… Another One Opens!

… Another One Opens!

People often talk of opportunities: “When one door closes, another one opens.” But rarely does anyone talk about the hallway.. The transition.. The in between where you are and where you are headed. It can be a time of self reflection, great exploration and finding opportunities that you didn’t even know existed.

Three years ago, when the previous Chamber director announced her resignation, I immediately had people encourage me to apply for the position. Three years later, when I announced that I was resigning as Executive Director, I immediately had people reaching out to me to see what I was interested in doing next. At that very moment, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next, but I was encouraged by the prospects that were approaching me.

After exploring many of the opportunities that were coming my way, I had to really decide what I wanted to do next with my life. It’s awesome to think that I am so blessed to have had so many choices before me.. One entailed working with small businesses to help them grow their businesses through training and professional development.. One was helping cultivate artists into a co-working space that would help them build a retail presence. And yet another was a company that approached me from an industry that I never imagined I could work in, but it piqued my interest the most.

After a lot of back and forth discussion on what a new position might look like, I made the hour journey north for a formal interview. I met with the Chief Development Officer, the Human Resources Director and the Chief of Operations. I was immediately blown away by their warmth and genuine desire to serve their customers. The more I learned about the company’s mission and core values, the more excited I felt. We talked about how everyone takes ownership in the company’s success which really created an entrepreneurial spirit without the risk. As the meeting went on and we discussed my talents and desires for the future, I had an overwhelming sense of certainty that this is where I belong. When I got in my car to leave, I had a wave of emotion wash over me – I couldn’t believe that an opportunity like this would ever be possible for me. Before I had made it home, I knew that I was going to accept their offer.

So on June 3, I will begin my new journey as the Business Development Coordinator for United Fiber – a subsidiary of United Electric Cooperative that is dedicated to bringing high speed broadband to the rural areas of northwest Missouri. Although they are based out of Savannah, I will office out of the Excelsior Springs area. I will oversee marketing campaigns, plan special events, work on business development and provide the excellent customer service that United Fiber customers deserve. I couldn’t be more excited for this new journey, and I am grateful to United Fiber for believing in me and providing me with this great opportunity. I am one lucky girl!


When One Door Closes….

When One Door Closes….

If you will recall my last blog post was titled “When Opportunity Knocks”… Well that was almost three years ago, and the door will soon be closing on that chapter of my story as I have announced my resignation as the Executive Director of the Excelsior Springs Area Chamber of Commerce. I will be staying through July 1st to see the organization through our biggest events of the year and to give ample time to train my successor. I am honored that the Board of Directors and the members entrusted me to lead this organization in a community that I love so much. I am proud of the accomplishments and progress we’ve made together over the past three years, but I believe that now is the time to move on from this role.

So what’s next for me? I am really not sure, and I am okay with that. I’m going to take the next few months to look around and see what’s out there. I’m also eager to dive back into TYPOGRFX and graphic design. Who knows? I might get the truck out of hibernation and start doing events this summer. I’ve even been thinking about getting certified to teach yoga (I started yoga about 9 months ago and I LOVE IT!). The options are really wide open at this point, and it’s an amazing feeling. I have always believed that everything happens for a reason. I don’t regret taking the Chamber job at all, and I will treasure the relationships and knowledge that I have gained because of it. Now that this door is closing…. I wonder what door will open for me next? 



When Opportunity Knocks….

Don't miss out on something that could be amazing, just because it could also be difficult.

There are few moments in one’s professional career where opportunities come along that can be so life changing, exciting and terrifying all at once. Last week one of those opportunities knocked at my door.

As many of you know, I began working part-time at the Excelsior Springs Chamber of Commerce in January as the Creative Director – fulfilling all of the creative needs for the Chamber, creating the new trolley wine tours, and redesigning the office space for better efficiency and visual appeal. Working with the Executive Director, Courtney, was a dream come true. Someone so like me, passionate about her job, about her community and her family. It was refreshing to find another person that is so much like myself! At the end of February, Courtney seized a fantastic opportunity to move up in her career, and thus announced that she would be resigning from the Chamber at the end of June. This left the Board with the task of filling her role and me not knowing if my position would continue or not. Of course, I have TYPOGRFX and the TYPO Truck, so I was prepared to continue dedicating all my time to my business.

Within hours of Courtney’s announcement came the flurry of Board members and Chamber members alike that all asked me, “Are you going to apply?” The answer was easy, “I’m flattered, but I’ve got my own business and it’s doing fine.” As the months went by and the search for the right candidate continued, the Board president again approached me asking me to reconsider applying. I talked it over with my best friend, my dearest business acquaintances, my mother-in-law, my husband, even Ryker. After much consideration, I figured what do I have to lose by applying? I walked into the interview with 80% of my mind made up that regardless of what happened, I would still politely decline. I love the freedom of working for myself. I love spending time with Ryker during the summer. And yet, I thrive on the busyness of the holiday season, meeting new people and helping them tell their story with a personalized TYPOGRFX. It’s been great, why would I give that up?

During the interview, the four people I sat across the table from were well aware of my existing, successful business. I told them at the beginning that this was as much of an interview where I convince them I’m the right person for the job as they were going to have to convince me that this job was right for me. They made it very clear that they didn’t want me to give up my business, they were confident that we could work together to allow me to serve as the Executive Director, while still running my business – albeit at a somewhat scaled back capacity. They were willing to be flexible to let me scale back my Chamber hours a bit during my busiest holiday rush, but also expected a lot from me during the biggest Chamber events of the year. One interviewer said it would be “very progressive” of the Chamber to have a business owner as the director, recognizing the unique perspective I can bring to the table as a fellow entrepreneur myself. So I left the interview feeling excited, nervous and overwhelmed with a flurry of emotions.

After being officially offered the position with a good, steady salary, I again consulted with my friends and family. Anyone who’s a small business owner knows that a steady paycheck isn’t always promised. And while we definitely aren’t struggling, a good paycheck could make a big difference in our household. My husband’s exact response was, “Why wouldn’t you?” He’s always been supportive in the sense that he doesn’t tell me what to do, because he’s smart enough to know I don’t like it when he does, but he lets me figure out what I should do on my own. And being a big believer in fate, I knew I couldn’t let this opportunity slip through my fingers just because it was scary. I had made up my mind even though there were still a million things to figure out. Between my racing thoughts and the thunderstorms that shook the house that night, I didn’t sleep a wink.

You know when someone gets eliminated from a reality TV show and they play highlight clips of their time on the show with some emotion-inducing song playing over it? That’s what was playing in my mind – the highlights of the past eight years of TYPOGRFX.

Helping a woman who was losing her battle with cancer leave behind encouraging words for her children.

Helping a friend propose to his long-time girlfriend with a TYPOGRFX.

Being selected as a finalist for Country Living magazine’s Pitch Your Product.

When I went to an open casting call for Shark Tank and made it onto the show’s outtakes.

Getting to go on the local morning TV shows.

The crazy decision to buy a truck! The incredible amount of work that went into that truck and how much it’s changed the entire way I do business……..

But the thing is, my journey with TYPOGRFX isn’t over. It’s just changing, evolving, like it always does. Despite the lack of sleep, I was at peace with my decision.

The next morning, coffee in hand, I accepted the offer.

So what does this mean for TYPOGRFX and my customers? On the surface, there won’t be much difference. Orders will still be fulfilled. Emails will still get answered. The truck will still make appearances throughout the metro, just not quite as often. I have several internal things to work through to prepare for the busy holiday season, but I trust that I will have the people and processes in place to continue providing my customers with the best gift ever, the best customer service ever, and the best of me. Wish me luck!

Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come. Remember everything you have faced, all the battles you have won, and all of the fears you have overcome. (unknown)

The Art of Telling Your Business Story

Business owner Tosha Jackson of TYPOGRFX shares her tips and tricks for crafting the perfect narrative for your business!

I’m in the business of telling people’s stories. Whether it be the story of their family, their career or business, or something else, I create a story in the personalized artwork I create. Storytelling is an important part of human nature and one that has helped us preserve our past. The art of telling a good story is something nearly anyone can do. Every good story has key elements that can be learned, practiced and perfected over time. Telling the story of your business is no different and can be the key to a successful pitch, presentation or just introduction of yourself and your business.

The Beginning

The first few lines of a story draws you in – sets the stage if you will. This might include a bit about your background. What were you doing before you started your business? Where did you go to school? Were you in a totally different industry than you are now? Any interesting details that can draw a person in and capture their attention are crucial.

The Inciting Incident

What event triggered you to start your own business? Did you feel an overwhelming need for a change? Were you laid off or “let go”? Did you get fired for something out of your control? Don’t be afraid to share the nitty gritty details here. As an example, I used to shy away from using the word “fired” because it sounded serious – like I had done something terrible. In my case, it was simply because I had announced my pregnancy, something that I did not expect would affect my immediate job security. Including this in my own business story is important because it causes an emotional reaction from the audience, which compels them to want to know more.

The Realistic Challenges

Very few businesses launch and experience immediate, overwhelming success. (Good for you if yours did!) Most businesses face some challenges along the ways. Maybe it was financing. Maybe it was finding the right location or right people to build your business. Either way, don’t leave out these details. Again, it helps you to build up to your climax, which is hopefully a successful and thriving business! Be sure to mention what actions you took to overcome these challenges. This will help people relate to your story, and will be encouraging to other entrepreneurs who might be going through the same thing as you did.

The Conclusion (aka Looking Forward)

Unless you’ve sold your business, your story likely isn’t over – it’s continually evolving. What are your goals? What are your next steps to reach those goals? What kind of help are you seeking? It never hurts to ask, because you never know what kind of connections people may have.

Hopefully, these tips will help you craft and perfect your business story. Even if you don’t have an immediate need to present your story, it’s always a good thing to have prepared and practiced, because you never know when your next opportunity might come up and you’ll have to be ready in a moment’s notice!

TYPOGRFX is growing!

From the Press Release sent out 4-7-15

Central Exchange, along with the City of Kansas City, MO, recently hosted a new competition called InnovateHER. The Small Business Association created the national business competition designed to spotlight products and services that empower the lives of women and families. The SBA sought entrepreneurs who create products or services that have a measurable impact on the lives of women and families (30%), has the potential for commercialization (40%) and fills a need in the marketplace (30%).

When Excelsior Springs Chamber Director Courtney Cole heard about the competition, she immediately knew who to forward the information on to. “Upon learning of the competition, we knew that the work Tosha has put into her business would be perfect. Her story is inspirational for women entrepreneurs and we are happy to see her hard work recognized,” Cole says.

Since starting her own business after losing her job during the recession and while expecting her first child, Tosha Jackson has been the epitome of a self-made entrepreneur. She took a one-time commissioned art project and grew into a full time business that now has evolved into a direct sales company – with women across the US, Canada and Australia sharing in the prosperity of the flourishing company.

The InnovateHER application process involved crafting a business plan that outlined how the business met the criteria of the competition. Top 10 finalists – Jackson among then – were invited to present their businesses to a panel of judges comprised of business leaders from across the metro on March 30 at the Central Exchange office in downtown Kansas City. Jeanie Brewster, director of the Midwest Women’s Business Enterprise Network through the Central Exchange said, “All of the finalists have great products and dreams, and we want them to keep up the passion and drive. We all win, as we get more recognition for the small business markets in KC.”

Although Jackson was not chosen to advance to the national level, she said, “I’m really honored for the opportunity to be among the great women-led businesses who presented. Best of all, the questions the judges raised after my presentation made me see my business from a new prospective, and there are some definite tasks that I need to do to continue growing.”

One of those tasks meant expanding through the hiring of a customer service coordinator. Tiffany Haffner has been selected to fill this role. It’s no secret that Jackson and Haffner are sisters, and it was an obvious choice for Jackson. “I’m at the point in my business that if I don’t add more people, I am not going to continue to grow. I needed someone I can trust – someone who will put in the effort and time it takes to run a thriving business. I could not think of anyone better to fill that role than my own sister, Tiffany,” Jackson says.

Tiffany Haffner and Tosha Jackson

Tiffany Haffner and Tosha Jackson

Haffner’s years of experience working with people have given her the skills she will need for her new position. Her role within the business will evolve over time, but she will begin by learning the intricate details of how the custom art business is ran. She will eventually take over many aspects of customer service, including managing order inquiries, online listings, and social media, all in order to continue the exceptional customer service experience TYPOGRFX clients have come to expect. Haffner is thrilled for the new opportunity. She says, “If it doesn’t challenge you, then it won’t change you. I fully believe in my sister, and I’m beyond excited to take on the challenge. This is going to be an excellent experience for both of us.”

Adding this position will allow Jackson more time to focus on the recently added pARTner program, a direct sales division that allows independent associates to earn commission by promoting the artwork. “The pARTner program is almost like an entirely separate business. Recruiting, training, and management of the pARTners is a full-time job itself.” Both Jackson and Haffner will travel to Nashville, TN to attend the Direct Sales Edge conference at the end of the month to engage alongside leaders within the industry.