Getting Moms Organized, One Party at a Time
Karen Eschebach, a professional organizer, went to a Pampered Chef party and was inspired. No, not to cook a gourmet meal, but to start her own direct sales company.
So in 2006, she quickly found a business partner and products to sell, and started Clever Container, a company that demonstrates and sells organizing products in clients’ homes while teaching organizing tips and techniques.
Learn how this mom of one precious little girl built her business from practicing what she preaches on the organizing front to finding new and innovative products to sell...
What were your initial goals for Clever Container?
My initial goal was to find someone to work with that believed as strongly in the dream as I did. Enter my business partner Jennifer Weaver. Next was to start a unique company that someone else hadn't tapped into. I then attended a Direct Selling Association (DSA) seminar in Washington, DC, to help get us on the right track. Lastly, we searched high and low for great products that would benefit everyone by saving time, reducing stress, and having multiple functional uses.
How did you finance your business?
My business partner and I started this business with about $5,000 each from our own personal funds.
We feel we made a small investment in something that could really pay off. Our investment now is more in time than money and the company is sustaining itself.
We have two credit cards we need to pay off, but other than that we are able to pay all our Net 30 suppliers, our annual DSA dues, our consultants’ commissions and royalties, and catalog production and printing costs. Since we are growing at a rapid rate, our financial picture is looking better every day and we hope to have all our debts paid by the end of this year.
How long did it take to start your business?
I thought of the idea in July 2006, incorporated in August 2006, attended a DSA seminar in September 2006, participated in vendor fairs beginning October 2006, and brought on our first consultant in March 2007.
How do you find products to sell?
We search all the time to find unique products. Many of our products were created by other moms such as the Card Cubby, Lily on the Fly, Kitchen Folio, and Optimistic Outcomes. We find them on entrepreneur websites, mom sites, business sites, and just by searching Google for organizing products.
What secrets have you learned in terms of publicity and marketing your product?
Get your consultants excited about the products and business opportunity. I also share out-of-the-box uses for many of our products.
How have you managed to juggle the roles of business owner and mom?
I work late into the evenings. Also, my daughter goes to school 45 minutes away from home, so I follow-up with all my phone calls on my way to pick her up. My workouts have gone by the wayside, although we have a puppy now which forces me to get out and walk daily. Thankfully I practice a lot of what I preach as far as meal planning and organization goes.
What kind of support system do you have in place personally and professionally?
Personally my husband is very understanding and wants Clever Container to succeed as much as I do. My business partner is also my friend. We're like sisters and we do a good job of keeping each other motivated. We truly balance each other out in terms of roles within the company. Also, I have a great network of friends that constantly provide rays of sunshine and motivation when needed.
Another major influence on our business is our National Sales Director and first Clever Consultant, Tracy Gusmano. She has a direct sales background and has been integral in creating our tele-training and online social groups for consultants, and keeping consultants motivated.
What advice would you offer other moms starting businesses?
Stick with it. Especially if you have a niche that no one else has tapped into. Try not to get in too much over your head financially to where you'll lose your shirt if things don't pan out the way you think they will. Don't think short-term. Most businesses don't make money the first few years, so have patience. And keep plugging away.
Thank you for sharing your story with us! If you have a great story, we'd love to hear it!
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