Author: MSG Team

Jason & Cinnamon Miles founded Make | Sell | Grow as a resource for sewers, crafters, and artisans. The goal is simple - give tools, tips, and training in a simple to understand way.

Announcing Dollabee

Over the last few weeks we’ve been working on a new website project. The idea is
pretty simple.

If you want to sell a doll online, you think of using EBay or Craigslist, right?
And if you want to sell custom doll clothes, you can use those, or Etsy, right?

But there hasn’t been a really good marketplace exclusively for selling dolls, doll clothes,
and doll accessories. We wondered if we could solve that problem. So, we’ve
created dollabee – the Doll marketplace. It’s like Craigslist, but for dolls.

Here are a few of the features:

  • Listing an item is free, unless you want it to be a featured listing, in which case it’s $5 for a 7 day listing.
  • You can sell directly on dollabee, like how you do on Craigslist, or you can create a listing that includes the link to your EBay or Etsy item, and finish the selling on those sites.
  • The categories make it easy to buy and sell lots of different types of items including original (branded) doll clothes like AG Clothes, or custom clothes, (under your brand), or actual dolls.
  • The only items we won’t allow are non-brand-name, (made in china), products.

[special note for premium partners – as part of your benefits, we are going to give
you a special coupon code to use, which will allow you to list your items as ‘featured’
for free – ahh you’re welcome! – another good reason to be a premium partner! Check
the Partner site and look for Coupon Codes like you normally do for the monthly free

This is the biggest online experiment we’ve ever done, and to be honest, we have
no idea if it will succeed or fail, but the feedback so far has been really really good,
and we’d like to invite you to check it out. We are hopeful that it will be a huge
blessing in your online selling efforts.

We are considering you our 2nd test group. There are 350 partners partners,
and probably only 250 will see this. And of those 250, not everyone will
go to and give it a try, but if you’re reading this – then we’d love to
have you go check it out for us. There is a blog entry on the site called, “dollabee
feedback”, which is the best place to leave your general feedback and suggestions.
Just remember, we are still getting the site fully functional. So there are improvements
to be made, and some specific technical issues to be resolved, but it should work
for you pretty well. The largest ‘issue’ is the page navigation sometimes errors out,
but we are working on fixing that as soon as possible.

Dollabee Launch Plan:

Starting 8/6 or 8/13 will begin to announce dollabee more broadly to attract
buyers via Facebook and our newsletter. On Facebook we have almost
11,000 followers – so that should begin to send good solid buying traffic to the site – so get
ready! Then, through our weekly newsletter, we have almost 8,000 subscribers. So
that should really pump it up too.

So the basic plan is – to have you start listing items on Dollabee, if you want, then
after you are familar with it we will ‘turn on the marketing’ to get buyers to show up.

Okay, ready to check it out?

New Photography Resource

Hi everybody,

We just came across a new photographer and his online resources that we are really liking alot. His name is Karl Taylor. You can check him out on Youtube. He has a free micro-training course for beginners that very good (Just look for it on his Youtube channel). Of course he’ll try to sell you his full course, but he gives a LOT of free information away. We think you’ll really enjoy it. Here is his Youtube channel link:

Here is an example video from Youtube:

You Stole My Customer…Really?!

Winston Churchill once said,
“Attitude is a little thing that
makes a big difference”.

When it comes to being in sales, there is one attitude above every other that can really mess you up, or set you up for success.  Can you guess what it is?

It’s an abundance mentality versus a scarcity mentality.

Abundance Mentality: Seeing “Plenty” of customers, opportunities, and ways to succeed.

Scarcity Mentality: Seeing very few customers, very few opportunities, and very few ways to succeed. (Don’t confuse this with the idea of using scarcity as a sales tactic. That’s a great idea, but a whole different thing).

See, when you talk to really successful sales people, they are almost without exception nice, generous, helpful people. And they are frequently massively successful. And you think, wow, they make this look so easy and fun. It’s a paradox, the busiest people are the ones who will take the time to be helpful and generous. The least successful people are usually the ones that will say, “sorry I can’t help you”.

When you really get into the mindset of these folks, and try to figure out what makes them tick, you discover the successful ones are not afraid of competition. In fact, they don’t even worry about competition at all. They don’t believe that there are very few customers, or very few ways to succeed. They focus on being the best they can be, and staying focused on serving the customer with grace and style. They aren’t focused on the competition. Heck, sometimes these nice people even help competitors without regard for their own benefit. It’s almost like they think they are bullet-proof.

And guess what?

They pretty much are!

On the other end of the spectrum you’ll find people who are always obsessing over the competition, and over the ‘drama’ of who is doing what, and how it’s going to damage them and their work. They believe that every time a competitor makes a sale – the competitor is robbing them of a sale. In essence, these people are stumbling forward, while they look over their shoulder to see who is following them. They hoard, and act greedy.

Have you ever tried to partner with someone who is totally mistrusting of you and overly competitive? It’s a drag!

This mindset makes them very awkward to work with.

Scarcity thinkers generally don’t partner with other people for mutual benefit because they always think the other person is out to get them. That’s a huge mistake on their part.

If you have an abundance mentality – cool – nurture it. If you have a scarcity mentality to overcome – here are a few exercises you might try:

  1. When you cannot do a job, or fulfill a customer’s needs, recommend someone else’s work. Be a champion for another seamstress, (and no, it doesn’t need to be Liberty Jane Clothing).
  2. Be a fan of other people’s work and compliment it publically. When you say to someone, “I’m a real fan of your work”, it’s really powerful.
  3. Tell someone you’re rooting for them to succeed. I know, you’re rooting for yourself to succeed more than anything else, but telling someone else these caring words is a way to express an abundance mentality.

Tell us what you think about this issue…

Jason & Cinnamon

Ps. And hey, we are rooting for you!

The Start-Up Success Guide, #7

Ready for our next topic?

Here’s #7…

Writing Descriptions That Sell…

Want to hear a story?

Our daughter Libby started making
doll clothes and selling them on
Etsy this year.

She wanted to do it all by herself,
part of her, ‘I’m a big-girl now’
phase or something.

So she didn’t want Cinnamon to help
her with the sewing activities, or
photography, nor did she want me
to help her with the selling

We were excited by all of this and
thought it was amazing that she was
taking the initiative, she’s only 9.
Good for her!

Her first listing was on Etsy in no

Trouble was – it didn’t sell. She had
taken an okay picture, made an okay
outfit, listed it for an okay price,
and written an okay description.
Actually it was all fairly good,
better than some of the other stuff
we regularly see on Etsy.

Finally, a little discouraged, Libby
told me that she was frustrated, and
asked for my help.

I made one simple change and her
outfit sold within a day.

Can you guess what I did?

I went into her listing description
and wrote the following sentences,
(actually, this is a paragraph
because I didn’t save it, and don’t
remember the exact wording, but it
was very similar to this),

“I’m Liberty Jane Miles, from Liberty
Jane Clothing, you know, the doll
clothes company? They named it after
me, and this is my very first outfit
I’ve ever made. I’m going to be a big
designer someday, so if you want to
be able to say you bought my very
first outfit, then you should buy
this outfit”

Bam, it sold within a day.

So what did I actually do in those
3 sentences? Well, I’ll tell you in
a minute. First let me properly
introduce this important topic.

Here’s the proper introduction…

If you can take a good picture, and
learn to write clear, interesting
product descriptions, then you are
going to do really well in your
online selling efforts.

These two activities – photography
and writing – are like a one-two
punch of selling power. Or, to put
it in more fun terms, (and since I’m
hungry at the moment), they are like
that Peanut Butter and Chocolate
combination that most people find

Many people think that effective
sales copy has to be smarmy,
long-winded, manipulative.

But the truth is – good sales copy
isn’t any of those things. It’s just
clear, concise, conversational
writing, that describes the important
information customers need to know.
That’s it.

Okay, back to Libby’s listing and how
I made a little change that had a big

You know what I did – right? I used
the power of a story. And with my
story I gave people a fun and
interesting reason to buy her outfit.
That story closed the deal. It wasn’t
manipulative, or contrived, it was
just a difference point of view, that
got the reader interested in the item
for a ‘bigger’ reason than just
getting some new doll clothes.

The buyer was now going to be part
of a journey with Libby – invested
in her future career as a designer.
The story gave the buyer something
to talk about with friends and
family. It made the buyer consider
the long-term impact of her
seemingly simple buying decision.

Wow – all that from 3 sentences?

Yep! That is the power of a story.
The power of effective writing that

So, how can you write effectively to
sell your outfits? Here are a few

First, write clearly! Simple words.
Simple sentences. Don’t stress over
punctuation elementary school rules
about writing.

Second, be complete. Take your time
and consider all the good reasons
that your customer should buy from
you, and buy that particular outfit.

Third, use stories, and your
imagination to enhance the meaning
and importance of your item.

Ever heard of Malibu Barbie?

Think about what they did. There is
absolutely nothing that connects that
doll to Malibu except the creative
imagination that the marketer used
when creating it. Then the clothes
and accessories.

Obviously Pleasant Roland was a
master at using the power of
stories, and built the American
Girl Doll brand on that simple

Starting last year we launched our
International Collection so we could
do the same thing. It’s been a fun
and meaningful part of our work.

Now we have Outback Libby, and Euro
Libby, and even “gasp” Malibu Libby.
Guess what? No one seemed to mind
that we were taking a play straight
from American Girl. It was different
enough to be our own, but familiar
enough to poeple that they enjoyed it.

Can you come up with your own story

Fourth, and finally, when you write,
make sure that you take each idea,
topic, or piece of information and
give it a unique paragraph. Break
things apart using lists, bullet
points, line breaks, or images to
break your information up so it is
easy to see and read.

There is no need to cram everything
into one gigantic paragraph. People
won’t read it.

Bottomline – writing descriptions
that sell is a tradeskill that you
need to continually study and
improve on.

Now go write an amazing description!

Jason & Cinnamon

The Started-Up Success Guide, #6

Ready for our next topic?

Here’s #6…

Traffic is the most important thing
you need…

See, if you’re doing everything else
right, and you are having a hard time
getting sales, then there is one of two
problems happening.

You either aren’t getting enough
people to see your item…

Or you are kidding yourself about one
of the other ingredients, either the
quality of your design work, or your
pricing, or your photography.

If you make a good outfit…

And if you price it right…

And if you take good pictures of

And if you get a good number of
visitors to look at it…

Then you will sell it. We can almost
guarantee it.

We see lots of people fail. And
usually when someone fails it is very
obvious why they failed.

Sadly, sometimes they email us and
express frustration, or say, “I just
don’t understand what I’m doing wrong”.

Sometimes they ask us, and we can
tell them, “work on your photography,
it’s not up to par”. But other times
people never ask us – and we certainly
don’t want to go around telling people
all the mistakes they are making. But
it’s not rocket science. Just follow
these steps we’ve outlined and you’ll
do really well.

Now on to the traffic issue…

Of course, we list our items on EBay,
or Etsy in large part due to the
traffic they can bring to the party.
EBay is still the biggest and best when
it comes to traffic. But Etsy is
certainly large enough to provide a
serious number of viwers too.

But how much traffic do they provide,
and is it the best traffic you can

Well, it helps to understand how much
a viewer is worth. And luckily, it is
easy to figure out.

If you go to Google Adwords, and sign
up to start advertising, and choose
the keyword, “American Girl Doll
Clothes”, you’ll be told that each
click you receive will cost you about
25 cents. So to get 100 clicks to your
website you’d need to spend about $25.

If you list an item on EBay, and let
it run it’s course through a standard
seven day auction, then you’ll
probably get around 75-150 views.

So, for the listing fee, and final
value fee, and every other crazy
fee that EBay dings you for, they
are – respect it or not – providing
you with about $25 worth of traffic.

You can find cheaper traffic by
advertising on Youtube, or Facebook,
but not too much cheaper. And of
course that would mean you need to
have your own website to sell on.

Anyway, a logical question is…

Are there any better ways to get a
massive number of good quality
visitors to see your listings? I’m
glad you asked. Here are our best

First, consider making a Facebook
fanpage. This is your first step in
cultivating a group of fans and
potential customers off of the Etsy
or EBay platform, which is something
we highly recommend. The down-side
of course is that you have to keep it
up, and figure out how to get fans to
‘like’ your page.

Second, you can begin doing email
marketing. In our premium partner
content we have a screencast
explaining how to do email marketing.
It’s a great option, but again, it
takes some work to set up and
maintain, and of course, it means
you have to start writing a
weekly newsletter.

Third, (and clearly the best option
in our opinion), you can become a
premium partner and begin having
your outfits included in our
weekly newsletter.

Does it work?…

Our newsletter is growing by about
700 names per month, about 20 per
day. It has increased by over 6,000
in the last year, and that number is

How many clicks can you expect from
our newsletter? Well, in a recent
issue, we analyzed the results and
found the following:

The average number of clicks for a
partner’s outfit was 26. With a high
of 65, and a low of 8.

So, using the 25 cents per click
number that we know from our Google
Adwords work, the person who got 65
clicks received $16.25 in value
from the newsletter, (65 X.25).

The person who got just 8 clicks
received $2 in value from the

And the average premium partner
received $6.50 in value, (26 clicks
X .25).

And that was just for 1 newsletter.
We do 4 or 5 per month, one every
weekend. So, the average premium
partner is receiving about $25 in
advertising value from their
involvement with our newsletter.

Not a bad deal for a $9.99 per month
membership price, right? Of course as
a premium partner you also get one
free pattern each month, and all of
the great information on our partner
site). And you get the ability to
post your listings on our Facebook
Fanpage too – which has huge number
of fans.

I know this is probably starting to
sound like a sales job for becoming
a Premium Partner, and we do want
you to become one, but not because
it’s good for us, but because it’s
good for both you and us together.
And it’s good for our potential
customers too. We all win as we build
a solid partnership.

Of course, if you’re not going to
actually make items to sell, and/or
not going to take good pictures,
then becoming a Premium Partner will
have limited value.

But for those who are ready to take
advantage of the opportunity, we
really can guarantee a nice amount
of traffic. And traffic is the most
important thing you need to sell
your items for a good price.

Bottomline – Getting good quality
traffic to view your listings is a
key to your success.

Now go become a premium partner! It’s
easy, just visit
and hit the paypal subscribe button.

Jason & Cinnamon

The Start-Up Success Guide, #5

Ready for our next topic? Here’s #5…

A Picture Is Worth 1,000 opinionated words…

You know that old phrase, a picture is worth a
thousand words, right?

Well, in online selling, it’s a bit more
complicated than that.

See, it’s definitely true that a very good
picture conveys a whole bunch of important
things about you, and your item. Including,

1. That you are a professional at what you
are doing.

2. That the item is fantastic, because a
fantastic picture helps show off the good
qualities of the item.

3. That you have a commitment to high
quality, in both your photography, and
your sewing.

Are these traits important to convey? Of
course, right?

But it’s even more important than that to
use good pictures.

Have you ever heard of the Halo Principle?
It is an error in judgement that we all make.
We generalize. And if we see some element of
a ‘thing’ that is really amazing, we tend to
think the whole thing will be amazing. We
place a halo on that item, and despite
information to the contrary – in our eyes,
it’s amazing. Your customers do this each and
every day – and they do it when looking at
your products, and your business.

Of course, they won’t tell you this, it’s all
unspoken. It’s just part of your overall
‘good work’. So it’s easy to lump every part
of your selling together and say, “I’m good at
this”. And not realize the critical part
photography plays.

But there is another side of the coin. The dark

What are the results of using bad photography in
your listing? Well, here are a few:

1. Customers think you’re an amatuer.

2. Customers think you have low standards of

3. Customers think you have a dirty house, and
that you probably smoke, or have 72 cats
wandering around in your sewing room. And they’re
allergic of course, so if they buy your item
they’ll probably have to go to the emergency room.
While there they could get a super germ infection
and die – all because they decided to take a
chance and buy your outfit.

Are they interested in any of that?

NO WAY! Too risky.

See where I’m going with this?

The generalizations go the other way too. People
tend to demonize, or disrespect a seller unfairly,
based on just a few small issues or elements,
photography is definitely one of them.

So what should you do if you fear your pictures
aren’t up to the level of quality that your
customers will respect?

It’s pretty simple. You need to invest in a good

I know, I know, you’re trying to make money, not
spend it, right? But in this case, you really
cannot afford to operate without a good camera.
Trust us.

We outline our specific recommendation for which
camera to purchase on the partners site. Look
under the ‘photography’ section on both the
partner content tab, and premium partner content

The short answer is – you need a Digital SLR,
with a specific type of lens, called a portrait
lens. Not a point and shoot camera. If you’re
struggling with the quality of your pictures,
and you’re using a point and shoot camera. You
probably think you just don’t know how to use it.
The truth is – the lens used in a point and shoot
camera will not do the kind of pictures that you
need to sell online.

Bottomline – A picture really is worth a thousand
opinionated words. Make sure they are great.

Now go take a good picture,

Jason & Cinnamon

The Start-Up Success Guide, #4

Ready for our next topic? Here’s #4…

Give And Ye Shall Receive…

In a well known psychological experiment,
researchers traveled to a local restaurant.

Here are the different scenarios they tried…

First, they had the mints sitting in a basket
by the cash register – not given to the
customers with the bill.

Second, they had 1 mint per person given at
the end of the meal, with the bill.

Third, they had 2 mints per person given at
the end of the meal, with the bill.

Fourth, they had the waitress give 1 mint
per person with the bill, then walk away,
then turn around and smile and place another
set of mints on the table – as if she though
of it as an impromptu act of kindness.

Can you guess what happened with the customer
tipping? It’s not too hard to figure out,

They used the first scenario as the baseline.
Then measured the last 3 experiments compared
to it.

In the 2nd experiment – when one 1 mint per
person was given the tip amount increased
by 3.3%. Not bad.

In the 3rd experiment – when 2 mints were given,
the tip amount rose to 14%. Wow.

In the final experiment – when the waitress
returned and gave the second mint as an
impromptu gesture of kindness, the tipping
increased 23%.

So how does this apply to your new business?

In short, give, give, give. If and when you
can give an extra gift, or item, or token,
do it.

One of the simplest ways to give a special
thoughtful gesture is to include a personal
‘thank you’ card with the customer’s order.
When they open the package, they receive a
heartfelt – hand-written note card. Wow, that
speaks volumes, right?

Another way you can give a thoughtful gesture
is to include little items in the customer
package – like hair clips, or stickers.

Finally, a personal email, sent several days
or weeks after the purchase – thanking them
again for choosing you – can be a terrific
act of kindness.

At Liberty Jane we’ve had customers purchase
our items regularly since 2008. They just
keep coming back for more. Have you ever
wondered how we get our auctions so high? It’s
not from bidders who are unfamiliar with our
work. Generally we see the same names over
and over. They are loyal to us because they
know we care, and of course they like our work.
These faithful patrons bid against each
other, and the result is a high final bid price.

So how will you treat your customers special?

Brainstorm 3 or 4 things that you can do to make
things special for your customers. They’ll reward
you for it in more ways than you can imagine.

Bottomline – Giving more than people expect is a
really good business strategy.

Now go give something away,

Jason & Cinnamon

The Start-Up Success Guide, #3

Ready for your next sewing & selling

#3 – How to Sell Everything You Make

We always sell everything we make,
(except for practice and trial pieces,
which we give to Libby). We sell it
all – and you can too.

See, As a small production seamstress
you have a huge advantage over
American Girl.

Your advantage lies in a simple
concept – you can avoid holding

One of the biggest liabilities a large
manufacturer has is keeping inventory
that doesn’t sell. It’s a huge headache.

They have to try to predict what will
sell, then when it doesn’t sell well,
they have to either discount it heavily
to sell it, which weakens their brand,
or have some other type of outlet to
dispose of it. (That’s what AG does).

Those mistakes represent thousands,
even millions, of dollars of waste
in their system of selling.

They accept that waste because of
course they generate huge revenue on
the successful part of their operation,
selling items for full-price.

So how do you sell everything you make?
Here is our five step plan:

1. Don’t make things that people
don’t want. Okay, that sounds dumb,
but think about it. You can easily
see what types of outfits are selling
for premium prices, and do solid
research before you make anything.
Then make things that are similar to
the things that you’ve seen sell.
Your research can be done by viewing
the Liberty Jane Partners list, or
watching EBay and Etsy sellers that
you admire.

Don’t copy their work, that’s flat
wrong, but get a grasp on what does
and does not sell well by watching
their efforts. Again, don’t copy
them – learn from them.

2. Don’t make items in batches
unless you’ve proven that you can
sell them easily. It’s easiest to
make 5 or 10 shirts at once, and
that’s fine, as long as you’re
selling something that you know is
a proven winner. If not, just make
one and test it out. Even for our
Spring and Fall line outfits that
sell for over $100, we don’t make
them all at once, we do it one at
a time, as they sell.

3. Anything will sell on EBay if you
start it at 99 cents. I know, I
know, you like Etsy, but just hear
us out on this…The real question is
not whether you can sell what you
make – the real question is if you
can get a price you think you

Obviously there is a range of
acceptable prices in the market.
The price you get is determined
by your reputation, the number of
followers you have, and the way
in which you sell the outfit. If
you sell items easily at the $25
price point on Etsy, then you’ve got
to wonder, could these be selling
in a Ebay auction for $75? That
difference means you could either
sew and sell 1/3rd less items and
make the same amount. Or make 3
times more money.

Our recommendation is to experiment
with EBay auctions as a way to
validate your work and pricing.
We’ve found that the market will be
a fair judge.

You might not like the final price
you get, or you might be pleasantly
surprised. But if you start it at
99 cents – you will sell it. And if
it sells for $1.49 you will be
highly motivated to examine what
you’re doing wrong. Then you’ll
improve, then you’ll get higher

As a side note – social psychologists
have proven that the low starting
bid price is better than a high
starting bid price. We’ll skip the
details, but trust us, start it at
99 cents. It works best.

4. People want what they can’t have.
So as a seller, the best strategy
you can employ is scarcity. If you
keep your store stocked all the time,
you won’t do as well as if you
create a method of scarcity.

Our method is simple – we do a Spring
and Fall line. Then offer a limited
number of separates in our store,
which are sold out more often than
they are available, so people
physically cannot buy our products
very easily. The result is
predictable – a mad dash (and poof)
everything sells.

5. When you get good at using our
patterns, and tweaking them, then
you’re ready to take custom orders.
It’s a bit scary at first, but
generally it’s not very hard to do.
And if you’re good at it – and
develop a reputation, then you can
simply do custom projects for people,
and the selling issues become much
easier. This can be very profitable.
We did this for the first two years
of our business, and had to stop
because it just took too much of our

Bottomline – Make it a goal to sell
everything you make. And, if the
items you’re making aren’t selling,
then ask yourself the hard questions
necessary to figure out why.

You can do this!

Jason & Cinnamon

The Start-Up Success Guide, #2

Ready for your next sewing & selling

Here’s #2…

Do not despise the day of small

Have you ever heard of the Corridor

The Corridor Principle is a concept
in entprenuership that simply
states that…

Open doors become obvious to you as
you move forward with a venture,
that would not have otherwise been
noticable if you hadn’t started
down the path.

Here is the thing – You’re not just
sewing and selling doll clothes.
You’re starting a business. And the
business you’re starting today might
look completely different 10 years
from now. It might be an empire.

You can’t build next year’s business,
you have to start right where you are,
with your current idea and business
concept – and march forward. New doors
will open when the time is right.

So how do you take advantage of the
corridor principle?

First, you start now, don’t wait for
everything to be perfect. Just do
what you can, with what you have,
and commit to learn as much as possible.
Achieve some success with an initial
effort. Do it for a while and see
how it goes.

Next you want to ask yourself 3 key

1. “What should I change”
2. “What should I change it to”
3. “How should I make the change”

These questions were first outlined
in a book entitled ‘The Goal’ by
Elehu Goldraith, and it’s considered
a business classic.

These questions prompt you to evaluate
what’s working well, what’s not, and
what you should do about it.

Knowing the next move to make in a
business is one of the most difficult
challenges entreprenuers face.

See, here’s the thing – it’s easy to
spot brilliant ideas after they are
out-there and successful.

But incredibly hard to see them in
your minds eye,
before anyone else does. But the more
you try, the better you get at using
your business intuition.

It’s said that Steve Jobs walked
around for years (like decades) with
a little 8X7 black paper note book,
and he would say, “some day I want
to have a computer that is this small”.

But there were technical reasons,
(related to battery life), that
stopped him from getting Apple to
create that type of tablet computer.

Then his team started working on the
initial MP3 player, which became the
ipod. And they jumped into it
aggressively, creating Itunes, and
inventing a whole new industry.

Then the Iphone came along, and it
changed the cell phone industry.
(Over 15 billion apps have
been downloaded now in fact).

Then finally, because the battery
technology improved radically, he
could finally create the small tablet
computer – which of course is the
Ipad. And again, it revolutionized

But it didn’t happen all at once, or
overnight. It was iterative, moving
from one concept to the next logical
concept. One small step at a time.

Bottomline – do not despise the day
of small beginnings. Start down the
corridor, keep your eyes open for new
ideas, and never, never, never give
up! Empires don’t happen if you give

You can do this!

Jason & Cinnamon

The Start-Up Success Guide, #1

Like with everything else in life
your new business can either be
below average, average, or above
average. The difference will boil
down to a few small variables.
This guide is intended to help you
identify those issues and master

We hope you enjoy it.
And, just an fyi, it’s formatted
for email, and to be read via phone.

So the columns are extra narrow, Anyway…

Here is our first Topic…

How To Stand-Out From The Crowd…

To get your business off to a good
start, you’ve got to stand out from
the crowd. You should figure out
how to unique-ify yourself in the
marketplace. Unique-ify? Ok, it’s not
a word, but hopefully it makes sense.
You’ve got to find your unique angle
or idea – and it needs to be a popular
one. If you offer a unique product,
that is in line with the desires of
the marketplace, then you’ve got a
great shot at building a good business.

See, selling is a balancing act
between being unique and offering
what is popular in the marketplace.

Sometimes it’s impossible to know
what people are going to find
attractive. But it’s your job to
experiment until you get it right.
Sometimes you have an idea, and it
flops, sometimes you have an idea,
and it works like magic.

On the one-hand, if you just copy
what other people are doing, even if
it’s selling well for them, then
you haven’t differentiated yourself
enough to get people’s attention. You
might do okay, but probably not great.

On the other-hand, if you deviate
from what’s popular too much, then
you run the risk of making things
that look goofy. Goofy usually
doesn’t sell well.

The best approach is to be unique
enough to stand out, but stick to
things that are known winners.

So what should you try first?

In general, we’ve discovered 1 big
lesson that influences everything.

Ready for it? …

Either go very contemporary, or go
very historical. We’ve seen people
find good success in either direction.
But usually you become known for 1
or the other, not both.

The worst thing you can do is to try
to sell neither historically accurate
clothing, nor contemporary clothing.
I’m not sure why seamstresses try this
approach, tacking on the rick rack,
deliberately making outfits that look
like – well – doll clothes. That’s a
clear mistake. So choose either
historical or contemporary clothing,
then be true to that genre.

Here are a few more proven ideas from
Paul Hawken, founder of Smith & Hawken:

1. Enhance the commonplace. Are the
AG swim suite options boring? Can you
make them exciting? Take something
that is unexciting, and spice it up.
It is a great way to make a strong

2. Reveal a business within a
business. Take 1 small area of the
AG universe – and dominate it by doing
it in a very big way. For example: is
there anyone that focuses exclusively
on making AG backpacks? Maybe you
could start offering 25 different
options. You could dominate the AG
Backpack scene. You could build a
whole brand and business around that
1 idea.

Have you ever heard of Charles Williams?
He was a hardware store owner. And in
1956 he decided to get rid of all the
hardware and just focus on the kitchen
utensils. How crazy is that? But you
probably love William Sonoma – his
now famous store. He got there by
becoming the best at 1 small thing.

We have been telling our partners for
over a year that if someone would
just focus on AG Jeans exclusively,
and make a cool brand, (like a mini
7 For All Mankind), that they’d own
a cool category. We’ve even got the
patterns already available. So far,
no one has done it.

3. Find a whole in the market and
fill it. Is there something that no
one else is doing? Maybe something
that AG abandoned? You might recognize
that this is exactly what we did with
the pattern business. AG offered 6
old patterns, and had clearly
abandoned that line of business.
For more than 20 years no one keep
advantage of this whole in the
marketplace. Like a vast territory
that had been abandoned. So, we
decided we’d enter that space
and offer the largest selection
we could possibly create.

We weren’t competing with American
Girl, we were adding something of
value to their ecosystem.

Bottomline on all of this – starting
your sewing and selling business by
saying, “I’m going to make doll clothes”
is probably too broad an idea. Think
narrow and deep. You have to start by
asking – how can I be unique compared
to everyone else?

Just take your time – you can do it.

Now go stand out from the crowd,

Jason & Cinnamon

Ps. If you want to read all of the
Start-Up Success Guide topics
immediately you can go to and look
under the “partner resources” section.