Monday, November 17, 2008

Moving into the Virtual Office

This business was launched in Trinidad and Tobago in 2007 and over the last 23 months I have been operating primarily from Trinidad, but traveling to the US, China, and Canada to meet suppliers, participate in marketing and industry events and to develop retail relationships. The staff has been as many as 6 to the current 3, plus I work with agents in Asia, free lancers in India and Eastern Europe that I source through Elance and I have advisors in the US. Now I am looking to connect with distributors in Europe and the UK.

In sum, the business was always intended to be global. Even though I design in Trinidad, the market of people who listen to the music of steelpan and steel drums and who would want fashion accessories and jewelry on this theme is global.

So, now I am structuring the business to really be run from anywhere in the world. By creating a virtual office, with the technological tools and software support, I can still have access when I am in NY or Hong Kong and staff can work from home or wherever they wish.

It will be quite interesting to communicate, particularly on new designs, from a virtual office. But I am looking forward to the increased flexibility, access to talent from around the world and the freedom that it should provide.

Of course, it will also ensure that I have info on our various customers and loyal fans wherever I happen to be. It was a bit frustrating being in Toronto in September and not being able to contact those who signed up at our display during Caribana in July. Converting to an Internet based Customer Relationship Management system (currently exploring Batchbook) will reduce these frustrations. I hope.

But you can continue to expect unique, quality designs of fine jewelry with a steel pan theme, top-notch packaging and information with each design and the Liz Mannette brand making you proud to show the world that you love steel pan and steel drum music.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can

Hello. If Barack Obama can become the President of the United States, then I can certainly build a global fashion brand based on the steelpan and steel drums.

Yes I can.

Like so many others, I feel very inspired by Obama. And of course, as I tell everyone, we are Harvard Class of 91 classmates!!! So I am especially proud.

But more than that, this win has caused me to take a good look at what I'm doing. Hmmm. starting a fashion business based on steel drums is a whole lot easier than taking on the political establishment in the US, as an African American. Given that I do have a family history in this artform, creative ideas without limit and the story to make good p.r., then there's no reason why Liz Mannette will not become an international brand similar in stature to the major Italian and European brands. My name is already European; Mannette is French and can sound Italian.

So there is nothing stopping me from building this business within this niche and accessorizing all the people of the steelband music world with stylish, quality items that say "WOW".