tv Your Business MSNBC May 4, 2014 4:30am-5:01am PDT
look around here in hamilton, missouri, you might think this is a sleepy little town with not a lot going on. but you'd be wrong. find out how one company is single-handedly resurrecting its main street one storefront at a time. that's coming up next on "your business." small businesses are revitalizing the economy, and american express open is here to help. that's why we are proud to present "your business," on msnbc.
hi there, everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg and welcome to "your business." today we bring the story of a small business and a small town whose fortunes have been tied together. the business is the missouri star quilt company. and the town, hamilton, missouri. hamilton's main street, like so many in small towns across america, has been struggling to survive with store fronts empty and crumbling. as the missouri star quilt company grew, the doan family who started the business in 2008 saw an opportunity to improve their main street and grow their business by bringing quilting enthusiasts from all over the world to town to shop and sew and meet up. so far it's working. we'll show you how in this week's "main street usa."
welcome to hamilton, missouri. population, 1800. until now hamilton has best been known for being the birth place of jcpenney. but today, this city, which is about an hour away from kansas city, is known for something quite different. quilting. it's been dubbed the disneyland of quilting. and that's all because of the vision of one family which started the missouri star quilt company. people have come from all over the world, from as far away as australia. but once they get here, turns out there's not much else for them to do. so missouri star has broadened their business. and now they're working with local partners to turn this sleepy town into a true destination. how many of these buildings do you own? >> right downtown hamilton we have 12 of them. >> so you're really taking over this town. >> we kind of taking advantage of people not using them, and letting them just kind of be run down and fall apart and putting together something new and exciting. >> and some of them, i see, you
have the sewing retreat here for quilters. you have sew seasonal over there. >> well, so we're focused on quilting. we want to have the most quilt shops of any town in the world. >> it's a big idea for a very small town, whose main street has been in decline for a long time. with just one street light, and until recently only one restaurant, there just wasn't a whole lot going on in hamilton before the missouri star quilt company came along. >> jessica green, hamilton bank, 75 years on main street. >> have people started things here that haven't stuck or has this just been kind of a dead downtown for a long time? >> we have got some great businesses that have been here and have stuck it out during, you know, during the downturn. we just weren't figuring out a way to get other people into town. i think missouri star quilt company uniquely has gotten people from outside hamilton in to downtown, and on our main street. >> ellen gentry, proud mayor of hamilton, missouri. been a resident since 1978 and
serving my first term as mayor. >> what do you think the missouri star quilt company is doing for this town? >> they brought in employment. i think they employ over 100 people now. i'm sure they're the largest employer in the city, and very possibly in caldwell county. they've improved a lot of our buildings that were in disrepair and actually maybe dilapidated and going to fall down. it's been a really good situation for the city of hamilton. >> and the city of hamilton hases about been really good for the doan family. 20 years ago ron and jenny doan were barely making ends meet living in california when they decided to pack up their large family, and head to missouri. with the hope of finding a slower pace of life, and a lower cost of living. >> we actually just picked a place off a map, and within three days after we came to the midwest, i mean, i told my husband, i says, you could bury me here. i was an odd ball in california. i had a lot of kids. i liked to sew. i canned. i gardened. you know. and i just -- there wasn't many people around that did that.
it was just completely different way of life. and we just fell in love with it. >> with a fresh start in missouri jenny stayed home, raised her seven children, and then suddenly found herself with an empty nest. she took a class in quilting. fell in love with the craft, and found she was a natural. inventing shortcuts that allowed her to block, stitch and patch far faster than anyone else in her class. >> i made about 12 of them by the time i was done. i was just so addicted. >> with the economy shaking in t 2008 and ron nearing retirement the doan children were concerned that their parents had little money for their golden years. since jenny was spending so much time on her new hobby, the kids thought purchasing a professional quilting machine might be a good investment for the future. helping them start a little business that might bring in a small income for their parents. >> we got a building for $24,000, and a quilt machine for $40,000. so the quilt machine cost more than the building we're in. so that was the catalyst that got us all going.
>> and from those humble beginnings the missouri star quilt company was born. alan, his sister sarah and another partner built a quilting website based on the daily deal. when the website gained some traction they realized jenny's larger than life personality was perfect for youtube. >> the competition begins now! >> i know this looks a little crazy but i've done crazy things before. but wait, there's more. >> she's always been just a big ham, right? like she loves her form, she was what people were going to fall in love with because she's a good teacher. she doesn't mind if you're not perfect and every stitch isn't just right or your block doesn't come out square. >> now it turns out jenny is the real star at the missouri star quilt company. >> i was hoping for a kwshs here's jenny!." >> as jenny's notoriety on youtube grew, so did the business. she now has a devoted following
of more than 150,000 subscribers. and her folksy videos have been watched more than 28 million times. >> she's just sunshine in a barrel. >> oh, she's an awesome instructor. you know, she has some wonderful sense of humor, too. >> the business was humming along nicely, when something totally unexpected started to happen. >> jenny wasn't here, i was kind of disappointed. but today i got to talk to her. >> people started to making the pilgrimage to hamilton to visit the quilt shop and meet jenny in person. the family quickly saw an opportunity to grow their brick and mortar business and their town to supported influx of guilting tourists. >> we can't all just be quilting, right? i mean we know that we kind of have to build an ecosystem that supports everyone. so we have a couple of these buildings that are going to be refinished into just retail space or just space that people can come in and rent and run their business from there. and that's really exciting to me because that means everybody gets a chance.
>> one of those new businesses hoping to succeed is poppy's bakery. a local caterer, poppy has always dreamed of opening a storefront of her own. but hamilton just didn't have the foot traffic to support a retail store. that is until the missouri star quilt company came along. >> poppy's bakery, in business for four days. >> i was in the process of looking for a place to land and open a business of my own. it gave me a huge step up because it allowed me to focus on the business, not having to repair buildings. so that we were able just to come in, design the kitchen to fit my needs. >> the doans also helped navy diver and burgher connoisseur don dotson launch his business, opening a much-needed burger joint that shares an outdoor patio with the bakery. >> john dawson, j.'s burger dive three weeks on main street. >> would it have been possible for you to open this restaurant without the missouri star quilt company? >> no. >> what did they do for you? >> they provided a building that we lease from them.
and finances to get the business started and running >> and with lines out the door, the demand for burgers, fries and shakes in hamilton is clearly there. it is crazy. it's 34 degrees out there and people are coming and making milkshakes. >> yeah. we sold over 500 milkshakes in our first week. >> a remarkable change for the sleepy town of hamilton where the chamber of commerce just started up again after years of inactivity. and their local mail truck can no longer manage the package pickup at missouri star. unless they make several trips a day. cramming packages into the small truck on each visit. is there a ripple effect from the success of the missouri star book company? >> one instance i can think of is this year the bank's christmas party. typically we traveled out of town and held that at a restaurant. this year because of the retreat center that they built they have a large banquet area that we were able to use. so we're able to feed back into the community. >> and i'm so proud of my children. you know, they were at a town meeting one time and somebody said this is just going to be a
one dimensional town. you know, and alan said, well isn't it better than no dimensional? we're doing something. i'm telling you, i'm just as tickled as i can be to see it happening and i think most everybody is, too. >> hamilton has a storied history because jcpenney was born here. do you think the point of pride around that might be taken over by missouri quilt company? >> i think it's possible that it could be. they're a booming business. and i think they have a lot of the same values jcpenney did. >> so is the focus of hamilton going to move from, here's the place jcpenney was born to here is this quilting capital of the united states? >> it's very possible it might. >> if you think we should visit main street in your town, please write us and tell us why. e-mail address is yourbusiness @msnbc.com. taking your small business mobile doesn't have to be an excruciatingly difficult process. to help you, check out our website of the week,
dudamobile.com converses your existing website into a fully customizable mobile site using its easy-to-use online platform. edit the layout, color scheme and images to fit your needs. also, you can preview your site just as your mobile customers will see it as you make adjustments. there are hundreds of great books out there for entrepreneurs, and small business owners. entrepreneur magazine created a list to help us figure out which ones to tackle first. here now are five books every small business owner should read in 2014. one, the power of habit by charles duhigg. learn how our customs predict not only life changing events, but also the behavior of consumers. two, the innovator's dilemma by crayton m. christenen. harvard professor and serial entrepreneur's christensen's 17-year-old book still provides helpful take aways for the modern small business owner. three the lean start upby eric ries offers advice that breaks
away from the traditional solutions small businesses are usually given. this book offers a fresh p perspective on how to start and grow your company. four the wisdom of failure by jim mcconoughey. this how not to guide explores the failures of individuals and companies through a seven-year study. and five, the goal, a process of yoon going improvement by eliyahu m. goldratt. this novel will teach you how to be a better decision maker for your small business. since its creation in 1932, ethan allen interiors has risen to become an iconic american furniture retailer with a worldwide brand recognition. at the helm of the company is farooq kathwari. he became ethan allen's chairman and ceo in 1987, after years of supplying the business with lighting and other home accessories from his import business. we headed over to ethan allen's headquarters in connecticut to sit down with kathwari to talk about everything from the importance of getting your team
on board, and why you can't be afraid of change in this week's learning from the pros. >> one of our main jobs is to make sure that ideas are so internal that people have a great buy. so when we have an idea or i have an idea, i ask opinions. what do you think? not only do i get input, but they become part of their idea. at the end of the day, good ideas work if people accept them. as their ideas. you have to take on the road. you have to talk to people continuously. because a good idea is good if it is accepted by people. being relevant is very critical. i question my zfl all the time. i discuss with my societies, are we relevant?
when this great recession took place five or six years back, it really hit us like it hit everybody else. ethan allen brand was only sold in ethan allen stores, sold by 1500 interior designers. so we questioned are we relevant? should we have 1500 interior designers when the world is moving towards more service. are we relevant in our technology? you question it and you keep on improving. you've got to embrace change. invention has got to be part of our dna. ethan allen is a great iconic american brand. when i got involved, ethan allen had over 85% to 90% brand recognition. it was known for early american colonial furniture. when i got involved things were starting to change. colonial and early american was no longer the predominant style. the manufacturing that had been established since 1932, some
were great, and some were not in the right places. so, we had to change. we had to change our product lines. our image. our manufacturing. even many people in the leadership positions. a leader has to be captain of the team. that is playing with the team, strategizing, caring. not be sitting on the sidelines. we have complex organization, lots of talented people so one has to be careful on one hand you are involved but on the other hand you've got to let people do their work and do their jobs. be involved in the decision-making off determining what the strategy is. and then letting people implement it. and be part of it. understanding that it's being implemented but not being involved on every detail. my involvement is generally at the beginning and at the end. in the middle our associates
develop the programs. coming up the answers to your small business questions about moving your business out of your home and into an office. and whether college grads should work for a small business before starting one. and do you get frustrated trying to recharge electronics from different manufacturers with different systems? today's elevator pitcher has the ideal power solution. if i can impart one lesson to a new business owner, it would be one thing i've learned is my philosophy is real simple american express open forum is an on-line community, that helps our members connect and share ideas to make smart business decisions. if you mess up, fess up. be your partners best partner. we built it for our members, but it's open for everyone. there's not one way to do something. no details too small.
american express open forum. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. as a new person in business or a person who wants to get into business you should always have an open mind. always. especially with somebody who is successful. you listen, listen, listen, you grab and take what you feel is best for you, and then you incorporate it into your own style. because you're never going to be like them. you're going to have your own style on how you do business. and then go for it. over our eight years on the air we've shared many stories about inspiring entrepreneurs. many have overcome hard times by starting as successful small business. for a north carolina couple, it took a move prompted by their children's health needs to discover an unusual opportunity. nbc's harry smith has their story.
>> here's a big bump, colton. >> reporter: the ball family sets out for an afternoon stroll in asheville, north carolina. troy and her husband charlie moved here from texas ten years ago to save the lives of their oldest boys marshall and colton. in texas their frail constitutions were constantly compromised by the heavy pollen. life in the cool, clean air of the appalachians has agreed with this family, including their youngest, luke. it's also provided a unique business opportunity. >> doesn't it smell good? >> it's like grits. >> it is. it's exactly grits, right. >> reporter: troy ball makes moonshine. you heard that right, corn liquor. >> this is whiskey. you can put your finger right in there and smell it. >> oh, it smells like whiskey. >> and that's hard. >> this is the good stuff? >> that's the good stuff. >> troy got the idea of making moonshine because when they first arrived in asheville, she'd get mason jars full of the
stuff as housewarming presents. soon, troy was heading back into the hollers to find out for herself how it was done. >> came home one day and with the pressure cooker and said to my husband, i need you to help me convert this to a still. and he said, you're nuts. i'm not going to do that. >> that little pressure cooker turned into this. a thriving distillery that makes the real mountain dew. >> just take a little sip. there you go. >> wow. the key ingredient to troy's whiskey, crooked creek corn. grown for generations by farmer john mcentire's family. >> this is not genetically modified corn. and we're very proud to say that. >> yeah. >> this is old school corn. >> call it moonshine for the masses. you know once you take the first sip, you're kind of prone to want to take a second. plenty of people here thought
she might be crazy. but troy believed if she could overcome the myriad obstacles to keeping her sons healthy, she could probably do almost anything. thus on every label it says troy & sons. >> so i spent 24 hours a day for about 18 years taking care of the boys. it is my job to keep them alive. and so when it came time to finally have a moment to develop a business, this was my way of honoring them, and making a statement about our lives. >> a statement that could double as a recipe that life, or even moon shine, is pretty much what you make of it. >> time now to answer some of your business questions. let's get our board of directors in here to help. barry moltz is a small business consultant. you can find him at and the author of the new book how to get unstuck.
25 ways to get your business growing again.unstuck." and from guilt, the luxury e commerce site, good to see you both. the first question is about growing out of your home office. >> i wonder what the best way is to go about going from a home-based business is getting one's own offices locally. >> reporter: when you started guilt it was tiny. two of you or a few of you. how do you know when it's time to move from the business at home to the real deal? >> if in our case, my apartment was way too the small to host our employees. we borrowed space at the beginning. at a certain point if you can afford, have the resources, you need to carve out your own space to build a culture, a sense of team around the business. there are so many resources out there now which is good news. a lease in new york, the new york city development core list incubator spaces in new york,
square footage price s there ar resources now more than i had seven years ago when i start theed guilt. >> with my company we moved from my apartment to a space we rented for a month and then another place for two months until -- it's scary to sign a lease. >> you have to do it slowly. in a successful business you want to make sure you keep fixed expenses as low as possible. it feeds your ego to say i'm going the to have a real office. do it slowly. find an incubation space you can rent by the month. >> let's move on. this question is about advice for college graduates. >> one thing i have noticed as a college professor is the large number of students now interested the in going straight into owning their own business rather than working for someone else. i'm wonderering what advice you would give them? would you suggest they get a job and works as an employee first or do you think they can jump right in and be brave and p go
into business for themselves? >> i spoke to a young woman recently, a babysitter for my friend. she was interest maryland the industry. she didn't want to work for anyone. she thought that's a wave of my tile. nobody learns anything from working for people. i have to start my own thing. that's how successful people do it. i said, that's one path. there is another path. it was going through one ear and out the other. you're an entrepreneur, what do you tell people? >> you learn a lot in the trempbls of other businesses and certain roles or functions. that said, entrepreneurship, inno sags is the driver of our economy. it's encouraging to see people out of college wanting to start their own thing. do you have the resources and support you feed to do it right now? that said, i have done businesses that were successful and others not as successful.
you learn so much by building a successful business. you learn even more by failing. take those experiences, whether it's failing fast, starting your own business, learning. . there is no wrong or right route. you have to do what feels true to you. >> the good thing about being out of college is your risk profile is higher. >> you have nothing to lose. given the choice i would rather make mistakes on someone else's dime than mine. remember, starting your own business is about the people you work with, not the requested. if you find people you can groove with, go for it. >> it is interesting. there is a cult of entrepreneurship now. this is what we are here to talk about. there is something to be said for going, having a mentor and learning under somebody you work for. it's different personality types, too. >> it's a lot about the team you are able to surround yourself. whether it's mentors, other employees.
. if you are going it alone that early in your career you have to be willing to listen and learn. >> when you talk to sbre prefuhrs and they what's the one thing that helped them? it's finding the right mentor. >> later on in the show. >> thank you. if any of you have questions for the experts we answer them on the show every week. go to our website at openforum.com/your business. when you get there hit the ask the show link to submit a question for the panel. or you can e-mail us as your email@example.com. now to twitter for advice. usa today's rhonda abrams tweets a no interest loan from a friend or family peb may still face imputed interest from the irs. ask your accountant.
our friend rieva says 58% of u.s. consumers consider companies that produce video content to be more trustworthy. sales guru and your business panelist grant cardone says find examples creating success today with their brand and biz. if you have different chargers it can be challenging. today we have a solution to get the wires straight. >> hello. i'm the ceo of easy docks. we own the intellectual property to the best method to universally charge all brands of phones, tablets, portable media devices, you name it, we can charge it. this is a $2 billion industry. we are looking for a $1 million
investment. we expect in five years to give you a return of $15 million which is about 10% market share if we can gain. the device fits any device. doesn't matter which device you want to fit into the thing. this one will charge five device. it will have a speaker. so blue tooth for any one device. we are cash flow positive and our first year we are profitable. [ bell ringing ] >> jack, thank you very much for your pitch. i'm going to give each of you guys one of these and a pen. on a scale from 1 to 10 i want to know how you think he did on the pitch. not the product. jack, i wish you could see my desk. it is a series of 50 different chargers. this would be helpful to me. let's see what you think. barry? >> i gave it a 6. a couple of words were great. you said cash flow positive whiches as an investor i love.
i didn't hear about distribution. any consumer product is about how many stores you are in and who will see it. >> alexis? >> you did a good job. solving a true need we have as a consumer. that's great. i would have loved to learn more about why you are the right person or your team is right and what else is out there? is there competition? what makes this the right moment? >> 12 of 20. easy things to stick in your quick pitch. great advice. thank you, jack. congratulations are on your success so far. we want to hear what you thought about jack's pitch today. go ahead and wall street us. we are @msnbc your are biz and tell us why. to learn more , click on the website. it is openforum.com/your business. you will find all of the segments and the web exclusive content with a lot more information to help your
business grow. you can follow us on twit twer. again it's @msnbc your biz. weigh in on today's elevator pitch. you can uh find us on facebook and instagram as well. next week, one small business switches gears to go online after feeling customers weren't getting enough attention. we'll tell you how this mother-daughter team is raising the bar on customer service by focusing on speed and quality. until then, remember, we make your business our business. if i can impart one lesson to a new business owner, it would be one thing i've learned is my philosophy is real simple american express open forum is an on-line community, that helps our members connect and share ideas to make smart business decisions. if you mess up, fess up. be your partners best partner. we built it for our members, but it's open for everyone.
there's not one way to do something. no details too small. american express open forum. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. the morning after washington's biggest night. >> good morning from washington with where the cleanup has begun in more than a few locals are waking up to hangovers after the white house correspondents dinner and the parties that followed. there were plenty of laughs. no subject seemed taboo. some of the jokes pushed the edge in a way that made the crowd uncomfortable at times. president obama began the annual speech with a self-deprecating ak knowledgement ha the last year has been rough for him politically. >> at one point