Women’s Employment Network Successes
A story of strength.
- Stacy Dalton: Dalton Ink Custom-Print T-Shirts
- Ginger Fuller: Ginger Sue’s Restaurant
- Jayne Torline: 3 Women and an Oven
- Jennifer Meents: AAA Screening Service
- Rachel Ronan: Kiwi Creative
- Sharon Rensenhouse: Mano’s Corporate Gifts
- Julia Morgan: Frankie & Jules Fashion-Forward Attire
- Krista Williamson: K2W Workshops on Home Repair
Stacy Dalton: Dalton Ink Custom-Print T-Shirts
Stacy Dalton says she has always done things differently. When deciding on her major at Kansas State, she chose Agribusiness because it was an area she knew nothing about, and she wanted the challenge. At that time, being a female, from Johnson County, in a male-dominated field of study was quite a challenge, but Stacy not only survived — she thrived.
Stacy spent eight years at Gateway in computer sales, but had always dreamed of owning her own business. After being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness 10 years ago, Stacy’s perspective regarding waiting for the “perfect time” to start a business changed, and two businesses were born — Dalton Ink custom t-shirts and Safari Sunset, selling custom-designed safari shirts for hunters. In the fall of 2007, as Stacy was working on the Safari Sunset business, she signed up for the FastTrac NewVenture for Women course offered at the Women’s Business Center. Stacy says the FastTrac planning process, learning about why some businesses succeeded and others didn’t, and knowing when to quit if a business didn’t work were all invaluable as she closed Safari Sunset, and began to grow Dalton Ink.
Stacy’s advice to other small business owners:
- Trust your instincts and “gut” feelings.
- Keep your expenses to a bare minimum — you can do more with less than you think.
- Don’t focus on what your competitors are doing — focus on doing what you do well.
- Learn to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
- If something starts to work and you don’t know why — go with it anyway!
Dalton Ink is one of the few custom t-shirt companies around that does digital printing using water-based inks. By using this process as opposed to using traditional-ink printing, it can produce jobs quickly, as well as handle small runs and last-minute add-ons to large orders. Dalton Ink has a loyal customer following which includes Kansas State, Iowa State and Children’s Mercy Hospital.
Ginger Fuller: Ginger Sue’s Restaurant
In an industry with an 85% failure rate in the first year, and the economy at its worst level since the Great Depression, how come Ginger Sue’s restaurant has been so successful since it opened in 2007?
Well, Ginger Sue’s tag line is “Eat Among Friends,” and owners Ginger Fuller and husband/business partner David Bradley have a lot of them. Oh, and did I mention really great food, too?
- Be prepared to work harder than you expected when you own a business.
- Have a clear understanding of what your business is and stick with it.
- Do as much preparation as possible before you open your doors.
Jayne Torline: 3 Women and an Oven
Possibly Better than Your Grandma’s Baked Goods... Really
Did you know that the sense of smell can reprise more memories than any other sense? When you walk into 3 Women and an Oven you may immediately think back to the wonderful smells from your mom or grandma’s kitchen, and you will find your mouth watering and your stomach rumbling for those flavors all over again. Seeing the beautiful baked goods in the case at 3 Women and an Oven may also take you back to your wedding day, anniversary or special birthday celebration.
- When determining pricing, you have to keep emotions out of the decision. Focus on labor, cost of goods, profit, and market trends. If you’re selling out of a product and can’t keep up with the demand for it, look at raising your price.
- Hire people who are smarter than you.
- Learn to listen — to your customers, your partners and your employees.
- Check your ego at the door. It’s not about you, it’s about the customer as well as the product and service that you offer.
Jennifer Meents: AAA Screening Service
Henry Ford said, “Quality is doing it right when no one is looking.”
Jennifer Meents, owner of AAA Screening Service, agrees with Henry Ford, and this represents AAA Screening’s approach to providing exceptional service to their clients.
Jennifer grew up in an entrepreneurial family, and always wanted to be a business owner as well. She’s a person who likes to know why things work the way they do, and how “all the pieces fit together” in a successful business.
Rachel Ronan: Kiwi Creative
Rachel Ronan is a local product, and a great example of Midwest creativity. Rachel graduated from the University of Kansas with a design degree with an emphasis in visual communication and graphic design. She began her career as creative director with a trade association in the aviation industry. Rachel loved the work, the organization and the creative opportunities, and was employed there for 12 years. During this time, she was also doing freelance graphic design projects and that business was growing. Rachel did some serious thinking, and Kiwi Creative became a reality.
- Network, network, network.
- Set up online bill-paying for your business early on — big time-saver.
- Visit several networking organizations, chambers, etc., before joining.
If you’re employed, and have a definite date for starting your business, do as much of the preparation as possible during that time (i.e., website, legal entity, licensing) so you can hit the ground running when you launch your business.
Sharon Rensenhouse: Mano’s Corporate Gifts
Sharon Rensenhouse, owner of Mano’s Corporate Gifts, is proud of her business growth and accomplishments. In 1982 she was a single mom and needed an income to support herself and her son. She had friends who owned nut-roasting operations in the South who needed help getting their product distributed in the Midwest. Sharon became their distributor. Her good reputation spread, and soon the nut growers and roasters began asking her to send gifts to their clients and add more food gift items as well. This was the beginning of her company, Nutcracker Sweets, a holiday gift company. The company has had slow, steady growth every year since its beginning, with the exception of 2009 and 2010.
- She would approach hiring differently and trust her instincts more.
- She wouldn’t spend as much money on printed material without a lot more follow-up with the recipients.
- And she’d be more careful about working with internet marketing companies — some aren’t ethical.
Julia Morgan: Frankie & Jules Fashion-Forward Attire
When Julia Morgan decided she wanted to make a career out of selling really cool women’s clothing and accessories, she was well prepared. She wanted to own her own business, and had grown up in a family of business owners. So Julia set about educating herself.
Julia graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in marketing and retail management. She also set out to get as much “hands-on” experience as possible. She did that by working for several different retail clothing stores in both sales and management positions.
Krista Williamson: K2W Workshops on Home Repair
Want Your Own Business: Krista Says “Just Do It”
In 2008, Krista Williamson, founder and owner of K2W Workshops, had a good job. Krista, who throughout her life has loved learning how things were made and how they worked, was a project manager for a company that designed and built museum exhibits. She began thinking about how she could combine the project management and building skills she had acquired with her desire to share that knowledge with women — helping them be more self-reliant. In her research, Krista found that workshops to teach women how to do basic home improvements were basically non-existent. She decided to make the entrepreneurial leap into business ownership and started K2W Workshops.