[quote style=”boxed”]Sell, sell, sell. I make sure items are priced to make a profit yet are in line with what folks want to spend on kids’ items.[/quote]
Dawn Martin is a stay at home, plus work at home, mom located in Illinois. She graduated with an Architectural Engineering degree back in the day and continues to use those skills in her daily life.
In 2011, she founded Beads by Dawn, with a focus on the idea that less can be more. She decided to use her design background as a guide in creating accessories for women and girls. Tired of seeing young children with giant flowers and feathers in their hair, she looked into creating something a bit smaller, more refined and still at an affordable cost point. Affordability is an important factor in her work.
Today, Beads by Dawn offers several styles of hand beaded hair accessories, including headbands, barrettes and bobby pins. Every piece is handmade in the USA with a focus on quality. These accessories are offered in the season’s hottest colors, with custom orders always accepted. Beads by Dawn is a sole proprietor, woman owned business.
Besides the business, Dawn keeps busy with two kids, two cats, a hamster, fish and a traveling husband. Volunteering at her kids schools is important, as well as being that always loved “soccer mom”. Some day she hopes to have more time to be able to garden and cook more, as well as do some more traveling with her spouse.
What are you working on right now?
I am developing an eco friendly line of supplies. Think upcycled tree limbs, paper mache beads using exclusively recycled paper. Hoping to have these items up by this October.
Where did the idea for Beads by Dawn come from?
Beads by Dawn was inspired by my daughter. She wanted cute hair accessories but was not a fan of the giant hair bows and feathers most girls were wearing. So I developed a cute yet simple line of accessories for girls and tweens.
How do you make money?
Sell, sell, sell. I make sure items are priced to make a profit yet are in line with what folks want to spend on kids items. You need to make sure you are offering what people actually want, so I am constantly reviewing which items are hot and making more of them.
What does your typical day look like?
No such thing as a typical day. I get my working hours in partially while my kids are at school, then do the rest once they are in bed. Thankfully I can drag around my iPad wherever needed. Mom duties come first in this house.
How do you bring ideas to life?
All of my ideas start on paper. I will spend hours laying out a new design pattern before beading it up the first time. The creation effort goes much faster if I can see what I am trying to make. Think it’s the engineer in me.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Everything eco! We are trying hard to teach our kids about nature so I love seeing earth friendly items. Hoping to take my shop more in that direction over time.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
My worst job was making ice cream at a Dairy Queen. I learned to stand up for what is right (think sanitary issues). I also learned that labeling bottles is very important. Pretty sure most of my vanilla milk shakes had caramel in them instead of vanilla.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would definitely have more stock ready to list and sell on day one. I opened shop with only a few items, nowhere enough to get real traffic or any sales.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I constantly analyze and self criticize. What you make can always be improved; websites can always have better text and SEO. I am a big believer in tweaking things every few months to keep it fresh.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Only one failure? To be honest, every day that I am not hitting my goals I consider a failure. While I enjoy being able to create with my hands, I am not just doing this for fun. I continue to push myself to sneak more work hours into each day so that I can grow the business as hoped.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Go fresh. People want to know where their goods, including food, come from. I think the fresh food movement is going to grow over the next few months. Grow your own, cook it, can it. Startups involving food and cooking are more expensive to start but I think the push for non-GMO and organic is only going to continue to gain ground.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
Education needs reform. Parents need to be more involved, hold their kids more accountable for their actions. Funding needs to be there so schools can have smaller class sizes. Less testing so that teachers can focus more on the individual needs of the kids. The government is continuously adding new standards that require funding, that doesn’t exist. Time for everyone to step back and really look at what works and what doesn’t.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I am adopted. Family has always been important to me because of this. My parents made a decision to take me and raise me as their own. My extended family has never treated me different, heck, I am not sure all my cousins even know. Having kids of my own was very exciting since, as my husband put it, “you have blood relatives now”.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
First, everything Google rocks my world. Best are their tools for researching keywords so that I can work on my SEO. Second, I love Facebook. It’s not so much a tool, but it allows you to reach out to your market and see what they like, what they are doing. My most important tool, though, is my network. No automated software program can compare with the feedback you will get from actual people. I know lots of great business owners. We are all very honest with each other about what works, what we need to change. It’s been a great learning environment.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
When I get overwhelmed with life, work and trying to balance it all, I turn to “Inner Simplicity” by Elaine St. James. Many of the points she makes should be obvious but reading them somehow helps me let go. It’s a great little book to keep in your desk for those days everything seems to be crashing down.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
I have to admit, on Twitter I am all about socializing. I do post work items but I mainly follow people that will make me laugh. So, if you want to get your daily dose of humor, follow The Bloggess, Charlie N Andy and Scary Mommy.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laugh out loud every day. When you have young kids things are always being said or done that you can either laugh about or cry about. Lately it’s been my youngest trying to figure out which words are “bad” words.
Who is your hero, and why?
My heroes will always be my parents. I grew up in a very blue collar area and it’s not like money grew on trees. They did everything they could to make sure I had what I needed; some things I wanted and made sure I always knew the difference between the two. I hope that my kids will grow up appreciating family more than material items.
What is your long term goal for Beads by Dawn?
My business will always be that, mine. I love creating the items and having ownership of what is produced. I don’t feel mass production fits with what I want from my company. I do hope to expand my offerings, possibly take on an employee down the road as needed. But I am beyond needing to feel like my work is my life. The business has to always be manageable around my family time.
Is there a time in your life you would do again?
Of course! I loved those early adulthood years. I was married within a year of graduating college. My husband and I spent many hours out with friends, in with sports and pretty much doing as we pleased. Life before the responsibility of kids and home ownership was just about ideal.
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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.