Tips from the Trenches: Q&A with Mikki Glass of WITH YOU

I have two rules in my business.  Tell the truth and do what you say you are going to do.  I find that if you adhere to those, you will be way ahead of the game.  – Mikki Glass of WITH YOU

 

The crowd-funding site Kickstarter continues to gain traction and buzz thanks to the ingenious, outrageous and downright outstanding things that have come to fruition as a result of being featured on the site.

Clearly there are some ups and downs when preparing to put yourself “out there” to attract funding for a business or idea. So, we talked with Mikki Glass – CEO of WITH YOU, a jewelry company that is in the process of procuring funding via Kickstarter — about her thoughts on investing in yourself and your community, and why this business could be a breakthrough on a variety of levels:

 

Mikki_OliviaWhat is WITH YOU and why are you doing the Kickstarter campaign?

WITH YOU is a new jewelry line featuring lockets that allow people to carry loved ones “with you.”  While we are just officially launching now, it’s a concept that has been with me for almost a decade.

I hatched the idea around my sister’s wedding when I was looking for a way to make sure my dad — who had died a few years before — could “walk” her down the aisle. I created a locket to hold his photos on a discreet anklet.

Then, about a year ago, WITH YOU kicked into high gear.  I was doing the commute back and forth to New York City for work and I was grappling with how limited my time [was] to be doing this commute with a then two-year-old at home. Like many working moms, I want to be there for my daughter when she gets home from school. In order to do that,  I needed to figure out a way to work closer to home. In addition, my husband retired from the Army and was looking for his next career move. After 24 years and three deployments (and four years as an embassy Marine), he, too, wanted to find a way to be closer to home and more connected to the community.

We knew we needed a boost and thought that Kickstarter was a great way to leverage our Facebook fans and raise some money for the production of the pieces. (They are semi-precious stones and precious metals, so not inexpensive to produce.)

It’s working! We’re close to our fundraising goal and we just got a shout out from Queen Latifah on her website and Twitter.  We were also chosen as Kickstarter staff pick — so things are really moving along.

KickStarterTitlePage_wBadge_640x480It seems like Kickstarter is typically used for funding films or techie stuff.  How has the experience been for you?

Kickstarter has a tradition of funding tech and artistic projects, but the idea of selling products is growing in popularity. The toughest part for us is that we live in the fashion category, one of the lower priority categories in terms of interest and engagement at Kickstarter. But we knew that going in and we built our marketing campaign around it – it’s our job to get the people there. We can’t sit back and rely on the Kickstarter community to discover us on their own. I’m happy to say that we’ve been successful in that way – over 72 percent of our backers are first-time Kickstarter contributors. And, 98 percent of our backers have come directly from our outreach.

 

What skill or technique have you, yourself, used to get ahead or get a job?

I am the ultimate “stay in touch”-er. Once you are in my life, I usually keep you in my life forever. It has always been part of my DNA.  It’s served me well. I’ve found people are willing to help me even years after we’ve worked together because I never truly go away — and not just because of social media. I was a huge letter writer as a kid. I loved being connected to people from an early age.

The experience with WITH YOU has been all about telling my story and getting people to understand it. And the response has been HUGE. We met with our manufacturer and after I told them my story, they immediately wanted to be a part of it and have been an incredible partner from that very first day we met. Getting my business partner Elizabeth — a top marketing expert — to sign on to work with me on a dream has been tremendous. I’ve been blown away by how telling a story about something that means so much to me personally has resonated with so many people.

 

Ultimately, what are your top tips for anyone looking to “kickstart” their careers – or a campaign?

I have two key rules in my business: Tell the truth and do what you say you are going to do. Those have always served my reputation of being a woman who will get things done and will work like a dog to make things right, even when they sometimes go wrong. I have a client who says that he hates agencies. But he likes me. He likes me because I tell him the truth, and I work like mad to honor my word.

Beyond that: Find commonality, bring news and value, and create moments of connection – genuine ones! When I left my last company, I found that almost every person I called for help was willing to do so because I had always given help myself.

For WITH YOU, it’s been the same. Kickstarter is about asking people who are important to you to support your dream, and I’ve been amazed by how many people in my life have seriously stepped up — no questions asked.

 

What’s an example of a time you failed and what did you learn from it?

This last year has been one of my toughest years in business and what I learned is that you have to seriously love and believe in what you are doing. I started WITH YOU to be able to channel my passion into something I always wanted to do – and couldn’t imagine not doing. And I believe it is the recipe for great success. I’ve had success in my life, but this is that moment I’m looking for great.

 

WITH YOU is in the final week of its fundraising campaign.  To learn more, go to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2130636646/with-you-reinventing-the-locket.

 

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