Tell us about your entrepreneurial product or service.
Little Independent focuses on the best in local design. Our goal is to make it easy to find great small business mugs and t-shirts. We have bike shop t's, toy store mugs and more. There are so many quirky, cool small business logos and by wearing them on a t-shirt or sporting them on a mug, you can show that mom & pop business is important to you. We also have an in-house collection of designs that are available for retail and wholesale.
What inspired you to launch your business idea?
Little Independent originally launched in 2011 as a marketplace for sale items from independent retail stores. It grew to 100 stores in 22 states and Canada. there were a lot of highlights but it wan't effectively reaching the goals I had in mind for it. I was even considering closing up shop but I had another idea I wanted to try. Many people love wearing t-shirts from their favorite small businesses. Some shops have cool designs but don't have t-shirts. Others sell t-shirts in-store but not online. My own store, Roscoe Village Bikes in Chicago, was in that category. I envisioned a sort of gallery of great local design with an eCommerce component. We also share stories, photos and news and information about the value of independent business.
What problem does your business or organization solve?
On Little Independent small businesses offer their branded t-shirts online without having to print, stock, ship or process payments. Sales go directly to their bottom line. When an item is sold we split the proceeds 50/50 and send a check or electronic payment.
For shoppers, we make it easy to find unique small business mugs and t-shirts online. These items make great gifts. Vibrant small business districts are associated with charitable giving, safer streets and stronger local economies. Wearing local gear shows that things things matter to you.
What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur and how are you working to overcome it?
My brick and mortar shop is located on a busy street with cafes, salons and other retail boutiques. With so many neighbors, we have a lot of foot traffic so it hasn't been too difficult for people to find us. Little Independent is an online business so it's been harder to drum up the traffic we'd like. Many people who would like our products and services are simply not finding us. We work to overcome the awareness challenge by trying our best to improve SEO (search engine optimization,) to network online and off and to keep our content fresh and interesting.
Give us one word that people might use to describe you.
My husband says I can be intense. I prefer passionate but, either way, I'm high energy and very curious about the world. I love meeting people and hearing about what they're excited about.
How has Project Eve helped you and/or your business?
As I said, I love meeting people and hearing about what they're excited about. By sharing entrepreneur's stories Project Eve helps keep me inspired and reminds me that there are so many interesting, creative, problem solving women in the world. That makes me happy.
Give us an insider tip that relates to your industry or startup story.
I think the most versatile file for printing your business logo on a t-shirt would be a nice big PNG with a clear background. Sometimes businesses submit their designs to us with a white background. That can look good on certain colors of t-shirt or with some logo shapes, but the clear background is easiest to work with. If you don't have that sort of file, ask your graphic designer to send you one. It will come in handy.
Company: Little Independent
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