Frills & Finery Infuses Modern Technology with Entertainment for Weddings, Businesses and Parties
Aubree Dahl completed the Entrepreneurial Training Program in spring 2015 and finalized her business plan in fall 2015. She was then ready to start her business in early 2016. Originally Aubree wanted to be a wedding planner but after taking the ETP program, learning new things and tweaking some ideas, she decided to invest in a photo booth.
Frills & Finery LLC is a luxury, open-air photo booth company in Madison, WI, infusing modern technology with entertainment for weddings, businesses and parties. Aubree’s business provides complimentary deluxe backdrops, new handmade props, custom photo templates, and the newest technology including GIFs and social-media sharing. New for 2017, Frills & Finery will provide professional head shots both at pop-up studios and in-office for businesses.
Since the inception of Frills & Finery LLC in May 2016, Aubree has had 20 clients and she is already booking into 2018. Her clients have included Hilldale Mall, Henry Vilas Zoo and The Edgewater hotel.
Aubree said, “I wanted to share my story with you, as I wouldn't have started my own business if I hadn't taken the ETP and finished a business plan. Being a business owner is so much fun and I love learning more about marketing, advertising, and how to run a business in general. I'm starting to learn what works and what doesn't, and how to add in other revenue streams as well. I encourage anyone who is considering starting a business to attend a class or course with the SBDC!"
For more information about Frills & Finery, visit Aubree’s website at https://www.frills-finery.com.
Easy Way to Health Introduces New Wireless Weight Scale to Inspire People to Achieve a Healthy Lifestyle
Renato Romani, CEO and Founder of Easy Way to Health, Inc., has announced the commercial launch of his new wireless weight scale at two pilot project sites in Madison, WI reaching 1,000 employees. Watch a demonstration of this invention on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAqM32KLjn0 An Easy Way to Health application is available at app.myeasyweight.com and will soon be available at Google Play store and Apple Store. Easy Way to Health is working with the Madworks accelerator in Madison and has also been accepted to participate in gBeta at Gener8tor. Renato and his team have invented an innovative cloud computer platform that inspires an individual to lose weight, monitors individual progress, and accurately predicts the impact of behavior change in wellness programs.
Their patented system integrates (1) a network of public Wi-Fi scales that simplifies weight data collection, (2) an App based on their exclusive algorithm that reveals the dynamic weight trend two weeks in advance, and (3) a website where companies can track the results of their group of users (anonymously clustered).
The technology reveals the impact of small diet changes two weeks in advance and reduces the stress associated with restrictive diets and short-term weight loss results. This is the major cause of weight loss failure. Weight gain has a strong correlation with rising healthcare costs. The Easy Way to Health invention will allow real-time analysis of employer investments in employee wellness programs, motivating employees to lose weight will reduce overall health care costs.
For more information, contact Renato Romani MD MBA, CEO & Founder www.easywaytohealth.com, www.linkedin.com/in/renatoromani/en.
Lodi Alpacas Launches New La Pachamama Retail Store in Historic Lodi Barn
Jan Clingman, owner of Lodi Alpacas, plans to open a new luxury fiber arts center and retail store called La Pachamama in 2017. La Pachamama will be housed in a historic barn located on the main corridor that runs through the City of Lodi. Named after the Inca goddess of fertility, La Pachamama is literally translated as “World Mother” but is usually translated as “Mother Earth” and signifies the interconnection the goddess has with nature. The new store will be a larger version of Lodi Alpaca’s current on-farm alpaca retail store and will include space for instructional classes in fiber arts, painting, photography, and cooking.
The historic barn is an attraction in itself, with the preservation of a historic agricultural building in Wisconsin. Travelers have a keen interest in visiting and touring historic places, learning about their history and transformation, and shopping within the local communities. Fiber Arts Trails are cropping up all around the country. The Midwest Fiber Arts Trail is currently being established, and fiber enthusiast road trippers can follow trails such as the Cedarburg Spur, Pine to Prairie, and a new trail through Portage, Lodi and Baraboo called the Threaded Streams Fiber Arts Trail. A Fiber Arts Trail has its own personality shaped by the people and the places where they live.
Fiber enthusiasts following these trails will see an exclusive community of high-caliber fiber artists, artisans and makers, studios, yarn and quilt shops, historic places, scenic drives, art centers, galleries, museums, farms, ranches and in some places, woolen mills. Fiber enthusiasts will go out of their way to find a quilt shop or one-of-a-kind luxury fiber. They participate in workshops, festivals, art exhibits and museums. They learn about the community and its history. The popularity of artisans, hand-made natural fiber, a sense of place and nostalgia is what makes a one-stop destination for visitors to plan excursions to the area.
Jan said, “Attending the Entrepreneurial Training Program (ETP) classes offered by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provided me with the necessary tools to determine the feasibility of growing my business. The program introduces you to a variety of experts in key business areas, and they graciously share their extensive knowledge and resources with you and your peers well after the classes are completed. By working regularly with my mentor and applying the knowledge gained in the program, I was able to create a comprehensive and professional business plan that I am proud of and will serve me well into the future. Working with the SBDC and attending the Entrepreneurial Training Program is a must for anyone starting or growing their business.”
To check out the beautiful alpaca products at Lodi Alpaca’s Whistling Valley Farm store, visit http://lodialpacas.com/product-search.aspx.
Housewares retailer Bekah Kate’s (Kitchen, Kids & Home) has recently purchased, Lambs & Thyme, a Gourmet Herb Dip and Popcorn Cob line.
Lambs & Thyme was formerly of New Hampshire and was begun in 1989. It has been loved and sold by retailers across the country for over 25 years. Today our customers are conscientious about the use of preservatives in their foods, and this has always been a priority of Lambs & Thyme. It is an all-natural and MSG-Free food product, just as it was when it began.
Owners, Bekah and Mark Stelling, have initially re-launched the line with 32 total products and re-designed packaging and displays. Former customers are loving the “new look” and the line is working well in gift stores, gourmet stores, independent grocery stores, farm markets and orchards! The Outrageous Pumpkin Dip and Apple Dips are perfect for fall and the dips packaged for the Holidays are a perfect add-on to baskets, gifts and stockings.
As a retailer and now a manufacturer, the Stellings have a unique vantage point to both see and hear what their own retail customers are saying about the product as they buy them in their Wisconsin store. This helps them to continue to tailor the line for their Lambs & Thyme retailers so they can sell well and display well in their stores.
The new dip display is rustic and handmade in Wisconsin and takes up just one foot of retail space. The basket for the popcorn cobs and the new packaging of the cobs have made this item continue to be a best-seller. The Stellings are looking forward to new recipes this spring and re-connecting with their former customers!
Lambs & Thyme
117 3rd Street, Baraboo, WI 53913
608-356-3167 608-356-0331 (fax)
JC Rose Associates Makes Employee Benefits Simple in a Changing World
When you help your clients manage their benefits and HR, a federal policy change can alter your business model at any time. Barbara Schlaefer, owner of JC Rose Associates, adapts with the help of a business plan developed with the Small Business Development Center at the UW-Madison. The firm celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2016.
In 2010, Barb needed to craft a strategic response to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). “That had a huge impact on how we perform our jobs and what we do for our clients,” Barb said. When the act passed she expected it to decrease demand for her core products—employee benefits and health insurance. She began promoting new programs to new target markets, but the expected impact from the ACA failed to materialize. She shifted her business strategy again, adding an HR service to complement the employee benefits work, thus bringing more value to the firm’s clients. But Barb began to feel the need to refine her business approach.
When a brochure from the UW-Madison Small Business Development Center arrived in the mail, Barb knew the time was right. “Reading it, I thought—I feel like I’m going in a lot of directions,” Barb said. “I really need to invest time in rewriting my business plan. I need someone to hold me accountable, and educate me at the same time.” She signed up for the business planning class, began attending lectures, and received one-on-one coaching. That’s where her relationship with Linda Davis, a counselor with the UW-Madison SBDC, started.
Barb had written three business plans over the course of the ten years since launching JC Rose Associates, but feels “this one is the best I’ve written, honestly, because Linda made me drill down. I had to justify every number.”
Linda Davis works with the Entrepreneurial Training Program, where existing businesses make up about forty percent of the clients. “We like working with them because they create such economic impact,” Linda said. “There’s a misperception that business planning is just for start-ups.”
Linda helped Barb discern which of her business ideas were most feasible and guided her in developing a concrete plan to commercialize those ideas. “Barb is very creative and energetic,” said Linda. “Our program provided the structure she needed, and she did a great job with the way she analyzed the market, the changes in her industry, and how she could adapt.”
Outcomes of the process included putting in place new programs that would insulate JC Rose Associates from potential threats, and improving its brand communications. “The reason my website looks the way it does is because of my business plan,” Barb said. “It helped me refine who my market was, and how to talk to them. I really appreciate the resources the SBDC has to offer.”
Barb is committed to being proactive regarding her clients’ needs. For example, she helped clients using their HR services switch to online customer portals that replace paper applications. Barb is now busy executing her latest business plan.
“I have my plan, but I also have my course notes—in a huge binder that I keep under my desk,” Barb said. “When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re skating out there on your own a lot of the time. I feel like under my desk, I have my mentor.”
Hip City™ Teaches Little Girls to Be Independent
Hip City was born out of a problem that Sherry Buechner consistently experienced with her daughter on a daily basis. At four years old, she began to carry many small items with her on outings but often would misplace them, drop them, or have Sherry carry them. Sherry then tried giving her child purses, but that did not work, as she ended up carrying those as well. Searching for a hands-free bag, Sherry could not find one that her daughter could easily manage herself. So she created Hip City Sak to be attractive and playful with interchangeable features.
As Sherry’s daughter began wearing the bag, other little girls and their mothers began noticing and inquiring about it. Sherry’s business plan research showed that most mothers experience this problem with their daughters. It is a big problem for mothers and they did not have a satisfying solution until now.
Hip City promotes independence by empowering little girls to carry their own items in a fun, easy, hands-free way - therefore easing the burden for mothers. According to Sherry’s research, achieving independence is a primary desire that parents have for their children and must be taught.
Sherry enrolled in UW-Madison’s Entrepreneurial Training Program in 2013 and has been working with Linda Davis. She is now successfully sourcing her product in China and is selling Hip City Sak in six Madison-area retail stores. Sherry plans to begin selling Hip City Sak on-line for holiday 2015 and begin searching for an outside investor in 2016.
Hip City was selected to present at the Doyenne 5X5X5 event on August 27, 2015 in Madison, WI.
The company was also featured in July, 2015 in a 90-second spot on Madison’s Channel 15 morning news program as a new gift idea for little girls (see:
Made in Madison Goes to Hollywood
Madison, WI artist and ETP graduate Maren Misner, sole proprietor of The Tin Owl, LLC, received a nod from celebrities at the 2015 pre-EMMY gifting lounge in Beverly Hills with The Artisan Group. Celebrities like David Faustino (Married with Children, Real Husbands of Hollywood), Jazmyn Simon (Ballers), Jim O’Heir (Parks & Recreation) and Thomas Barbusca (Wet Hot American Summer) posed with The Tin Owl’s ‘California Home’ print, part of a series of images made in Madison, WI with vintage license plates.
Dozens of celebrities received the print in their swag bag, including Tony Hale (Winner, Best Supporting Actor, Veep); Jeremy Podeswa (Nominee, Best Director in Drama Series, Game of Thrones); Richard Cabral (Nominee, Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series, American Crime); Beau Bridges (Nominee, Guest Actor, Drama, Masters of Sex); Khandi Alexander (Nominee, Guest Actress, Drama, Scandal); Barbara Corcoran (Nominated Show: Structured Reality Program, Shark Tank); Dascha Polanco, Emma Myles, and Selenis Leyva (Nominated Show: Outstanding Drama Series, Orange is the New Black); Naomi Grossman (Nominated Show: Limited Series, American Horror Story); Johnny Ortiz (Nominated Show: Limited Series, American Crime); among many others. Praise from celebrities included ‘Love it so much!’, ‘It’s hanging on my wall already :)’, ‘It’s perfect!’, and ‘Love it, and love the idea.’
“Thank you to all involved in the ETP for your help and support - it was through writing my business plan that I became involved in this gifting suite!” said Maren.
The Tin Owl, LLC, is a Madison, Wisconsin-based creative business run by photographer and sole proprietor Maren Misner. Maren creates a line of home decor, clothing, and gift products, all featuring her original artwork. Ranging from beautiful brass photo lockets to handmade throw pillows to traditional wall art, The Tin Owl offers an eclectic product portfolio that will pique the interest of dreamers, wanderers, and anyone looking for a distinctively unique handcrafted gift. Owner Maren Misner has been photographing the world around her since the age of seven when she was given her first camera. She started selling her fine art images in 2004 at the farmers’ market on weekends in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and then in Minneapolis, Minnesota. With a professional background in community development and education,Maren relocated to Madison, Wisconsin in 2013 and decided to change career paths and pursue art full time.
To learn more about The Tin Owl, LLC, the Vintage Home Collection (including several Wisconsin Home products), or participation in this exclusive event, visit www.thetinowl.com, or email email@example.com.
Parental Involvement – It’s a State of Mind
ALLPARENTSONDECK, is an organization that was formed in 2003 by Sharon Edwards-Billings to work with schools and businesses to strengthen the levels of parental involvement and family engagement in schools.
Since successfully completing the ETP course Sharon has successfully:
- Advocated to elected officials, both state and federal senators and state governors, to create proclamations that recognize parents for their commitment to our schools. She has received a proclamation from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. For the past three years, Wisconsin schools have created programs for parents on National Parental Involvement Day that expresses gratitude for their service. This day is also used to thank every volunteer who also works with students during the school year.
- Had the opportunity to work with school superintendents from Madison Metropolitan School District and Verona for the purposes of spreading her message about recognizing parents for their commitment to our schools. ALLPARENTSONDECK, was created to provide support to parents through the school year, who experience challenges that seem insurmountable. Her organization works with them, advocates for solutions through their local schools, and provides other parents with information, skills and resources to serve as advocates for their own student.
- Appeared on local television for two years prior to National Parental Involvement Day on ABC/Channel 27.
- Received corporate sponsorship from the Green Bay Packers for advertising purposes during the month of November, to recognize parents and volunteers.
- Written lyrics for a song, produced and published a song called “We’re Getting Involved”. The song booklet has also been published and is being sold to schools.
Sharon recently created a non-profit company to further support mothers of children who attend school, with a one-to-one mentoring relationship. Many parents struggle with their efforts to balance the needs of home, work and school, while also maintaining a sense of self and balance in their lives. The 501(c) (3) is called ‘Every Woman needs A Margaret”.
Sharon said, “Please afford to me the opportunity to thank Linda Davis once again for laboring with me, in her role as my Business Mentor throughout the years, after I completed the Small Business Development Center course. There are not words to describe the elation that I felt whenever I attended the class, because of the plethora of information that was made available to myself and to other attendees. I have benefitted greatly from the information that I received from enrolling in the SBDC at a time in my life, when it seemed that I was not going to complete my life goals. I have overcome many medical challenges and am grateful for Linda for working with me and never giving up on me, even when I couldn’t make my appointments due to one challenge after another.”
For more information go to ALLPARENTS ON DECK visit Sharon’s website at https://allparentsondeck.com
From Idea to Profit in Seven Months - SniffersNot
In 2015, Heidi Sonnenburg used the ETP program at UW-Madison to help her commercialize her idea for a new type of glove for outdoor sports enthusiasts.
As an outdoor enthusiast, Heidi noticed that many people struggle to remove their winter gloves to find a tissue for a runny or drippy nose when the weather is very cold. Heidi said, “This problem has annoyed me for years! I have struggled to find a tissue, but had to stop my activity to find one, freeze my hands and then the tissue became shredded with repeated use.” AnnoyEnds LLC has launched a new product to solve this problem.
The SniffersNot™ is a sniff sleeve that is worn over your glove or mitten while you are enjoying your sport or activity outdoors. It is washable, reusable, and hypoallergenic. The SniffersNot™ is SOFT, convenient, and keeps your fingers and hand warmer.
Although Heidi had this idea for a number of years and had developed a prototype, she had no idea how to make it happen. So when the Entrepreneurial Training Program information through the UW-Madison SBDC arrived by mail, and she decided to apply after calling the department to get more information.
Heidi said, “I didn’t believe I would be able to write a business plan or ever get my product ‘out there’. With the help of the course work, writing the business plan and valuable help from my mentor, I was not only able to complete my business plan, but launch my product seven months after beginning the program!”
“I guess the only other thing to add is that a lot of work continues after the launch and one must expect ups & downs along the way”, she added. For more information about Heidi’s new product, please visit her website at www.sniffersnot.com.