Saturday, December 6, 2008

Besides Running a business. . .

My days, are like yours, filled to the brim with activity - and each moment is a treasure. This week I have been working with a website called Homeschool Entrepreneur . Deb did an outstanding (if I do say so myself) write up about MOSD! It is a bit one sided toward me - so don't forget I have LOTS of help from Alison, Suzy, our fantastic DT and many more helpers!
Here is the article, you can also view it on the Homeschool Entrepreneur website.
Almost everyone has someone on their Christmas list that does scrapbooking. A great product idea along with several sound business principles, Christy Gandara has made her dream of working at home so she could homeschool a reality. How fun is that?
Christy Gandara is married to a self employed truck driver, and has 3 children ages 7, 6 and 4.5 as well as 3 cats and a dog. Starting out with a dream and a hobby she loved, Christy has a profitable business doing what most moms do just for fun! The funniest part, though, is that she has a great business partner that she didn’t even meet face to face until almost a year into the partnership! It’s working great, and they have a solid foundation and some great advice for anyone wanting to follow their footsteps.

Homeschool Is First
Homeschooling her children from the beginning, they use a little known method called the “Thomas Jefferson Education Model”. This is the antithesis to the typical conveyer-belt education used by most public schools. To learn more about this method, an excellent review of the book that started this movement can be found at: .

Working For Her Dream
To be able to stay at home and homeschool, she needed to find a way to make money at home. Scrapbooking was something she enjoyed, and has now found a way to make that work. With only a small amount of business experience, Christy has grown her business considerably in the last 3 years. Her favorite part of working at home and homeschooling is the flexibility it provides.

A Little Help From Friends
What made all the difference in her business growth was when she emailed another scrapbooker, whom she had never met, about helping her create an idea she had for what are now called “Stackers”. A partnership was born. Pooling their resources, it was only 3 months before they began to see profit from their idea.

Scrap Biz is where Christy has gleaned the majority of her business information and help. She continues to this day to receive ongoing business education and information through the Member Support Program. It’s a great resource for anyone interested in making a business out of their scrapbooking hobby.

Growing Strong!
Midnight Oil Scrapbook Designs has built a strong foundation for the past three years and they’re now branching out to vend at the leading craft and hobby show - CHA in January 2009. Their gross sales have doubled in 2008 (almost $50,000!) and they’re expecting the same or better in 2009.
Her partnership with Alison Banholzer in Maryland allows them to "specialize" in different areas and is the key to always getting the job done.

A Family Affair
This business has been somewhat of a family affair the last few years. Christy’s husband has spent the last 2 years in production and their 3 children are often involved in the packaging process. She also employs a cousin by marriage in the production department for about 5 -10 hours a week.

Website Wisdom
It took a good 6 months to get their website up and running and it continues to be an ongoing process. Realizing there are plenty of do-it your self websites, Christy really recommends having it designed professionally unless web design is your business. Having a website designed professionally gave them time to focus on product development. They now also employ a web technician who fixes odds and ends and makes changes to the look as needed. They have also begun to train someone to load product into the store - again freeing up time for the things only Christy can do!

Other services they have found invaluable are:
-Go Daddy as our host
-Zen Cart as our Store
-Coppermine as their photo gallery
-Pro Pay for credit card processing
-Scrapbiz for business advice and training
-Google Documents to store shared documents between the partners as well as with our retailers when necessary.

A Practical Schedule
As much as any WAHM loves the flexibility of their own business, rarely do we see a successful business run “when they have time”. You have to make the time, or it never happens. Christy is one very organized mom that is willing to share the schedule that has made it all possible for her.

Running her business on a time table just as she would if she had an outside job, she "goes to work” every day at the same time. She’s outlined independent study and/or activities that her children can do every afternoon so she can dedicate time to work, and then returns to work after
they are in bed.
“Schedules are my life line - as much as I can stick to my schedule.
A typical day at the Gandara Bug Academy is something like this:

-School from 9am - 1pm
-Independant Study 1pm - 3 pm (Mommy Work time)
-Family time 3 - 7pm
-7 pm quiet time - bed time
-7pm - midnight - Mommy work time

This gives me about a 7 hour work day, 5 to 6 days a week.”

Sage Advice:
When asked what she would’ve done differently, Christy said,

“Honestly - I would do nothing different - because the mistakes I have made in business have taught me valuable lessons. These lessons have made me a better business woman.”

Her recommendations?
“Research, create and revisit a business plan, decide if you just want a "hobby" to make a "little extra" or if you want a ‘full time work your tail off business’. Don't be afraid to ask experts for help, however, it's not always the best deal to have family and friends do thing for free - free usually means slow... Family support is essential - I could not do this without my husbands blessing and the many other family members who watch my children or substitute for school so that I can work. Remember, there is no such thing as get rich quick, so don't quit the "day job" before you really can afford to live without that money. You will want to pay yourself, of course, but be sure to reinvest too.”

As you can see from the article there is a lot of "Midnight Oil" burning in order to bring all of you great products! Thanks for letting me share!

1 comment:

Gloria Stengel said...

Cool beans! And yay to you! From one homeschool mom to another, I know how packed our days can get! I also stay up unilt midnight or later "working" since that's when the house is QUIET. On a sad note, it does not get easier when the kids get gets different. My homeschoolers were 8, 4 and not born when we started this adventure! Now they are 17, 13, and 8! It's been a wild ride!