If there is one thing I’m looking forward to when I have little babes of my own, it’s baby shoes. They’re just so itty bitty, and even if they sometimes don’t serve a purpose beyond being ridiculously cute, I still consider them an absolute must-have. And Freshly Picked will be at the top of my list. Susan Petersen’s genius knows no bounds when it comes to baby moccasins — she even fought her way through the shark tank to prove it. OK, fine, they loved her…but still! Her ambition and creativity are truly admirable and little feet (and mamas) the world over are so, so grateful.
Tell me a bit about Freshly Picked & how you got started creating the world’s most adorable baby moccasins. I started making baby moccasins in 2009 after becoming frustrated by the lack of well-designed baby shoes. I used my second child, Gus, as a mocc-tester, and a bag of scrap leather that I had picked up at a yard sale, I began experimenting with designs. Working at my kitchen table, on a shoestring budget, I persisted through some disastrous attempts until I had created a pair of moccasins that not only looked adorable on Gus’ chubby little feet, but stayed on his feet as well.
Did you face many challenges as you were preparing to launch Freshly Picked? How did you learn the ins and outs of running your own company? Money was tight at the time I started and in order to earn money to start my business I got resourceful. My brother owns a window installation business and in the summer of 2009 I convinced him to let me keep the old windows that he was removing from the houses. I spent a whole summer banging the glass out of the windows because they were encased in aluminum frames. At the end of the summer, I took the aluminum window frames to the scrap yard and recycled them to get money. I made $200 dollars and with that literal sweat equity, I started my business. I’m not sure that I’ve learned the ins and outs. Every time I think that I know what I am doing, I realize that I don’t have a clue. I have a set of really good advisors, I am always asking questions and I work hard at working smart.
Do you think that there is a difference between an entrepreneur and an established business seeking an expanding market? Have you transitioned from one to the other or do you think that a business like FP can embody both concepts? I think that there are a lot of similarities between the two, for example, both don’t really know what they are doing! The thing is, you can do all of the research, run all of the spreadsheets, and brainstorm the whole thing out, but until you take the plunge and JUST GET STARTED, you won’t really go anywhere. I would say that FP is very much a start up. We are a small, lean-mean mocc making machine.
You are certainly passionate about entrepreneurship, as evidenced by your entrepreneur empowerment movement. What do you hope to impart to your audience? I want my community and especially the women business owners and the mother’s to know that they are not alone. Sometimes being an entrepreneur or a mother is very lonely. I want to create a community of caring supportive women.
What is one pearl of wisdom you would share with someone considering starting their own business? Seriously, JUST DO IT.
What is like knowing that celebrity babes are running (crawling, toddling) around in your moccasins? Was it a bit surreal receiving a thank you note from Mrs. Kanye West? Of course it is very exciting, but even more exciting to me is spotting them at the park or the my local grocery store.
Out of sheer curiosity (and because I get incredibly anxious just watching Shark Tank), what is it like being in front of the sharks? Not as scary as you would think. They are actually the least scary part of the entire process.
Guilty pleasure? Chips and ranch dip.
Spirit animal? Beyoncé
Cake or pie? Pie
Favorite FP moccs? It’s honestly like picking a favorite child.
Words to live by? Start where you are, use what you have and do what you can.