29 April 2010

Abby Kerr Ink Sneak Peek

This is my new logo for Abby Kerr Ink!

Not too much longer now 'til the site launches, so I wanted to give you a sneak peek at the style, vibe, and color palette.

I also want to give you a feel for what I'll be talking about over on
AbbyKerrInk.com. Below is a little preview of the site content. {I borrowed this from my About Me page-to-be.}

  • learning how to create and market a niche enterprise
  • learning how to tell a compelling story about my small business--online, in print, and in person--in a way that drew my right people toward me
  • learning the ins and outs of social media to woo and activate a tribe
  • learning how to run a small business and maintain my sanity {that was a tough one}
  • learning where it was important to spend money as a small enterprise, and where it wasn't
  • learning how to make business decisions that put me further along the path to my desire lifestyle
  • learning how to rescue myself early from patterns of work that are non-productive and get back to my natural, most productive flow

If you're working on any {or all} of the above, you might dig this site!

Thanks for giving me the chance to share this with you. I'm really looking forward to connecting with you online and in other realms!

By the way, if what I shared above interests you, consider "liking" my new Abby Kerr Ink page on Facebook. The conversation continues over there!


22 April 2010

What If 'Entrepreneurship' Feels Too Big For Me?

I called a friend today and we were talking about why she should definitely start a blog {or create content on an ongoing basis for the web, or what's sometimes called a content-driven website}--or, more actually--why I think she should definitely start a blog {because she's one of the most interesting people I know, because she always has a smart and cool take on things, because she's interested in so many things that people like to hear and think and talk about, because she's a really good teacher, because I want one more way to interact with her as my friend} and she said something to me along these lines:

"I read your post on 10 Signs You Might Be Cut Out For Entrepreneurship. And for some of them, I was like, yeah, that's me. But for some of them, I was like, oh, I don't really think that's me."

I know her pretty well, and the thing is, she is so an entrepreneur. Right now, though, her view of what entrepreneurship is is maybe a bit too broad.

So that got me to thinking about entrepreneurship versus plain being a smart, creative, insightful, talented, savvy, and delightful person. And where the two might meet.

And that got me to thinking about all of the people reading out there who might be saying, "I'm a creative person and I like to do my own thing. But 'entrepreneurship' feels too big for me."

And to that I say, let's discuss...

[by the way, if my friend ever starts a blog, I'll let you know]

Entrepreneurship is a grandiose-sounding idea, but the daily practice of it can be as small and manageable as you make it. {Niche-y, if you will.}

After all, YOU are the creator--the sole creator--of your entrepreneurial life.

I have a friend who's a talented jewelry designer. And she likes the idea of trying to sell her handmade wares in a few boutiques. But she's not sure she likes the idea of scaling the business bigger, or really, of her designs taking off and her business scaling her creative production life out of control. She really wants to just make "one of a kinds and few of a kinds" {I love this phrase!} and sell them outright, one shot only, to whomever wants them with no promise that the design can or will be duplicated.

I say, why not?

One of the lovely things about entrepreneurship is that you, the biz creator, get to write your own rules and decide how you do things. How big your biz gets, or doesn't get. How and where you market yourself, and how and where you don't. Who your right people, your target or ideal customers, are. You get to decide.

It helps, of course, if you know what your right people are wanting.

If you're producing but no one is buying {like,
ever}, then maybe you are an artist or a creator, but not an entrepreneur.

So you need to find a way to get close enough to your right people to discern what they're really wanting. How do they want to be reached out to? {And how do they HATE being reached out to?} Where do they hang out online and offline? Who do they admire and consider trustworthy? What's their dream for themselves?

Don't know? Start sleuthing.

Follow them on Twitter. {Hey, are you following me on Twitter @abbykerr?} Friend them on Facebook. Read their blogs and comment on them. Visit the people who comment on their blogs. Watch the TV shows and films they talk about and take a listen to the music they like. Read the books they recommend. Spend some time in their world.

And if your niche is pretty close to your heart, there's a decent chance that their world is your world, too. So this isn't so hard.

Entrepreneurship is about creating something/providing a solution in a way that hasn't been done before. And unless you're a non-profit {three cheers for you!}, it's about making a living, too. Or at least some latte money.

So this entrepreneurship thing? Not so big as you might've been thinking.

I really want to hear what you think about this. I hope I gave you enough to chew on. Let me know where and how I can give you more. :)


21 April 2010

10 Signs You Might Be Cut Out for Entrepreneurship

I was walking at the park with a new friend last week and we got to talking about our careers and the paths that had gotten us to where we are today, professionally.

And I realized this: there's something in some of us that makes entrepreneurship--creating our own work in the world, being self employed--the most desirable option. For some of us, the only tolerable option.

Photo by Coolm36.

For others of us, the art of being self employed is not even ever a consideration. It's either not on our radar or just not on our list of socially or personally acceptable, viable options. The thought of designing a work life out of one's own talents and prospective clients' perceived needs...well, that just doesn't cross some people's minds.

So I asked myself: what ARE the characteristics of those of us who are likely to choose entrepreneurship?

Here are 10 signs you might be cut out for entrepreneurship:

1. You're an idea person. And not just a dreamy, impractical idea person, but someone who instinctively knows how to give an idea legs. You don't just sit around and say, wouldn't that be cool? You actually get out of your chair and make a plan to see if it's cool.

2. You're an incurable optimist. You believe that things generally work out for the best--even when things work themselves out in a way that others would perceive as a fail. You believe that every deep experience lends itself to learning.

3. You like change. You might even crave it. You'd rather shake things up than wallow or stagnate.

4. You're willing to sacrifice more than the average person would to take a chance on a dream working out. This means you see short and even medium-term sacrifices such as preferred housing, discretionary income, stability in some relationships, and a nice budget for clothing and groceries as all part of the bigger picture. You are willing to forgo some comfort and joy today to get to what you might be able to attain later.

5. You're a self-starter. And a good self-manager. You don't need someone looking over your shoulder--or dangling a paycheck--to get a job done. You don't even really need praise or encouragement. Your satisfaction comes primarily from the process of creation.

6. You bounce back easily. Your setbacks are very short-term and you somehow always find a way to rise again. Or, things always just seem to work out okay for you, even better than okay. Others might say you seem to have good luck, or good karma.

7. You don't dwell on things and people that are out of your control. {Or you get really mad or frustrated and then use it to fuel your next move or decision in a healthy, productive way.}

8. You speak as though the outcome you want already exists. You don't have delusions of grandeur and you're not a liar or a bull*hitter. But you know how to position yourself in the today to apprehend what hasn't happened yet in the time-space continuum most people can see. Whoh. That sounds a little crazy. But you're okay with that, because that's how you think. You don't have to be all loud about it, but it works for you.

9. You're your own toughest critic--and your own best friend. At different times, you need to be both.

10. You have an uncanny sense of when it's time to shift or make a change. You identify what's not working and are intent on finding a solution. Or you know when to quit, as so aptly described in The Dip, a book by one of my marketing heroes, Seth Godin. This trait can sometimes creep your friends and acquaintances out, as you jump from one Big Thing to another Big Thing without so much as a backward glance. But you always seem to know what you're doing.

Entrepreneurs, what characteristics or personality traits did I leave off the list? Leave a comment and tell me about it!


14 April 2010

Why Niche-y Strikes a Chord

Photo at left: April '08 at my shop, THE BLISSFUL. {If you've been reading this blog for the past couple months, you know that I decided to close the shop in February to pursue my dream of being a working writer who writes from home [and cafes]. It's all happening. And in my new biz, Abby Kerr Ink, I'm working with other small biz owners to help make their niche-y entrepreneurial dreams come true.}

A couple of you commented on wanting a niche-y business over the last couple posts. I loved hearing that! I've been extolling the virtues of nichification--getting really, really clear with yourself and other people about what it is you do well, exactly how you do it, and what you want to be known for--ever since I went even more niche-y with my shop back in 2007. In my new business, I'm taking my love for niche-y enterprise to a whole new level.

Update: My new website is slated to launch at the end of this month! It may not be ready until very early May, but I'm aiming for sooner. I can hardly wait! You know I'll announce it here when the day comes.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a few thoughts about why going niche-y with your business is one of the best things you can do.

Why Niche-y Strikes a Chord With Entrepreneurs
  • Niche-y lets you hone in on what really interests you and what really matters to your right people {target or ideal customers}
  • Niche-y allows you to focus on doing just a few things--maybe even just one thing--really, really well.
  • Niche-y creates rockstars. It's easier to stand out when you're the only one doing exactly what you claim to be doing {and of course, when you're doing it well--which of course, you would be!}
  • Niche-y makes for great soundbites. It's quicker and snappier to talk about the "most citified country store in Kansas" than it is to talk about "the Kansas shop with a mix of country, contemporary, traditional, transitional, European, urban loft style, and vintage goods, gifts, and home and garden accents."
  • Niche-y is the stuff of legends. Innovators make history.
Why Niche-y Strikes a Chord With Customers and Clients...including the ones you don't have yet
  • Niche-y stands out. Your niche is what makes you different from everyone else out there on a similar mission. It's your own unique resonance, like a chord that no one else can play.
  • Niche-y makes good brain food. Brains like niche-y, because a niche creates a pattern that the brain hasn't seen before. A sales rep once told me she had to open up a new compartment of her brain to contain my store. Whoa! That's because our merchandise mix, the atmosphere we created, and the way we displayed showed her things she hadn't seen before in retail {or at least not quite in the way we did it}. These patterns, then, become easy for the brain to hold on to and at the same time, they create wonderment and a bit of pleasurable confusion. Such cohesiveness of vision! Yet such extraordinariness! What a rarity! An anomaly that makes perfect sense!
  • Niche-y makes an impact. People will talk about it. And when people are talking, other people are listening. And when people are listening, more people start checking you out. And when more people check you out, more people start buying in. And that's a good thing.
  • Niche-y is personal. Personal for you--the business creator and niche-honer, but also personal for your customers when they are your right people. Because they'll quickly feel like what you do in the world in a way belongs to them. And that's powerful stuff.
  • Niche-y is memorable. Unforgettable businesses {the ones who are unforgettable in a good way} know who they are. And so do their customers. And that's when the magic happens.

  • Niche-y is addictive. People want more of extraordinary experiences.
You gotta love a good niche. I know I do. If you get what I'm talking about, please leave a comment letting me know. What makes nichification so powerful or appealing, from your point of view? {Dissenting points of view are welcome, too!}


12 April 2010

Why Every Little Entrepreneur Deserves a Big Fire Starter

Danielle LaPorte, who plays with matches. {And feathers.}

Why do I think every little entrepreneur deserves a big Fire Starter?

1. Because in your {temporary} littleness, you are dreaming big, and this alone is worthy of admiration.

2. Because the world--and everyday life--makes it hard to dream big.
And this world still needs big dreamers. Probably now more than ever. Some people will actually do it--dream big, that is. Why shouldn't it be you?

3. Because there are lots of voices around you
telling you that dreaming as big as you tend to is impractical, too risky, or just pie-in-the-sky.

4. Because you know you have a dream, but you're just not sure what it is. You can see the edges of it, the fringes, outlining everything else you seem to be doing that's deferring your dream. And right now? You're ready to get a lot more clear about what that dream looks like.

For all of these reasons {and more}, I've become an affiliate for Danielle LaPorte's Fire Starter Sessions, a digital experience for entrepreneurs. What is a "digital experience"? It's a digital book with video and audio embedded, and a workbook. A complete multimedia, multisensory experience to engage you in the process of refining by fire the stuff of your entrepreneurial dreams.

You've got to know Danielle LaPorte. Danielle is a writer, a mama, an intuitive strategist for entrepreneurs or those on the verge of breaking out into entrepreneurial activity. She used to run a think tank in Washington, D.C. She's the co-author of Style Statement, the inimitable guide to clarifying who you are and want to be in the world. {I used to sell it at my store.} She's one to watch.

This is the stuff of transformation, of freedom, and of creative fulfillment. And I believe that you, Mr. or Ms. Little Entrepreneur, deserve it. A big Fire Starter Session digital experience, that is.

Are you ready? Click here to learn more about it in Danielle's own words and/or purchase.

Want me to say some more about it? Okay. {If you didn't click above, you'll have the chance to click again further down the page. No worries. We're making this easy.}

So about Danielle and her Fire Starter Sessions: I believe in this work so deeply that I jumped at the chance to be an affiliate for it.

I've never been an affiliate for anything before. To be an affiliate means to believe in someone's product so much that you're willing to be a disciple for it. Being a disciple means that if you click on any of my Danielle LaPorte links on this page and purchase the digital book, I'll get a bit of cashola from the sale. {Affiliate love is a good thing.}

Last Fall, I was lucky enough to be given a one-on-one Fire Starter Session over the phone with Danielle as a gift from some pretty awesome friends. And it. was. life changing. Vision clarifying. Strength and appeal defining. Possibility boosting. Revelation revealing.

And something more than that: it was a confirmation. A confirmation that yes, all of those forgotten threads of things I love to do and have always done {without getting paid} and all the peculiar, particular, lovely-making ways in which I look at my work in the world and all of the questions that people ask me that I'm more than qualified and inspired and enthusiastic to answer...they're all leading somewhere.

So are yours. Your forgotten threads, your particular lovely ways, your burning questions {the ones people ask you and the ones you ask yourself}...they're all leading somewhere. Pointing you toward something you want to do. What is it?

Danielle can help you pull it all together and make some entrepreneurial alchemy. And it's not pie-in-the-sky stuff. It's not wishy-washy woo-woo. It's the real deal. I wouldn't recommend something to my tribe that isn't.

If you haven't already made a connection with Danielle's work and your own entrepreneurial life, then please allow me to make it for you.

You + Danielle LaPorte + the Fire Starter Sessions digital experience for entrepreneurs = what you'll BE be after you stop thinking of yourself as a "little entrepreneur."

I promise it's that good.

So do your sweet entrepreneurial self a favor and click here:

And thanks for reading. Thanks for taking my opinion and my experience into consideration. I think you'll like doing this for yourself.


09 April 2010

Indie Retailers : How Can I Help?

Here's the deal. I left indie retail.

I left for a variety of reasons and someday I will probably tell the whole story, but the most important two reasons that I want to share today are 1} I believed {still do!} it was part of the Big Plan for me to exit right at that very moment {not everyone believes in the Big Plan, but I do}, and 2} I believed that I could live a better life, a life truer to my core values, a life closer to my ideal, and be more helpful to other passionate entrepreneurs like myself {including indie retailers} outside of retail than inside. So I closed my store. And it felt good. And every day it feels better as I move deeper into the dream that's unfolding around me.

But indie retailers, this post isn't about me. It's about you. You and the important work you do in your unique stores every day. The work you do for your community, putting yourselves and your livelihoods out there on the line every day, willing your vision to be received and embraced by your right people, your ideal customers. The work you do behind the scenes that nobody sees and almost nobody {or very few} gets or appreciates. Retailing is far from fantasy, right? But you're good at making it look that way. And this, in itself, is what's tough about retail. Life behind the curtain. I get that. {Please tell me where I'm wrong.}

So back to my new thing, Abby Kerr Ink, for just a minute. {Then back to you.}

In a few weeks, I'll be launching my new website and packing it full of juicy, free, helpful content that will support and inspire passionate entrepreneurs like you. Like me. I'm making the kind of site I would want to linger on for hours. And I hope you'll want to do just that once you get to visit! And while I'm making this website and all the content that will go into it to fulfill what I want it to be, I'm really making this website and all my content for you. And not just you indie retailers out there reading, but small business entrepreneurs who love and believe in their niche and want to learn more about working it better {their niche, that is}. Cause my approach is pretty niche-y. I believe in specialization. And I really, really dig stuff that's nichified really, really well.

So lately, when I'm not blogging here or talking with clients or working on projects or on Facebook or Twitter, I'm writing my way into my niche on the web, anticipating the day when I'll launch at AbbyKerrInk.com for all to see. And in the last couple of posts, I've been doing some soft market research to figure out what you'd like to read about. What burning questions do you have? What type of content would nurture you right where you're at? How can I help?

{Enough about me.}

Indie retailers, back to you. If you've been following me lately, you've seen that I recently did a post asking aspiring indie retailers what their burning questions are about getting into the biz. And then I asked artists and designers who want to sell to boutiques to weigh in on their who's, what's, when's, where's, why's, and how's of doing just that.

Today, it's your turn. If you're an indie retailer--brick and mortar OR online--I'd love to hear your answer to this question:

  • What's missing for you from the existing conversation on the web about indie retail/among indie retailers? What do you need? What do you want? What has never been done or written for you that would be so, so ideal?
You can speak your mind in one of three ways:

1. Leave a comment on this post {please tell me if you don't wish for me to publish it}.
2. E-mail me at abby AT abbykerrink DOT com.
3. Tweet me @abbykerr.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me.


06 April 2010

Questions About Selling Handmade Goods To Boutiques? Weigh In!

Okay, not literally weigh in. I'm not going to whip out The Biggest Loser scale on you indie artists and designers or anything. If I did, I'd have to let you weigh me, too, and uh, that's not happening.

What I am doing, though, is developing future content for my new website, soon to be launched at AbbyKerrInk.com. And I'm doing a little market research. Which is going to blossom into rich, useful content that will help a lot of people who have some of the same goals and dreams I had when I got into the boutique life, and that my vendor friends did when they got into it.

Because as you probably know if you've been reading this blog for a while, until very recently I was Creator and Proprietor of a popular lifestyle boutique called THE BLISSFUL. {Though its official website is no longer live, you can click back through past archives on this blog if you want to get a feel for what type of shop it was--but the quickest and most vivid way to describe it is French-y, comfortable, youthful, and sometimes quirky.} Nearly always, our merchandise mix was comprised in part by handmade {or nearly handmade} work from indie vendors--as in, artists and designers whose companies were small, upstart, and not corporately funded or backed by venture capitalists.

Our relationships with these small and inspiring vendors was very important to us.

And I can tell you that in the indie retail world in general, there is a strong movement toward handmade goods, shopping and buying locally, and avoiding mass-made product that can be found at every big box store in town. Most small boutique owners want to support other small boutique industries. {Good thing we have each other.} Part of my new website is going to be designed especially for the boutique industry and I'm doing a little market research to see where the heart of people's interests lie.

So today's question is for the artists and designers out there, those of you who want to sell your goods to boutiques. Sell wholesale, that is. Or put them there on consignment.

  • What are your biggest who's, what's, when's, where's, why's, and how's related to selling your goods to boutiques?
Just one or two are fine. Or if you want to send me your top concerns for each, that'd dazzle me, too! Feel free to:

1. Leave your thoughts here in the comments {let me know if they're for my eyes only and you don't wish me to publish--but isn't it more fun to start a dialogue?}.
2. E-mail me at abby AT abbykerrink DOT com.
3. Tweet me @abbykerr

There's no wrong way to do it and no question is too small or simple. Remember--none of us knew everything {and some of us knew nothing} when we were first starting out. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Oh, and if you're an aspiring shop owner, here is a post with a question aimed especially at you.

Established indie retailers, I'm polling you next! {Scribe's Note: Actually, the post is now live! Click the link in this paragraph to go there.}


05 April 2010

Easter Tidings {& Dream Resurrection}

Hope you all had a great Easter yesterday. Wanted to share some moments from my family's celebration. And then talk a bit about dream resurrection.

My mom tried out Ina Garten's Coconut Cupcake recipe {from scratch}. Oh so good. Dense, almond and vanilla flavored cake topped with sweet cream cheese frosting and a flurry of coconut. Heavenly.

This is my three year old niece, Lexi:

Yesterday was her first Easter egg hunt and the weather complied. So cool to watch a little kid discovering something fun for the very first time.

This is one of my favorite shots:

She got it!

Easter, for me, is always a time of year for personal reflection, renewal, and yep, resurrection. More than at any other time of year, now is the time I feel like changing things that aren't working, reenergizing what needs it, and recognizing miracles. {I do believe in them.}

The past few months have been a time of terrific reinvention and resurrection for me: from boutique owner to freelance writer, from one-who-pines-for-a-dream to one-who-moves-into-the-dream-as-if-it-already-were.

I know you can do it, too--go from pining and longing to moving into your dream, whatever it may be. There's always a way to begin.

Thanks to you aspiring indie retailers who have e-mailed me your burning questions about getting into the biz. If you haven't yet weighed in, please re-visit the previous post and let me know what concerns, confuses, or enchants you the most about starting and running an indie retail boutique.

If your shop {brick and mortar or online} is already open for business, I want to talk to you, too! There's a new post coming soon with a question designed specifically for you. {Scribe's Note on 4.9.10: The post is up! Click the link in this paragraph to go there.}

But...artists/creators of indie and handmade goods, you're next! Stay tuned. {Scribe's Note on 4.8.10: In fact, the post is now up! Click the link in this paragraph to go to it right now.}

And happy dream resurrecting.


01 April 2010

Aspiring Indie Retailer? Please Opine!

Dreaming of a life selling lovely things?

Are you an aspiring indie retailer? Dream of having your own shop someday? Quietly researching and planning while you ride out the economy, finish your education, build up enough money in savings, wait for your kids to get into school, hit on the one concept that just feels right?

I'm working on future content for my new website--to be announced as soon as it's live!--and I'd love to hear your take on this question:

  • What one or two topics related to the start-up/running of an indie retail shop are you burning to learn more about before you jump in?
Please note that burning could mean most curious about, most befuddled by, most confused about, most obsessed with, or most attracted to.

Your input will be greatly valued and taken into consideration as I shape the content for my new site, which is geared toward creatively entrepreneurial types, with maybe a sliiiiiight penchant for indie retail types and others connected to the boutique industry.

Imagining your own boutique's name on this sign? You're exactly the person I want to hear from.

You can contribute your opinion in one of three ways:

1. Leave a comment on this post {please tell me if you don't wish for me to publish it}.
2. E-mail me at abby AT abbykerrink DOT com.
3. Tweet me @abbykerr.

Thanks and I look forward to meeting up with some of you in blogland!

P.S. Established retailers and artists who want to sell wholesale to boutiques, hang on! I have questions coming for you, too. {Scribe's Note on 4.9.10: Both posts are now live! Click on the links in this paragraph to go directly to them right now.}