Monday, October 1, 2012

Spotlight on Mom -- Laura Beck of stripedshirt

 Striped Shirt

I have been waiting weeks to share this week's Spotlight Mom with you, as I just love her striped t-shirts.  She was so kind as to send me three shirts -- one for me and the girls to wear.  And, I have been having a ball dressing the three us up the same, and heading out together.  Not only does it make people's heads turn and make them smile, but a handful stop us and tell us how cute we look dressed together.  Now, in the past I would have said I would never dress my girls, let alone the three of us the same, but how can I resist.  Now that Savannah and Arabella are only one size apart, I have been buying matching pajamas and outfits for them to wear. They really do look like twins when dressed the same.  And, who can resist children dressed alike? :-)

Here are the girls sporting these striped tees from Laura Becks store, stripedshirt:

Stay tuned on Friday when I will share a photo of the three of us wearing our matching striped shirts, as well as more photos of them with their stripedshirts. And, one lucky reader will have a chance to win a stripedshirt for themselves or their child.  All other readers will enjoy a 20% coupon code to use in purchasing shirts from Laura's online store.  I am thinking about dressing the entire family up in these shirts for our annual holiday photo card?  Wouldn't that be fun?! :-)

As I ponder this and try to talk my husband in dressing like the girls and I, please enjoy my Spotlight on Mom interview with Laura Beck of stripedshirt.

Name:   Laura Beck
Company Name/Product/Service:  stripedshirt
Company Location:  Austin, TX
Company Website:
Twitter Handle: @stripedshirtz
Age of Company:  2 years
Favorite Inspirational Quotes:   Life is Short; Work Hard but Play Harder; Take Business Personally
Favorite Book: Blink

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How many children do you have?  What are their ages? Your hobbies? Etc.
I’m a 41 year old mom of 2 girls, 7.5 years and just turned 4.  They are spitfires who keep me on my toes, and were the primary reason I left an 18 year career in public relations, including running a $3M office for a big global firm.  I wanted more time with them, be the one picking them up at school, leading the girl scout troop, planning the school carnival. You get those opportunities once.  And so, I quit my public relations career and started a business dream I’d had for a dozen years: stripedshirt

Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about?
stripedshirt is an apparel company, of 2 color combination striped shirts for women, kids and babies, to be able to truly Show Your Colors, and support a team, school, cause, organization, holiday.  Stripedshirt came about b/c I’m a sports fan, and for years, I’ve complained that I didn’t want to have to wear a man-sized jersey with a big logo on the front and someone’s name on my back.   

What is a typical work day like? 
I focus on the girls from wake up til about 9:30 am, and again from 2:30 until 9 pm.  During the day, and from 9 pm until midnight, I focus on stripedshirt, and some PR consulting I’m still doing.  The PR stuff typically comes first because those are other people’s deadlines, so I may have meetings, or calls, need to develop plans, research target lists, write releases, pitch journalists.  Then I focus on any order fulfillment, stripedshirt requests or inquiries.  Any extra time I have, I spend marketing stripedshirt – finding journalists or bloggers who would likely be interested in the brand, introducing them to it, talking with people on Twitter about topical sports moments happening that match to some of my shirt colors, writing and promoting blog posts, etc.  Any remaining time I have, I do my fair share of social media, keeping in touch with friends from all phases of my life, on Facebook and Twitter.  Oh and once and awhile, I sleep! J

What has been a struggle while starting up your company?  
Wow, soooo many.  But all have been interesting lessons, ways to learn new things, part of this journey I’m picking for myself (versus PR where I was servicing clients) so I’ve weirdly enjoyed every step.   I didn’t know I was really getting into the “fashion” industry at first, thought I was just starting a  Tshirt company. But this is fashion, apparel, retail, and I had to learn all those rules, and how to design a shirt, and do samples, and pattern making, and grading of sizes, iterating, etc.  Wow!  Then I had to build an infrastructure for getting people the shirts – both online for ordering, and through a fun website   - and also physically for how to package, and fulfill orders.  All this and pretty much everything else – new, and hard, but really interesting.  My biggest struggle now – and for awhile – though really is finding my customer and having them buy a shirt. L  People love my shirts, and there is great brand recognition and feedback, but I’m not getting as many orders as I need to keep this business going, so I need to do more marketing and hope for a tipping point that brings real sales in.

What did you do in your past work life?
Public relations, mostly for technology companies.

What have been some of your major successes?
In life, absolutely having 2 beautiful daughters!  In work, sticking with a job, a tough industry for 18 years, including 10 running an office that grew to $3M revenues, 16 employees – all of whom were happy and satisfied, working in a good environment. Oh and doing that with 2 kiddos.  And a very supportive husband.

What have been some of your major challenges?
The reality that today’s work requires about 11 hours of focus a day, minimally, and when you are a Mom, your kiddos need time too – and you WANT to give it to them.  Fitting it all into a day is soooo darn hard.  I tried for 5 ½ years, with one daughter, and then two, and finally gave up, and changed up my life to make my children come first.

On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?
Again, my family, my daughters, my husband, other family, and friends.  And, that, at the end of the day, neither PR, nor stripedshirt is brain surgery.  A bad day, a slow day, all recoverable and not a huge deal in the grand scheme

What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?
No secret, just constant struggle, and taking things one day at a time.  Working late at night has been a secret, but not a particularly healthy one, I guess, but it does work – I put my daughters to bed and as they are drifting to sleep, sit in their room with my laptop and get caught up on all the email and to do’s that have happened since I “turned things off” for after school time through dinner.  Then, I have my urgent things in mind to tackle from like 9 pm to midnight.  Its hard, but that lets me have the 2:30 pm til 9 pm time with the girls, to focus on them.

What is next for your business?
Growing it – I certainly hope!  Getting more stripedshirts out there, more people knowing about them and hopefully buying b/c they like the shirts – and what I’m all about.

Do you have any advice for othermom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fenceabout starting a business? 
Yes – First – DO IT (if you can, if your family can take that risk financially).  Life is so short, you don’t get a do-over.  Try something and give your dream a shot.  Never wonder “what if.”  If it doesn’t work out, go back to what you also do well, and feel darn proud you put it all out there. 

Then, also, be patient.  It’s not going to turn to gold over night.  Give it some time, and yourself some time, you are going to have to iterate a bit, you will get surprises along the way. Be in tune to all that and learning from it, but enjoy the process too. What an amazing learning experience!!

Tap into friends and your support network for advice, help, even just to commiserate.

And celebrate – yes if your business succeeds and you made it happen. But even if it doesn’t – celebrate that you gave it a shot.  That is SOOO huge! 

1 comment :