I love a good small business story. They’re perfect reads that manage to authentically mix intriguing “how will they figure this out” moments, inspiration, motivation and even education as they reveal how they turned their idea into a fully functioning business. To say we loved SnapDolls story would be an understatement.
The moment we read the Snap Dolls interview for their Small Biz Spotlight feature I called Katie. Their answers and really, their story was so interesting I had to share it with someone immediately. From the way founder Stacy Beeler and her husband grew their brand from their “home factory” to the serendipitous way they connected with their sewers - I was instantly hooked. Read on and get ready to have the best story to share at dinner tonight!
Before launching SnapDolls, did you have any plans or dreams of starting a fashion or kids-products based business?
I have been an entrepreneur since I was a child. I have notebook after notebook of ideas for children’s books and products as well as other ideas.
How was your business “born”? In other words, how did you go from idea (and what an amazing idea it was) to deciding that instead of just making them for your own family and friends, you wanted to turn this into an actual business?
The idea of SnapDolls was born from a basic tee idea at our local annual Apple Festival. While there, I was selling tees with a little girl on the tee. My thought was, “if I could figure out how to make little clothes that would someone fit the girl on the tee..... I would have something”. With the help of my Mom, we designed a little dress pattern. From there, I began making the outfits and researched whether to use snaps or some other fastener.
Quickly, I saw that little girls loved these products and then decided to pursue a business with them.
We’re sure there are others reading this story that wonder, “how does one even begin to create this type of business?” What were some of the first things you had to figure out and accomplish in order to get your business of the ground?
Wow...this is where the rubber meets the road. The first big question when starting our company was, “who is going to run the company/factory?” We started by hiring people to come work in our living room (which we turned into a factory) This in itself was a hard decision. We had ladies that came and worked for us and we left them in our home every day so that we (my husband and I) could go out and work another job in order to pay for the SnapDolls endeavor.
I had to decide what to do first and what was most important to make our company grow. I settled on the fact that we needed to build a brand and that we would need lots of help to do it. I then began making as many contacts as possible. Even if the people I contacted had nothing to do with children’s products... they knew people that did. It is all about the connections you make early on in your company.
Do you have any favorite memories or moments from your small business journey thus far?
My favorite memories are those of the seamstresses we have brought back to work who had previoulsy lost their jobs with a local Osh Kosh B’Gosh that moved overseas. These ladies, who had not worked for years, were able to come back in front of their sewing machines and make high quality products just like Osh Kosh. The great memories come from their happiness when they get to work again.
Another great memory is the sales trips we have made across the country trying to introduce SnapDolls to the nation.
We have insider information that tells us that you have some big next steps planned for SnapDolls that will inspire the entrepreneur in younger girls, can you tell us a little about this?
We would love to bring little girls into our program by training them to become "Snap Specialists" and in turn learning from their ideas as well. It is my hope that girls who participate in SnapDoll events will be inspired to become entrepreneurs or even fashion "engineers" and hopefully decide that they too can start their own company. This is my passion, and I want to go across the country making little girls inspired to think up and idea for a product and build a company around it!
How important – and why – is it for you to manufacture in the USA as you do?
Again... this is mostly because of the great feeling I get from employing local people to work in our factory. I would hold the sewing talent in this town up to most any city in the US. It is the fact that these people were extensively trained to know how to produce high quality products with a little “love” packed in each one.
We know you have visions of SnapDolls that extend beyond children’s apparel and bags, what are some of your future brand plans?
We have lots (and lots and lots) of future product plans including some for pets and boys. We also have lots of new ideas for women and girls. We also are in the process of publishing the most wonderfully magic children’s book you have ever read.
This will again, build our brand and build the little girls in our town into becoming entrepreneurial minded.
Our products will hopefully bring moms, grandmas and little girls together to snap on a few items and take time away from our technological world for a few minutes. What would make me happier than anything if this company “makes it”? For a young woman to open a business and say, “I was inspired by the founder of SnapDolls”.