A blanket is such an important part of a little baby’s world. Few babies become toddlers without choosing a favorite blanket to cuddle with. They love to take their blankets with them everywhere as it becomes a special friend long past baby years. What if you could give your child a personalized one-of-a-kind baby blanket they will cherish for years?
Valery Klassen from Sun 7 Designs recently left the corporate world of oil and gas to do just this – make your little baby’s dreams come true through custom designed blankets! Empress Avenue learns how she is turning her dream into a thriving Canadian business!
Describe your most recent business success and tell us about your next big goal!- My most recent business success was being contacted by a local shop to sell my softies. It’s a small step in the right direction. My next big goal is to have my baby blankets published in a magazine (wink wink Pink Pearl PR)!
Give us the ‘inside scoop’ – what does a day in your business life look like?- I check my email first thing in the morning and immediately reply to customer questions and orders. After a quick scroll through Facebook and Pinterest I begin to design my blankets and sew custom designs. It’s a balancing act of office work – designing, networking, marketing, advertising, and then working in the sewing room. Of course I have to set aside time to do some accounting. … (Yuck!) I work 7 days a week, but I don’t consider it work since I love what I do.
My most recent business success was being contacted by a local shop to sell my softies. It’s a small step in the right direction.
What types of customers are in your business ‘pink book’ and who are you looking to connect with?- My customer demographic is female and varies from the new mom, the Grandmother who wants a gift for her new grand baby, friends who want a special and unique gift for a baby shower and once in a while I get an order from a male, but that doesn’t happen very often! I would love to connect with Jessica Simpson upon the arrival of her baby boy, but that might just be a dream!
If you were not doing this job, what is your plan B? Are you still chasing your dream job?– I retired from the corporate world in October 2012 to focus on Sun 7 Designs so this IS my dream job and I love every minute of it.
Do you think it’s important to love what you do, or make good money?- At this stage in my life I think it’s more important to love what you do. I spent years at my profession where I did make good money, but now it’s time to focus on what I want to do (and that doesn’t involve making good money, at least not right now)!
Is owning your own business as glamorous as it sounds?- For me, it is as glamorous as I always thought it would be.
Where did you get your education? Tell us about this experience.- I studied at Mount Royal College and took some secondary courses at SAIT many years ago. I was an office manager for a private oil and gas company for 21 years and prior to that I worked as a nurse.
What celebrity do you look at for style inspiration and why?- I actually don’t have a celebrity that I look up to for style inspiration, but I do look up to Jennifer Gardner for her role as a wife and mother.
Dream big and whatever you decide to do, do it with all your heart.
What are your favourite stores to shop at for the perfect work wardrobe?- Because most of my days are spent in my sewing room, my wardrobe consists of Lululemon comfy clothes. I love the fact that I don’t have to “dress up” every day but on the days where I do go and meet friends or customers I wear casual attire from Winners.
Where do you manufacture your products? How did you source the correct manufacturer?- My baby blankets are made in Calgary. I am not able to, nor do I want to, outsource my product. I use a sewing program on my computer to design what the customer wants and then proceed to embroider it on the blanket and sew the blanket together. All my supplies, particularly my fabric, is made in Canada or the USA.
What are your plans for expansion?- I would like to expand throughout Canada and possibly into the USA. For right now, cornering the Canadian market is my focus.
What is your favourite travel hot spot?- That would have to be Hawaii. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law live there so we go there every winter for a visit.
Can you offer any advice for new graduates looking for a job or new entrepreneurs?- Dream big and whatever you decide to do, do it with all your heart.