Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Back to Business?

What happened to that? I could blame it on a plethora of things. But I won't. Graduation season is around the corner and NOW I am fired up. My license as a officially licensed collegiate product is due to expire soon so that puts a little kink in my step.

There is opportunity for AMMF in the High School market however. I may have to start at square one since I can't seem to find a decent frame manufacturer. It may include just mats and a completely different design...

In other news, a little market research has gone a long way. I put up two different frame styles on Ebay to see which would do better. The ASU Collage frame (to the left) sold with 5 bids at a fair price, and the other only had 1 bid and sold well under it's market value. Interesting....

Watch me go!

Alyson Heineman

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Back to Business

Well it has been a great summer. As test in lifestyle design - I took off this summer to work as a tour guide for international travellers going to 6 national parks on three week adventure camping trips - all while trying to fulfill reorders from my blackberry... when I had phone service. When my first reorder came, I was in Yosemite and had to have my manufacturer overnight the new frame design to the campground I was staying at! The sample wasn't exactly right so I had to call from a pay phone with corrections. Then, release control to let my frame man assemble, corner, shrink wrap, box and ship the order. All things I had painstakingly done myself in my kitchen and by taking the bus the first time around.

Just yesterday I had a meeting with the new buyer at the ASU bookstore. ASU already had already placed an order in May, however now there is a new general merch buyer so I got to introduce/sell myself all over again. I brought him in a sample, and stumbled over my words as I pitched The University Name Frame, explaining that "my first orders sold out within weeks. Not to meantion it is a completely new and unique product and at $30 it is the perfect price point for holiday and graduation gifts." He said he liked the product and sounded positive about putting in an order soon. I left excited and I am so far keeping my fingers crossed. Please, please please, please! I just need one big order.

Next on my agenda is shipping out samples to different ASU offices, team coaches, and sororiety presidents. Also, working on my website...which is like pulling teeth for me. On top of that I will also be starting the process of knocking on doors of small gift shops in the area to hopefully get The U Name Frame onto shelves before Christmas and Fall graduation. Exciting stuff. I can't wait.

Alyson Heineman

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Rolling out

I am feeling really swell now that I am rolling out new product to be included in an eventual product line. This new little ditty is :"a great addition to any Sundevil dorm, home or office and a great way for any Sundevil football fan to display their pictures from the tailgate/game." Go Devils! I have a couple additional designs in mind...however I am not sure whether to roll them all out now or spread out into small bites...hummmm.
Next on the list of to-dos.....oh yes, finish new website.... http://www.almamatermatsandframes.com/ I decided since I like to change up things frequently, it'd be best to take matters into my own hands and attempt to build a website. I am not quite sure what I am thinking because I can barely make a myspace page, but it will a fun learning process! Right?!
One thing that I definitely cannot slack on is figuring out how to pay the tax man ASAP. I have heard that's important.
After that, the principles of one of my favorite books, THE FOUR HOUR WORK WEEK, might have to come into play as I take off on a summer-long road trip. I am hoping to make it "a test in lifestyle design."
Alyson Heineman

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Small successes

School's out for the summer! Congrats to the grads of 2008! It is crazy to me to think that that was me just last year.....for some reason it seems like FOREVER ago.

To catch up a bit.....

...I stopped back in to Campus Corner to visit the manager there and was informed the product (except for 2) SOLD OUT! Yaay!!! AND the ASU bookstore made a purchase order (which I again delivered by bus, it was not as comical the second time around) which they will place in their 3 bookstores. AND the ASU Cheer coach picked up a frame for her graduating cheerleader. AND I am in talks with a few online retailers to pick up the product also. They are baby steps in the big picture but nonetheless exciting! I am mostly pumped on the fact that the ASU bookstore picked it up so quickly because it's suppose to be pretty hard to break into as a new business/product. Thank You Denny!

Up to this point, I have reliezed my business plan needs to change slightly due to the cost and time it takes to go through the process of collegiate liciencing for each school. Tomorrow I am meeting with my possible new frame/mat guy to work on new designs for an eventual product line, including a mat and frame for the upcoming ASU football season!

P.S. If you google "ASU Home Decor" my frame is the very first thing that pops up! I did a little dance when I saw that!

Alyson Heineman

Friday, May 2, 2008

1st Press Release!

This was my first press release! Thanks to the help of Katie Tracy of Kate and Lane Co. PR services :)


Alma Mater Mats & Frames, LLC., Opens for Business
A New Product, The University Name Frame™ makes the Perfect ASU Graduation Gift


April 20th, 2008 -Scottsdale, AZ- Alyson Heineman, recent ASU alum turned entrepreneur and founder of Alma Mater Mat & Frames, a company specializing in the manufacturing of collegiate colored photo mats and frames for the collegiate market, announces the launch of their new product – The University Name Frame™.

The University Name Frame™ is a unique, new Alma Mater Mats & Frames product that allows students & Sundevil fans to display their photographs in 4" block-letter, maroon and yellow mat cut-outs, spelling A S U.

Alyson Heineman, CEO and founder of Alma Mater Mat & Frames, LLC., designed The University Name Frame™ shortly after graduating from Arizona State University in the spring of 2007. "While working at a local frame shop, I saw that we carried mat board in ASU's colors and I wanted a unique way to display my graduation pictures and pride in my alma mater," says Alyson. Initially launching at Arizona State University, Alma Mater Mats & Frames then plans on expanding to include frames for UNLV, USC, UCLA, and BYU.

The ASU Photo Frame is currently available at both Campus Corner locations, on Mill Ave & 5th St. and College & University and through http://www.universitynameframe.com/.

Alma Mater Mats and Frames, LLC was founded in January 2008. Alyson Heineman holds an undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Business and Religion from Arizona State University. Alyson spent her last semester at an internship studying the combination of Business and Religious Studies with Buddhist Monks in Northeastern Thailand.

Press Contact:
Alyson Heineman, CEO

The Drop Off

So kinda funny story to add in.....

After putting together my first set of 12 mats and frames, (something I hope to outsource eventually) I needed to package it. I called around a bit to find that office max offers shrink wrapping and headed over to the closest one, next door in Chandler. It took me two trips to get there - as my sole means of transportation is a Kawasaki Ninja 250. I had to shove three frames in a messenger bag and three in an old backpack, it was pretty ridiculous but so am I, I suppose. So I get there, get all my frames all packaged up with pretty white cardboard corner covers and shrink wrap, buy a big cardboard box to hold the 12 of them, and head to the checkout with my pink motorcycle helmet under one arm. I explain to the clerk how excited I am because I am delivering my first purchase order that afternoon. "How are you are gonna strap that big box onto your bike?" she asks. I chuckle and reply that I will not be taking my bike, I will be riding on the public bus.

I lock my helmet to my motorcycle and continue to walk across the busy intersection in my heavily starched blue button-down shirt and khaki slacks, carrying the akwardly large box. The bus picks me up and 45 mins later I am dropped off directly in front of Campus Corner. Box in tow, I casually stroll of the bus and into the shop. I am so green.

Probably the highlight of that day was when the store manager, a cute college-aged female, who had never seen the product, opened up the box. In a high-pitch shriek she exclaimed, "That is soooo cute!" I love that reaction.

Alyson Heineman

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Stick with it kid!

Ok time to catch up....

One thing I have been told in starting up this project is to "use your resources" and "don't under estimate the importance of market research". In keeping with that, I sent out an email to all my former business professors kindly begging them to allow me 5 mins in their classroom to do a short market research study. Bada Bing! Prof Hoffman of Finance 380 responded right away saying "you can have 'your 5 mins' ". Sweet! I prepared a one page survey with questions like,
"On a scale of 1 to 10 what do you think of the product, 1 being negative and 10 positive" and "What would you expect to pay for something like this?" etc. I also came prepared with a power point presentation to boot. That Monday evening students shuffled into the classroom with review papers in hand, diligently studying for their finance quiz that night. My 5 mins came and went. I thanked the students for their help and thanked Prof Hoffman with his very own ASU frame.

Phew! Glad that was over, I left excited to read what the students had to say. I had 75 responses to evaluate so I sat down on a bench next to the Memorial Union and started reading. I scanned the top sheet and apparently a male, junior, from out-of-state HATES me. He gives the product a 1 on the scale to 10. Ok that sucks. When I passed out the papers, I informed the class "this is completely anonymous so feel free to tell me what you really think" and thats what I get. When asked what you would expect to pay, one guy put $3. Ouch!

Frantically, I call anyone who will listen and finally get ahold of my Papa. Dads are great. Positive Peter, as always, he says to put it in perspective. "What do the other reviews say?," he asks. I respond that most were positive and/or contained constructive criticism. In fact, when asked, "Would you be more likely to purchase the product for yourself or as a gift?" more than a handful responded "Both". That wasn't even an option! Some positive comments included, "Very cute", "Its perfect", and "I hope someone buys me one for graduation."

My dad goes on to inform me of what I already know, but needed to hear. Not everyone is going to like/use my product. If people don't like the product, it doesn't mean they hate me. Take all the responses into consideration, then light fire to the negative ones and post up the positive ones. Thanks daddy, you are the best!

Overall the results of the survey have armed me with very very insightful information on product design and realistic price points. If anything, this has fuelled my fire to keep going even more. Staying positive, I figure, if 1 person out of that class of 75 likes it enough to buy it and their are 55,000 students at ASU, I'll be okay. However, it was definitely a reality check. One of those little bumps in the road I have heard so much about.

Next steps....fulfill P.O., email sororities and athletics teams, and do an event on campus. Woohoo!

Alyson Heineman