Spotlight on Top Business Owners in Education, Childcare & Toys

by, Buisiness Owners' Idea Cafe

Company: My Miracle Baby

Name: Donna Bliss

Location: Nesconset, NY 

Type of Business: The Ultimate Selection in Children's Apparel

What does your business do?
My Miracle Baby offers deeply discounted infant and children's clothing, gifts and toys.

When and why did you start the biz?
The first order was placed on Jan 9, 2001.

I am an out-of-work New Yorker who lost my job after 20 years as a marketing professional for computer software firms. I also have experience in the healthcare industry.

After I picked myself up and dusted myself off, I decided to do something that I was truly passionate about and apply those 70-hour work weeks in corporate hell -- I mean Corporate America -- to something that could benefit my family and me. I had a new baby that was conceived thru fertility treatments -- after having lost 3 babies -- and I loved everything about baby products -- the look, feel, smell. And, boy! Did I love picking out outfits for my Jillian.

From that discovery came the concept for My Miracle I ship out about 50-70 orders a week from my basement that has been converted into a warehouse. (Not bad after being in business for only 6 months.) I also work part-time for Kraft/Nabisco Foods and do street fairs every other weekend. Phew!

How Many People are in your Company?
4 part-time helpers and several co-op type partners. I keep everyone moving at warp speed.

Where's your office?
I have converted my entire basement into a warehouse. I am lucky to have a forgiving hubby. We have simply taken over the entire basement of a ranch house. And it's working!

What's the toughest part of running your biz?
Constantly being "on." While I took my work home when I was with Corporate America, when Friday came, I could put it on the shelf. Not anymore! I get calls at midnight asking about an infant onesie...what has my world become!?

What's the most fun part?
I love when my customers are so tickled they have to write to tell me. I really do the customer service thing to the 'nth degree. Free gifts, coupons for future use, samples and so on. If I make a mistake and send the wrong outfit, I'll let them keep it and I'll send another. I may lose $10 here and there, but I've made a customer for life. I also remind them... In exchange please mark me as one of your favorite places... they inevitably do based on my customer return rate.

Anything you would have done differently?
Oh my goodness! Yes! I purchased the wrong shopping cart -- we were forcing a fit and it just didn't work. I never thought I'd grow this big so I never really kept track of inventory. Hey if I didn't have it, I'd explain to the customer.

Now with 2,800 different SKUs and more than $80,000 in product, I still don't have the inventory at 100% (tho we are much more detail-oriented) and it makes me crazy when I paid big bucks for an inventory module and STILL have to tell a customer -- Sorry, we're out of stock.

What's next on the horizon for your biz?
My goal is to outgrow my home (which is happening already) and move my "warehouse" to an industrial park where I can open to the public 3 days a week. This way, I can take back my home, do what I do here at the new place and have some retail traffic a few days a week without committing to the grueling schedule of a retail store.

I've also just purchased a baby, children and parent portal and think I can make an impact with a new customer base.

What advice do you have for others?
Do whatever you can to not look so much like a "mom and pop shop" --at least on the internet. People need to be sure that when they send you their money they will receive quality products in return. They don't want to get that uneasy feeling. Otherwise, they'll drive to the mall.

And most of all, do what you love. If you don't love it, find something you do. I just lost my mom to lung cancer and I will remind you. This is it - -this is your life. You can do something you love every day or CHOOSE not to. But it IS your choice.

How do you use Idea Cafe to help your biz?
I try to take time out whenever my brain can support more information and I live and breathe your marketing and sales section. I have 20 years of marketing experience and I'll still read something and go "Oh, that's what I need to do."

I also wrote my press release only after reviewing all of your tips. It's just a wealth of info for the business owner -- particularly the little guys like me who have hopes of playing with the big boys someday.

School (where, still in school, degree)?
Long Island University BS

Prior jobs or business?
20 years of marketing with software/computer related firms. Most have been related to the healthcare industry.

Favorite Food?
Lobster hands down. Lazy man's lobster--already taken out of the shell drenched in butter--well that's how I know he loves me!

What are your pets' names?
Mau Mau, Pretty Kitty (original, huh?) and KC ( short for Kitty Cat)

Do any of these pets help with your biz?
No, but the 22-pound Mau Mau cat does get cat hair on the orders sometimes when he lays across them like a lion, but I have several lint brushes.

Is there any one person or event in your life that led you to go into business for yourself?
My mom. She passed away just 6 weeks ago. I always needed the steady paycheck and never dreamed of my own business. She always thought that if anyone could do it, I could. She lived here in my home. (In fact her apartment was also in my basement and she put up with all those orders and products!)

Anyone you publicly want to thank?
Mom. Sometimes I don't think I can do this another day without you and sometimes the only reason I am doing this is because of you. I miss you so much that I ache.

Contact Info:
Donna Bliss
PO Box 789
Nesconset, NY 11767