Finances can be... taxing!

Finances can be…. taxing!

Finances can be... taxing!Procrastination is not your friend.  Well, it’s not for me to judge for you. I can clearly say that procrastination is not my friend.  Very few good things come from it – although we all have that exception story.  (you know, that time that you didn’t do something and then it turns out that you didn’t need to! Hurrah!)  It’s not my usual style, but trust me, don’t buy into the hype.  Especially for something as important as taxes.

Yup, it’s that time of the year in the United States and across all 50 states (+ 5 major territories and minor outlying islands) everyone is scrambling to get their papers in order.  I have been no exception.  I’ve had my own production company for years, so I’m used to keeping accurate books but I’ve never managed inventory before.  It is a whole different monster.  Much like our trademark, I insist on doing these things myself, as we’re a relatively new company and trying to reinvest every dollar that we can.

So, after a lot sweat, I’m happy to say that our books are up to date!  I refuse to guess how much less time it would have taken an expert.  Although we opened the online store in November, 2014, most of our business was done during 2015.  If I’d kept up with it, it would have been nothing more than exporting a file to my accountant.  Note to self: KEEP UP WITH IT! I have to throw in that I was so busy building the business, interacting with customers and working on new ideas that this fell to the bottom of the priorities list.

On a more positive note, my accounting software and I are now BFFs, having spent the last few days together.  I’m now current on everything involved with the business, not just the marketing and customer outreach.  Should Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank come calling, he won’t be able to accuse me of not knowing my numbers!

I pledge to do better for next year.  I will not cause myself this kind of stress again.  I promise to report back and let you know.

Oh, the joys of growing a business!

CurvExpo 2016

What’s New from CurveNY

CurvExpo 2016Last week was CurvExpo – a treat for the lingerie lover in all of us.  It is a feast of color and texture from both established and new designers all with one goal – sell those designs and get them in stores.  This was the second year that Beth and I attended.  Last year was a little intimidating, we were the new kids on the block – not even on the block, we didn’t have a booth.  We were tourists visiting a new world.  The website had only been online for 3 months and we had so much to learn and it was a wonderful experience.  We met so many amazing people, learned how to extend the life of our lingerie and now we were back – with even more exciting questions!

An Overview of CurvExpoAn Overview of CurveNY

The layout of the CurvExpo is like many trade shows – rows and rows of booths from every brand imaginable with their latest products displayed to catch the eye. Our biggest question was where to start!  The answer – to the left!  (no, not because of Beyonce – I have a need to go counter-clockwise after too many Disney visits – “they” say that’s the best way to avoid the lines.)  I thought I’d share some of the things that we found for those searching for something new!

Juana de Arco's pretty fabrics at CurvExpo

We wandered down the aisles and stopped at the first place that caught our eye – Juana de Arco!  Juana de Arco (Joan of Arc) is a line of yoga, underwear and children’s clothes in bright patterns from Argentina.   The fabric is hand silk screen in vibrant colors.  The designs look both beautiful and comfortable.  Beth fell in love with the wide leg pants and we’re hoping they become more widely available in the US.  We want to feel this glamorous as we are relaxing at home!

Next, we met Megan Grassel, CEO of Yellowberry, who saw that the only bras available to young girls were too sexy and thought that there should be an alternative.  Although she was still in high school, Megan set up a Kickstarter campaign and a new company was born.  I had read her story a few years ago and admired her drive, especially given that she’s still a teenager.  Starting a business hasn’t been easy for us and we’ve had years of industry experience.


Another stop was to talk to Louisa Loveday at Loveday London.  We were attracted to the beautiful lace boudoir 0223161305agown that she was 0223161305bwearing.  (I just looked it up, it’s £1,000.00…  but hey, my birthday is coming up soon!)  Her style was very different “hard-core romantic” and unlike anything I’d seen before.  The lace was soft and the leather was smooth.  Although with inspiration from last year’s show I have definitely bought more interesting bras, I still consider myself to be conservative but if there’d been a dressing room, I would’ve tried some of this on.  We chatted with Louisa for a while about owning our own businesses, finding the right fit for lingerie, how beauty and sexy belongs to everyone.  It was a great conversation.  I should have asked her if that was her real name!  (like Amy Freeze, a meteorologist on WABC in New York)

Hanging Secrets Travel Storage for bras

Speaking of my new bras, the last new company that I’m going mention is Hanging Secrets.  They make a hanging bra organizer similar to a hanging shoe organizer, but, obviously, for bras.  I spoke with Dr. Melinda Silva about the product and how they, like us (details coming soon!) plan to donate a portion of their profits to breast cancer victims and their families.  I’m lucky enough to have plenty of drawer space so I was more interested in the smaller, travel version pictured here.  It’s hard to crush expensive bras when closing an overstuffed suitcase – and face it, they’re always overstuffed.  (but always .5 lbs under limit!)  Dr. Silva said that the smaller one is a prototype and will be coming out soon.  I’ll keep an eye out for it!

The Nubian Skin Booth at CurveNY

We were happy to see some of our friends from last year.  I had a moment to say quick hello to Ade of Nubian Skin.  I’m always so impressed with their product and their message.  It makes me think that we should come up with something darker than our current tan.  They’ve recently expanded their hosiery line to include a wider range of sizes.  We also chatted with Charlotte Davies, the designer at Curvy Kate.  It’s hard not to say nice thing about her and her designs.  The candy colors are always gorgeous.  We also got to meet Jessica of Tutti Rouge, a brand I learned about from reading Science and Silicone.  When they learned of our product, they seemed almost as excited to talk to us as we were to them!


The Tuttu Rouge Booth at CurvExpoTutti Rouge Bras

All in all, it was a very tiring two days, but worth every minute.  We got some great questions answered (Want to know why your underwear rides up?  Stay tuned!) and met some wonderful people.  We’ll have some great follow-up blogs on all that we learned.  We look forward to keeping in touch with our new friends and to seeing everyone again in August!

Scotch's Hold Tight Strap Clip doesn't have the strength of The Strap Saver

My Reaction to the Hold Tight Strap Clip

Scotch's Hold Tight Strap Clip doesn't have the strength of The Strap SaverA few weeks ago I was tweaking our SEO through keyword research and came across something surprising: a potential competitor – 3M’s Hold Tight Strap Clip. When Beth and I first came up with the idea for a no-sew strap shortening solution, I spent hours, if not days, searching online for an existing answer to the problem. Obviously, I proceeded to have a minor panic attack.  Once that was done, I thought of the quote from the Godfather 2 (which I haven’t seen – yeah, I know…) – Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. I immediately ordered one on Amazon (I didn’t pay extra for overnight shipping, aren’t you proud?) and researched it as much as possible.

You may be wondering why I’m linking directly to the product.  After all of this research, I don’t think they are a competitor. I love 3M products and Scotch. Post-its are a staple in my life – and Scotch-Brite sponges are awesome.  I’m interested in trying some of the wardrobe products in the original blog that led me down this road.  (I think the Permanent Hem Bonding Tape will be useful, as we’ve already established that I don’t sew!) But… my original fear that this was serious competition no longer seems valid.  (for the record, if it was serious competition, I’d let you know how/why we’re better or modify our product to beat the competition)

The Hold Tight Strap Clip on one of my favorite brasThe Hold Tight Strap Clip is made of semi-opaque plastic and is designed to keep the built-in adjuster from slipping. It works like a barrette and will accommodate up to a 3/4” strap. To it’s credit, it clips on very tightly.  When closed, the Hold Tight Strap Clip is slightly over 1” wide which gives it a significant footprint on 1/2″ and 1/4″ straps.  I didn’t feel it on the 1/2” strap of my bra, but it was easy to see under a fitted shirt. Much to my relief, I don’t think this would work well to shorten any strap.  It would become too bulky and the excess fabric would put stress on the joint. I don’t know how well the plastic would hold against this added pressure.

Another interesting part is that I tried the “product locator” on their website and I couldn’t find any within 100 miles of NYC. I wonder if they are discontinuing the product. This is another reason that maybe I should’ve thought twice before I panicked.  (hey, I’m not normally a drama queen but I’m pouring my heart and soul into this company, so I’m a little jumpy!  Deal with it :) ) And all of the reviews on their site – which were positive – came from people who got the product for free around 8 months ago. While I can’t knock exchanging reviews for product, I was surprised that there was no spontaneous praise.  I’m always so pleased when a customer takes the time to write to us. (Got more?  Feel free to send it our way!)  I’d have thought that there might be more for a Scotch product.

With all of the amazing products from 3M and their cool names  – I must say I’m a little disappointed in “Hold Tight Strap Clips”. Granted, it took us months to come up with “The Strap Saver”, but we’re just two women with a limited (read: nonexistent) budget. The packaging is pretty cool. Wasted, since it’s not reusable, like our awesome silk bags, but it is recyclable!

I can safely put my panic attack aside. The Strap Saver remains the only non-permanent way to shorten a strap without picking up a needle and thread that we’ve found on the market. (Found one?  Let us know! We’ll test it out.) The Hold Tight Strap Clip does exactly what it says. At $6 for 8 clips, it’s a great price if you only need to stop the built-in adjusters from moving and you don’t wear fitted clothes. If you’re looking for a virtually undetectable no-sew solution to shorten your straps while leaving them adjustable, The Strap Saver is the answer for you.

Have you ever stumbled across a competitor to a product you were selling?  What did you do?

A Monkey in a Bra hanging from a tree, News from Strap Central

Getting that Chimp Off of My Back!

A Monkey in a Bra hanging from a tree, News from Strap CentralOne of the results of my goal-setting meeting with coach Roe DeSaro was the idea of creating a newsletter for our company.  So many of you have indicated that you want to keep in touch, but I’d been remiss in my duties – so I set out to add another important piece to our portfolio – the Strap Central Digest.

Step one was choosing a provider and MailChimp had come highly recommended by many (and is free up to 2,000 subscribers!).  I was told that it was very easy to use, which was good, because I was on my own for this task.  Beth was very busy with other freelance work and templates frustrate her.  She’s such a great designer and wants to make things look how she wants them (like this awesome site) and if she can’t…  well…  don’t have sharp objects nearby.  (I’m kidding, she wouldn’t hurt anyone or throw things, but she might yell a little!)

It turns out that MailChimp IS easy.  I wanted to set up a template – highlighting our content more than the product. (as awesome as it is, it doesn’t change as much as the content, although there is something new coming, details to follow…) I figured this would set us up for the coming months, a few templates would make it easier to send out content in the future.

I also wanted to send out some content that could be read in the email.  I hate it when an email is simply a means to get me to click to a site.  Your time is precious too, so here’s something to amuse you immediately and by the way, if you want more amusement, here’s three more related blogs.  Hey, some bait for the site makes marketing sense.  I also wanted to include some news.  This month’s email will have details of next month’s sale.  (ooooooooh!  and that’s not even the change I was talking about!)

So, without a designer and with significant help from their templates, I designed this:

(click to see the full newsletter) The first issue of the Strap Central Digest(click to see the full newsletter)

The super-fun part was figuring how to make the top logo small.  I don’t have Beth’s skills or tools.  I did some sort of paste it into Word, size it, print it as a PDF, open it in Preview (mac!), crop it and export it as a jpg.  How’s that for talent?  I’m sure everyone has a 2-step answer to that, but it worked.  And we ended up with a very pretty result.  Even Beth was impressed.  We sent it out and – everyone didn’t unsubscribe!  In fact, we had a decent open rate and very few remove themselves from the list.  

The plan is to send News from Strap Central out once a month as an update of all of our great content and any news. (and we won’t sell your information, as our privacy policy states, even if we would, which we won’t, we don’t know how!)  And, to make it easy for you and so do you don’t miss out on anything – here’s a simple sign up form!  (I’m nothing if not thorough)

Receive the latest news and offers from Strap Central

2016 New Year's Revolution

New Year’s Revolution

2016 New Year's Revolution

Yay, it’s time for diet commercials! (and I’m writing this a week or so early, but I know it’s coming!) Even Oprah is getting in on the game.  They start on December 26th (or earlier) every year, telling us about all kinds of foods and gadgets that will help us become the ideal person. As if we’re not already perfect. (We so are.)

Sure, I may be perfect, but as the year ends, I’m finding that I’m not where I want to be. Juggling my personal life, my full-time job, and this company can be overwhelming. I like to think that I’m catching everything, but I’m not. My goal for 2016 is to figure out a way to accomplish more and miss less by working more efficiently.

My first step to working smarter was to redeem the prize of a free coaching session that I’d won in October from Roe DeSaro.  (from an awesome event called “Women in Entrepreneurs Rock!” by the local Small Business Development Center at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park – yes, THAT Stone Pony. Check out your local SBDC for great events if you are a small business owner!)

The coaching session (my first) turned out to be as helpful as I’d hoped. The preliminary questionnaire helped to identify some places that needed work, especially related to The Strap Saver. Plus, my home office is a never-ending pit of stuff – (I don’t know why everything ends up in there, but it always does) and I always feel behind. I hate that.

Roe asked me about my goals (to build the business, to make a difference, to retire!) and how I spent my time (endlessly running) and then got more specific – what are you actually doing? I am not sure that I had an answer for her. Checking things off of my list? Solving problems? Taking it one day at a time? I feel like I am constantly working, but am only incrementally closer to my goals.

She also had some great suggestions for me – and it began with process. As in, we lacked one.  Almost everywhere.  Things are much easier to manage when they are predictable.  Of course they aren’t always going to stay that way, but that only happens sometimes.  For the 80% of the time that things going according to plan, why not…  have a plan!  (She had some specific ideas for my business – but we’ll get to that in a minute)  Of course, if I were on the outside looking in, I might’ve seen this too, it’s amazing how caught up we all get in our own ‘stuff’ – and how useful that outside perspective can be.

Another bottleneck that Roe found was that I was intent on blazing my own trail – which is potentially a waste of energy. (I’m all about working smarter) One example is a marketing plan – there are many, many great examples on the internet.  Why not learn from someone else’s example and modify it for myself? It’s not ‘cheating’; it’s using my resources wisely. If you have a goal, I recommend checking with Google (or Bing or DuckDuckGo – take your pick!) to see how others have reached it and if that path (or a version of it) works for you.

So in 2016, the answer for me is all about process, not about goals or gadgets. It’s my way of declaring a New Year’s Revolution on the resolution – not saying what I’m going to do, but how I’m going to do it. If you have a resolution, try finding a process that works for you. Set aside time every day to follow it. It could be taking time to pack a healthy lunch (for health or to save money!) or sitting down at a scheduled time to write this week’s blog entry (hint, hint!). Eventually we’ll reach our goals, but just declaring the end result and not giving ourselves a path to success sets ourselves up for failure. Defining that process will help us develop the right habits to sustain our goals – if it’s a broader reach for our writing or a more organized home.

Since I know you’re dying of curiosity (not really), here are my goals and plans for 2016:

-Use my time more efficiently: I can’t use a digital to do list. It’s just not for me. I love lists, but I’m more of a pen and paper girl. I do like a digital calendar in general – but not for getting things done. I searched for a long time and settled on the Spark Planner. It’s a bit more… guided than I might normally like, but I have important goals this year, so maybe guidance is good. I’m hoping it will help me to organize my thoughts and tie up loose ends (and I’ll finally remember to buy a frame for our newspaper article and our trademark certificate! I’m so proud of these accomplishments – I want to display them!)

-Get more done: We’ve made a digital calendar just for The Strap Saver. This will help Beth and I keep our goals aligned and stick to deadlines.

-Achieve bigger goals: I’ve blocked out time for my weekly goals. I’ll put it into the Spark Planner, but I know how much time I want to spend each week working on this blog, social media interaction, etc, so that I know that each of these goals are being met each week vs. “I’ll get to it” – we can also test effectiveness and when some of these new endeavors become habits, we can add to them.

-Think beyond a week at a time: We’re adding some quarterly plans. This way we can spend time in 1Q planning for 2Q promotions. Of course, that puts us a little behind for 1Q, but we’ll figure it out. Think of how much time we’ll have for 3Q! (what do we have planned for 3Q again? :) )

-Block out some me time: I’m hoping that all of this will allow some hours on the weekends to read a book, one of my favorite activities. It really helps me to take a break from life and decompress.

Whatever you want to achieve in 2016, I wish you the perkiest year on record, because we all know that when the boobs are looking good, we all feel better!

So many different articles about boobies, so little time

Who Knew There Were So Many Articles About Boobies?

So many different articles about boobies, so little time

When we first established our online social media presence, we thought we would be posting twice a week, once with this blog and once with another article related to our themes: boobies, the latest in lingerie, body image and breast cancer education.  I worried that it might be a struggle to come up with more than one a week.

I underestimated the internet.  It was a foolish thing to do and in hindsight, I wonder what I was thinking.  OF COURSE the internet is preoccupied with boobies.  Isn’t that why the internet was made?  It turns out that there’s so much content that we’re only publishing a portion of what we’re seeing.  We want to make sure that everything that we share is as interesting and engaging as this blog (HA!).

Instead, we’re now publishing content approximately every other day.  Although there’s a lot of it, curating content is not an easy task.  It’s about finding reputable and interesting sources – with engaging images – that will capture your attention and hopefully add something to your life.  This past year we’ve learned about a fishing-rod toting bra thief, a life saving bra, a cat with a bra problem and learned what your bra says about your personality.  I’m sure each and every one of these articles have had a significant impact on your well-being (where’s that sarcasm font?).

Choosing which to share can be tough.  We want to tell real stories of breast cancer survival and give important information, but we know it can be a depressing subject.  Even body image issues can get heavy (no pun intended!).  We’d like to keep things light (because boobies can be really funny) and inspirational but it’s not always possible with so many important topics to discuss.  It’s a constant balancing act.  Of course, we know your life would not be complete if you didn’t know that the way that you put on your bra is the window to your personality.

As with every time we speak, we don’t want to abuse your attention, or you’ll just tune us out.  (we all know that one company that sends you sales EVERY DAY.  Some of us love to shop.  But not EVERY DAY.  And one person out there is saying – speak for yourself! – there are exceptions to every rule…)  We want to respect your time and your willingness to read our content.

We hope we’re doing a good job at keeping you entertained and informed about all things strap/boob/bra related.  We’re going to continue to try.  If not, is there a specific type of content that you’d like to see?