Catherine, Tiffany, and Hana wanted to bring cute accessories to the JMU community. The idea started when Hana showed us the accessories she makes for some of her family and friends. We realized that girls on campus would be very interested. We asked a couple of girls around campus what they thought of just the idea of the product and they loved it, so we began "HEART Accessories". H stands for Hana, E stands for Catherine's middle name: Elizabeth, A stands for Catherine's last name: Adams, R stands for Tiffany's last name: Rasnake and Hana's last name: Robbins and T stands for Tiffany. We learned a lot about what it takes to make, brand, market and sell your own product along the way. We made great friendships and had a blast throughout the project! We had great success at football tailgating, bookstore sales, and are also selling on Etsy.com.
You can find more about HEART at www.heartaccessories.weebly.com
Most of our materials were purchased at Wal-Marts in Harrisonburg. We bought some of our original tools at Micheals as well. These materials consisted of hot glue, hot glue guns, scissors, thread, buttons, and sewing needles.
Hana's sister was also an important resource. She was the orginal creator of the flowers and she showed us how to make them.
Since then, we have only had to buy more fabric and buttons which come from Wal-Mart.
Mark Glenn, Director of the JMU Bookstore was a critical resource in selling our flowers.
He gave us a generous deal in partnering with the bookstore and outside of football games and tailgates, the bookstore has been our best selling outlet. Mark's number: 540.568.3627
As we said above, we plan on using Etsy as a resource to access more customers.
Labor is 100% Catherine, Hana, and Tiffany, therefore time is our most precious resource.
Our venture hasn't run into many problems but we have had a few. The most significant problem was time. With all three of us involved in school, work, and organizations on campus, the amount of time leftover for making flowers was not a lot.
Another problem we ran into was telling people we could make their flowers in a certain design and then our resources such as Wal-Mart and fabric stores being out of that particular design. Thankfully, a Wal-Mart in Catherine's hometown had our pattern, but we learned our lesson to only display that design if we have plenty of the fabric already.
Our most recent problem was that football games were getting cold and was quickly comong to an end. We had tried selling on campus at locations such as the Commons with not much luck and we felt we were out of outlets to sell through. We did score a partnership with the campus bookstore that turned out to be a great way to bring in sustained revenue. We are going to begin using Etsy and hopefully with being able to reach such a large market, we will be able to increase sales rapidly.
Our product did not change much throughout the semester. Other than learning how to make better looking flowers and gaining the ability to make them faster we didn't make any major product pivots. The only change came towards the end of the semester. Our MVP itself did not change, however we extended our current product to add more options. In the beginning, we sold only flower pins and since they were successful we slowly started adding different options. These options now include headbands (baby and adult), hair clips, and specialized flowers with particular schools, sports teams and even custom requests.
The critical success fulcrum of our business was using/finding the right channels. We couldn't originally decide what the best outlet for getting our product to our customers would be. Our football game sales were a success. However, football season was quickly coming to an end and it seemed as if selling our product at JMU events was the only way we were going to make quantifiable sales. With the season ending, we took to The Commons to sell. . . . . . . . . . major failure. So with two channels out, we turned to the bookstore. We were able to make a deal and so far its been the least time consuming way to reach our customers and even more customers we couldn't have reached otherwise. We are now expanding to Etsy (an online "homemade" retailer) so that we can reach anyone in the United States.
The early adopters of our product were members of sororities and college aged girls who loved hair accessories!
We got lucky and began customer discoveries near Big/Little week for sororities on campus. And all of a sudden every big wanted flowers for their little. These ealy adopters recommended the flowers to their sisters and so on. . . .
Our other early adopter profile was:
1. younger female
2. JMU student
3. carried cash or flex
4. Impulse buyer
5. Loved hair/fashion accessories
Business Model CanvasEdit
Advice for Future StudentsEdit
1. START EARLY. No matter how well procrastination has worked for you in the past, it will haunt you in this class. If you work hard in the beginning, you get to sit back and enjoy profits and be the class leader at the end.
2. Make anything, even if its bad, and start trying to sell it. If they say no, ask why. And listen. If you love your product, but multiple people tell you the same thing is wrong, its probably wrong. In other words, take customer discovery seriously, but don't think your idea is stupid and count it out. Take your ideas no matter how big or small to your market and test it! You can't succeed until you've failed a few times!
3. If you can, take advantage of resources available to you on campus, such as selling outlets like the bookstore. They will keep some profit for themselves, but you can reach so many more customers by using these different channels. Even if you don't seek out selling places, don't be afraid to reach out to departments you don't know much about or use equipment you never knew existed. This campus is full of knowledge and useful resources that we never even knew were available until we took this class!
Customer Discovery/Sales VideosEdit
Total Number of customer discoveries conducted: 43