& Revitalizing the Community
Judy Money Shappell is the owner and operator of Boogie-Eyed Creeps LLC, and a graduate of LAEDA’s Entrepreneurial Development Training Program. We had a chance to sit down with her to ask about her 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? Why did you choose your industry?
“It all started during the course of my teaching career in the public school system. During an assembly in which an author came in with his book left me thinking, “maybe I could write a book about my character.” That forever made up my mind toward being an entrepreneur. I recalled the character that I created in my childhood when I was ten years old. When I quit teaching to raise my two children, I performed assembly programs in South Jersey with my friend. This included mailing literature out for publicity. We conducted the following assemblies: music, recycling, (Put On Your Green Shoes) and Christmas, to name a few. They always included puppets, singing, keyboards and music with student and teacher volunteers. Perhaps I could do this again. As I continued onto this path, I made several plush characters.”
“When I showed people the characters everyone said, “I would buy one of these.” When I made T-shirts of my characters, teachers and students said that they would buy them. The students would say, “I love your T-shirt, where did you get it?” The response that I received was that if it were produced or manufactured people would buy it. This was my moment on this journey that fully directed my mind to become an entrepreneur. Later, I wrote a story, too. Students would come up and give me a hug before going into the classroom. It really inspired me a lot. I came up with an idea for a book based on my characters. I decided to first develop my characters and pursue the book later, although I do have several drafts.”
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?
“The experience that I was going to have at LAEDA all started when I met Mariana at a lenders event in Camden, which was called, Meet the Lenders sponsored by the Small Business Association. I went to pick up information about LAEDA and that is when I met Mariana and talked to her. After the event, I got an email about the Entrepreneurial Development Training Program (EDTP) and I was really interested. So I took the next action and got in touch with LAEDA and learned more about the EDTP. Thereafter, I passed the telephone interview with Jamila and went up to meet her and took some of my products. When I stepped inside the office of LAEDA, they made me feel like I belonged there.”
“When attending EDTP, the major takeaway was that I did not know such a program like this existed. This is an amazing program for people who do not know the ins and outs of running a business. This program held me accountable for homework, for coming to class (and on time, too), for my business plan and much more. I always felt that someone was there to wrap his or her arms around me for support and guidance whether it was the arms of the staff, students and/or the industry professionals who taught the class. There was always a takeaway from the type of questions asked. It didn’t matter what business it was. It was the one-on-one attention that everyone was given, the guidance, the mentorship, the support and the communication. LAEDA constantly puts all this information out there to help you to succeed.”
“My biggest “Ah-ha” moments from many were the following: 1) The variety of expertise that LAEDA is providing to teach and support us. 2) LAEDA exists and helps us with every business aspect is my biggest “Ah-ha” moment. 3) The moment was with Annabel who reviewed my credit history. This was the first time that I saw my official credit report. 4) Having the source for people to stay in touch. 5) Learning the ins and outs of running a business, including all the aspects along with all the expertise and giving me directions was the push I needed.
LAEDA: Tell me about your journey on the road to business start-up. What have been some of the challenges, successes, failures, etc.?
“One challenge was having my sewing machine in the hallway. Now I have a room dedicated to all my materials along with a new sewing machine. It took me four or five years to work on this project and develop all of the characters. The ideas of making more characters started out when I wrote my book, which initially included one Boogie-Eyed Creep. God has been with me on this journey and has helped me with inspiration and opportunities. Little successes like getting several Trademarks and Patents approved and leading me to LAEDA has really helped me.”
“However, I did have failure when some companies refused to make my plush character because they did not know how to make it. After two companies declined making my product, I was able to find a company that will work with me and make my character(s). My failure was a success in disguise because I did not give up and stop right there, instead, I just held onto my passion and kept on turning and moving on.”
LAEDA: Could you tell me a little about where your business is today?
“This is a start-up business. I am currently making a pretty good quantity of my characters that I will take to my first craft fair, which will be in Pitman on May 20th. There is a room in my house dedicated for me working on my business. Working with LAEDA and putting my business plan into action with all the knowledge I got from EDTP has been extremely helpful. I have my characters and recently created a new one, called a Creepet. Right now, I am in the process of coming up with my website and formalizing my business cards and stationery.”
LAEDA: Do you have any advice for future (or existing) entrepreneurs?
“Never give up on your dreams. Do not underestimate your abilities to pursue your dreams. If you really put your mind onto something, then you can do it. There are always ups and downs, but just pick yourself up and do it again. It is also never too late to work on your dream and entrepreneurial journey.”
Congratulations to Judy Money Shappell for completing EDTP and recommitting to her journey on the path of entrepreneurship. Boogie-Eyed Creeps LLC is a company offering planet friendly huggable characters. There will also be T-shirts and shopping bags for Judy Money Shappell's first craft fair. For more information, contact Judy Money Shappell at firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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