Friday, July 1, 2011

Small Business Start Up - Between the Chicks

[caption id="attachment_384" align="alignrcenter" width="590" caption="Tina Dress - The YES Dress - Between the Chicks"][/caption]
Are you a small business start up? I've noticed that in this economy with people getting laid off they have finally growing some cojones to create their dream company and follow their passion. This story emphasizes the importance of finding a business mentor that guides a new business entrepreneur through the company's creation.

In September of 2010 I was contacted by a small business start up called Between the Chicks. A start up fashion company, by 2 former Ford models from the 80's. Julie and Stephanie had an idea for a unique dress design that they were very excited about. Neither of the Chicks had started a company from the ground up before. This is where I come in..... I started my photography company back in 1995 and even though I'm not a fashion company the basic steps are similar to creating a new company.

To start they had to agree on a business name.... that was already settled. They were proud of the name and beaming with enthusiasm when I asked them.. "is the domain name available?". They're faces dropped as they ran to the computer to frantically search the internet, relieved that YES the name is available. Branding your company from the beginning is key.... there are companies out there with similar names and they just add something like nyc to their URL, not recommended. In this techno-forward world the power of SEO ( search engine optimization ) is king. Having a company name when entered into the browser's search box and your company is towards the top on the first page is definitely beneficial. However there is more to just a name.... SEO - I will touch on more later.

Over the next few months Between the Chicks were hard at work on their fashion line with fabric suppliers, pattern makers and manufacturers. In addition I was guiding them through the process of getting a business license, business bank account, working with graphic designers for business cards, company logo, budgeting and the immensely important e-commerce website to sell their garments.

They wanted to launch the company line in April of 2011, so the pressure was now on! In the early part of 2011 I began to create the e-commerce website. If you are planning to have an e-commerce site give yourself at least 4 - 6 weeks just for the approval process of the SSL Certificate and other bank requirements. As with most fashion companies there are many times delays with products being ready and our deadline was fast approaching. In March of 2011 we photographed almost the entire line. From the moment I got the website online I started working on the SEO.... remember this is going to be a very helpful tool with your company's presence online. Anytime a person sitting at their computer and are looking for "fun summer dress" ( as an example ) the goal is to have Between the Chicks at the top of the search. I spent many hours filling in meta descriptions and keywords for each image and each page of the website. You can even buy "search engine visibility packages" with your web host to help with SEO. If you have the money in your budget an experienced web person is key to have handle your SEO it can be quite mind boggling.

A week before the launch of the company we did the second shoot for the late arriving garments. Preparing the images and finishing their website just in time for the April 13th trunk show. With a fully functioning e-commerce site the convenience of accepting credit cards made the trunk show a great success. The "YES" Dress was now officially live to the world. The day after the trunk show I got a call from Julie she left me a voice mail, she started crying because she was so pleased with the site and the sales from the launch. I kept the message on my phone.

This October there will be an article about Julie and Stephanie the partners of Between the Chicks in Woman's Day Magazine. Even though the Chicks have a long way to go, they have conquered one of the hardest parts of a start up business just getting the darn thing off the ground.