B2B ID: Tess Poe, Beehive Sewing Studio + Workspace
JOB TITLE, COMPANY: Founder, Beehive Sewing Studio + Workspace, LLC
WHEN THE BUSINESS STARTED: August 2012
WHAT YOU DO: We offer drop-in access to sewing machines, equipment and workspace for beginning and advanced sewists. We also run workshops and host private parties and community events with a sewing component.
EXPERIENCE: Spent six years in Washington, D.C., as a communications and fundraising consultant to major nonprofits and another six years as a regional planner and researcher. I’m also a lifelong designer, sewist, knitter, painter, idea-generator and maker of things.
THE MARKET: Folks with no sewing experience to those who worked in textile manufacturing for a living. The common bond is a desire to work creatively in a well-appointed, social studio. Although most of our customers have been women, more men are taking our introductory class and dropping in to mend.
HOW YOU REACH OUT TO IT: Radio advertisements, a social media presence on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and the media. We also hope to partner with area businesses to sponsor workshops.
WHAT FINANCING HURDLES HAVE YOU FACED AND HOW HAVE YOU HANDLED THEM?: It’s not easy for a start-up to obtain financing from a traditional bank in the current economic climate, so we approach financing like many new companies: by reaching out to friends and family. We have been fortunate to self-finance and to have an investor who values our concept and plan. We also have experience with several state and federal programs for small business owners that provide loans and loan guarantees.
KEYS TO SUCCESS: Believe in your concept, mission or product. Never stop talking about it. Write down everything as soon as you think of it. Even the sharpest person will get information overload. There are so many ideas and tasks that keeping track and staying organized is critical.
CHALLENGES: Managing your own fears or risk-aversion. There are times when you have to take a financial or strategic risk. It’s not always easy to know if you’ve made the right decision until a few months down the road.
MISSTEP YOU LEARNED FROM: I underestimated how complex start-up would really be. I jumped into painting, ordering equipment, etc. while simultaneously connecting with potential instructors and developing workshops. I was also refining procedures for the drop-in sewing offerings and developing a marketing strategy at the same time. I learned the value of pacing myself.
WHAT OTHERS COULD LEARN FROM YOU: Good ideas are a dime-a-dozen, but implementation is where it’s at. I’m not the first person to conceive of a drop-in sewing studio, but I hope the choices we make and the way we implement the idea stands out.
WHO HELPED MENTOR YOU PROFESSIONALLY?: A former board member of the International Campaign for Tibet was an exceptional mentor who pushed me to think strategically and develop mindful leadership skills. My Mount Holyoke professors and staff built my solid foundation for intellectual and professional rigor.
TOP GOALS FOR 2013: Grow interest and use of Beehive Sewing by folks throughout the Valley and to host 12 workshops per month. To program three to five community events in 2013, like the Fabric Potluck we held this past June.
ADVICE FOR OTHERS SEEKING BUSINESS SUCCESS: Have a solid concept and plan, but be flexible enough to take advice from those with wisdom, experience and ideas — even if they aren’t in your field or “target market.”
PARTING THOUGHT: Show up at the local businesses around you. It’s easy to talk about shopping locally, but it means so much more when folks actually take part in a growing business.
B2B ID is compiled by Janice Beetle, owner of Beetle Press in Easthampton. Beetle Press offers writing, editing and graphic design services. www.beetlepress.com. To suggest a subject for B2B ID, email Beetle at email@example.com.