Curiosity is such a wonderful thing. It ignites our imagination, fires up our desire to learn and it can steer us toward remarkable discoveries. Granted, it’s the world-altering discoveries that get the most attention, like the theory of relativity or the first hybrid cars. But even on a smaller scale, curiosity and creation can transform your life, and often many of those around you.
First, though, you need to follow where these things lead.
I think everyone has visions of things they’d like to create. For me, it started with a pair of earrings I had in mind. A friend of mine knew I loved jewelry and showed me how to use beads to transform the jewelry ideas dancing around my imagination into something I could wear. That was the first time an image in my mind became a reality in my hands – or ears, in this case – and it fascinated me.
Those earrings became a hobby, which eventually became a small handcrafted jewelry business. The bit of success I had with that generated a curiosity about what it would take to create a much bigger business, one based on my visions of handbag designs. And so Rebagz were born a little over two years ago, and that led to some wonderful things this year, like appearances on QVC, in InStyle magazine and being named California Small Business of the Year.
Doesn’t that all sound so simple? If only it had been for me. To be honest, during those first several months of putting my bag line together and then launching it, I kept repeating one of my favorite sayings to myself: Fall down seven times, get up eight times. Though in my case, I fell splat on my butt at least 20 times.
Because I didn’t know the first thing about manufacturing! I had to figure it out all on my own. Talk about a challenge! But after the first six months or so, I finally figured out that there were clear, specific steps I had to follow, steps that could be categorized clearly.
What a relief! I finally had an organized way to go about creating my designs and getting them to my “warehouse” – which was my garage at the time – and from there out to my customers. If only I had known at the very beginning what I know now. If only…
I think a lot of people get curious about a certain product idea they’d like to create, but then think “If only…” and stop in their tracks.
– “If only I knew how much this product would cost me to make…”
– “If only I knew the first thing about manufacturing…”
– “If only I knew how to make money from the ideas I have in my head…”
I had all those “if only’s” and a bunch more just a few years ago. I now know how to do all these things – but talk about a learning process! I’m happy to report, however, that those “if only’s” have happily been transformed into “did you know’s”, as in:
Did you know there are great websites like www.Alibaba.com and www.Conglomerate.net to help you find companies who want to make your products? And that you can find out about manufacturers in many foreign countries with just a single phone call? Hint: embassies and consulates almost always have trade representatives who’d love to talk to people like you.
– Did you know that, once you’ve set up all your costs properly in an Excel spreadsheet, calculating changing product costs can be as easy as adjusting a single number? Set up different columns for each of your product costs, including labels and such. Then set up equations that add these costs together. That way, if the cost of your labels goes up by a penny, you just need to adjust that one number and then Excel recalculates the rest for you.
– Did you know there’s a way to “work” those big trade shows without paying those huge exhibiting fees? Attend one as an exhibitor instead and attend the seminars the appeal to the retailers you’d like to sell to. It’s a great way to network and meet the buyers you want to connect with.
Curiosity can lead us not only to make our ideas and dreams a reality but also, if we follow where it’s leading us, it can uncover a shiny new business for us. It’s just a matter of figuring out the steps along the way.
So, I have to ask, aren’t you just a little curious about where your curiosity can lead you – and what discoveries you may uncover and what wonders you may encounter along that path? The world craves your inventiveness and ingenuity. Don’t be shy – share yourself instead.
By Marty Stevens Heebner
SMARTY Peer to Peer Expert
Creator, Rebagz Eco-Chic Handbags
President, Manufacturing the Right Way
To attend Marty’s workshop “Taking the ‘Man’ Out of Manufacturing: How to Turn Your Product Idea Into a Profitable Reality” please click here.