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Member Spotlight: Julie Roller

by Mark Hoover on August 30, 2013 in 5 Most Painful Mistakes,Customer Focus,Small Business Development,Uncategorized

Julie Roller – Bluestone Imports –  Launched Summer 2010 – “We drove around Turkey for 45 days and tested our new dream to do business along the Silk Road.

This past summer was Julie’s 7th trip to Turkey and 3rd to Venice to purchase items for Bluestone Imports.  She carefully selects beautiful scarfs, purses, Venetian and Istanbul jewelry, Turkish bath towels, handmade shearling baby booties & adult gloves and hats, handmade rugs and classy items that you don’t see elsewhere in the USA.

Six years go, Julie met her now current husband and moved to Santa Cruz from Flagstaff, AZ leaving the Flagstaff Community Foundation where she was Northern Regional Manager.  “Moving to Santa Cruz required that I find a new way to make a living.  My husband is a teacher and we traveled every summer, so I needed to create my own job.  We decided to launch a small import business to combine our love of travel with gorgeous, useful and unique items that we found during our extensive travels.  What satisfies me is being able to offer these beautiful and affordable products to people back home. I now have about 22 stores that stock my products throughout the U.S.”

Julie added Venice to her overseas shopping after a trip with her husband in 2009.  He had bought her a glass pendant called The Wave and back home, people on the streets exclaimed its beauty. She and her husband returned to Venice in 2011 and found the store who sold the necklace. When they walked in, the shop owner recognized the necklace and said, “That’s mine.” Julie’s responded “Yes it is and we are here to do business with you.” Julie has since designed new color combinations and shapes with this Venetian glassmaker to expand her line.
(Note: go to her FB page: Bluestone Imports on FB for a photo of the necklace)

There are three ways people buy Bluestone products. Firstly, she sells direct to people in their home by creating the “Backstreet Bazaar” with their friends for a low key, fun social event where everyone leaves happy with cool great deals. Secondly, she sells B2B through sales Reps and retail stores that she made contact with.  “At a training early on, I was told to get a Rep and a website and not do selling myself.  The reps and website didn’t pan out back then so I got myself out there and did cold calls and sales. As hard and awkward as it felt in the beginning, I learned so much and had many successes, which kept me going. I now have two Reps, one in New England and one in LA, and I can relate far more to what they do out there and support them better.  Delegating selling is necessary at some point but there is a lot to be said for getting your hands dirty and then hiring people to do the selling.

Thirdly, she enjoys doing fundraiser bazaars with nonprofit organizations. The nonprofit provides the space, invites all their supporters and does marketing, then Bluestone donates 18% of gross sales to them. In 2012, she was able to donate $2,545.00 to two community theaters, the American Cancer Society and Little League in NJ to rebuild a field after Hurricane Sandy.

Challenges? Overwhelm was the biggest challenge for the first two years – Having to do it all and get up to speed in a totally new unfamiliar field. I wasn’t even a shopper and now I’m buying thousands of dollars worth in Turkey and Italy! As a small solo business owner, daily challenges include making those all important sales, keeping track of it all financially, staying organized, and inventory – buying enough during our travels but not too much. I’ve picked two best sellers and many other favorites which has helped my confidence.

Working with Mark Hoover Training has helped me calm the overwhelm. I appreciate Mark’s breadth of experience and expertise when discussing the constant new questions, considerations and situations that arise day in day out in my business.  Early in the program, I put together a list of what I wanted to get out of the training in the realms of website, financials, business models, IT technology, sales and Mark is helping me in all these areas.  I love the one-to-one intense sessions that always produce good advice, clear direction, and practical assignments to deal with new situations, like bringing on a sales Rep for the first time.

Since becoming a member of the Mark Hoover tribe I am less overwhelmed, more confident and am enjoying my business more – definitely what I wanted.  Starting from scratch in a brand new field in my mid-fifties, I needed to know all these practical business systems, like yesterday, but at least I’m not in it by myself anymore, I’m in it with Mark and his staff.

I would recommend for someone starting out in business or who is ‘young’ in their business to consider working with Mark. He and his staff offer helpful training that comes from a wealth of experience that can be put to use right away, addressing challenges right now, so you can keep on maturing, growing your business, and enjoy the doing of it!

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