Meet Dani Liberman, Founder and Owner of Kidcessories. This all-star business woman based in Long Island, New York runs the amazing store Kidcessories, and it is basically heaven for tweens. Kidcessories specializes in making different things for camp, and they are to die for! Check out Dani’s store below, on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kidcessories1, and on Instagram @kidcessories.
What exactly is Kidcessories?
Kidcessories is a tween’s paradise where you can have anything from blankets to tank tops to photo frames to teddy bear t-shirts and sunglasses personalized, or just find a cool gift or toy. Camp is our specialty, but we have great items for school and home as well as party favors and gifts for all occasions, year-round.
Where did you get the idea for Kidcessories?
When my first daughter was born in 2010, I went to a store to get some hair accessories for her and couldn’t believe that a hair clip cost $20. I am not particularly crafty, but I ended up going to a craft store with a friend and we bought ribbon, hot glue and embellishments and started making our own.
I happened to come down with pneumonia at some point around that time and started a Mommy blog and a website for the clips all in one week because I was bored lying in bed all day. I called the website Princessories. I got myself some shopping cart software and a Tax ID so I could buy materials wholesale and got to work making hair accessories. Eventually clips and bows became headbands, hand-stamped jewelry and accessory holders. I saw this amazing camp display at a trade show in the city – I knew camp was big around here, so I bought a few things I thought would compliment what was on the website. I never expected it would catch on to the point that I would one day be opening a retail store.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I spend a lot of time on Instagram and Etsy, follow my customers back on social media, and look at websites that cater to that age group to try and find what my target age group is into, how they decorate their rooms, what symbols and phrases they are using the most, what’s “in”, what’s “out”, and “what’s next”. I also love when I find an entrepreneur who has a product and is just looking for someone to take a chance on them. I have sold a good deal of items that have come from kids ranging in age from middle school through college. You can also bet that anything that was “in” about 30 years ago will be back soon!
What was it like to open your own business?
It was nerve-wracking and awesome all at once. Seeing an empty space full of promise and not knowing if people would come was the nerve-wracking part. I knew I had somewhat of a customer base, but sustaining traffic day to day is a whole different animal once you are paying rent and employees. Getting to open a retail store filled with fun, personalized camp stuff and gifts of my choosing was the awesome part. When I was a kid, I always heard adults saying that their dream was to be their own boss. I mean, I have worked for some amazing people, but I get the allure behind not wanting someone over your head. Everyone wants to take their vision and implement it without someone else making them change it to match their own. It is so much fun to be a buyer for a store where I have the freedom to pick and choose what goes inside of it.
What was the hardest part of opening your own business?
The nonsense I had to deal with from the “competition”. I will respectfully leave it at that 🙂
What was your business breakthrough moment?
Although we had lived on Long Island for four years when I opened the retail store in August 2014, I was happily living in obscurity with my three young kids as a stay-at-home mom who still had not met many people. Once I opened the store and started meeting families, I became the face of the business and when your business is camp, you become a certain type of “popular” – and not always in a good way. Depending on the day or on the status of your order, I am either a hero, a punching bag, your best friend, your fake best friend (at least the people who want something from you make it obvious around here), your shrink, your kid’s shrink, a calming healer, an ego booster or just a straight-shooter that tells you that although I would like to take your money, you really do not need that thing because it is not necessary. At all.
So the breakthrough “moment” was not so much a moment just as when people started to recognize me when I was out and introduced me as “Dani from Kidcessories” or to their husbands as “that place that’s all over our credit card bill.” I know the kids now, too, and it is just fun being part of something. There were so many years where I felt like I lost “Dani” and became just “Mom.” Now I definitely have myself back! It is also nice to be part of my community and to know that my business has a place in people’s lives throughout the year and that I am the face of that business.
What advice would you give to a young woman wanting to open her own business?
People will try and throw up roadblocks, but do not get discouraged to the point of ever giving up on your dream. Challenges will always be a part of life – figuring out how to deal with challenging people and issues head-on instead of walking away from inevitable confrontation is an important skill to learn.
Be confident when you speak to everyone from potential business partners to vendors to employees and customers. Nobody likes talking to someone who does not have a plan or who does not believe in themselves. If you show someone that you believe in yourself and your product, you will appear more genuine and the people around you will feel more comfortable in your presence. This also means being prepared. Do not go into meetings blind. Do your research.
Try to find a need and fill it. Do not just recycle the same old stuff everyone else is doing. Most successful businesses have that “one thing” that is just a little different than the place down the street. What sets you apart from the rest? Build on that.
Lastly, do not expect anything to fall into your lap without hard work. When I started, we did not have Instagram where it was easy to just click on who your competition was following and find vendors or Google everything and network at lightning speed. I had to do research and put in the hours. That being said, I had it much easier than the generation before me! Technology and social media are making it easier for women today to start and promote their own businesses and it is an amazing thing. But as much as online tools help to boost a business, cultivating personal relationships is and will always be important. Had I not gone to meet some of my first vendors personally and built relationships with them, I never would have gotten off the ground. Back in early 2012 when I started adding camp apparel and accessories to the website, nobody was taking a chance on “online only” businesses with their camp stuff. I had to prove to the vendors that it would be worth it to take a chance on me and it only helped that I spent many hours on the phone and in person with these people building personal relationships with them. Since I launched, I have had people email me straight up asking who my vendors are. I am always willing to help, but it is not just something you give away.
What did you do before you opened Kidcessories?
I was born in Philly. I just had to throw that in because it is too important to me to leave out! Fast-forward 21 years. Graduated from Brandeis University… worked in Public Relations for five years. Left to get a Masters in Elementary Ed and taught for a while. Had my son in 2007 and then stayed home and you know the rest!
What is your favorite part of running your own business?
The pride that I feel when I receive great feedback from customers about their order, their experience with an employee, a referral, a compliment about how the store looks or just when I get customers’ repeat business. It is about the people and the camaraderie and I get to set the tone there because I can. I do not want our customers’ experience at Kidcessories to be impersonal – I want them to know our employees, we dance when the music is good, we talk about our kids and camp or maybe something that is happening in school. I love every time people run into a friend while shopping, or someone meets a new family that goes to their camp or someone gets a recommendation from another customer. It might just be something that I notice, but it makes me happy.
I strive to make customers happy. If someone’s order is wrong, I will do whatever I can to make it right. If customers know that you put your word behind your business, they will more than likely return. Sometimes items take way too long or just fall through the cracks due to missed e-mails or vendor issues. Customer service is everything and although these things are out of my hands, I cannot ever let customer service fail, even if it means I lose money on the order. It is more than worth it to keep the customer.
Describe yourself in one word.
How would your best friends describe you?
Passionate, loyal, creative and straight shooter.
What do you do for fun?
Listen to music, dance parties with my kids, anything that has to do with relaxing in warm weather, Phillies baseball, spin class, getting lost on my phone between midnight and 3am reading everything from news to nonsense, take naps.
What is your favorite thing to eat?
Sushi and chocolate.
What are your currently binge watching?
I don’t watch TV regularly.
What are you most excited for this summer?
Beach/sun/wine/hammock (my summer mainly consists of August, because the store is insanely busy through July), going with the family to Ocean City, NJ where I spent my summers growing up and now my hubby and kids