Terez: Sheena Repath is working on a dream, a really big dream, and she’s passionate about it. She helps people bring their dreams, ideas and products to life. Today, she is going to share how her business got started and give we other business owners the motivation to be successful. Sheena, please tell us a little about yourself.
Sheena: When I was a little girl I was very creative, always thinking of new ideas and things I could create. Throughout school, I always tried to follow my creative instincts while my parents encouraged me to follow the academic route. In my final year of high school, when the time came to decide on the direction for the rest of my life, I chose fashion design. I figured this would allow me to be creative and have a career. With no clear idea where this would take me, I completed three years of college and decided I didn’t want to be a designer or a sewing machine operator. Now what?
I took the first job interviewed for as an assistant. Knowing this wasn’t for me, I figured it would be easier to convince them differently once I was there. Ten years and several jobs later, I felt like I had hit a wall, was feeling unfulfilled with my job and no idea where to go from here. I turned to a mentor for advice and with one suggestion to focus on a different area of the business, I was on a new path and excited about it. Who knew that new path with steer me towards entrepreneurship? That’s when Ideal Samples was born.
Terez: That’s a very interesting story. So, I understand you started Ideal Samples in 2008. What is the purpose of your business?
Sheena: To fill a growing need in the market! Many people have ideas that they don’t do anything with because they are not sure how or where to get started. Several people had approached me with ideas for new products, and they wanted to know if their idea was possible and if I could help them make a sample (since I had a strong understanding of design, pattern making and sewing from school). Initially, I did these projects as freelance, for fun and extra money. Not until I mentioned this to my father did we realize, hey there is a business opportunity here.
Terez: That’s amazing that you just kind-of fell into your business. It serves such an important need. Since you previously were involved in the fashion industry, how did that experience carry over into Ideal Samples?
Sheena: With 10 years experience in designing, producing and selling products in the fashion industry, it was easy for me to see an idea for a new product and know exactly what steps needed to be taken to bring it to life and to market successfully. With this experience, we created the IDEA PROCESS to clearly outline the critical steps involved to successfully develop an idea.
Terez: Let me ask you this: What is the most important tip you can give to business owners getting started?
Sheena: Ask for help. Don’t think because you’re an entrepreneur that you have to do everything yourself and you’re not alone on this journey. When you ask for help, you allow yourself and your business to grow with confidence and certainty.
The other great tip that someone shared with me is to be OK with not knowing exactly what the road looks like ahead! Believe in yourself and your business and be flexible enough to try new things and experiment with you business. You will be pleasantly surprised.
Terez: Great tips! But, many business owners have trouble staying motivated when they hit a lull. It can be difficult not knowing what the future holds, especially when times are tough. How do you stay on task?
Sheena: Remember why you started the business in the first place! It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the trivial, many things that need to be done and caught up in the day-to-day work, when it feels like too much take a step back and remember how you got to where you are today. This will boost your confidence and get you excited about pursuing your dreams.
On the days where it feels like too much, reach out and ask someone for their advice, and you will find there are many entrepreneurs with the same issues, and we can all help each other. Also, make a list of all your accomplishments, a large list pinned on the wall where you can see it every day. Accomplishments of all things, not just the big ones either.
Terez: I’m a huge fan of celebrating little victories. It keeps me going. What would you say was the single best business decision you made?
Sheena: The best business decision I’ve made is to continue to be true to my passion for helping others. Also being myself in business, not worrying about how my competition are doing things differently. Building your business your way, builds strength and integrity, something you can stand behind and be proud to put your name on.
Terez: Excellent advice. Any last words?
Sheena: Believe anything is possible! If people around you are negative and trying to discourage you, surround yourself with other like-minded people and start sharing your ideas. Join networking and entrepreneurial groups; they will support you on your journey and will be a safe place for you to try new aspects of your business for honest advice.
Terez: Thank you so much for this informative interview. Readers can find out more about Sheena and her work at Ideal Samples. She and her team of experts have worked on hundreds of ideas and products for leading brands, like Indian Motorcycle, American Brands, Asics, MainStreet, The Answer, V and Kids Clothes That Fit.