Unique gifts from new brands


Recently I have met entrepreneurs who have developed very interesting businesses.  Their focus is on bringing unique products that are “out of the box” – while being very appealing.

Are all t-shirt companies equal? I think NOT

I fell in love with an apparel company because of their amazing display at the Celebrity Connected gifting suite for the Emmy Awards.  Gosh I loved NAIA VIBES.  If you are an entrepreneur who becomes a vendor at a trade show or gifting suite- take a page from NAIA VIBES.  The display was GORGEOUS. Very clever ways to give prizes (gifts) to the celebrities that were on hand. AND… the array of apparel and accessories made me want to order and order and order. Having a theme that was a standout made for one photographic opportunity to spotlight the brand after another.

The warm  long – sleeved t-shirt is now my NEW FAVORITE.  Here is the link if you want to put it on your “nice list” for holiday shopping.  And, the hats, backpacks and book bags were a hug hit, too!


Cosmetic Hideaways – Always able to stay pretty in pink!

I was confused when I saw this unique necklace design sitting at the Celebrity Connected.  It was a beautiful piece of jewelry but what exactly made it look “different”?  So, I inquired.  And much to my delight it was a functional piece of jewelry where a lipstick could be hidden, but also at your finger-tips for easy application.  I was trying to think if a pepper spray would fit inside – but I don’t believe so (Hint to the design team). However, it did fit my lipstick without fail.  It retails on their website for $98 and is in silver and gold colors.  It is worth the price as it is a carrying case and a statement piece of jewelry.

I connected with the creator, Christine Abdoo who sent me some background information.  She sent to me her press packet that chronicled briefly the story of this Grand Rapids based company:

“I would find that multiple times a day I would want my lipstick with me,” said Christine Abdoo. “I would get frustrated during the day, jumping from meeting to meeting, not being able to go back to my office to put my lipstick on. […] I wanted a necklace with a fashionable container where I could carry my lipstick with me.” The first designs on the market fit Chapstick size lip balms, and travel size lipsticks.

    … “It really just started with an idea. We all have them, but it’s what you do with them that makes a difference,” she said. “Taking an idea and making it come reality is pretty exciting”

Orders can be taken at their website here.




I must say that the guys from  SOLE Bicycles caught my attention recently.   In fact I made a bee-line to their vendor booth at the Halopalooza vendor fair in Los Angeles this past month.  How unique to put advertisements on the bikes themselves and then have them available to rent at hotels, resorts, etc.  Imagine having an event, such as a music festival, where vendors can bike from place to place with your logo zipping by!

If you love one-of-a-kind ideas that are eye-popping check out this Southern California company pronto!


Eat my promotional material – Please!

Are you tired of receiving or giving the same old branded products.  What if I could introduce you to products that are from sustainable materials that can turn your event wristband in to a flowers with just a little TLC? Or instead of a greeting card – send a garden in a box? So much good can come out of so little effort by simply planting your branded products after initial use or when you are done with them.   Find my favorites here. 





If you could give advice to start-up entrepreneurs…

I recently attended a bridal shower and this question was posed… “What would be the one piece of advice to give to a new couple?” Lots of great pearls of wisdom were generated by the shower attendees. A lot of what was said really resonated with me.

During the drive home I realized that I could extend this question to “wanna be entrepreneurs”.  What would have been the “gems of information” I wish I had known before I journeyed in to becoming a “solo-entrepreneur” aka solopreneur?

Before I arrived home I actually had amassed quite the list! So, here in no certain order are the things I learned in the past 10+ years! Feel free to use the comment section to add your sage words, as well! And, if you are looking for some great biz information check out the start-up #entreps column in the Huffington Post by my 411 Voices colleague, Sandy Abrams.

  1.  Seek advice from experts in starting a business. Some people find the Small Business Association in their area a huge resource. I owe a debt of gratitude for the help I received in launching SIGNING FAMILIES to Karen Geary, my first mentor, who I met at a special program for start-up entrepreneurs via the Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland. Mentors can help you learn how to protect your intellectual property, trademark your business name, obtain a business license and set up bank accounts. There is a “ton of stuff” you probably will need to learn including perhaps about research and design, writing a business plans, etc!  So… to reiterate… seek advice of EXPERTS!
  2. If you don’t “do numbers” – get an accountant! Know where your money is going and be mindful of your expenses.  Remember that there are strict rules for tax purposes regarding what is a business and what is deemed a “hobby”.
  3. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money! What I mean by a saying I have said more than once in front of audiences is that you need to have a marketing / advertising budget. It pains me to see creative people start a company only to have it fall flat as there were no plans for advertising. Sigh.                                                                   By the way – have an AMAZING website and a strong social media presence.
  4. Be kind as nothing good has come out of being a mean entrepreneur.  Competition will happen. Others will have different or even better ideas than yours.  Look inside yourself on how to be successful and don’t blame “the other guy” for ruining your business.
  5. Hire competent people.  An intern can be a valuable asset to your company or a disaster. Remember they are learning and you are offering them an opportunity. Interns, as a rule, shouldn’t be running your company.  Hire people who are able to do the job because they are experts at the job.
  6. Pay fair wages. Period.
  7. Stay educated and give back to your local area. Nearly every profession changes – stay on top of the “learning curve”.   There is value to seeking help from those who have walked a similar path.  Be proactive and attend networking meetings and join your local chamber of commerce.
  8. Not all good ideas become successful businesses.  Not all people can be successful entrepreneurs, even if they have good ideas.  Why? EGO!  Some people believe that all they need is a great concept and charm to succeed. Sorry – charm isn’t usually associated with ROI.
  9. Give back to your community by supporting local charitable organizations. 
Electric bulb idea concept design
Having a great idea doesn’t always guarantee a successful business!


Now your turn to add to the list in the comment section below.