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Lemons to lemonade feature #25: Cathy Bennett

Tuesday, December 23, 2008
When my first son was born eight years ago, I was a consultant for Creative Memories, a scrapbooking company. Like this next mom entrepreneur, I soon became a scrapbook dropout after my son turned one. My second child who was born three years later has no scrapbooks or picture albums. I was so burnt out creating them for my first child that I never went back.

That is why I love Cathy Bennett's product. Cathy is the owner and founder of How Fast They Grow, LLC , which she established in 2007. Six months after the birth of her son, Cathy realized she would never be able to put the title 'scrapbooker' on her mommy resume. She had visions of becoming a great scrapbooker because she considered herself at least somewhat creative and sentimental. But despite her best efforts to buy supplies, cut, paste and journal, she found the hobby impossible once her son was born.

Cathy now the mom of two children, created the idea for digi-scrapbook™ where you can create, edit and save your scrapbook pages online or have them printed out. Like most online retailers however, she did see a cut back this year in purchasing of the product. Cathy acted quickly and implemented strategies to boost sales. Here is her story...

How has this economy affected you, your business and your family?
Since it’s just been 17 months since I started, we’ve been tracking month over month sales vs. year over year sales as a more relevant comparison. Sales were up month over month consistently, until October, 2008. We noticed a noticeable shift in the size of orders and the number of orders. It was enough to sit up and take notice.

Every other business owner I talked to had a similar reaction to the October results, regardless of industry. We took a hard look at what we were doing and in November and got more aggressive with our campaigns and discounts as well as doing a permanent price reduction. November sales came back and we had a record month. People are responding to the price change well.

How are you making lemonade from lemons?
Luckily, I’ve benefited from two really positive market trends, even in this economy. The first is the growth of digital photography and the second is the interest level in cool new web-based applications, or Web 2.0. People are enjoying the creativity they have online, and our digi-scrapbook is a fun, free way for people to have a creative outlet. Moms also see my business as a huge savings or bargain relative to traditional scrapbooking.

The core of my target market is a group I affectionately call “scrapbooking dropouts,” the moms that became disenchanted with the hobby of scrapbooking due to the time and money it takes. I try to spur additional activity through free shipping and other incentives. We also bend over backwards on customer service, and it has definitely paid off.

Specifically we:
  • Lowered our per page prices from $7.50 to $5.50.
  • Created value-oriented holiday messages to our customers.
  • Communicated the value of digital scrapbooking over traditional scrapbooking ($5.50 per page vs. average of $10 per page).
  • Expanded our designs from 190 a year ago to 486 currently.
  • Moved all our PR and marketing in-house.

Any encouraging words you would like to offer mom entrepreneurs?
If you are just coming up with a business concept, this is a great time to really evaluate the marketplace and ensure your idea is focused and targeted. Since money is so tight right now, there is only upside to a well-strategized business plan that can be executed now and grown as the economy comes back. Businesses that survive this recession will become stronger because of it.

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