A New Twist to Solve the Old Problem of Wet, Ruined Shoes

Solving a personal problem can lead to powerful innovation. Tired of winter snow and slush ruining your boots?  Cassandra Droogan, Founder & President, PYSIS Inc took her inspiration from her father’s galoshes and created an exciting new product with a TWIST. Read her guest post here, below – it might inspire you to pursue that idea you’ve been musing about. And make sure you see her special March & April offer for BrandTwist readers.

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It’s important to focus on branding from the moment a product or business concept is conceived.  But, I think that most often the final (& ever-evolving) DNA of a brand grows and takes shape as the business grows.  So, when I recently met Julie Cottineau and was introduced to her strategy of brand twisting, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  A great time to TWIST my brand just as we’re making our big “splash” in the market!

I began designing PYSIS (pronounced Pisces) – a new style of overboots (rain boots worn OVER shoes) to protect women’s high heeled shoes from rain, slush and snow – years ago.  I was inspired by my dear old Dad’s rubber galoshes that he wore over his dress shoes when I was a kid.  It always frustrated me that there wasn’t a similar solution for women’s high heeled shoes – something that we could wear over our wedges and pumps to protect them from the elements.  I wanted my favorite shoes to last and I wanted to wear them when I wanted – whatever the weather.

So, I set out to create a solution: A TWIST on the men’s rubber galoshes of yesteryear.  PYSIS needed to function for heels and wedges, as well as match a woman’s sense of style. This ultimately took the shape of an overboot with a patent exterior – inspiring the style name: “Posh Galosh” – and an elastic closure so it could open wide enough to fit a shoe inside and then contour to the wearer’s leg and hold the shoe securely in place.

Given that my background was in the corporate banking industry (following six years as a lifeguard, where I also prayed for rain on a daily basis!), this development process took some time.  So, my branding journey began while designing a prototype made in NYC’s garment district in 2008, and has evolved as design improvements were made, production was secured, costing was finalized and the product finally hit the market on www.PYSIS.com.  And now Amazon and Shoebuy.com as well.

I’d spoken to many women over the years about my overboots.  Some loved that they’d be able to wear their favorite shoes in bad weather (or the threat thereof!), some hated ruining a new pair of shoes each season and very often I heard excitement over eliminating the need to carry an extra pair of shoes and search for storage for heavy, clunky rain boots.  I would chat, demo the latest prototype, explain the latest challenge… and listen to each person’s reaction and what resonated with her.

But, there really is nothing like actual customer feedback to provide direction for a brand.  With the original “Posh Galosh” style now out there saving women’s shoes, PYSIS can TWIST its way through April showers and on to great things to come!  Our March and April Special Offer (www.pysis.com/SpecialOffer) encourages fans to share PYSIS with their Facebook friends and the first comment we received included a customer exclaiming how excited she is for a busy spring and to no longer have to worry about “the dash from car to party in April”.  We’re so looking forward to hearing more of our customers’ feedback and stories!

There is so much potential for this product and brand and I’m looking forward to continuing the evolution.  Now with Julie’s brilliant guidance, the prospect of TWISTing with some of the brands I’ve admired over the years is very exciting and inspirational.  What would Spanx do??  Hmmm…

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Cassandra Droogan is Founder & President, PYSIS Inc.

Connect with her on Twitter: @PYSIS and on Facebook: PYSISINC

 

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 If you would like to be a guest blogger for BrandTwist contact Jamie@BrandTwist.com for more information.

5 Healthy Habits of Highly Successful Solopreneurs

Many entrepreneurs and business owners encounter a unique challenge: how to re-charge physically and emotionally and still have energy left for business. This guest post, 5 Healthy Habits of Highly Successful Solopreneurs, gives easy, effective ways to cultivate habits that will increase both health and wealth. It is from the LiveAWholeLife.net blog by Debra Boulanger. Read more about Deb and LiveAWholeLife.net, below.

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As a solopreneur, you drive yourself pretty hard to get the exposure you need to succeed and delight the clients you win over. It takes a lot of energy, heart and mental prowess to engage and attract your ideal clients. What habits can you cultivate that will increase both your health and your wealth?

You may speak from the stage, participate in telesummits, write blogs, record videos, send newsletters, network and partner with other solopreneurs and sponsor events.You likely have a marketing plan, financial plan, and annual goals. Your to-dos are a mile long, but where and how do you show up on your own list of things to do? How do you care for your body, mind and soul to do this important work that you do?

While marketing plans, financial plans and budgets are critical, they are not responsible for your success.

You show up in life at a cellular level. Everything you eat, every thought that has crossed your mind, every emotion you feel and even the amount of sleep you got last night are all a part of what is making up ‘you’ today. Right here. Right now. If you are not taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to serve those around you very well either.

Here are the five healthy habits of highly successful solopreneurs that I recommend you cultivate if you want to run at peak performance:

1. Eat based on how you want to feel. Different foods affect your body and mind in different ways. What’s on your agenda today? How do you want to feel while you are doing that? Eat the food that will make you feel that way.

2. Drink lemon water. Not only does it taste good, it acts as a natural diuretic and helps alkalize your bloodstream – making it less likely that you will get allergies, colds or flu.

3. Add superfoods to your regime. Trouble focussing on one thing? Tired of that afternoon crash? Certain superfoods can calm your anxious mind, even out your blood sugar, give you more energy, have you thinking more clearly and give your libido a boost too. My top two are cacao and maca. See the full list at: MyHealthyFoodGuide.com

4. Get your fill of primary foods. While food is important, rarely do any of us ever go hungry. Yet, sometimes we are starved for love, friendship, and connection. If you find yourself opening the pantry or the fridge way too often, check in and ask yourself, “What am I really hungry for?” Look at areas of your life that may be lacking. Are you spending enough time with friends? Getting the love you deserve? Getting enough exercise? Spending time in quiet reflection? Whatever it is you are hungry for, go get more of that thing. Feed your soul as well as your stomach.

5. Create balance and space. If you work alone in a home office, it’s easy to let the boundaries bleed between work and home. Make sure you are creating balance. Meditation can help you to stop running on autopilot and become more centered in the present moment. Journaling can quell the judging voices inside; get you in touch with gratitude and give you space to reflect on your intentions.

Remember to get up and dance often! Life is a great ride and it’s really, really short.

debraboulingerAbout the author: Debra Boulanger

Debra (Deb) Boulanger is the founder of Live a Whole Life where she helps business women over 40 enjoy greater health, unstoppable energy and the super sharp brain power to rock it in business. As a business owner and a single mom herself she knows firsthand what it’s like to be pulled in many different directions.

Prior to founding Live a Whole Life, Deb enjoyed a very successful 25-year product management and marketing career in the professional services industry.

Today, she’s a certified holistic health coach and runs the very successful Feeding Your Freedom program. She speaks with hundreds of women each year through conferences, teleseminars and syndicated radio. Connect with Deb on Facebook at Live A Whole Life With Debra Boulanger, and on Twitter she’s @debraboulanger.

Finding the Right Job Fit: Large vs. Small

Julie Cottineau gives her top tips from her 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin in this post, “Finding the Right Job Fit: Large vs. Small” from our series providing insight and action steps for those seeking a career in branding. You can read more entries in this Career series HERE

A question I often get from job-seekers is, “What are the trade-offs of working for a big vs. small company or agency?”

“Does size really matter?”

When deciding between a boutique ad agency, a global one, a major mass-marketer client or a small start up, there are definite pros and cons of each you should consider.

For example, if you have wanderlust, like I did a few years out of college, the bigger the better. I was fortunate enough to spend 3 of my 10-year tenure at Grey Global in the Paris office. This was an amazing, life-changing experience (I met my husband, who is French, while living there). Grey had a fairly established program of sending people around the globe. So while I did have to press to be one of the lucky ones chosen for an international assignment, the program was already well-oiled and very much in place.

I’ve also worked at small agencies when I was first starting out and have found several benefits in the boutique model as well.

These include: 1) access to senior mentors, 2) fewer layers often means more responsibility for juniors and, 3) participation in new business.

On our pitches the entire agency got involved instead of just a small select new business team, and I learned a ton.

But my wisest piece of advice to help alleviate some of the worry over the debate of small vs. large is to prioritize these two more important factors: 1) What account am I working on, and 2) Who am I working for?

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These two factors are more important then the number of employees listed in the directory. A dynamic brand- one that you are really passionate about, even at a relatively small, up and coming Agency or a start up, can teach you a lot and you will invest more time and energy into it – and this will shine through in interviews and your resume as your move on after a while to look for your next opportunity.

Also the right boss – someone who will invest in you, share their wisdom, give you tools, feedback and responsibility- in my opinion trumps any factors of big vs. small. It also doesn’t hurt if he/she also has had experience with both big and small Agencies – so you can benefit from both sides of the coin.

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, gives you the strategies and tools you need to create a  personal and professional brand that’s a fit in any sized company. Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

Please also join us on Twitter and Facebook for more insight and discussion on branding.

“It was great pulling everything together from touch points, to pillars. I would recommend Brand School to any small biz owner or entrepreneur.” – Sarah W., Entrepreneur

Agency vs. Client: What’s the Best Fit For You?

This post, Agency vs. Client: What’s the Best Fit For You? is another in our series providing insight and action steps for those seeking a career in branding. Julie Cottineau gives her top tips and shares insights from her 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin. You can read more entries in this Career series HERE

Here’a a question I get a lot:

Should I work for an Agency or a Brand?

This is a tough one. There is no one right answer. I’ve been lucky enough to work on both sides of the branding aisle and I think like most career paths, there is no right or wrong path. Just the path you choose.

But I can tell you that from my perspective, if you are interested in an agency role, it’s good to pursue this at the beginning of your career.

Agency jobs can be tough. The pay (especially at the beginning) is low and the hours are long. But, at the right Agency, you will learn a lot. So if you are interested in trying the Agency side, it’s often best to invest this time early in your career when normally you have less obligations (mortgage, spouse, kids) and can put in the long hours and be less concerned about the pay.

In contrast, the relatively shorter and more predictable hours of a client-side job can often fit your lifestyle better when kids enter the picture.

I also believe one benefit of working on the Agency side is that by being accountable to a client, you can learn a great deal about program management and meeting management skills. As an Assistant Account Executive at Grey, I learned how to be very buttoned-up. I had to make sure everyone was prepared for meetings and we weren’t wasting the client’s time. Agendas went out with meeting invites, materials were prepared and next steps were clearly outlined in meeting reports. This kind of discipline, learned early on, stayed with me and was helpful as I advanced through my career.

You can also learn this on the Client side, but often meetings are a bit more casual. At least this was my experience at Virgin- but also at many Clients that I worked for as an Agency partner.
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The other aspect that I loved about working on the Agency side was the exposure to different accounts and business challenges. You don’t always get that when you sign on early with a client that works in one category.

So there are a  lot of plusses about the Agency side, but here’s one tick in favor of a Client job…if you are really interested in the business side of marketing you will likely learn more about this if you are on the Client side. This isn’t to say that Agency people don’t do a good job of learning about their Client’s businesses. They do. But in my experience, no matter how close an Agency partner is, its still not the same as being on the inside and hearing first hand all of the business and financial conversations – and being truly held accountable for business results.

My 5 + years at Virgin was like getting my MBA. I became much more comfortable and familiar with different business terms and business models. I saw first hand the impact of different marketing decisions. From a much closer perspective than I ever had on the Agency side. I also learned how to be more accountable for my creative ideas. I couldn’t propose solutions that were going to cost a lot without thinking about how we would make the cost up in additional revenue. This might sound like a constraint, but it actually made me make sure my creative ideas were more sound, and in turn, they had a better chance of being implemented.

So what’s the right fit for you? It’s hard to say. One way to make the choice is to think about where you see yourself in 5-10 years. If you have any ambitions of someday starting your own business, then I would say it’s really important to get some experience on the Client side. Even if you have an MBA from a top school – there’s really no substitute for in market experience.

And if you are thinking of becoming an entrepreneur or are already building a business, our highly effective, premier branding program, Brand will give you the insight and tools you need to get the job done. Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

Please also check us out on Twitter and Facebook for more insight and discussion on branding.

“Brand School was helped us set structure to our process, define our target and recognize our customer’s motivations. We were able to create timely taglines and better define our branding campaigns”.  – Randi Curhan, Development Coordinator for Redwood High School Foundation

Sharpen Your Digital Fluency to Win the Job

This post, Sharpen Your Digital Fluency to Win the Job, is another in our series providing insight and action steps for those seeking a career in branding. Julie Cottineau gives her top tips and shares insights from her 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin. You can read more entries in this Career series HERE

Whether you are a raving fan of Facebook – or a hater – it doesn’t really matter.

Part of the appeal of hiring someone in their 20’s is that the hiring manager (often someone in their 40’s or 50’s) believes that you are a Digital Native and that you will help them decipher Instagram from Pinterest and everything in between.

I meet marketing students all the time who say, “I’m not really that into social media.” Well here’s my advice… Get into it. Fast.

If you are interested in branding or marketing, you need to be fluent in Social Media. Not as someone posting vacation pics and snaps of wild karaoke nights – but as someone who understands and appreciates the power of social media to connect with people, create dialogue and build brands.

The latest “hot” social channel may fluctuate or evolve over time (personally I think there is a whole generation of tweens who are going to be more loyal to Instagram then Facebook) but two-way relationships – engagement marketing – are here to stay. And you need to know your Tumblr from your Twitter and how to use it for brands you will be helping to build.

So what’s a budding brander to do? Does this mean you have to become an uber blogger or tweet 24/7? No, but you do need to be able to demonstrate digital fluency:

  • Be prepared in interviews to talk about what brands and branding experts you follow on Twitter.
  • Reach out to experts and agencies through their blogs/twitter accounts. Leave positive, insightful comments. These budding relationships could  help you down the road in your job search.
  • Make sure you have a professional presence on the major social media such as Linkedin and Twitter, and make sure your profiles are up-to-date
  • If you have a Linkedin or Twitter profile, make sure you include a professional, friendly picture. None of those grey portrait outlines or generic blue eggs. They communicate that you are not really committed.
  • And think about starting a blog or a twitter account dedicated to branding, marketing, and/or creativity. No one but your mom may read it at first, but it you post or tweet fairly frequently, it will eventually come up when prospective employers Google your name – and it will show that you are serious about the field.

Want to start increasing your visibility right away? Apply to be a guest blogger for BrandTwist. We’re always looking for great student and guest authors for our blog. Interested? Just send a brief synopsis of your blog idea along with a sample paragraph to Jamie@BrandTwist.com and we will contact you within one week to let you know if your blog idea has been accepted for further development.

BrandTwist does not pay for guest blog content, but we will provide you with a byline that includes your bio and contact details. This is a great platform to reach other people who are passionate about brand. Who knows… maybe your future employer will see your blog post and call you for an interview!

Hone your skills. Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding course, will give you the tools you need to develop your branding skills. Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

Please also check us out on Twitter and Facebook for more insight and discussion on branding.

“Brand School helped me get clear on my messaging and my brand. Now my clients know exactly what it is I bring to my classes.” – Josh Pais, Actor and Founder of Committed Impulse, creativity workshop