Incredibly Creative Ways Entrepreneurs Have Gotten in the Door


It's really easy to feel a little bit stuck. We all know the proper ways to act in a business environment – how to network, how to seek out new business and make those crucial connections.

But what if all that is simply not working? Sometimes, you have to get a little creative to get the job done. These female business leaders took matters into their own hands and thought up some brilliant ways to get through the front door. And in each and every case, it worked!

Cassandra Rosen, FK Interactive

“Here's how I made a massive career change-from financial advisor and fighting 'glass ceilings' to owning a luxury brand consulting agency. In the late nineties and early 2000's, I worked as a financial advisor and hedge fund consultant. In financial services, especially the advisory world at the time, the glass ceiling was very much alive and rather unbreakable. Approximately one year after September 11th, I was beyond frustrated with the business, and knew it was time for a change. Design and brand development had been a passion of mine since I was a child, and after taking a short-term college course, I realized I had a talent-one I'd been using for years, without even realizing it. Through a few connections, I found a local consulting agency that was hiring. I had no experience, but they gave me a name of someone in management, and his direct line. The next day, I called him. Of course, as any good employer would do, Dave asked if I had experience. I said no, but I was willing to learn. He responded in a rather cranky tone that they were, “Only looking for people with real experience and talent", that I should go back to school, and then hung up on me.

What normal people would do is probably just that-go back to school, then start looking for internships, and work their way up. Instead, I called him back, leaving a voicemail that 'I had talent, was a fast learner, and either he should hire me, or I'd start my own firm'. Looking back, this probably wasn't the brightest move, but he called me back, and a week later, hired me. (I also learned that the 'tone' was his normal voice-unless he was belting out show tune lyrics around the office) I did go back to school, and eventually started my own firm, but Dave and I stayed friends until he passed. Having the courage to stick my 'foot in the door' back then gave me the opportunity to make a massive career change, to learn from an incredible talent, and eventually to find my own path into something I truly love to do-helping other entrepreneurs succeed at FK Interactive.

Motto founders, Sunny Bonnell and Ashleigh Hansberger

“In 2006, Motto was a year into business and struggling to keep the doors open. Nobody knew us, the phone wasn't ringing, and we had a few hundred bucks left in the bank. We were eating ketchup sandwiches for lunch and dinner and sleeping on the floor of our 14x14 office. That classic struggling-to-survive startup fairy tale? Well, it sucks when it's happening to you. We were weeks away from closing the doors, shutting off the Internet and slinking away in defeat. Conventional wisdom said maybe things would turn around. But luck isn't a business strategy, and we've never been conventional. We knew our only hope was to do rebel against the ordinary and do something unexpected to get clients. We took $50 and purchased a list of businesses from within a 500-mile radius of our office. We then designed a die cut, three-dimensional mailer in the shape of a trashcan. When you pulled the lid, the inner panel said four things, “Trash the Ordinary," a link to our website, phone number, and address. We emptied our bank account, printed as many as we could, and sent them to everyone on that list. It was our last gasp, our Hail Mary pass. Within 24 hours, we had people showing up at our studio with the mailer in hand, wanting to talk about how we could help them build their brands. That moment completely turned our business around."

Eloise Bune, founder and CEO of ScribbleChat

Eloise Bune Of Handwriting.io

Eloise Bune, founder and CEO of ScribbleChat, has always had an appreciation for handwritten notes. It all started after she wrote hundreds of thank you notes following her wedding and realized her passion for personalization. In 2011 Eloise took her passion to the next level and developed a handwriting replication software— Handwriting.io, a patentedAPI that enables customers like 1-800 Flowers, Hallmark and Bloomingdales to incorporate the company's proprietary digital handwriting technology into existing mobile apps, desktop applications and websites. Following the success of Handwriting.io, Eloise launched ScribbleChat in early 2017—a consumer version of Handwriting.io that allows individuals to send “emotions" through text message, instead of plain text responses. The advanced messaging platform allows you to customize "handwritten" text offering emojis and interactive animations to more accurately convey emotions in text discussions.

In March 2017, ScribbleChat partnered with Facebook Messenger and launched their ScribbleChat bot for Messenger. Partnerships have since taken off from there. In our digital driven age, Eloise utilizes the basic concept of human “touch" and customization, in addition to her own innovative and personalized ways to communicate with new business prospects, investors and additionally friends and family which she believes has made her successful today. She believes part of both ScribbleChat and Handwriting.io's successes lie in her continued process of sending hand-written notes to every new business prospect and investor. So far so good!

Nikkia T. McClain, President, Tene Nicole, Marketing and Public Relations

“When I first started my firm, I was having a hard time connecting with editors, freelance writers, bloggers or producers who didn't pay my pitches or clients any attention. I knew it would take time but I also knew I needed to think outside of the box if I wanted to get a foot in the door of getting both my firm and clients notice. I came up with the idea of creating a signature series where I partnered with an event space to deliver a three-part event: A gifting suite, private media dinner and a charitable mix and mingle. The three-part series center around NFL Draft Week (when it was in NYC) and NBA Draft Week. The gifting suite and private media dinner was the hook, as media guest where strategically picked (mainly lifestyle editors) to attend. During the gifting suite, I would make sure my clients had on-site activation.

This opportunity allowed their brands to get coverage from media and photo-ops with players and celebrities. The media dinner was very intimate as it was designed for twenty-five people and was always hosted by either the number one or number two draft pick (a small investment to host), Super Bowl Champions, notable players, one or two celebrities, about five to six media people and of course myself! It was the perfect setting for everyone in the room. The media got to ask questions without fishing for a story, the players and celebrities got publicity and most importantly I got the opportunity to establish a relationship with the media guest I invited, relationships that have blossomed into wonderful friendships over the years. As an entrepreneur in the public relations sector, public relations has shifted from traditional PR (press releases, media alerts, cold calling, pitching) and creating my signature series was what help me get that foot in the door."

Diane Elizabeth, Founder, Skincare Ox

“I was running an education start up at the time (fresh out of Tech Stars, Chicago) and I really wanted to prove myself by getting a meeting with a certain popular VC. I researched him and found out that he had a daughter who was just about to enter her senior year in high school. Well, it just so happens that I fancied myself the Queen of Scholarships because I paid for my entire private education on private scholarships. So, I emailed him and offered to teach his daughter everything that I knew about winning hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships and getting into any college that I wanted---in exchange for a meeting of course. What parent could say no to that? No one, that's who. It certainly landed me the meeting!"

Sophie Kahn and Bouchra Ezzahraoui, Co-founders at AUrate New York

“We've more than once offered our jewelry as a way to get in the door, including to men (who then could gift it along). Luckily it's proven highly effective - the power of gold."

“We research the people we want to meet and use that when reaching out to them. If we find they have a favorite coffee shop or fitness class, we'll suggest meeting up there. This helps us in setting some common ground aside from business."

Lauren Farleigh, founder and CEO of the shopping app Dote

“Lauren and Dote were just featured (last week) on an episode of Apple Music's new series Planet of the Apps, where she secure a $5 million investment for her company. I applied for a reality TV show where I rode down an escalator and pitched my company, the shopping app Dote. I also made this embarrassing audition tape. Fortunately, it worked out, because I got Gwyneth Paltrow as my mentor and a $5 million investment from Lightspeed Venture Partners! Our first institutional investor, Michael Dearing, actually said no to us the first time I pitched Dote to him. I asked if he would meet me for breakfast the next day, and he reluctantly agreed at 8am at a diner in Woodside. I then ordered the most aggressive item on the menu (a sausage scramble) and ran him through every single number I had. It worked. So my advice would be, No is not always no."

Meghan Ely, Owner, OFD Consulting, www.ofdconsulting.com

“Several years ago, I was eager to really dive into the national speaking market for my industry. I had been submitting topics up to that point, but never turned any heads. Then, at one of the major conferences, I stepped into the shoes of a cancelled speaker with just 2 hours notice. I recycled the topic from my own presentations and spoke to a sold out room. After that experience, I sent the director of education a small mailer, thanking them for the opportunity. I called it an "emergency kit" in case they ran into the issue again. The highlights included a small bottle of a liquor, and then an elaborate box that stated "for emergency use only" on the outside. Once opened, it contained my new letterpress business card. The strategy went over very well and I'm been selected for the conference for many years since. “

Kristy Rice, Momental Designs

Entrepreneur Kristy Rice started building her art empire 14 years ago. What started with Kristy's personal obsession with paint and paper has evolved into her bespoke, high end stationery business called Momental Designs. Her brand garners global attention from media, celebrities, and some of the world's most creative individuals. Sean Parker (Napster/Facebook), Jessica Simpson, Katy Perry and Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls) selected Kristy to create art for their events. Along with a team of eight inspiring women, Kristy continues to innovate in the worlds of styling, stationery, design, and art licensing. She is the author of the best-selling book series Painterly Days, the World's first ever WATERcoloring Books for adults. Her newest 4-part coloring book series Kristy's Cutting Garden officially releases today!

Constantly show your work: Kristy gifted custom fashion sketch notecards to Mindy Weiss, a very well respected wedding planner because Kristy liked Mindy's energy and style. Mindy later recommended Kristy to potential clients, and they eventually worked together on Jessica Simpson's wedding, which led to major media mentions.. Kristy created artful note sets with individually painted brushstrokes to coordinate with a recently attended luxury wedding conference color palette and theme. All magazine editors, who met at the conference, received the painted notecard gifts. As a result, her work has since been featured in every major bridal magazine. Stand out with unique ideas. When developing a book pitch, Kristy knew she needed to stand out from the countless pdf's emailed to publishers every single hour. Her book pitch was hardbound and made to look and feel like a real, quality book. The interior covers were lined with Kristy's artwork, and she made the pages out of luxe stock. Kristy even commissioned a custom calligraphy style for the cover. Kristy had a signed book deal within two weeks of sending her first pitch book! Together Kristy and her publisher have created seven books with an eighth in the planning stages.

3 Min Read

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.