Category Archives: Origins

Start-Up Challenges

Have you ever had a good idea that took a while to shape? That’s what has been happening with Elle is for Elephant. My husband needed to relocate for a job, my daughter who isn’t even two yet is already starting her defiant stage, and of course I wanted to be fully mentally prepared for the challenges of opening a business.

I decided I needed to take some time to fully plan what I am doing, so I took a break. A break that I needed for both my sanity and to make smart choices. I am officially seriously committed, for the past week I have been planning fabrics for my prototypes, clothing tags, promotions and additional materials. That is all the stuff that you automatically think of when planning a handmade business.

The things I have been working on in order to guarantee my personal success include: costing all materials and prices, fully writing my business plan (as if I were going to take it to investors), and reading up on tax laws and business laws in my area. In February I had imagined starting a business would be simple: collect taxes and send in your check, and count income during annual tax time. Well there are a lot of additional implications that have conditions that are quite confusing, and of course it’s best to contact a professional before I start up, that way I will be doing it properly from the beginning.

I also wanted it written down in black and white, the way I am running my business. I plan to take some preorders as well as ordering fabric that I will sell made to order items. My goal is also to donate at least $1.00 per item sold to First Book, a children’s literacy foundation. I would eventually love to continue to be a stay-at-home mom and help support my family with some of the proceeds to this business, but for the first year I am definitely putting every penny back into Elle is for Elephant.

The main trouble I have found with starting this business is having the capital to start it up. Initially I thought maybe a Kickstarter would help, and I have definitely not ruled out the idea, but I do need finances to get started, even with that. As a one income family, all of our money goes to bills and living expenses, so I started using Swagbucks as a way to earn some money on the side. I always cash out my SBs with Paypal deposits and have recently started investing that into Elle is for Elephant (I would have started sooner, but baby needed to size up her cloth diapers). I was able to buy 2 yards of fabric plus fabric clothing tags with my Paypal that I earned in the last month. I am continuing to use my Swagbucks every day and earn about $50 a month (though it’s possible to earn more, I only use it an hour or so a day). My next purchase will be a serger so I can finish my garments, and things like business cards, stickers, and other promotional materials.

Once I get all the basics, Elle is for Elephant will be open for business!

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The Elle is for Elephant Story

Blogging is something I have never been able to keep up with. Honestly I am one of those people who just get overwhelmed by the idea that I should be writing all the time, and then only do it sporadically. Fun fact: I wanted to be a novelist when I was younger and actually started writing one when I was 13. I then got overwhelmed by the fact that most novels or even novellas are over 50 pages. That file is somewhere on my floppy disks.

I tend to find typing ultra tedious, so I don’t keep up. I feel if I could just upload things as I think them it would be easier. Alas, technology isn’t there yet. I am a mom, and my daughter completely changed my life. Before parenthood, I could do what I wanted, when I wanted (within reason).

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In college I had dreams of moving to New York to be an Art Director with an ad agency (particularly BBDO). I am a proud graduate of the University of Tennessee, and their program rocks except it is geared more towards the business side of advertising, and I was looking for a more creative path. When looking for a way to make my dream come true, I found it more daunting than anything. In order to get the training I needed, I had to go to another school with tuition similar to graduate programs minus the Masters degree. Simply, I couldn’t afford that. Thus I went to work in a restaurant to afford my day to day life, and in my heart I knew that was never where I needed to be.

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I soon reconnected with my high school sweetheart, who had just come back home from basic training. We had never fallen out of love, but had from time-to-time fallen out of touch. He was ready to start a family, and when we saw each other we had the same feelings as when we first met. So we got married and on 10.11.12 our daughter was born. My husband quickly fell into the role of father like it was his destiny. It took me a while longer, I suffered through the changes and definitely struggled with the idea that I will never get to work a job I enjoy. Of course that was PPD.

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It was definitely an adjustment to find my new path in life. What was I going to do as an occupation once our daughter went to school? There was no way I could ask my family to pick up and move on a whim, especially when my husband has a stable job. I had a list of things I would like to try, but I wondered if I would be able to do them “forever.” I knew I wanted to do something creative, it was just a matter of figuring out the kinks. My husband got promotion, even further justifying that I could not drop everything and go to New York.

With his promotion, he had to drive over an hour to work six days a week, leaving at 5:30 am and coming home around 7 pm. For about three months he had this commute, and as a result he would be tired, hungry, and grumpy when he came home. He would be in bed by 9 pm, and our daughter, who co sleeps, would fall asleep 10 minutes after him. I would stay up until 3 am each night, restless and not able to sleep. On Sundays, my husband would want to stay home because he was gone all week, but I would want to go out since I was at home all week (definitely the down side to being a one-car family).

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My insomniac nights proved I was “missing” something in my life. I started working with some graphic design at night. It was just something to distract my mind away from the negative thoughts; I had already finished both my pregnancy journal and baby’s first year photobooks and had not yet decided on a new project. Then I realized I could have my designs printed in a small batch and I could make baby clothes for my daughter, but it would be something completely unique. I was definitely not a pro with the sewing machine, but I had made my own baby bag several months prior.

I saw similar articles of clothing in adorable exclusive prints on Instagram, selling out fast, and I thought “I could do that too.” So, Elle is for Elephant was born. I am currently working on designs for my first product launch. I don’t expect to sell out within the first hour, or even within the first week. I just found what I enjoy and I can’t wait to share it with the world!

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