Entrepreneur. What immediately comes to mind? For most people it conjures an image of someone who is creative and inventive. For others they think of people pitching their businesses on Shark Tank. Whether it’s with a product or a process, it results in a thought like, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Now double that entrepreneur if you will and the outcome is explosive. Nikki Carlson and Kailynn Bowling are the proof. With a passion to help women, the duo collaborated to fill a need they saw as untapped. That need turned into a highly successful product and led them into expanded businesses; most currently as the founders of ChicExecs – a national public relations firm specializing in branding and marketing. Risen interviewed these dynamic risk-takers in 2016 to talk about strategies and faith, and discovered their candidness to share their methods with others.
Carlson and Bowling reflect on the explosion of their ChicBuds product.
Carlson: “What we were doing was so fun and great but we said, “We need to make money from it.” [Laughter] “We need to monetize it a little bit.” Coming from my advertising background I thought, “How can we incorporate advertising?” Something we saw Daily Candy [similar website] do was build up their email list and then incorporate ads in their emails and they were able to be profitable. We started doing ads and contests and sending people to different websites to pick out their favorite color on a product and report back to us. It ended up being a form of market research that we were doing for brands and they loved it. Through the course of that we started hearing women say that they wanted electronics geared more for women. There was nothing out there. This was before there was any fashion electronics. We thought, “How can we accomplish this?” And, we started creating our own from there.”
Bowling: “It was very interesting because we thought, “Okay we are going to make these earbuds and sell them to our readers.” That was pretty much all we knew back then. We went and got crystals and glued them onto earbuds and we put them on the website for the holidays and they just took off. It was crazy. We were in over 100 publications in six months and our first order was with the Wynn casino and they ordered around 100 so Nikki had all her roommates gluing crystals onto earbuds. [Laughter]”
Carlson: “Yes, in a little tiny apartment! You do what you have to do. This was before we figured out manufacturing so we had a little roommate sweatshop. [More laughter] We had no idea at the time, but later we found out it this was a huge missed niche in the technology industry. All the top executives of stores like Best Buy and Fry’s were having these conversations about how to reach women, because a woman is the biggest purchaser in the home, but electronics are more geared towards males. They were looking for products to help bring women into their stores. You can say we sort of stumbled into this niche, but we look at it as a blessing and that God lead us down this path. Neither of us had developed a product before and technology was definitely out of our realm.”
Bowling: “We just had to figure it out because with all the attention we knew we couldn’t be gluing on crystals forever. We then spent about a year searching out different companies to help us, but ultimately made the decision to just dive in and do it ourselves.”
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
Get creative! Whether you have an idea for something brand new or a way to make something better, take time and hash it out. Sometimes it can be helpful to write it down, draw out a plan or even make sketches. Pray and ask God for direction and vision for what He wants you to do. Ask Him to show you His timing. Sometimes you might have a great idea, but you need to wait on the right timing.
Get feedback. It is helpful to meet with others who have either started a company or business or pitched a product to investors. Meet with them to get their feedback. Ask them what they have learned along the way. If they are open to it, ask them to connect you with others who can help you fulfill your business plan. It can be important to make sure that your product or idea is protected before you meet with others so that they don’t take your ideas.
Be inspired. Whether it is a conference or video online, there are lots of resources out there that can help fuel your vision. It can even be helpful to find a group of like-minded entrepreneurs that can encourage you in your journey. Pray with each other. Ask each other how you are doing and how you can help one another.
To read our entire interview with Bowling and Carlson, click here.