Featured Member

Each month we will feature a TeamCircle member & their business. This page will be closed for comments as we'd like you to reach out to the member on their page, introduce yourself and get to know them better. After all, isn't that what we're here for!!

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MEET CHRISTINA - Stacie's Gifts - Featured member for January 2010

How do you describe your business?

Stacie's Gifts is an online boutique offering an array of fine jewelry, and a variety of fashion accessories. We also have a small local operation across the Tampa Bay Area where our items are displayed and sold at other retail sites.

How did you come to be in your business?

Stacie's Gifts was formed under Harris and Associates in 2006, as a part-time enterprise with myself and a few family members. In 2007, our operation moved online to StaciesGifts.com. In 2008, I experienced a loss of employment as the economy sank. Stacie's Gifts was then converted to a full-time operation.

What are the three best things about doing the work that you do?

One of the best things about my work is the opportunity to interact with people both on and offline from all walks of life. From everyday customers, to other small business owners. There is never a dull moment.

Second, my work provides a real opportunity to be more self-reliant. I no longer have the concerns for my livelihood I use to have as a traditional employee. I can create a living on my own terms.

Third, with growing a business there is a constant feeling of accomplishment. My self-esteem and confidence has soared since creating Stacie's Gifts.

How do you view the question of spending time working on your business... as distinct from working in the business?

Working on the business, is just as important as working in the business. A good example is staying in contact with current customers via newsletter. Now, I don't normally see a flood of orders immediately after a company email is sent. However, it's much easier to acquire repeat business from existing customers through regular contact than it is to constantly bring in new customers. In fact, some of my current customers have helped bring in new customers.

If you suggested blogging, social media, or newsletter writing back when StaciesGifts.com first started, I would have cringed. The company initially functioned just fine selling our products locally, or just working in the business. After drastic trends were identified, it became clear that working on the business really is important.

What has been the biggest change that you've seen in your market since you started your business?

The products we market are considered "feel good" items. The biggest change in the retail market has been the drop in demand for fashion accessories. This has been primarily due to the slump in the economy. To counter this, we introduced more of the everyday items in our local retail sales. In addition to jewelry, our current inventory includes hair accessories, warm weather scarves, travel kits, scented handmade soap, and other body products.

Where do you see the trends for your line of business in the next 5 years, and what do you foresee as opportunities and threats?

Currently the recession is the most immediate threat to Stacie's Gifts. Rather than wait for the economy to rebound or hope for the best, we have found opportunity in the growing trend of online social media. The economy will eventually recover. In the meantime, social media is currently growing at a phenomenal rate. SM provides an excellent opportunity for any online business to grow in any kind of economy. With continued use, our goal is to completely move all of our business operations online over the next 5 years.

Who has been your greatest role model, and what lessons have you learned from them that you've taken into the way you do business?

Tina Elmore-Wright of Merchant Circle has been a leading role model for me. She owns Scents of Peace, and was featured by Merchant Circle a year ago. She mentioned in her press release in so many words that you can't just sit back and wait for the business to pour in. At the time, this information was difficult to swallow. However, I decided to follow her MC profile. Tina decided to close her local store as a result of the recession. However, she was very creative in using MC to stay in business. She created a website to replace her local store. In addition, she continued to promote her business locally by holding classes on making handmade soap. A year later, she has survived the economy and is re-opening her store in a new location.

What I have learned from her is business doesn't just pour in, your have to work on your business all the time. It is possible to pull your company up by the boot straps if you are willing to change, adapt, and find new solutions.

What is it that you believe, sets you and your business apart from others in your industry?

Our size gives us the advantage of providing personalized service to all our customers. We're able to provide a warm friendly buying experience. In addition, our shopping blog provides a myriad of free consumer information for everyone. We educate the public on how to purchase securely online, and how to care for and insure your jewelry. Our blog has also moved toward gift giving tips. We noticed that our competitors blogs were primarily focused on either company announcements, or celebrity fashion trends. To differentiate ourselves, our posts provide "how-to" information consumers can use in their day-to-day lives.

If there were one thing that customers believed about your business, what would you most like it to be?

In addition to providing quality products, we are a fair and honest business with the customers best interest in mind.

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