1 on 1 tells the stories of entrepreneurs and mentors working together to achieve success in our community.
Marketing and Graphic Design student at Minnesota State University, Mankato
Regional Business Development Manager
Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development
12 Civic Center Plaza, Suite 1600A, Mankato, MN 56001
Even though she has not yet graduated college, Minnesota State University, Mankato student Maggie Knier is a veteran business owner. She started 2True Headbands when she was just 14 years old. Now a junior in college she has had some success in online sales of her headbands. But, with college graduation looming, she feels ready to take the next step.
“I’ve had a desire to make it big and be successful since I was young, but always felt like it was unachievable from my current position. I would dream these big dreams, but then just wait for them to happen on their own instead of making them happen. I recently discovered a podcast called “The Goal Digger” podcast which is all about female entrepreneurs. When I first started listening to this podcast I was initially jealous, but after a few episodes it hit me; why am I wasting time waiting for a sudden and undeserved success? I have my own business, why don’t I start giving it 100% and see where it takes me?” says Knier.
That’s when she discovered Minnesota State’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and One Million Cups. She saw it as a great opportunity to seek advice from seasoned entrepreneurs and get word out about her business. And she did have a couple of specific challenges she wanted those in attendance to help her address.
“My biggest challenge at the moment is how to take 2True to the next level,” explains Knier. “I haven’t taken any leaps for several years and progress has been stagnant. I know I need to build brand recognition and start marketing my products. I’ve gotten excellent feedback on my headbands, and have had a lot of success with selling them at craft shows where the customers walk by and can handle/try on the headbands. I have been stuck when it comes to driving traffic to my website and with where I should take my business. I have been in the same rut for several years and I know that I can go bigger, I just didn’t know where to start.”
She is thankful she presented at One Million Cups.
“I loved it! Nothing gets me fired up more than networking and talking about my passions! Even if I hadn’t received any helpful advice, I think simply the opportunity to organize a pitch and present to an audience was extremely valuable. Fortunately, however, the community members in attendance at the presentation were full of wisdom and willing to help! I received so much feedback and so many new ideas, and I left the presentation feeling inspired. I didn’t know where to start!” she says.
Knier says she’ll likely pick the brains of her community of mentors again in the near future, as she is finding challenges present themselves every step of the way when growing a small business.
“I am currently looking to get my headbands into boutiques and gyms in the area. I would love ideas on how to approach these types of businesses, as well as advice on how to go about wholesaling. I also would appreciate any tips on branding and marketing both in the community and online. My goal I am currently working towards is to build a following on Instagram and create a community, which will hopefully translate into sales in the long run!”
Knier identified two major hurdles she is currently trying to get over to move her business forward. To get some answers, we went to a One Million Cups regular…in fact she is the emcee…Lisa Hughes.
“My advice to Maggie on how to drive more traffic to her website and increase sales is to number one build lists across multiple media and platforms to communicate with customers, leads, and prospects in whichever way they prefer. Also creating a referral program might be beneficial. And, finally work with influencers both virtually, like social media and bloggers, as well as non-virtually. For example, I bought a headband from Maggie because the display was up at the CIE and I was absolutely taken by the fabric, colors, and designs. For me, that would not have come across on a website. Headbands can easily be an impulse buy so work with a salon owner(s) in the area and make the headbands available for sale at the shop! I can attest – one is not nearly enough!” says Hughes.
Hughes says as Knier gets closer and closer to graduation, she needs to stay connected to the relationships she is already building.
“Maggie’s business has a lot of potential. My advice to her is to be laser focused on increasing sales. She needs to continue working on her business plan and updating it as appropriate. Maggie should always remember that she is part of an entrepreneurial ecosystem that is supportive, passionate and wants to see her succeed. There are so many resources in the Greater Mankato community that can help her grow her business. If she needs help finding new customers; assistance connecting with strategic partners; more space; additional equipment and supplies; financial assistance; new product ideas; business advice; legal advice; marketing assistance; employees; an exit plan; and/or anything else, there is a community with the experience and expertise to help her. If Maggie stays connected to the 1MC Mankato community, she will find there is no barrier, hurdle or opportunity that she cannot overcome or explore,” says Hughes.
The One Million Cups presentations are held the first Wednesday of every month. More information at: 1millioncups.com/mankato.