Designer Spotlight – Addie Sorbo

Script Charms Bracelets

Addie SorboAddie Sorbo is web and graphic designer, and founder and president of Strawberry Fields Design, Inc., an award-winning marketing communications firm. Prior to establishing Strawberry Fields Design, Sorbo served for eight years as the Visual Communications Manager at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts. Sorbo currently teaches graphic design and two-dimensional design at her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. She is a member of the American Advertising Federation (AAF), and led Strawberry Fields Design to receive numerous ADDY® Awards, including Best of Show Interactive.

custom bracelet

In May 2013, Addie and her mom, Greta Johnson founded ScriptCharms, LLC—a boutique line of meaningful Bible verse bracelets, necklaces and accessories.

Addie lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin with her husband and two children.

To learn more about Addie and her businesses, visit strawberryfieldsdesign.com
or scriptcharms.com. Better yet, introduce yourself at the next AdFed event!

ScriptCharms Hope Necklace

scriptcharms.etsy.com
facebook.com/ScriptCharms
pinterest.com/ScriptCharms
facebook.com/strawberryfieldsdesign

“The main thing is to do something that completely intrigues you—and that is genuinely interesting. If it’s not, what’s the point?”
—Addie Sorbo


Angela Speaks Thanks for joining us today, Addie. I hear you just launched a new business venture? Tell us what it’s all about.

Addie Sorbo Speaks Thanks for having me, Angela. Yes, this spring, I launched ScriptCharms, LLC along with my partner—my mom. Scripture + Charms = ScriptCharms, which are personalized Bible verse bracelets, necklaces and accessories, offering peace, joy, hope, and encouragement throughout the day. They are sold online at ScriptCharms.com, and on our Etsy store, as well as in a few boutiques.

Angela Speaks What inspired you to start this business?

Addie Sorbo SpeaksAbout a year-and-a-half ago, I was reading an article about several mothers and daughters (mostly teens and younger), who started businesses of creating and selling products, and were doing quite well. I thought, “I want to do that!” I started brainstorming and sketching, and a few weeks later, I had remembered that my mom had created some beautiful bracelets for her friends that featured witty sayings and quotes. I thought it would be even more meaningful to use Bible verses on the charms.

We did a lot of research, received lots of product samples, and tested numerous adhesive options until we finally found the best solution. It took about a year to launch our business.

Angela Speaks I think there are a lot of designers who would love to start their own business, but they don’t know where to start. Any advice?

Addie Sorbo SpeaksDesigners are creative and innovative problem solvers—which are all traits of the very best entrepreneurs—so that’s why I think designers have the ability to do well in business. Here are a few tidbits of advice:

  1. The main thing is to do something that completely intrigues you—and that is genuinely interesting. If it’s not, what’s the point?
  2. If your product or service solves a problem, there’s good chance that there will be a market. Position yourself as a problem solver. Designers are creative. Do your research, and make sure you’re not just duplicating something that’s already available.
  3. Be sure to define your market (or niche), and focus on those people—trying to be all to everyone will burn you out fast. For ScriptCharms, we focus on Christian women, ages 24 – 60.
  4. Align yourself with people that have “been-there, done-that”—seasoned business owners that can be mentors. I know the Green Bay SCORE chapter offers free business mentoring. Read books by entrepreneurs (“Mommy Millionaire” by Kim Lavine is one of my favorites), articles on entrepreneur.com and other business websites, and really immerse yourself in learning. You will also want to have friends/family/spouse that can offer encouragement.
  5. Starting a business can be a lot of fun, but can also be all-consuming if you’re not careful. Make sure you have support from your family, and define what is an acceptable work/life balance.
  6. Know that starting a business is a big investment—in both time and money. I’ve read that you need to have a least $20k in cash or you’ll fail, but this isn’t true with all businesses—there are so many ways to start on a shoestring budget. Some businesses find funding through Kickstarter.com for their creative projects. As a designer, you’ll be able to save A LOT in initial marketing costs. I was able to create our logo, website, packaging, ads, product photos, and other marketing materials—which really helped keep startup costs low.
  7. As for time (see #5). I’ve heard a successful businessman say that you must to be willing to invest 5 years into a business. Ask yourself, “Am I willing to do this?”

Several of my clients are new business owners, so I could probably go on and on with advice, but I’ll stop.

Angela SpeaksAnd what are the biggest benefits of starting ScriptCharms?

Addie Sorbo SpeaksIt’s been a lot of fun working with my mom. She’s probably the most talented person I know.

Another one of the biggest benefits is hearing how our products have been so meaningful to the recipient. I’ve received notes from customers telling me how much their friend with cancer, or sister who lost a child, appreciated their gift. It’s wonderful to know that something I helped make was able to be a source of encouragement to them.

Angela SpeaksThere are a lot of things to consider when developing an e-commerce website: security, user experience, shopping carts, payment gateways… etc. What kind of tools did you use to streamline the development process of your online store? Does a person have to specialize in web coding to do that?

Addie Sorbo SpeaksYes, I did quite a bit of research to chose an e-commerce solution that would make our store easy to update, process orders, provide SEO, and a great user experience. The solution we chose has templates that are customizable, so knowledge of HTML was beneficial, but not absolutely necessary. I worked with my web developer to create a custom home page. We did need to find a payment gateway solution, and purchase an SSL certificate for security.

But I have to say, the solution that’s really working unbelievably well for us is Etsy. Etsy is a marketplace where people around the world connect to buy and sell unique goods. We created a store, which doesn’t require any web experience—it’s almost insanely simple. The listing fees are very low, and you don’t need merchant or PayPal accounts. It’s wonderful. (Actually, if you want to open a store, please use this link so I’ll earn free listings! http://etsy.me/1bxHG7H)

Angela SpeaksBeing the owner of a business requires you to think with both sides of your brain, both the analytical and the creative. Any comments on how to balance the two?

Addie Sorbo SpeaksBalance? I don’t know, they’ve always seemed to just balance themselves! I’ve taken those “brain tests” before to see if I was left- or right-brained, and my results were like 51%/49%. I don’t know if that’s normal, but I love it that I can have fun both working in Quickbooks or designing with Adobe. Having this balance is probably what has helped me with managing my business.

Angela SpeaksWhat kind of life experiences or schooling do you think has primed you to succeed in your business ventures?

Addie Sorbo SpeaksWhen I was young, I used to take my parents’ spices and canned goods, and set up a store in my closet. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. My mom also owned a Christmas shop when I was a teenager, and I got to go on buying trips with her, and experience the back-end. I’ve also learned a lot about sales and marketing working with a direct-selling company. Life experiences like those have been invaluable. My first job after college graduation—working as a designer with an in-house marketing team—helped me gain confidence working with clients, and also made me realize that it’s much better to align yourself with talented people that are smarter than you, than to try to go it on your own. A year ago, I hired a business coach to mentor me with my marketing communications firm, Strawberry Fields Design, Inc. Getting one-on-one advice from someone who’s been-there-done-that was one of my best investments.

Angela SpeaksYou sound like an extremely busy person. How do you juggle it all?

Addie Sorbo SpeaksYeah, I try not to use the word “busy.” I’m definitely blessed. Growing up, I had dreams of being a teacher, being an artist, and owning my own business. I also wanted to be married and have kids. So, I guess I never wanted to do just one thing. It’s really neat how all of those childhood dreams and goals have come to fruition—I have a wonderful, supportive husband and two kids, own Strawberry Fields Design, Inc., and now ScriptCharms with my mom, and teach design at UW-Green Bay. It’s not something I’ve done on my own, though, I give God all the glory for His many blessings.

As for balance, it’s hard for me to say, “no,”—but essential. I’ve found that you can either do lots of things somewhat OK, or focus and do a few things very well. I’ve also become better at delegating, and relying on employees and partners.

Angela SpeaksWhat’s the number one piece of advice you would want to share with other entrepreneurs?

Addie Sorbo SpeaksYou’ll never know unless you try. Create a plan, and DO IT! You don’t want to have regrets.

ScriptCharms Bracelets Necklaces Accessories
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Join us next month at the Addys!

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