Monday, September 12, 2011

Kerry Wallman and Kristin Merrill (Kiwi and Kiki) {Women In Business Series}

Kiwi and Kiki

Website (Kiwi - ties)
Etsy (Kiki - hair pieces)

Tell me a bit about yourself

We are Kerry and Kristin, also known as Kiwi and Kiki. We are sisters - and before you ask, no we aren't twins! (Kristin just looks old - haha!) We are 4 years apart, and while we spent most of our childhood fighting and trying to annoy the other as much as possible, we became best friends as we reached adulthood. We got our nick names from our children - When Kristin's daughter Lily was learning to speak, she couldn't say "Kerry" instead she said "Kiwi." We knew we had to have a cute name for Kristin also, so we decided on "Kiki."

When did you start your business?

We have been crafters for a long time, but our business venture together began about 3 years ago. Kerry started selling various items at the Puyallup Farmer's Market in the summer of 2006, and the Kristin joined her with her items in the summer of 2008. Our business has evolved over the years, especially as we have had children.

Is there anything in particular that sticks out in your mind about starting your business?

This business started as a hobby, and grew into what it is today. Many mistakes were made, but we learned from them and moved on. Being sisters, we disagreed as much as we agreed - we knew it was important to listen to each other and let each other have the space we needed. We started small - focusing mostly on our business at the farmer's market, and slowly added items online. When we look back now at the items we made then we are surprised we ever lasted!

Time management? How do you do it? Is it a struggle? Recommendations?

This is always a struggle, especially being full time moms as well as business owners. Kerry's tie business took off right while she was 9 months pregnant with her son Max - after she had Max, she was in the hospital sending invoices and responding to emails - it was a little crazy, but she managed to get the orders organized so that she could get through those first months with a new baby and still manage the business. When business is going well, it's hard to say no to customers or tell them they have a really long wait period- you don't want to risk losing their business, but it is soooo important to establish boundaries and stick with them. Being a mom has to come first for us, and sometimes that makes the business difficult, but we are lucky to have very supportive husbands that stand by us and help when we need it. Kerry's husband has been known to help with the ironing of all those ties, and Kristin's husband packs most of her boxes and ships them for her, definitely a team effort!

Chocolate or Vanilla! Haha Have to have something random

Something random...Kristin is DEATHLY afraid of bugs. Even when the bug isn't on her - we were shopping together once when a very large bug had landed on Kerry - Kristin nearly hyperventilated trying to tell her the bug was on her. Kerry is afraid of peas. Yes, the little green peas that you are supposed to eat because it's a healthy vegetable. It may be irrational (okay, it definitely is irrational) but she's still afraid of them. It's a long story involving preschool and hair. We'll leave it at that. Back to your question about chocolate or vanilla Kerry would say chocolate and Kristin would say Vanilla.

If you had advice for other women in business what would it be?

Know your priorities and values and stand by them. It will take some time, but find your focus - Kerry's shop is a good example of this - she has made so many different things over the years before settling into her current line of items. Once she found a focus, the business became more successful and satisfying. In Kristin's shop, you will only find a handful of the same items she started with. She has realized how important it is to truly LOVE and stand behind each and every item you make/sell.

Thank you SO much Kerry and Kristin for taking the time out of your busy schedules to participate in my fun blog adventure!! You both are truly fabulous!!


Sharon Neves Photography

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