August 7 2016

Tumbl{HERS} is Changing the Lives of Young Women Around the World

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“Being fit to lead is about mindset,” according to Caroline Trant. “As long as you stay grounded to your mission and have a clear, focused mind, leaders can come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and genders.” SFTL had the pleasure of interviewing Trant, a student of the Kelley School of Business, about Tumbl{HERS}. She has certainly exhibited her leadership abilities by developing her own business in college despite criticism. What’s special about this innovative idea is the majority of profit is donated to Let Girls Learn, which helps to educate millions of girls around the world. Trant’s tenacity and passion is admirable. Read on to hear more about her journey and check out her Etsy store or @tumblhers.co on Instagram.

1. What was your inspiration behind tumbl{HERS}?

TumblHERS started last November. On my way home from studying one afternoon, I started realizing that the margins of my accounting notes were covered in more doodles and drawings than actual notes. My mind began to wander, and before I got home I had thought of a way to combine my talents in business with something that I really enjoy doing: drawing. I decided that I wanted to start an organization that could be my creative outlet, but also give back to the community somehow– thus, TumblHERS is an organization that donates 75 percent of profit per cup to Let Girls Learn. Let Girls Learn is a Peace Corp initiative started by Michelle Obama to help the 62 million girls across the globe attend primary and secondary schooling. To me, this was a win-win. I could get great experience for my future building a business from scratch, and I could make an impact on young women across the globe.

2. How do you come up with your designs for the tumblers?

My designs stem from a combination of my own creativity and watching for trends that millennials seem to be interested in through news, Pinterest, pop culture and a few industry databases. Without a doubt, I would say the majority of my designs are made-to-order customization. This could be as simple as a monogram and a doodle, a dog breed, or a quote that really speaks to a customer. New territory for me in the customization space has been working with other artists. In recent weeks, I’ve developed a design for an up-and-coming artist from Nashville, Meghan Saletta, for her new album release and to give a gift to her Kick Starter Backers. While I have a few themed designs that I name (for holidays, engagements, etc.) some of my favorite designs have come from a custom request to “surprise me” because then I really can let my imagination run wild.

3. Can you describe the process of making the cups?

Sure, so flashback to November and I was literally hand painting each mug in my bedroom. While this was a very personal way of conducting business, it wasn’t sustainable for a sophomore approaching finals week and a holiday shopping boom. Throughout the year, I’ve experimented with a few different processes, but what I am up to now is by far the most efficient way of making sure that what I put down on paper ends up on your to-go mug. It all starts with an order for a specific design, or after perusing latest trends and pop culture to emulate in my designs. I take to my Microsoft Surface Pro 4, where my design comes alive on virtual paper with pencil, with graphics so life-like that I’ve switched over almost completely, and I then send a compilation of a few designs off to my printing manufacturer via email. My printing manufacturer receives my drawings,and prints them with special inks in reverse– like if you took a mirror to each design– and then sends them back to me. Then, in my glorified card table that I made my “office” in the basement–I mount each design  to a ceramic to-go mug. After, I place the mug into a circular press, which wraps around the entire mug and then heats to 400 degrees for about 3 minutes. Finally, I take off the paper to reveal the fully adhered, shiny image now on the once-blank mug. I then let each mug cool before packing and shipping each order with a thank you note card. Thanks to this process, my mugs are now dishwasher safe and leaves a completely smooth, sealed, mug.

4. Where did you develop a passion for educating women and how did you come to support Let Girls Learn?

Let Girls Learn was a cause that I came across via social media. I saw multiple celebrities on Instagram advocating for their cause. When contemplating what cause I wanted my business to give back to, I started to reflect on my own life. I’ve been blessed to receive a great education, and the older I get the more I see education as the springboard for following your own passion and finding your meaning. It’s invaluable. So, to me, knowing that circumstance and gender can influence your ability to be educated even at a primary level is devastating, and I need to do what I can to help those individual women and indirectly those countries where this is the social norm.

5. Are there any organizations or resources at IU that have contributed to your success in any way?

My two biggest cheerleaders at IU have definitely been Women in Business, a Kelley Organization, and Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for women. Without the brilliant, talented and humble souls in Women in Business, I would not have even a fourth of the experience that tumblHERS has given me– it’s a collective of empowered women who push each other up through words of advice, feedback and praise. The support for my business is also very evident at the place where my office resides during the year: Pi Beta Phi. Whether it’s staying up all night with me while I finish some orders, or welcoming me in after a stressful day with popcorn and hugs; keeping morale up and offering extra hands during the busiest weeks is something I owe Pi Phi for indefinitely.

6. What, if any, challenges do you encounter running a business while in college?

As I started to delve into it, running a full-time business while also attending 17 credit hours can get overwhelming at times. I’ve dealt with supplier shipping issues, improper deliveries and broken ceramic all while trying to study for midterms. However, I don’t regret a single moment of my venture thus far– each bump in the road, hectic schedule or sleepless night has taught me more about my goals and my ability to manage time than any class in Kelley. I’ve been learning to let go of what I can’t control, make a list of what I can control, and then manage accordingly.

7. What are your future plans for tumbl{HERS}?

You’ve actually caught me in the middle of a transitional phase. Now that I have a calculated way to go about making my product, I am in a phase of expansion and brand growth that wasn’t possible until now. I am currently focusing on a website launch, which will offer a platform for users to interact with the products and the mission in a new way. I’m really stoked about it actually; hopefully launching in August! I also plan on expanding my personnel, my one-woman business will be growing in number, I hope fairly soon. To be quite honest, I have a list on my phone of adjectives I hope my brand will become in the future: nothing set in stone as what would define this business successful, but just a couple words and phrases.They’re sort of my internal compass. My plans are to just follow my intuition, advice from my friends and mentors, and see where everything takes me.


8. How would your closest friends describe you?

I started texting my friends awkwardly trying to answer this question in an honest way. Here are a couple of the replies: ‘Caroline is very passionate about everything that she does, and cares for others very clearly. She’s also very curious about the world around her, and one of the most observant people about everyday life.’ ‘She’s really funny and has a smart/witty sense of humor.’ ‘She makes everyone feel like she’s their best friend.’ ‘She never stops moving around physically or mentally, she’s always up to something.

9. What is some memorable advice you’ve received along the way and who was it from?

I picked up a great piece of advice fro my mom when I was starting all of this. She told me, ‘You can do anything in the entire world, but you can’t do everything. Choose wisely and make sure what you do is something you absolutely love.’ So that’s my goal. There are up and downs, but I love what I get to do as an entrepreneur and a student, and I have aspirations for this brand much bigger than a coffee cup.

10. What does She’s Fit to Lead mean to you? How does someone become fit to lead?

Being Fit to lead is about mindset. There were a lot of people telling me that having a business in college was a bad idea, a lot of people said I’m too young and should wait until after college to take on such a project. I still get that kind of advice from older people today. But to lead you have to be able to tune it out. Sheryl Sandberg talks about impostor syndrome, or the feeling that you don’t deserve any of the success that you might earn. Leaders understand that this feeling exists, but they also know how to overcome and build upon their doubts. Understanding that you are capable of your own success and that you can push through the negative voices both internally and externally. As long as you stay grounded to your mission and have a clear focused mind, leaders can come in all shapes, sizes, ages and genders.





About She's Fit to Lead

She's Fit To Lead is a community for the next leaders of our generation. We believe the simple act of connecting with one another is a critical step in building confidence and a successful future. Our community connects young women at college campuses and starting careers across the country, challenging and empowering them to unlock their true potential. ABOUT SFTL

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