by Christine Mortensen on February 21, 2014
When you’re building a business it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and the millions of things you have to do to get customers. So how do you generate “business buzz” to help get those customers? We asked Sharon Schneider, Founder and CEO of Moxie Jean to shed some light on this question and more. You can also see her speak on this very topic live at our next event, “Grow Your Business by Building Buzz.”
Let’s start at the beginning. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and the inspiration that led to starting Moxie Jean?
I spent a dozen years as a consultant in private wealth management working with private foundations and high net worth families. I loved my clients but did not love the corporate situation. When my third child was born, I realized what a mess it is to constantly deal with their clothes and thought there must be lots of other moms out there like me. In fact, there are 20 million working moms with household incomes of $75K and above, and millions more under that amount. So I took the leap and formed an LLC—almost on a whim—and started buying high quality, gently used kid’s clothes. But I was so excited and passionate about building the business, a few weeks later I told my boss I was leaving at the end of the calendar year, about 2 months away. That gave me some breathing room and a date to focus for our launch.
I clearly remember waking up on Monday, January 2, 2012 and knowing I would be able to focus exclusively on building the company. It was the best feeling in the world.
What’s the most important advice you received when starting your business?
“Your baby is ugly.” Joe Dwyer did a class for us at Excelerate Labs saying, ‘there is something wrong with your idea, with your business, you just don’t know what it is yet. You have to figure it out.’ And at the time I thought he was crazy, I thought my baby was beautiful (like all mothers). But he was 100% right—we made a major pivot when we recognized our big flaw. If we hadn’t gone through the Excelerate Labs program I don’t know if we would have ever seen it and we would have just struggled for years and then gone out of business.
What advice would you give to fellow and aspiring entrepreneurs?
Don’t mistake compliments and buzz for what really matters: customers and revenue, i.e., traction. We had tremendous buzz even when we had a product that was gaining no traction with customers. How could all those journalists and pitching competition judges be wrong? Well, they were, and they frequently are. Buzz cannot be your primary measure of success, or you will be fooled into thinking you’ve got a great business when you don’t. The voices that matter are those attached to credit cards.
Which marketing channels have proven to be the most effective in both getting the word out and gaining new customers?
The key for us is that it takes a big leap of faith to, in essence, order used clothes off the internet—sight unseen. So trust is a big factor. That’s why we try to go with channels that involve a trusted source of someone who has tried it. Mom-to-mom referral programs, mom blogs, celebrity personalities (PR).
What’s next for Moxie Jean?
We’re adding maternity clothes, which are a natural extension of our core business, and then we’ll start thinking about all the other things that kids need: furniture, gear, toys, books, etc. – and how we can leverage our reputation with parents to become the go-to source for all secondhand items related to kids.
Join us at our next event “Grow your Business by Building Buzz” where you’ll hear more from Sharon, as well as Elliot Greenberger from Divvy, and Jimmy Odom of WeDeliver.
About the Author
Christine created Sprk’d Online Marketing and Design in order to help startups and small businesses grow by creating content and marketing that doesn’t suck. By combining the learnings of User Experience Design with the principals of Visual Design, she leads the Sprk’d team to create content that drives conversions. No matter the industry, she believes creating quality content that’s relevant to user needs (i.e., your potential customers) is not only achievable but fun too. How can we help you? When she’s not busy writing about herself in the third person she can be found playing volleyball, or writing reviews of Chicago’s Bloody Mary’s.