HOW TO BE ORIGINAL

To say Adam Grant is a professor and an author of nonfiction books about social and business psychology is to say a candle and a 100-watt bulb are lights. Read more about him here.

I just finished listening to the audiobook of his best-selling Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World. It is inspiring and eye-opening. What does it mean to be “original” in an age when everything is accelerating at speeds beyond our imaginations? How does one stand out in a crowd? How do you take a novel – sometimes controversial ­– idea, and get other people on board?

The answer might not be what you think. Great thinkers, brilliant innovators, and Nobel prize winners top the list of originals, but how about the office worker who has a brilliant idea for improving an internal process. Is she shot down because the idea is so novel, so unconventional the hierarchy can’t see its value? How does that lower-level staffer get past barriers of groupthink and cautious management?

The book is based on real-world examples and research done by, well, innovative social psychologists in different fields of expertise. It delves into –

• ways you can improve family dynamics and raise children who can solve problems and think for themselves;
• coalition-building to achieve transformational objectives;
• managing fear;
• understanding why listening to your critics makes your ideas scalable and achievable;
•how entrepreneurs create sustainable products and businesses;
• why it’s okay to procrastinate;
• yes, and more.

Originals aren’t born, they are made, or perhaps better stated, they make themselves. They are not always dynamic, take-it-to-the-mat personalities. Originals learn the skills necessary to carry their invention or idea from coulda, shoulda, woulda, to a revolutionary product, inspirational message, or life-altering concept.


What to look for (from the author’s website)

Using surprising studies and stories spanning business, politics, sports, and entertainment, Grant explores how to recognize a good idea, speak up without getting silenced, build a coalition of allies, choose the right time to act, and manage fear and doubt; how parents and teachers can nurture originality in children; and how leaders can build cultures that welcome dissent.

You’ll learn from…
​• An entrepreneur who pitches his start-ups by highlighting the reasons not to invest
• A woman at Apple who challenged Steve Jobs from three levels below
• An analyst who overturned the rule of secrecy at the CIA
• A billionaire financial wizard who fires employees for failing to criticize him
• A TV executive who didn’t even work in comedy but saved Seinfeld from the cutting-room floor


Adam Grant explores the journeys of several successful originals and looks at why some things work and others don’t. He explains how the non-innovator – which covers most of us – can take the behaviors of originals and create change within their own businesses, organizations, and families. You can even take a quick test to see if you have the traits of an original. Typically, respondents got 6 of 15 answers correct; I got 9 of 15 and I read (listened to) the book! I suspect I’ll listen to it again after I’ve had time to distill the wealth of information it contains.

Originally published in 2014, the book is available through online retailers and in bookstores. I’m sure if Nancy at Paper Trail doesn’t have the book, she can order it for you. I got Originals through Libby, the Carnegie Library application on which you can download digital and audiobooks. To use the app, you must have a library card.

Happy reading! I also invite you to learn more about the Las Vegas Literary Salon, a writing and reading group sharing ideas and information. Learn more here and here.


Thank you for being a reader/subscriber. It is my goal to present informative, interesting and creative content on this site. Your likes, shares and comments are welcomed and hugely appreciated. I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I frequently write about my town, Las Vegas, N.M. Occasionally I use interesting and helpful content from other sources. I also invite guest posts. If you have a topic you would like to share, send to fsharon@msn. com.


Young entrepreneurs pay it forward

LilKLilKy Spa Products is an unusual business with two enterprising young ladies at the helm. Lily Arguello and Kylie Lopez, 10-year-old best buds, took their idea from a dream to a reality in January of 2019. After attending a tea party where they used a hand scrub, the two became intrigued by the idea of it and whether they could create similar products on their own. The two took what they thought of as a fun idea and – with the help of their moms – turned it into a growing enterprise. Lily and Kylie started with hand scrubs but their business has expanded and now includes hand/body scrubs, lip scrubs, lip balms, and body butter.

Surprisingly, Covid 19 helped the two entrepreneurs get back into business. They had stopped making scrubs for a while, but decided to make the products again and donate profits to a local organization.

A good cause“They sold enough to donate $1,000 to The Las Vegas Vegabonds in May of 2020,” said Kylie’s mother, Katherine Lopez. “They did this because they wanted to help people in our community get the food that they needed.”

LilKy Spa Products are produced in the homes of Lily and Kylie. Before Covid-19, the two worked together to make the scrubs and balms, but now make them separately. Products are sold on Facebook and Etsy.

“We want everyone to know that we make good products. We really want to grow our business and add more products, such as hand sanitizer, which we are currently testing,” Kylie said.

“Our customers’ support has been important during this difficult time. They have purchased a lot and have helped us to grow our business,” Lily said.

The two agree that their greatest concern moving forward is that the business won’t make it, but their concerns may be premature. Recent orders are encouraging. Returning and new customers are buying more products, which gives them an optimistic view of the future for their growing business.

Order products at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lilkyspaproducts/
Etsy: Etsy.com/shop/LilKySpaProducts
E-mail: lilkyspaproducts@gmail.com


NOTE: I am featuring local businesses, nonprofits, and organizations in this series of articles about how COVID-19 has affected our community . If you would like to participate, email fsharon@msn.com for more information.



 

 

Print advertising a thing of the past?

Print has a nearly 80 percent response rate; digital still plays second fiddle to visual call-to-action advertising in print media.

In the digital age, there is a perception that if you put your business offering up on Facebook or other social media, that’s enough. While social media is an important part of getting your customer’s attention, it is only part of the mix. Although it is “free” in the sense that posting doesn’t cost you much more than time, it is transitory at best and the number of people who will see that post is based largely on who’s on line at any given time.

Fido DeliversThe rule of thumb for ad space purchases is to budget 10 percent of your annual income to advertising. In a small town, that generally means radio and newspaper. It does not include charity or support giving to various school and community publications asking you to “buy an ad.” Advertising is any medium intended to reach the greatest number of people in which you include a call to action.

Many advertising surveys indicate consumers respond more readily to print – whether it be magazines or newspapers – or through direct mail – than to digital media. One report stated that 79 percent of readers are more likely to respond to print ads than e-mailed or digital sales pitches. Digital media will argue that is changing, and perhaps it is. The magic bullet of digital advertising is more difficult to measure.

My favorite explanation for effective advertising (Sales vs Marketing) –

Sales: A hitchhiker on the side of the road with a sign that reads, “To Dallas.”

Marketing: A hitchhiker on the side of the road with a sign that reads, “I want to get to Mom’s for Christmas.”

Your sales pitch is your goal. Marketing is knowing how to reach that goal by understanding the marketplace and your customer.

Print continues to be an important platform for getting your message out, but as the fellow going to Dallas figured out, tugging at the heartstrings of his audience was more important than saying outright what he wanted.

What works for you will depend on your expected outcome. A caution here, avoid buying advertising with the flawed expectation that one ad is going to result in customers flocking to your door in mass.

If you are selling furniture and your one page $2,000 full-color ad nets one sale of $500, you haven’t wasted your money, but perhaps you haven’t made best use of the space. Your goal is to make the ad as appealing as possible to assure you get enough sales to at the very least cover your cost. Five $500 sales would more than do it. The point is, manage your expectations. Know your reach. Understand your market.

Ad 1

Let’s say you have a restaurant and you want to run an ad that lets folks know you are now serving T-Bone steaks. Which of these two ads is more likely to work?

Ad 1 with address prominently displayed with a small picture of a T-Bone Steak and in small print “NOW SERVING T-BONE STEAKS,” is okay. You will likely get customers out of it, but the reality is the message has been lost.

Ad 2-2

Ad 2 with a grilling T-Bone steak prominently displayed, coupled with a 10% discount gives the buyer incentive to show up, ad in hand. It serves two purposes: getting customers in the door and being able to track the effectiveness of the ad.

If you spend $150 to $175 for the ad and the meal price is $25, you could easily sell 10 meals including the discount, and more than cover the cost of the ad.

Sometimes your goal is to let customers know who you are and where you are. The bonus is sales; the message is where to find you.

Advertising serves many purposes. While word-of-mouth has its place, advertising specific offerings provides updated information, provides actionable offers, and expands a business’ customer base.

As a business person, you likely know on day one of a new year what you hope to achieve in the next 12 months. Make planning for your advertising as important as planning for paying your employees, even if the employee is the person you look at in the mirror every morning. Advertising is as much of an investment as the fixtures in your store. Let it work for you and it will pay off.

These links lead to a series of ads that will inspire you to think more creatively about ad space purchases.

Word stream
Boredpanda
__________________________________
I have not solicited or been given compensation for this content. If you found this of interest and worthwhile, please share with your network. Readers and new Followers make my day. Please add your thoughts or comments. Thanks for reading and following.


Follow Sharon at:
www.vandermeerbooks.com
https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks
Amazon Author Central

Canva Classic

Canva, a design website, is an amazing resource for bloggers and content developers. Much of the content is free and even the premium backgrounds are inexpensive. There is a pro version for a monthly subscription fee. Depending on your needs, it is an excellent affordable resource. The graphic below, and it’s content, is downloadable as is, or you can use the template and add your own information. I can’t recommend it highly enough. To be an exceptional graphic designer, consider a degree from New Mexico Highlands University Media Arts. It is a cutting-edge program that has led graduates to stellar careers.

How to become a graphic designer


Follow Sharon at:
www.vandermeerbooks.com
https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks
Amazon Author Central


 

PLAN FOR SUCCESS

Money Maker

You’ve decided to go into business for yourself. Congratulations. Now what? There are dozens upon dozens upon hundreds of websites that will tell you how to go into business. Many are advertising sites that lure you into trying their particular method. Most are targeted toward already successful businesses looking for ways to hone areas of specific need, like marketing, website development, human resource development and advertising.

As a start-up, your best and most affordable help (free) are sites like the Small Business Administration website where you can find tried and true processes for just about every concern related to developing your business idea into a successful enterprise, and Inc, a site full of informative, well-researched articles about managing and building a business.

Where does business development start? You would think the answer to that question is to have a great idea. True, but it also must be a workable idea, one that serves a need not adequately met in the existing marketplace. Starting a business is more of a challenge in small towns located close to large metropolitan areas. That doesn’t prevent a creative thinker in a small market from being successful. Going back to the question of “where does business development start,” it begins with planning.

Business Opportunity

Let’s say that an in-depth study of buying habits of people who live in your zip code shows all their pet supply purchases are at pet shops in a large city sixty miles away. That might lead you to think opening a pet supply store in your small town is a great business idea. Before you forge ahead, remember this, not all pet supplies are purchased at pet stores. Most are purchased at grocery stores, feed and supply stores, and through animal care clinics. The pet supply niche may be filled locally through those outlets. The first step in business development is knowing your idea has legs and will stand up under considerable questioning.

Questions to consider:

Why am I starting a business? The answer should be more than, “I want to make money,” or “I want to be my own boss.” What need will this business serve that isn’t being met? And by the way, being in business for yourself does not mean you are your own boss. You become the employee of your new enterprise and your time will be dictated by many factors beyond your control. As a responsible owner/employee you will put in far more hours than when you worked for someone else.

Who is my ideal customer? In the example of the pet supply store, it’s more than, “people with pets.” What is the demographic you are looking for? People to whom pets are family? Affluent customers who can afford more upscale purchases for Miss Kitty or Mr. Ambrose the Beagle? If your biggest expected sales are pet food, rethink opening a pet supply business. Buyers can purchase pet food just about anywhere, including online.

How is my business idea, product or service different from what’s already out there? The answer to this question will be weighed in the balance of what you provide, the marketplace you are part of, and the economy. There is every reason to expect restaurants will survive in a time when more and more people are eating out. Such is not the case. Restaurants have a high fail rate. Oddly, competition is not the biggest reason cafés and other types of eateries fail. It stems largely from a failure to plan and fully understand the complexities of owning and running a food establishment. Those that succeed have these factors in common: a commitment to excellence in food and service, finding a niche and sticking with it, and providing a pleasant and welcoming ambiance. The same philosophy applied to any business sets the stage for success.

Location, location, location. Where you establish your business is right up there with knowing your marketplace. Being in a mall environment does not guarantee success. Being in a supportive business block or neighborhood with high traffic and the assurance of referrals ranks with great customer service.

Can I afford to go into business? All businesses require start-up costs. Even if you’re opening a one-person plumbing business, starting a landscaping service or providing auto repair, your qualifications as a top-notch service provider are worthless without tools and a base of operations, both of which cost money. Consider carefully your source of business funding and your ability to remain solvent for the first three years without repeatedly taking loans to sustain operations. You can’t borrow your way out of debt.

Profitability. When can you expect to start making money? This will vary based on factors such as maintaining inventory, rent/mortgage costs, overhead for employees and benefits, and unknown factors like illness or economic downturn. Profit is anything over and above expenses, including paying the owner.

There are many other issues you must consider, among them:

• How many employees will you need;
• Sources of inventory or supplies;
• Product/service pricing;
• Legal structure;
• Taxes, insurance, liability;
• Over all management philosophy;
• Marketing strategy.

A good business plan is a great place to start. See here and here for free business plan instructions and templates.

You cannot eliminate all the risks associated with starting a small business. You can improve your chances of success with good planning and insight. This article is drawn from multiple sources, including the SBA website and Inc.com. It is intended to give entrepreneurs food for thought.

_______________
Image: clipart.com

I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I’m also a member of the Las Vegas Literary Salon, a group committed to sharing the work of local writers. Follow LVLS at lvnmlitsalon.org. Thanks for reading and sharing this post.

PRINT ADVERTISING STILL WORKS

Print has a nearly 80 percent response rate; digital still plays second fiddle to visual call-to-action advertising in print media

In the digital age, there is a perception that if you put your business offering up on Facebook or other social media, that’s enough. While social media is an important part of getting your customer’s attention, it is only a small part of the mix. Although it is “free” in the sense that posting doesn’t cost you much more than time, it is transitory at best and the number of people who will see that post is based largely on who’s on line at any given time.

Fido DeliversThe rule of thumb for ad space purchases is to budget 10 percent of your annual income to advertising. In a small town that generally means radio and newspaper. It does not include charity or support giving to various school and community publications asking you to “buy an ad.” Advertising is any medium intended to reach the greatest number of people in which you include a call to action.

Countless advertising surveys indicate consumers respond more readily to print – whether it be magazines or newspapers – or through direct mail, than to digital media. One report stated that 79 percent of readers are more likely to respond to print ads than e-mailed or digital sales pitches.

My favorite explanation for effective advertising (Sales vs Marketing) –

Sales: A hitchhiker on the side of the road with a sign that reads, “To Dallas.”

Marketing: A hitchhiker on the side of the road with a sign that reads, “I want to get to Mom’s for Christmas.”

Your sales pitch is your goal. Marketing is knowing how to reach that goal by understanding the marketplace and your customer.

Print continues to be an important platform for getting your message out, but as the fellow going to Dallas figured out, tugging at the heartstrings of his audience was more important than saying outright what he wanted.

What works for you will depend on your expected outcome. A caution here, avoid buying advertising with the flawed expectation that one ad is going to result in customers flocking to your door in mass.

If you are selling furniture and your one page $2,000 full-color ad nets one sale of $500, you haven’t wasted your money, but perhaps you haven’t made best use of the space. Your goal is to make the ad as appealing as possible to assure you get enough sales to at the very least cover your cost. Five $500 sales would more than do it. The point is, manage your expectations. Know your reach. Understand your market.

Ad 1

Let’s say you have a restaurant and you want to run an ad that lets folks know you are now serving T-Bone steaks. Which of these two ads is more likely to work?

Ad 1 with address prominently displayed with a small picture of a T-Bone Steak and in small print “NOW SERVING T-BONE STEAKS,” is okay. You will likely get customers out of it, but the reality is the message has been lost.

Ad 2-2

Ad 2 with a grilling T-Bone steak prominently displayed, coupled with a 10% discount gives the buyer incentive to show up, ad in hand. It serves two purposes: getting customers in the door and being able to track the effectiveness of the ad.

If you spend $150 to $175 for the ad and the meal price is $25, you could easily sell 10 meals including the discount, and more than cover the cost of the ad.

Sometimes your goal is to let customers know who you are and where you are. The bonus is sales; the message is where to find you.

Advertising serves many purposes. While word-of-mouth has its place, advertising specific offerings provides updated information, provides actionable offers, and expands a business’ customer base.

As a business person, you likely know on day one of a new year what you expect to achieve in the next 12 months. Make planning for your advertising as important as planning for paying your employees, even if the employee is the person you look at in the mirror every morning. Advertising is as much of an investment as the fixtures in your store. Let it work for you and it will pay off.

These links lead to a series of ads that will inspire you to think more creatively about ad space purchases.

Word stream
Boredpanda
__________________________________
If you found this of interest and worthwhile, please share with your network. Readers and new Followers make my day. Please add your thoughts or comments. Thanks for reading and following!

I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I’m also a member of the Las Vegas Literary Salon, a group committed to sharing the work of local writers. Follow LVLS at lvnmlitsalon.org. Thanks for reading and sharing this post.

WHY MEDIA KITS ARE A GOOD IDEA

Media Kit

Media kits are resources that tell others about you and your business. Whether you are a small single-owner shop or employ hundreds, you have a story to tell. Google, Facebook, Coca Cola and Ford don’t rely on word of mouth; they rely on getting their story out to the public by every means possible. Their media kits are neither simple nor economical. They know the value of story, their story.

As a small business owner you can affordably get the job done by working with a professional to compile a media kit designed to get your message out. Yes, your friends and neighbors know who you are, but do their friends and neighbors know who you are?

Media kits are custom designed, but there are standard items to include: recent high resolution photos of the owner and images of the store front and interior, high resolution images of logos, an introduction that tells your story, contact information and online presence, testimonials from satisfied customers, overview of product/service you provide, and your business mission or philosophy.

5 Reasons a Media Kit Makes Sense
Be prepared:
Whether you are celebrating your 10th year in business, or your millionth customer, you want to share your success. Most media outlets are willing to do a write up, or invite you to provide your own. Plan ahead for those special moments by compiling the bits and pieces of your story so it is easily and quickly accessible.

Be informed: Preparing a media kit requires market awareness. You may not believe you have competition because there is no other store like yours in your business district, but competition exists everywhere, including in most homes through the internet. What sets you apart? What makes your store the best place to go for what you provide? That’s the story you want to tell.

The elevator pitch: “Media kit” is an intimidating phrase. The elevator pitch is, “A media kit organizes outreach.” What is your elevator pitch? Compiling outreach information helps you fine tune your elevator pitch.

Aids in marketing: When someone walks in the door and wants to sell you an ad, are you ready? Is the idea of putting an ad together daunting? A media kit is a tool in your business tool box. You can readily answer the question of whether this ad placement is the right one for you and have the tools to help the ad rep create the ad.

Insight: A media kit inspires you to think in new ways about your business. The process of working with a professional (or doing it on your own) generates excitement and ideas.

Because of technology, this “kit” need not cost you a lot in printing and distribution. It can be uploaded to your website or e-mailed at any time to whomever is in need of the information.

__________________________
I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I’m also a member of the Las Vegas Literary Salon, a group committed to sharing the work of local writers. Follow LVLS at lvnmlitsalon.org. Thanks for reading and sharing this post.

Image: Created at www.canva.com

Q&A: The Candy Man

…and family

Gift BasketsThe Ulibarri family’s route to its new shop at 161 Bridge Street has been circuitous and – as is often the case with small businesses – not without challenges. What it has continued to have is faithful customers who love the candy they make. The store came out of a family who personifies “family first” when it comes to making decisions.

Mike, a native of Espanola, moved with his parents (Jose and Magdalena Ulibarri) to their home town of Anton Chico, N.M., when he was in junior high. Donna’s parents, (Eloy and Marcella Montoya), owned and operated the Plaza Supper Club at the Plaza Hotel from 1962 until they sold it in 1975. They moved to Golondrinas (Mora County), where Mike, Donna and their son, Chris, currently reside. Mike said he and Donna met at the Flower Pot (on the Plaza) in 1979 and married in 1980 at Our Lady of Sorrows Church. “Old Town Las Vegas has always meant a lot to us,” he said. After 20 years in the Navy, Mike retired. He and Donna moved back to Golondrinas to help Donna’s parents.

Mike said Donna’s gifts of candy at Christmas one year were such a hit, he talked her into making it for a craft fair. They sold out by noon. That was in 2002 and they have been making candy commercially ever since, but had to take a break from the business in 2009 when Donna’s father’s health began to fail. Mr. Montoya passed away in 2012.

Christmas GoodiesWhen Mike and Donna decided to go back into business in 2014 they choose to go with a home-based business for production. Only the family can sell the product, but the Ulibarri family is okay with that. Electing to keep the enterprise small and manageable, for two years they sold “door to door” and participated in fairs and farmers’ markets. It meant loading and unloading, setting up and tearing down, which began to affect Mike’s health. When they saw that Paper Trail was relocating, the soon-to-be vacant spot looked to be ideal for their needs. The Ulibarri Farms Candy Shoppe opened its doors in late October.

The family has put its signature style on the interior with a counter made from reclaimed wood and, for now, seasonal decorations made and arranged by Donna. It is an inviting space with delectable temptations. Below are Mike’s responses to questions about what being in this business means to him and his family.

ORP: What inspired you to go into the candy making business?
Mike: Donna made candy as Christmas gifts. They were such a hit I encouraged her to make them for sale. At our first fair, we sold out before noon.

ORP: What three pieces of advice would you give to someone who wants to start a business?
Mike:

  • Have good people behind you. I couldn’t do it without my family.
  • Be prepared to work harder than you’ve ever worked.
  • Have fun.

ORP: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful business person?
Mike:

  • Honesty
  • Have a good attitude.
  • Don’t be afraid to try. The worst thing that could happen is that they say, “No.”

Peppermint Fudge BallsORP: How did you decide what candies you wanted to make when you kicked off your business?
Mike: The brittle has always been a great seller and my wife’s fudge is a close second. We are known for them.

ORP: You make the candy at home. Talk about the challenges of having a home-based manufacturing operation.
Mike: Days like today are very challenging. When one of us has to stay home, and cook, while the other is at the shop. Tomorrow Donna will be home cooking. She and her mother, who is blind, will package all the candy she makes, as well as the candy I made today. We have a designated area for candy production that we keep separate from the living area, so really the biggest challenge is time management. Our son Chris, is finishing up his semester. He does an online school from home. As soon as he is done we will have an extra pair of hands.

ORP: How has running the business affected your life?
Mike: We didn’t expect it to be so much fun!

ORP: What motivates you?
Mike: I have a nice life, and a nice family. That’s what motivates me every day. I’m proud of the candy we make and I’m proud that so many people like it so much.

ORP: How do you generate ideas for expanding the types of candy you offer?
Mike: My wife wakes up in the morning with all kinds of ideas. I don’t think she ever sleeps!

ORP: What is your greatest concern, and how do you manage that concern?
Mike: I worry that we can’t keep up. So we work harder.

ORP: How do you define success?
Mike:
Happiness.

Gift BasketsORP: How did you fund your business?
Mike: Navy Federal Credit union gave us a small personal loan.

ORP: How did you build a customer base?
Mike: Word of mouth, walking around town and giving out samples, attending meetings like the one (Rotary Club of Las Vegas) where I met you.

ORP: Talk about your new location on Bridge Street?
Mike: We love our new Ulibarri Farms Candy Shoppe. It’s just the right size and Bridge Street is so quaint. Lots of foot traffic, lots of great stores and restaurants and the other merchants in the area have given us the warmest welcome we could have ever gotten.

ORP: How do you market your business?
Mike: Radio, flyers, social media, and I talk to EVERYONE!

Quick Facts:
Ulibarri Farms Candy Shoppe
Location: 161 Bridge Street, Las Vegas, NM  87701
Hours: M-Sat 11 am to 6 pm, Sunday 11 am to 3 pm
Phone: 505-425-3123
Website: Ulibarri Farms
E-mail. Ulibarrifarms@aol.com
Online: Like us on Facebook

 

 

Jewelry Artisan and Entrepreneur

Making art into a business

WelcomeBeing in business is a challenge and an opportunity all wrapped up in one great adventure. When you’re good at it, you share your expertise with others who are dipping a toe into the entrepreneurial waters. With more than thirty years of experience under her belt, Andrea Gottschalk of Unikat Fine Jewelry has grown her business and reached out to help others. She believes in working in concert with other business people and making the most of networking opportunities. She has an abundance of talent as a jewelry designer and creates a customer-friendly shopping experience as a business owner. Her insightful responses to the Q&A reveals a woman who enjoys what she does, and who remains grounded in the essentials of business ownership: making wise market decisions and operating within your means.

Andrea was born and raised in Germany. She graduated from high school in 1985 and went on a  two-year world travel adventure, including an extended visit to New Mexico. She returned to Germany and attended the Goldschmiede Schule in Pforzheim. She returned to New Mexico in 1988 “for the love of it,” and started a home based jewelry business working as a sub contractor for many different retail jewelry stores in Santa Fe such as Spirit of the Earth, James Reid, Mitzi Lynn, Mahdani and many others. She made special orders and custom pieces. Andrea moved to Las Vegas, NM in 1995. “I opened Unikat Fine Jewelry in 1998 where Genesis Computers is located now. I moved across the street in 2004 to 158 Bridge St., where I had my business until September of this year.” When the opportunity came to move into a much bigger location she took it and is now operating at 160 Bridge St.

Unikat Fine Jewelry will have a Grand Opening celebration at its new location, 160 Bridge St., in conjunction with Paper Trail, 166 Bridge St. The event will be Friday and Saturday, November 11 -12.

ORP: You’ve made the move to your new location. What do you hope this will do for your customers?
Andrea:
A lot more browsing room without feeling cramped in. Lots more inventory to select from. Big store windows to do window shopping, and it’s easy to find me.

ORP: What inspired you to go into business and how long have you had the store?
Andrea:
I opened my first store in 1998 when Price’s Ilfeld closed their jewelry department. I was their repair jeweler for about one year and I took the business opportunity to fill that niche. I had been making jewelry since I was sixteen. I went to gold smithing school in Germany. I had always worked for other retail stores making their custom pieces. There was an important link missing for me in that I never got to have the contact with the client and never could see their joy in purchasing that piece of jewelry I had made. That was the biggest inspiration to have my own store, to have that direct connection to the client and feeling proud of what I accomplished when I would see their reactions to the finished product.

ORP: What is the single biggest challenge to being a sole-owner business and how do you address it?
Andrea:
All the investments are on your own risk. All the debt you may accumulate is yours. There is no corporation that backs you up if you fail or no government that wipes your debt clean. You are solely responsible for every single decision you make and sometimes that can be very nerve racking.

ORP: What are your biggest opportunities as a business person on Bridge Street?
Andrea:
The Bridge Street/Plaza area is the most well known historic area and most walked on foot by locals and tourists alike. The chance that someone will stroll by and and take a peek into your store and buy something is huge.

Designing EntrepreneurORP: In addition to being a business owner, you also make jewelry and do jewelry repair. Talk about what inspires you as a business owner?
Andrea:
I would have to answer that in reverse, making jewelry inspired me to become a business owner and having my own retail store. The creation of jewelry and the sales aspect of it and going more and more into designs and repairs for customers directly,  taught me to have a good professional attitude with clients and subsequently has made me a good  business owner. I cannot say enough how important it is to have a professional, service-oriented attitude to gain a good loyal customer base. Yes you are in business for yourself but you really work for the client and their satisfaction. If that is not understood then you better not be a business owner. Of course quality is on top of everything.

ORP: What inspires you as a jewelry maker?
Andrea:
The color and shape of gemstones. They inspire the whole design and the outcome of a piece. I also love gems in their natural uncut beauty and often set them just as they are found in nature. I love combining different metals into one piece and personally I am very drawn to geometric simple shapes so a lot of my own creations have that as a component of the design.

ORP: Where do you get ideas for your jewelry designs?
Andrea:
Usually when I see a gem stone that grabs me at a supplier or at gem shows, I see a whole piece of jewelry around it in my imagination. That is what I create for the most part. I really don’t sit down at the drawing table much and think a piece through from start to finish. While I create a piece the design may change in the process when I see that something works better than originally thought of. Those are usually the best pieces.

ORP: If you had a motto as a business person, what would it be?
Andrea:
Know your market and don’t get in debt over your head. Don’t overspend on a huge inventory. Start slowly and built up your inventory when you can afford to invest more in it. If you create something make it top quality!

ORP: What do you like about being an entrepreneur?
Andrea:
You are responsible for your own self. When something goes wrong you only have yourself to blame. If it goes right – and hopefully  that’s most of the time – well, then all the credit goes to you and you feel you deserve it! It makes you an integral and meaningful part of society when you have the ability to produce something that people appreciate and cherish.

ORP: You are also active in the Las Vegas First Independent Business Alliance. Why is it important to you as a small business person to be part of an organization of this type?
Andrea:
There is strength in numbers. Belonging to a business organization where everybody has the same mission, same goals, struggles and joys, you truly have a sense of belonging and you can commiserate or share the joys and successes together. You can find solutions together to common problems. Of course our top mission is our motto: Keep your money where your house is. That means to buy as much locally as you can and keep your tax dollars in town. It makes a tremendous impact on our town when the City has more tax revenue to spend. Quality of life improves for everybody by having better streets, parks, clean-up efforts, sidewalks, lighting, things for our youth and elderly to do, school improvements and the list goes on and on. People forget that all this depends largely on the revenue that comes in from tax dollars, and a huge amount is generated through our gross receipts, which is generated by shopping here locally.

ORP: Talk a little about Entrepreneurial Network and why you think it’s important.
Andrea:
The Entrepreneurial Network is so important for similar reasons to why it is important to have a business organization, but with more specific multi-functions. The EN facilitator, which has been me for the past three years, functions as a one-on-one business coach where I help a start up business or expanding business in every way possible to be successful. I do that by listening to their individual needs and try to find answers to any questions they may have. This help may be through my own business experience. If I do not have the answer, I refer people to business experts in their field or to valuable programs that are being offered through the Regional Development Corporation. There is technical assistance, market research, alternative micro loans, investments through the venture acceleration fund and much more. Every business has a uniqueness to them. It is my goal to help each and every client that comes to me for help in the best way possible, and to help them succeed in their own way, to the best of their abilities. It is their own talent that they need to rely on. I help them focus on what they are good at, encourage them to build on that in their business, and remind them to not overextend themselves. If you can talk somebody out of a very bad idea and save them from a lot of trouble, then that is a success too. Every other month I have what is called the Entrepreneurial Network Forum where I invite one to three business owners to do a public presentation on their services and goods to an audience of other business owners and interested people. This is free and open to the public and is usually held at the El Fidel Hotel Wolff’s Den room. It’s a great way to promote your business and network with other like-minded people. You get updates on what is new in town and who does what, when and where. If you need any assistance with your business please call me at my store, Unikat, 425-6113. It is a completely free service and exists in four Northern New Mexico communitites: Taos, Rio Arriba, Mora and of course here in San Miguel County. It is sponsored by the RDC, Los Alamos National Laboratories and Las Vegas First Independent Business Alliance.

Andrea’s new location and contact info:
Unikat Fine Jewelry
Location: 160 Bridge St., Las Vegas NM 87701

Phone: 505-425-6113 or cell 505-617-6113
E-mail: unikat@spinn.net
Unikat on Facebook

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Photos: Sharon Vander Meer (Note: If you are interested in doing a Q&A on One Roof Publishing, please contact fsvandermeer@gmail.com.)