This week’s WonderWoman is Betsy Helgager Hughes, President and CEO of Punch of Creativity. Betsy started Punch of Creativity with the idea that gift registries are nice, but most people would like to stand out from the crowd by giving a thoughtful and meaningful keepsake gift to WOW the recipient. From their exclusive Pregnancy Brain Challenge© Game/Gift for baby showers to their Moments to Remember Keepsake© Quilt to celebrate milestone birthdays, bridal showers, anniversaries and family reunions, a gift from Punch of Creativity will certainly stand out from the rest.
Here’s how Betsy did it…
What was your vision for Punch of Creativity? When did you have the AHA moment?
Punch of Creativity really started with my passion for interior design. I’m sure you’ve watched HGTV and you’ve heard them talk about using a punch of color. Well, I try to use a punch of creativity in everything I do. From setting a table, to giving a gift, I thrive off of injecting unexpected creativity into everything. But with the economy the way it is, many people weren’t spending extra on the luxuries of interior design or home organization. I did notice, however, that people still celebrated babies and brides. People will always pool their resources to celebrate a new life or a life transition of special friends and family members. So, my real AHA moment came when I created and played the Pregnancy Brain Challenge for the second time at a friend’s baby shower. I received the same reaction from the guests that I received 6 months earlier (the first time I played it). The guests were caught up in a spell-bound moment, truly pausing everything (even cell phones) to celebrate and focus on the mom-to-be and to check out this new, refreshing game they had never seen played before. All guests, no matter if they knew each other or not, were in awe of the sentimental value of the game/gift. I knew if I didn’t begin to market it along with my other creations, someone else would! Also, I knew when I couldn’t stop thinking about it that I had to act. It’s the same thing I felt when I started my PR firm 8 years ago. It was a compulsion to develop, create and launch. Put it out there and see what happens is what I said to myself. You just never know. We could be the next SPANX for Baby Showers…a must have! When I really knew I was on to something was when my husband couldn’t stop thinking about the possibilities too. The same thing happened with a couple of my close friends and relatives. I would get random ideas and statements like, “I just can’t stop thinking about all the potential that’s waiting for you. I’ll help any way I can. You don’t even need to pay me. I’m enjoying being creative.”
How did you get the business started?
My husband and I spent about three weeks creating the Web site (www.punchofcreativity.com), identifying wholesale suppliers, finding a talented quilter, having another entrepreneur create our logo, and figuring out the profit margins on each item we were offering. We delved into a whole new world together of providing a product vs. a service, and it was exciting to think about the possibilities. We mastered (or should I say my husband mastered) Pay Pal, and USPS shipping options. My husband met with our accountant to ensure everything was fine on the business front, and he applied for copyrights on both the Pregnancy Brain Challenge and the Moments To Remember Keepsake Quilt concepts. We were driven to work early in the morning (4, 5 a.m.), during our daughter’s nap, and late at night after our daughter went down to sleep. It was truly a team effort. We bounced ideas off trusted, strategic-minded friends and relatives, and they too believed so much in the company concept that they were thinking, creating, and brainstorming at all hours of the day and night too!
What is a typical day like for you Betsy?
There is never a typical day. Running three businesses and managing the life of a nearly 3 year old involves multi-tasking, time-management, and a lot of teamwork with my husband George. We tag team responsibilities, so depending on if I have an order to complete, or a client conference call, he’s responsible for entertaining our daughter. If he has an installation or is responding to an RFP for his audio/video company, I am responsible for entertaining our daughter. Although she goes to school 3 days a week from 9-1, we still feel she is our most important responsibility and that is why we have created these companies, to make sure we can remain in a flexible lifestyle that allows us to put family first and to work as a team. We know with her growing up seeing us work together and as entrepreneurs will be beneficial in some way. Who knows, when Punch of Creativity really takes off, she might be running it one day. What a legacy that would be to be able to leave her! Her picture is in the “Our Story” section of our Web site, wearing one of our creations of course!
How did you come up with the Pregnancy Brain Challenge© Game/Gift for baby showers?
A neighbor’s sister enlisted the help of Punch of Creativity’s event planning services. She lives in California and knew she could not be hands on, so she asked me to take the lead since I had already done several interior design and home organization projects for her sister. I had actually even designed the new baby’s nursery. The parents had chosen a numbers theme. To play off the importance of numbers and the theme, I created the game that included important dates for the parents-to-be, later to be named the Pregnancy Brain Challenge. I worked with her mom (who has tracked all three of her kids’ accomplishments and milestones over nearly 40 years) to get the important dates. I came up with the events. Once I had the dates, I imprinted them and their associated meanings on Onesies so that the game would not go to waste. The baby would actually be able to wear the game too! For an added touch, I also created mini-window stickers for the punch glasses where all the equations equaled 4, the new number of people that would be in their family when the new baby boy arrived. Her mom brought number cookies (in the shower colors) from Savannah for baby shower favors. So, numbers for the nursery inspired this idea! It can translate to bridal showers, milestone birthdays and other events as well.
What are the most effective ways you have promoted and marketed Punch of Creativity? What’s your best marketing tip?
Word-of-mouth and reaching out to awesome web sites and bloggers like you that might be interested in sharing something new and refreshing as well as supporting a mom and woman-owned business. We sent out an introductory press release to a select group of bloggers initially to get a feel for people’s interest in a new baby shower game, and many were thrilled and excited to hear more. We recently sent a press release promoting the Moments To Remember Keepsake Quilt for a unique and memorable Mother’s Day gift as well as the personalized faux e-mail Onesies and Toddler T-shirts with fun mom-related messages. Now that we have some research back with 100+women’s perspectives on baby shower games, we will be releasing another press release in the near future featuring those results and offering up the Pregnancy Brain Challenge as a refreshing new alternative.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself? What advice would you give someone else starting their own business?
For a product based business, I would say make sure you have plenty of operating capital so you can take risks on some opportunities to get your brand out there in more places and with ads as well as via other paid-for means.
What goals do you have for Punch of Creativity this year?
Ultimately, I would like for Punch of Creativity to be known as the maker of the must-have baby shower game – the Pregnancy Brain Challenge, and we would like at least 10 hospitals and 10 companies to participate in our corporate program with branded industry-related messages. We want to increase sales by the end of the year to where we can create jobs in this economy. We want each and every Punch of Creativity customer to be satisfied so much that they become repeat customers and proudly tell their friends about us. We want the Moments to Remember Keepsake Quilt to grow in two ways. 1. For Mother’s Day gifts/Baby’s First or Second Birthday, and 2. For family legacy keeping, and for family reunions. Talk about an emotional moment to look at a family quilt with past and present family members connected one quilt-square at a time.
What have you learned on your business journey that you’d like to share with other business owners?
Don’t go into business for the money. Do it because you’re passionate about it and it “moves” you. I’ve always said if you have passion about what you do, the money will come, but the money should never lead your way. I am passionate about surprising people with unexpected creativity.
Do you have plans to expand the business in other directions?
When you surround yourself with smart people, inevitably ideas will surface. Within a week of our launch, we decided to create the Bundle of Joy Celebration tin for companies. Initially we are going after PR firms and hospitals, but we are excited about creating messages for other industries like shipping services, fast food companies, financial services, and other businesses that celebrate their employee’s life transitions as well as their clients and customers.
Are you willing to hear from readers?
Absolutely! They can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask questions, give suggestions, or help us navigate a company or hospital with our products.