2017 VDTA Convention

VDTA May 2017


Sharing Truth and Goodness as Entrepreneurs

It begins with an idea… the idea to open a business. Then pretty soon the idea becomes something more, something of a journey. The first steps on this journey are always full of excitement, hope, and anxiety. Along the way, you earn the title of entrepreneur, "a unique person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so."

When I visit with other entrepreneurs, there is a common thread of hope, responsibility, and stress. The commit-ment to the business can overtake everything else in life, and financial risks cause many a sleepless night.
We have seen business after business fail, morph into something else, or experience real time challenges.
As entrepreneurs and innovators, we are challenged every day. I have witnessed this on all levels.

As the owner of Frond Design Studios, I have faced off with an onslaught of issues. At the end of most days, I feel like I've just stepped off a roller coaster ride. So many times people ask, "How are you doing?" and I robotically say, "Fine." But we are not always fine. I believe it is good to share our truth as entrepreneurs.

My advice is to find another entrepreneur you respect and have them act as a mentor. I also find it wise to seek information, continually. I visit with people all over our industry from sewing machine manufacturers to store owners to retail customers. Even when I started designing fabric, I sought input at my mom's shop, Fern Hill Gifts and Quilts. Customers would direct me to leave seam allowances between my flowers, add a color, etc. I listened.

Listening is the most important tool we can use to be successful. We need to listen to our customers and to each other. When we do this, we learn and grow. Learning and growing will build success. To quote a movie filmed in Iowa,
"If you build it, they will come."

There are many reasons people start a business: to make a difference, fill a need, or fulfill a dream. I built Frond to put art into fabric. My perception was if people liked the design, they would understand how to use it or it would inspire them to make something original. Some customers can do that and use our fabric to make their own art quilts. Some customers need more help to develop the concept.

So we opened a showroom called DelveMIY and that led us into another business with its own set of blessing and struggles. Having an open studio embedded us in the local community in ways Frond couldn't have done on its own. As a result, we are able to help local children by partnering with various organizations.

Community engagement has propelled us into our global community in our brand new partnership with Dr. Tererai Trent. Dr. Trent was deemed Oprah Winfrey's favorite guest of all time. Oprah donated money to her organization to build and repair schools in Zimbabwe, but after children leave school, there are few to no career paths. So Frond Design Studios is proud to help create products that will build an Artisan Center in Zimbabwe. Half of all proceeds from this endeavor – Sahwira Artisans International – will go to build the Artisan Center.

Stephanie BrandenburgThe word sahwira means "sacred sisterhood." We feel a true global responsibility to empower women, and it all starts with our hands. Be open to new entrepreneurial journeys, put good into the world, and your own goodness and success will follow. Only we can forge our path. Only we can remember the idea that sparked our fire to start a new business. Now, we can reach out to others to share, grow, and prosper.

Stephanie Brandenburg
Frond Design Studios

Reprinted from SQE Professional, May 2017