What were you doing when you decided to create your
I was working as a floral designer for a home interiors store. I
also did freelance floral design.
When did you start your business?
We launched the Hip Hostess website in June 2008.
What inspired you to do this?
My daughter and cofounder, Andrea Rogers. She was newly married and
looking for a “hip little apron” but couldn’t find anything that
fit her sense of style. I knew what she had in mind and started
sewing up a few aprons with the look she wanted. She loved them and
the response from her friends was fantastic.
How did you turn your idea/dream into a business plan?
I first had to clear out the flurry of creative ideas in my head
and learn to simplify. Andrea was the driving force behind this. We
narrowed our ideas down to two clean, functional, and stylish
We knew that the element of fashion would come from using chic,
upscale fabrics. From there the possibilities were endless. Aprons
are a timeless feminine tradition, and having the perspective of
two generations has really been an advantage in offering designs
that appeal to women of every age.
When did you know that you could really make a go of
When we completely sold out at our first local craft fair.
What was your start-up cost? How did you get the money and what
did you use it for?
In the beginning I was doing all the sewing, so we had no labor
cost. All the profit we made from doing local fairs and festivals
went toward launching our website and building inventory.
the biggest obstacle?
Getting our name out there. Creating a loyal customer base and
reaching out to new potential customers takes time; it doesn’t
happen overnight and it’s an ongoing process. It’s been said many
times before, but word of mouth is the best P.R. and it doesn’t
cost a thing.
Did your friends and family support your dream?
Absolutely! My husband is a gem! He’s done more than his share of
pitching tents, setting up tables and carrying countless bins of
aprons at every show. He’s always there to give me tips and advice
on the business front when I’m out of solutions. We are so thankful
for the family and friends who held at-home apron parties helping
us get the Hip Hostess off the ground.
How did you maintain your confidence when doors were closed in
your face, when people didn’t get it or said “no”?
Anyone in business is going to be faced with disappointment and
rejection. I learned that fast. The key is to shake it off and move
How long did it take you to get everything off the
Longer than I thought: Designing the patterns, choosing fabrics,
locating suppliers, and finally launching the website took about
How long did it take for your business to become
The first two years, all of our profit went back into the business.
Our sales have increased each year and we are now seeing light at
the end of the tunnel!
What's the hardest part of what you do?
Like most working women, it’s been balancing my home and personal
life with the business. Allotting only a specific amount of time
every day for business is a challenge that I’ll admit I’m still
What's the most fun part of what you do?
Connecting with customers on a personal level has been a joy! It’s
amazing how a simple e-mail inquiry or phone order turns into a
friendly chat. Getting to know your customers and their needs and
expectations is an essential part of being in business. I also love
the thrill of the hunt! Searching for new fabrics, then sewing up
the samples and seeing my vision turn into the finished product is
a little bit of heaven for me.
Where do you work from?
The Hip Hostess is run from home, which has its perks and
Do you have employees?
Right now, Andrea and I are the only employees, which sometimes has
us wondering, who’s the boss?
How have you been using social media to grow your
Networking with other women via Twitter and blogs has been an
invaluable tool. Women entrepreneurs are incredibly supportive of
one another and the connections we make both personally and
professionally are priceless.
Do you have entrepreneurial role models? What’s so inspiring
One of the women I admire most is the actress Meryl Streep. She’s
had a lifetime of success, always challenging and reinventing
herself at every point in her career. Plus, she always does this
with style and grace. To me, she’s the epitome of a successful
How did you learn and acquire the skills you use to make your
business successful? How do you continue to grow and learn?
As a dancer, Andrea has spent a great deal of her life in front of
an audience. The confidence and determination she brought to the
business is what got us started and keeps me going.
My grandmother taught me to sew and she was a stickler for detail.
Creating something that’s cute or fashionable is one thing, but
incorporating that attention to detail and quality into our
products is the most gratifying and keeps customers coming
What's the best piece of business advice you ever
“When one door closes, another one opens.” This is so true. There
is always a door of opportunity waiting to be opened, but that also
means you may have to completely close some doors behind you.
If you had it to do over again, what, if anything, would you do
I would have started sooner. It took a lot of convincing for Andrea
to get me out of my comfort zone and move us into the business
What advice would you give to Dreamers who haven’t become Doers
1. Surround yourself with supportive people who have skills or
knowledge you don’t, and never hesitate to ask for their advice.
Chances are they will be eager to share with you.
2. Be prepared to make mistakes, but make every mistake a lesson
Is your "Dreamer" business your full-time job?
It is now!
Keep Up with Debbie and the Hip Hostess
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