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Interview With Cari Samalik, CEO Of Livnfresh

Cari Samalik is a Michigan based entrepreneur and Mom and the CEO & co-founder of Livnfresh – a state related T-shirt brand. Previously, she worked in the healthcare, and food and beverage industries before marrying into a screen printing business.

Living in beautiful Michigan and having a love for the outdoors inspired her to produce a brand that represented that beauty. Naaree.com interviewed her to find out what inspired her entrepreneurial journey and how she dealt with its challenges.

What inspired to become an entrepreneur? Did you always love it or was it something you got into?

I never thought I would be a CEO to a clothing brand, but falling in love with someone that owned a screen printing business help direct me in that way.

I finally realized one day that Livnfresh wasn’t just another t-shirt business it was a lot more than that. The effect it was having on people was turning us into a brand. People can relate to our design and want to show their pride for their state.

When do you know that it is no longer just an idea in your mind, and that you can really turn it into a lucrative business?

I started this business with my amazing husband Dave who shares the same love and passion I do. We had a few other ideas for a T-shirt line but none of them took off.

We never gave up and would start all over again. We finally knew we had a winner when we saw people’s reactions to our designs.

What inspired you to start out on your own or with your partners? What learning lessons can you share from your startup experience?

Being a Mom and trying to start a business was not easy. I was trying to be a stay-at-home mom of two and trying to get our business off the ground.

Whenever you start a business money is always a problem. We didn’t have the money to pay someone to do what I was trying to do, so I could just be a stay at home mom. Today I have an entire staff of other people doing what I wanted to do myself.

What are some of the challenges you faced initially when you started out? Do you have some examples to share and advice to women entrepreneurs on overcoming them?

If you want to be an entrepreneur, never give up. If one idea doesn’t work, move on to the next one.

Learning when to let go of an idea before it puts you in big debt is something you need to learn. Don’t get so attached that you can’t let go.

Do women entrepreneurs find it tougher to get funding for businesses? If yes, why do you think that is?

It very well could be. We started our business with our savings. If someone wants to start a business, my best advice would be not to take a loan, as loans can put a strain on your new venture.

Invest your extra cash, and if you don’t have any, get another job to fund your new start up.

Is it beneficial to have a mentor when you’re starting out on your own? What does a mentor bring to the table?

Having a mentor works for a lot of people. For me seeing others around us succeed and grow just give me the push to do it better.

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How did you recruit your first team? How difficult was it to get people on board during the initial stages?

As we grow, we constantly are having our team change the way we do things. In the beginning, we had each person on our team doing 3 to 4 jobs.

As we grew and hired more employees, we have everyone doing one job, and that makes them much more productive and have more ownership of their responsibilities.

You always have growing pains. If you don’t, you’re not growing.

What are 3 key things that you have learned as an entrepreneur?

Three key things that I have learned being a women entrepreneur is how much I can handle.

I have learned how to delegate. I’m someone who likes to do everything myself so I know it gets done and done right.

The last thing would be to let go and not be stressed about things I have no control of.

What would you describe as your biggest moments of success in your business?

Our biggest moment came within the last couple of months. Within a few weeks, we had several different incredible opportunities open up.

First, we were asked to allow our products to be placed on the Female lead role for an independent movie being produced in Michigan. The movie will be released 2017.

Second, we were approached by a national retailer asking to carry our products in their chains. They have since asked us to expand into several different states and location.

Third, we found that there are several outdoor shows that had purchased our products and started wearing the product while they were doing their shows. They loved the product so much that they are making them a part of their daily wear.

Fourth, we completed an interview with Eagle 101 talking about the way our products connect others, creating common ground to find new friends. This last year has seen a double in our wholesale retailers and our online sales have increased between 500 to 700%. We are blessed to have seen such rapid growth.

Interview with Woman Entrepreneur, Preeti Mittal of BlueBit Systems

Preeti Mittal founded BlueBit Systems in 2010 and the company has it’s headquarters in Mumbai. Her passion for online marketing changed the course of her career and turned her into an entrepreneur.

She holds a bachelor degree (B.Tech) in IT and Masters Degree in International Business Management. As a founder of BlueBit Systems, she has served over 100 clients, including market leading brands from a range of industries. She has become renowned for their commitment to innovative techniques and technologies.

Preeti Mittal bluebitWe caught up with her to find out how and why she embarked on the entrepreneurial journey.

What inspired to become an entrepreneur? Did you always love it or was it something you got into?

I decided to become an entrepreneur after 5 yrs of my graduation when I was working for various companies but never felt challenged enough. I required some business and industry exposure before I start my venture. Entrepreneurship is doing something that I really love to do.

What learning lessons can you share from your startup experience?

Always trust your team but have checks and accountability.

Create an awesome culture at your startup and promote continuous learning.

Ask for inputs from your team and create transparency in communication.

What are some challenges that you faced initially when you started out? Do you have some examples to share and advice to women entrepreneurs on overcoming them?

When female starts business in India, it is mostly taken as hobby and not as a bonafide business. You need to overcome this challenge.

Women also face additional cultural pressures to be the “perfect mom” and a successful businesswoman at the same time, and this can cause tremendous stress for women entrepreneurs.

You need to outsource some of your homely chores; and spare time to devote to your family and business.

What are all the things that a woman entrepreneur needs to keep in mind? I.e. apart from your great idea, what do you need to be armed with?

Apart from great idea, you need to have a good work-life balance and a highly motivated and strong team. Leverage technology to increase efficiency.

Do women entrepreneurs find it tougher to get funding for businesses? If yes, why do you think that is?

Our business is self sufficient and we never tried for funding. I don’t think women find it difficult to get funding these days. Now the mindset of venture capitalists is different and we have lots of successful women entrepreneurs.

I don’t think there are any such road blocks. If you have the courage and determination, then nothing can stop you from becoming successful.

How did you recruit your first team? How difficult was it to get people on board during the initial stages?

Building my first team was a unique and fun experience. I wanted to have a team by the time I have the possession of my office. So I arranged the interviews in a nearby mall and finalized the candidates.

It’s quite challenging to form a startup team. You need people with high enthusiasm and innovation. People are not aware of your brand and attrition rate remains high. Make sure you understand in details the skills you require.

What are 3 key things that you have learned as an entrepreneur?

While you are working, make sure you are open to feedback from your clients. Always welcome constructive criticism.

I think networking is very important and hugely beneficial especially in the early stages. Take time out to network often.

Entrepreneurs! Don’t waste your time and get your business running. Why do something tomorrow when you can do it today?

How important is social media in building a business today? How has it played a role in helping you build yours?

I setup BlueBit with the simple vision of helping startups leverage technology to improve their advertising, and till today this vision drives us. I have realized that online marketing and social media marketing is one of the most effective ways to build brands.

Can you share some tips for women entrepreneurs to maintain a balance between work and family life?

Definitely, it’s tough for women entrepreneurs to strike a work-life balance. I utilize my time only on activities that add value to my work.

I set my priorities and work on them. As I plan my schedule for weekdays, I make a plan for the weekend so that I have sufficient time with my family as well.

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