Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jeff Lawber, Creator of Marmals, located in Portland, OR, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Marmals are a line of magnetic art toys that I created for my kids as a way for them to express their creativity beyond mainstream media - a blank canvas to design characters and tell stories based on your own imagination.
Tell us about yourself
I have a background in Industrial Design and have had years of designing a wide variety of products, including everything from ceiling fans and slot machines to chainsaws and retail experiences at the Olympic Games. While my experiences have been diverse, they've allowed me to gain a holistic understanding of the design process and how products come to fruition.
I took a deep dive into toy design for a contract opportunity and quickly realized that creating toys was incredibly fun - and people actually got paid to do this! This newfound passion for toy design, combined with my skills as a designer, inspired me to create something special for my children. Now after nearly five years, my kids serve on my research and development team, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to bring joy to their lives through my work.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My most significant accomplishment happened quite recently. At a large toy trade show with over 500 toy manufacturers showcasing their products, I had a booth where I was pitching Marmals to anyone who even paused for a second to take a look. As it turns out, my presentation left a lasting impression as I was honored with a "Best in Show" award, as voted on by retailers. It was one of those milestone moments knowing that "I've made it" in my journey as an entrepreneur.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The biggest issue for me is finding the right mental balance of continuing to design, innovate, and tinker around with new ideas while keeping myself grounded with my day-to-day of maintaining the business that I've already started. I'm a very "what's next?" type of person, always brainstorming new ideas, and it's very difficult for me to go backward, take a deep breath and wait until I can give my thoughts the proper focus needed to bring new ideas to life.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Have patience - Everything takes longer than you think!
- Plan ahead - It's vital to consider your target market and envision all the different ways customers might use your product, including unintended uses. By doing so, you can better understand your audience, identify potential issues, and find ways to sidestep them.
- Learn - Observing and tracking your competitors' moves, monitoring social media trends, and analyzing your sales data can help you discover new subsets of customers that you may have overlooked. By staying vigilant and open to new ideas, you can position yourself to take advantage of opportunities that arise.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.