Aug

17

What Makes Entrepreneurship Hard

The ups and downs…

As an entrepreneur there are days when the wins are big and the losses feel even more devastating. I know that this is just the beginning but to tell you the honest truth I’m scared sh*tless. I’m scared of failing. I’m scared of the losses that can happen. I’m scared I will make a mistake that might affect many lives. I’m scared I will be laughed at when I’m left penniless and bankrupt. Today was one of those days where I felt utterly discouraged. Mainly because we didn’t get into the accelerator program that I so wished we would have.

Yes there are so many factors at hand that bring success to a business. Some say it’s luck, some say it’s blood, sweat and tears. I would say it’s probably a combination of both. I don’t necessarily believe in luck, I believe in faith. Each day I wake up, I need to believe in faith that God will carry me through to the next step. I need to believe in faith that what I’m doing will bring about change. I need to believe in faith that there is a reason and a purpose for what I’m trying to do.

Then my lovely husband reminds me of the wins that I have had. It’s a win that I have a home and a bed that I sleep in every night (there are thousands out there without one). It’s a win that my husband comes home everyday (there are wives who’s husbands are on duty somewhere and don’t have that privilege). It’s a win that I have friends and family that love me. The list goes on. Every little thing I take for granted is a big win.

Then there are the little wins I DO need to document. For example we’ve been praying for mentors, people that have traveled this road before us to give us guidance. Just two days ago we got an invitation from Freeset to go and visit and learn from their social enterprise in Kolkatta. There’s also a boutique in the D.C. area that’s interested in our blanket designs. These small wins are reminding me that God is slowly opening some doors and closing others. I need to remind myself that I’m at his mercy. He’s in the driver’s seat. Not me.

 

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Jul

11

The Process: being a social entrepreneur

As a social entrepreneur I get asked the the question often, “So when are you going to launch your product?” I’ve gotten enormous support from friends, family and even strangers that I haven’t met that are ready to jump at the chance of buying an Ellie Fun Day blanket. I would love to get them into the hands of every single mom and baby down the street today! (I hear Natalie Portman just had Baby Aleph, and another mini-Kardashian is on the way?!) But all good things come to those who wait.

Starting a successful business is a challenge in itself, I know the statistics so we’re taking calculated steps in trying to assure success for the long-term duration. IF anyone asks what does it take, I’m still learning, but I hope to discuss our process here so that others that are paving this path into the jungle of social entrepreneurism can learn from our findings, mistakes and successes.

Next Steps:

1.) Business mentors: people with expertise in baby/children’s market, import/export, entrepreneurs etc.
2.) Fabric resources: organic cottons and silks is our preferred choice
3.) Business Models: do we do direct sales (online?) or wholesale (stores and boutiques)

Then there are the gazillion other things that we’re learning through this process: from SEO, to trade regulation quotas, organic certifications, FTC regulations on children’s wear etc etc. But in the end we realize we need to take it one step at a time or else will be biting off more than we can handle.

Right now we’re in the process of testing our organic blankies with babies in the real world. They’ve been asked to spit-up, poop, pee and love them as they would. As simple as it sounds we want these blankies to stand the test of time, be functional and also be well-loved for babies and kids. We may be looking for mommies and daddies that are interested in our tester blankies, so look out for another post coming soon!

Meanwhile here’s a little post of Baby Nguyen’s blankie. My friends and I threw Lisa and Billy an amazing airplane themed baby shower. Check it out!

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Mar

04

Farewell and Hello

Yes, I’ve taken the plunge. I’ve finally decided to live my dream. I’ve left my high-paying, stable design job at Larsen and Ellie Fun Day is now in full swing.

I’ve always dreamed of creating a product that would make the world a better place, even if it’s just one person at a time.

What is this product you ask? Organic baby blankets.

Why? I’ve always loved my baby blanket as a kid. I called mine “elephant-pei” (pei = blanket in Chinese). Ellie Fun Day is an alliteration in honor of it. It had a Dumbo print on it and it traveled EVERYWHERE with me. When my mom needed to wash it after being dragged through the dirt one too many times, I would stand outside at the clothesline, hold onto it and wait for it to dry.

There was something magical about my blankie. The familiar smell, the soft corners brought me comfort and security in a world that was often strange and scary.

I want my blankets to give that same comfort and magic that I once felt to all the babies in the world.

Not only do I want our blanket to be sustainable and organic but I also have a burden for under-resourced women in disadvantaged countries. God has opened up a door for us to create these blankets with a group of Dalit (untouchable) caste women in southern India.

The next season of this blog will be dedicated to this new venture. Documenting my ups and downs, the victories and challenges of starting my own business in a dog-eat-dog world. I hope you can join me on my journey. I will be needing all the help and prayers that I can get!

Here’s a little preview of Baby Luke’s blankie…more to come!

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