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Posted by at 6 July, 2010, 12:11 pm

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Category : For Inventors

Press Press and more Press!

Posted by at 11 May, 2010, 7:28 am

What an exciting week this week!  The article in Inc. Magazine came out:

Mommy Millionaire interview part II and III went out, the interview with Hybrid Mom is up and I finally made it to Rachael Ray!!!  Okay, so I didn’t get asked to be on the show like I had dreamed of, but Grill Charm™ are in the June/July issue of Everyday With Rachael Ray!  I’m just so excited I can’t stand it!!  It’s very fitting that all this is coming out now, as I’m right in the middle of telling you how I do this stuff.  I’ll continue with more on “how to”.  (The Inc. article goes into some detail as well, but most of it you know, if you’ve been following me) 

 On with more “social media” and the new PR:

 Another trick of the trade in the 2.0 world of PR and marketing is “friend”, “fan”, “tweet” or reply to the blog of the contributors to your favorite shows and magazines.  They are much easier to access then going straight to Matt Lauer or the editor of Bon Appetite Magazine.  

Another true story:  through an urgent HARO tweet I was hooked up with a freelance writer who was working on a story for Health Magazine.  Her story (and subsequently mine) was published in the April issue.  Now she and I have become “friends”.  It’s not necessarily the editors that you want to get buddy buddy with because they work for 1 magazine.  Writers contribute to MANY media outlets (and they are a lot more accessible).  As a matter of fact THIS MORNING, I had an interview with the co reporter who worked on the Inc Magazine story because she was working on another story about podcasts and how to prepare for various media.  She saw that I had so much to say for the Inc. Magazine article, that she kept me in her rolodex and called me last week wanting to set up another interview for another story she was working on (which we did this morning while I was sitting in my minivan, as usual!)  Also, with a polite RT and @ mention on twitter to Food Network Canada, Grill Charms ™ were featured up there as well:

 BEWARE though!  DO NOT STALK!! (or even appear to be stalking!)  I always conduct myself with “charm”, grace (well….my “grace” is variable…., I’ll admit I can be rough around the edges, but that’s only AFTER you get to know me !), and the utmost respect of ones privacy.  I throw out a line or two to a person and if they don’t bite, I can take a hint and move on.  Some people use the “tenacious” approach, but I don’t really agree with that for me personally.  It’s not my style and I think it smells of desperation.  If you have a good story to tell and give them something they can use, if they can use it, they will. 

 Keep track of all your press mentions with Google alerts and post those mentions on your blog or news page with a link to the hit and by all means, Tweet and FB the link.  Press begets press.  It’s truly a snowball effect.  In your pitches to new media (as well as new and potential customers), make sure you mention your successes.  “Grill Charms™ (recently featured in EveryDay with Rachael Ray)……” is a GREAT opener!!  Have a great week folks, and we’ll talk more soon.  

Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charms™

Category : Inventing | Marketing | Media Coverage | Mompreneur Stories | Public Relations | Social Media | The Journey of Grill Charms!

A Day in the life….

Posted by at 29 April, 2010, 11:31 am

Stuff to look for:

As I sit here for 30 minutes trying to get a blog post in, I wonder what in the world I will accomplish once both kids are in the same school.  As you know, my 2 girls were 1 and 3 when I had my light bulb moment and it’s been “balls to the wall” ever since.  Looking at my schedule “objectively”, I can’t believe I get ANYTHING accomplished in a day!

Here is my typical day: Up at 6:30, get both kids in the car by 7:30, drop the 7 yr old off at school by 8:00, go to the gym with the 5 yrs old for a quick work out and shower.  Have the 5 yr old to school by 9:45, home by 10:10, work until 12:30, grab a “soup to go” on the way out the door, pick up the 5 yrs old from school at 1:00, home by 1:20, work until 2:35, in the carpool line for the 7 yr old by 3:00, homework time then depending on the night, soccer, tap, ballet, gymnastics, dinner, maybe a bath if time, kids to bed by 7:00.  Then, depending on the night, work, dinner and conversation with the hubby, or an event with the various organizations that I am a part of.  (The Chamber of Commerce, The Komen Foundation, Charleston Young Professionals…)  I have done live podcasts from the carpool line and conference calls from the laundry room!

Now I’m not telling you this to get any sort of pity or even praise.  I LOVE my life and as “Mompreneurs”® this is just what we do!  I am just sharing this more of a reminder to ME that starting in August, I’ll have both kids in elementary school and the sky is the LIMIT!  I have days that I am really burnt out and think about just selling it all, but then I think… “Leslie… you’ve done the majority of the “hard” part and did it when the girls were little and arguably, the most “work”.  Now that you are about to have some set “company time” (maybe even 4 consecutive hours a day!) let’s open’er up and see what this baby can REALLY do?!

This leads me to another little topic I thought of while on the phone conducting business on the way to pick up the 1st grader.  I have A LOT to thank Shark Tank for, but one of the biggest things that show did for me (besides getting my product in front of 5.5 million American’s and doing business with multi millionaires) is that it “exposed” me for what I am and therefore has given me TREMENDOUS freedom to be that “Southern Mom turned entrepreneur”.  I do take customer calls from the carpool line and answer emails in the parking lots of the girl’s ballet studio.  I do interviews on the go and send PO’s from vacation.  Before Shark Tank, I tried to act like a “big dog” and not let anyone know what really happened behind the scenes.  I still think that is important to do in many cases, but I was “outed” last year and I LOVE IT!  My customers know that when they call, I don’t have a receptionist, you WILL get ME and you may or may not hear children in the background.  100% professional… NOPE, but then again… That’s something I have never claimed to be.  WOW… sorry for rambling on so today.  I didn’t even get to more on social media!  I’ll continue that next week.

1 last thing!  My mentor, the Original Mom Inventor Tamara Monosoff just came out with her latest and greatest book “Your Million Dollar Dream”.  I’ve got my copy right here on my desk and if you don’t have yours Here:

Tamara shares the story of one of my very first “real sales” when I just received my first shipment.  It as November of 2007 and for those of you that have been with me from the beginning, you’ll remember this one!  I did it topless!  (page 109 of the book)  See…. I NEVER said I was EVER professional!

Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charms™

Category : Inventing | Mompreneur Stories | The Journey of Grill Charms!

Marketing and PR 24 / 7

Posted by at 19 April, 2010, 7:39 am

Here is a podcast I did the other day and in true “Mompreneur” style, I multitasked with the best of them!  To listen, go to  and find the one for 4/14.  My  segment is around minute 30.  The show was live and the show time was such that I would not have time to pick up my 7 year old from school if I did it from the office, so I went to her school early and sat in the carpool line to do the show.  You do what you’ve got to do right?! 

 I just got back from a cousins wedding in upstate New York and while up there, Canadian TV ran my episode of Shark Tank.  I started getting all these orders and wholesale requests from Canada and couldn’t figure out why!  Thank goodness for Twitter!  A Canadian follower filled me in.  I’m going to keep this blog post a little short because I just got back and have lots of work to do for our wonderful neighbors to the north.  Thanks for the support folks!

Okay, on to a little bit more about social media.  With social media you can immerse yourself in PR and Marketing 24/7!  IMO, The single best free PR tool you can have is HARO.  Help A Reporter Out.  For those of you not familiar, it is a free service where 3 times a day you receive information regarding stories that media of all kinds is working on.  The urgent queries are sent out via Twitter, @helpareporter.  I can talk all day about HARO, so if you want to know more about, we can talk after or just sign up and you will be amazed!

Something else I do, once a month I have in my favorites the web addresses for every major television show I want to appear on and just see if there is ANY possible way that I can any topic they are looking for.  They all have little sections on their websites usually entitled “be in the show”. 

Right now, The Bonnie Hunt show is looking for Kid Inventors

Ellen Degenerous wants to know if you have had a crazy hard sale find

Martha Stuart is looking for a guest with a “unique craft” that you can show her on the show.

Oprah is looking for folks to talk about how a past guest has changed their lives.

 The list goes on and on and on.   All of the things I am telling you now are what got me on ABC’s show Shark Tank, which ultimately pushed me into profitably in 2009, my second year on the market (which is almost unheard of)  I’ll tell you how it all came together. 

There was a show a while back called “The big idea with Donny Deutsch” which I watched religiously.  It was all about entrepreneurs and small business success stories.  On the show’s “be on the show” section of the website, it instructed viewers to send in a video about how the show helped you, which of course I did.  They loved the video, called me up and flew me to CNBC studios on two separate occasions to do segments on the show. 

Fast forward to this summer.   Out of the blue, I got an email from a producer with Mark Burnett productions saying they were shooting a new show for ABC.   He had been on the social networking site for small business (Start up nation) and saw that I had won Start up nation’s Home Based business of the year contest.   He went to my website and checkout of my “news page” which had a link to my YouTube account and my appearances on The Big Idea, liked what he saw, and the rest is history. 

 I’ve got more true life stories coming up next week… stay tuned ;)

 Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charms™

Category : Inventing | Marketing | Media Coverage | Mompreneur Stories | Public Relations | Social Media | The Journey of Grill Charms!

Establish yourself as an expert

Posted by at 9 April, 2010, 9:48 am

Howdy folks!  Okay, I’ll get back on track with my series on social media.  Lot’s of great potential media coming!  I have a chapter in a booking coming out by Sherry Sexton.  The book is called “And the T-Shirt to Prove it!”.  As soon as I get a release date, I’ll let you know.  Also, thanks to HARO, I heard back from Self Magazine and am in the running for an article they are doing on women inventors, so keep your fingers crossed for that.  Below are a few “things” from last week. 

 And next week I’m doing an interview at  Tuesday, April 13 from 12:30-1:00 pm EST.  The name of the show is “Believe in Your Fairytale and Your Zing will come True!”  After the show airs, it will be available to download for free .

Before I go into more about this social media thing, just a quick update about my sega with Frontgate.  EVERY THING IS FINE!  J  The ship date wasn’t until the 4th, so I knew I’d be okay with that, and there wasn’t even a slap on the wrist.  YEAH!!!  I feel so much better !!  Today I received an acceptance letter from the catalog Femail Creations for their holiday catalog and it was just the vendor manual with contract, so I signed it and faxed it back.  Now it too says all PO’s need to be confirmed within 48 hours, so don’t you know, I’ll be SOOOO looking out for it!!  I’m not going to make THAT mistake again!!  :)

Okay, onto a little bit more about social media and PR.  Last time we left off, we were talking about becoming an “expert” (or being perceived as an expert) 

This is where my blog came into play but if you are still intimidated by starting and maintaining your own blog, get involved and active and basically ride of the coat tails of your target market or others in your field whom already have established Social Media street cred. 

Use other people’s social media savvy to spread the word about your product or service.  Regardless of the fact that I have my own blog, I still write articles, contribute and “guest post” on other people’s blogs.  (Of course, always linking back to mine as well as add to my “news” page.)  Bloggers are always looking for well written content.

Get reviews on your business, product or service from bloggers in your industry.  I would search out the higher ranking blogs of my target market foodies, grillers and believe it or not, mom’s / women. (because Grill Charms are such a great gift item and we all know who buys the gifts in the house!)   I would get active and comment on their blogs and follow them on twitter and make it a point to RT some of their tweets.  (RTing is one of the highest forms of flattery)  and eventually reach out, introduce myself and ask for a review.  Once I get a review, the first thing I do is post on FB Grill Charms page which is linked to my twitter and then put it up on my news page with a link to the story.  Then I would blog about all the links I had for that week.  (as you all know)

Oh, social media success story from this week:  The article above with Basil Magazine… Here’s how that went down.  I followed her on twitter, she followed me back, I asked if I could email her some product info, she DM’d me back with her email, I shot off my “schpeel” and she CALLED ME 5 minutes later saying she loved the product and wanted to feature it!  This stuff WORKS people!!

You want to be an expert?  Have your own radio show.  With blogtalkradio all you need is a decent microphone and you can have your own show.  If you don’t want to devote the time, simply ask to be a guest on an already existing radio show.  I’ve done about a dozen online radio interviews.  Once again, those “in the know” of social media and “content marketing” already have radio shows you can contribute to.  Just go to  and search for your industry or topic, then reach out to the host (if they are on blogtalkradio, GUARETEED they are on FB, Twitter, LinkedIN and have a blog you can comment on to break the ice) I know I sound like a broken record, but it needs to be done…once the podcast goes up, I tweet, FB, and Blog about the link then post it with an icon and link to my “news” page.

Establish yourself as an expert by posting a video on Youtube and embed into your website or blog.  You can buy a flip camera for $30.00 and in 10 minutes have it up for the world to see.

Don’t like being ON video? Use and make a very professional video with content you create and photos you have, all set to music for $3.00.  It’s sooooo easy, even I did it!  Animoto will post to Youtube for you, than you can embed it in your blog or on your website.  Here’s what mine looks like:

That’s about it for today.  I’ve still got so much more to talk about, but we will wait for next week.  Happy Friday!!

Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charms™

Category : Blogging | Inventing | Marketing | Mompreneur Stories | Social Media | The Journey of Grill Charms!

Business and Pleasure

Posted by at 29 March, 2010, 4:21 pm

Hello folks!  I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to take a little break from my social media series that I’m doing because I’ve got other stuff to chat about.  I’ll get back on topic next week.  Well, I’m back from a week in of skiing with the family in Aspen/Snowmass CO and I’m refreshed and ready to work!  One of the reasons why many of us become entrepreneurs become entrepreneurs is because of the illusion of free time.  It’s ironic though, that once you do become an entrepreneur, no time is really “free”.  I’ve got some really good examples of this, both good and not so good.  A lot of work goes into gearing up for a vacation.  Before I got,  I try to tie up any loose ends I have out there so I can “not work” as much as possible.  There are always going to be things however that just can’t wait.  I did a great job of balancing that sometimes this past week, then a really crappy job other times.  You know me… I’m going to give you the good, the bad and the ugly!  

First of all the good.  While out there I received a call from Inc. Magazine saying they wanted to set up a photo shoot.  A few weeks ago I did an interview with a writer for a story on social media and how web 2.0 has somewhat evened the playing field for us small time entrepreneurs who don’t have $10,000 to spend on a fancy PR firm.  As with most media (and I’ve said this a million times) I don’t believe anything until I see it!  So even though we did an hour and ½ long interview, I still didn’t count on the article running.  While in CO, I got an email from the Photo Editor at Inc. wanting to set up a shoot!!  YIPEEE!!!  NOW it seemed like the article might run.  I explained that I was out of town until 11:45 Saturday night so we set it up for Monday morning!  (THIS morning!)  I’m not sure which are bigger… the bags I unpacked from skiing or the ones under my eyes, but regardless, the shoot was fun!  (Come on photo shop!!!)  :) The photographer came to my house and we did shots of me in my little rinky dink office as well as out back with the grill and my Grill Charms apron doing some grillin.  It was great!  I could have done without the gnats though… one actually got stuck in my lip gloss and we had to take a 5 min break to rescue him.  There was no hope.  (not that that bothered me, I had lost a pint of blood by the time it was all over)  The article is supposed to run in the May or June issue.  Keep your fingers crossed. 

Next good thing that happened during vacation was I received a call from a great store / customer of mine called Bibelot in St. Paul Minnesota.  Unbeknownst to me, they submitted some of their grilling gadgets during the appropriate time on the editorial calendar to “Every Day with Rachael Ray”. I think you know where I’m going right?  The buyer called and said that Grill Charms made the final cut for the June / July issue!!  She had already put in her reorder for the season, but now with this new information, she quadrupled it!  So if you live in the St. Paul MN area, be sure to stop by Bibelot and say hi :)

Now I’m going to give you a real live example of how I DID NOT manage my entrepreneurial duties well.  I know full well that I really shouldn’t be saying this to a gazillion friends and strangers all over the internet, but I haven’t ever held back about mistakes I’ve made in the past and I’m not going to start now.  So…. Out there on the mountain internet service (well…not so much service, but a combination of service and my ancient lap top) made it…. Well…. Let’s just say “not ideal” conditions to work.  I also promise my husband to try not to work too much while we go on family vacations, so I only did what was truly necessary.  (Keep in mind, thanks to my wonderful warehouse and fulfillment center Trending Solutions orders ALWAYS go out, so not to worry about that!)  Before I had left, I had been working with a new account.  And I’ll just tell it like it is…. It is FrontGate.  Yep, Frontgate!  HUGE right?!  We’ll… I had been approved as a vendor a while back and had a note to check back with them sometime mid April if I didn’t hear from them.  So… while on vacation I get a fax in my inbox (electronically) and I couldn’t see who it was from, so in trying to keep with my promise to not work to hard, it was one of the emails I ignored until I got back.  When I opened it up, my heart sank!  It was the PO from Frontgate and ALL OVER IT, it said “PLEASE CONFIRM RECIEPT WITHIN 24 HOURS”.  It was even in BOLD!  Aggghhhh!!!!!!!  That was Thursday and OF COURSE, the second I read it, I faxed and emailed confirmation, but that was Sunday.  Today is Monday and I have not heard back as to my fate.  I was/am sooooo mad at myself!!!  So much for juggling business and pleasure well… I apparently SUCK at it!  Lesson learned.  From now on, at least OPEN every message!  The ship date for the PO isn’t until next week, so hopefully my slack @ss confirmation will be forgiven, but I could just kick myself for making such a bad impression on the first PO.  Agggghhhh!!!!  I physically wince when I think about it!  So there you go…. All my dirty laundry for the week.   Hopefully my successes this past week inspire you and my failures help you realize that we are all are human.  Ciao for now!

Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charms™

Category : Inventing | Marketing | Media Coverage | Mompreneur Stories | Public Relations | The Journey of Grill Charms!

Perception is reality

Posted by at 19 March, 2010, 11:06 am

To continue my story from last week,

 When I felt I had done all I could do and had my ducks in a row as much as I could, I launched my product on store shelves.  So now that I was “open for Business” I knew I needed to

  • Establish Credibility  (which would lead to)
  • Establishing myself as an expert    (and in any business it is all about )
  • PR and Marketing 24/7

Now that I knew a thing or two and had some momentum I wanted to establish myself as an expert and build my brand, but it’s all about establishing credibility first.  In this world and even more so in the virtual one, perception IS reality.  I’ve been on national TV shows, Prime Time TV, more magazines, newspapers and articles then I can count and yet … shhhhh…….  I work in a 10×10 space upstairs in my home across from my children’s play room. 

I lock myself in the laundry room sometimes when I have a buyer on the phone I need to talk to.  I bribe my children with snacks if they just say quiet enough to get through a Skype conference with my potential Australian Distributor, and yet people started looking to me to give them answers on how to bring a product to market and how to build a national brand and I get to wrote blogs like this! And I’ve done it all from my tiny little desk in my tiny little space upstairs in my house. 

BUT, in virtual world of social media I can be ANYTHING!  So early on, you need to decide who do you want to be perceived as (and therefore BE)?  Once you decide that, channel every online message to portray that image of who the world needs to think you are. This will lead you to establishing yourself as an expert in your field.  (more on that next week)  Well…. Maybe not next week, I’m going on a little vacation next week, so the first week of April, I promise!  The wholesale orders for Grill Charms are picking up with “the season” as people thaw out and they can finally see their grills from under the many inches of snow.   There has also been a lot of chatter online, in the blogs etc.. for Grill Charms™ as a Groomsmen gift.  Wedding season is upon us, so that’s been very helpful.

Here’s a few of them:


Alrighty… I need to get packing as I have to get up at 3:30 AM to get on a 5:30 flight.  YIKES!  Talk to you soon!


Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charms™

Category : Inventing | Marketing | Social Media | The Journey of Grill Charms!

Virtual Village

Posted by at 5 March, 2010, 8:23 am

 Hello folks!  Here is a little bit more of my presentation:

“Something else I did often during my R&D phase was ASK FOR HELP!

 Did you know that you can actually have an online mentor and councilor for FREE in just about ANY field or genera you can think of?  I used several virtual councilors during the beginning stages of my entrepreneurial journey.  They helped me with everything from writing my business plan to metal fabrication processes for my product. In November I was invited to one of my virtual councilors’ banquets to receive an award for success story of the year. It just so happened he lived in Myrtle Beach, so it was for Grand Strand SCORE Chapter 381. We still talk today.  Once again, it is all about building your virtual village.  

On blogs and forums, join the conversation.  Ask for help.  You don’t have to do it alone and people really like to share information they have learned.  People love to “talk” so ask and then sit back and listen

Another thing I did (and still do) in this interactive social world of ours is enter business contests relevant to my field.  There are so many out there for start up companies. always has tons,

Idea Café gives away $5000.00 every year to a new business

Whirlpool’s Mother of Invention Grant is an annual contest

Make Mine a Million

A lot of these contests I learn about from checking blogs and forums like”  This will help with building your credibility which I’ll talk about next week. 

Let’s see…. In the world of Grill Charms™, I’ve been a little under the weather with a cold and consequently I sound like a frog!  This was really frustrating because I felt like I couldn’t make any sales calls and grilling season is creeping up fast.  The specialty retailers are buying now (if they haven’t already) for spring and summer and here I am, unable to call on any stores because I sound like an amphibian!  Very frustrating!  I did what I could via email (which is not as effective) but Monday, I’m going to hit the ground running!  Have a wonderful weekend folks!

Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charms™

Category : Inventing | Marketing | Social Media | The Journey of Grill Charms!

Social Media for the Technologically Challenged (like myself!)

Posted by at 18 February, 2010, 10:08 am

Hello hello!  The other night, I was watching American Idol when I get an email on my phone.  Robert was down in his house in Miami shot me a quick note that the grilling and barbeque accessory buyer for a BIG BIG account want to talk to me! Since then, the buyer and I have chatted and samples have been sent off!  The BIG accounts (more mass retail outlets) work about a year out, so really soon they will be doing their product reviews for spring and summer 2011, (which is fine just fine) but he also said that it isn’t to late to test market Grill Charms in a few stores for this year.  Keep your fingers and toes crossed! 

Last week I was a guest speaker at a conference here in Charleston for The Center for Women   It was and amazing gathering and I’m so honored to have been asked to speak.  Since most of you don’t live here, I thought I’d recap the things I went over.  I was paired with an amazing woman, Jo Ann Studtmueller.  I was asked to speak about social media and Jo Ann TRULY is an expert.  As most of you know, I’ve always considered myself technologically handicapped, so when the Center for Women asked me to speak on this subject, I thought there must be some mistake.  I love talking to a brick wall, so ANY chance to speak in front real people, especially fellow women in business, I jump all over, but when I met with Jo Ann the first time, I confided in her my fears.  I said “Jo Ann… I’m not really sure why I’m going to be up there with you.  I’m successful in business, I’m pretty darn good at getting my brand out there, I can talk all day about inventing, entrepreneurship, marketing and PR, but I’m truly technologically inept.  She said… “do you use twitter”… I said “yes”, “do you blog?”  I said “yes”.  “do you have a FB account and business Fan page?” I said “yes”.  She said “are you Linked In?”  I said “yes”. She said “do you link your blog and website with your YouTube videos?” I said “yes” and low and behold, she said  “YOU’RE IN!”   And in preparing for this presentation I began to realize just what a vital part social media and content marketing has played in getting where I am today.  I’m living proof that it does not take technological know-how to get started.  There are tons of folks out there that are much more tech savvy then I am, but I’ll give you a few easy tricks of the social marketing and PR trade.  

Over the next few weeks I’m going to tell you a little bit about how I used this mystical, magical box called a computer during all of the different phases of my business.  First I entered into what I call the “Research and Development Phase”.  So I had my spicy light bulb moment… now what?!

The first thing I did was turn on my computer and got to googling.  I scoured the blogs and forums for information on the two things I identified myself with most at the time and that was:  a mom and a budding entrepreneur.  Regardless of your industry and what business you are thinking about going into, “Join the conversation!”  

Comment on blogs; praise the contributors and bloggers if something they said helped you.  Post questions (or answer questions) on forums.  There is a blog and/or forum for EVERYTHING!!  The true benefit in “joining the conversation” might not be apparent right off that bat.  You might think that praising a blogger just makes them feel good and maybe brightens someone’s day and that getting active on forums helps because it answers questions you have but it does so much more than that.  It helps you build your virtual village.  It gets you connected to people already “in the know” that can help you later when you need it most.  

Our fearless leader over at the Center for Women Jennet Alterman made a truly profound statement at a networking function, but I have found it equally if not more true in the cyber world. 

“It isn’t who you know, but who knows you and knows what you do.” These people you connect with during this pre-start-up phase are the people that will be rooting for you and who will help you along the way. They will become your virtual village.

3 places I started were  OF COURSE!

Okay…. this is getting a bit lengthy for a blog post (Thanks to Jo Ann, I learned that blog posts should be between 250 and 500 words and be posted on Tuesdays and Thursdays)  Who knew??!!  So, with that, I will continue this discussion next week with more from my presentation “Don’t be a Twit”.  See you next week!!

Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charms™

Category : Inventing | Marketing | Starting A Business | The Journey of Grill Charms!

Distributor basics

Posted by at 29 January, 2010, 9:37 am

Bringing a product to market is one of hardest and most rewarding things I have ever done but like most folks who have never done (or tried to do) something before I had some misconceptions about what to expect.  Now that I have little bit more experience and know so many fellow Mompreneurs® and inventors, I want to share with you a general rule of thumb if you are thinking about taking the plunge.  Now I’m not sharing this with you as any sort of discouragement, but I just feel that if people are more prepared, they won’t be disappointed or be too hard on themselves later when things don’t go the way they THOUGHT they should.  (Because what you thought, is probably wrong!).  Okay… here goes…. This is short and sweet:  The first year on the market, expect to HEMORRHAGE money.  The second year, you are doing well if you break even.  The third year, you should be making a profit.  There are always exceptions, but if you go into it with your eyes wide open, you won’t be nearly as disappointed when your QuickBooks reveals the ugly truth every December 31st


I did turn a modest profit in year two but that was entirely because of Shark Tank.  I was extremely fortunate.  Now again, I’m still standing by what I have always said about media…I CAN NOT rely on that (or any other media hit to come) to carry me through year 3.  This time next year do you think anyone will remember me from that show?  NO.  Sales sales sales is where the money comes from.  What’s a little discouraging to me is that what I really SHOULD be doing right now is hitting the tradeshow circuit hard, but I just can’t.  With my husband’s job as a pilot, he’s only home 15 days a month, and so child care is a HUGE issue.   Last year Pa helped out TREMENDOUSLY because he was retired and he would pick the kids up from school etc… but now what he’s gone, it just puts too much stain on my family.  So now, I need to work on a plan B. 


I’ve got a new sales rep that I have high hopes for and I just signed on with a distributor for the state of Hawaii.  I’m really excited about that!  I’m hoping for great success out there.  They grill all year round and if they do well enough, maybe it will warrant a family / business trip out there to visit J  hee hee.  I grew up on Oahu (Pa was stationed at Pearl Harbor) so I have a very special place in my heart for the island.  Since moving away in 3rd grade I have been back 3 times, but that was BC.  (Before Children). 


Here’s a short little lesson on Distributor basics: Distributors are companies that buy and store inventory and sell to retailers.  They are “middle men” so to speak.  They buy your product is bulk (for less than wholesale) and are responsible for a certain geographic area. FYI, distributors will usually require a gross margin between 20-40%. When working with a distributor, there are many things to take into consideration.  Most will want exclusivity for their territory.  In my case, it was just Hawaii, so exclusivity was not a problem for me.  I don’t have tons of Hawaiian stores beating down my door right now, so that was fine.  I do feel it is important to put in writing the annual or quarterly sales or purchasing “quota”.  It needs to be reasonable and attainable and something you both come up with together.  If the quota is not met after the specified time period, then the “exclusivity” becomes null and void.  Also the terms should be able to be reevaluated and adjusted as both parties see fit every year or two to insure it is still a win-win for both parties.  That’s the only way a relationship works.  Well, I think that’s all I have for now.  Chat with you soon :)


Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charms™

Category : Inventing | Media Coverage | The Journey of Grill Charms!