Linda is a seasoned marketing professional with over 30 years in the financial services industry. She graduated from Universityof Pennsylvania's Wharton School with a BS in Economics and with an MBA from NYU. She moved to Boston in 1985 and calls it home, even with her New York state of mind. Linda is the founder of Amour Creations and has been featured in the Boston Globe and The Nibble. She has two grown children and lives in Brookline with her husband and cockapoo, Tovi.
What was I thinking the summer of 2010 taking on my 20 year old son’s challenge to market T'ART – a prepared baking mix?
I am a veteran Marketer at one of the largest mutual fund and financial services groups in the world, have a pedigree undergrad degree and an MBA. For fun, I peddle T’ART which I have been making for over 15 years, but launched a year ago. Every weekend, I schlep, whether matter rain or shine, going store to store, table and T’ARTs in hand to be looked at with wonder – why are you, an attractive, tall and slim middle aged woman doing food demos?
Sometimes I feel a little uncomfortable, truth be told, but only for a moment. This exchange has become part of my game. My juices start flowing and my sales pitch goes into high gear and then I hear “wow - you mean, you started this company? You‘re Linda?” “Like yeaaaah – thinking to myself” ….and then this magical transformation takes place. I’ve now successfully redirected the dialogue and am happily answering interesting questions. My audience is engaged, respecting me differently, even buying TART to support me, a local woman entrepreneur! I acknowledge this appreciated gesture vocally with a YESSS and thank you, while clinching my arms high up in the air! I did it!! I know T’ART is great, versatile, fail proof, easy, convenient - and all that, but it is this win of the sale that’s the energy booster propelling me to do more!
For years, friends told me I was onto something. But getting started was no easy feat. I work pretty crazy hours for my “real job” and knew zip about the food industry except that I love food, love to cook, bake and EAT, especially dinner (with a nice glass or two of wine!). Where would I find time and the patience to learn, explore, follow-up, and bring T’ART to market. I figured it out by putting all my other life interests on hold including my volunteer work, exercise, book club, girlfriend time, husband time and, entertaining, all the best of earning my empty nester stripes.
So, why bother making T’ART a reality?
I needed to satisfy my entrepreneurial desire and prove to myself and others, I could actually do it. So it became a series of gates - each time another set of decisions were made, an entry gate opened. Check mark, and a new gate to cross was in front of me. T’ART was initially more of an emotional vs financial commitment. I became obsessed with every detail and learned to function on only four hours sleep for months. I actually worked the hardest I ever did, and truly did my best professional work. I guess what my dad said was true: give a busy person something to do, and it gets done! It really was infectious, exciting, overwhelming, scary and paralyzing!
Who knew from residential and state kitchen licenses, nutritional analysis, the UPC code, FDA packaging; material cost, trademarks and liability insurance to name few were things I had to manage to. And the energy spent on naming and designing my logo. My husband could not fathom why I spent months on those customer facing details that help shape the brand. Dear husband, shall I remind you what I do for a living? Yes. These details are deliberate. Is it T’ART or T’ARTE with an “e”? Who cares? I do. The brand I was starting to create was a reflection of me and I needed to connect with and love it. And when people tell me they love my packaging, I somehow feel exonerated from obsessing.
It’s kind of funny that I love to bake given that mom has always loved “the bakery”. Aunt Sylvia, may she rest is peace and beaming with pride, was really the one who was instrumental in developing my interest in baking. Every Passover, she welcomed her nieces in the kitchen with open arms and lined us up to help make her famous banana, nut and sponge cakes. She taught us how to separate the eggs, whip to firm peaks, fold and best of all, lick the spatula and prep bowls. Yummm. That was the beginning, and this intrigue continued during my summer as a 15 year old au pair in Montmorency, outside of Paris, where I really learned the art of tartes, making and rolling the dough from scratch, adding fresh peaches and apricots (my all time favorite!). I can still smell and taste it. I would devour every amazing morsel in seconds. I came home smitten, and in no time, had my very own rolling pin and French tart pans with removable bottoms which I still have and use today for my very simple version of T’ART.
What’s next for T’ART? I am torn as I weigh the opportunities, the investment in time and money and the sacrifices. Each of these paths require different focuses and so, not till I am able commit to myself what T’ART should be when it grows up, can I fully execute on my brand, online sales, and overall business development strategy. That leaves me treading water a little, confused and hesitant as to how deep that foot should go into the water. The good news, I declared to my husband this week-end, that come Dec 31, 2012, I will know which path T’ART will take.
For now, I have what keeps me going - the “wow’s; the children’s thumbs up and smiles, the voice mails, the emails, and the T’ART makers who stop by at a tasting and proclaim how great T’ART is. How it cheers up her sick dad, how the dinner guests left no crumbs, or what a great hostess gift it makes wrapped along with a T’ART pan. Let’s not forget those FaceBook likes and comments that inspire me. And to all the wonderful local; small woman business owners who are willing to share and to the local markets who have faith in T’ART and keep telling me when I am demo'd out- to continue with the demo, demo and demo, demo and more demo.
In fact, this week-end, why not come see, smell and taste for yourself?
Have you had your children dare you to dream?
Do you have a dream that has taken you by surprise?
What would you do if you were Linda? Go to Honestly Now and vote!