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WonderWoman Wednesdays…Shane Shirley-Smith President of Environmental Booty

This week’s WonderWoman is Shane Shirley-Smith, President of Environmental Booty. Shane believes that our future largely depends on our knowledge and actions. For this reason she created Environmental Booty, the green online community dedicated to helping society make conscious choices today that will change our health and the health of our world tomorrow. 

Here’s how she did it…

How did you decide to create Evironmental Booty? Was there a “lightbulb” moment?

EnvironmentalBooty.com was created because I wanted a way to help people learn to live healthier lives and create a healthier world.  My goal was to give people Eco-information, products to green their lives and a way to gather and share information about going green, caring for our earth and each other.  I created my blog to spread the message of healthy choices through Eco-conscience consumerism and looking out for our planet.  A few months after I started the blog,  my daughter took part in a play about pirates at school.  As she practiced her songs at home and told me what she was learning about pirate booty, the name Environmental Booty just popped into my head.  I  thought it would be a cute play on words to provide Environmental Booty for people as a way to green their lives.  Environmental Booty is about protecting the treasure that exists in yourself, other people and our planet.

How did you get the community started?

The Environmental Booty site is a social networking community for people and businesses traveling the path to green. It was an integral part of the concept behind Environmental Booty to have a place where people could come together, make their commitment to treasure self, people and planet and network with other green minded individuals, bloggers and business owners.  The only way to do this was through creating an online community.  I did some research online and, as I did not have a lot of capital to invest in creating my own community platform, I created the Environmental Booty  Community using the free Ning platform.  Initially I invited a few friends, sent out a few Tweets, promoted EB on my blog, main site and our Environmental Health-Wellness-Beauty Facebook Group and now we are getting new members every day.  My goal was to create a site that belongs not to me but to the EB Members and I think I have accomplished that.   

There’s the great Margret Meade quote about nothing ever changing until communities come together to change them. How has that influenced you in your work at Environmental Booty?

 The quote is, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”   I live every single day with that as my guiding principle.  It truly doesn’t take a large group of people to create change.  Just look at the work of Erin Brokovich and you will see that if you have people who desire to create positive change, they can move mountains.  My goal each day is to reach at least one person with the message to think about the choices they make in relation to how it impacts their health, and the health of our environment.  I feel if I can do that, then the people I affect will affect change in those they meet.  It truly is about disseminating information when trying to affect change.  The more information people have, and the more they share with others, the more positive change can be created. 

Your community is run on servers that are 130% green, how is that accomplished? Do you think green servers will eventually become the norm with education on the subject?

The main EnvironmentalBooty.com site is hosted by HostGator which has servers which are 130% wind powered.   They are not just neutralizing their environmental impact, they’re reversing it. HostGator accomplishes this by purchasing certified renewable energy credits representing 130% of the electricity used to both power and cool every last one of their shared and reseller servers.  In real terms this is the equivalent of removing 444 cars from the road for a year, powering 321 homes with clean energy for a year, saving 5,654 barrels of oil, or protecting 551 acres of forest for a year.  I am no soothsayer and cannot say if all servers will someday be green.  I do hope that companies will have a desire to do all they can to lessen their impact on our environment.

What is a typical day like for you Shane?

Let me just say that every single day is full of putting out fires in both my personal and professional life.  Isn’t that how all women live each day?  I have 3 daughters (4, 10 and 13), a sweet little Chi-Poo and a very demanding husband so I have days which start before the sun comes up and ends just as the next day begins.  Every morning I always try to get in a workout, get myself together, turn on the computer and get the girls going.  On a good day I make a hot meal for the girls and on a bad day they have OJ and organic pop tarts!  Then I get my 3 girls to three different schools within a half hour and get to work.  I spend the day meeting with clients (I provide Social Network Marketing Consulting) over the phone, writing blog posts, doing research on green trends, working with suppliers for my Environmental Booty OpenSky Shop,  updating my websites and networking on various sites.  Once I get the kids home from school, it’s time for homework, dinner, baths, prayers, bedtime for kids, more work and laundry!   It is exhausting as every mom knows. 

What are the most effective ways you have promoted and marketed Environmental Booty? What’s your best marketing tip?

The most effective ways I have found to promote EB has been through word of “mouth” via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  Our EB Members do a great job of spreading the word on their sites and networks as well.  As far as offering my “best” marketing tip, that is a tough one.  Each business is different and the road to success is different for all.  I think if I had to give my best piece of advice for online marketing it would be to get involved in the conversation and be genuine in your interactions with others.  Don’t just join networks like LinkedIn, never show up to interact and complain that you are not getting anything out of it.  Join groups, make connections, have a desire to help others without asking for anything in return and be consistent.  If you blog, post 3-5 days a week.  If you Tweet, offer valuable information each day or every other day.  If you have a Facebook account, check out what others are doing and comment. 

What advice would you give someone else looking to create an online community based on a cause?

That’s simple…don’t get discouraged, provide updated content, get to know the needs of your members and protect your members by blocking spammers immediately without guilt. 

What goals do you have for Environmental Booty this year?

My main goals this year are to grow our membership, find ways to promote the green message to our younger generations, provide green suppliers with a platform to showcase their products and continue to spread the word about green living products we offer in our Environmental Booty OpenSky Shop.

What have you learned on your business journey that you’d like to share with other business owners?

Don’t let your passion to grow your business interfere with your life.

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WonderWoman Wednesdays… Cynthia Mock, CEO of Adorable Baby Clothing

Just in time for Easter, this week’s WonderWoman is Cynthia Mock, CEO of Adorable Baby Clothing.  Specializing in formal wear for the pint-sized fashion plate, at Adorable Baby Clothing you can find everything from a fab faux fur for your little princess or a tiny tux for your little prince. But Cynthia doesn’t stop there, you can also find a great baby shower gift or something “everyday” sweet for your little one. 

Customer service is the backbone of Adorable Baby Clothing, and Cynthia believes that it’s the key to her success. Here’s how she does it…

When did it hit you that there was an underserved market for formal clothing for children?

All you have to do is try to go shopping in a department store, and you’ll find out very quickly–choices are limited at best.  Years ago there seemed to be an abundance of children’s clothing stores, which often offered a few more choices, but they seem to have disappeared over the years.  If you do find a children’s clothing store in your area, they either are very limited on formal wear, or very expensive–not really a happy medium for most people.  At Adorable Baby Clothing.com, parents will find not only a huge selection of styles and colors, but sizes.  We don’t have to stock every single size and color, but we can sure get them from our vendors.  Additionally, by not having to pay rent for expensive real estate, and all that’s involved with running a traditional “brick and mortar” store, we can keep our prices lower.  We don’t skimp on quality — but I do try very hard to keep my prices extremely competitive for the consumers!  I’m a consumer too, and love knowing I’ve purchased a quality product at a great price.

How did you get into business? 

I owned a traditional retail store for several years prior to Adorable Baby Clothing.com.  I tried working for someone else after I sold that business, but honestly, once you’ve been your own boss it’s hard to work for someone else, no matter how great they are.  My goal for many years had been to own and operate an internet based business.  I had looked at several, but none ever felt like “me”. 

At about the same time I was going through the process of deciding where I wanted to go in business, I found out I was going to be a first time grandmother.  I was so excited about this new phase of my life, and became even more determined to find just the right business–and then, it dawned on me–children’s clothing!  I loved dressing my daughters up when they were little, and what fun to dress my new grandchildren (I have twin granddaughters!). 

I loved the product from the beginning.  The formal clothing is primarily manufactured by an American company called Lito.  Formal wear for children is all they produce, and it’s made right here in America.  Their attention to detail, fabrics, and pricing fit right into what I envisioned for my business.  When you buy one of their items, you can basically plan to hand it down from generation to generation.  All of the other manufacturers I utilize are also American companies.  I even have a few vendors, who hand make items, so the customer is virtually getting a handmade item for their child.

How do you go about finding the clothing lines you feature? Is it a difficult process to constantly find the “new” hot brands?

I’ve been approached by countless importers to carry their lines.  Although the prices have appeal, I am always concerned about quality, consistency, and the makeup up the fabrics.  In today’s world of global economy you would think that you could find anything you wanted.  In some sense that is true, but knowing that the garments you are selling to parents and grandparents for their children could be tainted, is not worth the gamble to me.  I prefer to carry lines that are proven in time, and form an integral part of the American economy.  Another factor I consider is whether or not the garment has a timeless appeal to it.  If you look at the dresses and suits on Adorable Baby Clothing, you’ll see that virtually every one of them would be as appealing 5-10 years from now as it is today.  What I’ve always believed is that buying a more classic style enables someone to keep on using that item, whether it’s for subsequent children, cousins, friends–whomever.  Economically it makes more sense to me.  Fads are great, but they are just that–here for a moment and then gone. 

What is a typical day like for you Cynthia?

Oh gosh–lol–busy busy busy.  Since I own and operate the website, I wear many hats.  Typically it starts with reading any emails, and fulfilling any orders that may have occurred during the night.  From there I try to do some social networking on Facebook, Twitter, and several social networking sites I’m a member of.  Once that’s completed I work on the website–a never ending process- which might involve removing discontinued items, and as I’m doing now, adding new products.  Often, I get phone calls from customers asking about a particular product, or when something is going to ship–I have some of the most interesting conversations with them!  Typically I start around 7:00am and finish whenever I’m finished…which one never knows!  I enjoy the challenges, and just wish I had two more hands, and eyes!

How does customer service factor into your business decisions? 

Customer service–that is Number One with me.  I’m a consumer too, and one of the big turn offs for me is when the customer service isn’t there.  So many large corporations have automated systems which prevent you from ever actually speaking with someone–it’s so frustrating!  I tend to gravitate towards companies that care about their customers.  They’re willing to help, they’re friendly, they let you know they want you to be satisfied–and, so I try to be just that.  It’s not worth making a sale and then having someone upset with the company because of poor customer service.  My position on customer service is influenced too by the garments and various items sold on the website–if the quality and consistency isn’t there–I’ll end up with headaches and sleepless nights–that’s why I choose the companies that I choose.

What are the most effective ways you have promoted and marketed Adorable Baby Clothing? What’s your best marketing tip?

Probably the most effective marketing has been through the social networking, and email blasts that I send out.  With so many companies on the internet you have to make yourself known.  Another avenue I utilize consistently is Google.  At least once a month I enter my entire product line into their database so that the search engines can find the website.  My best marketing tip is to keep your business in front of people.  We’re all busy people, and with that comes forgetfulness–ha ha–but truly, if you want people to remember you, you have to remind them you exist, and then give them a reason to come back, and/or tell others about your website.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself? What advice would you give someone else? 

Knowing what I know now, I would have gone to college for a degree in computer science.  Everything seems to revolve around computers now.

What goals do you have for the business this year? 

My goals for this year are to grow sales by at least 20%.  2009 was a tough year, and although I made it through, I’d like to push forward.  Additionally, I want to learn more about computer codes, and the inner workings of website design.  I’m learning, but being who I am, I like to know everything there is to know, and I’m not there yet.

What have you learned on your business journey that you’d like to share with other business owners?

If you’re going into business for yourself, do it in an area you can be passionate about.  I know that sounds corny, but if you don’t like what the product, or process is–it will make your life miserable.  You have to be willing to take financial risks.  The potential failure rate is huge, but with a lot of prayer and hard work you can become successful.  Being in business for yourself is going to require you to work more hours than you ever did for another company.  The responsibility for your success falls on your shoulders.  If you don’t want that kind of responsibility, then going into business for yourself probably isn’t a good idea.  Most importantly, you can’t let the “naysayers” discourage you.  Most people are not risk takers in the sense of opening their own business.  When a friend or family member announces they’re thinking of doing that, many will try to discourage you and encourage you to play it safe and just work a “safe” job.  I know the first time I decided to own my own business it took me two-years to convince myself it was the right decision.  That was over 6-years ago, and I’ve never regretted doing it.  There have been nail-biting moments, and many sleepless nights, but in the end, I’ve loved every minute of the challenges, rewards, and wonderful people I’ve met. 

This would be my analogy for life and business– There are always mountains in front of us.  If you’re trying to see the top of the mountain, or figure out how to get over it or around it, most likely you’ll be so overwhelmed that you’ll give up.  The way to get over the mountain is actually very simple–one step at a time.  Once you start moving forward, and deal with what you have to deal with where you are at that moment, then suddenly you look up and realize you’re on the other side of the mountain.  That’s what being in business is like.  One step at a time.

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