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Homer Whales LLC

Submitted by: Abigail Kokai
Business Website: http://homerwhales.com
State: Alaska
City: Homer

Business Description

Homer Whales are unique soft-form toys individually hand made by Abigail Kokai in Homer, Alaska.

What one unique aspect of your business will make you succeed over the next year?

Simply put, Happiness will help my business succeed over the next year. My business specializes in producing a rather unique item. I’ve observed that the best way to explain my product line is to physically place the product in the hands of the buyer. No amount of marketing materials or written explanation conveys the quality or composition of each of my products. What truly sells my product is the overwhelming joy that one experiences while holding and exploring the tactile nature of my products. My business, Homer Whales LLC makes one thing – whales, each made by hand using recycled jeans and garment items. My business was born out of a happy accident, and every step of growth has been met with joy and excitement. It’s been an incredible learning experience along the way, and I’ve encountered many, many very kind mentors and have a strong network. I remain level-headed and realistic about goals and further business growth. Over the next year, I am launching a new whale product that will expand my geographical retail exposure. I will target very specific locally owned specialty stores and boutiques that sell handmade items similar to my products. Through a cold email, I will explain my product line and offer a free sample, because what truly sells my product is the overwhelming joy that one experiences while holding a whale. It is that Happiness that will help my business succeed over the next year.

How does your business make a positive impact on the community?

In my rural community of Homer, Alaska, my business has been treated as a bit of ‘rising star’. While I am fortunate to have a great network of mentors and small business resources, I continue to seek out and engage in business training, networking, and different manufacturing techniques. I also talk to other small business owners and share any knowledge or tips with anyone looking to start their own business. My community has been incredibly supportive of my business, even before it was an official business and I structured philanthropy into my business plan, donating whales to Alaskan hospitals and supporting a local organization specializing in whale research.

What would you do with a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card, training, and help from a SCORE mentor to grow your business?

A gift card for Sam’s Club would provide for up-to-date software for recordkeeping, payment processing, and office software to better organize inventory, communications with retailers, and a tablet device for social media advertising and web store marketing. My business would especially benefit from training and mentoring involving: Employer tips, Understanding business-to-business relationships, Importing raw materials and components, Working with “big” businesses, and tips for licensing products, monitoring licensing, trademark infringement, copyright infringement.

The following responses will be considered in judging for a SCORE Award.

How has working with a SCORE mentor helped your business?

Presenting my business via the American Dreams challenge, with Ron Baron offered a couple of insights as to how to 'sell' and 'market' utilizing HSN as a model.

Have you had to overcome any obstacles along the way to build your business?

I am continually looking into other methods for production with consideration of how to build other product channels.

How will you utilize the marketing video and national recognition of winning a SCORE Award to help take your business to the next level?

The SCORE Award will expand my visibility, and allow me to grow new personal contacts relative to marketing my business.
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