Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Little Time Management for Empire Builders, and tired folks. :)


As the name of this blog tells you, I am a 9 to 5 chick. Been that way for 20 years. However, now I am a member of the business owner community, which, by the way, still cracks me up and sorta amazes me, because it was not AT ALL a part of my previous life plan.  So, since I wear these two hats, I find myself in a constant struggle with time.  Certainly, I must do well at my brick and mortar gig that gives me those fancy health benefits and clockwork pays on the 15th and 30th. BUT, what about Nikki’s Magic Wand? Where does that fit in? With these 24 daily hours, I need to be a Manager in HR, a wife, a mom, a grand mom, a business owner, a friend, a daughter, granddaughter and shoot, I need to be ME, when most days, I just want to come home and climb in the bed.

Recently, I’ve been pretty candid about feeling paralyzed in my business. I called out to my other business owners and asked for inspiration. They answered loudly and I’m thankful but we ALL know you have to get off your OWN butt; no one else can do that for you. So, I floundered around a bit but then I made a plan because feeling lazy and unaccomplished is NOT how I get down.

Since I decided that I am CLUELESS about effective marketing in particular and that’s where I need the most help:

·         I took to the net and printed out a wealth of information on the topic.

·         I then printed a calendar with open blocks and put a marketing task or two on each day.

·         I look at my new calendar and see what task I am responsible for that day (today’s task was “Write New Blog Entry” Look at me, checking stuff off! J

·         During a conversation last week, with a dear friend and business owner, I lamented that I didn’t have the time or energy, it seemed, to do all I needed to do on Social Media. I told her that I wanted to Tweet more and update my other pages more often but that I hadn’t found the time. She suggested HootSuite and told me I could schedule my Tweets, so I could write a bunch at once and then just set the day they were to post. Say what now???

·         Off to HootSuite I went and set up 20 Tweets and away they went. They’ve been posting each day while I’ve been sipping tea downtown or having a meeting with my co-workers.


My friend also suggested getting an intern to help me. We had one the summer of 2013 and boy would I like another so if you know of any creative folks who’d like to help, work with, learn from a sparkling winner (LOL!!!!) tell them to reach out to me at nikki@nikkismagicwand.com.

 
At the end of the day, I know, I believe and I will work hard enough to be successful. Just gotta get organized, focused and stick to my new plan! J

 

Thanks for reading!

Nikki

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Beautiful Surprise....(A deeply personal blog entry...and departure from biz talk)


A thought has been swirling in my head for the past few days. Whenever I used to make my “bucket” lists, at the top of each and every one would be, “To raise my children to adulthood.” Another one would be “See my future grandchildren grow up.” I realize that these may not be common “bucket” list items but they always were for me. This is because my mother didn’t get that chance. She and I never got to discuss menstrual cycles, plan a prom, attend a graduation, pick a wedding dress or chat when I was a new mother. No, she didn’t get a chance to raise me because I was only 10 when she died.

Fast forward to 2014. My teenage daughter tells me that she is pregnant. What? “But, you’re studying to take the SAT, you’re supposed to leave for college next year! What do you mean?” I nearly screamed. But yes, this was the news and there was no changing it.

So, I cried for days, immediately made my first appt. with a counselor through my company’s EAP and started to journal like a mad woman. I have always been an avid journaler but I started carrying this one around so I could capture every thought related to this shocking news. I poured every angry, sad, disappointed thought into that little book so I wouldn’t pour out hot lava on everyone. I don’t have much of a temper, never been violent. I’ve always been someone who took the turn in the road and tried to make it a comfortable ride. But, whew, this was a BIG, unexpected turn.

I held the information close for a long time and worried how I would feel when she started showing. It was all I could think about, amidst my 9 to 5, my business and my homelife. My mind raced non-stop. I was outwardly calm, set about the tasks at hand, but my mind was moving constantly.

However, interesting things started to happen. While always someone who earned good grades, my daughter was a procrastinator, a “wait til the last minute to do the assignment” type of chick, much to my chagrin, a woman who, as a teen, had once earned the name, Nikki the Nerd. Her laziness drove me bonkers. But now, with the news that her first child was on the way, she got focused. She did well on her SATs, she got ahead of assignments, she was inducted into the National Honor Society. Once summer hit, she worked two jobs. She was a nanny during the day from 7:30am to 6pm and would immediately go to her McDonald’s job until midnight. She worked this way through her entire pregnancy, even when school started again in August. At the mall, she bought things for her son, instead of herself (HUGE). She wanted to buy all of the big items for him since this had been HER choice so she bought the crib and the stroller system. I was seeing a different person. For her 17th birthday, she asked me to pay for her Infant CPR class and her breastfeeding class. Who is this girl?

On 9/18/14, at 3:07 am, her son, my grandson, entered the world, in a room with a mother who had loved him the entire time and a grandmother who fell in love on sight. God knew what I’d always put on my “bucket” lists and Lord willing I’m not going anywhere anytime soon but I have to say, now that he’s here and I can rock him in my arms, I’m extremely thankful for His plan. It’s as if God knew that getting the opportunity to see my children through was of utmost importance to me. A dear friend from high school said that this child came right at his appointed time, to the family he was meant to have. I believe that with my whole heart.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Lashing Out...by our lovely guest, Zora Foote--Beauty and Fashion Correspondent


I was not born beautiful, nor was I raised in a household that put value or emphasis on looks. I remember my mother had a beauty ritual that included Neutrogena bar soap, water and a towel. Soap up, rinse, dry off. She had one tiny pot of deep, brick colored rouge that sat atop her dresser. When she had a wedding, funeral or family pictures she would apply it hastily, in broad strokes then return it to the exact, dustless circle, where it would remain until the next family tragedy (yes-weddings and family pictures count as traditions that evoke tears, fights and sometimes dead bodies). Growing up, when all the girls were getting into make-up, I was getting lessons on why I was named for the first published feminist writer, or attending protest rally “sign decorating parties” as opposed to face decorating lessons.
 It was my childhood filled with these “beauty” gaps that lead me to the world of lashes. To this day I cannot apply a full face of make-up. My blush always appears clownish, my lids are never properly blended, my foundation is generally two shades off, and I’m still not sure if concealer goes on after or before everything else.  I can’t draw a straight line on paper-why could I possibly do it on my quivery eye? Just because I have not mastered the art of make-up does not mean I do not appreciate it. In my late teens I met a gay man who decided to take me on as his project. He would do my hair, “beat” my face mercilessly, try to bring me to my full 5’10 frame and give me tips on what the people outside of Sacramento (my hometown) were wearing. While I could not, and still can’t hold the Minnie Mouse coffee cup he kept his brushes in, I can appreciate a contoured nose, a properly done smokey eye, hollowing of cheeks.  I loved the way I looked “made up” and others did too.
I’ve long since left the bathrooms of my childhood home that were used strictly for relief of bodily functions and not perfecting the female face. I’ve also lost ties with the man who introduced me to the world of beauty but I have not lost my yearn to look “made up” without actually having to apply make-up. And this leads me to lashes. Wonderful, wonderful, lashes. High heels, a perfectly made mojito and a great set of lashes belong in the same category-things that make you happy and feel beautiful-and sometimes miserable at the end of night. Which is why I am here to discuss them with you-as lashes are the quickest way to an evolved face without having to have a degree from Estee Lauder.
Semi Permanent extensions- These are awesome and what I rock daily! I pay my lash lady like I pay the light bill! I get them done once a month-although they will tell you they can stay on for 2-3 months-they sometimes fail to mention that you will need a touch up. You can swim, sweat, and have sex with them on and have no worries of them coming off! I don’t put mascara on mine, but it is perfectly acceptable and safe to do so!
Pitfalls: Semi permanent lashes can be a little pricey. The first set ranges from $150.00 to $400.00. Touchups can be anywhere from $50.00 to $100.00.  Also, beware of uncertified people! Nova Lash and Xtreme lashes are the most popular. Find people who have attended their classes as they get the product directly from them. Other places, nail salons, alleyways, night club bathrooms, have been known to use hair weave glue which can blind you! Another caveat is they aren’t great if you have allergies or sinus problems.
Strip lashes: You have seen these fluttering beauties wink and seduce you from the aisles of drugstores, department stores, and dollar stores. They come in pairs and are one thin strip of lashes. The colors vary from the mundane, “off to work” or the ready for Vegas or a pole-or both! Recently I saw a pair that mimicked old lace patterns, it was as if your eyes had a sexy see thru veil.
These are best self-applied, by a steady, sober hand. Some come with glue, others you have to buy separately. Their prices range from $1.00 to $20.00. They are one time wear-try to make it last and they will pop off at the most unfortunate times. And never leave them on your bathroom counter after a night of going out-I guarantee the next day they will scare the morning coffee out of you!
Pitfalls: You sometimes have to have an artist’s eye or be an architect to get them on straight before the glue becomes overly tacky. They have lash holders,  that look similar to a lash curler-they are supposed to help keep the lash steady as you adhere it to your lash line. Some designs look very fake  therefore careful selection is a must. They can take you from Princess Kate to Madame Drag Queen.
Individual temporary lashes: These can also be found in the beauty section of a variety of stores. These are cousins to the temporary strip lashes only these are “bunches” of lashes. Each bunch has 3-4 lashes bundled together. They are meant to be applied to the top of the natural lash, then continue across. Again, a steady hand is needed, and patience. These suckers can slip, get lost, get glued to your ear, etc.
Pitfalls: The price on these are in the same range as the strip lashes but these take longer, and are more difficult to apply. Not for a beginner.
Latisse (and other chemicals that promote eyelash growth): These came on the market 10 years ago. It promises longer, fuller lashes in months, if used consistently and frequently. It is a chemical that is applied to the lash line nightly. If used correctly it does work. The price is around 150.00 per .5 ounce bottle which can last 4-6 weeks.
Pitfalls:  Latisse can only be found at a doctor’s office or medical spa. It can be pricey, and the results will go away if you stop using it. My personal experience was the product worked, a little too well, as I had a fine fur growing on my upper cheeks. This side effect is quickly mentioned as a possibility. Once I stopped using the product my furry chipmunk cheeks went away. Results typically take 8-16 weeks to show.
If eyes are windows to the soul then lashes are window dressings designed to highlight, entice and show off the eyes. If you are one of the lucky souls who only need a swipe of mascara on your full, natural, thick lashes then promptly ignore the above BUT if you are one of the weak lashed souls who need plumping and lengthening then we have options. Which option is best for you is a journey you must seek out yourself based on your beauty routines and needs. Be it a bar of Neutrogena or a face full of Laura Mercier, you will be the deciding factor on what your windows say about it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What is my motivation?

Never before has this much time passed between posts. I strive to always be completely upfront with you so here's the deal...I was busy. :) No, no, quite frankly, the lag in time comes down to a few things. The two big ones are inspiration and motivation, or lack thereof. I want to talk about slumps today and I hope my candor will help someone. As you know, just based on the title of my blog, I am a 9 to 5 chick. Have been for 20 years. It's all I know. Sometimes I work very hard and sometimes I do not but you know what? The 15th and 30th,  they see fit to direct deposit my cash and I'm so very thankful. Well what I am learning, as you seasoned biz owners know, is that momentum in business requires CONSTANT attention. Constant posts, constant ads, constant spreading the word, etc. I think, since we'd been working with a PR firm that we decided to let them handle things and sort of step back. MISTAKE. It lulled the biz partner and I into a sense of security and if I'm being real, laziness, that we both recognized and due to personal issues, could not shake for a minute. So, as they say, "Step ONE is realizing you have a problem." We've done that and are now all fired up again! We had been checking in with each other during this down time and following certain leads but now we are moving full force ahead. We've invested FAR too much time and money to not see this thing through. I have never wavered from the fact that EVERY home (and cosmetic bag) should have a Nikki's Magic Wand in it and if the makers of Silly Bandz can be millionaires, we damn well should be able to be successful!

So, in the vein of being fired up and ready to take over the world, AGAIN, we are offering FREE shipping on any number of Wands you buy on Amazon.com and also Buy One Get One on the website: www.nikkismagicwand.com.

Finally, while I'm sure you adore me :) you don't need to hear from me all the time. We'd LOVE to have you be a guest blogger on our website, provided you are in the fashion, beauty, small biz, money raising (JoAnn Forrester :)) arenas. Seriously, we want to feature you on our website.

Email me at nikki@nikkismagicwand.com so we can get you rolling and blogging.

As always, I thank you for reading..
Nikki

Monday, June 23, 2014

It's all about connections....

 I am feeling extra sunny today so I thought this would be the perfect time to sit down and fill ya in. The new Mary Kay Consultant thang is moving along. I had an Open House, where friends stopped in, sipped, nibbled, talked make-up and placed orders. It was a blast! Thanks again to those faithful ones who always lovingly support my whimsical life. :)

So, there's more exciting news! Since I last posted, we entered talks with someone who connected us with the folks who decide what will air on QVC (we've been selling on the QVC.com since September) and it seems we're close to getting an on air spot. Please cross all of your fingers and toes. :)

AND, hot off of the presses (as of last night) comes this news. The biz partner has secured a multistore deal with Woo Skincare and Cosmetics. Soooo, in addition to their Atlanta store, we'll also be sold in their Charlotte and Nashville stores. Yay!!!

AND the biz partner and the Wand were featured on tv in Atlanta last week.

AND, I was featured on the Empress of Biz, JoAnn Forrester's show, talking about building the business and lessons learned.

One of the many joys of having and growing this business is meeting new people and making new connections. I've had the pleasure of meeting some amazing people during this journey.

Here are a few:

1. Allyn Lewis--PR Diva--A model/biz powerhouse who is strategically crafting her empire. Contact her for PR, Social Media, Website help. www.allynlewis.com
2. Christina Cummings--Owner/President of the Turbie Twist--One of the most generous biz women I know. She has opened her Rolodex and let me take a look. Go get a Turbie Twist TODAY! www.turbietwist.com
3. Michelle--Owner of Hair Addict LLC--A down to Earth, hair guru to the stars. If you're in Toms River, NJ, you need to check her out!
4. Robyn Santiago--Illumination PR--This is my sweetheart, who I cliqued with at NY Fashion Week and she has been a gem to me. She's out of NY and totally kind and amazing. She's doing BIG things! www.illuminationpr.com
5. Catenya McHenry--Orca Communications--Catenya is your super polished, but down to Earth friend. She's a hard worker and has formed a lovely friendship with the biz partner. Ask for her when you call Orca. She's the real deal. www.orcacommunications.com
6. JoAnn Forrester--The Empress of Biz--She's been an entrepreneur for decades and continues to help folks new to the biz world. She is a treasure. www.empressofbiz.com

There are so many more that I promise to list soon. I just wanted to thank those listed above for being open hearted and fabulous examples of powerhouses in this business world.

As always, thank you for reading,
Nikki

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Planning for the future....

Hey ya'll! What's been happening? The NMW crew has been plugging away and actually, we sat down and had a strategy session to plan out the rest of 2014. You know how sometimes you have to take a step back to take a bunch of steps forward? We have the PR firm working but that doesn't mean that we can't be on our grind as well. Here are some of the things we discussed:

1. We MUST hunt down the buyers for the large retail establishments where we'd like to be sold.

2. We will try to get to them ourselves but if we can't make headway, we are looking into hiring a broker to do it for us.

3. We want to finally use our Constant Contact account properly and reach out to fab customers and friends of NMW.

4. We want to go back to the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence and have some more brainstorming sessions with them.

5. We want to investigate being sold in online catalogs.

6. We want to investigate being sold on additional websites.

7. We will research Beauty trade shows to see which are the best fit for us.


I have some rather exciting news! Last week, I traveled to the DC/MD area to meet with a local Mary Kay team. One of the consultants had been introduced to the Wand and told her fellow consultants. They LOVED the Wand and almost bought all of the Wands that I'd brought with me. The ladies were very kind I was introduced to the products and the opportunity. Now, I have never sold anything; not make-up, jewelry or kitchen items. I never felt that was "my thing" but I tell you, more and more I am surprised by what has turned out to be "my thing."  The real deal is that I see this venture as partnering with a worldwide cosmetic company to facilitate and enhance the growth of the Wand, while also adding another income stream. Evidently, I have decided that sleep is overrated because this makes THREE jobs now (and we aren't even counting that whole wife and mother thing). :) I am a little tired just thinking about it but when I consider the possibilities of what I can provide for my children, the legacy of hard work and hopefully true wealth, then I'm ALL IN!

So, ya know, if you need some Mary Kay, Wands, or advice on Affirmative Action/ EEO regulations you know where to find me. :)

As always, thanks a million for reading. You guys are the very best,
Nikki

Thursday, April 24, 2014

People and InStyle and TV...OH MY!

Hello!!!!! I have been away from you WAYYYYY too long and I've missed you! Where do I even begin?? It's been such an amazing month since I last updated you. As I've mentioned to you many times before, this entire Nikki's Magic Wand journey has been quite a learning experience. I'm specifically talking about establishing your brand, spreading the word and growing so people can first hear of you, fall in love and slap down their cash for what you're hawking. How do you do that exactly when you have zero experience with it?

Well, you start organically. Let me mention that I'd never used that word related to anything other than high priced produce before this. :) In this case, organically means kinda free. So, initially what we did, as directed, was send Wand samples to bloggers for their reviews and with fingers crossed and clutched pearls, you hope they, #1 Are willing to review it #2 Don't flat out hate what you're selling and #3 If they do indeed love it, then are willing to tell their subscribers. So, off to the post office I went, with package after package, hoping for the best. Thankfully, this worked many times and bloggers really did like it and told people. But, after awhile, that method sort of loses steam so what do you do next?

Well, now's the time to consider spending some money to get the word out. What exactly do you do now? Do you buy TV time? Do you go on the radio? Do you buy an ad in hard copy space? There is another option as well and I'm going to tell you about it, but I need to take a step back first. As you know, NY Fashion Week was one of the most amazing times of my life. I will always think of it with a smile on my face. Well, one of my gifts from NYFW was a woman named Robyn who inspired me from the moment I met her. She founded and owns Illumination PR and was so generous with not only her advice but also with the deliciously flavored Moscato she was hawking at NYFW. :) As we met celebrity after celebrity, many of them mentioned Robyn, how great she was and the fact that she worked with them. Robyn extended herself to me as a friend and fully illustrated the benefits of PR when compared to traditional advertising. I'm not telling you we'll never advertise, certainly we will, but I am here to tell you, having someone dedicated to speaking on your behalf, to contact these beauty editors and TV producers is priceless. Wellll, ok, it comes with a price but and I told you many posts ago, if you can, PLEASE pay people for what they do because it will be done faster and most likely better than you could have done it. We are currently in a campaign right now and Oh My Goodness, it's been amazing. Interest has been expressed from many HUGE outlets like People Magazine, InStyle Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Woman's Day Magazine, two TV shows and Real Simple Magazine. As you may recall, we received a crazy amount of attention and orders after NMW appeared in a Real Simple online feature as one of the "6 items to Simplify Your Life." Now it seems the hard copy magazine is interested in seeing the Wand as well. Woohoo!

Just a few days ago, a TV show in Chicago featured the Wand during an Earth Day segment. After all, my "baby" is great for the environment ensuring less waste! :)

Here's the link:

 
It's been a truly amazing time, with all of the new buzz, as well as invites to entrepreneurial events, business focused podcasts and the like. Who knew I'd be a full on business owner chick that people would want to speak with?! :)
 
Well, I'll end this for now. I will do my very best to fill you in sooner next time.
As always, thank you very much for reading!
Nikki