenes to get the mechanics of a product worked out but I never gave it any thought. So, when I called Vince, after Ray, the prototype guy, stressed that I needed someone like him, I didn't really know what I was asking him to do. I called Vince, explained the problem and the fact that I'd invented something to come up with a solution. He seemed to understand my product's purpose immediately (Thank Goodness) and told me that he would draw up a proposal to outline what he'd do for us. After sending him the non-disclosure form, we were ready to get crackin'. I called the best friend and told her excitedly, "WE FOUND THE GUY!" Vince's proposal came back and he had fully outlined his plan of action, the phases of the project and what he hoped to achieve at the end of his work with us. This connection with Vince gave me one of the most meaningful lessons I learned through this journey. I promise you, this is a valuable nugget of advice, even if it seems like common sense....Pay People For What They Do. A simple statement but I promise you, it's a life-changing statement. Do we all have the capacity to learn different aspects of this endeavor? No doubt about it and I'm telling you, I learn something new EVERY DAY. But, there are certain things that you don't have the time, patience or capacity to learn. Your life will be SO much better, smoother and easier if you PAY PEOPLE FOR WHAT THEY DO. It's why you wouldn't be your own attorney or doctor. I value and revere experts in their fields and I have learned that you will reach your goals a LOT faster when you let the experts do their thing. We paid our $1000 down payment and got started. I'll stop here with the flashback because I have plenty to tell you about this part of the project.

11-14-2012--Less than 40 days until the big launch and there's so much to do. You may or may not know but The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is near and dear to my heart. My mother died of Leukemia when I was 10 and the best friend and I would love to donate a portion of the proceeds from the launch to the Society. So, I called them this morning to share that I had a product launch coming up and I'd like to put the Society on the invite, press release, and advertisements about the launch and asked if they could give me a little something to give the guests. They happily agreed. So, we're planning to offer VIP tickets to the launch and I promise they'll be worth it. For a fair and friendly price, the VIP tickets will get you a gift bag of goodies and a special, private place to help  celebrate the launch, sip, eat, relax (can you say mini-massage?) and have a lovely time knowing you're supporting a budding entrepreneur and contributing to a worthy cause too. I'd call that a Win Win.

A bit stressed and anxious, but so very excited.

Friday, November 9, 2012 has happened to me.... :)

Hi Friends-

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been racing around, working hard to get this product (and its packaging) just where I envisioned it. There have been multiple prototypes produced and multiple samples made. They have been sent from the manufacturer to me, then to the best friend/business partner in Atlanta, for her review and also to the product designer and the logo designer. Opinions have flown like crazy over the internet and FINALLY, we've landed at a VERY happy place after sending the manufacturers back to the drawing board many, many times). The "wand" is beautiful (spoken just like a proud Mama) and the packaging is sassy, clean and chic.

So....I was beyond ecstatic to say today...WE ARE READY TO GO TO PRODUCTION. After a lot of sweat and actual tears, we've made it to a BIG first step. A product we can show off proudly, with our heads held high. I couldn't be happier.

In addition to this, I showed the launch venue to my dear friend and co-host for the launch and I am happy to report that she LOVED it and ideas are swirling for a fabulous event. Now that the weight of getting to production has lifted, I have space on my shoulders for the new task of planning the event...which will occur in 43 days to be exact.

Time to get cracking!!!! More flash backs coming in the next post. Right now I'm too busy Happy Dancing, picturing my pretty little wands rolling down the assembly line.

This is a spot on picture of me right now. :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Time, Time, Time...

2011- Ok, so when we last flashed back, one of our many angels (helpers along the way) had produced the very first ever Nikki's Magic Wand model and handed it over to us, along with a list of manufacturers that would be able to help us. As I began to call down this list, I learned something I wasn't previously aware of. I've always been an office girl. Even my summer jobs were office jobs so I never had the opportunity to talk with manufacturer folks at length. I was nervous that when I tried to explain what I needed that they wouldn't "get it", that they'd have difficulty relating to this thing I'd invented, purposed exclusively to deal with make-up. Two things happened that were amazing and wonderful. First off, they "got it" instantly. Before I was done explaining what the tool was meant to do, they all jumped in and said things like, "Oh yeah, I know what you mean. I've seen my wife, sister, mother struggle with getting to that left-over make-up. That's a GOOD idea!" That's when the second wonderful thing happened. VALIDATION. If these men (they were all men) knew JUST what the tool was meant to do and  THEY thought it made sense and was a good idea, then SURELY women would think the same. Those conversations fortified me and sometimes it takes just a small thing (a kind word, a whispered pep talk) to keep you moving and on the right track. One fateful day, I happened to call a place near Philadelphia. Their website stated that they made prototypes. Ok, great, here's where we need to be. Ray answered the phone and listened to what I needed. He started to ask those questions about Auto-Cad drawings and working with a design professional. Here's where I didn't have good answers. I basically said, "Tell me what I need to do, Ray." Ray stated that he worked with a gentleman near him, who specialized in product design and ensuring that the parts and pieces worked and fit together well before attempting to produce a prototype. I thanked him profusely and made one more call. It would essentially be the last one I'd have to make to get this thing made. Next time, I'll give you the nitty gritty on the steps to getting that precious prototype in our hands.

11-7-2012- I titled this post "Time, Time, Time" because a lot of this process can feel like a race against the clock. A race to gather money. A race to call the right person to do the best job. A race to beat the competitors. Right now, I am in full race mode. As you know the launch is 12/22/12 and I can't tell you a lie, I'm stressed. I'm anxious. I'm nervous. I'm not sleeping well. My worries run the gamut from silly to serious. Will we have enough food for the guests at the launch (trust me, that's not a silly one, that's serious:)). Will they love the product after I did my VERY best to think of everything every woman would like? Will it snow that day and prevent folks from coming? Will I find a dress that makes me look polished and lovely? Will the wands come on time and look beautiful and have people oohing and ahhing? Will the word spread well so that people order one for themselves and their mama? Will there be enough money to market this to the masses? I desperately want to give people a TOP NOTCH product and a value for their money. Honestly, that's the impetus for this WHOLE thing...saving people money. Stopping the frustration of  throwing away something that still has product inside. My mind is racing and my deadlines are looming.

This is my "baby" and you have to like it. You just have to.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A little inspiration...

11-1-2012--This evening I watched one of my new favorite shows, "How I Made My Millions." Tonight they did a special feature and called the show, "How I Made My Billions." The episode started with James Dyson, the creator of those high-end vacuum cleaners. I have always drooled a bit over those vacuums (it's the little things:)). The concept that it will NEVER lose suction continues to fascinate me. Well, I won't detail the show blow by blow for you, but I almost ran down here to the computer to share this with you. During this process, of getting my invention to market, I have been discouraged at different points. I have put it down for a few months while I tried to figure out if it was REALLY important. I have let other things pull my attention from it in the past but most recently, with delay after delay, I have felt a little down about how things were progressing. Well, let me tell you what they said on this show that made my heart smile. James Dyson made 5,127 prototypes before he got it right. Yes, you read that correctly FIVE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED TWENTY SEVEN prototypes! The interviewer said, "So that would be considered over 5000 failures." And Mr. Dyson said, "Yes, but interesting failures. Failures that I learned from." This was one of those "Ah Ha" moments. Even though I know, in my heart, that the stress I thought I was under was small compared to what others had endured, you have NO idea what hearing that large figure did for me. Instantly I took these nuggets of wisdom away: 1. When you believe in something, you do NOT give up 2. Just because it's not happening quickly doesn't mean it will never happen 3. Sometimes rejection is THE BEST thing to happen to you (Mr. Dyson went to Hoover and established vacuum companies and they all rejected him) 4. With the support of people that love you (he mentioned his wife multiple times) you can do almost anything.

This was JUST the show I needed to see tonight. It strengthened my resolve, it motivated me to chase down this dream like someone just snatched my purse :) and it solidified my hunger to go after those "B"illions that Mr. Dyson has earned with intelligence and tenacity.

No flashbacks tonight. I'm letting this marinate.