Sotiria Krikelis started One Life, Live-It, Inc. after experiencing the wrath of corporate America. Sotiria knew she had to make a change. In this interview, learn how Sotiria launched her flag-ship product, Relax Missy – a foldable ballet flat providing everyday wearable luxury for the modern woman unwilling to walk in high heel agony. Relax Missy was honored to be included in the gift bags for Neutrogena brand ambassadors Hayden Panettiere and Vanessa Hudgens, during the Neutrogena Wave for Change campaign that was held this past Saturday in Los Angeles.
Tell us about your business and how you came up with your business name “One Life, Live-It, Inc.
I incorporated my business back in November 2007. The idea of Relax Missy was in the back of my head, but it was just that, an idea. My company name was important to me because I wanted it to represent what I was about. Some people name their business after themselves, but for me there was more meaning to it. I had just experienced the wrath of the corporate world in a hospital setting and I was completely disgusted with it. There were many names that I chose before settling on One Life, Live-It, Inc. that had the same meaning, but they were all taken and I had to think of something else. The name “One Life, Live-It” embodies everything that I believe in. Life is essentially short, and if we don’t seize the moment every minute, life will pass us by and before we know it we will be 70 and say “How did I get here?” I didn’t want that to be me. I made this decision at 24 years old. I remember reminiscing about being 21 and thinking where the time went? It had passed me by and I didn’t embrace my life – this mental note along with my negative hospital experience led me to say I really have one life, so I better live it, without any regrets.
Your flag-ship product is the Relax Missy. Tell us about your product and where it can be found.
Relax Missy is a foldable ballet flat providing everyday wearable luxury for the modern woman unwilling to walk in high heel agony. Relax Missy is sure to be the next wardrobe staple for every woman with a love affair of out-of-this-world stilettos, or as I like to call them, “15 minute shoes.” Ladies, you know what I’m talking about! It’s double duty fashion that folds up neatly in half and fits in a small, satin, carry pouch. They can be stored in a gym bag, hand bag, glove compartment or wherever your feet desire. Change into them for a lunch time walk, driving, subway commuting, or anytime you want to avoid those blisters. They are real ballet flats that can be worn all day, everyday, and then have the perk of folding up for easy storage.
They can be purchased at www.RelaxMissy.com and can soon be found on www.Shoebuy.com as well as www.AudreyShops.com.
How much research and development was involved in the product?
There was an enormous amount of time and effort dedicated to the entire development process. My background has nothing to do with entrepreneurship or design or manufacturing, therefore, I spent extra time figuring out how this was all done! I would say a solid two years was spent on research and development. Initially, my plan was to manufacture Relax Missy in the states and I spent six months researching and calling every factory I found, but none of them worked out. After six months, I discovered 99% of shoes are outsourced, and so, I went back to square one to research manufacturing in China. This was my biggest obstacle because I had absolutely no idea how to find a factory in a different country and communicate my idea to them. Another six months was spent researching, and again I was empty handed. It wasn’t until I came across internet platforms which connect you with Chinese sources that I was actually making some progress. Utilizing Skype and email are some of the best ways to handle business with overseas factories – it’s all done via internet. No expensive phone bills!
The next step was explaining my idea through designs and words. Creating something that is brand new and never before been made is more difficult than I thought. The factories were handing me samples previously made before I reached out to them that fit my description, but this was not up to par for my standards. I wanted my own design and something truly unique. The design process was another year long obstacle.
What advice would you give an entrepreneur wanting to launch a product idea?
Research, research, and more research! Nothing bad can come from this. Reach out to other entrepreneurs, send them an email or call them. It’s always great to listen to advice from others who have been in your shoes and you may even partner up for future events. If you believe in your business idea then never give up, no matter what anyone says. There are many people who want to see you fail and it will be much easier for you to fail than to keep going, but if you really want to live out your dream, don’t stop. The minute you stop taking action is the minute your business fails.
Find books that are in your field and read them thoroughly for tips and tricks. Align yourself with online forums where you communicate with other entrepreneurs and share advice, most likely you will learn something you never knew before and engage in conversation. Exhaust all avenues of help from SCORE to SBC to BAR Association (they set me up with a free lawyer), ask anyone you find in your path for advice. Oh, and if your shy – throw that out the window. If I can sum up being an entrepreneur in one word, it would be: Hustler. This is exactly what you must do to survive.
What have you learned during the start-up phase of your business?
Work never stops! Weekends are gone because you will find yourself working on something because you don’t have time during the week. Money is scarce as a start up and you have to get creative. One of the best things to do is to utilize students. Students are eager to do freelance work for a small price or even for free just to say they worked with X company and place that on their resume. Reach out to local colleges and place flyers on their bulletin boards; you will get a ton of interest and possibly an intern. Research is another major point that I learned will always benefit you and prepare you for your future plans.
Where there any online resources that you found helpful?
I didn’t realize how many websites exist catered to start up businesses. Internet was never a resource I spent a lot of time on, that is, until I started my business and I spent all hours of the day on it. One of the greatest websites, and I say this repeatedly, is the Mommy Millionaire forum for entrepreneurs. Even though I am not a mother, I found the website to be informative on the “how-to’s” of business. Another website I frequently visited was GetYourBizSavvy.com where I always read articles on entrepreneurs that gave me the momentum to keep going and never stop in times of frustration.
Have you always been entrepreneurial?
This is a big fat NO! My parents were not entrepreneurial, nor did they encourage it. My mother was in the fashion business when she came to New York, but that didn’t last long once she started having children. My parents are both immigrants from Greece and I grew up with the notion of go to school, study hard, become a doctor, and become successful. This is the way it was done; as far as I knew. I have been working since I was 16 years old and I never once thought about owning my own business until I was closing in on graduating from college. And now, I have so many ideas from a skincare line to restaurants. I caught the entrepreneurial bug and there is no turning back.
Is there anything you would like to add?
There is an infinite amount of opportunities in the world for everyone. I’ve realized that if you want something bad enough, you’ll figure out a way to achieve it and overcome all obstacles. A successful business isn’t created overnight. A successful business starts with one person, a thought, and taking action. Apple was started by one person in a garage years ago and then grew. Everyone should look at the small things a business does to accomplish their goals and not how huge the corporation is in its current time.
Thanks Julie for the opportunity to share my experience with the www.GetYourBizSavvy.com readers and hope to inspire them to achieve their goals.
For more information on Sotiria and Relax Missy visit http://www.relaxmissy.com
Follow Relax Missy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/relaxmissy
Become a Facebook Fan at http://tinyurl.com/3yj7lql
Julie Barnes is the author is this post. Julie is excited to be living in Generation E – the age of the Entrepreneur. As a writer, she enjoys writing about all aspects of the entrepreneurial journey. She enjoys interviewing entrepreneurs whose experience and wisdom can inspire others to follow their entrepreneurial dreams. Julie lives and works in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, KS with her husband Ron, lovable dog Hank, and sweet kitten Sammy. You can visit her site at www.julieabarnes.com. Follow Julie on Twitter at @JulieBarnesKS. Become a Facebook friend at Julie Barnes.