Karen Smoots, a mother of two boys, skier, and survivor of long, cold, Michigan winters, a solution was essential in finding a way to send her children outside to play in the snow and off to school every morning with DRY gloves and mittens. Like many families, it became a daily, daunting task to come up with ways to get my children’s gloves and mittens dry on the inside and finding spots to dry all the wet gear. After several attempts in the electric clothes dryer, propping gloves & mittens on registers (only to wake up in the morning and see them fallen over and STILL wet), and making one final attempt to turn them inside out, (knowing they would never take shape again) repeated epic fails was simply not acceptable for this mom! She knew there had to be an easier way… so she set out looking for products that were available, none of which did the job entirely. They either used electricity (which cost $ to run) or didn’t dry completely on the inside because heat would escape (especially to the top of the glove). So instead, she she created the product that she was looking for. Read our interview with the lovely Karen below…
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
Other mom’s inspired me! I knew that I had created a solution to a problem that mom’s, dad’s, grandparents and teachers all over the world struggle with and I felt that it was my obligation to share it with the world to make their lives easier. I have owned and operated my own business for 12 years; so jumping into this did not scare me. I love having the flexibility to see my children grow up and owning my own business allows me to capture all those moments.
Tell us about your business.
Thegreenglovedryer is a non-electric glove, mitten, hat, shoe, children’s boot and wet accessory dryer. We have created a GreenGloveDryer for the floor and wall allowing homeowners and schools to dry garments without using any added electricity. Going completely “Green” and using materials that are environmentally sound and friendly.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
Coupon code: Ladyblog17 for 15% off – $3 flat rate shipping on any order.
- 2016 – 101 Best & Brightest Sustainable Companies Winner
- 2016 – Gold Stevie Winner (Women in Business) – Startup up Companies (TheGreenGloveDryer) – Consumer Product Category
- 2016 – Silver Stevie Award Winner (Women in Business) – Startup companies Business Product Category
Where is your business based?
Portage, MI USA.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
Learning the competition and understanding Plastic Injection Molding. My husband and I did a lot of research as we had very little understanding of molds, fabrication and the manufacturing process of how we wanted our product made. Understanding there are many types of materials in plastics was also a learning curve for me, as I only wanted a safe product in the hands of my customers.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Local news channels, bloggers, local stores and of course social media with friends and family. They are our cheerleaders for sure and without them this would not be possible. We have had ZERO PR budget so letting the world know our product exists has been a huge challenge.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Marketing and funding PR campaigns. Nearly every home that has our product LOVES it. The challenge is finding a way to let them know it’s out there. Without tens of thousands of advertising dollars, it’s hard to create a new product, a new brand, and a new space and do it with virtually no budget.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I have focused on finding outlets that are willing to write about our product on blogs or articles. I have also done giveaways, which has created a significant amount of traffic. I have reached out to news stations, parenting groups, schools and more to help spread the word of our great product.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
My family! My children and my husband are my motivation. I am self-driven too so even the smallest successes fuel me to the next one. Being a solo “Mom” Entrepreneur is no easy task but I have always been driven by success. The smallest “great job mom”, or “that’s awesome” is huge. No for me means “not right now” or “I have to go back to the drawing board”. I am a very assertive/aggressive personality and I have learned over the past 20 years it is my strongest attribute. However, I have also learned how to use this quality and make sure I use appropriately. I love meeting new people, being challenged and most of all helping others who are on the same journey as I am.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
Customer service! I love every phone call, every email and it is the absolute best feeling getting a personal email or thank you from my customers. I always want to maintain the small business feel and work to cater to my customers this way. Corporate red tape can be tiring and cumbersome. I work to make my customers lives easy and simple, just like our product, TheGreenGloveDryer.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Always be prepared to stop, analyze and pivot your plan if necessary. There is no certainty in anything in life and this is true in business. Adapting to change is the inevitable and you must be willing to do so or success will be challenging.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Be prepared for long days, sleepless nights and most of all be self-driven. There are lonely days by myself and times when I have no one to brainstorm or bounce ideas off. This is the true test of “trust your gut”, go with your instincts and move forward, faster than you have ever moved before. Finally, connect with people who are in the same lane as you. They are your biggest fans, your most loyal supporters and know exactly what you are going through, both highs and lows!
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
Email and the phone! I have learned that sometimes picking up the phone, which is nearly extinct today, has landed me deals and relationships I never thought possible.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Hashtags #thegreenglovedryer #mompreneur #madeinusa #glovedryer #shoedryer #bootdryer
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
“One Simple Idea” by Stephen Key.
“Sell Your Ideas With Or Without A Patent” by Stephen Key.
“The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S. Clason.
“Act Like a Success Think Like a Success” by Steve Harvey.
“Mom Boss” by Nicole Feliciano.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
- Marketing/social media
- Email campaigns
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
- Working with local universities to compile marketing materials and campaigns to use for the 2017 season.
- Reaching out to sporting goods and private outdoor retail to secure business for 2017.
- Launching on Walmart.com (e-commerce platform identical to Amazon.com) to maximize our online presence.