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Tag Archives: Interview

  • 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.

    Continue Reading

  • 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.

  • Meet the Maker: Loree Sandler of Let Them Eat Candles

    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 Loree Sandler of Let Them Eat Candles. Loree Sandler invented something even better than birthday cake–edible candles. After testing hundreds of prototypes, she finally came up with the winning chocolate design. Her favorite part of building a business? All of it. Loree has a hand in every aspect–from cutting wicks to tempering chocolate (she even labels and ships out each box). 

    MTM

    Tell us more about your design inspiration.
    I’m inspired by fine craftsmanship and simplicity–for instance Shaker tools and furniture, and Georg Jensen jewelry. Paradoxically, I’m drawn to “outsider” artists who create obsessively layered work. I’m inspired by nature, by clever use of materials, by innovators (I’m heartbroken by the recent death of architect Zaha Hadid). Also, I love things that are unexpectedly graphic or quirk–I collect painted game boards and hangers.

    What other things do you love to make?
    I’ve dabbled with ceramics, hot glass beads, and letterpress. I love to bake and knit.

    Edible Candles

    What has surprised you most about starting a business?
    The cliché: ‘It’s not personal, it’s business,’ is entirely false for me. Every last detail from concept to creation is my work: cutting wicks, tempering chocolate, labeling boxes, and shipping product. Each decision is mine, successes and mistakes alike. How is this not personal? Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Spencer Quinn of FiberFix

    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 Spencer Quinn of FiberFix. The idea for a tape that would harden like steal came to mind during a routine visit to the doctor's office, when the physician relayed a story about how, instead of duct tape, he once used medical casting tape to temporarily repair his ATV. This sparked Spencer's interest to start experimenting on how he could use this same material to fix things. 

    Meet the Maker FiberFix

    What did you want to be when you grew up?
    For as long as I can remember I wanted to own my own practice as a medical doctor, it took me several years in college to realize that what I really wanted was to own my own business.

    What three words best describe you as a Maker?
    Observant
    Patient
    Ambitious

    What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
    Challenge every assumption. Information and opinions flow freely with how accessible information is today. You really need to ask yourself whether the source you're receiving information is credible. You'll be surprised how hard it is to find credible sources today. Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Britta Cox of Aquis

    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 Britta Cox of Aquis. Britta leaned on her experience in fitness apparel and performance fabric to create a unique material that changes the way you dry your hair. Her product, Aquis, absorbs moisture without getting water-logged. 

    Meet the Maker of Aquis

    Tell us more about your design inspiration.

    I think I’m more of a creative thinker than an artist. I’m ever curious and observant and find inspiration from making connections in the world. I get pleasure from being resourceful and finding solutions. I grew up on a ranch where you learned how to figure things out, to use your hands, fix things, make things and to be observant. At a young age I interacted a lot with animals which instills instincts in you that can be used in many aspects throughout your life.

    What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
    You need competent and committed people to help you grow the business. Identify your core strengths and also your blind spots and then seek the right people, people and attitudes that will supplement your capabilities. Give them the canvas and the inspiration to deliver their best. Focus on executing what delivers real value rather than what feels good to you and create narrative in the process. For us entrepreneurs it is easy to get off track. We start a business because we are passionate about something, but you must start with your end goal and work backwards.

    Meet the Maker - Aquis Towel

    What three personality  traits do think have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
    Strong work ethic; Innate desire to be of high integrity; Level headed and able to juggle many things even under challenging conditions. Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Kat Nouri of Stasher

    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 Kat Nouri of Stasher. Frustrated with single-use plastic baggies, Kat decided to create an eco-friendly alternative—and now those one-use bags are a thing of the past.

    Meet the Maker Stasher

    What did you want to be when you grew up?
    I wanted to be a nurse, an artist, a farmer, an attorney–some for a minute, some for months. I changed my mind several times as I was growing up. But what I remember the most, was that my Mom was super passionate about her pursuit. She could never stop working because her work was her passion. As a result, her work was very much a part of who she was, and she did it whole hardheartedly. My Mom is a PHD in nutrition, with a spiritual upbringing. That became a part of our DNA. When I was a bit older I realized how lucky my Mom was that she was passionate about her work. If you are going to spend a good portion of your life at work, well you better love it or it's just not sustainable. I tried to follow that path and always encourage my kids to be true to themselves, and they will automatically be successful by knowing and feeling that their time is well spent on where they want to be.

    How do you get around creative blocks?
    I step away. I am a huge advocate of work/life balance. That is hard as I actually obsessively love what I do. I have to make myself not look at emails, Instagram, snapchat, to the point that I exhaust myself. But I am successful at shutting down, as I have three kids and a husband who always keeps me in check for our family balance. I love to play hard, as much as I like to work hard. When I do get away I have a lot of fun enjoying local food and culture. We live in Oakland, one of the most inspirational places in the country. The food, and the diversity in culture is amazing. I guess you could say, I can kick my creative block by just walking around the lake, and stopping at exceptional local eats with friends. There is abundant art from super cool Independent artists, music, and the weather is amazing most of the year.

    Meet the Maker of Stasher
    Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Tara Petrilli of Susquehanna Glass Co.

    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 Tara Petrill of Susquehanna Glass Co. Tara is part of this third-generation operation that has a 100+ year history of making etched glass in the USA. Susquehanna believes glass can have personal meaning and Tara is sharing a little more about her experience being a part of this long lasting company. 

    Meet the Maker

    Tell us more about your design inspiration.
    We're constantly developing new designs so, keeping a pulse on what’s trending on sites like Pinterest is a good starting point. Paying attention to advertising campaigns is also a good source of inspiration. Sometimes ideas simply pop into my head in the middle of the night.

    How do you get around creative blocks?
    I step away for a while or sleep on it. Approaching a block with a clear, fresh mind generally does the trick.

    MTM

    What did you want to be when you grew up?
    A veterinarian. So, not surprisingly, my favorite design theme is anything pet related. Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Mike Mallory of RAD

    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 Mike Mallory, the Co-Founder of RAD body massage tools. Mike (a biomechanics expert) and Dan McIntosh (a pro triathlete) put their brains and muscles together to redesign traditional body massage tools.

    rad

    What did you want to be when you grew up?

    Ages 4-8, I wanted to be a garbage man (who doesn't want to ride on the back of a truck the whole day right?). By ages 8-14 I wanted to be an orthodontist, and past that I wanted to be a mechanical engineer. My background in mogul skiing and mountain biking (and subsequent injuries) brought me back to study anatomy and therapy very deeply.

    What three personality traits do think have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?

    I have a unique background in engineering, design, and the body–the trifecta of those brought me to the perfect role at RAD.

    What lessons have you learned over the years that might help other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?

    The #RADLife isn't just about staying healthy and making great products, it's about hard work, task management, and picking up a broom if need be. Having a good product is just the ante for the game. Pushing it out into the marketplace takes discipline and an attitude for success; something my business partners have helped bring to the table in spades. Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Kami Darnell of Simple Sarongs

    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 Kami Darnell, the Maker behind Simple Sarongs. Necessity being the mother of invention, it makes sense that a mom came up with Simple Sarongs. Kami got the idea while playing with her children at the pool. She wanted something to throw on over her wet swimsuit that wouldn’t cling, fall off, or add bulk to her beach bag—or her body.

    Simple Sarong Maker

    Tell us more about your design inspiration.

    My design inspiration has really evolved over the past few years, but I think my first strategy was designing to coordinate with as many swimsuit colors as possible.  And since nearly everyone owns a black swimsuit, I wanted an element of black in all the designs.  With my first collection I could only afford to mass produce three designs, thus they were very colorful!  That really stuck, but now I watch fashion trends, and pick the designs that will hopefully appeal to women of all ages.  For example, last year I also saw a lots of crochet lace (in both swim and daywear) and so creating my Boho Chic Lace sarongs was a result of that.  It also was a way for me to do a “neutral” and still be a fun design.

    Any trends on the horizon that might influence new designs? 

    I’m really excited about pom poms this year! Tropical will always be in the mix, so I like to watch trends in designs there, as well as other global influences like Indian wood block printing and Moroccan tile prints.  I’m also thinking about doing an artistic take on the American flag since so many summer beach vacations happen around national holidays.

    Simple Sarong patterns

    How do you get around creative blocks?

    I use Pinterest and Google Images to search thousands of designs in the direction I’m going.  And I keep updating my Pinterest pages with inspirations all year long so I always have loads to pull from. Continue Reading

  • Straight from the Maker Trenches: Most Surprising Part Of Starting A Business

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs. If you've ever wondered what it's really like to start a company, you're in luck–our Makers are happy to share an inside look. Most of our Makers were everyday folks with a great idea—that became a business. Get a peek into the world of eight entrepreneurs about the challenges, rewards, and always-unpredictable path of building a company. We're constantly inspired by the business innovations and achievements of our Makers and thought you'd also enjoy hearing their honest answers.

    We couldn't pass up the opportunity to reach out to a few of them and get their answers to our burning question:

    What's the most surprising part of starting a business?

    Click each image or business name to learn more about them.

    How To Start A Company - Clear My Head

    "Everything! I didn't understand at first what building a brand was, I just wanted to sell some jars of some great stuff that really helped me and my clients. However, once I 'got' it, I was amazed at how detail oriented you must be on everything. It's exciting and overwhelming at the same time."  –Brenda Stansfield of Clear My Head 

    Maker Walton Wood Farm - How To Start A Company

    "I thought I would run out of ideas, but they just keep coming."  –Leslie Scott of Walton Wood Farm

    Modern Fuel - How To Start A Company

    "That the possibilities are endless. No matter what you are making you have no idea of the scale and opportunities it will bring along until you are in the thick of it." –Andrew Sanderson of Modern Fuel Continue Reading

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