I take time to decompress, because I need to get my creative juices flowing.
Wendy Krepak is a 53-year-old wife, mother, soon-to-be-grandmother and past professional commercial real estate executive. Originally from Chicago, she currently resides in sunny Orlando, Florida with her husband and chocolate lab, Layla.
Krepak had a very successful career as an executive real estate agent in Florida until the housing crash, when she and her husband were laid off with no severance. She decided to take a big risk on an idea she patented in 2007, a wallet organizer called Card Cubby. She gutted her savings and 401K to make Card Cubby a success and came out on top. She is currently letting her creative juices flow and designing her next product to help women save in style.
What are you working on right now?
I am developing additional products under our Save in Style line that will continue to build on our theme of “Fashion with Frugal Innovation,” creating money-saving women’s accessories!
Where did the idea for Card Cubby come from?
I love to save money and was looking for a good way to organize all my frequent buyer, loyalty and gift cards that I kept losing. I couldn’t find anything other than items that would let me stuff more cards into them, forcing me to root around in my purse at the cash register for the right one! I found a stand-up wallet and put in Rolodex cards, and it worked wonderfully! People were asking me where I got it, so after a while, I decided to patent and manufacture it!
What does your typical day look like?
I get on my computer first thing to check email and take care of time- sensitive issues. Then I work with my husband to ship the current orders. Next, I move to working on sales with our reps and social media experts.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I take time to decompress, because I need to get my creative juices flowing. I look at fashion and women’s magazines for ideas and come up with a design. Then, I send it to my factory to make a sample. There are often a couple of iterations before it comes together. I show it to my friends and take it to trade shows for feedback.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I love items that are multipurpose and stylish. With the poor economy, I (like others) want to have purposeful products, but I don’t want to sacrifice style!
What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?
When I was young, I spent a lot of time waiting on tables. I learned some great customer service skills!
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would have done more research and sought out more advice because taking products to market is a very expensive venture. If I had done that before I jumped in, I would have been more prepared.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I surround myself with honest people whose advice I value. I don’t always take it, but I do use it as a reality check before making big decisions.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Because of the overwhelming nature of the work and the number of hats I have to wear, I sometimes allowed others to get more control of my company than I should have. I have learned that whether or not you like to do something, and even if it is not your strength, you need to understand it and know how to do it so you can oversee what others do.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A really big mistake I made was to unwittingly let a web developer control my website. Make sure that only you control it and can easily change the people working on your site. Finding good companies can be a challenge.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would like to see women have more confidence in pursuing their dreams. However, if you are serious about starting a company, you need to make sure it is a business and not a hobby. The educational tools and support are out there if you look for them and take advantage of them—today more than ever!
Tell us a secret.
I hate flying!
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
1. I love Pinterest because I am very visual. I get inspiration from it and use it as a business tool.
2. Twitter is amazing for connecting with my Card Cubby fans.
3. Google Analytics is great so I can see the impact of things, like which blogger reviews increase traffic (and therefore sales) and how marketing campaigns are going.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Tory Johnson’s Spark and Hustle: Launch and Grow Your Small Business Now. Tory gives a lot of great tips and guidance through this book and her Spark and Hustle conventions. You can also hook up with many individuals for additional guidance and education through her network.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
Tory Johnson for the abundance of information you will get. Then I recommend you pick two others that have companies you would like to emulate and follow them to see what they do. I follow large companies and look to see how they sell, market, advertise, etc. I then take what I can, modify it to my budget and use it. It is not always necessary to recreate the wheel, and this allows you to look like a bigger company than you may be!
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
My chocolate lab Layla is the funniest dog and makes me laugh all the time!
Who is your hero?
Tory Johnson is my hero. She took a layoff and created an empire helping women find jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities! Both my husband and I were laid off at the same time in 2010 from six-figure incomes with no severance and little notice. The Card Cubby had been showing promise, so we gutted our savings and dove in! In 2011, we hit the one million dollar sales mark!
What does it take to make be a successful entrepreneur?
I think that is takes drive and ambition, along with the ability to trust your instincts. If you are paralyzed by every decision, it will be hard to wear all the hats necessary and keep moving forward.
Who is your favorite author?
I love to read books by John Grisham.