Posts tagged small business guide
Quick 5 - Elena Holmberg, CINK

I first met Elle in the south of Sweden on a girl weekend we did together with our mutual friend Ullis . Our goal for the trip was to just hang out, drink wine, read magazines and enjoy the beautiful scenery, and well, sleep really! Elle didn't seem very happy with her work situation and she felt a bit suffocated I think. We talked about the pros of being self employed and the freedom it gave us, Ullis and myself. We started to brainstorm about new products, where was there a gap in the baby and toddler market? And we found it. CINK was born!

Elle was really inspired by the conversations we had during those days. I gave her more meet on her bones by telling her where to search and literally where to begin. The 1-year journey started. She invested a lot of money and hard work. And headaches. I tried to be there for business support all the way through, and Ullis as that important believing  friend that we all need. And look where she is today! I'm so immensely proud of her, she really proved that anything is possible. What a success story! 

  • Family: Elena 35 years, Patrik 36 years, Jack 5 years and Dante 2 years!

 

When was the biggest wow-moment for your brand?!

Every little step on the way has been a wow-moment. Holding the first sample in my hand, opening up the web shop, getting my first retailer request. But I think the biggest wow was when Family Living featured Cink as one of the most important Scandinavian designs this year. That made me feel really proud.

What do you love most about a new week?

This is probably the first time in my life I am actually longing for Mondays. Since I have promised myself to always put family first I really try to put business aside during weekends even though it’s really hard since I love what I do. Opening up my computer on Mondays and starting the week with packing new orders, answering emails and dig into all the other tasks gives me the biggest kick of energy!

Have you hit any obstacles along the way, what happened?

Oh my! What obstacles have I not ran in to! Getting the products right has been the absolutely hardest part. It’s been a lot of back and forward with the manufacturing and also trying to find the most eco-friendly way for my business has been difficult. We still have a long way to go but I’m trying to remind myself that I have only just started and all these parts will eventually fall into place.

What would be the last part of your work you would delegate to someone else?!

I really have difficulties delegating any of it :) I’m a total control freak and want to learn every part of running a business before I delegate it to someone else. But the creative part and the customer contact is something that I will probably hold on to forever since this is the core of the business.

Do you feel that you can be a successful business owner and still have time for the family?

Absolutely! The whole reason why I wanted to start my own business was because I wanted more control over my own life and more time with my family. Seeing my kids 2 hours per day after coming home from work made me really depressed. I still work a lot, probably even more then before, but now I can choose my own working hours. And most importantly this journey has made me so happy and content with my life that I feel I am a much better parent now, having the energy and patience that I was lacking before.

But my goal with all this has never been to get rich. That dream would probably have been more difficult to combine with more family time. This is something that works for me and my family and I am so happy I dared to take a leap of faith to try out my dream!

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All photos by Ulrika Nihlén

All photos by Ulrika Nihlén

Your target

Find your audience, who is your target?

Mine? Well everyone that has a child in the age of 0-3 years, or know someone that has, or wants to have one or expecting one! Nowadays even adults, since I make moccs and jewelry for them too. Kind of everyone! Before when I only owned a webshop I hardly had men shopping, ever! I think maybe 1% of my customers. But since I opened the physical store I see more men/fathers/friends coming in. And also couples shopping together for their little one. I find that very interesting! 

But it's about narrowing it down again. When I'm working with Instagram or my webshop I have trends on my mind all the time. I try to keep myself updated on what's hot right now. In all areas, children's fashion, grown-up's fashion, interiors and decoration, children's interior, and so on. So when I style my products for a photo or search my hashtag (#betonstudios, it’s so good that we can follow hashtags these days on IG!) for future reposts, I know what to look for. And I don't want to step away too far from that. From my red line. 

So my customers can be any of the above of course but I also need those who represents. Those, in my case, kids and parents who can carry Betón with me. With the same style as I have. Are we maybe using the same colors in our photos? Do I like what they are posting too? When you find them, you need to get their attention... They will help you create the need from others. "I want my children to dress like that", or, "Maybe that would work on me too!", or, "My bedroom needs that!". I still reach out to new people on Instagram from time to time to see if they’d be interested to receive some little gifts. Just a little appreciation, and I never ask for something in return. It’s all about finding the right ‘ambassadors’ for your brand. Big companies should pay for content, always! Small companies should not, according to me!  If you make swim wear, reach out to someone that spends a lot of time on the beach. Don’t look too much on following numbers, it’s not about that. Build a relationship. Look for quality, not quantity. 

 

Dream big - who is your dream customer?

It might not be an actual person. It can be someone that look a certain way, dress a certain way, lives in a certain area, travels to certain places, eat certain food. Maybe you can even find the answers on all of the above. 

I work with kids, so the answer on these 'dream customer' questions becomes a little vague. But I still know who their parents are, where I want them to live, what they are eating, how they are dressing, what they work with... In my mind I know. And those imaginary people are the ones I build my brand around. Believing that they are out there. 

Do you follow someone on Instagram that you think would represent your brand/business well? Reach out! :)

My line of earrings -   Betón Pieces

My line of earrings - Betón Pieces

Stay true!

Moccasins, or moccs, as I like to call them. They are my main product, they bring the gold! It took me a while to realize that this is what I should focus on! That focus is important when you market your brand. We need to narrow it down. If you are starting small, that's good, makes it easier in a way If you have a whole retail webshop to promote, find a red line (as we say in Swedish), a focus, a point of argument.

I was quite early with moccs, already back in 2013. Now they are everywhere, I know. So what makes me unique, what makes my product unique? How do I keep the interest up?

Instagram and Pinterest allows us to create a personality around our products, with photos. And the best part; the instant connection with your customers. They will help you create the spirit your products need. Even if you only got that one special T-shirt that you have made, find the right customers/promoters that will create a specific feeling around your brand, together with your own photos. It's everything, style, mood, colors and so on... And with that, the customers that see themselves in your product, will buy it. Or maybe you are so good at this that you can create a personality around your brand that people need. 'I want to be that too!' Then you're in the game.

Have a think about it; What is your main product? What is your product's personality?

 

Your creative self

You need to stay true to yourself. I've always tried not to get too influenced by fellow designers. At least look for your inspiration elsewhere than your competition. Maybe you will start out on your own, doing your unique thing. But eventually there will be others, maybe even close by, wanting a part of the cake. This is when you need to start focus on who you are and not who they are trying to be. 

A trick is to just follow your heart. What inspired you to start your business will lead your way, and create path for you, not other people. And with that love for what you are doing awaits a big reward, respect. It shines through, trust me!

Always when I sit down with someone that needs the help to find their uniqueness I let them start to make a mood board. What inspires you, colors, art, music, films, brands, trends and so on. To start your business by focusing on what you like is a simple way to get things rolling. Especially if you are producing new goods!

What does your mood board look like? Here are two photos from @betonstudios Instagram gallery!

Q and A with me last year!

Hi you!

I thought I should show this one again since many of you have asked these exact questions recently! It was made a year ago, just a month or so before I moved to my shop. And the name Mini Mocks was still mine, we changed last summer to Betón (funny listening to myself talk about the importance of checking a brand name before you take it, I knew about the upcoming name change already). Enjoy!

A new little adventure!

You know me! I can never just focus on one thing! It's been part of my adventure to have three babies, just like it was to travel the world during my twenties! I can't go on routine...

Since I started my company back in 2013 when Liv was only 6 month (craaazy) a lot of things have happened, and funny thing is, mainly only very good ones! Of course not a straight path, that would make a boring story. But I think, going my own way has helped me a lot. I'm not mega successful and definitely not someone everyone knows. But it was never my intention. My goal has always been to run a profitable business, but one that is also built around the family, not the other way around. Don't we want a more healthy relationship with our jobs? We shouldn't let our careers run us, WE should run our careers!

I've decided to start a blog. It's personal. But only my personal work related life. Not my family's. I need to document my business path and to help you create your own. It will include guidance and support for you out there that feel a little lost in the independent business world. Are you your own boss? Great! Do you run a retail shop? Brill! Have you just started a brand? Awesome! Then this blog will be for you. I will support you being the most unique version of you.  Because that's what it's all about, right?!

Talk soon!

xx Petra

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