Yearly Archives


Me Vs. the Library

Judging by my always incomplete reading list to the right, and my book reviews posted here, you are safe to assume that I frequent my branch of the Brooklyn Public Library quite often (Mapleton, holla!)

Even though I’ve got five books out, one of them on my husbands library card (oops), I decided to go insane and type “small business” into the catalog search. Now, Im at page 16 of 150 and needless to say, I’m a little overwhelmed. And yet not.

So many of these books seem to be saying the same thing. “How to start and grow your business!” “the small business manual” “the small business SURVIVAL GUIDE!” and so on. I’ve come to a point where I have read SO. MUCH. of the same thing over and over again (as you’ll notice in some of my reviews) that I find myself skipping so many books because they look like they have the same drivel. Well, that’s not fair…it’s not drivel because the information is so important…but when you’ve read about Sole Props vs. LLCs vs. S Corps so many times that you could be an expert speaker on MSNBC it’s time to spread the search out to new horizons.

So I pledge that, with the exception of the books I have now, that I will search out new ideas or at least books that look deceptively like they will have new ideas in them. And if there’s ever a book you’d like me to search out please feel free to let me know…I’d love to take some recommendations!

Oh, PS, I got the notice that this domain needs to be renewed soon which means Handmade Brooklyn is a year old. Celebrate!

Book Review: 8 Patterns of Highly Effective Entrepreneurs by Brent Bowers

I’ve been putting off finishing this book, not really for any particular reason other than it fit perfectly in my bag and was easy to read on the subway.
If you already are an entrepreneur then this book is nothing new. However, that is not an argument against this book…on the contrary I liked it very much. It was an easy read, used a diverse range of entrepreneurs (one that was even in the beauty industry!), and humanized them. I think a lot of times books like to give entrepreneurs a sort of Sir Richard Branson (love him!) stigma: we’re all adrenaline-driven risk takers and damn the consequences…this book, instead, showed all of the failures that we seem to go through as the stubbornly self-employed.

Do I have the 8 patterns described in the book? A little smugly: yes, yes I do. But I think that if you wanted to believe in these traits and genuinely believed yourself to be an entrepreneur then I think you’d find a way to tailor these qualities to yourself…so in the end who the hell knows. I do think the main pattern/trait/whathaveyou that seems to be reiterated in this book, though under different names, is this:
Entrepreneurs are fluid
We bounce back, fall down, get up, keep moving, are restless, etc. It was comforting to read that so many get bored with their projects quickly, it definitely made me feel a little less crazy.

Time to read 4-5 subway rides
Would I? Yes if you’re looking for a pat on the back for doing what you’re already doing. It’s a good motivator

Quick book recap

So I’ve still been reading, but apparently not able to post book reviews (more on that in the next post). Here’s a quickie recap of books I’ve read and if I think they’re worth your time:
Interesting Reads

“The Way to the Top” by Donald Trump.

I know, I know, how cliche. I picked it up on an impluse and it’s a pretty quick read. It’s a bunch of CEO’s, entrepreneurs, etc giving advice on how to get ahead. Some of it is the stuff you’ve heard before, some of it is motivational, some of it is really long and boring. But overall it’s pretty cool to get into the heads of CEOs.

“How to Castrate a Bull” by Dave Hitz

Yes, there really is a section on how to castrate a bull. The book is about Hitz’s struggle to create a tech company and his ups and downs as a startup. It’s a good read if for only to get the perspective of someone who started up completely different from us “indies.” It’s easy to get through and Hitz’s sense of humor helps it move along.

Don’t bother/Couldn’t Finish

“Guerilla Marketing Goes Green” not as great as the original, I couldn’t get through it.

“Marketing Kit for Dummies” Totally ineffective if you don’t have the CD…I can’t really say either way whether this is a good tool or not since the library didn’t have the CD with the book. If you’ve used it, leave a comment and let me know.

There were a few others, I will head to my library to see what they were…apparently not that memorable! *ba-dum-ching*

Book review: Little Red Book of Selling

I picked this book up as a recommendation from a colleague and..welll……meh.

If you’ve been reading along with me then you’ll know why I didn’t like this book: it’s nothing new. Jeffrey Gitomer talks about how he is a magical shaman of sales (my words, not his) and he will tell you how he does it, and PS he’s not going to sugarcoat his language for you so suck it up. Okay fine. I have learned that sales is a conversational thing, not a by-the-book technique, but dare I say I was…underwhelmed…at his off-the-cuff language.

Look, it’s a great book if it’s your first book on selling. But if you’ve been doing sales for awhile, or you’ve read any other book on selling then this is nothing new.

It does come with a nice bookmark attached to the book, though. Which is nice

Time to read: 2-3 subway rides

Would I? Meh….

Thoughts on bureaucracy

Firstly “bureaucracy” is hard to spell, which is damning enough.

I have mostly kept out of government-y things…I did what I was supposed to do: registered my business, got my insurance, pay my taxes…all of the normal business stuff. I figured if I kept toeing the line, they would leave me alone.

“They” would be the government. Look, I’m not a radical anarchist…I fancied myself one in college but really I’m too lazy…ANYHOW…I’ve kept my head down and just kept chugging along. There was a very real threat I could be shut down with a bill called the Safe Cosmetics Act. Atleast I think that’s what it was called…long story short it got cut, which I am incredibly thankful for. That bill would’ve had crippling consequences on small beauty companies like mine; it was about creating fees of outrageous amounts (hundreds of thousands) and heavily favored large conglomerate companies, though they would have suffered along with me…they still would’ve been in business at least.

And now there is a new bill, and it has passed. The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 does…well actually I don’t really know what it’s going to do, I hear conflicting things and my brain shuts off when I start to read it.

The gist of things I’m getting is that there will be required testing for products (cool) and user fees (not cool). Many are stating that this bill will shut down small companies, but I also heard that those making less than $1 million would be exempt…so who the hell knows.

My opinion is this: I am all for consumer safety, I am thankful that the government said “no” to lead in products and enforced it. I am NOT glad that I have to jump through hoops held by an unknown person for an unknown reason. “Safety” is such a blanket word that it’s meaning has become so jumbled. Do I create a safe product? Of course I do…if I didn’t I would have lawsuits and liability claims that would bankrupt me. Do I need to prove that to someone who has a hard-on for justice because it’s election season? No and fuck you for asking.

My problem with this whole thing is that there is no concerned group of voters pushing for this. This bill was created by either A) someone who has an agenda B) someone who wants to push out the competition C) someone who has a controlling interest in these “user fees.” D) all of the above.

Will it shut us all down? I doubt it but we’ll see. If we DID get shut down I would love to see an underground handmade soap movement, wouldn’t that be fun?

Stay tuned.

Further Reading:

Essential U blog

Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010
Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild weighs in on the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010

Book Review: Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

I had the pleasure of receiving a copy of “Delivering Happiness” and was glad I was able to receive such a great, open look into Zappos. It’s part auto-biography, part Zappos culture but Tony keeps the pace moving pretty well through the book. “Delivering Happiness” is about Zappos CEO founder Tony Hsiehs (“shay”) life as a serial entrepreneur and how he helped Zappos become a culture-based, and consequently, successful company.

What’s really cool is that Tony offers complete transparency into Zappos and into his entrepreneur mindset. He lays out his take on business strategies and likens them to successful poker strategies (so it’s also a good book if you’re learning poker!). Tony offers not only tips on how Zappos culture can work in your business, he also offers free (i think theyre free, it wasn’t mentioned) copies of the actual Zappos Culture book if you just email him ([email protected])!

I really enjoyed this book as a motivational tool and also as a way to learn where the focus should be when Metropolis gets bigger. It’s a useful book for both now and the future. You can also check out more details at

Bottom Line:

Would I? Yes, definitely recommend

Time to read: 2-3 subway rides

Book Review: The Success Principles

There are only two books that I have gotten from the library that made me want to literally run out of my apartment and buy to keep in my collection forever. The first one is The 4-Hour Workweek which pretty much became my Bible. The second one is this book.

I won’t lie it is a long read (400+ pages), but it’s laid out in easy to finish chapters, each covering one of the principles that will set you ahead. A lot of it is pretty self-explanatory, like becoming 100% responsible for your life, but I think that Jack was right in reiterating the importance of doing it. There are affirmations and little writing sessions he suggests, and after completing those and the book (well haven’t completed doing the affirmations, of course!), I would definitely say I’m more positive about the life I’ve chosen and this book has really helped me set a realistic course for success. There are parts where he tells the reader to write down their dreams no matter how silly they seem, but to make them realistic. Rather than saying “I want to be rich!” instead write “I want to have a net worth of $2 million by 2015” and that by adding dates and actual numbers it helps to set forth to achieving that goal rather than a vague goal of “wealth.”

Bottom line:

Time to read: 5+ subway rides

Would I? Absolutely, pick up this book!

Book Review: Marketing for Entrepeneurs

Seems straightforward enough! However, upon opening the book I realized my mistake…this is almost definitely a book that is a supplement to a college marketing course. I could tell by my lack of being able to remember anything I read in it. It has basic applications, definitions, themes, etc…all that go with a marketing course. I was a halfway decent college student, and I would say damn well decent when I got courses that interested me, but this book brought back memories of studying Algebra…no matter how many times I read a passage in this book it just wouldn’t stick.

I definitely learn best from books that have at least a smidge of first person experiences from the author in it. This book was, forgive me, by the book. I really couldn’t see it being a standalone text…there would have to be some gifted professor teaching a course with it that could help the students not become (over/under)whelmed with this. I actually didn’t finish the book…I know it’s not really fair to it but I figured it was best to cut my losses and move on.

If you’re gung-ho academic, give it a try. For the rest of us…well…

Would I? meh

Time to read: 5+ subway rides

Being “that guy”

Things that make my uncomfortable:
– PDAs
– Talking about myself/my products at shows
– Being “that guy”

“That guy” at the moment, is sort of related to the second thing that makes me uncomfortable. I had to write a somewhat stern email to a show promoter recently demanding (in the nicest way possible) to be given a payment deadline for a show that another vendor was given. I didn’t want to do it, and I’m afraid that I’ve burned a bridge with them, but damnit April has been a slow month for income. I’m also somewhat nonconfrontational so I’m afraid of reading their reply, but so be it. Maybe they’ll tell me to go fuck myself and give my space to another vendor, maybe they’ll change my payment deadline…we’ll see.

The reason for this post? A)That image is awesome and B) to remind myself that I’m starting to come out of my shell and stand up for my company. Metropolis may not be a big deal yet but that doesn’t mean I can’t demand equal opportunities for it.

I go, girl.
(Sorry, that was lame)

Book Review: Sell Like The Best

This was the first book I read from my new business stack. I picked it first because, let’s face it, it was a short book. I think that Stephen Schiffman did that on purpose, though. He’s been doing sales for a “long time” (timespan purposely withheld…fair enough!) and I think he knew that getting to the point would be a better read than a long sales book.

The book is short, 142 pages, and the chapters are 2-5 pages each, so it’s really easy to get through. Although the middle of the book was definitely geared more towards reps than the self-employed, most of the book still stayed relevant to me. The first part of the book really motivated me to do something, anything! It’s been awhile since a book has done that for me.

Would I?: Yes, recommended. Time to read: 5 subway rides, max