Have you ever had one of those experiences that came out of nowhere, seemed unassuming and meaningless, but ended up changing your life? That is exactly what happened for one of Edmonton's newest entrepreneurs.
Deborah Schindel, owner of D-fy Gravity Apparel, was working as an image consultant with an established company but knew she eventually wanted to run her own business. A need that she identified while doing her job was that women wanted bras that provided both comfort and healthy support without sacrificing beauty. Products that fit this description were hard to find. The idea was planted. Deborah saw a need she could fill but wasn't sure how to go about it at that point. That is where a random event came into play that launched her into entrepreneurship.
Due to a mix up, Deborah ended up at a trade show that she didn't actually have tickets for. The people at the door encouraged her to attend anyway and let her and her business partner in for free. It was there that they discovered the products that would be the backbone of D-fy Gravity Apparel. Now, she runs her business out of her home where she has set up a very inviting space for her customers to browse her products and have fittings done. Her plan for the near future is to expand into a retail space and to find more lines of apparel that support her philosophy. That being, "Women should not have to sacrifice health for the sake of beauty." Eventually, she would like to open other locations in Western Canada.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Deborah and ask her a few questions about her experiences in this early stage of entrepreneurship. Here are some of the things she said:
When asked what she would do differently if she was back at the beginning of her business with the knowledge she has now, Deborah said that she would put more effort into the foundations of her operations. That being her marketing efforts and creation of systems that help the business run smoothly. Now that she is deeper into the business with more and more things happening every day, she is finding that some of the day to day maintenance duties are falling through the cracks. She feels that if she would have built systems to handle them earlier, she would not be dealing with all the catch up work that faces her now. It is much more interesting, in the early stages, to concentrate on dealing with customers and improving your product or service, but those daily tasks will always be there. The book keeping, database management and analysis of marketing will need to be done at some point. Set up systems for it all at the beginning to avoid an avalanche later.
We then talked about her favorite parts of running her business. For Deborah it is the face to face experiences, whether it is a networking event, a trade show or consulting customers in her shop. It is easy to see why. Deborah is so calm and comfortable when she speaks, it is obvious that she is in her element when communicating with people. On top of this, she genuinely cares for the well being of her clients. She knows she is helping them and loves it. This is essential to success for almost all entrepreneurs. Being able to deal with people in a way that makes them comfortable is key when it comes to gaining trust and eventually sales. The best way to be able to do that is to fully believe in the benefits your business offers. If you believe in your product the way that Deborah believes in hers, you will be able to take it to the world without appearing like to are pushing it down peoples throats. Your sincerity in describing its benefits will bring people to you.
There is a lot of things any entrepreneur could learn from Deborah, but those three cornerstones are key to any business.
1. Keep your eyes open, you never know when opportunity appear.
2. Build your foundation of systems early.
3. Be sincere and enjoy dealing with people to find success.
And for the women reading this, you can learn about her products here ... Apparently her stuff is awesome, I just don;t have the right equipment to test it for you :-)