Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Prodigal Bride Returns


I don't know what else to say, except "Oy". And "I'm sorry for being away so long". And "Is this year over yet?!".

It was a year of ups and downs, both personally and professionally. I know I am not alone when I say that 2008 has kicked my ass. I have heard it from friends, neighbors, customers, vendors, colleagues. It's like we're white-knuckling it until 2009 shows it's head.

I know the last time there was a break in blogging around these parts, there were major changes. But I do not have any plans to sell or shut down PaperBride and PaperMama. I have been working hard to keep my head above water and fill orders and update the websites and work on a marketing strategy. While it would be SO great to hire someone to help me, I just don't have the funds. Or the time. Or the energy.

Don't cry for me, Argentina. I will figure it all out. I am still working on new products and redesigning our currently lines. I just hate feeling like I have disappointed people, especially the amazing people that make PaperBride and PaperMama possible.

So please accept my apology for being away so long, or not answering your email right away, or not returning your phone call when I said I would or showing up late for that meeting, or not commenting on your blog.

Here's hoping you will hang in here with me. 2009 is going to be our year!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Summer Summer Summertime...

I am so sorry about the blogging break. It seems like I barely turned around and the summer is almost over and my To Do list is 12 times longer than it was 3 months ago. YIPE! And is it me or is it harder to work when it's a million degrees outside and the beach (or pool or sprinkler) is calling your name?

Nonetheless, I've got some great things happening at PaperBride and PaperMama and the gears are in motion to roll out some new products. Woo wee! I am also amping up our advertising and hopefully, you will be seeing our products on more and more sites and in magazines.

Now, it's back to the beach. A girl's gotta have her priorities straight, doesn't she?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Office Space

I recently signed up for a Ladies Who Launch incubator (not sure if I mentioned that) and one of the homework assignments was to clear some space. What a great excuse to start working on a home office!

Virginia Woolf was right. Every woman needs a room of their own. That goes double if you are trying to run a business from your home. However, some of us don't have a square (foot) to spare.

I really was dreading it because I thought it would be hard to set up a working office in our cramped apartment. But anything has to be better than working from the dining room table. And since LA doesn't have anything as cool as Sunshine Suites, I had to call in my guru, Paper Sister, and we got creative!

My sister is an elementary teacher but could have a second career as a professional organizer/decorator. She can walk into a room and immediately tell you 3 things you could do to make your space better. Which is exactly what she did when I said that I needed to turn my dining area into an office but wasn't sure what to do. And how to do it without spending a lot of money.

The first thing we did was flip the dining room table (I really wish I had taken Before photos) so that we would have a little more space in our dining nook.

I have been coveting Nicole's studio/office ever since I saw it on Making It Lovely. So after taking some measurements, Paper Sister announced that we would be able to fit in an Expedit shelving unit! Hot dog! We were off to Ikea.

We picked up one of these and added some slide-in drawers to give me a place to hide stuff. What? I can't be neat and organized ALL the time.

The top of this bookcase is the PERFECT size to hold my laptop, printer, postage machine and some pictures. The cubes hold everything from shipping supplies to the postage meter. And because I know that my boy Bubba will want to play office with me, I gave him a cube filled with crayons, paper, and a phone.

I am so excited about the way it turned out and I love having a place of my own. It just makes me feel like I can accomplish anything.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

It's A Small World, Afterall

This week I had coffee with Meri Zeiff of VeryMeri. She is Erica's cousin and such a delight! We discussed all things entrepreneurial, picked each other's brains and had a great time. And it turns out we are neighbors at Baby Celebration LA! Our booths are right next to each other.

Check out Meri's adorable shirts. I am picking up the "Go Green" shirt for Bubba.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Chic Shop of the Week

I just had to share that we were picked as Chic Shops Baby Shop of the Week!

Woo Hoo!

This was just what I needed after a long week of wrestling with MSPs.

Thanks to everyone at CSB for giving PaperMama such a great shout-out!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Merchant Serivce Providers

*Updated below*

"What is a Merchant Service Provider?", you may ask.

Well don't look at me! I have no idea. I have been on hold for the last 28 minutes with Authorize.net to try and figure it out.

I opened the PaperBride and PaperMama sites last week and have been fulfilling and shipping orders, whistling while I work. Then I noticed that I wasn't getting paid. And I stopped whistling.

I am no expert (obviously) but it seems that Authorize.net only checks to see if the credit card is legit. They don't actually CHARGE the card. Ok, so what good is that? Why wouldn't they just go the extra step (espeically since I am paying them)? Apparently, I need to sign up with ANOTHER service to have them charge the card and deposit the funds into my account. Another service that will charge me another fee for every order.

I must say, this seems like quite a racket! Why isn't there one site/service that does it all? Is there and I just don't know about it?

If you have any answers (or even helpful hints), bring them on!

Updated to add: Well I finally got through! It seems I was mistaken about the whole MSP thing (I told you I wasn't an expert). Authorize.net did hook me up with an MSP (CyberSource) so that wasn't my problem. I am still digging to get to the bottom of this. Right now, I feel like the money is just hanging in the air, like that scene from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, where they send the chocolate bar to the television set.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Mom2B Recap

I survived my first tradeshow!!

I didn't get as many orders as I would have liked but overall, the show was a great learning experience. For example, I learned to ask more questions about the buyers & exhibitors before forking over my booth deposit. This particular show is very apparel-heavy so a lot of the buyers were only interested in clothing. Everyone that stopped by the PaperMama booth loved what they saw, so that was encouraging!

On the bright side, I met so many wonderful ladies, mompreneurs, etc.

Renae Plant of [bump] babies was not only my booth neighbor, but it turns out we live in the same neighborhood in LA. A very cool coincidence. I blame Renae 100% for the severe case of baby fever that I contracted at the show. This mama was working the show with her 2 week old son who was beyond adorable. After 3 days drooling over him, I am ready to start negotiations for Baby #2.

Another neighbor was the super-sweet Heather of Brealyn Bounty Bug. Her and BFF Crissy were the comic relief for our row. Such a fun pair of gals. Heather created the Prego Planner and I have to tell you, for a Type A gal like me, this is just what I need once Baby #2 is confirmed.

I also got to meet a gal from Earth Mama Angel Baby. I LOVE this company! All their products are 100% toxin-free, cruelty-free, vegan and best of all, they smell yummy. During my first pregancy, I lubed up with their Stretch Oil, morning and night. I swear by this stuff - I had a 10+lb baby and not ONE stretch mark. They also have this fantastic Happy Mama spray that cures nausea, post-partum blues and calms down cranky toddlers.

OK, well I am off to finish unpacking my wares and start planning for the next show. I will be exhibiting at Baby Celebration LA in April. After doing more research, this show seems to be a good fit.

If there are any SoCal moms who would like to go to the show, contact me and I will hook you up with some passes.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Pick your corporation type!

As Erica mentioned many moons ago, one of the first BIG decisions you make as a business-owner is what kind of business you are going to own. I know you're thinking, "No duh Liz! I want to open a sandwich shop that only makes ice cream sandwiches!" Well, that's great - but that's not what I mean. I'm talking taxes.

When you decide to throw your hat into the enterpreneurial ring, you have to decide how you want Uncle Sam to take his share. There are lots of choices: Sole Proprietorship, C-Corp, S-Corp, Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), (This site has a great chart that outlines the pros and cons of each choice.)

For me, it came down to S-Corp vs. LLC. Having worked at a business management firm, I had experience with setting up both types of corporations and I had a basic knowledge of the pros and cons. After doing a bit more research and talking to the Numbers Team, I decided to go with the S-Corp.

This is one of the most important decisions you will make. Every state is different so do your research and talk to an accountant and a lawyer.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

MOM2B Tradeshow

So, I am not sure if I mentioned that both of the sites are going live on March 1st. Yay! Very exciting/nerve-wracking/cold-sweat-inducing.

And because I just love to have a full plate at all times, I am exhibiting PaperMama at the Mom2B Tradeshow in Vegas on March 3rd and 4th. Which means I am leaving LA on March 1st to drive to Vegas and start setting up. What was I thinking?! The same day my sites go live, I head out of town?

This will be my first tradeshow and I am excited and confident that things will go well. Mind you, I have no idea what to expect but I think this is a great opportunity to show off PaperMama. Plus, I just found out that we will be the only stationery booth at the show. Sweet!

As always, Erica has been a fountain of knowledge and support. She has a lot more experience with much bigger tradeshows. I have taken her words of wisdom to heart (comfortable shoes - check). It is so nice to have someone who knows what you are going through and can give you advice, tell you that everything will be fine and basically remind you to breathe.

In addition to getting everything together for the Go Live date, I have also been running around getting all my tradeshow stuff in order. I ordered some wholesale order forms from Carbonless Forms, which I am really excited about. Here's a little nugget about me: I love to file and organize. So the idea of writing up an order, giving the buyer a copy and then processing the order and filing my copy makes me a bit giddy. I know, I know. Weird. Love me or leave me, people.

I have also been working on getting press kits together. That's a fun but daunting task. There are so many components. I am going to do my best to post a picture when I am done. If I don't remember, remind me. I need a gentle nudge every now and again.

Ok, I am off to finish our press release and try to cross off at least 5 of the 254,264,267 things on my To Do list.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Buying a Business

In the previous post, I may have glossed over how I came to the decision to buy Paper Bride and Paper Mama. While it was a quick gut reaction, I still did my due diligence and research. My mama didn't raise a fool.

Although I am someone who "goes with her gut", I also love to research. So I put a lot of thought into whether or not to buy this lil' company. Sure, my decision started with "I should buy this company!" but it was quickly followed by a lot of questions. Questions like "How can I buy this company?", "What does it mean to buy a company?", and many, many more. There is so much great information on buying a business out there. This article on Entrepreneur.com was the starting point for me.

Before asking Erica any questions, I asked myself some. Why do I want to buy this company? What are my financing options? Where can I take these brands? How would I market them? Once I did some loan research, sketched out product ideas and marketing strategies, I decided to contact Erica and ask her some questions.

Our first conversation proved my gut right. Erica and I hit it off and we shared the same vision for PaperBride and PaperMama. We talked about fun stuff (products, marketing strategies and bad reality TV) and serious stuff (inventory, finances, roadblocks). Afterward, I knew that I wanted to make Erica an offer she couldn't refuse. So it was time to talk to the Numbers Team.

I consulted with 2 lawyers, an accountant and a business manager (like a lawyer-accountant hybrid) to make sure this all made financial sense. Luckily, I worked for a business management company for almost 5 years so my consultations were all free. Even if you have to pay, this is a crucial step. My numbers team went over the figures (mine & Erica's), reviewed my tax options (LLC vs. S-Corp), and asked all the questions that I forgot to ask (copyrights, who knew?).

Armed with lots of information and a gut feeling, I made Erica an offer, and as they say, the rest was history.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Oh...well....hi there!

Thanks for the great intro Erica!

So I think this may count as my first official public "oh crap, how do I do that?" moment. Because I have NO idea what to say. (This should not be confused with the many private "oh crap, how do I do that?" moments I have had since purchasing PaperBride and PaperMama. But more on those later.)

OK, let's get the formalities out of the way. My name is Liz and, like Erica, I am a native New Yorker. I have been living in LA for over 10 years and I like to think I have a nice mix of East Coast/West Coast sensibilities. I have been married to Jim for 5 years and we have a son who debuted right around the time PaperMama was launched. Coincidence? You decide.

I am so excited to be taking over the reins at PaperBride and PaperMama. I couldn't agree more with Erica's sentiments about the universe lining up. I have L.O.V.E. loved PaperBride and PaperMama from the get-go and when I read that they were for sale, my first thought was "Oh that's too bad. I hope she finds a cool buyer." My Eureka moment came a moment later when I thought "Hey, why don't I buy them?!"

Cut to 6 months later: PaperBride and PaperMama are packing up and heading West - kinda like Thelma & Louise but with a better ending (hope hope). I hope you will all stick around for the ride.

And Erica - you are SO my guest for the Oprah show!

She Came, She Sold, She Conquered

There's nothing I love more than when things just work out in life--like when you wish/hope/plan/think about something and the universe lines up for you and says: "hell, yeah!"

It was seriously scary for me the first time I actually acknowledged the idea of selling my business. It had been floating around in my head for a few weeks before I blurted it out to my husband one night. Once I faced its existence, my idea moved in with me--it was almost like a third roommate that didn't have a lot of friends and needed all of my attention, so of course I obliged. There was a big part of me that felt like I was giving up and throwing in the towel (which I hated), but was I really giving up by saying "hey, I can't do this anymore, but I betchyoo there is someone else out there who could."

I thought not.

This is where the universe came in. I started researching the process of selling your business-- talking to business brokers, networking with friends, looking into purchasing ads in trade magazines, posting online. Then I decided that I may as well just post something on my blog as it was free, easy, and I had absolutely nothing to lose. And, so I did...and, miraculously, it worked.

I'm not saying that the best way to sell your business is to post a for sale sign on your blog, but it kinda worked out like a charm for me. Lo and behold, I found a smart, sassy, cool LA mom who I knew just "got it" within the first few minutes of our phone call. She's way more organized than I ever was, is excited about taking the brands to the next level, and could not be more of a perfect fit for both Paper Bride and Paper Mama. She'll probably make millions of dollars doing all of the things that I should have done and didn't, end up on Oprah (in which case you BETTER get me a ticket to the show!) and make the cover of Entrepreneur magazine.

We thought it might be fun to document the process of passing the baton as I hit the road, and she comes screaming around the corner in her Ferrari. I'll mostly handle the "leting go of your business and moving on" sort of stuff, and she'll tackle all of the "oh crap, how do I do that?!" sort of stuff. Then, eventually, I'll fade away into the chorus line and move on to whatever the heck is next for me . Sound good?

And so, without further ado, I'd like to officially introduce the proud new owner of my former l'il ole company...