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  • London Harness in Massachusetts: A Grommet-selling Shop


    Many Main Street retailers meet the same Makers you do at The Grommet, filling their shelves with unique, innovative products. So shop local—it's another way our community can help small businesses succeed.London Harness, a Massachusetts shop with a 250+ year history, sells Grommets. Here's a bit about them.




    We were amazed to learn that it’s the country’s oldest luggage store, and we considered it a privilege to work at a business that's part of the fabric of what makes the Boston area so unique. As time went by, we realized how much we have in common, professionally and personally, and yet little did we know that we would make some of our own history here.


    First, we discovered our shared passion for serving customers as if they’re family. It’s how we like to express our sense of hospitality, and the importance of community, which reflects who we really are.


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  • Strong Women Building Strong Girls

    Recently, I've been thinking more and more about the considerable work that still needs to be done in the fight for women's equality.

    On February 7th, we launched ‘100 Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls’ from the brilliant Timbuktu Labs. As the title suggests, the book dispatches with the tired princess in a castle fairy tale and instead tells the stories of 100 real women whose tales have been even more fantastic–who didn’t need knights in shining armor to make them happen.


    That afternoon, a video message from Hillary Clinton produced by MAKERS, the storytelling platform for women by women, hit my Twitter feed. She encouraged her audience to ‘dare greatly and lead boldly.’ It was Clinton’s first real public appearance since the election and an echo of her message to the nation’s female youth during her concession.

    “To all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams."

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  • Meet the Maker: Jennifer Nevins of Savor

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Today, we're catching up with Jennifer, one of the mom-inventors behind Savor. Jennifer, together, with Karla, created a thoughtfully designed keepsake system that is and meant to be seen. Hear more about how these Makers  got their start and what they've as entrepreneurs. 

    Meet the Makers of Savor

    How do you get around creative blocks?
    Research. Research. Research. After we hash out together what we think are the best ideas we can muster, we convene focus groups of relevant audiences. We try to have folks we don't really know in these groups so we can solicit honest advice. We are also constantly engaging with our consumers to see what they like and what they don't like.

    Best creative advice that you ever received?
    Make sure that you're not so attached to a creative idea that you forget your consumer's needs. We value aesthetics greatly, but we also need to make sure our product solves a problem.

    What three personality traits do think have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
    Courage (to fail, to ask, to put ourselves out there), attention to detail, and sticktoitiveness (it's actually a word–we checked).

    maker Quote Savor

    What lessons have you learned over the years that might help other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
    Making a business succeed is about much more than having a good idea or a good product. We've had to wrangle with shipping, warehouses, freight, factories, accounting, web design, Google analytics, trade shows, gift wrap, you name it. Most of it is not glamorous, but any break in the chain can keep your business from succeeding. To be successful, you need to feel like none of it is beneath you and all of it is worth doing (even the parts you hate). When we are freaking out having spent two hours on the phone with UPS, we try to think that the fun is in the problem-solving and the reward is that we have truly touched our customers with a product they respond to.

    Maker Photos

    "We work wherever we are. Karla still holds another job and has two kids and I, Jenny, have a household of three kids, so we have to be flexible about when and where we can meet together. Sometimes it's very early weekend mornings or late weekday nights."

    What has surprised you most about starting a business?
    We are constantly amazed at the time people take to tell you how much they love your product or to give helpful feedback. We aren't people who fill out reviews or surveys, so we are surprised and delighted that on a daily basis our customers want to talk to us and share our products with their friends. By far, talking with the end-users of our product is the best part of our job. Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker Podcast - Gavin Armstrong of Lucky Iron Fish

    Commenter_LuckyIronFishGavin Armstrong is the CEO of Lucky Iron Fish, a certified b-corps making actual iron fish that you can drop in a pot of soup or cup of tea to get 75% of your daily iron intake. For every Lucky Iron Fish purchased, one is donated to a family suffering from iron deficiencies - an initiative that began in Cambodia and is now being spread worldwide.

    Gavin talks about his experience working in impoverished countries and his passion for sustainable businesses leaving a global impact. He also discusses the challenges that come with running a business with such a mission and what he sees as the future of Lucky Iron Fish.


    Like what you hear? Listen to the rest of the Meet the Maker Podcast series here then rate, review, and subscribe on iTunes

  • Meet the Maker: Rhonda Francis of Fairy Fastener

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Today, we're catching up with Rhonda Francis, one part of the triplet-Makers behind Fairy Fastener. Rhonda, Terri, and Lou put their identical problem-solving heads together to solve an everyday issue—how to put on necklaces and bracelets all by yourself. These entrepreneurial ladies call themselves the Fairies—and their jewelry clasp helpers Fairy Fasteners. We recently chatted with Rhonda to learn more about her entrepreneurial journey. 

    makers of fairy fastener Terri, Rhonda, and Lou–Makers of Fairy Fastener


    How do you get around creative blocks?
    We have been fortunate to know and be introduced to some wonderfully creative and talented people. It takes a village to raise a child, much like the creative development of an idea. We're not afraid to ask for input and guidance. It's amazing how supportive people have been.

    Best creative advice that you ever received?
    Build prototypes, test them. Conduct test market product reviews.

    What three personality traits do think have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
    That's a funny question, because our company was founded by triplet sisters. My brother always said I had a third of a brain.  :)
    I feel that the strongest traits for all three of us are, being passionate, commitment to our ideas and to each other, and accepting and embracing risk.

    meet the maker of Fairy Fastener

    What lessons have you learned over the years that might help other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
    It will be much harder then you think, but you will get past those awkward and uncomfortable moments. You can't do it alone. Choose people to take on responsibilities that are not your strengths. Don't think that you can manage every aspect of a start up. Look at the big picture and develop a solid business plan before you make large financial commitments. Know your target market and develop strategies for them.

    What has surprised you most about starting a business?
    I have learned more then I thought I could, would, or should. I amaze myself, my partners, and my family on my ability, tenacity, and endurance to develop a brand that my sisters and I are proud to sell. Continue Reading

  • The Power of Small

    “We all succeed when small businesses succeed.” You heard this line ad nauseum throughout the election cycle, but practically, outside of a sound bite, what does that look like?

    It starts by looking something like this.


    We are Jules Pieri and John Venhuizen, the CEOs of The Grommet and Ace Hardware and we are bridging local store owners, Makers – and you, to help small businesses thrive.

    We passionately believe that there is power in small. The small business. The little guy. The dreamer. The inventor whose vision could be the next big thing. The folks who wake up every day with a chip on their shoulder because they have to duke it out against the shackles of bureaucracy and the Goliaths of business every day. We believe that there is a liberating strength and might in our collaboration.

    We share many of the same goals. We want to strengthen Main Street. We want to amplify the maker movement and launch a new and different kind of industrial revolution. We’re working together to bring more early-stage businesses into your backyard. This creates jobs for people you probably know, gives you higher quality products and bolsters your local economy.


    We believe in the consumer. We know that consumers yearn for more than cookie-cutter, commoditized, generic stuff anyone can get from nearly every store. We know that consumers still believe in discovery, values-driven brands and a local face behind their retail purchases.

    We firmly believe that there is more to the shopping experience than just faceless interactions and drone delivery. Together, Ace and The Grommet, we can offer our customers more of what we believe makes America special, the unbridled creativity of the local entrepreneur.

    And we’re not budging. We’ve seen the business landscape stacked against the underdog for too long. The way we can tip the scales is by investing in innovation. So we will. And we hope you join us.

    You play a vital part in this success. We humbly ask for your continued support. Visit your local Ace, try these innovative products from the Grommet. It takes tenacity, guts and grit to build a company and help it grow. Learn more about our collaboration that’s putting Grommets in Ace stores in your neighborhood, including more than 170 locally-owned Ace Hardware stores just last month.

    Thank you for your support, for supporting small.


  • Meet the Maker: Hope Klocker and Jules Vranian of Sweet Jules Caramels

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Today, we're catching up with Hope Klocker of Sweet Jules CaramelsHope and her sister, Jules Vranian  were born into a family of culinary pros and restaurateurs, and have built one sweet business using only natural ingredients, sourced from around the world. We wanted to know more about Hope's journey as an business owner and what advice she has for those just starting out on their own entrepreneurial journey. 

    Meet the Maker of Sweet Jules Caramels

    Ho do you get around creative roadblocks?
    Caramel as a base is receptive to an endless number of flavors so we really don’t have blocks with creativity. Our problem is more what “not” to make! We make caramels in a dozen flavors now.

    Best creative advice that you ever received?
    You need to know what your ingredients have to offer in flavor, texture, and smell. Apply creativity and expert technique when those qualities speak to you.

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  • Meet the Maker Podcast: Will Carswell of Zen Art Puzzles

    commenter_zenWhen you think of puzzles, you think of 1,000 pieces, finding the corners, and taking hours to complete it. Zen Art Puzzles buck the traditional stereotypes. Each puzzle is laser cut from premium birchwood here in America. They're just a few hundred pieces and you can try to find the corner pieces, but there may be six of them. With piece designs ranging from traditional jigsaw to moose silhouette, Zen Art puzzles give you an imaginative way to relax.

    Will Carswell, one of 23 puzzle makers in the U.S. talks about the intricacies of each puzzle and the care he and his company put into each piece of his business from manufacturing in America to using eco-friendly materials for each product.


    To learn more about Zen Art Puzzles and to purchase, click here.

    Like what you hear? Listen to the rest of the Meet the Maker Podcast series here then rate, review, and subscribe on iTunes

  • Meet the Maker: Mo Seetubtim of The Happiness Planner

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Today, we're catching up with Mo Seetubtim of The Happiness Planner. Happiness is what most of us want more of. And Mo made a daily planner that doesn’t just focus on ticking off a to-do list. It helps you find the good in the everyday. Hear Mo on how she handles creative blocks and how her happiness-boosting business has grown.

    Meet the Maker of The Happiness Journal

    How do you get around creative blocks?
    Sometimes you try so hard to figure out an idea, but it wouldn't come out and then you have a "bing" moment when you're in the shower! This has happened way too many times that I don't stress over creative blocks anymore. I know when it comes, it comes.
    I also use Evernote to take notes–shower notes, stuck-in-traffic notes, insomnia notes. Then, I can look back to those ideas again when I feel like I'm ready to start writing or working on the project.
    Usually I would go on the internet and search for articles related to what I want to write about or design. Reading different articles and seeing other people's point of view usually give me an idea to a certain extent. I'd jot down the key points that I like and I would ponder upon them later so I could extend on those points.  If by that point, I still feel stuck, I would go for a walk, hit the gym, play the piano, or just go get some food from a cafe I've never been to before.
    I don't try to force myself out of creative blocks much. Usually when you're stressed and busy, it's hard to let your creative juices come out. You just wait until you relax and the light bulb moment will come on unexpectedly.
    Best creative advice that you ever received?
    You have to have one single core idea or message. That's one big thing I learned in advertising. You can't tell people that your product is good for A, B, E, H, M, S, and Z. You have to tell your customers that your product is good for A and expand on the A point to A1, A2, A3. At least in one ad, there needs to be only ONE key message or core idea. Otherwise you confuse the customers and they don't remember what you truly stand for.
    happiness journal
    What three personality traits do think have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
    Determined, creative, strategic.
     I've always been very determined since little. If you ask my parents to describe a trait I possess, they'd say "determination" (I actually asked them that last time I was home). I've always been a high achiever since back in kindergarten. Being self-actualized makes me happy. I set high goals for myself to achieve and I almost always achieve them. I'm very focused and determined. And I know the value of hard work  and the power of one's willpower and focus. These have proven to me so many times that if I pour all of my heart and soul into something, it will come out however amazing I want it to be. But if I half-heartedly do something, the outcome might be mediocre and not pleasing.  Though, I cope with disappointments well and take them as lessons. My point is if you want to succeed in something great, you have to be very determined.
    Creative. I always think about how I and my brand could be different. Differentiation is key to everything–getting your brand and message out there, getting recognized, and becoming liked. You can't attract others or stand out if your product or your brand looks like everything else out there because then you're just another X brand. You need to be creative with the attributes of your brand–from functionality to aesthetics.
    Strategic. I am pretty strategic in my thinking (both in life and business). In life, that is what helps me turn life experiences into wisdoms (which I then pass onto our readers/customers). In business, I always think strategically about the industry, the market, the brand, and the customers. What do/did the other brands do that help them become successful? What are their marketing and business strategies? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How can we do something different and become superior? Strategy is when you think one or two steps ahead of the game.
    Meet the Maker Mo Seetubtim Quote
    What lessons have you learned over the years that might help other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
    Find your unique value proposition. A lot of people start a business just because they think it's a nice idea. A nice idea doesn't sell and doesn't last. You need to do something that you are truly good at and are absolutely passionate about. What is it that you are so uniquely good at that others can't compete with you? For me, it's my words of wisdom and my vision in life . I've always wanted to inspire people since I was little, to live a life of passion and purpose–it's the ethos behind our brand and our story. It will always be there. The way I think is ... uniquely the way I think. My voice is uniquely my voice. I have found my unique talents and I then mastered them and turned them into my calling that becomes the service I offer to the world. Find your unique talents and turn them into your unique value proposition.
    What has surprised you most about starting a business?
    That if you create something that truly adds value to people's lives, your business will sell in itself. I never put much effort into advertising. Of course, we have content (blog posts and quotes) which you can say we use content marketing, but the content has been there way long before I started selling The Happiness Planner. I started writing those blog posts several years before I had the business idea. So it's very authentic. I didn't write those articles to sell something. I wrote them specifically because I wanted to share my words of wisdom and the lessons I learned in life. So it surprises me how well The Happiness Planner has been received given that I haven't done much advertising. And it's because The Happiness Planner truly adds value to people's lives so people want to tell their friends and family about it and recommend those they love to use it too. 
    What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
    10 years ago I was only 18. I just finished high school and was about to move to Australia. I would probably tell myself not to worry too much. You can make your dreams come true. There's no need to rush. Go one step at the time. You'll get there when the time is right. I was such an ambitious kid and I wanted to accomplish so much in life. But sometimes when you're young and are just starting out, you can be confused and not sure about the path you're taking - you might even be getting a lot of No's and face closed doors. It's okay to remember that even though a No always seems bad at the time, it's just a part of life. The right door will open when you find it. Just keep walking and learning more about what you're passionate and becoming the best at what you're good at. If you want to be successful, you have to be the best in your field. So keep building on your strengths and innate talents. 

    To learn more about The Happiness Planner, watch our video here.

  • Packaging Design Tips for Your New Product

    New consumer products are entering the market at an increasingly rapid rate. Thanks to crowdfunding platforms and the accessibility and affordability of prototyping, it’s never been easier to launch a product.

    What most entrepreneurs don’t realize is that after the PR and sales high of crowdfunding or initial run of success wears off, sales typically slow. If you find yourself at this point, it’s time to start planning for “what’s next.”

    Packaging Design

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