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Momtrepreneur of the month–NataLee Allen

I’m very excited to introduce you the very first Momtrepreneur!  I felt like I was back to my college days when I was doing the interview (I studied Mass Communication).  O.K. stop rambling.

Momtrepreneur: NataLee Allen of NataLee Allen Designs.

Type of Business: home décor and craft design

Started Business When? May 2007

Tell us about your business:
I sell home decor pieces and other craft items. Signs and Plaques are my big emphasis right now. I design and sell boards, tiles, and other pieces that people can decorate their homes with. I do many of my own designs, but I also do a lot of custom work upon clients’ requests as well.  I design and sell cards and invitations.  I carry a variety of craft, card making, and scrapbook supplies.  And, I also offer a variety of crafting classes.

In addition to creating and selling signs, I also do board parties at my house and in the homes of others.  There are two different types of parties.  1) Open house parties.  I go to peoples homes and bring a bunch of signs that can be ordered (kind of like a Tupperware or other catalog party).  2) Class parties.  I go to peoples homes and help them and their friends make signs themselves.  I provide all the supplies and each person just pays for the sign kit that they make.  Both types of parties are lots of fun, and they make great girls nights.

Tell us a little about yourself:
I was raised in El Dorado Hills, California. I’m the oldest of seven kids. I graduated from BYU in Provo Utah with a business degree in Entrepreneurship. I married 3 years ago and have a 2 year-old daughter.

Do you have a store front/website/Etsy?
I do have a website. There, people can view some of the work I have done, but the website currently does not have a shopping cart. People can email me what they would like to order and I will make it for them. People are also always welcome to visit my design studio, located in the front part of my home. There, people can browse, shop, get inspiration, and sit down with me and design their own signs.

Would you give us a sense of some of the steps you took from your first thoughts about starting your own business, to the thoughts and actions in the middle of when it was finally up and running?
I have always loved to create and design things. I started scrapbooking about 15 years ago.   I’ve been in the craft industry for years.  After college I worked as a marketing and tradeshow director for a company in the creative industry.  I had the opportunity to go to all of the big craft and creative tradeshows in the country.  I learned a lot about the industry and have always kept up on the industry buzz.  Originally I planned on selling vinyl cutting machines and purchased one so I could learn how to use it and sell it.  This plan eventually fell through and I started making signs with my machine.  Before long, I was getting calls for signs and I decided to pursue those a little more and now here I am.
What makes your product/business so unique?
The custom aspect of my work creates uniqueness in itself.  Also, I cut my own wood, route my own wood, design and cut my own vinyl.  Customization and uniqueness is really what my business is all about.

What is the most enjoyable part of owning and operating your own business?
I love being able to work from home on my own time.  It makes it possible for me to spend more time with my family.

What do you love the most about being your own boss? What do you dislike the most?
I love the flexibility I have.
I do not like the paperwork, recording sales, expenditures, paying taxes, etc.

How would you describe your most difficult challenge of being a Momtrepreneur?
Time. I have so many ideas and never enough time to complete them all.
Money. Cash flow is always a challenge when you bootstrap a business. You have to put a lot into it in the beginning and it takes a while to make it all back, and then you just end up needing to put more in.

How do you balance your business and your family?
For me all of these things just blend together–it’s become who I am. I often do them all at the same time. However, I’m also constantly working and it is difficult sometimes to separate home life and business life. I just take one day at a time, and I always make sure I make time for my husband and daughter everyday.

What or whom have you found to be the greatest support to you and to your business?
My husband is my greatest support. He is always willing to help me and always encourages me to do what I want to do, even if it means he has to cook dinner that night and take care of our daughter.

What are some of your short and long term goals with your business?
Short term goals: I would like to update my website. I haven’t had time to put my recent work there. I also would like to put together some catalog sheets that would make it easier to sell and show my boards.
Long term goals: I would like to make enough money to buy better tools that will enable me to speed up my board making process. Eventually, I might like to open a store or a warehouse supply place.

Is there anything exciting in the works that we can look forward to?
I’ll be hosting some great classes for the upcoming holiday season. I also will be hosting an open house where I will be showcasing and selling many of my new designs. It will be held on November 11th and 12th and will feature some other Momtrepreneurs as well. For more information on the open house or classes email me at natalee@nataleeallen.com

On any given day, what makes you smile?
When someone picks up a sign that I designed for them and they absolutely love it–that makes me smile.

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Last but not least, NataLee is generous enough to provide one custom made vinyl board for my blog readers!
This is how you play: Write down your favorite quote in the comments. (btw, Sean, you are not eligible this time!) Then there will be drawing on Friday, 10/31/08. The winner will get to have NataLee put their quote on a sign that they get to keep.  How cool is that!!
Happy quoting!

Gloria

Edited:  You are welcome to participant even if you live outside of California.  I will send it to you if you get drawn.