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? (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. (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