Claire Eads founded Bebe Dulce in 2008 in Aspen, Colorado.
Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
I make, design and sell gifts for babies and Mom's at Bebe Dulce.
How did you come up with your business idea?
I have always been a creative person. So when a couple of friends and relatives had babies, I made their gifts. I took a few products I had for my daughter and made them "better." Everybody I gave a gift to wanted to buy from me. I think it is safe to say, my business "fell in my lap."
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
I worked in the design department at a skiwear company. This is not my first business, for several years I had a side business where I made and sold semi-precious jewelry.
Did you operate your business from your home? What were the challenges and benefits to this strategy?
Yes and I still operate from home. I can work 5 minutes here and 30 minutes there. It works better with having a family because I can't always dedicate several hours to work at one time.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
For my business, I hired fellow Mom's to be sales reps. They have helped me to get into over 25 stores in just 6 months.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
I think I thought it would be easier. I mean it is my company and I am the boss, right? Yes, but that means every ounce of success relies on my decisions. I can't take vacations and go out of town or take a day off whenever I want. I have to always be available.
I have people tell me they want to start their own business so they can have more time with their family. Unfortunately that is not the case. It is by far the hardest job I have ever had but exceeds the most rewarding in every aspect.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
For almost the first year I worked on word of mouth sales and with my sales reps. I wish I would have done more active marketing and PR from the beginning. I quickly realized "word of mouth" can only take you so far.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Write a business plan with provisions. Do loads of research on all aspects especially marketing and PR. Know that the more research you do, the more things you can do yourself!
So true, Claire. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with our readers!