We have reached the tenth post in The Power Of Broke Community Series! Thank you for being part of such an amazing experience as the feedback has far beyond my expectations!
The previous video in the series featured a great story about former boxing Champ Roy Jones Jr. and a great story of how he exercised the power of broke to get to the Olympics.
This week features a great story of one of my favorite Shark Tank entrepreneurs, Talia Goldfarb from Myself Belts
Learn how her son's need for independence forced her into thinking creatively which subsequently turned a short term fix into a long term business!
When I read Daymond’s Book, The Power of Broke, I realized that I have operated under the “power of broke” philosophy since the launching of my business, Myself Belts.
Prior to starting Myself Belts with my sister, Danielle, I was a social worker working as a therapist with kids in the foster care system. Myself Belts was created out of a necessity, as my toddler needed a belt to keep his pants up after he was potty trained. He of course wanted to be independent, like all toddlers do, so my sister and I invented a belt closure that was easy for kids to use. Having an idea for a business is one thing, but navigating the next steps are the challenge. We didn’t have any experience in business, sales, or marketing, so my sister and I followed our instincts and took affordable next steps (one of Daymond’s favorite phrases!). Looking back, there are specific actions that utilized the ‘power of broke’ that come to mind about our launch in 2004.
Securing PR With Creativity & Common Sense
When we launched Myself Belts, we couldn’t afford to use our limited funds on PR. We chose to use something less expensive, common sense. I knew that there were certain magazines that should want to share information about our innovative new product for kids. So, I went to the bookstore, found the parenting magazines that fit our desired audience (parents), and located the specific pages where I could visualize a future Myself Belts story. I didn’t even buy the magazines, I simply wrote down the editor’s name, the name of the section where I could visualize our feature, and the mailing address.
Next, I sent those editors cute packages explaining our brand-new, must-have accessory for kids and followed that up with phone calls and emails. Maybe if I had had a big marketing budget, I would have hired a PR firm to handle this process and maybe that would have worked. Or maybe, it was the fact that the editors got a hand written note and package from the owner herself that made the difference, but we were featured in most of the magazines a few months later. Those articles led to our first influx of web traffic.
Biggest Is Not Always Best
One of my favorite business stories is about the simplest of choices- the mailbox for Myself Belts. When I went to rent a mailbox, I learned that I could rent many different sized boxes for varying prices. I chose the smallest, cheapest box. I figured that if there were extra mail, they would save it for me. My friend, who was also starting a business, chose the largest box. I wasn’t sure why he made that decision. Perhaps a bigger mailbox meant to him that he was “going for greatness” or made his business feel more real or more important. As time passed, we would sometimes pick up each other’s mail and I always had more mail, but I stayed with my small mailbox.
My friend’s business never took off, for a variety of reasons, but I have always thought that this mailbox choice was indicative of an overall philosophy. Twelve years later, I still have the smallest mailbox. When I go to pick up my mail, they hand me a bin of my excess mail. No one has ever asked me to upgrade, further validating ‘the power of broke’!
Using Other Products In Your Niche To Fuel Your Growth
We used another ‘power of broke’ strategy to kick off our wholesale business. Our first database of boutique stores was developed after visiting the websites of kid-friendly products to learn who wholesaled their products. We believed that if a store liked that product, they would probably like Myself Belts too.
My sister and I mailed hundreds of postcards about our product with the teaser: “call for a free sample”. Meanwhile, in the hopes that our gambit paid off, we express mailed some belts from our initial belt order from China (a big decision at the time) so we would have some stock for stores that called in response to the free sample. We were elated when stores called and in fact about 75% placed orders. This internet sleuthing garnered our first retailers with a minimal investment of postage and samples, and gave us some traction in the market before our first large order even arrived.
Still Using The Power Of Broke To Think Creatively
Despite our success, I still operate under the same pragmatic business philosophy, perhaps one reason Daymond and I get along so well. When we first met, Daymond suggested designing small runs of different belt styles that could be seasonal or custom with the idea that we could build hype given the limited quantity. I liked the concept, but wasn’t sure how I could make that happen since our belts are made in China and have high production minimums.
A few months later, I was reminded of his idea when a local St. Louis company, told me about their new printer that was used print on ribbon for bows, socks, and headbands. I was intrigued and started to speak with my Chinese factory about making a belt that was printable. These printable belts arrived this May and will fundamentally change the way that we are ordering from China. While we will still make our large orders of basic patterns and embroidered styles from China, we now will have the freedom to create more seasonal, small batch belts, and can be more creative with designs and fun styles for our customers. We can market “belts of the month” and perhaps do custom designs. Leveraging another company’s machinery and skill, reducing our inventory, and adding a fresh new marketing play are all ways that we are being creative and operating ‘the power of broke’.
I am confident in saying that no matter what the future holds for Myself Belts, the power of broke will remain at the core of what we do and who we are.
I hope you enjoyed Talia's story! Please join the conversation and let me know your thoughts!
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Have a great day! - DJ