Grace Keller understands that transitioning to Chicago can accrue quite the to-do list, so she is here to help! Read our interview with the lovely Grace below…
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
Since I was a little girl, I have always been inspired to own my own business. I remember making bookmarks when I was in grade school and my mother would sell them at her office. I would always throw out business ideas to friends and family but there was always a component missing: passion. I came up with a concierge idea in 2004 after my father passed away but did not feel it was the right time. Fast-forward eight years later after experiencing the devastating loss of my mother and infertility and through the healing process, SAVING Grace was born. The business came to life after truly understanding the importance of respite care and having an extra pair of hands when life takes individuals and families away from what is important.
Tell us about your business, SAVING Grace…?
We are an extension and support system for busy and transitioning Chicagoans. Our services range from settling-in transferees from various countries, event planning, home organization to that pesky to-do list.
Where is SAVING Grace headquarters located?
In Chicago, Illinois in the Logan Square neighborhood; one of the nation’s coolest neighborhoods!
What were the first few steps you took to get your business, SAVING Grace up and running?
Pressure test, pressure test and pressure test. A half-year before launching the business, I self-led many focus groups to best understand what people would want out of a concierge service and what they would be willing to pay. I also put many weeks and months in understanding the competitive landscape.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
This continues to change but the most effective way to share what SAVING Grace is all about is through local marketing and most importantly through word-of-mouth.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
My biggest thorn is social media. I dabble in it but not enough to understand which platform(s) are best for my business.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I have been exploring having a marketing and social media resource to layout an execution plan.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
The entrepreneurial circuit is strong and I have found the greatest support and means to bounce off any uncertainty is to talk to others who may have gone through the same experience.
How did you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
Many services are customized as every client has varying needs. But through my services, I like to capture personal connections with the client and leave behind a surprise and delightful experience. This can be a simple note of thanks or leaving behind their favorite chocolate that they mentioned during our first meeting.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
The piece of advice that has always been at the top of my mind is to keep things simple. Always steering clear of complexity to better understand what does or does not work has always kept me on the right track.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Best advice that I can lend out is to always stay true to your aspirations. Owning a business is not all about the sunshine but you get there by staying close to your passion through the gloomy days. Almost always, things don’t happen as envisioned but the most rewarding part? You learn more about yourself.
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
Hard to choose one, but my highly utilized tool is Wave. It keeps my accounting, invoicing and payment in order.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
An article from Entrepreneur.com “16 Tips for Upcoming Self-Made Entrepreneurs”. I really like one of the closing points to “keep the hustle hydrated”.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
Social media is not my strong suit, as mentioned earlier, but I have committed to investing in resources dedicated to brand management.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
We have been gearing up for SAVING Grace’s Shop for a Cause event being held next month. To highlight our personal shopping service, we have hand picked items across varying price points for people on everyone’s holiday shopping list available in one destination. A portion of the proceeds will benefit two wonderful charities. Through the process of planning the event, we have been able to collaborate with local businesses.