Nov 19, 2010

Selling Things Online: Interview with Karen Lopez

We have a treat in store today for mommies wanting to start their own online retail stores!

Mommy Karen Lopez is the owner of the highly successful MOMtrepreneur Shop, and she has kindly obliged to give us an email interview today.

So without further ado, here's the interview!

NANAY NOTEBOOK: Please tell us something about yourself.

KAREN LOPEZ: I am a mother of three beautiful girls, ages 17, 10, and 1 year 10 months. I love to cook for my family, and I love traveling, discovering new places with them.

NN: What did you do before you started your home business?

KL: I was an events planner before, and I also used to teach events planning seminars.

ROUTINE IS IMPORTANT

NN: Could you please tell us about your work-at-home job? What is it about?

KL: My business is about giving unique and helpful products to mommies and babies. My working day starts after the older kids go to school and the baby has had her breakfast.

At 8:30, armed with a cup of hot tea, I begin my work day. I check my emails, FB page, and Multiply, and I answer inquiries. Then I take down orders and text the clients regarding payment options. I also arrange delivery schedules and review our inventory. This takes the whole morning already.

After lunch, I meet with suppliers/sub-contractors and my sewers to check on their progress. I also check if we still have enough packaging and labels for our products. And I also check schedules for receivable payments from stores and resellers. Then I go back to my laptop and answer some more emails and messages. Then it's time to pick up my kid from school and do some errands such as going to the grocery, etc. Then when I get home, I start to prepare our dinner.

That is my typical day. But sometimes, it gets so hectic with more meetings, pickups, and deliveries. Also extra errands, like parent-teacher conferences, doctor's visit, etc. It gets extra chaotic when it's bazaar season.

STARTING THE BUSINESS

NN: How did you come up with this business?

KL: We had been wanting another baby since my second child was 3 years old. But after years of trying, my former doctor told me that it's impossible for me to have another child.

But after 10 years, just when we'd given up, I find out I was pregnant with our miracle baby, Isabella. It was a risky pregnancy and I was put on bed rest for months, which meant no work — no events planning, no teaching seminars — for me. That's when the idea started.

Ten months after I gave birth, MOMtrepreneur Shop was born. All our products were created or sourced because of our own needs. And I am proud to say that we use all the products that we sell. I don't carry any product that I don't believe in. Comfort and safety are very much important.

NN: What specific steps did you take when you were just starting? Didn't you feel any apprehensions about starting out on your own?

KL: I started out small with just one or two products. But I didn't feel any apprehensions because I started out small, and also because I know my products will be helpful to mommies, just as they've been helpful to me.

NN: What difficulties did you have then? How did you overcome them?

KL: As for difficulties, it was not that bad because I am quite a resilient and persistent person. Maybe my only complaint is that sometimes I get too busy, especially during bazaar season. But I make sure I spend quality time with my family after the bazaars.

DOING THE BUSINESS

NN: What is your role in your business now? Have you delegated tasks?

KL: As of now, I am a one-woman act, from inventory, to production, to sales & marketing, art work, etc. But my eldest child helps out in bazaars during weekends. And now, I've hired sales people, and I am training this girl to be my assistant.

NN: What difficulties do you meet now? And how do you overcome them?

KL: I don't really consider them as problems. Nothing is easy in this world. You just have to take a deep breath and tackle the job. I always believe that things can be difficult but not impossible.

NN: What would you say prepared you to be able to do the things you are doing now?

KL: I love working — I started working when I was 14. The sense of accomplishment and my family is what fuels me. Also, being a working mom has really trained me to multitask.

WISE ADVICE

NN: What advice could you give mothers who also want to start a business like yours?

KL: Start small. Do not be in a hurry by investing big, because if it fails, you lose big too. If you start small, the risk is not that great.

And most important, you have to be passionate about your line of business. You should not get into it just for the money. So if you're passionate about fashion, go into that business. If it's cooking or baking, then go into the food business. (Now will be a great time to go into food, since it’s the holiday season.)

I got into this because I am passionate about everything about moms and babies. And I am passionate about offering products that help moms and will continue to help them in this journey called motherhood.

NN: Thanks, Mommy Karen! Please invite our readers to your blog or website.

KL: Please visit our website, www.Facebook.com/MOMtrepreneur. And we will be opening our first store, MOMtrepreneur Shop, in Shangri-la Mall (4th level) by November 30. Please do visit us there to find unique, fun, and helpful products for mommies and babies.

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P.S. Want to see more of MOMtrepreneur on the web? The Nanay Notebook has found more of Karen Lopez on Smart Parenting. Check it out for more advice on putting up your own online store.

You can also meet Karen Lopez in person! MOMtrepreneur Shop will be at Expo MOM this Saturday (Nov. 20) to be held at the Rockwell Tent. They will also be in the International Bazaar on Sunday (Nov. 21) at the PICC Forum.  

And here are some of MOMtrepreneur Shop's products. Two weeks ago, I got the ladybug safety harness for my three-year-old. Shipped pretty fast!

(Please click on the image to enlarge. When the new window opens, press CTRL then use your mouse scroll wheel to zoom and make the image larger and clearer.)

Please click on the image to enlarge.

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