Monday, January 16, 2012

Spotlight on Mommy - Annette D. Giacomazzi of CastCoverz!

Has your child ever sprained or broke a body part and needed a cast?  Then, you know how plain a white cast looks like?  Kids love to have friends sign their casts.  But, after the pen and markers begin to fade or run from the cast getting wet, then your child is left with an ugly cast.  Most casts have to be on for 4-6 weeks, to help the broken bone set.  Who wants to stare at a dirty cast?  I know I wouldn't?  So, thanks to this week's spotlight mom, Annette D. Giacomazzi, she created CastCoverz!.  CastCoverz! allow your child to flaunt their style with these functional and colorful fashion cast covers, while you as the parent, don't have to look at the dirty cast. Now, your child's cast will stay clean, dry, snag-free and comfortable with CastCoverZ!-branded and companion products.Just look at some of the styles Annette has created, as part of her CastCoverz and companion line:

Make sure you head back to my blog on Friday, where I will share more information about Annette's covers from her CastCoverz! product line, as well as offer a giveaway and coupon code.

But, in the meantime, please enjoy my interview with Annette D. Giacomazzi of CastCoverz!.

Name:  Annette D. Giacomazzi
Company Name/Product/Service: CastCoverz!
Company Location: Hollister, CA
Company Website:
Twitter Handle: @castcoverz
Age of Company: 3 years (with one+ year hiatus due to cancer and partnership dissolution) 
Favorite Inspirational Quotes: No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit -- Helen Keller 
If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right --Henry Ford 
Nehemiah 4:9 -- "But we prayed to God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat." (Balancing faith in God with practical action [using the gifts and talents God gave us]).   
Favorite Book: Yikes!  This is the hardest question. I'm a voracious reader.  The Bible, any of Tamara Monosoff's books (about women starting businesses), John C. Maxwell's leadership books, The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker.  I love Success and BusinessWeek magazines, too. 


Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How many children do you have? What are their ages? Your hobbies? Etc.  

I am blessed with two children, Max 15 and Elli 14.  We had a vineyard, now we have an olive ranch.   I used to scrapbook and sew.  But, now my hobby is my job because I love what I do.   I love to innovate, stay up on trends, and read, read, read about successful people. 

Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about?   

My daughter, Elli, has broken 8 bones.  It was her 6th broken bone that gave me my "aha!" moment.  She had broken her humerus (not so humorous), the big bone in your arm, and had the ugliest cast.  She was so sad because she felt betrayed, once again, by her body.  I whipped up a cover and a sling to try and cheer her up.  Then another set and another.  People commented and the light went off.  My background is marketing and research, so I did what came naturally, found a void, ran the numbers and CastCoverz! was born.  I often say, "my daughter was my inspiration, my son named it, my husband financed it and I worked it."  It truly is a family business. 

We recently introduced our 10th product.  "Slickerz!" prevents leg casts from getting wet due to rain, slush and snow.  It's like a pull-on boot for your cast!   We have 2 employees, 10 product lines, distribute 4 companion products, are being sold in Europe and notable orthopedic clinics across the country and have been featured (no ad spending!!) in Parenting magazine, Mom Invented, Orthopedic This Week, national, regional and local newspapers, mommy blogs and so many more.  I'm having a ball!

What is a typical work day like?  

I am blessed to work out of my home.  I rise and shine at 5:00.  I intentionally dedicate 45 minutes to "M&I" time (motivation and inspiration which includes devotionals).   This practice has centered me more than any other habit in my life. I wake my children, prepare breakfast and sack lunches, get them out the door and then walk 90 feet to my home office.  I sit down at my desk at 6:30.a.m. in my slippers and a big cup of coffee.  I get a priority list ready for my employees (a sewist and a community manager [connecting with our customers with social media and traditional marketing methods]) and speak to customers in the midwest and on the east coast,    At 8:00, I am ready for much needed exercize and dressing for the day (I call it my water cooler break).  The rest of the work day is filled with helping my employees accomplish their goals and priorities, talking with customers, buying fabric and other essential supplies, solving problems and 2 hours p/day devoted solely to sales and marketing.  Around 4:00, I leave to deliver orders to the post office and then I run personal errands or run to a child's sporting event.  Then it's a sit-down dinner at home, another 1 or 2 hours doing bookkeeping and other important tasks to keep the business going and off to bed around 8:30. 

What has been a struggle while starting up your company?   

I had a partner at the very beginning.  That went sour very fast.   But, I'm thankful I found out we weren't compatible early on.  I also learned never go into business with someone with the same skill set.  If you're going to partner, partner with someone who enhances or emphasizes your qualities (and vice-versa).  Then I was diagnosed with a very rare form of breast cancer.  Shortly after that, my marriage went into a downward spiral.  Among the three events, 1 1/2 years were essentially taken out of promoting and working the business. Bottom line: I turned that season of adversity into victory.  I pushed hard in 2011 and am now starting to reap the benefits.    

What did you do in your past work life?  

I was a senior sales executive for sales incentive and promotion houses.  I also worked civic campaigns such as large public fundraisers. 

What have been some of your major successes?   

Any successes I've had are a direct result of teams or synergistic relationships.  For example, I am most proud of my children.  I am honored to be their mother.  But, I recognize if it wasn't for God and their dad, they wouldn't be here.  They wouldn't be doing as well as they are without their coaches, youth pastors, and teachers.  Another great success is the founding of the YMCA of San Benito County (my adopted home-town).  With my co-chair and hundreds of volunteers we raised money to bring a Y to town.  The Y has been established for over 10 years now and is serving thousands of families with health and wellness activities and after school programs. 

What have been some of your major challenges?  

Cancer and moving from MN to CA 16 years ago (I had to move away from family and friends, and needed to recreate my life).  I bloom where I am planted and it's been fulfilling. 

On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?  

My children, my faith, my customers and my employees!   

What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?  

Asking for help, respectfully.  Teaching my children to be self-starters and to help out (laundry, set table, make dinner, completing homework, filling out forms, etc...). 

What is next for your business?   

Total Web Domination!  Borrowed that from WebMarketingTherapy.  :)  I had very aggressive 2011 goals.  95% were accomplished.  I am very proud of that.  I have even more aggressive goals for 2012 and am ready to make them happen.   

Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business?   

A.  Ask yourself this question:  What are you building?  Are you building a lifestyle business or an equity business?  Lifestyle businesses help you live the lifestyle you've created, maybe supplement it. Lifestyle businesses have limited scalability but provide satisfaction to the owner(s).   Equity business have tangible assets that attract investors.  There is no right or wrong answer.  But, it has to be right for you and your family.  B.   Identify who you are serving.  Who are your customers?  For example, let's say you've created the latest and greatest sippy cup.  You might think your customer is the toddler, but they are the end-users.  Your target customer is the mom.  Drilled down even further, a mom with young children vs. me (a mom with teenagers).  Another example is you've created the best best dog doo-doo training pad.  Your end user (no pun intended  ) is the dog, but your customer are dog owners.  Further defined, dog owners of (usually) puppies.  C.  An important formula to remember:  it takes 2 years of 24/7 effort, lots of mistakes and $$$ down the drain, to achieve break-even status.  It takes another 2 years of positive cash flow to pay back the $ you borrowed in the first two years.  Then another 3 years before you become "successful" (and it will have cost you 2x's as much and taken 3x's as long. )  D.  Your products are not yours.  They are your customers once they hit the "buy" button. We are here to serve them; to steward their order to their final destination: in the customer's hands.   E.  Involve your children for the invaluable lessons your business will teach. F.  Don't be tied to your "aha!" moment.  Let it evolve. Let your customers tell you what they want/need.  Over 60% of our sales this year are due to the companion products we carry.  

No comments :

Post a Comment