Starting a Green Accessories Business

Interview with Tina Wick, Owner and Designer of Greenpurse

Tina Wick's gathered inspiration for her Greenpurse accessories line from a variety of places, including a childhood business transaction. In this interview, read about how these disparate inspirations came together to form a successful business.

Interview with Tina Wick, Owner and Designer of Greenpurse.

Interview with Tina Wick Owner and Designer of Greenpurse

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

Greenpurse designs and produces purses, bags, home decor, costume jewelry and accessories from vintage, reclaimed and recycled materials.

When did you start the business?

Greenpurse's inception was September 10, 2007. We're located in Kohler, Wisconsin.

What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?

Odd Job, my first business, will celebrate their 12th anniversary in September. Before 1998 I worked at an ad agency as a production artist.

How did you come up with your business idea?

The idea really started with the name. I was completing a purse for myself when the name Greenpurse came to me. I can recall saying to myself, "That would be a great name for a business!" It must have been at the back of my mind since I was a kid, because I sold my first purse when I was in the 8th grade for $7. Albeit not "green" it was inspired by the purse I was carrying that was made from leftover yarn my sisters had given me. I cogitated what a business like that could be and by the next morning I was hard at it, making purses from old jeans and the like.

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

I did and still do operate Greenpurse from my home. In 2007 when I first began, I still had two children living in the house, so it seemed to make sense financially and otherwise to have my office at home. My computer was in a hallway and I used the kitchen, living room and dining room as my work area. Not having a work space was almost the demise of the business. It drove me nuts to have to clean up projects every day before making dinner just to have to haul it all out again the next day. My children are all grown now and on their own, freeing up a bedroom I made into my studio.

For women entrepreneurs, what specific advice would you have for young women who would like to become an entrepreneur? Are there specific advantages, disadvantages to being a women business owner?

In my opinion, it is still a man's world. Maybe it always will be. Maybe that is the way it is supposed to be. As hard as we try to make the playing field even it just never ends up in our favor. I believe women get some advantages, if you want to call it that, when working for a business or government, but in the entrepreneurial arena it's rough. I think we are viewed as not being as smart, tough or savvy as our male counter parts. Nonetheless, I would do it all over again, and probably will. What a ride!

Green business is all the rage right now. Has it really been practical for you as an entrepreneur to incorporate green business practices?

"Green" businesses are the rage indeed and rightly so! I know this sounds really simple but not that long ago I came to the realization that everything we have comes from nature. EVERYTHING! What we eat, drink, breathe, wear, drive, you get the picture. That being said, every one of us should be doing all we can to preserve earth and our atmosphere. It's not as hard as you think it is to be "green". Air dry your hair instead of blow drying, turn out the lights when leaving a room, walk instead of drive. These are all simple ways to begin "greening" your life!

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

Learn as much as you can! The more you know about all areas of your business, the more you can do yourself. We all need help from time to time and we should seek it out. I run most all aspects of my business myself, from the design and production, to the website and promotions. I hire temp and professional services as needed.

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

Do your research and talk to other entrepreneurs. Take the things you don't like about other businesses and do the opposite. For example: I hate when companies hook you by telling you it is free and then charge you postage and handling or some other hidden fee; when I run freebies, they truly are FREE. Be realistic and honest, with yourself too! You'll need a thick skin and a ton of sticktoitiveness.

Sticktoitiveness is definitely a necessity for any entrepreneur. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Tina.

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