Style Stick: Entrepreneur Turns Hardship into Successful Business

Latest posts by Melanie Rembrandt (see all)

After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Cathy Kerns found that there was a need for fashionable walking canes and started KernsAble Enterprises, Inc. and created the Style Stick.

Today, Cathy is a successful business owner who turned a negative into a positive. Read her inspiring interview below:

Tell us how you got the idea to start your business and why you felt the need to pursue it.
When MS forced me to use a walking cane, I found none that matched my executive fashion needs because they were flat out ugly. By chance, I found a hollow, acrylic cane form and began designing inserts that would match any of my outfits.
The very positive responses from friends, family and strangers was surprising. We had the opportunity to meet comedian Joan Rivers at a network affiliate party. She grabbed the cane out of my hand and asked where in Orlando she could purchase one to use with a tennis-torn tendon injury.
As recounted in detail in “Birthing the Elephant“, a business how-to for women, Joan’s positive reinforcement led me to explore the idea of turning my personal concept into a product for others living with disabilities who cared about style.
What was the most difficult part about starting your home-based business?

A career as a well-placed executive spoiled me with all the corporate perks such as multiple staff members, state-of-the-art office equipment, unlimited supplies, etc. At home, you start from scratch!Thanks Cathy. Pretty awesome isn’t it? To read the rest of Cathy’s great insights, please check back on Thursday. In the meantime, feel free to visit her Style Stick site at www.stylestick.com. And if you have any PR questions, feel free to comment below or visit my site at www.rembrandtwrites.com for some free information.

Limited financial resources, as compared to the corporate world, make it difficult to determine the bare minimum systems, machines, etc. you can place at your fingertips.

When I started, home businesses were not as respected as they are now by banks, lawyers, telephone companies, technical support, and so on. When you add in the fact my house is 65 years old and not wired for all of the latest technology, you face even more financial and emotional expense.

How did you promote your new business?

The first thing I did was to send a formal notice of business establishment to my entire professional and personal contact list. I was introducing a new product and, due to start up costs, I did not save what I now believe was adequate marketing dollars.

A background in marketing, advertising and public relations inspired me to follow all the basic business rules….designing and registering two new US trademarks in the States as well as around the world and to investigate new forms of sales promotion.

The Style Stick price point is not conducive to traditional wholesale distribution and non-direct retail sales because of the multiple cost levels.

In an effort to keep the consumer product cost affordable this led me to web development and a monthly, Google advertising budget. The Internet is a perfect point of sale for the Style Stick.

To make up for limited advertising dollars, I tried to pursue as much product, press opportunities as possible. The results were not too fruitful. Funny how you can promote others into financial success stories and feel you can’t do squat for yourself, but that’s what I found the most difficult. I guess my ego isn’t as bad as I thought.

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