Tuesday, March 11, 2014

March's Featured Customer - Jona Lourenco of Nikki's Closet

Please help me in welcoming
Jona Lourenco of Nikki's Closet.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business. 
My name is Jona Lourenco and I have been married to my best friend, Nick, for 6.5 years. We have two children, Nicole, who is 3 years old, and Jonathan, who is 8 months old. I sell homemade items for children. I sew clothes, but am working to focus more on accessories and fun extras that make childhood just a little more fun! My business name is Nikki's Closet and I sell on Facebook and on Etsy.
Where are you located?
We live in Lake Elsinore, California. Both my husband and I were born and raised in Southern California and we love living here where we are close to family and get to enjoy wonderful weather all year long!

What was your background prior to starting your business?
I actually spent 7 years in college getting my degree, credential, and M.Ed. in education. I am currently able to stay at home with our children, but will hopefully go back to the classroom once our children start school. I love teaching kindergarten and first grade!
What got you started in your business?
I started my business in 2011, soon after Nicole (Nikki) was born. I found that I had time to craft while she was napping and over time friends and family suggested that I start selling the items that I made. From 2011 to mid 2013, I didn't do much to grow my business, but after the birth of Jonathan, I decided it was time to really work on growing Nikki's Closet. Since then, I have worked to network with other businesses and spend more time engaging with my Facebook fans. 

What choices have you made that helped your business the most?
What really helped me was to stop comparing my success/failure to other businesses. For so long I would watch friends' business pages grow and gain fans while mine seemed to plateau. Once I decided to stop comparing my business to others, I was able to focus on ways to make my business stronger. Another resource that really helped me with my Facebook page was purchasing and using the e-book from The Fashion Business Mentor. She offers suggestions on how to get fans to help me know what they look to purchase from boutiques and to eventually sell more through how I market my items.

What mistakes have you made that others could learn from?
For me, one mistake was to underprice my items. When I first started out, I was quoting prices but hadn't realized that I was quoting way too low. Once I started really doing bookkeeping and recording my money in and out, I realized that there were several custom items that I had actually lost money on! After that, I took a few nights to really research online about how to price my items and I sat and created a spreadsheet that factored in the approximate price per inch for fabric, ribbon, elastic, and the approximate cost of items like buttons, snaps, patterns, thread, and other embellishments. By creating this detailed spreadsheet, I am able to better quote prices and make sure that I am making a profit! 

What do you find the most fun and rewarding about having your own business?
I love the fact that I am able to stay at home with my kids and work my own hours! My work area is right next to the toy room and I have my sewing table positioned so I can watch them play while I work. I also love the fact that I get to be creative and decide what I do/don't want to sell.

Tell us a bit about your drive and purpose, your vision for your business.
I'm not really sure at this point. This is something that I am still working out. 

What inspires you to create?
I love creating because at night it is a great time for me to sit in the quiet and just reflect while I create. It's also just really fun to make items and see them be loved by their new owners.

What do you feel makes your work unique?
I feel like my work is unique because it is fun and well made. I pride myself on using high quality materials and I take the time to make the items as professional looking as possible. Everything that I send out is the same quality that I expect from the items that I want for my family.

What’s your favorite piece from your current inventory? Any all time favorites? 
So, I can't quite share my current favorite because it is from a pattern test that hasn't been released! You will just have to head on over and like my page to find out when it has been released! 
My second favorite item in my inventory are the new tooth fairy pillows that I just released. These little plush items are so much fun and can be made with a variety of costumes. I think they are so cute!

Where do you see your business in a year? Or where would you like to see it?
I would love to see my Etsy shop full of fun items and to have booming sales! I would like to be making less custom (one of a kind) orders and have most of my business being done through Etsy or Facebook with items that are set in my inventory. 
Also, in the next year I hope to find a photographer that I can team up with so my items will be more professionally photographed. I feel like many of the details and the "awww" factor is lost on my items because I am not a good photographer.....at all. 

What words of wisdom do you have for readers who are considering starting their own work at home business?
Patience. Lots of patience. It takes time for your name to get out there. When I first started, I envisioned that people would just be lining up to order from me! It took about a year and a half before I had consistent sales from month to month.

As a customer of Whimsical Fabric, what is your favorite thing about our store? 
I love the fabric selection at Whimsical Fabric! They carry so many different cute prints that I haven't seen anywhere else! The prices and sales are also fantastic! I also love how quickly they ship orders. 

What is your favorite item purchased from us?
My favorite item that I have purchased from you is the Costume Clubhouse fabric! I made (and sold) several Halloween treat bags using that fabric! They were so cute and my daughter got several compliments on her bag at our different Halloween festivities!

My second favorite is the Sweetcakes fabric! I mean, seriously, aren't these the cutest mommy and me aprons???

The Sweetcakes will also be featured in my newest product (remember the one I mentioned earlier, that I can't share?)

Anything else you would like to share?
Thank you for taking the time to get to know me and my shop! Feel free to come on over and let me know what you would love to see offered in my shop.
Everyone has a story and I thank you for sharing yours with us Jona!  I have personally really enjoyed reading your responses and getting to know you better.  I wish you much success!  

If you too have enjoyed reading about Jona and her business, please take a minute or two and let her know by liking and leaving a message on her Facebook page.  And don't forget to check out her Etsy store.

PS If you are interested in being featured in one of our future newsletters please send us an email with FEATURE in the title.

Happy creating!
Danielle Storm

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