Founder of Clairebella, Kathy Story, on Creating and Sharing her Artwork
Hello Kathy! Tell us a little about yourself.
I am the founder and artist behind Clairebella. Clairebella is a lifestyle brand of colorful gifts and home décor. We believe every day items should spark joy.
What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member?
I am excited to connect with other women, support women, and learn from others!
What made you take the leap to start Clairebella?
I originally started my business as a means to create and share my art.
So Kathy, what did you do prior to being an entreprenista?
In addition to studying art in college, I had a few sales rep positions. I also freelanced for a print design studio in Sydney, Australia.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
So much has changed since I originally started. My business has had several iterations…I think I am on version 4.0 now! When I first started I was wholesale only. I did some trade shows and that was about it. I was really green then and I think it went a bit better than planned.
Entreprenistas face daily challenges. What is the biggest challenge you overcame so far?
I partnered with another company who took over my operations and sales through a licensing agreement (in lieu of selling my company). I was really burned out at the time and I hoped it would be the answer. For about a year or so the company did well and I was enjoying the royalties. After that they made some decisions (creative and marketing strategy) that I didn’t agree with and thought would not work. The revenue declined and they eventually gave it back. I tried another partner for a short term, but their efforts didn’t produce better results. I really had a “Get out of my way” moment. I knew I had to jump in and relaunch the business myself. I basically had to hit the reset button and start over. I rebuilt the brand. I learned that a brand’s value is based on how engaged their customer is to the brand. You can grow with your customers and of course, you should be offering new products and new ideas, but you should always remember who your core customer is. They need to be the center of everything you do. I also learned that I have grit in spades.
Kathy you have a lot to celebrate! What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Rebuilding my company after it was taken to almost nothing. I felt like a phoenix. 🙂
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Yes, but I am not doing a very good job at the moment. Luckily my kids are grown and my husband is understanding. I am of the mindset that I am working crazy hours now, so that I can have an exit in the next 5 years or so. The amount I work is not sustainable.
What’s a piece of advice you can share that you wish you’d known when you first started your Entreprenista journey?
I wish I would have found mentors early on. Putting together an advisory board can be invaluable and shorten your path to success.
What have you achieved recently that you’d like to celebrate with our community?
We are launching a collaborative line with Mark & Graham this spring and we are very excited about that.
What’s next for Clairebella? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
A big focus is for more collaborations with other brands through licensing. We would love to see Clairebella apparel and we are looking to feature limited edition collabs with artists in our own product line.