During tough times, you have two options: quickly increase your income or decrease your expenses. Sisters Staci Douglas and Kim Mack chose to find ways to increase their incomes. They first moved from New Jersey to North Carolina, where the lower cost of living afforded them financial freedom to explore new opportunities. Once in Clayton, North Caroline, they decided to start a business, which they called Out of the Box, LLC.
After a failed business, the sisters stumbled on the idea for a key (or cell phone) finding device called Charming KEYper. These Brooklyn-born sisters and partners were raised in the projects of East New York by a full-time working Mom, where having your keys was extremely important because there was no one at home to let you in.
Out of the Box is now represented by several sales groups nationwide and in Canada. With more than 100 retail shops carrying their patent-pending line, they are well on they way to success. Charming KEYper will even be featured in the November-December issue of Solutions Catalog.
WomenHomeBusiness.com talked to the Charming KEYper inventors about their product:
What inspired you to create your product?
Out of the Box, LLC first foray into the on-line retailing business with children’s birthday parties was not proving as successful as we had hoped. One day after Kim witnessed Staci fish her keys out of the bag by hanging a dirty broken D.A.R.E. lanyard out of her purse–an idea was born.
The two immediately got to work producing and testing many prototypes before the design was agreed upon. Kim’s husband Tim began the long, pain-staking process of the patent application. With a great design in hand and a patent pending, we hit the local market.
Not having a sales background could not deter us. Charming KEYper was introduced in February of 2009 to the Raleigh Marketplace. We quickly secured five new accounts.
What has been the most challenging part about starting your own business?
Finding investment and operating capital without assuming debt. There are so many things we want to do but are limited by our financial resources. Still we feel it better to build this business without taking on huge debt.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far in starting and running a business?
Just because you know you have a great product doesn’t mean everyone else will recognize it as quickly as you like. Getting the message out to the buyers and consumers is a great challenge but once they understand all the features and benefits of our keypers, the reaction becomes more favorable and customers realize that they can’t do with out it.
What do you find most exciting about being an entrepreneur?
Being in control of your own success and destiny. Realizing the full reward from your accomplishments but also taking full responsibility for your failures.
Do you think being an entrepreneur makes it easier or harder to balance your work and family responsibilities? Why?
Much more difficult as starting your own business is as far as a structured 9-5 job as you can get. It is more like a 24-7 job! But we have a strong supportive husband and understanding kids, which is the only way you can afford to put so much energy in a business and still maintain a quality relationship with your family.
Do you work at an office or from home? What are the positives and negatives of this arrangement?
We work from home as for now as it keeps operating costs lower. But the down side is you never get “away” from the work, which is also a benefit of starting a home-based business. Once we have steady momentum we can afford not only a facility but also the “get away time”.
What other lessons can you share to other women entrepreneurs?
Don’t do it alone, have a great partner and rely on friends and family for support. And as Winston Churchill once said; “Never, never, never give up”
How do you see your business 5 years from now?
We will have a greatly expanded product line and be a household name. We will also take a real vacation that’s longer than a day.
To learn more about Out of the Box and Charming KEYper view their site at www.CharmingKEYper.com