Kim Gellman is the entrepreneurial mom behind Artistic Sensations, a kids room design boutique for made-to-order products allowing customers to choose colors, furniture style and theme to fit any personality. She started the company when she was pregnant with her first son and is now celebrating it’s seventeenth year of business!
MomIncorporated: How did Artistic Sensations get started and how has it grown since inception?
Kim: I started my business in 1996 when I was pregnant with my first son out of wanting to find American, hand made, high quality products. I started out of my basement selling baby blankets, step stools and small hand-painted furniture items. I went to local shows at hospitals, country clubs, and mom’s homes selling my wares. My customers wanted more items. If they bought a step stool, they wanted artwork and bedding to match and so my business grew from 100 items to 500 in a short time. I decided to launch a website later that year. The following year I added another 500 items in bedding, bunk beds and more artwork and items for my customers from floor to ceiling. We continued to add and now have over 4,000 items.
MomIncorporated: How do you select which items to sell?
Kim: We select items that we would want in our own home. Quality materials that are hand crafted and mainly made in the USA are one of our criteria. We do buy some products that are imported but we try to focus our core group of products from the USA. A second criteria is products that are unique and that our customers will not find all over the internet. We pick lines that are not in mass merchant stores or chains.
MomIncorporated: How have you managed to juggle starting and running a business while also caring for your children?
Kim: It is a challenge to balance motherhood and entrepreneurship. I delegate as much as possible. I prioritize and try not be a superhero. I try not to over commit. I surround myself with amazing people who are smart, innovative and creative. I have learned to say no. I have dinner with my kids every night and family time on the weekends. I cherish our family times and know my kids are growing up fast. I have one that will be in college in two years which is coming up quickly!
MomIncorporated: Who makes up your team?
Kim: My team is my husband (who is my sounding board for ideas) and I. We have a part-time customer service manager, a part-time merchandising specialist and a SEO/Marketing manager we contract out. We have a social media manager and several college interns who assist us.
MomIncorporated: What challenges have you faced along the way and how did you overcome them?
Kim: We have had many ups and downs with the economy as retailers have suffered the past four years. I think the key is to surround yourself with good people and resources, stay focused and stay positive. You have to differentiate yourself and stand out from your competition. I think the key is showing your customers you are different and taking care of them by selling them a superior product at an affordable price so they will come back again and again and refer their friends and family. I think if you are passionate about your business and the products you are selling, you can face any challenge.
MomIncorporated: How do you define success as a mom entrepreneur? Kim: The tipping point when I realized I was truly an entrepreneur is the euphoria I felt when I had a network of vendors and relationships built with repeat customers. I love helping customers make their dream rooms come to life. I love helping our customers find solutions to fit their design needs. To me this defines success.
MomIncorporated: How do you market your business and what role does social media play in your marketing plan?
Kim: We market our business mainly through social media: Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and SEO for organic traffic. We have used ppc in the past on and off. We also have an extensive mailing list we email monthly. We are rebuilding our blog and guest writing along with promotions and contests through social media.
MomIncorporated: How have you used Mom, Incorporated as a resource in starting or running your business? What other resources do you use as a small business owner?
Kim: I have known [Mom, Incorporated co-author] Danielle Smith for a long time and followed her blog and career and am also a big fan of Aliza Sherman so when their book came out, I was excited to make the purchase. I find this website inspirational and insightful and enjoy reading about other small businesses and their successes and challenges.
MomIncorporated: What advice would you give other moms who want to start a business?
Kim: If you are passionate about a concept, do some research and see what competition is out there and their approach. Then take your own spin on it and go for it. Surround yourself with other business owners and listen and learn from them. Find resources such as books like Mom Incorporated and dive in and devour their content. You can learn so much from other moms and small business owners. Find a need and fill it.
Where there is passion, success follows.