It all began on December
23, 2009, as I was watching the 11 o'clock news...
Scillian of WDIV was in Toronto talking about the new red 2010
Olympic mittens that were designed for the Vancouver Olympic
games. He was standing by an empty bin which, only moments earlier,
was filled with pairs of mittens. They were flying off the shelves
but he was able to snag a few pairs. As he was displaying them
to the viewing audience, I responded to the TV with: "Those
are nice mittens. I like the red. Not sure why people are going
though. Now, you know who needs mittens? Michigan! We're
the "Mitten State". And that was that.
was born, raised, educated, work and live here and I know firsthand,
how handy our hands
are when it comes to our state and geography. After my "epiphany"
so-to-speak, I tried to push the idea aside because my plate
was already full. Being self-employed, I'm VERY aware of the
economy; how it affects consumers and business owners alike.
was on keeping my web business alive - not making apparel. However,
the idea would NOT leave my head. It was fully formed as you
see the Mi Map mittens now - instantly. In the beginning of February,
2010, I contacted someone who's familiar
type of entrepreneurial
endeavor. Although I'm already an entrepreneur, my business is
founded on years of education and experience so the path was
a bit straighter. Mitten making? I did not know where to start.
Actually, I didn't want "to start" but still I could
not shake the concept. My contact suggested that I connect with
the FastTrack New
Venture program offered at TechTown on
Wayne State University's campus.
I began the program in April 2010 and completed the program
in June 2010. Although I already had the idea and the initiative
going in to the program, I was lacking information on manufacturing,
NAICS codes, law considerations, etc. These are things that
don't concern my web business so I had no frame of reference.
While in the program, I created mitten prototypes, created
the business name*, became an
LLC, designed the logo, developed the website, created the
business cards, began the business
plan and determined the materials I'd like to use. This is
in addition to the regular class work assigned and running
my web development business. I say this to point out how valuable
having a framework of mentors and like-minded individuals
surrounding you as you embark on an adventure such as this.
I don't know that I could have done this without such strong
encouragement. During our first class, we broke into groups
to discuss our business idea. That was a pivotal point for
me because in 5 minutes, my group convinced me
to move ahead at warp speed.
*During our working years,
we don't often get to experience getting credit where
it due. Many
of us would like to hear "good job" every once
in a while. I believe we are all trying to do our best
while on this
earth, we want to make a difference. Mick Musial, Esq.
has made a tremendous difference to me. Mick came up
with the name Mi Map. Mick is an attorney who spoke to
Venture class and he then became my attorney. I had settled
on another name, but he found that I couldn't use it.
I was beside myself because it was the perfect name.
However, Mick suggested Mi Map and I LOVED it!! In fact,
it is WAY better than the original name and I am grateful
for Mick's creativity. I must add that his legal advice
has saved me money and trouble. Entrepreneurs: Do yourself
a favor - get a lawyer!
Also due credit is Andrea Cowan
of The Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce, who is an expert seamstress.
The next day after class, I approached her about sewing
a week and a half, the first shot at Mi Map mittens were
in - I mean "on" - my hands! In that same week,
Joan McNish of Honors did the heat transfer which was the
finishing touch to the prototype pair.
knew that Mi Map LLC apparel absolutely had to be made in
I mean really.
After many calls, I found a local company named
Horizons Rehabilitation Services, Inc. and I was ecstatic
to see that they were capable of cutting, sewing and packaging
the mittens. Here's another mini-lesson: Don't believe everything
people tell you. I was told by so many who've "been
there, done that", that I'd have to go to Mexico or Central
America to manufacture my apparel. That made no sense to me.
akin to hearing there are no software engineers in Michigan
to fill jobs so we'll have to outsource. There are oodles of
talent in this wonderful state and my persistence paid off
because I hit pay dirt with New Horizons. Talented people who
know their stuff and who had the patience to work with me and
bring these mittens to fruition! Dave Stoker, my contact at
the plant, hooked me up with vendors for elastic, thread, packaging
and pattern-making. Since Dave had worked with them directly,
I was confident that I was in good hands. Cindy Crenshaw, the
brilliant sewing manager at the New Horizons Davisburg Plant,
used her expertise to refine my original pattern for the outer
layer. This stream-lined the process we are using.
This apparel company started out as "Wouldn't it be
and quickly morphed into "We will manufacture clothing
here. We will assist those who need our help. None
of us got here without help! We are proud of our
state. We are one
of a kind." I plan to create more than just
mittens. there are a number of other items that are waiting
to be made
but I had to start with the most obvious product. A mitten.
Stay tuned...I have more merchandise a brewin'!
her career as a software engineer in 1986 and then
brought her years of experience to the web development
community in 1999. Her knowledge base includes software
development projects in web design and development,
digital imaging, graphics and animation and other
geeky areas. Christine has been a speaker at
various national conferences throughout the United
States, focusing on web for small businesses. She has
also been adjunct faculty at Wayne
State University in Detroit, MI, and Oakland
Community College in Royal Oak, MI. She received
her Bachelor and Master degrees from Wayne State U. It
just so happens she has an Associates Degree in Fashion
Merchandising and Design from OCC. Who knew THAT would
be put to use after 25 years?
is the founder
of the Michigan-based web development company
Webs We Weave, LLC. She understands the importance
of combining technical knowledge with creativity and
artistry to optimize the
benefits of today’s web technology. Now she makes
mittens and hats, too.