Ahh, Where did March go? The Woman Entrepreneur series normally runs in the middle of each month, but this month has been quite a doozy. Either way, let me introduce Jen Ford, the March Woman Entrepreneur!
Hi! Please introduce yourself. Tell us your name (as you want it to appear), your company name, how long have you been in business and what is your business.
My name is Jen Ford, and my company name is Murami. I’ve been in business since 2006 making wall-hanging jewelry frames that organize and display jewelry.
How do you define “entrepreneur”?
To me, an entrepreneur is someone who strikes out on their own with a new business. Of course, being a writer, before I answered this I had to check to be sure my own definition matched the dictionary’s, and I noticed that dictionary definitions include an element of risk, which I didn’t think about. I think entrepreneurs tend to worry less about risks – not that they don’t plan for them, but the fact that it’s a risk is a hurdle that they’ve already jumped.
What is your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?
My favorite thing about being an entrepreneur is having complete control of the product and the plan. Unfortunately that’s also the hardest part of it – I’m not perfect and I can’t play every part all the time – salesperson, marketer, crafter, designer, businessperson. The most difficult part of owning a business, for me, has been forcing myself to learn business skills.
What do you do when you feel the weight of being an entrepreneur? Not every day is great, how do you deal with this?
Actually, I usually just give it time. I don’t depend on Murami to earn a living, so when I’m feeling lost I can step back, let my brain work on a problem, and come back with a new outlook.
Do you work a full-time job? If so, what do you do? Does it interfere with your business? How do you balance these?
Yes! I work as an editor and writer for a monthly trade magazine. It definitely interferes with my business, as do all of the other commitments I’ve given my time to. On top of my full-time job and Murami, I also sing in a community choir and am a coach for the cycling team of my local chapter of Team In Training, a distance sport event organization that raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
How do you keep yourself focused?
This is tough. I actually apply to craft fairs that happen at regular intervals throughout the year so I’m motivated to make enough frames and try new things regularly.
How do you keep yourself creative?
Fortunately for me, as soon as I am in my workshop and start working, I am in the zone. I can lose hours playing with materials and making frames. That’s the real reason I started Murami, to give myself a creative outlet.
How have you found success? How do you measure it?
Personally, I measure success by satisfaction. I understand you could be satisfied with nothing, and dissatisfied with everything, but accepting my current place and my plans for the future is my measure of success.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
This is a tough question. I’ll start by pointing out that 5 years ago many of the tools that I’m using now for my business – Facebook, Twitter, Etsy – either did not yet exist or were not on my radar. I’ve embraced all of them as they’ve come along and I hope to keep doing the same, especially to get more customers, over the next 5 and 10 years.
As an entrepreneur and business woman how do you view sustainable enterprise? Is this a concern for you now? If not, are you considering it for the future?
If you’re talking about green practices, I do keep it in mind, although I’ve got a system that has worked for years and cost is just as important a factor to me as being green. My goals are to incorporate more green materials as well as more support of my fellow artists.
How do you view money? Do you work to live, or live to work?
Money is important in that it lets me continue to do what I want. I am definitely a “work to live!”
Let’s talk about pricing. How do you price? How do you deal with competitors pricing? How do you respond to requests for discounts/deals? What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs in this area?
I try to follow the formula that most crafters use – cost of materials x 4 – for pricing. As for competitors, there really aren’t many competitors unless you’re talking about huge mass-produced jewelry organizers, and that’s not me, at least not for the foreseeable future. When I’m at shows, I give discounts for multiple purchases. On my website, I build the shipping cost into the cost of the item.
What piece of advice do you want to share with other entrepreneurs or have them take away from your experience?
I try to be a realist when it comes to Murami; it’s always in my mind whenever I’m considering buying supplies or considering some kind of change. I’m pretty conservative and have maintained at least financial breakeven since I started. My advice is try to find as many trusted advisors as you can, really stay on top of your accounting, and keep networking to stay motivated.
Isn’t Jen great?! I have to admit that I know Jen personally- we both graduated from the same University in 2002. I also have an original Murami of my own and I love it. Of course when I bought it, I had more jewelry that I didn’t know what to do with than I do now. Jen’s frame seemed like the perfect solution! The price was right, too! Either way, I love the piece and have what does remain of my jewelry collection on it and I consider it a piece of art. I don’t know how Jen knew what colors to use to custom a piece for me, but it is one of my favorite things. I highly recommend her frames and her service. Awesome all around!
I wish Jen many many more years of good luck with Murami! I hope that her interview inspires you to go out, create, and be an entrepreneur.