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Seeking investment in a new way

St. James business owner tries crowd funding

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Kristen Goodman is hoping to move her business out of her garage and into its own stand-alone location.


The St. James-based entrepreneur is the owner of Total She, a company that markets items such as customized jewelry, photo frames and  security cases directly to consumers through home parties and catalogue and online orders.


The business has been so successful that Goodman’s garage is bursting with merchandise and supplies and she requires more space. She’s also looking to upgrade her software and website so she can expand her business network.


Goodman needs to raise $35,000 for her expansion plan and she’s turned to an increasingly popular way to finance that plan — crowd funding.


Crowd funding started almost 20 years ago when musicians and artists discovered how they could issue an online appeal to collect money they required for touring, recording and performing. Since then, websites have been created to facilitate these public appeals with the site taking a percentage of the money raised.


Goodman decided to use Indiegogo and posted her information and a video made by her 16-year-old daughter Sara on the site. Her appeal is entitled Help Total She Get Out of the Garage.


"We figured that if Nik Wallenda could use the website to raise money to be the first person to tight-rope walk across Niagara Falls, we could appeal to the generosity of Manitobans to help grow a Manitoba-made company," Goodman said.


Each appeal on the site is posted for a limited time and the clock is ticking on Goodman’s electronic request. At this point, she just raised a small percentage of her total goal, but isn’t about to give up.
"We’ve done the best that we could and we’ll try to pump it up," she said.


Karen Keppler , a business and administration professor with the University of Winnipeg, said she hasn’t heard of many local established businesses turning to crowd funding to raise money.


"It’s usually the student businesses who are the first to try this type of thing," she said.


However in today’s tough economy, Keppler said, she commends Goodman for trying to generate investment through a new stream.


Goodman has plenty of creative ideas. Earlier this month, she organized an event benefiting Helping Hands of Manitobans with Breast Cancer and also tied it in with her crowd funding campaign.


Unlike a charitable organization using crowd funding, Goodman can’t issue tax receipts for donations.
"However, we are not asking for contributions without giving something in return. Donors will receive products from our line in return for a variety of different contribution levels," she said.


Most of the company’s sales are generated through a network of 40 sales consultants, or She* girls, who work for Total She.


Arlene Adamyk of East St. Paul has worked part-time as a Total She sales consultant for four years.

She said she found out about the company and its unique products at a home party.


"I saw some of the engraved jewelry and I fell in love with it and wanted to share it," she said.


She has worked at as many as 14 home parties in one month, but usually averages three or four each month.


Goodman got into the direct selling business about 10 years ago but can’t explain what drives her to succeed in business.


"I’m the only entrepreneur in the family," she said.


Goodman’s appeal can be found at http://www.indiegogo.com/totalshegarage.

 

andrea.geary@canstarnews.com

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