Interview with Michelle Cazella, Mamapreneur ~ Cazella Innovations Inc, Toddler Tech USA
Tell us about your business.
I am the inventor and manufacturer of Dapper Snappers “Fix Droopy Drawers in a Snap!” The Dapper Snapper consists of a short piece of suspender elastic with snaps that fits in the back 3 belt loops of the child’s pants and snaps over the outer 2 loops to cinch the pants thereby keeping them from falling down. While Dapper Snappers have been worn by kids as old as eight, the main audience is the mom of one or more kids ages 9 mo-5 yrs. From the information we’ve gathered so far, the largest demographic of Dapper Snapper kids are 2-4yr old boys, but the new girls chocolate line may change that.
Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?
While being a business owner means that my efforts aren’t serving someone else’s mission, it is an awful lot like having a 3rd child. It keeps me up late nights, requires constant attention, and means that there is no such thing as a vacation. But it’s in my blood. My Grandfather (on my mother’s side) owned a business making special shoes for injured veterans of World War 1. My mother owned a Dog Grooming business, a Pet Store, and later a Florist shop. While I did spend years working assembly lines for a few electronics companies, it just wasn’t fulfilling. Being a business owner is very fulfilling. It also means I get to spend more time with my kids.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
Well as I mentioned before, I come from a line of entrepreneurs. But I would have to say that my mom was my biggest influence. She was always so strong as a business owner. She made her customers happy and built a fantastic customer base. She really taught me that I need to own my own destiny. In one of her businesses, a partner she relied to heavily upon let her down. It was tough and the situation destroyed her business. My husband also is a great influence for me. He’s loving, supportive, and very business savvy.
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
So far, I would have to say that my current fundraising efforts to raise awareness for Dream House for Kids (http://www.DreamHouseForKids.org/) has been my greatest professional accomplishment. I decided that the last week of every month I wanted to donate time, resources, and 20% of online sales to a charity. I did it for the first time in April for Yehu, a company that provides microloans to Kenyan women so they can start their own businesses. After that, I was hooked. This month I’m going even further in my efforts to raise awareness for this charity that provides love, care, and homes for medically fragile children. I have started using social media to get the word out and it’s making quite an impact. You can read the story at http://bit.ly/meetlk . Have a tissue handy.
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?
While my husband was working on his MBA, he came home one night and said he read a great book titled; Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. That phrase stuck with me and has been the one piece of advice I would encourage anyone to follow. I go above, and often times beyond, the call of a business owner when it comes to my customers. I’ve received countless words of encouragement and support, and more importantly, my customer’s loyalty. Be good to your customers. For example, there was one time that I didn’t read an invoice correctly and only shipped one Dapper Snapper as opposed to the two they had ordered. She contacted me to inform me of the error. I not only sent her the one I left out, but also an extra for her trouble. It didn’t cost much to fix my mistake and I was able to provide excellent customer service. She was grateful to the point of spreading the word about Dapper Snappers and the customer service she was provided. A new process was also born out of the situation in order to bring attention to the quantities ordered.
What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
I’m about to celebrate my first year in business. If anything, I’ve learned that commitment is the key to success. This may sound trite but it’s very true. Commit to quality. Commit to customer loyalty. Commit to giving. It’s so important if you want to stand out in the crowd.
Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you succeed?
I first started my journey at http://www.mompreneursonline.com, a wonderful forum filled with supportive mom business owners with lots of great advice to share and shoulders to cry on. I continue learning so much from these women. One of them, Holly Klaassen of HerSEO.com wrote an awesome book called 50 SEO Secrets for Mom Entrepreneurs that has put me on the path to success with my website.
What is the Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
My one big business goal over the coming year is to have at least one store in every state carrying Dapper Snappers. I would also love to become more comfortable with speeches and interviews. Getting better with time management would also be great. I guess that’s more than one goal. It’s good to have goals!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Please consider a commitment to giving as part of the fabric of your company. Social responsibility is very important for your business, and your heart.
How can our readers find you online?
Http://DapperSnappers.com – Product website
Http://ToddlerTechUSA.com – Shopping Cart
Http://DapperSnappers.blogspot.com – Blog
Http://twitter.com/DapperSnappers – Twitter
Http://www.facebook.com/people/Michelle-Henderson-Cazella/1342900525 – Facebook