She’s The Boss: Andrea Cwik of Bliss & Bale

I’m excited to be sharing a super special Girl Boss with you guys today: the lovely Andrea Cwik of the hottest new gifting service, Bliss& Bale. You guys are going to adore her!

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So Andrea: tell us a bit about who you are and what you do.

Hi! Thanks for having me, Stephanie! I’m Andrea Cwik, I live in the Silicon Valley with my two boys and my husband. I’m a Christian and I’m also the founder of Bliss & Bale. In a nutshell I lovingly curate gift sets and hand-package them in beautifully wrapped boxes. I launched Bliss & Bale to enable individuals to gift thoughtfully and easily. Our gift sets are about celebrating and enjoying the goodness of life — friends, family, shared experiences and time well-spent.

Where did the idea for Bliss & Bale begin? Tell us about the journey from concept to reality.

Bliss & Bale was born out of my love for mixing and matching items into coordinated gifts that have wowed my friends and family. I believe when you give someone a gift it shows you thought about them and that makes the recipient feel special. I put a ton of care and consideration not only into each gift set as a whole but also into each item within the gift sets too.

The journey to launch Bliss & Bale was longer than I would have ever expected. It started with iterating on Bliss & Bale’s strategic direction (scope and scalability), evaluating platforms for my website, sourcing product photographers and graphic designers, creating the brand and name of my business, visiting gift shows, ordering products, going to IKEA for shelving solutions for inventory, converting our play room to a play room and office combo space, selecting my packaging, writing product descriptions, creating a pricing formula, researching and selecting shipping partners, negotiating shipping costs, building product pages and homepage assets and also launching social media pages. There truly is a lot of work involved in starting a business from scratch but I am so thrilled to be up and running! Now onto a marketing and sales strategy coupled with PR opportunities.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetCould you tell us a bit more about the products. What can a new client expect when purchasing from Bliss & Bale?

So I will first start off by saying I LOVE what I do! I say this because customers can expect to feel this emotion when they make a purchase from Bliss & Bale. I travel to numerous gift shows throughout the year to curate and find the perfect products to go into each set. I even traveled across the country to New York because I learned that was the biggest and best gift show in the US. It took me 4 full days on my feet to explore that gift show but it was well worth it! I found some really fabulous products and vendors I would not have known about otherwise.

I’m really picky so I need to personally approve every single item chosen for a set. I taste every food item and as a foodie I have really high standards. I smell every candle, fragrance, cream and bath item. I handle every item to make sure each one feels great to the touch and is made of the utmost quality. Ultimately I pick items that resonate with me emotionally and that I know will do the same for the recipients of my gift sets. Picking the very best products like this takes a considerable amount of time but I love doing it and it’s time that my customers don’t have to invest themselves — they can trust they’re getting great items!

Customers can also expect a very high level of thoughtfulness ingrained throughout each gift set. The items are carefully combined into sets in such a way as to create a really memorable experience for the recipient. Our thoughtfulness also extends to our beautifully wrapped gift boxes which are shipped inside a shipping box — so they’re ready to bring as a gift to a party without the dirt and scuffs that gifts shipped in a single box tend to have.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetHow do you personally define success?

Success to me means I have freedom and access to resources so I can help others when they are in need. It also means I can do what I love on a daily basis and share my passion for making others feel special.

Where do you see your brand in the next year? The next 5 years?

I just launched Bliss & Bale so I’m hoping in the next year to grow my consumer base but also I think there is a huge opportunity to accelerate my growth by partnering with more corporate clients who need a thoughtful gifting solution. I ultimately want my brand to have universal praise from my customers and to get there I’m going to analyze and adjust on the fly, see what’s selling well and listen to my customers. Much like a chef composing a meal and continually tasting and making adjustments!

In the next five years, I want Bliss & Bale to be recognized as an authority in the gifting space. I know it’s ambitions but I have some interesting ideas for collaborations with designers, artists, bloggers, and trend-setters that I’m excited to explore.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetWhat’s the best piece of advice you can give to women who are thinking of becoming entrepreneurs and want to make the leap into working for themselves?

Here’s the thing: there are great days and there are stressful days. The biggest advice I can give is literally take one step at a time and still make time for yourself. After launching Bliss & Bale I thought I was going to be able to rest a little since I worked tirelessly to get to the point where I was up and running. The reality is that after the launch there was still so much to do. There will always be a To Do list but what I’m learning is that I can’t continue this path of working an insane amount of hours a day (I have a corporate job too, by the way!) because I’m going to lose steam. I’m in it for the long haul so I need to maintain a steady pace. One step at a time and add in little breaks. Doing what you love is so rewarding so make sure you take care of yourself so you don’t burn out.

Thanks so much Andrea! And I know all of you are going to be thanking Andrea too when you hear she has generously offered to provide one winner with ANY curated gift set of her choosing from Andrea’s gorgeous site! THATS RIGHT! There is no purchase necessary to enter, just follow the steps in the contest below before 12:00am PST on January 27th and you might be our lucky winner! Eeeek! Best of luck ladies <3

a Rafflecopter giveaway

bliss & bale site

She’s The Boss: Holly Casto

Today on my She’s The Boss series I have the joy and pleasure of introducing you to the heart and beauty behind one of my favorite online shops: Charm & Gumption. I have a little collection of their tees, mugs, and prints and my wishlist is often populated with even more of these chic and empowering items. I had a chance to ask Holly some questions and here were her answers:


*Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do.
I am Holly, the owner of Charm & Gumption, an online gifts shop for creative hustlers. I design, develop, promote, and provide customer service for the store.

*Where did the idea for the Charm & Gumption begin? What has the journey looked like to go from an idea to the brand you are successfully running today?
I had been designing various stationery and paper goods for about a year or two and I decided to finally clean up my brand and get really specific and targeted, and I felt like there was a void in the market for modern, almost high-fashion looking paper goods for hard-working women. I have gone through many phases in the past couple of years with the brand – everything has been trial and error. In the beginning, I was doing everything myself, and I created a lot of personal stationery and invitations as well, because they were fun for me to design, but I am a big believer in listening to your customers and paying attention to what is selling, so I have just gotten more specific and niche over time.

DDT_mug_photo2_large*Where did you come up with the name for Charm & Gumption?
It was a process of finding words that I felt represented the brand I wanted to create, and then seeing what had already been used, checking URL’s, etc. Charm & Gumption just had a perfect ring to it I thought. :)

*How do you personally define success?
I always defined it as doing what you love, and making money for it. So even though I am not rich or anything, I feel like I’m already successful in that way.


*What would you say are the best and worst thing about working for yourself?
Best: There is a direct correlation between the amount of work that I do, and the amount of payoff that I get. Plus, FREEDOM.
Worst: Financially it can be inconsistent, and if something goes wrong, it’s all on me.


*Where do you see your brand in the next few years?
I want to keep growing and expanding on the types of products that I have now and keep creating more and more options for my customers to choose from. I really feel like e-commerce is the best place for Charm & Gumption, so I don’t really have any plans to open a brick and mortar, or to switch my focus to wholesale. I just want to get better and better at what I’m doing now. 

2013-02-25_10.23.17_large*What’s the best piece of advice you can give to women who are thinking of becoming entrepreneurs and want to make to leap into working for themselves?
How much time do you have? haha I will try to narrow it down to the three most important things in my mind: 1. You have to make sure that there is a need for your business. I see so many business pop up that are exact replicas of other brands, and even though it may seem impossible to find an idea that hasn’t been done before, you have to find a way to put your unique spin on it at least or you won’t stand out. 2. Keep your costs down – don’t go crazy buying unnecessary things in the beginning. Don’t take out a loan if you don’t have to. 3. In the case of online businesses, don’t be afraid to narrow your market to a very specific niche. This is a common mistake. When you’re just starting out, you want to “be everything to everyone” but you will be much more successful if you have a brand that a chunk of the population does not like. That’s actually a good thing, even though it seems counter-intuitive. You want some people to come to your site and say, “I don’t get this.” Because that means that there are some people, even if it’s a smaller group of people, who will “get it” and come to your site and say, “I WANT EVERYTHING,” and that is much better for you in the big-picture.


*If you had to pick three favorite products from your whole site, what would they be?
http://charmandgumption.com/collections/gold-foil-prints/products/gold-foil-hustle-print (This was the first product I designed for the Charm & Gumption shop over 2 years ago! It’s still one of my most popular items, and I love the bold simplicity of it.
http://charmandgumption.com/collections/loose-fit-tees/products/rise-and-grind (I love our new loose-fit tees. So comfy! And I love the “rise and grind” message.) **Temporarily out of stock, but stay tuned for more


*Any secret inside info you want to share on products coming down the pipeline? Shhhh… we wont tell! ;)
We’re working on adding some apparel for the gym! I’m pretty excited about that. Be on the lookout!

How would you guys like a chance to WIN $100 e-gift card to her shop?!?! Head over to Holly’s blog post here and leave a comment before Friday June 5th, and you’ll be entered to win! And be sure to let her know you found her through The Joy Parade ;)
that+mug+though+mug+photo+black  messy+bun+tee+light+gray  goal+digger+tote+photo  C&G-3

She’s The Boss: Rachel Fisher

Today I’m bringing you the second installment in my “She’s The Boss” regular series. I’m pretty giddy about this one. Chewable Charm is changing the face of teething jewelry by creating beautiful, chic, and fashion forward designs that you’ll want to wear even when you’re long past the teething phase. In fact, I wore three different pieces from their stunning collection throughout the photoshoot for my own press shots. Rachel, the brains behind this fantastic brand, is as smart as she is delightful, and I know you guys are going to love her as much as I already do. So let’s hear from Rachel!

rachel of chewable charmHey Rachel! So tell us a bit about who you are and what you do.

Hi there! I’m Rachel Fisher Owner/Designer of Chewable Charm. Momma to my sweet baby boy Austin, who just turned 1, & wife to my wonderful husband Blake. We are a true family business making Teething Necklaces for moms here in sunny California, currently living our dream of being parents and business owners.

Where did the idea for Chewable Charm begin? What has the journey looked like, going from just a concept in your brain to the successful brand you’re running today?
I started making my own Teething Jewelry that matched my own style, which as most of my friends know is a mix of neutrals and whites and grays, so neutrals. I felt like there had to be other moms out there who would much rather wear a Teething Necklace that complimented their style without overpowering their outfits.  I really… like really, enjoy the craft of designing and making something beautiful in my home and sending it out to other moms and babies to wear and enjoy. I have always had “my brand” in my mind. You should see my secret Pinterest boards which I have gathered over the years. I started dreaming of a brand before I knew what our product would be. Being a mom of a teething baby was exhausting, overwhelming and heartbreaking. Finding something fun and stylish to wear and not worry about while my little guy shoved it into his mouth triggered a spark that caught to fire in our household. Quickly came the designs, the website, the Instagram, the photography done by our fabulous friends, and soon after that, came the orders. We are now in a handful of retail stores over the US and UK and  growing into many more. It has been so much fun to see this little dream of ours turn heads.

How do you personally define success?
Success is loving what you do and loving how you do it. For me, it’s a peace of mind that comes from giving, making pretty things, and being able to experience life and enjoy every second with my family and friends.

Chewable Charm & MagazineWhere do you see your brand in the next few years?
Some of you don’t know this but I’m a working mom in the corporate world on top of starting Chewable Charm. I hope in the next few years to be able to have more time to dedicate into my brand. I see us in more retail stores and being able to spend more time working with retailers to bring Chewable Charm to more mommas.

 

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to women who are thinking of becoming entrepreneurs and want to make to leap into working for themselves?
Sometimes you have to balance both worlds at the same time when you are getting started, and that’s ok. Right now I am balancing my corporate job while building my own brand. You need to know when to dedicate time to each one and stay focused. I think keeping a realistic expectation while getting started is key and don’t be afraid to slowly ease into the transition of doing what you love.

Chewable Charm and TeetherSo tell us a bit more about the products. What can a new client expect when purchasing from Chewable Charm?
I hope that moms feel just as fashionable as they feel practical wearing our handmade necklaces. Remember the days where you could actually wear that cute Anthropologie necklace without those little fingers pulling and nibbling on every inch? Your new “Mom style” is a real thing and believe me, it happens to all of us! We are here to help keep your pre-baby style with our modern designs while helping soothe your little ones teething gums. Our beads are 100% FDA approved high quality food grade silicone. BPA, PVC, Latex, phthalate and lead free. It’s great for gift giving and baby showers because all orders come gift wrapped.

What are a couple of your favorite products or designs you’ve put out so far? Do you have a specific product you’d recommend to a first time buyer who’s new to teething jewelry?
I love our new Spring and Summer line that has some pops of blush, light gray and nude colors incorporated with our mint and creams for the original line. My go to is the Austin in Blush, the Hudson Gray, and the Jameson Nude. I’ve noticed smaller babies teeth easier on the rounded beads because they are a little bit softer. The hexagon beads are still soft and great for teething gums, but they are a little firmer which is great for older babies and babies cutting teeth. I tried to incorporate the two types of beads in a few necklaces to get the best of both worlds.

Any hints or inside scoops you want to share on new ideas you’re working on for future releases?
We just introduced our new handmade wooden teether toys which incorporate one of our teething bracelets, they are so cute and babies love them. They are made with quality craftsmanship and you can expect to see more fun things for our wooden teether toys.

Not only did Rachel agree to participate in the interview, but she generously offered up one of her new products to giveaway to one lucky reader! YAY! You could win “the Lacey” for yourself by entering below. Good Luck!

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

She’s The Boss: Bobbi Bankston

I can’t even tell you all how excited I am to share today’s interview with you. I have had a small love affair with The Mason Bar Company and their products for some time now, so I was thrilled to have the woman behind the brand become our first interview in my She’s The Boss series. This series is all about showcasing some of the amazing #girlbosses behind amazing companies and brands, who are defining success for themselves and taking the world by storm. So without further ado, lets get down to the interview!

Bobbi Bankston
*Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do.
Hi Everyone! My name is Bobbi and I am the original creator of the mason jar tumbler lid and the owner of The Mason Bar Company.

*Where did the idea for the Mason Bar Company begin? What has the journey looked like to go from an idea to the brand you are successfully running today?
Answering this question has become more frequent and each and every time I go down memory lane, it always makes me cry. Lucky for you, you can’t see my ugly crying face…  hee hee. My two best friends (Jodi and Melissa) and I were sipping our latte’s in the car from mason jars- every sip we took the lid off because you know how “golden” and precious mid-day lattes are- spilling is NOT an option! I had the idea and said, “hey! let’s figure out how to put a hole in the middle so we can sip from a straw”. Because the three of us love brainstorming and dreaming together, the idea grew into a plan of action. My friend Melissa found a broken tool from her Dads sheet-metal shop that made the hole just perfect. Within a few weeks the first hand crafted “mason jar tumbler” was born! The concept caught on quickly via my first Etsy shop (Poppy & Pearl co.) and within a few months, I knew that I had found my “something”. Everyday since has been such a joy, full of unexpected goodness. On most days, I feel as though my heart might pop with excitement!
Is it ok with you guys if I give you a little of the back-story to the above? This is why my voice shakes when I tell it in person and why I have to fight back tears…
Mason Jar TumblerA year prior, my husband and I found ourselves in financial crisis. We were a young, hard working family living a simple life but as we all know, financial struggle is all too common. I quit my job is a Realtor to wait tables full time to help make ends meet. My youngest was only a year old at the time and leaving him killed me like nothing I’d ever felt before. Each month I would make just enough tips to pay what bills were left over. But, while I was working so hard to put a smile on my face during the day at work, my ferver for life was quickly dwindling. I became a very sad person… and friends, I’m not a sad person! I had no desire to get out of bed in the morning. It was bad. Six months into it I realized the intensity of my sadness, knew I needed a change, rolled over to my husband and said, “It’s time to start thinking outside the box”. When I said that to him, immediately I felt a little spark ignite in my soul. The thought alone and the possibility of newness was the refreshment I was longing for. That moment was the beginning of the end of my “dark hour” as I call it. In the following months, the mantra that kept going through my head was this: Refuse to look back and wonder. Refuse! We have but one beautiful life to live and I’d rather try and fail then look back and wonder what might have been. My Creator gave me a purpose. I refuse to settle for less than what I was created to for. I recited Jeremiah 29:11 every. single. day. Most days I felt defeated but this verse- it was everything. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
Today, 3 1/2 years later, The Mason Bar Company is shipping world wide, retail and wholesale from our 3000 square foot warehouse. There are 8 amazing ladies on the MBC team- we have the BEST time together and love what we do! It’s the greatest ride of my life!!!! Who knew little ‘ol me had a future in product development without a college degree. Miracles really do happen, folks. They do!
Child With Mason Jar Tumbler
* How do you personally define success?
When our success becomes another’s benefit. I believe that with great success comes the ability to give in greater abundance. I could give you another back-story here but I’ll spare you the novel.  ; )


*Where do you see your brand in the next few years?
I see MBC in Whole Foods Markets across the U.S.A. ( this is huge but anything is possible! ) I believe our company will be supporting the young entrepreneur all across the globe in new and exciting ways. I hope that MBC will be a story of encouragement to those who are searching for something “outside the box”.

*What’t the best piece of advice you can give to women who are thinking of becoming entrepreneurs and want to make the leap into working for themselves?
I would encourage her to first choose supportive friends and family. A core group to cheer you on and lovingly lend advice or feedback is essential. Secondly, I’d remind her of how BIG the world is. It sounds silly but it’s easy to forget that there is plenty of room for everyone! Also, she might want to grab hold of a verse or quote that deeply moves her… for the first two years of MBC mine was “Dream Big and Dare to Fail”. It was posted all around my house. It picked me up and kept me going! Inspiring words are invaluable… hence our quotes on the back of all MBC info cards.
Mason Jar Tumblers With Floral SleevesThanks Bobbi! It’s such a joy to have you kick off this series and give us a little insight to the gal behind the brand. I really love what you had to say.

For those of you who entered my recent giveaway for a Mason Bar Company tumbler/glass straw/essential oils package, the winner has been selected! And the winner is…. **drumroll please** 

Jess Anne !

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*I’ve emailed the winner of this giveaway. She has 24 hrs to respond or a new winner will be selected