Mompreneur: Amy Trusler
Company: Tote and Tee
What inspired you start your business?
I wasn’t actually inspired to start my business, in fact I didn’t even really mean to go into business. I was a SAHM mom selling gently used clothing on Ebay when I decided to list a few of the tote bags and initial tees that I had been making for my family to see if they would sell. They did sell and I made more and those sold and it goes on and on from there.
How long has your business been in business?
It’s been about 5 years. I sold my very first initial tee in September of 2003.
What did you do in your past work life?
I was lucky to work in a super small business as a manager of a specialty bra store for 5 years. I loved that place and the women that I helped. I am sure we all know someone that can’t just buy a bra off the shelf at a regular store. It sounds funny but we would cry, hug and even dance around when they finally after years had something that fit properly and looked great. Very rewarding job and I learned a lot there. I also got VERY fast behind the sewing machine because I would alter bras on the spot while they waited. (bet you never had this answer!)
What is your ideal workday like?
It would involve a day where I could stay focused and get lots of things crossed off my to do list.
What have been some of your major successes and challenges?
Major Success- Just this month I had a wonderful repeat customer contact me to make birthday shirts for her kids. She emails me around the same time every year and this year her son needed a “6” tee. She reminded me I have been making his tees every year since he was “1”! I have had other successes I can list but honestly, I think a repeat customer like that is the best measure of success! Made me feel good!
Major Challenges- I guess this one is a growing pains thing. I still make all the shirts myself and I find it very difficult lately to juggle it all. I am the bookkeeper, PR, seamstress, shipping dept, etc. Trying to stay focused and get it all done isn’t always easy.
On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?
My customers. I feel like I can’t let them done so I keep on truckin!
Do you have a motivational quote?
From Donald Trump’s book by the same title…Think Big, Kick Ass!
If there was one piece of advice you could give to your children about running a successful business, what would it be?
Make sure you doing something you love.
What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?
My girls are school aged now and are gone for 7 hours a day. I try to use that time to get everything done. When they get home I may tinker with my business some but honestly, it’s all for them after that. I also try not to work on evenings or weekends. If we aren’t doing anything, I will get stuff done but I don’t ever want to say no to my kids because I am too busy “working”. I have my own home based business so I CAN be with them.
Do you have a favorite business tool and/or resource?
My favorite right now is Twitter! I have connected with so many amazing people on there. From blog reviewers to store owners, customers, PR people and my new favorite and not business related but Coupon/Bargain Moms. I highly recommend Twitter for all! I am “toteandtee” on Twitter if you want to follow me!
What advice would you offer to aspiring mompreneurs?
Do what you love and don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many aspects to business, it’s hard to be great at all of them. Find someone to help in your weak spots so you can grow in your strong points!
What is next for your business?
I am not really sure. Honestly I am going to get through the holiday season and probably reassess and see where I want to go next. I have a few different ideas and once things slow down I want to sit down in a quiet spot with my handy dandy notebook and see where I want to go. Do I want to wholesale more? Add more products that are NOT made by me? Have some new things manufactured with my label? Not sure…but excited for 2009!
Your two cents sales pitch?
Visit Tote and Tee to find a fun selection of initial & birthday tees for boys and girls! We have a large selection of fun knee socks and lots of other nifty things!