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A Moment with our EDTP Graduates- Meet Rachel and Stevie Franklin

Posted on 1/29/2018 by EDTP Coordinator in LAEDA News
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Rachel and Stevie Franklin are the owners and operators of A String Thing. Both are also graduates of LAEDA’s Entrepreneurial Development Training Program. We had a chance to sit down with both of them to ask about their experience with entrepreneurship and LAEDA's training program.

LAEDA: Entrepreneurship is a very challenging path to take with many different possible directions. What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?

Rachel: As long as I can remember I have wanted to own my own company. Running other peoples companies as their admin helped me learn best practices and how I could make it all happen.

Stevie: I think I always knew I would end up being my own boss. I've always been a leader, and not always by choice, but I've been told the position suits me. It's also an amazing way to merge a few of my passions with a way to earn a living. I can spread joy, craftiness, and healing while making money? Yes, please.

LAEDA: Why did you choose your industry?

Rachel: I tried some work from home options but none really had that inner spark, the one that really drives you to keep going. Yarn crafting was always where I went back to, it is a comfort thing. I have been teaching others these skills since I was 16 and making it my business seemed like a natural progression. I had that major “Ah-ha” moment after I watched an Internet video asking me what is my passion…. It took 3 months to be able to verbalize it… Do your passion and never work a day in your life!

Stevie: I've always been passionate about yarn crafting, so it just seemed like a logical choice to me. If you're going to start a business, you might as well love what you're doing right?

LAEDA: Tell me about your experience while attending EDTP. What have the major takeaways been from the program? Have you had any “Ah-ha!” moments? How did the program help you?

Rachel: Going in to the program I had a pretty good idea that I had been exposed to most of the subjects by running other businesses for the past 20 years. As an Admin I have been exposed to many areas required to run a business. I was very interested to learn what my business partner did and didn’t know on the administrative side of things. As we will be a brick and mortar retail store, I felt that environment was lost in many of the presentations. Many of the topics were more service industry based. My big Ah-ha moment was during the accounting presentation with Justin. Something all my previous bosses couldn’t explain in a way I really understood was debits and credits. Accounting is such an important business task and having a basic knowledge to be sure things are going as expected could make or break a business, especially a small biz.

Stevie: This program was so full of information; I don't even know where to start. I definitely feel more prepared to be a business owner now that I've completed the program. I also know what my weaknesses are, so I know whom I'm going to need to hire to keep the business running! Classmates, I'm coming for you! But, seriously, it was an excellent overview of practically everything you'd need to know. It's also an amazing networking opportunity. Not only are you building relationships with the classmates you spend 9 weeks with, but also the astounding breadth of knowledge you have access through from the instructors is worth every minute.

LAEDA: Tell me about your journey on the road to business start-up. What have been some of the challenges, successes, failures, etc.?

Rachel: Some of the biggest challenges for us have been narrowing down the possibilities of product to carry. The yarn crafting industry encompasses such a wide variety of product that to be different you need to pick a niche that folks will want and is relatively easy to provide. It is also one of most friendly groups of people I have come in contact with. The vendor reps are full of knowledge not only of their own product but also of most of the competition. They are also a well of information with regards to quantities based on store size, products to carry and some to give a chance and see…. For me, the biggest hurdle has been money. Opening a brick and mortar is more challenging than a service because you need a lot of physical items just to open up shop.

Stevie: Getting the funding to open a physical shop is so much harder when you are a brand new business with very little to prove you are legit. You may have everything in order, all your T's crossed and your I's dotted, and people are still going to deny you or hesitate to lend you money because you're just too new. But that is not a reason to give up! If this is truly your passion and your dream, you will find a way.

LAEDA: Could you tell me a little about where your business is today?

Rachel: The business today is under partial operation. We are actively teaching in the community and forming very strong bonds with our students and future customers. We are spreading the word everywhere we go and are getting lots of good responses. We are finalizing our new business plan and working towards an opening early next year.

Stevie: We are also in the process of building up our social media presence so when our doors do open, everybody will know!

LAEDA: Do you have any advice for future (or existing) entrepreneurs?

Rachel: Never ever give up. This road is not easy. There is no quick fix or instant business. Stay the course, but don’t be closed-minded. If you believe in your idea, convince others. If they don’t get it, find a way to explain it. In the course of explaining it to others you find YOUR explanation and YOUR why. KNOW YOUR WHY!! It shouldn’t be for the money or the freedom because this is free and you are going to work hard. Find out what you don’t know and find good, reliable to people to fill in your gaps. You don’t always have to have the answer… but be prepared to research it and find it.

Stevie: Don't give up. It may feel impossible, but if you really want it, you'll find a way. Be open - open-minded, open-hearted, and open-handed, BUT Know What Works For YOU. Know when to say NO.

 

Congratulations to Rachel and Stevie Franklin for completing EDTP and recommitting to their journey on the path of entrepreneurship. A String Thing is a company that wants to turn on the light for your yarn crafting needs. Whether you are just getting started, or have been crafting for decades, we want to help you discover new things, brush up on old things, and just have fun. We offer our customers their favorite yarns, and maybe some new ones. We might introduce you to your new favorite needles or hook. Maybe you want to expand your skills or take a class. Stuck on part of the pattern that doesn’t seem to make sense? Stop by, we’re happy to help. We want to provide a comfortable place for yarn crafters to gather and build a community, but we also want to give back to our community. We want to make the world a better place, one stitch at a time. For more information, check out the website at http://astringthing.com/ or email Rachel and Stevie Franklin at astringthingnj@gmail.com or you can call 856-441-3335.

The Entrepreneurial Development Training Program (EDTP) is a free, nine-week business skills training course offered in Camden, NJ in the Winter Spring and Fall each year. Qualified entrepreneurs receive 72+ hours of training from industry professionals, business planning, and one year of technical assistance. Apply online at www.LAEDA.com