Know Your Target Market

One of our first lessons on this journey was to learn our target market.  We have had the pleasure of meeting many of our customers.  If you asked me our target market I would say kids first – they love the hiding spot and the comfy pillow – and I would follow it with Moms, Grandmas and Aunts.  The longer I do this though, I am finding out target market doesn’t end there.

On Sunday I sent our new sales catalog to Kinkos.  I got a call an hour later from the sales person.  He told me how cool he thought these Pilloroos were and asked if he could buy one.  I was delighted!  When I brought it to the store, he totally lit up!  He thanked me and proceeded to show all the college age guys he was working with.  “That’s Pretty Cool” was the general response.

Everyone loves Pilloroos – They’re fun, and they keep your secrets!

That’s pretty cool.

Thank You for Choosing Pilloroo

Yesterday, I heard of another great business here in Fresno that has gone under due to the struggling economy.  Jax Junglehouse, a fabulous drop-in daycare center, was started by two friends with years of experience with kids.   The business women spent two years creating their business plan and executed it beautifully with a top notch facility that was not only fun, but welcoming to every child that walked through their doors.  Reading the goodbye letter that they sent out to all of their customers, I was overwhelmed with sadness to hear they couldn’t stay open anymore due to the economy.

Pilloroo is still in its first year of business.  Every day is a new learning experience and we are realizing that successful businesses are built on a lot more than just hard work and dedication.  With stories like Jax Junglehouse, we are realizing there is a fair amount of luck involved as well.  So I want to thank you all today, our Pilloroo supporters, because it is you that are truly giving us the “luck” we need.

Every time you take a Pilloroo to a party as a birthday present, baby shower gift or tell a friend about “this cool new product called the Pilloroo”, you help us get a little closer to our dream.  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you! We couldn’t do it without you!

Entrepreneurship at its Best

Lake Tahoe

Last weekend our family visited our favorite place in the world, Lake Tahoe.  While we were there, I slipped away from the beach and visited two of my favorite stores in the area to show them the Pilloroo.  The Tahoe Store Emporium at Incline Village is a shoppers paradise carrying everything from Vera Bradley bags to the latest gourmet kitchen utensils.  It also has an amazing children’s section that I thought would be perfect for the Pilloroo.  The second store, the Treehouse Children’s Clothing and Gifts has two locations, one in Truckee and the other in South Lake Tahoe.  It has an adorable collection of unique and special gifts for kids.  Both stores loved the Pilloroo and purchased them on the spot.  I am delighted to have Pilloroo carried in two locations at the most beautiful place on Earth – Lake Tahoe.  The best part was being back to the beach by 1:00 to swim, play and enjoy the rest of the day with the kids.

The Perfect Packaging for our Pilloroo

Packaging

Choosing the right packaging for our Pilloroo was something that took a lot of time and effort.  As a shopper, I always took for granted packaging.  Skimming store aisles, I would pick up products that caught my attention.  Designing the packaging for Pilloroo, we realized how much goes into thinking through every detail of a product’s packaging.  We started looking at great brands differently.  Going back to our favorite stores like Target, Carmel Kids, Macy’s, this time as students, we observed everything from how the products sit on the shelves to how the packaging communicates the brand.

Pictured above are mock ups that I actually made in my office.  Cutting, pasting, redesigning, hours were spent trying new and different ways to present the Pilloroo in a way that was fun while showing customers the hidden pouch.

We’ve received many compliments on our packaging.  Many kudos coming from long time exprerts in the industry.  It’s a great feeling when hard work pays off!

Assembling a Team

Team 2

Getting a product to market takes a great deal of work. It also takes a great team of people.  After we tested Pilloroo at local craft fairs, we knew we had to get more Pilloroos produced and go big.  A good friend of ours suggested we call the Lyles Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Fresno State.  That was the single most important thing we did for our business.  We were invited to take part in the Dogworks program that helps develop, market and commercialize ideas such as ours.  The team there is fabulous and in our first months there, they helped us add players to our Pilloroo team.  First, the patent attorney Richard Ryan from Fresno, then the graphic designers of Five Creative Group, also here in Fresno.  And after many phone calls and lots of searching, we found manufactures and packaging for our Pilloroos in the Los Angeles area.  One of the things we are most proud of is using California based businesses.

As we grow Pilloroo, our team of people will ultimately expand.  This core of people who helped us from the very beginning will always hold a special spot in our Pilloroo hearts!

Pilloroo; Live on our Local News

Channel 24

Job number one in launching a new product is getting people to know you are out there.  Last week we got the opportunity to be filmed live with Alex Delgado of Channel 24.  So we put our nerves aside and jumped at the chance to be on her show. I’ve never been behind the scenes of a TV show before, so I was curious to see how it worked.  When we arrived, we requested to display our pillows so we were directed to a room that looked like a staging area.  There we got our Pilloroos ready on a rolling table, were “miked” and proceeded to wait for the next set on instructions.

Soon the doors in front of us flew open.  A stage manager rolled us into the room and in front of three cameras.  Here comes Alex Delgado with a few instructions, and enormous amount of infectious energy and a little nudge, “30 seconds”.  She told us where to stand, where to look, and we were on!  A true professional, Alex instantly put us at ease and made us feel like we were having a light conversation with a friend.  It was a pleasure meeting her and a fabulous experience being behind the scenes of her TV show Central Valley Today.  You can watch the video by clicking on this link:  http://www.ksee24.com/programming/cvt/44606337.html .

 

We would love to hear your reaction.  Please leave a comment, and let us know what you thought!

Getting Started

building-pilloroo

Every entrepreneur has to start somewhere.  Usually it starts with an idea or a dream and then finally the courage to get started.  For Billie Jo and I, it was over lunch.  “Why don’t we sell pillows like the one you made for Jacob?”  We couldn’t have guessed where that one little question would take us.  Initially, it took us right down to the fabric store to find some fabric to make some pillows.  We then met at Mom’s house with our sewing machines to see if I could figure out how the pillows went together.

Midway through the day as we sewed away, we brainstormed names.  Billie Jo shouted, Pilloroo!  Everyone loved the name, Mom, Jim and even the golden retriever Sophia.

We are no longer sewing the Pilloroos ourselves, but we are still on the journey to see where our idea will take us.  Tomorrow, I am going to Crestwood Elementary School in Visalia to talk to 90 5th Graders about our journey as entrepreneurs.  Above is the first slide to the Powerpoint.  “Sew Samples”.  Sometimes the first step is not as hard as it seems.  

These 5th graders are starting a unit in entrepreneurship where they will all build businesses that will compete for classroom dollars in their Classroom Micro Economy.  It will surely be an exciting day.  I can hardly wait to hear all of their great ideas!