Meet Julie Cole, Co-Founder of Mabel’s LabelsTHE PAPA POST | Ramesh (The Papa at Mommy Niri) | November 30, 2009 at 8:44 pm
This post has moved to:
Tell me about yourself.
I am one of the four co-founders of Mabel’s Labels Inc. and a busy mama of six small children ranging in age from 6 months to 9-years-old. My eldest child has autism, so I am involved in the autism community. It is a very busy life!
2. How did you start Mabel’s Labels? What’s the size of your company?
I started this business with three other moms seven years ago. We had often spoken about how the product we created was missing from the market. Once my son was diagnosed with autism and I knew the traditional workforce would not provide enough flexibility for me, we took that as a sign that it was time to launch our business. Owning a business provided us the opportunity to strike a better balance between work and home. We started off in a tiny basement working all hours of the night. We now have 30 full-time employees who work out of a business office and production space.
3. There are so many challenges raising a baby. Why did you choose labels to start a company with instead of … let’s say clothing or bottles?
This product was chosen because we recognized the need for it. We often finished playdates with the question “whose sippy cup is this?” We ourselves love products that are top quality, cute and personalized. Our labels fit the bill. Believe me, there are times when we have thought we should have a product that just sits on a shelf waiting to be ordered and shipped. Because our product is personalized, it is highly customized. With our very quick turnaround time of 24 hours, there is no quiet time at Mabel’s Labels. Our customers want their product quickly so as soon as that order is placed, we are busy at work to get it out. A product that is not personalized would be much easier in many ways.
4. Is the company focused on baby or labels? The traditional approach would have been to further broaden your labels but you seemed to stay within baby labels. Why?
Parents of babies are certainly a huge market for us, but we also serve school-aged children, campers, adults and seniors. We have an extensive fundraising program offered through many schools and as a means of eliminating lost and found piles while earning money for school initiatives. Clearly, the market there is school-aged children. Product-wise, many items are geared to this age group: our Ultimate Back-to-School Combo and Allergy Alert labels for example. We also have a very well known and successful camps partnership program because camp directors, staff, campers, and campers’ parents recognize the value of labeling. We provide labeling solutions to suit both day campers and overnight campers. We serve our adult customers by offering a variety of fun and practical household labels and stationery products.
5. What medium are you using to reach out to your audience?
We use various mediums to reach our customers. Because so many of our customers are online, social media has been very important to us.
Mediums we use include:
• Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Ning groups, blog, business blog, bookmarking tools)
• Consumer Trade Shows
• Various Conferences – Blogger, Social Media, Small Business, Camp, School, Daycare, Mothers Groups
• Print Magazine Advertising
• Fundraising program
• Various PR initiatives
6. What are some of the social media campaigns you have executed? Can you elaborate on the thought process behind the conceptualization of your campaigns?
We are often creating fun and exciting social media campaigns. One particularly fun one was our April Fools Day gag last year. We reached out to bloggers prior to the launch of our “Invisible Sticky Labels”. It was a fun and clever way to engage our current contacts and meet new prospects. Everyone got such a kick out of it that it was being blogged about and tweeted many times.
When considering a campaign we always think about how much fun it will be to plan and execute it, and also what will make it something that people will want to talk about. It’s all about creating buzz. It’s not always directly related to our products, but always reflects our amazing corporate culture and the core values of our company.
7. Do you find Facebook different from Twitter? How do you manage the two channels?
We have found that people tend to have a longer attention span on Facebook. We have loyal customers who engage on our Facebook Fan Page and the conversation will last longer than it will on Twitter. Twitter is a great way to communicate with current contacts and build new relationships. You can engage people on Twitter at record speed. Both channels are managed by gaining advice from all departments at Mabel’s Labels. Queries range from product questions, order status, new product suggestions, possible partnerships, requests for more information on a program, etc.
Social media is so important to us at Mabel’s Labels, that we have people who work full-time in our Marketing Department focusing entirely on social media. For a small company, that reflects our commitment to social media and shows how important we feel it is.