We like to take a very close look to the entrepreneurial world and when Ma Petite Valisette ("My Litte Suitcase") approached us for a partnership, we discovered a very feminine universe, focused on the interplay between creativity and the responsibilities of a mom. We wanted to know more about this "couple" of very dynamic entrepreneurs who have never met outside of the web.
Describe your business in 2/3 sentences
Les Entrepreneuses Créative ("The Creative Entrepreneurs") are courses focused on marketing and digital communication for female entrepreneurs who want to transform their creative passion (knitting, sewing, painting...) into their primary or complementary activity. These courses are conducted entirely online via a private blog to which only registered participants have access. They are taught by Sandrine, also a creative and communications consultant, and Sophie, a blogger and trainer in business English (in school) and marketing (on the Internet)
How did you decide to dedicate yourself to this project?
Given the lack of material on the French web and seeing the success of such services on the American blogosphere, we took advantage of the sale boom of hand-made products for which we have a real appetite and knowledge so launched our own thing! This is what the Anglo-Saxons call "business opportunity". But it is also a way for us to work with entrepreneurs who face the same problems as us, in their daily personal and professional lives. Like us, they want to work from home and at their own pace to successfully balance their mom job and passion for creation.
How long did it take you to get there?
Between the idea of interactive workshops and initial marketing in June 2012, it took us 6 months time to set up the program to build a base of targeted contacts and start selling our first online session on our respective e-shops. The twenty slots available were sold in a few days thanks to the interest that we have generated within our readership.
What other ideas have you considered but rejected and why?
Initially we asked about the possibility of streaming our workshops via Skype or through an online chat. However, the private blog solution seemed more suited to the availabilities of our targets (the workshop can be followed either live or delayed) and the number of participants we envisionned (twenty per session). Moreover, writing allows students to further deepen their responses but also to keep track of the lessons and dialogues they generate.
What were the times when you recall a "AHA!" moment?
Oh, more than once! Ideas fuse within our team but time is running too fast to implement all the projects we would like to achieve! Last time it happened was when we wanted to offer more training dates to our readers but with summer holidays approaching we did not know how. And then, an idea came to us when we were considering our flagship workshop "Become a pro online" from another angle: provide holiday homework to our creative entrepreneurs. We have revised the format of our workshop to offer it in the form of a newsletter: Participants receive them during the summer and they can also enjoy a personalized coaching leaving their comments on the private blog -at their own pace without time constraints. The seats were sold very quickly. We were giving a solution to a real problem for women who have an employment in the week and who devote themselves to their creative work in the evenings and weekends. With this new form of training, they can acquire the skills they need without having to ask for days off!
What resources or tools did you find useful when you started?
From the beginning, and even now, we work completely remotely (to be honest, we never met in "real life"!), We especially appreciate the tools that allow us to easily keep in touch and which enable us to write together: Google Drive, Skype, Facebook messenger. We also found our first clients with a targeted newsletter (one article per day during a month) and we put that in place through MailChimp.
What were your biggest mistakes and where did you waste time or money?
Computer bugs on our stores or our websites and there are still some! There were some unsuccessful collaborations, where the situation is reversed, where the win-win spirit is absent ... But we are learning the job, analyzing our mistakes so we do not make them again...
What are the major lessons you have learned?
We were able to measure how important the power of prescription of our customers was: it is often through nice articles that they write on their blogs or share on social networks that we find new participants for the following sessions. Hence the need to focus on satisfying our customers 100%, to promote the publication of these stories and to know how to the relay them. We make sure to convey the quality of our training to potential customers.
Any PR wins?
In recent months, following a proposal we initiated, we host a regular column entitled "Sell handmade" in Créative Magazine. We respond to concrete issues encountered by entrepreneurs who wish to market their creations. We already discussed the importance of blogging, the question of legal company status, how you need to care about the pictures you display or tips for writing effective product data sheets.
Where did you register your domain name?
We registered our domain name (http://www.entrepreneuses-creatives.com) at OVH, which redirects to our blog hosted by Blogger for now. Our two shops (Ma Petite Valisette and Cousette entre Copines) through which we sell our ticket, are also hosted at OVH.
Where did you find your web designer?
We have been helped by a student who was studying digital communication. She created the blog and our social profiles as we were focusing on the content. Our visual identity is built around three main colors: red - gray - beige. Today, we want to keep these codes but we are thinking about a new design for a more professional rendering; even about the production of a more thought out showcase website (in WordPress probably).
We are releasing a book through the publisher Eyrolles next fall about the sale of hand-made products which will be addressed to designers, freelancers and other entrepreneurs who want to start their creative business. We are currently collecting testimonials from entrepreneurs and web professionals to illustrate the different chapters with concrete examples. We will also be present on a well-known national creativetrade show but we cannot say more for the moment!
How do you use MOO products and how do you know our brand?
Today, these are the cards that we use the most. While we work online 90% of the time we also like to meet our customers and partners in real life or participate to workshops, exhibitions and conferences where we can learn and meet great people. This is where our cards are the most useful! In particular, Sandrine is a fan of Facebook Cards, you can see them here and here.
Why did you choose MOO? What did you like most about your experience to MOO?
What we like in MOO is everything: besides the quality and originality of the products and packaging, the entrepreneurial side, quirky and funny, innovative and efficiency that is conveyed is what we love. The newsletter and the blog are full of stories and we always find relevant advice that we relay with pleasure on our facebook page. Finally, it's because of their ability to listen and to put entrepreneurs on the front line that we love MOO and that cannot be found everywhere these days!
What title would you give this interview?
"The longest interview"! But MOO is a successful model that inspires us, that's why it was pleasure and an honor for us!