After wearing various hats throughout her career and starting different businesses, Arvey Krise is ready for a new chapter of her life. Now a grandmother, her new passion is pampering her grandkids. To share that joy to other grandparents, Arvey created SpoiledGrandKids.com http://www.spoiledgrandkids.com. SpoiledGrandKids.com is an online store that she says is her “last child” offering unique gifts and clothing for the stylish grandkids.
Here’s Arvey in her own words:
The Joys of Being a Grandparent
The world changes when you become a grandparent. You become legally insane! Of all the titles I’ve held in my life including CEO, Grandma is the most important and by far the most fun title I’ve ever had.
Having absentee grandchildren presented challenges. I always wanted to send them something really cool from Grandma to say hey remember me, but by the time I shopped, carried it around in my car for a while, got it packed in a box and mailed it, it often didn’t get done! That’s when I started searching the web. The problem was that I didn’t know what to look for. I had lost touch and didn’t know what was “cool” anymore. Needless to say, what was “ in” when my kids were little was way out. That’s when my last child, SpoiledGrandKids.com™,was born. After hours and weeks of research, running the showroom halls, and talking to lots of people, in the spring of 2008 I launched SpoiledGrandKids.com™, the e-tail store with the mission of making grandparents “cool!” My new title is CES, Chief Executive Spoiler.
How SpoiledGrandKids.com Started
SpoiledGrandKids.com™ was conceived to offer a one stop shop depot for grandparents where they could find the latest in quality fashion, from trendy to traditional, to designer baby and kid’s furniture, toys, baby gear and accessories. I strive to find things that are different with lots of class. Good taste never goes out of style. Neither does quality. So when shopping for the store, those are the guidelines. If I see something that’s unique, not something you see everywhere you go, yet tasteful with good quality I ask myself if it’s something I would buy for my grandkids. The final consideration is that it has to be fun. After all, grandparents are supposed to be fun! The idea was a place where grandparents could go to find things for their grandkids from someone they could trust, someone who shares the same love for their grandkids as they do. It doesn’t get any better than that! We also have a lot of moms and aunt who are frequent shoppers. At the top of my list has always been great, over the top, customer service, with a smile, even from long distance.Looking back I have to laugh and cry at the same time. I’m the kind of person who just jumps in with all fours and learns as I go. I’ve started several businesses, including manufacturing gourmet food and designing clothes, so I’ve learned a lot of things along the way, but this was my first experience with retail, and my first experience with an e-commerce store. Might as well take your lumps all at once.
It all started one day when I was shopping for something fun and unique for my grandkids online. The idea just came to me and sounded like lots of fun! Why not help other grandparents who were lost and struggling like me to be really cool? I brainstormed names with my husband, reserved the domain name, came up with a logo, and did all of the legal requirements like getting a tax resale number. I also researched all kinds of children’s products online and off line, talked to many parents and kids, and researched trade shows.
The Challenges of Starting an Online Store
I hired a “friend” who mine to professionally developed websites, to design what I thought would be a piece of cake. I didn’t have a clue about shopping carts, websites or marketing. That was a costly lesson.
After deciding on the categories I wanted to carry, I started ordering products and went to a few trade shows. I was having a ball ordering products to add to my store. It was so exciting. Then reality set in. I thought that you hired a web developer/designer and they designed the site, added the products, turned it on, and the orders just started flowing in. Wrong.
It took several months to get the site up and going. We designed and redesigned and went through many trials, frustrations, and hours and hours of hard work. The day it was published, I had everything organized and was ready to start taking orders. But like sitting by the phone and waiting on it to ring, the orders didn’t come and they didn’t come. Weeks later, they still didn’t come. My developer hadn’t told me anything about buying ad words, or SEO’s, to market my site, along with a lot of other things that I wasn’t told. I could have done more research on my own, but I depended on my developer to lead me in the right direction. What I should have researched more was the web site developer/designer.
Unfortunately, it has taken me three developers to find the right one, and here are some things I’ve learned. The first shopping cart was a disaster. It was free, but also very antiquated, difficult to use and not user friendly. You get what you pay for. Customers couldn’t find products a second time and it was difficult to check out. It was also very cumbersome and took me forever to add products. My current developer developed a whole new look, and found a great affordable shopping cart that is easy for both sides to use. It also has great store front and back features.
I learned that your store front doesn’t need to be fancy, just easy to find your way around and professional. I, also no longer take on any lines that do not provide their own product images. It is too time consuming to be your own product photographer and unless you are a professional, the quality isn’t as good. With online stores, product images make or break a sale. You have to market your website just like you have to market any business, but the world is your audience in e-commerce.
Reaching the Target Customers
My target market is a grandparent. It’s a huge business. There are lots of ways to market and grandparents are getting more computers savvy every day. There are a lot of sites out there for that generation that I connect with.
I market a lot through free communication sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The most effective marketing is through Google Adwords, SEOs (search engine optimization), but it is very expensive. You can choose how much you want to spend each month and how to spend it, but anyway you do it, you need a healthy budget to be effective.
Word of mouth is always a good marketing tool, but you won’t get the volume of business without the Adwords. There are ways to go online and get an idea what some of the bigger more successful online businesses are spending and how many unique visits they are getting. A good web developer can do that for you.
The good news is that with an online business, the overhead is almost as low as you want it to be and you can have a lucrative business from home. There are a lot of drop-ship lines now that you don’t have to inventory and a lot of e-tail store owners work from the comfort of their homes. One of my vendors told me a while back that one of their biggest customers is doing well into the six figures with their company and works from his dining room table.
Advice to other Entrepreneurs
I have a lot of people, especially women; ask me about how to go about starting their own business. My advice is this. Do what you love and love what you do. My style may not work for everyone, but I believe in the motto of a very large company we all know, and that’s just do it. You won’t ever be successful without the risk of failure, and you sure aren’t going to be successful just sitting on the fence thinking about it. There’s a saying that my husband uses, analysis to paralysis. Personally, I’ve been successful and I’ve had businesses not work, but I’ve never regretted not trying. Some of the biggest companies in the world have gone through bankruptcies more than once, and have come back to be more successful than ever. You can’t even think about failure, much less be afraid of it. Just think of it as brushing off the dust.
Starting your own business goes through a lot of phases. The excitement, the honeymoon, frustration, the what have I done, and so on, but like raising kids, you have to hang in there and not give up during the growing pains. Have a business plan with short term and long-term goals. Know where you want to be in a few years. Have a budget. Be flexible. You’re probably going to get into it and find out that things are different that you anticipated. Be willing to make changes. Being your own boss sounds great. There’s a lot of good and not so good that go along with owning your own business. There’s no one to sign your paycheck but you. There’s also no one who can fire you but you. I love being in business for myself. Having a home-based business requires a lot of self-discipline, but offers a lot of flexibility. Where else can you be working at two AM in front of old TV reruns in your PJs?
My last child has been a little more challenging than some, but it’s my baby and I love it. We’ve grown up together and are still learning a lot. I couldn’t be prouder when someone tells me how great and professional it looks. My favorite comments are those about how unique and fun our products are! After all, that is our goal. They have no idea how many long nights we’ve spent together and how far we’ve come from where we started. It’s all been worth it. Hope you’ll visit us soon at www.SpoiledGrandKids.com. Good luck on your home business. Just do it!