I’ve known Edward Dunigan for more years than either one of us will reveal and it was my move to Denver that led to us catching up. When this CPA turned creative entrepreneur shared his idea for Noah’s Inspirations, I was hooked. It’s been inspiring to be behind the scenes, watching Edward put his considerable analytical and marketing skills to use to launch his business. In full disclosure, I should reveal that I was the lucky copywriter Edward hired to write for Noah’s Inspirations.
You could win a Noah’s Inspirations Onesie. Edward has graciously offered up an organic, super soft onesie for a lucky reader. All you need to do is leave a comment here answering the question “How has a child inspired you?” Edward will randomly pick a winner and I’ll announce it on Monday, March 1.
What inspired you to start Noah’s Inspirations?
I came up with the idea with a co-worker over four years ago while working on an innovation consulting project for a major CPG company. We traveled a lot so we continually brainstormed ideas for products we could create as opposed to creating products for others. It is amazing the ideas you come up with while experiencing flight delays, dining over great hotel food and making the most of traffic jams while on the road.
I sat on the domain and logo for several years and finally decided when I got laid off last year it was as good a time as any to start Noah’s Inspirations. I had nothing to lose and knew if I did not launch the company I’d always wonder what Noah’s could have been.
Why baby apparel?
I decided to launch an infant apparel line because it was a niche market that I thought had opportunity. When my first niece was born, I, like my parents, wanted to get great gifts for my sister’s baby. While there were plenty of baby gifts, I felt there was a void in quality onesies and t-shirts that signified the innocence of a newborn. I could find plenty of baby gifts designed for a trendy teenager but who really wants their newborn to dress like a teenager. It’s like a mom dressing like her teen daughter.
Based on my experience in customer insights, I observed and talked to consumers and realized my gut feeling was correct. Grandparents, relatives and close friends were seeking innovative and creative gifts for their loved ones. As a result, I set out to design quality baby apparel designed with the innocence of the infant in mind.
What’s the best advice you received as you were starting your business?
“Keep it simple and targeted.” My head was (and still is) continually buzzing with new product ideas, designs and slogans. I realized after talking to several entrepreneurs that I needed to focus on a few core products for my initial launch. As a CPA, I know the importance of controlling costs, but it is even easy for a trained number cruncher to get caught up in the idea. Keeping focused is one way of controlling costs and keeping yourself sane in the early days. I narrowed my focus to ten designs on white onesies/t-shirts, which helped me keep sourcing and printing costs within budget. I’ve also focused my line on the innocence of newborns and have tried to keep my slogans and designs centered on that approach with a few humorous takes on innocence included in the line.
While it is important to keep it simple and targeted, I’m not saying to forget all those great additional product ideas. I keep them logged in a Moleskine journal and continually reflect and build on the initial ideas I had over four years ago. My goal is to expand the product line as my business expands.
What advice would you give to someone starting up his/her own business?
Keep in mind that it takes time and patience. I incorrectly assumed that since I was starting a small business with little start-up costs, that it would not take any time. It took a lot more time and effort than I expected. Sweat equity comes into play regardless of the size of the idea.
It is also important to approach a new business as a job and not a hobby. I was consulting while starting Noah’s so it was important for me to carve time out of my day to devote to Noah’s. Hobbies are great but you are building a business so you must approach your idea as business. Even though you approach it as a job, it should be a job you love and should be fun! If it is not fun and you are not learning, then you should ask yourself if it is worth it.
What do you enjoy most about owning your own business?
I enjoy that Noah’s Inspirations is mine. I have full control over its destiny and am ultimately accountable for its success. I have the freedom to try new things and if something does not work I can easily change direction since I’m a small business (soon to be huge!)
What should your customers know about Noah’s Inspirations?
Noah’s Inspirations is the gift that gives twice. We pride ourselves on our One for One Promise. For every onesie or t-shirt purchased, Noah’s donates a onesie or t-shirt to an infant in need. We not only want to sell our infant line, but we want to make a positive impact on the lives of less fortunate infants.
In addition, we design all our onesies and t-shirts with an appreciation of the innocence and purity of a newborn. Our apparel is 100% certified organic cotton that is soft as a newborn’s skin. In addition, the dyes we use for printing are baby-friendly as we only use water-based printing.
In addition to dishing on being an entrepreneur, Edward was kind enough to share his marketing and social media knowledge. You may want to try some of these tips yourself.
What have you found to be the most effective social networking site for marketing Noah’s Inspirations?
I’m still experimenting with different tactics, so it’s hard to say what will end up being most effective since I just recently launched Noah’s Inspirations.
I’ve had success when I posted my link on my Facebook account and others have posted it as well. It definitely drives awareness and traffic. I need to create a fan page as well, but it can be difficult trying to keep content relevant and interesting on a fan page.
Twitter has also been useful in identifying potential customers who are searching for baby gift ideas or mommy bloggers looking for a new product idea for their babies. TweetDeck has been a great tool to monitor the twitter universe for those discussing terms such as “baby gifts”, “newborns”,etc. The key is to insert yourself in the conversation and be helpful—not an annoying sales person.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs wanting to incorporate social networking into their marketing strategies?
Dedicate time to joining the conversation. Easier said than done, as I am the first to admit I need to do a better job of monitoring Twitter and my @noahsinspires twitter account.
Take advantage of the tools out there such as TweetDeck that can make your life easier as you monitor the conversations.
If you decide to do a blog, keep it current. There is nothing worse than visiting a site with a stagnant blog.
What’s the best marketing advice you’ve ever received?
Stay focused and be creative. Don’t try to be all things to all people and don’t do the status quo. If you have a wild idea, go ahead and give it a try. I’m trying to build Noah’s Inspirations and get the word out so I’m trying different tactics. For example, I sent the “Miracles do happen…look at me” onesie to the Duggar Family’s baby #19 Josie Duggar. I had nothing to lose and got a handwritten thank you note. Now maybe they will wear it on their reality show!
Don’t forget! Leave a comment answering the question “How has a child inspired you?” and you could win a Noah’s Inspirations onesie. Winner will be announced on Monday, March 1.