Mom Entrepreneur: Joanne Schlesinger
Business: Little Miss Julia
Little Miss Julia offers a full range of stylized hair accessories. Each barrette is handmade to order and each one receives the utmost attention to ensure the highest level of quality. I use top of the line barrettes, ribbons and embellishments. My designs consist of crystal flowers, multi colored flowers, smiling daisy flowers, ladybugs, smile faces and strawberries.
Little Miss Julia hair accessories are unique in style. It is not just another bow; it is an embellished, stylized barrette that will add style and glamour to any girl’s hair.
Custom designs are available by request. On littlemissjulia.com there is a create your own barrette option in which a customer can select the color combination they would like. This option is currently available for the daisy flower and crystal flower barrettes. It will soon be available for the smiling daisy and smile face barrettes as well. However, if a customer has a request that is not on the website I am happy to accommodate it.
Gift sets and party favors are also available. These can include any number or combination of barrettes or clips. Each one is wrapped in a cello bag with shredded paper fill and ribbon to match the color assortment chosen.
A Special for Moms line is now available. This line consists of Swarovski embellished crystal barrettes. The styles available are designs with small round crystals or chessboard crystal in many different colors. There are two size barrette options, a 1 ½ inch and a 2 inch barrette.
What inspired you start your business?
I started making barrettes for my daughter when I was unable to find what I liked in the stores. As she started wearing the barrettes, people asked where they could buy them. There was such a positive response that I knew I could take something I enjoyed doing and turn it into a profitable venture. From that Little Miss Julia was born.
How long have you been in business?
I formed my company in December 2008 and launched the website on January 2, 2009.
What did you do in your past work life?
For the past ten years I have worked in my family business where we manufacturer and sell health and beauty aids. I have been involved in all facets of the business including sales, marketing, product development and production. Prior to that I had been in the cosmetics industry at several of the major cosmetics companies.
Describe your ideal workday.
My ideal workday includes going to accounts both new and existing to expand distribution, creating and producing new designs and concepts and of course receiving new orders online always makes a day good.
What have been some of your major successes?
One of the major successes I have had has been the retail distribution I have obtained in stores. In a short amount of time I have built my retail store base and it continues to grow as I expand the geographic regions in which I sell to.
What have been some of your major challenges?
The biggest challenge I have faced is selling online. Getting a website noticed by the search engines is an art in itself. There was so much I did not know prior to launching my site that I know now. I also still have a lot to learn. It would have been beneficial to have had a foundation in which to build on rather than by learning as you go. I also would have networked locally and online with blogs and review sites prior to launching my site so that when it was up I would have had the networks in place to get my business and products talked about. However, sometimes it is a learn as you go experience. I have learned a lot so the challenges I faced just made me better off in the end,
On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?
I don’t really have any “impossible days”. There are days that everything seems to go wrong but that is going to happen no matter what you do. I just chalk it up to being one of those days and move on. There is always tomorrow.
Do you have a motivational quote?
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. Eleanor Roosevelt
What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?
Balancing work and family is not always easy. I try to do work early in the morning when the kids are not up yet or at night when they are sleeping. I have involved my kids in making the barrettes from the time I started making them for fun. I still involve them and get their opinions on designs, tell them if I picked up a new account and just share in the excitement of the business. I find by involving them I am able to balance everything at lot easier then if I just told them I was working.
If there was one piece of advice you could give to your children about running a successful business, what would it be?
Love what you do. That is the most important thing. If you love what you do and work hard the success will follow.
Do you have a favorite business tool and/or resource?
The tools and resources I have found to be most effective for online selling have been social media sites such as Twitter and online forums. People are the best resource and I believe there is no other tool better than networking.
What is next for your business?
The next steps for my business are expanded product lines. I recently introduced my new line of Pony O’s to retail stores and will be launching it on my website in the next few weeks. Other products to be introduced in the next few months are headbands and hair accessories for dogs.
In addition to new product lines my goal is to get expanded retail distribution and for my website to be a premier shopping site for someone wanting to purchase hair accessories for girls or moms.
What is your two cents sales pitch?
I believe a girl’s hair should always look pretty. What better way to do that than with unique, handmade hair accessories that add glitz and glamour to any hairstyle.
My goal is that my customers feel they have an accessory that completes their girl’s total look. I want the girls to have a smile because they love their new hair piece and I want moms to smile because they have purchased an accessory that makes their young lady look beautiful.
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