Create Simple Gifts that Your Friends & Family will Treasure for Years!
What I love about Mary Cattapan, founder of Studio66 and the Keepsake Quality Pendant Kits, is that she is helping those of us who are "craft-challenged" to create gorgeous, simple and affordable photo jewelry gifts in minutes. Her fabulous little kit comes with everything you need. And, the pieces look perfectly finished. I tried out her kit and was thrilled to walk out the door wearing my new necklaces in just minutes. Mary shares her story about simultaneously juggling three little boys and building her business.
Mom Invented: Describe your company and your product (or product line):
Mary: While I have been selling crafting products since 2008, my newest product line was developed just this year...my focus is on providing easy-to-make Keepsake Quality Pendant kits for gift-giving and personal enjoyment. I will also be introducing a new line of interchangeable magnetic bracelets, pendants and earrings in the fall. (Watch this short VIDEO to see what you can create).
Why did you start this company and when?
Mary: I began selling crafting supplies in 2008 when I noticed that it was very difficult to find quality supplies at an affordable price in surrounding craft stores. After extensive research, I discovered that there were many quality products that were hard to find for the average consumer for glass and resin jewelry-making. I wanted to bring those to the everyday mom and crafter at affordable prices.Many moms buy my products and resell them to make a living, which I love to see!
Mom Invented: What is your background and how does it relate to your company?
Mary: I am a mom with three boys ages 7, 3-1/2 and 1-1/2. I have a background in business marketing. For the last several years I have worked from home. This new business venture lets me tap into both my creative and analytical skills acquired from over 20 years of marketing. I also teach marketing classes, which has been an asset in working with customers. I enjoy seeing them use my products to make beautiful creations.
Mom Invented: What was your 'aha' moment when it came to starting your business?
Mary: First, I realized that if I was frustrated with the availability of quality craft supplies in the traditional marketplace I bet others would be too. Secondly, for those who are new to making photo jewelry, it is difficult to understand what you need and how to get it, so having a ready-made kit seems so simple yet logical with easy to follow directions all in one place. Finally, I realized that I need to be relentless in reaching my goals, despite countless obstacles, delays, etc. I just have to keep pushing through those times to get to the desired outcome.
Mom Invented: What process did you follow to develop a prototype?
Mary: I brainstorm. I take down hand-written notes and then sleep on it. I do some of my best thinking late at night when the house is quite. I then put together "hand samples." I make it myself and see how it feels and works together. I then seek out others' opinions.
Mom Invented: How did you determine your product's marketability (is there a need, would people buy it)?
Mary: I constantly research what is out in the marketplace to assess if demand is there for a product. I also show it to crafters and get their feedback-- Is it easy to use? Would they buy it? etc.
Mom Invented: How did you find a manufacturer for your product?
Mary: My kits come from several manufacturers which I have meticulously researched for years. I continually search for high quality products. I do extensive online research....finding a manufacturer for new product prototypes has been the most difficult aspect of what I do.
Mom Invented: Were there any setbacks in product development that had to be overcome?
Mary: I have had many, many set-backs. Sick kids and crashing computers are just a few. I have also done prototyping with companies and have come to realize that they don't have the level of expertise I require for a product, having to then scratch the concept and start all over again. The key for me has been relentless research...turn over every leaf, research every lead, and be very clear on what I want and expect in the desired outcome and stick to it.
MomInvented: What was the biggest learning curve in terms of developing your product?:
Mary: The biggest learning curve has been in understanding how to vet companies, especially abroad, where communication is a challenge and expectations of what is required can often be misunderstood. I have learned that paying more is sometimes well worth the investment. There is significant meaning in the saying "you get what you pay for"...knowing when it is necessary to pay more has been key. I have learned that a relentless desire for success and sound research are the two greatest assets.
Mom Invented: What secrets have you learned in terms of publicity and marketing your product?
Mary: Social media is amazingly cheap and has incredible reach. Good customer service is the best referral option. I've gotten a lot of good referrals because of it.
Mom Invented: How did you finance your business?
Mary: All of my business ventures are financed via self-funding...when I make money I reinvest in new ideas.
Mom Invented: Have you experienced a low point in business? If so, how did you get back on track?
Mary: Low points for me are when I can't move fast enough to map out my next idea or the computer crashes or I have to wait on a vendor. This challenges my patience every day. Also, finding quality products and manufacturers willing to work with a small business has been especially challenging.
Mom Invented: How have you managed to juggle the roles of business owner and mom? What falls by the wayside?
Mary: Sleep falls by the wayside as well as clean floors and perfectly folded laundry. There is no perfect balance quite honestly, I just try to do a quality job with my family and pursue my passion with my business. If I can do that, I am a pretty lucky mom:-)
Mom Invented: What kind of support system do you have in place personally and professionally?
Mary: I have family and friends that I can run ideas by, as well as a weekly group of like-minded women that I meet with to discuss roadblocks, ideas, etc. I met this group by participating in Tamara's Power Mentoring Program.
Mom Invented: Who has been your biggest source of inspiration? What keeps you going?
Mary: Seeing other women achieve success gives me momentum as well as realizing how much I enjoy the creative aspect of running a business. I just really enjoy it.
What surprised you most about the process of starting your business?
Mary: How challenging was it to find suppliers and how little information is out there.
Mom Invented: What advice would you offer other moms developing their products/ideas?
Mary: Be relentless. It is OK if it takes a little extra time. If you truly believe in your product pursue it. Listen to others but listen to yourself a little more. Don't let people bring you down.
Thank you, Mary, for sharing your story with us! Click on the link to learn more about Keepsake Quality Pendant Kits. Also, please check out Mary's other online store Studio66 for great hard-to-find craft tools and supplies.
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