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I have a beautiful granddaughter who was born with Down syndrome. She has enough challenges to face in her life and I want to make sure that finding appropriately fitting clothes will not be one of them.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Winning the Staples "Push it Forward" Contest

Can I be more excited about the month of July!   I have to say that July was one of the most amazing months Downs Designs has had to date.  I don’t even know how to keep it short because so many events occurred that are major changes for us.

The biggest news of all is that Downs Designs won the Staples National “Push It Forward” Contest.  Laura saw this contest on Facebook and entered it by chance.  She had to write a small paragraph about why Downs Designs could use their prize.  Well, their prize was $50,000.00 worth of the digital marketing and boy could we use it!

Because I’m still a struggling young business, there hasn't been money in the budget for much marketing.  So winning this prize at this phase of my business couldn't have come at a more opportune time.  What we won is $35,000.00 of digital marketing and an agent from Gannett Local, a digital marketing advertising agency; and one year of Constant Contact and all their extra add-ons.  We also won a one-hour session with Steve Strauss, one of the country’s experts on small business.  Then, on top of that, we won a check for $10,000 to cover the extra taxes.

OMG, can you see the value in this for us.  This is really an opportunity for Downs Design to learn ways to grow the business.  

So with all the work ahead in marketing, I brought on board another amazing person, Chrissy Lorenzo.  Chrissy is a journalist with experience with Pinterest, Twitter and other social media networks.  She will be able to expand our marketing in other ways.   We’re all happy to have her as part of our team.

The second great news is the success of our attendance at the National Down Syndrome Congress Conference.   It was our fourth year and by far our best.  Jillian and Laura are completely responsible for its huge success.  They suggested that they take all our pants and shirts (3 of each size), our dressing rooms and a sewing machine to the conference.  They wanted people to not only be able to try on our jeans but get fitted and get the jeans hemmed right there.

So I rented a huge van for them, they took Jill’s sister and boyfriend along for extra help, loaded the van with all our “stuff”, and drove all the way to Denver (Wagon’s Ho!).  They were one of the busiest vendors there and sold lots of jeans and some shirts.  I couldn’t be more proud of my staff for the hard work and sacrifices they make to help grow our business.  They go way beyond the “call of duty”!

Well, the last good news will be hard to put on paper. I cannot express in any words, or get across the value of what happened next!!!! 

Here’s what happened:
A few months ago, one of my customers from Chicago called to reorder some jeans for her daughter.  She told me her daughter lived in a group home and lived a very independent life.  I mentioned that we may be able to set up a trunk show if there were enough people there with Down syndrome.  She told me there were about 600 residents and maybe 200 with Down syndrome.

How could there be any facility that big?  This place in Chicago is called Misericordia.  It was started about 45 years ago by a nun, Sister Rosemary.   You can visit their website www.misericordia.com and learn more about it but I can tell you that there is absolutely no place like this anywhere is the U.S. 

I also mentioned that I was looking for an investor.  So, this amazing woman invited me to Chicago to meet with her and her husband.  Her husband sat with me and reviewed my business plan and said he was going to help me find an investor, that there were plenty of families there that would be willing to help…can you believe this?  That would be the best possible situation….to find an investor who has a child with a disability that would totally get what I am doing.  She also planned a small cocktail party for me and I met some wonderful people. 

I’m not sure I can express my excitement these days.  Good things are coming!  For me every day is a new adventure.

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