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Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

  • Hickies is Kickin' Off Their Newest Kickstarter Campaign

    Screen shot 2014-04-14 at 12.09.32 PM

    We always say that when our Makers succeed, we succeed. This is an integral part of our mission so when one of our Makers hits a milestone, we shout it from the rooftops and when they need support, we shout that as well.

    We couldn't be happier to see all the success that our Maker, Hickies has received over the past few years and they recently announced venture capital funding to grow their business even further. This is big news for them, but also for the consumer products industry as a whole since VC funding for those involved in the Maker Movement is less common. Hopefully this signals a shift in the industry and the interest of VC firms.

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  • Meet the Maker: Tippy Tippens

    Three years ago, we shared the story of one Maker and social entrepreneur on a mission to help with the  BP oil spill disaster in New Orleans. Tippy Tippens was a designer living in New York City who felt pulled to do something to help -- that's how BirdProject Soap was born. Today, we're catching up with Tippy to see how these little soaps have made a difference since their launch on The Grommet.

    Meet the Maker, Tippy Tippens on  The Grommet


    Four years have passed since the BP oil spill disaster  and creation of your company, BirdProject Soap -- tell us, how are things different four years later?

  • What is Crowdfunding?

    Makers need more than a great idea, well crafted product, or solid business plan to get their companies off the ground -- they need capital. There are several ways to get funding for a business, however crowdfunding is a growing choice for many entrepreneurs out there.

    What is Crowdfunding

    What is crowdfunding?

    Crowdfunding is a funding method where  people (the "crowd") fund personal or business projects and ideas with their own money.  They essentially make a donation to a crowdfunding campaign in order to help a particular business or venture  get the initial momentum and the push it needs. It works like this: you post your project on one of many crowdfunding sites which have a large group of users, or "potential investors", and they will fund your project (by making a monetary donation) if they are interested.  Through crowdfunding sites, such as IndieGogo and Kickstarter, individuals are influencing the world by amplifying the impact of products and voting with their dollars.

    The Grommet is a natural next step for crowdfunded Makers. In fact, we've launched many products that came out of successfully crowdfunded:  Get it Right Spatulas, Skallops, and Monkeylectric (just to name a few). See them all here.

    If you know of one that would be a great fit, please let us know about it in the comments below.

    If you're a Maker thinking of launching your own crowdfunding campaign, be sure to check out these crowdfunding success secrets from our Maker, Sunskis, before you do.

  • How to Get PR for Your New Business

    How to Get PR | Tips from Makers

    Building a business is hard, and if you're new to entrepreneurship, it can be difficult to learn on the go. There are so many aspects to think about and while you might have your head down building the best business you can, it's crucial to look up and ask yourself "once I build it, will they come?" The truth is getting them in the door also takes a lot of work. One crucial aspect of attracting the press and customers your young business needs is PR and Marketing. It's what helps you build your brand, drive awareness and gets people in the door shopping. However, the challenge for many Makers is that PR is just plain hard. 

    For a new business, those initial sales are critical. A strong marketing campaign will help and today we're going to touch on the importance of Public Relations. PR is something that everyone knows they need, yet few know how to successfully go about it. It's a skill that includes reading relevant news daily, making relationships and creating strong content that attracts reporters and consumers. One of our Grommet Makers, Michelle Isrow from Undercover Tape, has a natural knack for attracting press to her product. When I first spoke with Michelle, I was surprised and thrilled to see that Undercover Tape had been featured in high level publications like Real Simple and Daily Candy. She went on to describe all the hard work she put into getting those press hits and we're sharing many of her tips here today. Read more below for our conversation about PR for new businesses.

    How to Get PR | Tips from Grommet Maker, Undercover Tape Michelle and Michele, Co-Founders of Undercover Tape


    You were lucky enough to earn high level coverage on your own. That is no easy feat. How did you do it?

    My business partner, Michelle and I are proud of the press we've received. It's been a lot of hard work and persistence. I began my PR journey with the help of a good friend named Google. Parents are the biggest customer base for us, so I scoured the web for sites that I thought would attract these moms and dads. I searched for editors contact info and sometimes I had to correspond with several people before I was put in touch with the right person. I then sent emails weekly until I received a response. Some said they didn't have a meaningful spot for us and others asked to contact them at a later date. I kept a log book of all these publications that I'd spoken with and a calendar so I knew when to follow up again. When I was lucky enough to receive a sample request from them, I made sure that I didn't just throw one in a bag and send. I made the presentation perfect so they would be as impressed as possible. After 6 months of persistence, I was able to land Real Simple. Daily Candy was a bit easier and took about 2 months to finally ink a piece on Undercover Tape.

    Once the press was live, what benefits did you see? Increased sales or web traffic? Were they immediate results or more long-term? 

    Once the press was live, we did see many benefits including sales, retail inquiries, general customer inquiries and increased website traffic. We're happy to share any and all knowledge we have with other entrepreneurs who are just starting out. We see the key as not just one press hit here and there, but to keep it going, which isn't easy. We aren't using a PR agency or representative, so that makes things harder as we don't have those relationships already, but are building them as we go.

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  • Meet the Maker: Aymie Spitzer

    Here at The Grommet our mission is to put an end to nameless, faceless business and highlight the people and the stories behind the products we launch each day. And it's in that spirit that we're beginning a new blog series in which we can continue sharing the stories of our Makers with you. Get to know them better, learn more about their journeys as entrepreneurs and learn how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    In our third installment we're catching up with Maker Aymie Spitzer. Aymie tells us that she has always been drawn to the beauty of vintage maps, particularity their hand lettering and ornate details. Inspired,  she turned her own hand lettering into a custom font to artfully adorn her wooden wall maps, necklaces and coasters. She founded Neighborwoods and launched on The Grommet last summer.

    Makers | Neighborwoods on The Grommet

     Read on for more of our Q&A with Aymie below.

     Maker Movement | Neighborwoods

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  • Extra Innings: An Update from MAX'IS Creations


    Our 2nd Annual Product Pitch Contest is less than one month away and our community is in full swing voting for their favorite product submissions. We’re excited to soon share the stories of this year’s winners, yet we are still following and supporting those who participated last year. Their story and journey certainly doesn't end at Product Pitch and we know there will be many great updates to come as they navigate through product development and launch.

    We also know our community is cheering them on and looking forward to these updates. One of our most popular finalists was  a young entrepreneur named Max Ash, who took home the win for community favorite. As a nine year old, he may be one of the youngest entrepreneurs around and has garnered lots of attention for his product MAX’IS Creations “Mug With a Hoop TM.” We recently checked in with Max and his mom, Jennifer to see what life has been like since winning the community vote at last year’s event.

    product pitch competition | The Grommet ---------------------------------------------Max and his product testing team


    First, a special note from Max:

    Hi everyone at The Grommet,

    Thank you for inviting me to Fenway Park to pitch my idea for a hot chocolate mug that lets you throw marshmallows into hot chocolate!  It’s been a really fun year.  What I’ve loved most about the last year is that I’ve made money selling my mugs!  It was really fun to go to Mudshark Studios to see them make my mugs.  I liked to see them put all of the parts of the mug together and I liked seeing all my mugs lined up.  I even got to sign some mugs while I was there!  I like getting boxes full of my mugs in the mail.  The hardest thing about the last year was seeing them be broken (a few mugs were broken during one of our shipments). I liked delivering my mugs to people and knowing that people paid me for the mugs. 



    new prodcuts | product pitch competition -------------------------------------------The finished (first edition) product


     Read on for our Q&A with Jennifer Ash from MAX'IS Creations

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  • Journey to Launch: Yoga by Numbers Part II

    yoga by numbers

    This is the second installment in Elizabeth’s journey to launch on The Grommet. To read the first, click here.

    During Thanksgiving of 2012, close to a year after her health crisis began, Elizabeth had been practicing yoga diligently as a form of recovery and started to form the idea for Yoga by Numbers in her head. By June of 2013, she had working prototypes and by chance, met the Grommet team at an event held at their offices.

    The rest as they say, is history. When asked to describe her relationship with The Grommet, Elizabeth says “…meeting The Grommet and working with them to bring my product to market was like pouring gasoline on the fire. They provided so much of the expertise that I needed, including guidance, connections and tremendously smart people.” She then went on to tell me that entrepreneurship can be a lonely, isolating thing sometimes and others warned her of that early on. She was able to avoid the bulk of that with The Grommet’s help she says. “There was always someone to talk things through with, or bounce ideas off if I needed. It’s been truly wonderful.”

    yoga by numbers

    Her journey to launch on The Grommet has been a blessing, but hasn’t been without its challenges. Like most entrepreneurs, Elizabeth experienced roadblocks along the way. Manufacturing, she says was her biggest hurdle. It was her goal from the beginning to make a mat using ethical practices from an environmental and labor perspective and she wasn’t going to compromise her own values (although she was given many opportunities to do so). She needed to figure out a way to manufacture the mat according to her personal standards and then be able to explain why it would be more expensive than some mats out there. “We are on par with high end, brand name mats, even though the YbN mat is wider than most, made of natural rubber, made in the US, and comes printed with our design, which is what facilitates home practice. But we can’t compete with cheap vinyl mats on cost alone.” Getting the message to consumers that they get a big return on their investment has been challenging, says Elizabeth.

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  • Meet the Maker: Sarah Kaeck

    Here at The Grommet our mission is to put an end to nameless, faceless business and highlight the people and the stories behind the products we launch each day. And it's in that spirit that we're beginning a new blog series in which we can continue sharing the stories of our Makers with you. Get to know them better, learn more about their journeys as entrepreneurs and learn how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    In our second installment we're catching up with Maker Sarah Kaeck. Sarah is a Vermonter, gardener, and mom, and  has been a long time fan of organic farming and buying local produce. So it's only natural that when faced with the question of how to preserve half eaten fruits and vegetables, she felt uneasy wrapping all that goodness up in something as environmentally un-friendly as plastic. She founded Bee's Wrap and launched on The Grommet in November of last year.

    Meet the Maker | Maker Movement

    Read on for more of our Q&A with Sarah below.

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  • Journey to Launch: Yoga by Numbers Part I

    Product Launch | Yoga by Numbers Elizabeth in action as she shoots her first video.


    In a series of two installments, we’re sharing a special story of one of our Makers, Elizabeth Morrow, who recently launched her new product, Yoga by Numbers this month on The Grommet. An easy to learn yoga mat for beginners, along with an instructional DVD, this is Elizabeth’s first foray into entrepreneurship and below is a behind the scenes look at her story.

    In the early winter months of 2012, Elizabeth Morrow was a young, bright woman working as a human rights policy researcher in Boston. Like many urban dwellers, she lived in the culture of getting more done faster and scheduling her calendar with little room to slow down. She felt happy and successful. Then one day, everything changed. A major, unexpected health crisis hit Elizabeth fast and hard.  She was forced to learn how to slow down physically and emotionally. Fortunately, today Elizabeth is on the road to recovery and has her strong support system to thank. It was during this recovery period that she came to some realizations, giving her the opportunity to shift her life in a very positive, yet unforeseen way. A blessing in disguise, Elizabeth became an active yoga practitioner because it was a safe option for her to exercise in a low impact way during rehabilitation. She began to love how yoga made her feel, but didn’t always want to travel to a studio for class. Sometimes her schedule didn’t allow for it, not to mention the recurring expense. What she really wanted was the ability to practice at home if she needed. Yet she was new to yoga and didn’t know how to properly execute a down dog, let alone some of the other poses and postures. She needed someone there to guide her and correct poses if they were off, and DVDs didn’t provide the detail she was looking for as a newcomer. This got Elizabeth thinking about how more people could have access to yoga if home based practice was practical for beginners.  When I asked her what made her decide to go for it and officially pursue this as a business idea, she simply said, “I just went for it. I decided I was going to just figure it out.” And so she did.

    Product Launch Platform Posing for her photo shoot at The Grommet


     “I just went for it. I decided I was going to just figure it out.”

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  • Announcing: The 2nd Annual Product Pitch Contest

    how to pitch a productHave you ever had an innovative idea that could solve a common problem, change the world, or make something better? The founders of THINX did. Antonia Dunbar and sisters, Miki and Radha Agrawal, decided it was time to rethink women’s underwear. Last year, they entered our Product Pitch competition along with hundreds of other entrepreneurs for a chance to take their business to the next level. Voters at The Grommet’s 2013 Product Pitch Event agreed that THINX was that next great innovative idea and last week, they launched on The Grommet. You can see their video here.


    Now, right on the heels of last year's winner becoming a Grommet, we're warming up for our next 2nd Annual Product Pitch Season.



    Think your problem solver or hack has what it takes to be a Grommet? Great news, we're kicking off The 2nd Annual Product Pitch Contest and want to hear why your product should be our next winner.

    Submit your product for a chance to be one of 30 players to make it to the voting phase. Product submissions must fall into one of two categories: Ready for Crowdfunding or Ready for Market.  So, get those cameras rolling because we'll be asking for your video submissions beginning January 27, 2014.

    Here's first glance at our upcoming Product Pitch season

    Training Camp: The Submission Phase

    Submit your product for a chance to be one of 30 players (15 per category) to make it to the voting phase.

    Opening Day: January 27, 2014

    Closing Day: February 7, 2014

    Regular Season: The Voting Phase

    Vote daily to help your favorite product make it to the big leagues at the Final Pitch Event at Fenway stadium. The success of each contestant depends on the support of our community. So you'll want to keep the votes coming.

    Polls Open: February 17, 2014

    Polls Close: February 28, 2014

    Playoff Day March 20, 2014: The Final Pitch

    The top 3 most voted for products per category (6 products in all) will take their pitch to Fenway Park for a chance to be the Grand Prize Winner in their category.

    Click here for complete details on our 2014 Product Pitch event.


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