Starting a Tween Website

Interview with Juliette Brindak, Co-Founder of Miss O & Friends

Juliette, along with her sister and parents, founded Miss O & Friends when she was 15 years old.

Miss O & Friends is a tween website created by tweens and for tweens.

Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?

Miss O & Friends is created and managed by girls who have outgrown Barbie, yet not ready for Britney, allows tween girls to be tween girls. Everything Miss O is by girls, for girls, providing opportunities girls want but could never buy - like having their original stories published and sold in bookstores across the country. Ultimately we help girls build self esteem, without them know it!

How did you come up with your business idea?

When I was 10 and had outgrown Barbie, not ready for Britney, I wanted to place where I could be just a tween girl. My sister, cousin, friends and I created what is now Miss O as an act of play - and we did it for 5 years, prior to starting a company. All the Miss O girls are actually real girls and everything Miss O continues to be by and for real girls.

Did you write a business plan? Was it an effective tool for you?

We have written many business plans to consider the changing business environment and economy. The business plan exercise is important, to make sure you have thought through your strategy, what is necessary to accomplish your goals and what translates to in terms of revenue and income. BUT things change all the time and a company that does not reflect change will not survive.

Who did you hire to help you? Bookkeeper, Accountants, Lawyers ...? Would you suggest others do the same?

We hired a CPA to do our taxes, a lawyer to set up our LLC, which includes creating an operating agreement, plus we hired free lance web programmers, coders and artist to take the content created by our tween girl audience and make it happen. Virtually all our content is based on input from our website community, as well as tween girls who actually write, create quizzes, etc.

What outside resources were helpful for you? Business incubators, Chamber of Commerce, SCORE, ....

Helpful resources: My Dad and Mom, our own savings, plus our Advisory Board Members who invested and guided us. Our Board includes Prof. Len Lodish, Wharton School, Maxine Clark, Build a Bear CEO, and others. My Mom is an artist and my Dad a marketing-business person.

>What is your greatest human resources challenge?

Our biggest challenge with this is that since all the work is done on a remote basis, you can't just walk into someone's office and brainstorm.

Did you operate your business from your home? What were the challenges and benefits to this strategy?

Yes , I work from home and from school. We also have over 20 partners, many who work for equity only, and also work from their homes. Today there are so many cottage businesses, and many qualified, experienced people who are too old to find a job in the corporate world, so we use these resources.

Did you have a partner when you started your business? How did you select a partner?

Yes, my Mom. Dad and sister. We did this together, because that's what it takes - a complete 100% effort on behalf of everyone.

What do you think are the benefits and challenges to running a family owned business?

One of our biggest challenges is to make sure we do not talk Miss O 100% of the time, otherwise, we can get disconnected as a family.

With the current economy in a slump, what cost saving tips would you have for a new entrepreneur?

Try to do as much as you can yourself. What this means is you need to wear many hats, be open to learning new things and that nothing is beneath you to learn.

What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?

Doing all the PR interviews, all the presentations to business partners and making sure we continue to be created and managed by tween girls, for tween girls.

How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?

It has been much harder than I thought. It is also tons of fun and not for those with thin skin!

What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?

The highs and lows are magnified 100 times, particularly when you have your own money on the line. Learn the weather the bumps.

Well Juliette, it sounds like you and your family are weathering the bumps just fine! Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us!

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