Looking to make some extra cash this holiday season? Look no further than…yourself. That's right. You can take a job at the local mall for minimum wage, or you start your own seasonal business with unlimited potential. From a tiny startup offering personalized letters to Santa to an eco-friendly holiday greeting card line to a booming Christmas Décor franchise business, find the inspiration you need from these three entrepreneurs who dared to dream.
Kristin Hein, V.I.P. Letters
Personalized letters to Santa
With an initial investment of just $25, Kristin Hein, a 34-year old stay at home mom in Littleton, CO, has launched V.I.P. Letters, a company that specializes in writing and sending personalized letters to Santa. If that takes off, she plans to expand to the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.
Hein stumbled on the idea while looking online for ideas on how to write a tooth fairy letter for her own daughter. After giving it some thought she decided might be able to turn it into a small home business, especially if she initially focused on letters to Santa, because as Hein says, "Santa Claus is magical! Almost every child lights up when they are talking to him!"
Her target audience? Parents with young children-much like herself. Hein plans to market her idea by placing ads in her local stay-at-home moms group's newsletter and through her church and says she hopes to clear $100 this year from her personalized Santa letters. It may not be much, but it's a start, and every business has to start somewhere.
Jane Tabachnick, SeasonsGreenings.net
Online store for sustainable holiday cards for business
Former fashion designer and single mom, Jane Tabachnick started Seasons Greenings, a holiday business card company, in 2007 as a way to supplement her income as marketing director for a non-profit. Tabachnick has since left that job to start her own marketing company, Jane Tabachnick Marketing.
Tabachnick, who is passionate about the environment and great design, chose to focus on a sustainable holiday card line for businesses because, she says, "So many holiday cards marketed for businesses are just not very attractive. I spotted an opportunity to create a stylish collection of business holiday cards that was also eco-friendly and went for it."
The collection started with three card designs in 2007. Seven additional designs were added in 2008. This year, in 2009, Tabachnick is also adding a series of customizable animated e-cards. Although she is a trained artist, Tabachnick enjoys her role as art director, hiring illustrators to do the designs, which are exclusive to the SeasonsGreenings.net product line.
Tabachnick also says, "It is rewarding to use my company to do some good. For every card order, we plant a tree. Our cards are printed in the most environmentally friendly manner possible using 100% wind power, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified papers and vegetable inks."
Nikos Phelps, Christmas Décor
At the other end of the scale is Nikos Phelps. No stranger to the entrepreneurial spirit, Phelps started his first business venture- a mulching, weeding and lawn mowing business-at the age of 13. Not only was he able to put a few extra bucks in his pocket, he was able to finance part of his education at Penn State University with the proceeds. Now, at 25 years old, he is the successful owner of yet another business, this time a franchise operation called Christmas Décor.
Phelps purchased the franchise in 2008. With an initial investment of $15,000 in franchise fees, another $15,000 in equipment, setup, and organization, and another $30,000 in initial inventory, Phelps says that he has already turned a profit, raking in $70,000 in 2008 and is hoping to double that in 2009.
Phelps decided on this particular franchise for two reasons. The first was that as a franchise specializing in holiday décor, it complemented his core business, Utopian Landscapes LLC. The second reason was that he wanted to find a way to maintain cash flow during the winter months when the demand for landscaping services dries up so he could retain his employees all year long.
Christmas Décor was founded by Blake Smith in 1986 and operates 375 Christmas Decor locations in 48 states and Canada. In 2008 Christmas Décor was named one of the Top Ten Home Improvement Franchises for 2008 by Entrepreneur Magazine and AOL Small Business.
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