Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Speaking of the "Wand Word" we got the biggest surprise a few weeks ago. At about noon on 3/7/14, I got a notification on my phone, of a sale from our website and those notifications kept coming every few minutes. My phone was going crazy with notifications and I had to know what was going on. The best friend/biz partner and I were on the phone trying to figure it out. Finally, I sent an e-mail to some of the new customers, thanking them for their order and asking where they'd heard about us. They shared that they had received their e-mail subscription from RealSimple.com and we were shown in a feature called, "6 Clever Items to Simplify Your Life." WHAT?????? Oh. My. Goodness. We were SOOOOO excited and happy. Those orders kept coming for days too! :)
Here's the link to the feature:
A while ago, I set up a Google Alert to inform me anytime something new was posted about NMW on Google and I woke up to one last Thursday, 3/13. There was an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about yours truly. :) I had been contacted for an interview in late January after I'd done a Press Release about NMW's 12 Months of Giving. My new friend, Kathleen, at the Post called me in early February and we had a nice chat about the business, the charities, the future of the Wand and out Pitbulls. It was so nice being referred to as, "A Newsmaker You Should Know" in the article.
Here's the link to the article:
Back in February, I had the honor and privilege of participating in a panel at Robert Morris University, during their "Business Week". During that event, I was chatting with Anne Schlict, from the Center for Women's Entrepreneurship at Chatham, and she mentioned knowing Lani Lazzari, a very successful business owner (www.simplesugarscrub.com) who had been featured on Sharktank. Anne very kindly offered to make an e-mail introduction. Well, just today, I was able to speak with Lani and pick her brain on her Sharktank experience and I was able to ask her questions about her success (she is the most successful and popular guest on Sharktank to date.) She was open and warm and it just further illustrated to me that no matter how successful you become, you can always give back, in the way of truth and knowledge.
Finally, I want to tell you about something cool. You may be aware of "Beauty Box" subscriptions. Well, one of our friends/business partners, Ashley Thompson and Elliven Spa has been carrying the Wand for awhile now. Ashley has started to offer for subscription, Beauty Boxes, where you purchase a box and get goodies from various beauty companies. Ashley reached out to me and said she'd like to include NMW. I'm telling you, when people express interest in your product, it is the best feeling ever! It will never, ever get old. So, we were one of the offerings in her first ever Beauty Box and we are so proud to be affiliated with Ashley and Elliven Spa.
As you can see, it's been an exciting few weeks since I last wrote. I love being able to come to you with some cool news. :)
As always, thank you so much for reading!
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Hey! I am completely embarrassed that I totally missed blogging in February but I'm determined to start March off right! Sooooo many amazing things have happened since my last post.
Shelves-- I'm telling ya, when people say how important networking is, they aren't lying! Through a referral from a dear high school friend, we secured our first shelf in Philadelphia! Nikki's Magic Wand is now for sale at Oxsun Spa!! Check us out there!
Speaking of Networking-- The best friend/biz partner was referred to someone at Nordstrom's so we could pitch NMW!!!! We have sent information and samples and are currently biting our nails, waiting to hear something! We also have a referral to someone at Target and Macy's. When I told you that 2014 was about shelves, I promise you I meant it!!!!
Spreading the Word-- I had the honor of being interviewed by a new friend at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, who asked some thought provoking questions. I'll let you know when the article comes out. :) Also, since we last chatted, the beautiful Demeatria Bocella called me and asked if I'd like to include the Wand in gifts bags for super model, Beverly Johnson, former Editor in Chief of Essence, Constance White and two Macy's reps...um, YES I would and I did!!!!
Speaking of Honor-- Ohmygoodness!!! The Soul Pitt Quarterly magazine included me on their cover, along with some great movers and shakers. They also threw us a mixer, where they gave us plaques and we got to mingle. The experience was fabulous.
12 Months of Giving Campaign-- I know that I'm a mushy chick. I own that, but I have to tell you, the love and support we've received since we kicked off this campaign has been so beautiful. In January, through donations of money, time and items, we were able to gift 32+ blankets and books to children. In February, we all pulled together and visited three homeless shelters and gifted 68 bags of essentials/blankets to the residents. The remaining 32 bags have been and will be given directly to the needy.
This campaign has honestly been life changing and it's only just beginning.
This month we will be supporting the Animal Rescue League.
I'm sure I'm forgetting something but I'll fill you in if it comes to me.
Thank you so much for reading. 😀
Sunday, January 12, 2014
The word that keeps swirling around in my mind is SHELVES. We MUST get on more shelves. So we are laser focused on making more connections, talking to more people, pitching NMW to more retail establishments and going after some big beauty shelves: Target, Ulta and my heart's desire...Sephora. We WILL find these buyers and tell them why they MUST get NMW on their shelves.
Let's see, what else has happened since we chatted? Oh, yes, I had a very nice e-mail exchange with the Executive Beauty Editor of O, The Oprah Magazine!!! Talk about my heart's desire. Oh man, I will faint on the spot WHEN (not if) we appear in that magazine! I sent some Wands and information over to NY so we'll see were that goes.
Just yesterday, I had the honor and privilege of being interviewed for a movie focused on small businesses. I had a great time! I was asked questions like, "What is the most inspirational book I've read? (Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou) What advice would I give someone who is interested in starting a business? (Be 100% sure that you believe in what you're doing and that you are ALL IN because there will be obstacles and at times it will be tempting to put the idea down but your complete dedication will keep pushing you along)." I can't wait for the viewing!
The biz partner/best friend has been reading the book written by The Shark Tank sharks and she's been filling me in on their tips and tricks. I have vowed to do more reading this year and that will absolutely include information about growing this business. The main focus now is marketing, marketing, and marketing. We took a stab at some paid advertising and lo and behold, it was a success! Sales really sparked up. :)
The last thing I want to tell you about has me crazy excited. We decided to do a 12 Months of Giving campaign. I asked friends and customers to tell me which causes were close to their hearts and I took those suggestions and slotted them into the 12 months of 2014. NMW will support (with time/money) these causes, with the help of whomever is interested. I will include the list of causes below. I am SO excited about this campaign because I honestly believe that we all have the ability to make a difference, even if it will just help one person. If you are interested in supporting any of the causes on the list, let me know at email@example.com. We'd love to have you!
January 2014- Linus Project (Blankets for traumatized children)-
February 2014- The Rescue Mission (Helps the Homeless)
March 2014- The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
April 2014-- Autism Awareness Month
May 2014-- Veterans' Services
June 2014-- Domestic Violence Services
July 2014--March of Dimes (Assists babies)
August 2014--The Sanctuary Project (addresses violence in the community)
September 2014--Animal Rescue League
October 2014--Bethlehem Haven (Women in Shelters)
November 2014-- Cupcakes for Smiles (A treat for all)
December 2014--Every Child, Inc. (Assists children in foster care)
As always, thanks for reading!
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Ok, here goes:
1. Get on more local shelves this year. What shelves you ask? Boutiques, Gift Shops, Salons and Spas. And local is not just the 'Burgh, where I am, but more Mom and Pops who could make some money selling NMW.
2. Now this is a big one. Get on some national shelves. Now dig deep. Who knows how to get in touch with the buyers at Sephora, Ulta, Target, other national chains? Help ya girl out.
3. Get more press--local and national. Radio, newspapers, magazines. I know there's a mover and a shaker who can help make this come true. My biz partner always says, "Girl, you have a story to tell."
4. Get some features on tv. A Valentine's/Mother's Day gift guide. A story about how a chick from around the way invented something, while holding down a 9 to 5, and she happens to be brown.
5. Because I love this SO much, more opportunities to speak to the youth about the corporate life and entrepreneurship. If there's any way my little story could make someone think they CAN do something they previously thought they could not, then I would be OVER THE MOON.
6. Grow our Magic Money Makers Sales Force around the country. You buy from me at the wholesale price and then sell them at the retail price for a 100% profit. Come on and make some money in 2014!
7. If you hear about features on Ellen, Katie, etc where small businesses are being featured or able to compete for some cash or something, PLEASE let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. Let me know of opportunities where you think we can work together. I want to support more small businesses this year and we could possibly have a beautiful partnership at an event, on a project, etc.
9. I'm sure there's more but begging is not my style so I'll stop here. My final request is for your continued support, love and good thoughts. I can't do any of this without those things.
I sincerely hope and pray that 2014 is THE BEST year of your life! That's what I'm planning and embracing for me and for NMW.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
The Nikki's Magic Wand launch, held on December 22, 2012 was a party of a lifetime. It was the official introduction of the Wand, in the flesh, to friends and family and press. It was honestly a dream come true. The love and support in that building was palpable. Little did I know that party was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to love and support. In the months to come, friends and family showed up and showed out by flooding the website with orders, popping up in my Facebook Inbox with idea after idea about how I could further expose NMW. The networking took on a life of its own with introductions by kind people to generous new friends who wanted to help in any way they could.
We continued to be guided by the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, on Pitt's campus but a lot of decisions were based on our guts. Doing what felt right, avoiding what felt wrong. We made the pact to live in each moment, thankful for whatever was happening at that second. Accepting rejections quickly and focusing on the lesson we were to gain from it. We brainstormed about ways to spread the word of NMW; we did Valentine's, Mother's Day, Nikki's in a Good Mood promotions. In February, we added Amazon.com as a distribution channel. As of this writing, we remain 5 star chicks on that site (NMW has garnered a rating of 5 stars from each reviewer). We gave away hundreds of Wands and did multiple BOGOs just to get them in hands. We sent them to bloggers and started to gather some glowing reviews. We kept on that path and coasted through the first half of the year. Then at mid-year, things started to really pick up. I appeared on the Lynne Hayes-Freeland show and then more blog reviews started to show up. We were fortunate to engage a summer intern (Sean) and he began to diligently work through our marketing plan. Sean started contacting more bloggers and beauty schools but he made two very important connections. He called GBK Productions (a company that produces gifting suites for celebrities at major events) and arranged a call with me and the best friend/biz partner. GBK's next event was NY Fashion Week and they thought NMW would be a great fit. I have detailed that trip here but I will just quickly say again, it was one of the best four days of my entire life. We placed NMW in celebs' and press' hands and as exciting as it was to meet these phenomenal talents, the fact that they genuinely liked and "got" NMW was fortifying and amazing. While we were planning to attend NY Fashion Week, we were also preparing to be featured in QVC's Sprout program. Lo and behold, unbeknownst to us, Sean, the intern, had submitted NMW to them and they were interested. After sending them samples and being fully evaluated, we started competing against two other products at midnight on August 31, 2013, (the first set of products featured after the Sprout program's summer break). Of course I ran to Facebook to encourage, beg, plead for votes. By the time we returned from Fashion Week, we had one more week of voting and on September 13, 2013, it was announced to the world that Nikki's Magic Wand had WON the contest. WHAT????? I started getting calls to be featured in local newspapers, the blog reviews continued and now new reviews were cropping up from the press that we met in NY during Fashion Week. Man oh man, September was a mind-blowing month for us. October was not too shabby either, as I was invited to be a guest on "Our Region's Business" with Bill Flannigan and that interview led to orders and more connections. It was also the month that our newly hired PR person started working and striving to get us some features in a few glossy magazines (she's still working for us at this writing). Throughout all of this activity, I attended every vending event to which I was invited, selling Wands one by one and meeting new friends.
So many wonderful things happened this year that I haven't even mentioned, like the fact that there are Wands in the White House (thank you Ali).
At the end of the day, well year, one phrase keeps swirling around my head....Thank You. We are just so thankful to everyone who bought a Wand, who wished us positive thoughts, who spread the word, who invited me to attend a vending event, who wrote about me or the Wand. Thank You for believing and trusting in me and the Wand.
I couldn't be more excited about what 2014 will hold. We've spread the word, had some great exposure but there's still so, so much more to do. This year we WILL apply to Shark Tank, we WILL make connections to get to the buyers at Sephora, Ulta, Target. We WILL begin to work on the next product in the Nikki's Magic Wand line. And we WILL continue to go out of our way to give you a great product, that saves you money, while providing great customer service and most importantly by showing you just how much we appreciate you.
As always, thank you for reading. There's so much more to come!
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Since we last chatted on 10/16, things have been progressing well. Wands continue to sell on QVC.com, Amazon and nikkismagicwand.com. We love having distribution channels where people can drop Wands in their "cart" and try out the BEST cosmetic tool ever! :)
Oh, remember, the last time I told ya'll I'd been invited to be a guest on "Our Region's Business" with Bill Flannigan? Well, I did the show and it was a WONDERFUL experience. Really great! I even got to hang out in the "green" room like the celebs waiting to go on tv! :)
Check me out:
Right around the time of my last post, a public relations person that we hired started working for us and she's been making contacts with big, glossy publications like Allure, Shape Magazine, etc. AND, we were featured on Allure.com!!!
Check out the review:
At this time, we are gearing up for the holiday season. Can you think of a better stocking stuffer? Of course, I can't. :)
The best friend/biz partner and I are in reflection mode:
1. Did we do our best to spread the Nikki's Magic Wand name in 2013?
2. What could we have done differently?
3. What will 2014 hold?
4. Where do we put our precious dollars?
5. How do we make NMW a household name?
6. Do we try to get on Shark Tank like every single person has asked us? :)
I can't WAIT to list all of the phenomenal things that have happened since we launched almost a year ago. Stay tuned.
As always, I can't thank you enough for going on this journey with me. I've been writing this blog for over a year now and it continues to bring me joy.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Before we had left for NY, on 8/31, at midnight, voting began on QVC.com for their Sprouts program and we were one of the products for which the public could vote. This program gives up and coming companies the chance to compete with other such companies and the world gets to vote on which product they'd like to see featured on QVC. The voting was to run until 9/13 and we had been encouraging everyone we knew to vote, vote, vote because, if we won, we'd secure a purchase order from QVC and who doesn't want THAT? :)
So, it's 9/13 and I am participating in a fundraising event at my 9 to 5 but I check my phone and there is an e-mail informing us that we came in as runners-up in the competition. We were a bit bummed but, hey, Jennifer Hudson didn't win Idol and look at her! So, we pulled ourselves together and kept moving. A little later on the same day, the best friend/business partner calls me and says these words, "Nikki, we won!" Huh? She begins to inform me that there was a correction e-mail sent and we did indeed win the competition. OMG!!!!!!! We were OVER the moon! After having just returned from a successful trip to NY, we won the QVC contest and would now be able to sell on QVC. Wow wow wow.
After having a packing party (thank you to my packing team) I shipped off 250 units of NMW 3 packs and they began selling on QVC. As of this writing, we are not only almost 1/2 way sold through, but we also have ALL 5 star reviews on QVC.com. We remain 5 star chicks! :) (We have all 5stars on Amazon.com). :)
In addition to all of that excitement, the newspaper articles, reviews and blog posts that have been coming out since early September have been absolutely amazing! I have been invited to speak at a few events (which I LOVE). I was invited to be a guest on "Our Region's Business" with Bill Flanigan, on WPXI and just this past Monday, I was honored to be featured on Ola Jackson's blog radio show, to discuss being an inventor and entrepreneur. Check it out...www.blogtalkradio.com/onyxwoman/2013/10/14/making-it-in-the-beauty-biz.
Wait, there's more! :) While in the gifting suite in NY, we met a woman named Margot Black who happens to be a Publicist and we decided to hire her to get our brand out there even more. Fingers crossed she can secure some glossy magazines and tv spots. She says we'd make THE PERFECT feature for last minute stocking stuffer items. Let me tell you, if I see Nikki's Magic Wand on a table, being featured on the Today show, I'm going to fall right over!
I can't mention all of this without also mentioning how absolutely stunned and thankful I am for all of it. I don't take any of it for granted. The fact that an idea I had....me, Nikki from West Oak Lane in Philadelphia, PA is now a product which people far and wide are not only using but enjoying....I'm just amazed, proud and oh so thankful.
As always, thank you for coming along for the ride.