If you have ever dreamed of owning your own business you will enjoy this story about Phyllis Calza. Phyllis started her career in education working with children as the Program Director for a reading intervention program. Her job was part of a special program that was funded by the state of California (back when there was money to spend). In 2002, the funding for this reading program was cut and Phyllis was left wondering what she wanted to do for a career. She and her husband wanted to start a family; but, just like so many of us, Phyllis didn’t get pregnant as easily as she had hoped. While she was in the midst of career decisions and trying to get pregnant, Phyllis realized that she would really like to start her own stationery and gift business. However the timing didn’t feel right because she was more focused on getting pregnant. So, she took a short break from working and wound up pregnant with her first child, Austin.
Her desire to build her dream business grew stronger when she went looking for the perfect birth announcement to share the joy of Austin’s arrival. After visiting a couple of stores around town, Phyllis felt frustrated by her limited choice of stationery suppliers. And, after she got settled into her routine of being a ful-time mom, she decided to take action and embark on her dream of building her own little company. In 2004 she created her company, Broadcasting Baby, and headed to the National Stationery Show in New York City. She found several suppliers that she loved and wanted to work with. She gathered up resources and headed back to Los Angeles…not sure exactly what she would do next.
One of my favorite quotes is: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step (Lao Tzu). The way Phyllis describes starting Broadcasting Baby was a series of manageable steps. First, there were several administrative items that Phyllis had to tend to such as registering her company name and applying for a wholesaler’s license. After that, Phyllis talked to her favorite vendors from the stationery show, established accounts and got samples of all their products. After investing (3 months in getting everything set up…she threw a party to announce her new business. In addition, she participated in a few shopping parties hosted by friends. Each time she learned more about what her customers were looking to buy and made adjustments in her business offerings to accommodate the demand.
She found some success in this formula, but felt she could really ramp up her business if she was able to sell products online. Once again, Phyllis took several small steps and created a website for Broadcasting Baby. But, here is the interesting part: Phyllis had no experience in web commerce at the time and she wasn’t really aware that her site wouldn’t allow her the control she needed to find that success she was looking for. Each time she wanted to add a product or change a detail on a product, she had to work through a programmer…which required time and money. She found herself struggling to break even on the time and money she was investing. The reason I find her experience so interesting is that in order to find success, there usually is some sort of a “learning curve”. Any time along that curve, the desire to give up might be intense. But Phyllis didn’t give up. She did scrap her first website- because after doing some research she found out that there was already infrastructure in place that could be bought for business like Broadcasting Baby. A company called Network Solutions created a new site for her business and gave her the tools she needed to take control of her own site.
Phyllis’s perseverance resulted in a great site. This time, she is fairly confident she got all of the pieces correct. If you visit Broadcasting Baby, you will find every kind of personalized gift you could imagine. I got the personalized stainless steel water bottle for myself- so I can stay hydrated without polluting the earth with plastic bottles. They also make a great birthday party gift for the child who already has every toy sold at Target. She has a monthly newsletter that highlights different products and has fun gift ideas for everyone on your list. Next time you are looking for a gift for someone who has everything (sister, brother, friend or grandma), visit Broadcasting Baby and you will surely find something unique and useful. And if you ever dreamed of owning your own business- think about Phyllis and her 5 year journey to arrive here, today. She is a great example of someone who doesn’t quit when the going gets rough.