These days everything can be bought online. Smart entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the feasibility of the Internet to venture into new territories and conquer the unexplored. Belly T-shirt is one such innovative online boutique that is the brainchild an ambitious woman who goes by the name of Cassie Ford.
An inspiration to women world over, she has shown that there is truly life after motherhood. This mother of three has made use of the online medium to pursue her passion and harness her God-given talent into something commercially viable.
In a heart to heart chat with, Cassie Ford gives us the lowdown on her business and tells us what it’s like to be a working mom.
Q. Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business.
‘Belly Tshirt’ maternity is a Richmond-area Virginia-based online boutique for the hip and trendy mommy-to-be and baby to come. We offer a premiere line of maternity tees, onesies for babies, baby hoodies and pants, baby flower headbands, baby tutus and fairy wings. We pride our selves on featuring original graphics on high quality fabrics while maintaining reasonable pricing. Most items are handmade in our shop.
Q. Kindly give us a brief description about yourself
My name is Cassie Ford. I am a 35 year old mother of three little girls. I got my first job when I was 10 years old. I delivered newspapers on my bicycle everyday. Every Wednesday, I went door to door to collect money from my customers and solicit new customers. An entrepreneur was born. I started my first business when I was 21 “Cassie’s Creations”. I made and sold gift baskets. I rented a kiosk at the local mall at Easter time and sold Easter baskets. I realized this business was not my passion and I moved on. I started working for Capital One in 1998 where I started as a phone associate and moved around undertaking different kinds of work. My favorite position that I held there was as a Sales Facilitator. I traveled and trained new associates and helped set up new locations for business. I had my second daughter in 2008. So I took a maximum maternity leave. I returned to work for 3 months and quit. Looking back, this still shocks me. I started Belly Tshirt officially in 2009. I am the luckiest girl in the world. I wake up daily with my 3 girls and squeeze work in between reading books, doing puzzles and playing outside. I do most of my work late at night while everyone sleeps.
Q. What ignited the spark in you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
Throughout my pregnancies I was so happy and so proud to be a mother. I searched for cute maternity tees with funny sayings to tell the world how I felt. I came up with some things I thought would be good on some maternity t shirts and Belly Tshirt started to become a reality. After my second child was born I found myself feeling creative, inspired and very tired (from being up all night).
Q. What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?
Do it early before your financial responsibilities are too great. Do something you are passionate about- most of the time the money comes in the end. You have to like doing it for no money for a while. Read books, talk to business owners- know what you are getting into. It is such an emotional roller coaster of excitement and disappointment and excitement again.
Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Determination, objective point of view and the need to be successful
Q. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
My husband hates it when I don’t go to bed with him at night because of work. I am mommy by day and business woman by night and early morning. My 8 year old daughter is so interested in the business and what I do. I can tell she is proud of me and this makes me proud.
Q. What motivates you?
So many things motivate me. I just have this drive inside me that keeps pushing me to make Belly Tshirt everything it can be. I have an imperative need to be successful. I would love to have my girls continue in this business or help them start there own businesses.
Q. What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
My greatest fear is failure and wasted time. My husband has a way of talking me down if I get frantic. He soothes me. I always try to think about my goals and maintain a “whatever it takes” mentality.
Q. How do you define success?
This can vary day to day. One day success means one sale, the next it means creating a new graphic. Most of the time it means Belly Tshirt is open for business and I am enjoying what I do.
Q. How did you decide on the location for your business?
I wanted to be at home while my children were still young. Naturally I chose to work from home. One day I want to have a brick and mortar shop. For now, I will do festivals and sell online.
Q. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
My biggest sales day was so exciting for me.
Q. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Kids Kids Kids. I love to play hide and seek, read books, paint etc. When I get a moment for myself, my favorite past time is to visit local wineries. I am a true wine enthusiast.
Q. What makes you happy?
Laughing. I like anyone or anything that can make me laugh.