Tuesday, March 25, 2008

You Don't Have To Be A Genius To Start Your Own Online Biz


Creativity has been a big part of Elizabeth Gallant’s life since she was very young. Since she was a kid she sewed, picking up skills from her own mother. She then spent part of her adult years as a graphic designer as well, until she decided she wanted to become a stay-at-home mom to raise her daughter.

It was while Elizabeth was trying to think up a gift idea that she decided to harness her sewing experience and created a one of a kind diaper bag. That was just the starting point of what would soon become a very successful business for her.

What is EG Designs?

EG Designs is a custom accessories business that caters to women and children. With over 40 unique accessory styles, continuously modernized, and a vast always-updated palette of 100 designer fabric choices, there is a design selection for everyone. I believe accessories should be a reflection of your personality. I allow the customer to choose their design accessory, fabric and embellishments to suit their specific style. I offer the same luxury for distributing wholesale to my retailers, a great benefit as they are customizing for their clientele and know best what will sell in their area. After order processing, items are then created, scrutinized and mailed with in 3-4 weeks.

What was your inspiration for your business?

I believe a lot of “mom” businesses begin in a similar fashion. Our babies begin school and build their own personal lives and we “moms” are left to fill the void in our days. I have an art background and over 35 years of sewing experience, I decided to put this to work doing something I love.

How long has it been since your business was started?

My business began as a custom accessories business for children’s bedrooms. Hand painted lamps, switch plates, custom lampshades, nightlights, bedding, curtains etc. My “women’s accessories” business began when I created a diaper bag for a baby shower, about 5 years ago or so.

Do you have any past experience that you were able to call on when starting your business?

Yes, I’m a graduate of The New England School of Art & Design in Boston, Massachusetts. I graduated in illustration. My dream was to illustrate children’s books. I began working as an artist in advertising and continued for a decade. I believe I’m similar to anyone who has a creative mind whether it’s cultivated or not. We see things in terms of esthetics, color, balance, texture etc.

How long have you been sewing for?

I’ve been sewing off and on for over 35 years. I had one of those children’s sewing machines from Sears or JC Penny when I was little. Then I graduated to my mom’s ELNA, Swiss sewing machine. I credit her for any sewing knowledge I’ve acquired. It’s a great and wonderful talent as well as knitting, crocheting etc. to teach our girls. My daughter has her own Hello Kitty sewing machine that she loves to create things for her American Girl dolls with. Some items are successful and some need altering but this is how she learns the magic of creating things on her own and being proud of her accomplishments.

What types of things do you like to create?

Well, I like to create anything from conception to finish and anything with my hands not necessarily “sewing” related. Whether it is a new pattern for my business or a request for something not “accessory” related for a friend or relative. Whenever I create a new pattern I love to find it’s flaws and rectify them, this can also be very frustrating. A design that you are sure would look fabulous in your head occasionally never looks the same when created. The learning experience never ends you continually evolve.

As a mom, when do you find the time to make your products?

I work when my daughter gets on the bus to school and stop when she returns home. I work weekends as well or whenever the demand is high. My office is at home in an extra room. If I walk by that room at night I may stop in and go over a few projects, tweak them a bit. People think it’s great to work from home, and most of the time it’s wonderful. But we still have to fit all of our “mom” duties into the day, laundry, cleaning, cooking, helping with homework etc. and working to keep our business successful such as dropping off product to stores, post office, bills, meetings, creating items, answering email and the phone etc.

Have you learned anything since starting your business that you wish you’d known before?

Maybe some of the chances I took when I was already questioning the success of them; paying rent to establishments to promote my product, certain advertising choices I made, places of retail that didn’t work out, participating in every function I was asked to be a part of; these I wouldn’t want to repeat. It’s easy to burn yourself out, especially in the beginning and then to try to produce quality merchandise, it’s impossible. You mature in your business choices the more adept you become in your craft. Trust your instincts.

Do you have any advice for other moms out there looking to start their own business?

The obvious advice would be, beginning a business from something that you really, really enjoy doing. For me, work supplemented my personal life. Try to find your balance between you, family and work; occasionally they can overlap in a big way. Take time for you to go to the gym, get on your treadmill, yoga, whatever keeps you balanced. In the past I never set aside and hour a day for me because an hour during my amount of work time is huge! But mentally the benefits do pay off; you’re better at business, being a mom and wife. Your business should fit into your schedule, remember it’s that void of time we’re trying to fill while the kids are gone. Once they’re home we go back to our most important job, being a mom. You’ll be surprised at how easy work can govern your life. Work can be very rewarding as long as our family and our mental health aren’t compromised.

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