Hi! I'm Dane Carlson, and welcome to the Business Opportunities Weblog. I've been publishing this website, by myself, and sometimes with the help of others for over twelve years now. You'll notice two things about this site right away:
Many moms are just as fashion forward minded as any other person out there. So when they are reduced down to simple baby styles after having a child, it can be a little depressing for the once fashionable mom. Tivoli Couture takes on that problem head on with all the baby products carried within the store.
Stella Rubinshteyn, the founder, was inspired by Tivoli, Italy as well as the villas and castles located there when she came up with the name for her business. The best part may be that it also reads as “I lov it” when reversed. Exactly as her customers feel when they purchase one of her products.
It is through Stella’s business that parents can finally feel like they do not have to give up style for necessity.
What kind of products do you sell within your store, Tivoli Couture?
Tivoli Couture offers a large selection of reversible and coordinated line of baby and toddler blankets, stroller liners, bibs, tooth fairy pillows, our original patent-pending Bandana Binky Bibs™, Cuddle Bottle Blankets™, Royal Blanket Capes™ and other gifts and accessories inspired by little kings and queens. We design and create innovative and functional products that fuse basic and luxury items for babies and kids. Our customers are ordinary people with extraordinary tastes that demand quality, attractiveness, ingenuity and function. Ready to gift, our coordinated sets make our line really stand out. Most of our products are reversible for versatility.
What are some of the customer favorites?
Some of the staple products we designed are stroller liners that protect the strollers from spilled, juice, crumbs and diaper leaks and offer babies the ultimate comfort “luxury” ride. Parents can choose from the reversible fiberfill stroller liners with a 100% cotton side that reverse to a super soft cuddly minky back or the Memory Foam liners with a 100% cotton cover and a removable insert. Our Bandana Binky Bibs™ are a stylish alternative to the traditional bibs and are perfect for chronic droolers and older kids that want to stay clean in style. They come with a safe removable attachment that keeps the baby’s pacifier or teething toys within the baby’s reach when needed. Another unique product our customers are buzzing about are our Cuddle Bottle Blankets™, which are baby bottle sleeve covers designed with our signature Cuddle Bubble Minky fabric babies love and colorful themed tags that stimulate and entertain baby’s senses, soothe and comfort.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur? What was your inspiration?
Being very creative by nature, my heart and my passion were always on something bigger than a typical bi-weekly paycheck. It was too predictable and ordinary for me. So this time I decided to do something different and unique – launch a line of products for ordinary people with extraordinary tastes.
Did you have any previous experience that you were able to bring with you into the start of your business?
I have developed my entrepreneurial skills back in my childhood in my birth country – the former Soviet Union. At a very young age, I was collecting sea shells, then I would paint and glue together fun little creatures which I later resold on the streets for pocket change. Fast forward about 15 years, I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Accounting and while studying for a CPA exam, I launched my first e-commerce business in 1996 right after the birth of my first son. I rode the waves of success and popularity of the auction sites, including eBay grossing in six figures my first couple of years.
What are some of the things you’ve learned since?
One of the biggest things I’ve learned that I am extremely proud of is to overcome my shyness and a certain level of insecurities. I now know that there is nothing that I cannot do or achieve. If you are motivated, you will find a way to succeed – the laws of the Universe will help you open doors to your dreams.
Is there anything you wish you could change about how you got started or any decisions you’ve made that you regret?
I must admit that in order to cut costs I took on a lot of challenges and tasks that should have been delegated to professionals. Even though I learned a great deal, it was at an expense of my time, which could have been better spent marketing and growing my business.
At what point did you realize that your business idea would be as successful as it has become?
It all started with a photo shoot of my products I was conducting at a local park when I had onlookers approach me and requesting to buy samples. I could not say no, but asked them to wait until I was done taking pictures. Shortly after that I began approaching local boutiques who were thrilled by the product selection and the fun modern prints I offered. Orders poured in, following frequent re-orders. The record was set when a local boutique placed seven orders within a single month!
How has being a mom affected your business?
My children and my family are my greatest inspirations! I wake up every day feeling blessed that I have the opportunity to provide a better future for my children than my mom ever could for me. My mom gave me the opportunity to shape my life the best that I can by immigrating to America, the land of endless opportunities. It is my duty to teach my children the same. It feels good knowing that now my children are being raised in an entrepreneurial environment and now they have the opportunity to see the benefits and rewards of hard work and dedication. I try to get them involved in various aspects of running my business as much as I can. Even at a young age, they are learning the value of time, money and responsibility.
What are your tips for handling family and a business at the same time?
Being a mom to two very energetic boys, I must admit that it is definitely challenging to successfully manage a family and run a business from home. I often feel the need to escape the noise and the frequent interruptions caused by such minor things as spilled juice, or when I have to drop everything and run to break up a fight. If you ask me how many hours a week do I work, my answer would be – not enough! My days start at 6 AM when the boys are still asleep, and that’s when I try to get the bulk of my work done that requires focus and concentration. I try to manage the rest of the day around their schedules and activities, and that’s when I head out to meeting and appointments. I am also lucky that my husband is very supportive and understanding and often pitches in with household chores and even helps me a great deal in business. Given the “flexibility” of running my own business from home I often find myself working until midnight to meet my goals and deadlines, but I look forward to the next day, driven by the very positive response I get from my customers, family and friends.
If you were to retire tomorrow, what would be one thing you feel has really had an effect on you from the experience you’ve had as a business owner?
Life is beautiful when you are living it outside the cubicle.
What advice do you have for other potential entrepreneurs out there?
Start with a belief, conviction or a deep rooted passion. Don’t focus on making money first – focus on your passion and give it all you got! Be original, be different. Do tons of research. Always check what your competition is up to, and be a few steps ahead. A great way to introduce your product or service is through websites, blogs and forums. Generate the buzz, create excitement! And lastly, believe in your destiny and the luck is on your side!