[quote style=”boxed”]Perhaps we would dare to be bold right from the start. Sometimes it is easier to play it safe.[/quote]
Kelly McConnell is a second generation co-owner of Prince Lionheart, a company that designs and creates top quality parenting innovations. There’s the flawless parenting you see on TV, and then there’s reality. Prince Lionheart focuses on the reality by creating products based off of real life as parents. 40 years and going strong—Bath & Potty, Nursery, Travel, Home, & Play. Prince Lionheart has been family-owned, family-operated and family-inspired since 1973. To learn more about Prince Lionheart, visit www.princelionheart.com.
Where did the idea for Prince Lionheart come from?
Our dad started Prince Lionheart. He started off with a couple of rocking horses and built it from the ground up. His wild ambition started our company over 40 years ago and we like to think that it is the same drive that runs our company today.
What does your typical day look like?
We’re a workshop brand. That means that we may be the owners, but we roll up our sleeves and get to work too. We are there, right next to the people who work for us, helping them create, design, sell, and imagine a future of possibilities.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Michael, as head designer, believes that the products we make should make you feel something. Excited to get it out of the box, get on and ride it, see it help your baby in ways that you could never imagine—that’s what brings the ideas to life. When it makes us feel something (relief, excitement, freshness), we know it’s worth pursuing.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
We love the challenge of Generation Y, because such a mixed market was never found. They want something fresh and snazzy and that is what we want to give to them.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
We appreciate our people. At the end of the day, you have to believe that the people working for you are doing what they need to do and doing it well. People don’t have to spend their days with us, but they choose to. We don’t take that for granted.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
When we were kids, we had to stuff mailer tubes for our family’s business. The hours were long and there was little to no pay, but we literally would not be where we are today if we didn’t do it. It taught us the value of a dollar (because it took about 100 tubes to earn one), as well as the satisfaction that comes with hard work (seeing a pyramid of well-stacked tubes, filled, taped and labeled was very gratifying).
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Perhaps we would dare to be bold right from the start. Sometimes it is easier to play it safe.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
We remember to be grateful. People don’t have to buy our products and the people who work for us don’t have to work so hard, but they all do. We love to do something a little extra special for them, whether it is making our products a little better without raising the price, throwing a luncheon for our employees, having an Easter egg hunt at work, or serving Guinness on St. Paddy’s Day.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Staying true to our family’s values has served us well for 41 years. We don’t answer to shareholders, but to a good night’s sleep. We do things not because we have to, but because we want to, or because they are the right things to do. This consistency in values has allowed us to survive the ups and downs within our industry, as well as expand and grow with integrity intact.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Ignoring my gut instinct. Whenever I have done this, I have always regretted it. Now I trust my gut quickly because the longer I linger, the weaker the signal and the more likely I am to ignore it.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I wish someone would create an app so that I can upload a photo of anything – like my house, or a product we’re designing – and then I could choose a color and see it pictured in that color. It would have come in handy this morning as I was trying to visualize my house painted the color of a tiny 1″ x 1″ paint chip.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
Most mornings I start my day with a pillow fight with my son. Talk about getting your juices flowing!
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
Google, xe.com, onlineconversion.com and uspto.gov are my go-to’s on a relatively regular basis. They come in handy when running an international business.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
We highly recommend ‘If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.‘ It’s the perfect example of supply and demand. Every time you give the people what they want, they are going to want more and you are going to have to come up with more creative ways to give it to them.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
John Wooden, because he, too, believed the love is in the details. I imagine he also believed that it’s important to take pride in everything you do because, just like my mom always says, how you do anything is how you do everything.
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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.