I had the privilege of speaking at the Shop/08 Crave business panel this morning on “Turning your Passion into Profit.” Speaking to a full house (there were even seats on the sides of the room as more women signed up than there was room) was a thrill. Speaking to a group of female entrepreneurs was even better – contagious energy. The video below shows the view from the stage.
Founder Melody Biringer started Crave in 2000 out of a desire to have more quality time with gal pals. Since then, it’s blossumed into 6 major CraveParties per year, StartUpJunkie, Crave Parties, three written books, Shop/08 and founded the Seattle Ladies Who Launch. She is one busy lady!
My fellow panelists were very cool. Larisa has a company called “Dreamclinic.” They specialize in massages – specifically the best massages in Seattle. Having won numerous awards to prove it, Larisa is passionate about providing a massage that gets results. In fact, while she and I were chatting before the panel, a woman came up and raved to Larisa, “Your massage therapists are the only ones in town that get rid of my migraines every time.” That’s some endorsement! Larisa didn’t start out as an entrepreneur. She worked in high tech but was so interested in natural and intiegrative medicine and therapies that she chucked it all and started a massage therapy practice out of a one room rental. That has now turned into a full time job with 16 massage therapists. With her MBA, she is uniquely positioned to turn her passion into a business. You can hear her speak about her positive entrepreneurial experience on the Dr. Pat show here.
Rachel from Real Card Company specializes in invitation – custom invitations to be exact. She also does letterpress (be still my beating heart) cards and wholesales them to vendors across the nation. By far the most interesting-sounding part of her company is designing custom invitations. She told me some amazing stories of custom invitations while chatting before our panel started. The textures, color and overall messaging of the invitation sets the stage for parties, weddings and birthdays even before the event starts. Customers trust Rachel to really “get” the feeling that they want to invoke for their event and Rachel enjoys the challenge of designing the perfect invitation to start that ball rolling. She’s been lucky enough to do this for over 20 years. Her longevity in a business that she is passionate about was an inspiration.
Some of the questions asked of us by the moderator and the audience ranged from:
What did your family think when you started your company? (Horrified but loving and supportive)
Did you have medical and retirement in the early years? (No, and if you want daily stability in your financial life, perhaps entrepreneurship isn’t the best choice for you.)
Do you still get to make soap/do massages/be creative with paper? (Not so much; every minute is filled with daily minutia. But I make soap in my spare time!)
How do you finance a business? (Credit Cards. Probably not wise.)
What’s your best advice? (Continuous learning. Surround yourself with books, magazines and people that augment and fill in massive learning and experience gaps)
Shop/08 for Indepdant Businesses was a very good experience. I was honored to participate in this fun, educational, empowering event.