About ten years ago my business coach called me an entrepreneur. It’s funny how sometimes people see things in us we don’t see in ourselves. But she planted a seed – and it grew. I considered how I might actually be an entrepreneur, and things started to align in a way that supported that belief.
Three years ago I made a list of things I really wanted to experience. One of them was to be the owner of an international company. I could travel the world doing something I loved, which seems like a perfect thing to me. Maybe it would be doing art, or maybe it would be doing something else. I was open to the possibilities.
Two years ago I met with someone who found me through my website, he was looking for someone to do his branding for his new business. We met & spoke several times. Then on my birthday, he offered me a partnership in his new business. He didn’t know it was my birthday, which I thought was wonderfully synchronistic. I took it as a sign from the universe that this was a divine gift, and so I took a leap of faith and accepted.
Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible.” – Miguel de Unamuno
Over the last two years we’ve worked diligently to develop this new business we call Ballet Ribbons. We’ve spend tens of thousands of dollars and just as many hours working very, very hard. We’ve overcome huge obstacles – so many people told us we couldn’t do it and looked at us like we were out of our minds. We got turned down by potential manufacturers more than 24 times. We met with the large companies we knew could help us develop our product, but they only told us we were cute. They said they couldn’t work with us – we were too small, we weren’t worth their time until we were a much larger account. But they also recognized we had an idea that could actually work in a big way, so they compared us to Sara Blakely, billionaire founder of Spanx, and told us we should go on SharkTank to try to get funding.
Lucky for me, my octogenarian business partner, Paul, has had a lifetime of international business experience. His perseverance has been a daily inspiration to me. He’s someone who can’t help but think outside the box. He’ll rant to me,“Think like an entrepreneur, what aren’t we seeing?!” And so we’ll rethink. Revise. Rework. Look at it from a different perspective. What haven’t we thought of? How can we get through this next obstacle? Then somehow, as if by magic, we do. And we’ll arrive at the next step.
Through a very long series of little next steps, we have come to the point where we have our first product offering in final production. We developed our own ribbon formula. We’re presenting pointe shoe ribbons in a way that has never been done before. We’re innovating the product and the industry. We’re planning on being international.
But the best part is that our new product will help prevent injury to ballet dancers.
Our tag line is,“Our Ribbons Support You.” Support for the ankle, support for the dancer, support for the art.
We’re learning about the industry as we go along. Neither of us is a ballet dancer. But we do care, and we want to create the best product we can. A big part of our marketing is going to be conversing with our customers. We’re in a unique position as the creators, the manufacturers, the distributors, the advertisers and the sellers. We will be very responsive to our customer’s wants and needs.
We have two distinctly different marketing channels.
Firstly, we’ll be selling direct to consumers through Amazon. We’ll be offering a Sample Folio Pack (in both Matte & Satin finishes), which will contain all four of our stretch levels of ribbon. We want dancers to try them all and decide which level of stretch will work the best for them. We want them to know they have a choice, and we respect that. Our price point is lower than anything else out there. We feel like we need to be very competitive with our pricing, since we’re a brand new company with a brand new product. We’ll also have a Reorder Pack, which will contain two sets of ribbon for the price of one.
Our second marketing channel is the pointe shoe fitter with a retail storefront. Amazon has been changing how we buy. But we want to even things out a little bit. That’s why we’re offering our retailers something a little bit different. They’ll have a Ribbon Display Board, which they can show to their dancers who come to be fit. They’ll be able to see the ribbons, pull on them, feel them, and decide which they’d like to try. They will be able to purchase a Single Pack of the stretch level they like best. The Single Packs will not be available on Amazon. And that’s how we will support our retailers.
My 26 year career in helping other businesses grow has been a strength in developing this new company. I can barely contain my excitement in our new venture, and feel like I am finally able to fully accept the title of entrepreneur.