3 Easy Steps to Start A Business!

Ha!  Did you really think you could start a business in 3 steps- never mind that the steps would be easy? But now that I have your attention, darlings,  I don’t want to disappoint, so here are 3 things you will definitely need to start a business.

#1 – MONEY

You may not even need more than you have, but you’ve got to be willing to spend it, without knowing if you’ll ever get a return on it. How do you up the odds for getting your investment back? That brings us to:

#2 – PERSEVERANCE

If you believe in yourself, and keep going no matter the odds or obstacles, you stand a very good chance of success.

#3 – PROFITABLE IDEAS

If you have a little money and a lot of determination, you better be sure that your idea is something you’ll find a market to sell to. Even really clever ideas can end in failure. The founder of Dyson vacuum cleaners, James Dyson, started his career manufacturing an improved wheelbarrow called the “Ballbarrow”.  By replacing the wheel with a ball, it became more stable and easier to maneuver. So what happened to this invention that seems an obvious improvement to the wonky wheelbarrow design?

“There’s no money in wheelbarrows!” – James Dyson, (How I Built This)

It failed because people weren’t buying new wheelbarrows in quantities that were profitable. But what James Dyson had in the end was perseverance, because he just moved on to another idea that led to his $3 billion empire.

Now, let me tell you how hard it actually is to start a business. I’m 16 months into I Love My Nighty and what I have is a handful of samples that still need adjustments in either material or design. And I am not making something that hasn’t been done before. These are nightgowns, people. They’ve been around since the dawn of sleeping! But besides designing my nighties, here’s what else I’ve been doing:

You promised three easy steps!

Mind you, I had essentially never done any of the things on this list before last year. So, where to begin?

First of all, I had to figure out what tasks even belong on this to-do list! Once I had the list, I could begin tackling it. But learning about each topic individually is very time consuming. Throughout it all, the fear lingers in the forefront of every decision. How much will this cost? How long will it take? How will I find people to buy it? What if it’s not a good idea after all? And so on…

A challenge I recently faced was my first opportunity to meet with manufacturers, which I was encouraged to do through a B2B event in Lima, Peru. I did everything I could to prepare for something I’ve never done before. The only catch was I had to fly to Peru from a family vacation, which I was simultaneously planning.  No problem, I’ll pack a separate suitcase, organize a car service to get me to the airport 2 hours before departure and I’ll  be good.

But, being distracted because I was actually on vacation, I never thought to check the flight status until it was time to leave for the airport. That’s when the trip fell apart and I didn’t make it more than ten blocks from the hotel before I was forced to make a quick decision: either ignore that all signs were suddenly flashing “don’t go” and find a replacement for my very delayed flight, or just let it go and leave with my family who were ready to drive back home.  If only I’d checked the status 1 hour earlier, I would’ve had it all sorted out by the time the car service arrived. Now I would miss my connection and needed to think quick.

Flight delay = Business delay

I had a very short window to find  a new flight that I could get to on time- and would get me to Lima in time for my appointments the next morning- which proved to be a challenge laden with risk, so… I  gave up. And that hurt. It hurt bad giving up. And it hurt to know that as prepared as I thought I was, I failed because I was too busy posting on Instagram to think about my flight. Ok, that’s a tad dramatic because I had actually spent as much time listening to a Louise Hay meditation to prepare myself for anything that would come my way that day. Boy, did that ever pay off!

In the end, because of the preparation I’d done, I knew all the factories I wanted to meet and after a simple email explaining I wouldn’t be there, I heard not only that my number one choice actually wanted to work with me, but that others were more than happy to start the process through email and snail mail. So, nothing was lost, and more importantly I was safe with my family.

So, if you’re thinking of starting a business, get gutsy and be kind to yourself. I’ve definitely been facing challenges along the way and can’t help but feel frustrated that I’m not further ahead. I have so many designs in mind and I want nothing more than to bring them into existence to help all of YOU lounge lovelier.

But I can rest assured that this need is not going away, and neither am I!

Take Back the Olympics

Hello Lovelies!

You may not know that I am quite the enthusiast of the Winter Olympics and have been watching as much as I can since it started two weeks ago. My ideal lifestyle is living in the snowy mountains, getting up early and doing my sunrise salutations, then hitting the slopes until the sun goes down. Naturally, I’d top it off with an après ski drink, a soak in the hot tub and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne by the fireplace! I envy the women who get to spend their lives surrounded by the beauty of snow and ice.

But there is a dark side that many of these female athletes face, and I was inspired to write about it after seeing the Oscar nominated film, I, Tonya.

I went into I, Tonya, thinking it was going to be funny. Why would I have thought that? Because everybody from friends to film critics described it as a “dark” comedy. As I watched the portrayal of the incredibly devoted and talented figure skater, Tonya Harding, endure the emotional and physical abuse her mother and husband inflicted upon her, I was holding back the tears, wondering where the humor was. Yes, the people on-screen came across as laughable, but knowing the story is told through Harding’s own words, there was a realization that I wasn’t watching movie characters created to be comical, I was witnessing an authentic depiction of her actual life.

Tonya Harding was an outcast pushed to her limits by her abusers. “He hit me, but she hit me, but they loved me,” Harding says in the 2014 documentary, The Price of Gold. Nevertheless, she persisted and her resiliency ultimately got her through everything to reach her goal of getting to the Olympics.

I, Tonya comes at an important time in history. The Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang are wrapping up. Dr. Lawrence Nassar, has been sentenced for his sexual abuse crimes and the #metoo movement is creating a foundation of trust so that a woman can break her silence and find much needed support. Before I saw this film, I had no idea that Harding had been abused. Rather than letting the takeaway for the viewer be whether she did or didn’t know about the attack on Nancy Kerrigan, Harding is giving us a chance to see what her life was really like. Once judged so harshly by the public, she’s suddenly more credible surrounded by the other events happening in this moment.  

And Harding’s story is not unlike many other female athletes who were once silent for fear of jeopardizing her reputation and career. Dr. Nassar, the physician who previously worked with the American gymnastics team, probably wished he could silence the more than 150 women who joined together and one after the other, faced their abuser and told the world, ‘me too’. The former must-see doctor was directly addressed in court in January, where his victims recounted the abuse they endured under his care. Did you know it takes seven days for this many women to have her say? 

Among the harrowing stories unleashed that week, gymnast and Olympic medalist Jordyn Wieber revealed, “I thought that training for the Olympics would be the hardest thing that I would ever have to do. But, in fact, the hardest thing I would ever have to do is process that I am a victim of Larry Nassar.”

“I was attacked on social media. … People didn’t believe me, even people I thought were my friends. They called me a liar, a whore, and even accused me of making all of this up just to get attention.” Despite all that, gymnast Jamie Dantzscher, persisted and she too became an Olympic medalist.

The Nassar trial is not the first time an Olympic athlete has had an opportunity to publicly disclose her abuse. In 2012, Kayla Harrison, overcame the abuse from her coach and went on to win Olympic gold in Judo. In her post win interview, when she should have been recounting the hard work she put in to get to this moment, she instead exposed the horror she endured in the hands of her pig. 

And the abuse is not limited to gymnastics and judo. USA Swimming recently released a once secret list of 150 coaches banned for life for sexual misconduct with swimmers. In February, former Olympic swimmer Ariana Kukors described in new detail the decade of sexual abuse her coach inflicted as he “groomed” her for success. “It’s not appropriate for a coach to be alone in a hotel room behind closed doors with their athlete. If I save one person who’s currently being groomed. If I have a dialogue with one parent about something that they think is alarming with their child and their coach… this is worth it — as painful as it is,” Kukors said through tears. Kukors was able to persist, but how many young girls didn’t and had her whole athletic career taken away by the fear and shame these predators inflicted? 

Thankfully, this epidemic is finally being recognized on the world stage. In January at the World Cup races in Italy, elite women skiers showed their support for all victims by donning race bibs featuring in red capital letters — “STOP VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS”.

Olympic champion skier Lindsey Vonn, who wore the protest bib, remarked, ”This is the time for women to stand up and this is an opportunity for us to change our system and how women are treated in the world — not just the workplace.”

There are so many stories coming out of the 2018 Winter Olympics, and it’s a relief to focus on the positive experiences so many female athletes have. Maame Biney and Erin Jackson are the first black speed skaters on the women’s US short and long track teams. Snowboarder, Chloe Kim, the youngest gold medal winner in women’s halfpipe, has a close relationship with her father who warmed our hearts with his sweet homemade “Go Cloe” sign. Downhill skier, Mikaela Shiffrin who is crushing it as World Cup leader and winner of Olympic gold  and silver medals, tweeted after coming in fourth in slalom, “I wouldn’t change that for the world. For me the Olympics is about showing heart and passion as much as it is about medals.”

So, as our hearts swell alternately with sorrow and adoration, I want to say thank you to all the female athletes who have persisted in following her dreams all the way to the world stage. Watching you is an inspiration and we are here for you.

 

Yours Truly,

Maureen

 

P.S.

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Happy New Year!

Good evening, Lovelies!

As we all welcome 2018, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the year gone by. In my premier blog post I wrote about the prequel to my nighty adventure, and left the story hanging preciously, like a vintage peignoir.

Time for a new nighty!

I started 2017 on an adventurous high. I had spent the last half of 2016 doing a lot of self reflection to help overcome the doubt and fear that comes with starting a business. I’m about to give you a bit of insider information, so please do lean in closer.

When the time comes to make a big decision, we often look for signs to help confirm our intuition or assuage our self-doubt. My sign came in a tarot card reading. Sound strange? It isn’t if you believe that when you ask the universe for answers, you must be open to finding them in ideally, obvious- but potentially esoteric ways. My #bff Kelly encouraged me to get an intuitive reading with the gifted Donna Russo.  I went to her with one question:

“What do I do with all of these creative ideas that I feel passionate about, but don’t feel capable of following through with?”

What if fashion is my passion?

The answers that came up that day were:

  • Let go of worry.
  • Trust the universe and the angels are looking out for me.
  • My ideas are positioning me for success.

WOW! Do you feel the chills that I did that day in May? These messages were just what I needed to help move past my uncertainty and into action to create my very own line of women’s loungewear.

So when the dawn of 2017 came into view, I was ready to go-go. I had already sketched out my first few nightgown designs and was sewing them for myself. Now it was time to have patterns made so that I could eventually manufacture the designs on a larger scale. I found Martha Palaza, a wonderful woman who had the patience to work with me, and we created the first block pattern by which all other designs will be based from.

Once we had that pattern, I reached out to my friends at the Cambridge, MA stitch lounge, Gather Here and found Suriah May Phillips, another skilled seamstress. We’ve been sewing samples and perfecting the designs since mid-August, and at the close of the year, we’re still working on them! It’s critically important to get the fit and fabric on-point, so spending the time now will make everything more fabulous down the road.

I don’t have a business background so taking business classes was another top priority. Since signs were so important to me, I was stunned when I found an article in the Improper Bostonian about the recently Kickstarted brand, Vetta Capsule, that had gone through an accelerator program for fashion start-ups called Factory45. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. There’s a program for someone like me, with an appealing apparel idea but don’t know how to go about turning it into a reality? If I hadn’t found that article that day, I don’t know if I would have ever thought to look for something like Factory45.

I was determined to get into this program! With applications for about 90 people, open for only one week in May, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I spent the months before then prepping in business planning classes at the ultra supportive Center for Women and Enterprise, and poring over the blog posts by program founder, Shannon Lohr, so that I could be sure my application would stand out.

Obviously, when you start telling everyone you’re going to “Take Back the Nighty”, they listen! I got into the program and I spent the past six months deep into the ins and outs of how to go from idea to launch, with the intent that the business will be forward thinking when it comes to environmental impact.

I have spent the past ten years as an environmental activist, working on issues locally, statewide, across the country and for the planet as a whole. If there was a protest, I was at it! So, needless to say, I have every intention of making a difference in one of the planet’s most polluting industries. It’s an incredible challenge to think through every aspect of clothing design and manufacturing with the aim of lounging lightly on our marvelous Mother Earth, and there will be lots more posts to come about these challenges and how I’m trying to overcome them.

So, with champagne glass in hand, I sit here in my simply smashing sleepwear, imagining what I’ll be writing here a year from now, when thousands of other women will be luxuriously lounging like me, and setting her own intentions for the life she wants to create for herself.

It’s going to be a fantastic year, so dream lovelier, everyone!

Yours Truly,

Maureen

 

P.S.

SIGN UP SO YOU DON’T MISS A MOMENT OF MELODRAMA! I Love My Nighty is hard at work designing the best women’s loungewear and the nightgown of your dreams, but we’ve still got a lot to do, and we’d love to keep you posted as we prepare for production!

Our World Premiere!

Good Evening, Lovelies!

 

So, here we are. Our first date! I feel those fluttering anxious butterflies that one has when starting a new relationship, even though it was love at first sight between us. I’ve known I wanted you lovely ladies in my life ever since I started this venture- and since you are here, I’m confident you’re ready to Take Back the Nighty with me! I know we are in this together but I should start by telling you a little bedtime story about myself and how I got here.

 

First, let’s set the mood for our memorable meeting. Grab a glass of seltzer with fresh squeezed lemon, an ice cold Oktoberfest, or a delicate rosé. You’re probably already in your lovely loungewear, but if not, I’ll wait while you slip into your favorite nighty. In the meantime, cue up the background music (press play below) … ok, now we’re ready.

As I sit here on this early autumn evening, thinking of all the work ahead of me, I feel the crisp fall weather coming on and can’t help but feel some apprehension about the cold New England winter ahead. One of the first things that goes through my mind this time of year is, “but, what about all my cute nightgowns? I have drawers full of light, satiny, summer nighties, now how will I wear them without fear of freezing!”

 

Once that autumn chill sets in, these night delights can’t compete, and the layering game begins. First, I throw a cozy cardigan over it. Then, the thigh highs are hiked up higher and higher. The last attempt to hold onto summer will be the desperate addition of tattered thermal undergarments. By the dawn of December those sultry summer nighties will be tucked away in their drawers for a long winter’s nap, as I become unrecognizable under thick layers of fluff.

 

It was two years ago when I saw myself in the mirror and realized I had sunk into a very low place… the feared ‘Frump Slump’! Who was I? I have a fine figure and a hot husband and I had essentially given up any hope of looking lovely until the lilacs were in full bloom! I knew I had to make a change and find something that could be both warm and hot. So I went looking. And looking. I had the image in my head. I knew exactly what it looked like. But nothing. Nowhere! Sure, I could get a gown fit for a granny, or a lumberJill but that doesn’t fit the description of what a lovely lady wears. It was the fashion emergency of my nightmares.

Granny gown anyone?

Now desperate, I signed up for sewing lessons and scoured patterns for something close to what I was imagining and proceeded to sew my first design.

 

And girl, that design stirred something within me! It cured me of my boudoir blues and started a conversation amongst my fellow females. “Are you truly happy in your sweats and pajama sets?” “NO! I still want to look hot when it’s cold,” she fired back. That’s when I knew… it was up to me to Take Back the Nighty.

 

This stewed in my juices, until New Years Day 2017. As I sat swaddled in an afghan, I made it my resolution to see what I could make of this clingy idea…

 

And that’s where I’ll leave it for tonight. I know we have so much to look forward to together and I would be wise to leave my lovers wondering what’s next. Stay tuned for part 2 coming soon!

 

PLEASE, SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER BELOW SO YOU DON’T MISS A MOMENT OF MELODRAMA! I Love My Nighty is hard at work designing the best women’s loungewear and the nightgown of your dreams, but we’ve still got a lot to do, and we’d love to keep you posted as we prepare for production!

 

Yours Truly,

Maureen Evelina,

Leading Lady, I Love My Nighty