fishing boats

Cast A Wide Net

photo credit: Beth Lieberman, Hong Kong

photo credit: Beth Lieberman, Hong Kong

The best advice that I could give anyone starting a new venture of any kind is ASK! Chances are, someone around you has done something similar or knows someone who has. Most people are more than happy to talk about themselves – I mean, tell you about their experiences and help you learn from them. Although my product is new, starting an e-commerce business or manufacturing a part is not. There’s no need for me to schlepp down that path and over that hill if someone else can explain to me why it’s not useful for me. It’s not about laziness; it’s about efficiency. I know there’s a ton of work ahead of me, and it’s important that I put my energy where it’s needed. I’m lucky to be surrounded by an amazingly diverse group of helpful people, with knowledge in areas I never imagined I’d need. Everyone around me has been very supportive and willing to share what they have – making this process a lot easier. (note: I didn’t say easy!)

Without a doubt, I chose wisely with Marc, my better half. In addition to his “required” job of cheerleader, he’s making important contributions in almost every area of the business (and the magenta pom-poms bring out the brown in his eyes). He’s also helping me to build my network – through him I met an engineer* and the three of us designed The Strap Saver. He introduced me to a friend who worked at a law office where I consulted with an attorney who happened to have won several patents for bras (really, what were the odds?). Another friend of his helped me by printing the first prototypes on his 3D printer. I also had a chance to speak with a chemist, someone with experience in materials and someone who has a very successful online business. I’m thankful for his eclectic group of friends and their generosity with their time.

My own crew has made a sizable contribution as well. I’ve received advice, a Google app domain, an offer for product photography and many friends willing to test. (A special shout out to the friend who offered to provide extra support in the form of his own hands in case of a Strap Saver snafu, not that we’re anticipating issues, but it’s nice to know that he’s there for me) A friend from college studied the prototype intently for a few minutes and came up with a more efficient method of installing. I’m going into “throw back” territory, my high school friend and comedian Charlie Hester is going to produce the promotional videos for the product. She also referred me to the company that is manufacturing the final prototypes and hopefully the final product.

Thank you all very much. It feel like the 7 degrees of The Strap Saver are forming a big web of support. I know it won’t keep me from faltering, but hopefully it will be enough to catch me from falling flat on my face. :)

(*names have been omitted to protect the innocent, draw your own conclusions about Marc, Beth and Charlie)

 

I’ve got the brains, you’ve got the looks

Beth and I met at Syracuse University, during my freshman and her sophomore year. We stayed friends through school and a few years after.  Unfortunately, life got in the way for a while but we reconnected over Facebook a few years ago and hung out often and without incident since then.

brains-1-opt

Us at Syracuse University

Until Labor Day weekend of 2013.  We were lounging by the pool at Beth’s apartment building and complaining about our bathing suit straps.  Hers were too long on her new suit and mine were stretched due to wear and weight. (to quote my friend Charlie, you can’t expect a few pieces of elastic to hold up bowling balls forever!)  We did the typical “There has to be a better way…” and “What if…” and  one thing led to another and the Strap Saver was born.

Suddenly this magic idea formed between us and I knew it was too good to let go.  I spent that Saturday evening researching – surely someone had thought of this before.  I polled a few girlfriends – would you want… and they all emphatically said yes!  And I started down this road, learning more than I thought about manufacturing, ecommerce  and people.

brains2-opt

Reconnecting a few years ago.

My favorite group is the Pet Shop Boys and that’s what this blog title refers to – the two of us.  Beth calls me “the brains” since I’m working on the business end, getting the product made, doing the books, filing the patent paperwork, etc and she is definitely “the beauty”.  All of the gorgeous design work representing The Strap Saver and the packaging was all from her and will lead us down this road to success.  She’s also a big part of anything creative that happens here.  And as the song goes…

 

 

Oh, there’s a lot of opportunities
If you know when to take them, you know?
There’s a lot of opportunities
If there aren’t, you can make them
Make or break them