I wanted to get experience as an employee but nothing could have prepared me better to be an entrepreneur, then actually doing it.
Born in Colombia, South America, Claudia Gutierrez has always had a passion for jewelry and handbags from a very young age. However, it wasn’t until 2012 that Claudia decided to take a leap of faith and launch the ClaudiaG Collection, selling to women nationwide in small tradeshows and boutiques. In 2014, Claudia attended a conference about direct sales. Inspired by the chance to empower other women to take control of their own careers, she completely changed the ClaudiaG business model repositioning the company for strong future growth with female enterprisers joining her team throughout the country. Today, the ClaudiaG Collection not only offers stylish women’s handbags, jewelry and accessories as well as a line of bags for men, but the company also provides a unique, life-changing opportunity for women who want to start their own business just like Claudia did in 2012.
Where did the idea for ClaudiaG come from?
The idea to start ClaudiaG came from my passion for handbags and my determination to start a business. After working in corporate America and a lot of soul searching, I decided to start my own company. At the beginning, I wasn’t sure what that company would look like or even what product I would be selling, but I knew the smartest thing to do was to create a way to channel my passion for handbags and accessories, as well as my desire to help others. The idea went through many phases starting with a non-profit organization to support artisans producing amazing accessories, to its current idea of a direct sales company that would empower women to start their own business.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day starts early, I meditate for 20 minutes before getting ready. I make breakfast for my kids and drop off my son at school. I’m at the office by 8 a.m. and after a short staff meeting, I sit in silence to go over my agenda to make sure I cover everything that is important that day. I usually have meetings and calls that I schedule ahead of time. In between, I am busy collaborating with the amazing team of designers at our office to create new products. I create the entire collection for every season, as well as guide and approve all our marketing images. Anything we can make more practical, clean, versatile and attractive, we will. My evenings are my time with my family. Weekdays are full of homework with the kids and driving them around to their multiple events. After putting them to bed, I sometimes work for 2 or 3 more hours and then go to bed.
How do you bring ideas to life?
My mind is rushing with new ideas all the time. Not all of them are worth pursuing but if I have a persisting idea it will come out in some form. The first person to hear about it is always my husband who has heard all my ideas and has never judged me. Sometimes I find myself sketching or discussing my ideas with employees or even running it by my mother. If it’s still making sense after their input, I make sure I develop it fully or move it to my “design ideas” file.
What’s one industry trend that really excites you?
Direct sales as an industry is adapting beautifully to today’s technology. Social media is revolutionized how we market our products in today’s market. Even though the majority of our sales still come from in-home parties, it is very interesting to watch as more and more consultants are finding success through taking orders at “virtual” parties.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I love power naps. I have a hammock in my office and take 15 minute naps when I feel I need one. It restores my energy level and keeps me going.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Part of my training in managing a bank branch was counting money to help the tellers when needed. I was incredibly slow and didn’t seem to ever get it right.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would have started sooner! I wanted to get experience as an employee but nothing could have prepared me better to be an entrepreneur, then actually doing it. I live a very exciting life. Full of obstacles and rewards. Every single day is a learning experience.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Don’t give up. Ever.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Staying true to our mission. I have encountered many people who have tried to convince me to do things differently. Had I followed any of them, my company would be something else, very different to what I have always envisioned.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Hiring the wrong people. I’m getting better at reading people but it is a challenge at an interview to tell the difference when someone is just telling you what you want to hear. I have made the wrong hiring decision more than once and paid the consequences but have also learned from the experience.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Here’s an idea to start a company. What about a service that runs errands for busy people? Pick up groceries, drop off clothes at the cleaners, complete a shopping list, anything you can imagine (within a range).
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I went to a retreat with 40 women. It was like a spa on steroids.
What software do you use at work? What do you love about it?
I have been working recently with Cinchshare, a software to schedule social media posts. What I like most about it is I can schedule as many posts as I want at once instead of interrupting what I’m doing to throughout the day. Planning ahead of time and making sure things get done are very important for me and that’s exactly what Cinchshare offers.
What is the one book that you recommend we read and why?
I recommend “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. It is packed with smart time savers and practical ideas on how to be more productive. I feel more in control when I’m organized and get things done.
ClaudiaGcollection on Twitter : @cludiaginfo
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.