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.
9 thoughts on “Spotlight On: Independent Business: Edward Dunigan, Noah’s Inspirations”
Congrats to Stacie Watson on winning the onesie or t-shirt of her choice! We will be in touch shortly.
I appreciate the comments everyone left. I enjoyed reading all the ways children have inspired others. If any other commenter would like to receive a discounted Noah’s Onesie or T-Shirt email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Thanks Jesaka for writing the post on Noah’s. It is refreshing to see great writers like yourself taking the time to feature independent businesses. I hope to continue creating designs that capture the inspiration and innocence of children.
My children have inspired me to get off the computer and spend time with them. All the time I spend with them is wonderful! I love them!
Wow…how has Sophia inspired me? I could go on for hours!! First of all since I tried to get pregnant for 7 years and was told I had no chance of having another baby then had a very tough pregnancy and yet she is such a beautiful, smart and healthy little girl..that reminds me to NEVER give up!! However, she continues to remind me of that with her will and determination..no matter how many time she falls learning to walk and climb she continues to shake it off and keep at it. She is quite amazing this little angel and I would say the most inspiring gift from her is that beautiful smile..no matter what. She can be sick, tired, hungry or just not getting her way but she seems to always smile and laugh. That is truly an inspiration! No matter what life throws my way I must never forget to smile and laugh because its always going to be okay!!
Hello. I run a green B&B and write about living green on Cape Cod.
How has a child inspired me? The birth of my granddaughter Juliette turned me into an environmental activist. The utility company NStar intends to switch from mowing under power lines to treatment with up to five herbicides this spring. Federal law requires removal of brush but does not mandate toxic chemicals, which will filter down through the sandy soil. Traces will remain in drinking water. We all have private wells. Over 2000 residents have signed petitions but NStar does not listen. Not only do I report on this predicament, but I try to raise consciousness about the overall problem of environmental toxins. I have written letters to the editor in protest and edit the writing of another activist. My letters have appeared in two local papers and the Boston Globe. Juliette will soon have a little brother. I plan to continue my volunteer work for the environment so that the world they inherit will be a better place.
How has a child inspired you?
I’m always inspired by how my sons can let things go. At ages two and five they have ups and downs but those downs are always short-lived. I’d say in addition to so many other things, this ability to let go of the bad stuff, as well as their ability to influence me to do the same, is inspiring.
As a creative entrepreneur myself with my shop base at FeltedKiwi.com, I’m most inspired by my niece. Since I don’t have kids of my own, it stretches my mind to develop pieces that I think she would like instead of just an adult market.
Plus I love getting her drawings email from the other side of the globe and hearing what her latest creative exploits are. Last I heard, she was sewing blankets for her dolls- not too bad as an 8 year old!
Laura ~ One look at those little boys of your is enough to inspire anyone. Or should be! Thanks for helping spread the word about Noah’s Inspirations.
Jason ~ Old home week, eh? Thanks for your support and comments. And keep posting those Facebook pictures! Your son is adorable.
What a great interview and what a great idea. So proud to say “I knew both of you when…”
I need to order one or more of these for our new niece, and I’ll be headed over to Noah’s Inspirations to do so shortly. That said, my son has inspired me to see the world through his eyes, seeing the possibilities and magic in everyday life. As an adult, it’s easy to get a little jaded, but taking time to see the world through his eyes is a great way to rediscover the world in a more innocent light.
Great job, Jesaka AND Edward!
I am just over the moon with this business!!
How has a child inspired you??
My little munchkins BOTH have inspired me to be more forgiving of others. Everytime I have to ask for forgiveness for losing my patience or a host of other things they are very quick to forgive AND forget.
I get a very precious, “I ‘give you Mommy,” and life goes on. No grudge. No retailiation. No lecture. Just unconditional love and acceptance.
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