Growth Strategies
Miracle Baby Inspires Online Clothing Outlet

by, Adina Glenn
Re-printed from the Long Island Business News

Donna Bliss is applying 20 years of marketing expertise, honed at software companies such as Computer Associates and Keane, to build My Miracle, a year-old Nesconset-based retailer that sells discounted clothing for the newborn-to-age-8 crowd.

Bliss, who underwent years of fertility treatments and suffered several miscarriages, named the company in honor of her daughter, Jillian Nicole, now 2.

Bliss buys the merchandise from wholesalers and liquidators that sell last year's overstock from Kohl's, Sears and JC Penney. Featured on the site are play clothes, high-end boutique clothes and "preloved," gently used items. Also available are keepsakes, baby gift baskets and personalized merchandise.

"I started selling fancy clothes on eBay. Twenty pieces of clothing got scarfed up. There were bidding wars," Bliss says.

But on eBay, Bliss paid to post items regardless of whether they sold. Her own Web site, she decided, would be more cost efficient.

She takes measures to optimize the Web site so that surfers keying in "baby clothing" find My Miracle listed, hopefully, within the top five sites.

Customer satisfaction is a top priority. "If I make a goof, I'll tell them to keep the item and send them a $10 gift certificate. It's a $10 investment in keeping a customer," Bliss says.

To build brand awareness, Bliss sells items at street fairs and distributes coupons through "MomPacks" - clear-envelope packets filled with samples and freebies that are distributed to the clients of businesses run by participating mothers nationwide. It gives business owners like Bliss exposure to clients she wouldn't ordinarily access.

"There's an enormous learning curve in running a business," Bliss says. But she's risen to the challenge, handling matters such as credit-card fraud and customers who say they never received merchandise, even when Bliss sent them packages with delivery confirmation. Her advice? "Move on in both cases."

She also learned not to buy merchandise unless she can obtain 36 of the same item. Otherwise, the process is too labor intensive, Bliss said.

Bliss employs three part-timers to help run the company. Last year, she reached $60,000 in revenues; this year she expects $150,000. "My goal is to double. In a year, we'll just be hitting our stride."