Monday, June 7, 2010

Entrepreneur turns centuries-old art form into 21st century business

Showcasing early entrepreneurs offers an added marketing communications or social media element to help promote their businesses. In addition, it provides a forum through which they can guide other aspiring business owners around avoidable obstacles and toward a path of attainable goals. Sharing their insights begins with hearing their stories like the one offered by

Annette Kandell, owner
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My business started as a result of my being in a job that was very routine with limited opportunities to use my creativity. I really needed to be doing something creative and came across quilling. Quilling is a very old art form practiced as far back as the 13th or 14th centuries. The artist takes very thin strips of paper and turns them into coils and other shapes to make decorative pieces. I started making little gift boxes and one thing led to another. I coined the brand name Quangels which are quilled angles. The heart of my business is “Quangels for all occasions.” These can be ornaments, wedding cake toppers, mobiles or anything else that can be crafted with paper. I could say my business is unique in that I really don’t have direct competition. There may be some companies that create cake toppers, but none that are quilled.

I have a couple of unique market niches. One would be young girls from nine years old through teens with whom my quilled Quangel Drops earrings are popular. The second niche is comprised of women who want something more elegant for a special occasion. For this market I created my Quangel Drops Elegant earrings in gold and/or silver. My products are ideal for people who say – “I’m looking for something really unique.”

The best marketing for me has been word-of-mouth. In addition, I’ve started a blog featuring quilling of the past and pictures of some of my work. It’s also a way for people to connect with me for custom orders. And, I’m starting to contact niche businesses in the Barrington area that would be logical partners for me – more of the independent boutique retail shops.

The one thing that I would have done differently would be to go with my instincts more. I’m all for taking advice, but many times my instincts were right, yet I listened to others. Now, I have to redo some things that others did for me and reclaim them as my own. I’d encourage new business owners to write down your road maps of where you are and where you want to be. Be flexible and focused. Ride out the hard times with humor and cultivate a few close confidants who will tell you the hard truth. Find your cheerleaders! What surprised me the most when starting to show my products was how much young boys were interested in them. Not for their uniqueness or beauty, but in more of the mechanics and engineering of the quilled characters. I always thought of them to have more a female focus. As a result, I plan to conduct classes soon on quilled objects for anyone and everyone.

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