Guest Post by Linda Schlesinger-Wagner, Native Michigander and founder of national fashion brand skinnytees™
Linda’s expert tips if you are considering starting a business as a single mother:
- Q: What are some of the things single mothers should research, explore and know prior to launching a business?
A: Before launching a business, it’s important to know who your customer is from a demographic standpoint and what you can sell them. I recommend doing your research at local libraries as their resources will help guide your demographic research. Going into business with this information will certainly help clarify what you can accomplish and set the tone for growth. During the startup of skinnytees™, I did research at some of the law libraries in my area, specifically at Wayne State University and the University of Michigan which proved to be invaluable in setting the tone and direction for my business.
- Q: What would do you differently?
A: If I had to take a re-do, I would have launched the business online immediately versus initially placing all focus on expanding and selling my product inventory. Branding your business is so important, and the internet makes it easy to grab the attention of potential customers from the beginning of a brand’s launch. Wish we had done that sooner
- Q: Besides your spouse, what people should be in your support system? Types of advisors?
A: My advisors include many respected business people but the most important have been our customers – they are honest and tell us what they like and dislike, giving us the chance to listen to what they want and make changes based on their feedback. While we know that we can’t please everybody, we can try our best to please the majority of our customers. Luckily, the skinnytees™ team is my support system. We often share and coordinate ideas and put actions to work as a team, which creates comradery in our studio.
You can also develop a strong support system by participating in professional small business groups, attending seminars, etc. One of the groups I joined early on in my business journey was a local women’s network group called Women Exchanging Business (WEB). I consider this group my cheerleaders and we meet every other week for an hour and it’s just so rewarding.
Additionally, in 2016, I graduated from Detroit’s Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. This program expanded my support system tremendously with financial and marketing advisors as well as other small business owners who were going through their own business journeys and I am still in contact with them today!
- Q: Although mothers do not have a standard 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule, what kind of work schedule do you suggest for mothers just starting their business?
A: When my children were young, I tried to do phone calls during naptime and bedtime, catching up with many of my workers. I think as moms we have many hats to juggle and although childhood is so short, we still have to try to find a level of balance that works best for us even if it doesn’t seem to be an ideal or a traditional work schedule.
Patience helped me accept my non-traditional work schedule. I worked while my kids were in school, picked them up after school and tried to be involved in their lives as much as possible. Sometimes I would get that first blush of “You won’t believe what happened today” or the infamous “NOTHING” response from the kids when I asked how their day went or what they learned that day. I did my best to make being a mom a priority while striving to set aside time to check off items on my business to-do list.
- Q: What are some tips for those who find that funding will be an obstacle in their entrepreneur journey?
A: If funding seems to be an obstacle, network with women’s organizations to see what kind of funding is available for your business. There are so many small business opportunities out there that women don’t know about – opportunities that can help your business grow, like Motor City Match, Detroit Development, Small Business Loans, among others. Sometimes it’s just that you need to keep putting one foot in front of the other and remember to never give up. And, rely on others because “Teamwork makes the dream work.”
More about Linda Schlesinger-Wagner
Native Michigander and founder of national fashion brand skinnytees™, Linda Schlesinger-Wagner, is a Michigander who was inspired to create skinnytees™ in 2009, when she noticed that women of all ages were looking for simple, sleek tops and there was an untapped market for body conscious yet stylish options that made women look and feel sexy. Being a fashion insider for more than 30 years, she immediately knew how to perfect and market the effortlessly chic original skinnytees™ camisole. Right out of the gate, they experienced instant success and an overwhelming consumer reception.
Forever young, Linda began her fashion career when bell bottoms were still in style (the first time!) when she opened Rainbow Lollipop, a high-end children’s boutique. Shortly after, she started Annie’s Antics, a children’s knitwear company and Annie M Designs, a women’s knit line. She has been actively involved in all spectrums of the fashion industry ever since with experience in retail, design, manufacturing, wholesale sales, styling and consulting.
Linda was a single mother of two when she launched skinnytees™ and has been through it all when it comes to dueling the responsibilities of raising children and growing a business.
Relevant photos, including Linda Schlesinger-Wagner headshot: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/p9s51xnkgt7wo9p/AACWLzqgDFrbDc0iH2ZgorBla?dl=0
Find skinnytees™ online:
- Website – skinnytees.com
- Facebook – @skinnytees
- Instagram – @skinnytees
*Photo and log courtesy of Linda Schlesinger-Wagner