It is often said that the best gift is a gift from the heart. I imagine the same could be said about personalized products. They can share a special moment in the receiver’s life, or represent something they care strongly about.
The women behind Keepsake Pillows by aliz know all too well what a personalized keepsake can do for the person receiving it. Their business has created pillows for a variety of occasions and purposes. From memorials to graduations, their keepsake pillows have left their mark in many lives.
I recently had the opportunity to ask Alicia Davis a few questions about her business, and the lessons she has learned from it.
Tell us a little about Keepsake Pillows by aliz.
Keepsake Pillows is a Mother/Daughter (Elizabeth/Alicia — aliz) start-up business that combines the Computer and Crafting Worlds to create a Keepsake Pillow — “A Soft Reminder of the One You Love’.
What inspired it?
Keepsake Pillows was inspired while going through the heartbreak of divorce. I needed to keep my hands and mind busy with something positive and profitable.
When did you launch your business?
My first season, affectionately known as my “trial and error season,” was in Fall of 2004. After a successful trial run, I got a business license, took sewing lessons, (yep, I did not even know how to sew) and secured my first ‘recurring’ client in 2005.
How many shapes/sizes/colors are available?
Presently, we carry one size, 14in x 14in.
This season, for the first time, we have a “Create Your Own Keepsake Pillow” Kit. These pillows are 12in x 16in.
Looking to add one larger size (18×18) and a ring-bearer pillow (8×8) in the near future.
The color of the pillow is usually white, off white, gold, navy, or denim. These colors usually blend well with any room as well as the clothes in the photo. Other colors are available upon request.
What are some of the more unique types of pillows that people have requested?
The greatest part of my business has been Memorial Pillows and I work with Funeral Directors who present The Memorial Pillow to families who have lost a loved one.
It’s unique to get a request for a pet, usually dog or cat, or for a baby that is still born.
What separates you from the competition?
Our pillows are individually sewn with a corresponding poem or words of encouragement for the recipient. We also do collages with as many photos as a client desires (for an additional fee of course). Many competitors only have one photo or a general poem or generic saying on their pillow.
What goals do you hope to accomplish over the next year or so?
I’ve had so many people ask me to teach them how to do this business therefore, my goal is to license what I do and make Keepsake Pillows available in every city via local crafting teams.
I would love to re-introduce the art of sewing in the school systems (as an elective) as a way of equipping young girls/guys with ideas of how they can make extra cash while matriculating [through] their post secondary education.
What are some lessons that your business has taught you?
The greatest lesson this business has taught is the inherent need for passion for whatever business venture you encounter. This passion is what keeps me awake at night and what gets me out of bed in the morning. I don’t waste time explaining my passion, but spend time understanding it myself. Once I understood my passion, I did not have to explain it because it was written all over my life through conversation and action.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Neck pillows with sports theme… I really want to do these!!
Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs that are just getting started?
A wise woman in my tax attorney’s office said to me very early on my business journey: “Alicia, do one thing and do it well!”
I’ve always remembered those words as someone with a grass roots effort. It has definitely kept me focused.
Be willing to give away product samples in order to test it’s ‘retailability’.
Be patient but progressive at the same time.
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