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Interview with Jackson Cunningham, Founder of Tuft + Paw



Interview with Jackson Cunningham, Founder of Tuft + Paw

Jackson is the founder of tuft + paw, a modern DTC brand for cat people that has grown to over 8 figures in sales. Prior to starting tuft + paw, Jackson started several other ecommerce brands in the fashion space.

Where did the idea for tuft + paw come from?

We had just adopted our own cat and we live in a small apartment in an expensive. After shopping for a litter box, we couldn’t believe there wasn’t any nicer options. We didn’t want to bring junk into our small apartment and felt like there had to be a better way ?

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I wake up, make a coffee and then stroll to WeWork a few blocks away. In the mornings, I try to tackle the most important big thing on my list. In the afternoon, I do more quick task-based activities including emails (which I try to check only once per day). I only book meetings on Wednesdays and Thursdays to keep the other days free to do deep work.

I use Asana for my tasks, and have lots of recurring weekly and monthly tasks which show up on my daily to-do list. On Fridays, I organize and prioritize my upcoming week’s tasks.

How do you bring ideas to life?

It’s important to step back from the busyness of work every once in a while and look at the bigger picture so you can figure out the non-urgent, but important things you can do for your business. I find it really hard to think deeply on the same day as I’m rapid firing emails and tasks. So it’s important to make time to think of the big ideas.

Once I have an idea, I try to validate it as quickly as possible. For example, making a presale on a potential new product. This gives us the confidence and motivation to persevere with all the hard work that it’s going to take. For bigger ideas, I think it’s really important to build momentum with small victories along the way. You just need to take it one step at a time and recognize that it’s going to be a long journey.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Remote work. One of the reasons I started this business was to become more location independent and I love that I can offer that to everyone on our team now.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Batching emails so that I only receive new emails once per day. And batching tasks so that I do similar style of tasks at once (for example, all banking activities on Mondays). It reduces the mental fatigue of switching between tasks.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Think bigger. When I was younger, I started a few online stores that were so niche because I felt it would be impossible to fail. While that was somewhat accurate, I didn’t realize how limited I’d be if I actually succeeded – once the businesses had grown to a certain point, they couldn’t get any bigger. I wish I had focused on building businesses in bigger markets that had more potential for growth, even if there was more competition.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

“Play it by year” makes more sense than “play it by ear”.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Take action. Stop reading, stop meeting people for coffee. Just start your business and you’ll learn 100x more.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Cold outreach for PR. I hire an Upworker, send them a list of 50 major publications, and ask them to find the most recent article on that site about X (x can be anything related to your business, e.g. ‘startups’). Then I ask the Upworker to get the name and email of the author of that post, I email the author offering them free products with no strings attached. I keep track of all these contacts, and usually we end up getting some great free media coverage. But I focus on the long term, with no expectations up front.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

We almost ran out of money at one point. I assumed I could raise money from our existing investors, but they pushed back and it almost devastated our business. I ended up working 80 hour weeks and securing funding from new investors, but I learned a really valuable lesson. Never assume you can get outside money, and plan accordingly with financial forecasts.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

An agency that makes creative (videos) for tiktok and facebook ads. This is a perfect mix of art and science that is very difficult for brands to find right now. Everyone is spending money on Facebook and TikTok ads, and the most important part is the video and figuring out 1) how to get people to thumbstop and pay attention (hook) and 2) how to sell your product (benefits that convert).
There are agencies that do this, but the really good ones are hard to find. If someone builds a business that focuses only on the actual creative production, and they do it well, they will grow a ton from word of mouth alone.
Start by offering your services for free to a few brands.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I spent $10 to get some bike chain lubricant. I’m a casual biker, and I can’t remember the last time I lubricated my chain. I bought a can and it makes my rides so much smoother.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Boomerang for gmail. It allows me to disappear emails so that they return at a later time in the future. This allows me to get distractions or larger tasks out of my inbox, and batch similar style tasks (ie. all customer care emails on friday).

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I love the book “how to get rich” by Felix Dennis (terrible name, great book – it’s not about getting rich, but more around the perils and downsides of being rich and lessons learned about money).

What is your favorite quote?

Done is better than perfect.

Key Learnings:

  • Get started on your business even if you don’t feel ready. You’ll learn more by doing.
  • PR outreach can be a great way to grow your business in the early stages
  • Batch similar tasks in order to stay productive and avoid distractions
  • Dream big! Any good business idea is going to take a long time, so you might as well focus on something that has the potential to grow.
Originally published on IdeaMensch.


Interview with Jack Carlson, Founder of Rowing Blazers: History, Tradition, and Innovation



Interview with Jack Carlson, Founder of Rowing Blazers

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Jack Carlson is the founder and creative director of Rowing Blazers, a fashion brand that combines classic American style with a contemporary edge. Jack Carlson, a former national team rower, and scholar of history draw inspiration from vintage sportswear and traditional Ivy League fashion. His passion for design and fashion, combined with his unique background. Jack Carlson has resulted in the creation of a brand that stands out in the industry.

Can you tell us about your background and how you became interested in fashion?

I’ve always had a passion for fashion and design, even while pursuing my other interests. I grew up in Connecticut and started rowing at a young age, eventually competing at the national level. While studying history at Harvard, I became interested in the traditional clothing worn by rowers and began to collect vintage rowing blazers. This sparked my interest in fashion and led me to start designing my own clothing. After completing a Ph.D. in archaeology, I decided to pursue fashion full-time and founded Rowing Blazers in 2017.

What inspired you to start Rowing Blazers?

I wanted to create a brand that celebrated the rich history and tradition of American fashion, particularly the preppy style of the Ivy League. At the same time, I wanted to bring a contemporary edge to classic designs and challenge the boundaries of traditional fashion. I was inspired by the vintage rowing blazers that I collected and wanted to create my own versions that were both authentic and modern.

Can you walk us through the design process of creating a new collection?

The design process always starts with research and inspiration. I spend a lot of time looking at vintage clothing, archival photographs, and historical documents to get a sense of the styles and aesthetics of a particular time period or culture. From there, I sketch out ideas and work with my team to refine the designs and select fabrics. We always strive to balance classic elements with modern twists and unexpected details. It’s a collaborative process that involves a lot of trial and error, but we always end up with something that we’re proud of.

How do you stay true to your brand’s identity while also keeping up with current fashion trends?

For us, it’s not about following trends, but rather creating timeless pieces that will never go out of style. Although we draw inspiration from the past, we don’t limit ourselves to it. We’re always looking for ways to innovate and push boundaries while staying true to our brand’s core identity. We’re not interested in fast fashion or disposable clothing – our pieces are meant to last and be treasured for years to come.

Can you tell us about a particular challenge you faced while growing Rowing Blazers and how you overcame it?

One of the biggest challenges we’ve faced is scaling the business while maintaining the quality and craftsmanship that we’re known for. We’ve had to find the right partners and suppliers who share our values and are able to produce our garments to our high standards. We’ve also had to be very strategic about our growth, taking things one step at a time and not rushing into anything too quickly. It’s been a learning process, but we’ve been able to grow the business in a sustainable way that we’re proud of.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own fashion brand?

My advice would be to stay true to your vision and never compromise on quality. It’s also important to be strategic about your growth and not try to do everything at once. Start small and focus on doing one thing really well before expanding. And always be willing to learn and adapt – the fashion industry is constantly changing, so it’s important to be flexible and open to new ideas.

What’s next for Rowing Blazers?

We’re always working on new designs and collaborations, but we’re also focused on expanding our brand beyond just clothing. We want to create a lifestyle brand that encompasses all aspects of American style, from furniture to home decor to travel accessories. We’re excited to continue growing and evolving while staying true to our brand’s identity and values.

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Jack Carlson’s passion for fashion and history has resulted in the creation of a unique and innovative brand that stands out in the industry. His dedication to quality and craftsmanship, as well as his commitment to sustainability, sets Rowing Blazers apart from other fashion brands. To stay up to date with Jack Carlson and Rowing Blazers, you can follow him on LinkedIn.

Liked this interview? Check out this interview with Gracie Cedres

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Interview with Gracie Cedres: Insights on Entrepreneurship and Work-Life Balance



Interview with Gracie Cedres, Founder of G.R.A.C.E.

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Gracie Cedres is the founder and CEO of G.R.A.C.E., a company that provides virtual assistance and project management services to entrepreneurs and small business owners. With a degree in communications, Gracie has always been interested in helping others succeed in their businesses. Her passion for helping entrepreneurs led her to create G.R.A.C.E., which has been helping entrepreneurs and small business owners increase their productivity and profitability. In this interview, Gracie will share more about her journey as an entrepreneur and the success of G.R.A.C.E.

Can you tell us about yourself and your journey as an entrepreneur?

Sure, my name is Gracie Cedres, and I am the founder and CEO of G.R.A.C.E. I have always been interested in helping others, especially entrepreneurs and small business owners, succeed in their businesses. After completing my degree in communications, I worked as a virtual assistant for various entrepreneurs and realized that there was a need for high-quality virtual assistance and project management services. That’s how the idea for G.R.A.C.E. was born, and since then, I have been working hard to help entrepreneurs and small business owners achieve their goals.

How did you come up with the idea for G.R.A.C.E.?

After working as a virtual assistant for several entrepreneurs, the idea for G.R.A.C.E. came to me. I realized that many entrepreneurs were struggling to manage their time effectively and needed high-quality virtual assistance and project management services to help them become more productive and profitable. I saw an opportunity to help entrepreneurs and small business owners by providing them with top-notch virtual assistance and project management services, and that’s how G.R.A.C.E. was born.

What are some of the challenges you faced in starting and growing your business?

One of the biggest challenges I faced in starting and growing my business was finding the right team members. It’s important to have a team that shares your vision and is passionate about what they do. I also faced challenges in marketing my services and reaching out to potential clients. However, I overcame these challenges by networking, building relationships, and creating high-quality content that showcased the value of my services.

What is your vision for G.R.A.C.E. in the next five years?

My vision for G.R.A.C.E. in the next five years is to become the go-to virtual assistance and project management service provider for entrepreneurs and small business owners worldwide. I want to expand my team and services to be able to help more entrepreneurs and small business owners increase their productivity and profitability. I also want to continue building strong relationships with my clients and providing them with top-notch services.

Can you share with us some of your favorite success stories from working with your clients?

One of my favorite success stories is working with a small business owner who was struggling to manage their time effectively. By providing them with virtual assistance and project management services, we were able to help them increase their productivity, improve their marketing strategies, and ultimately grow their business. It’s always fulfilling to see my clients succeed and achieve their goals.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to educate themselves and never stop learning. It’s important to constantly learn new skills, stay up to date with industry trends, and seek out new opportunities. It’s also essential to have a strong work ethic, be persistent, and not be afraid to take risks. Don’t let failure discourage you, instead use it as a learning opportunity and keep pushing forward.

How do you maintain a work-life balance as a busy entrepreneur?

Maintaining a work-life balance can be challenging as a busy entrepreneur, but it’s essential for your well-being and the success of your business. One of the things I do is prioritize my tasks and delegate when necessary. I also set aside time for self-care activities like exercise, reading, and spending time with family and friends. It’s also important to know when to disconnect from work and focus on other aspects of your life.

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Gracie Cedres is an inspiration to entrepreneurs and small business owners worldwide. Her dedication to helping others and passion for entrepreneurship has led to the success of G.R.A.C.E. With a vision for continued growth and success, Gracie is sure to make an impact in the virtual assistance and project management industry. To learn more about Gracie Cedres and G.R.A.C.E., visit her website and follow her on LinkedIn.

Liked this interview? Check out this interview with Evan Cagner

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Interview with Evan Cagner: Insights into the World of Tech and Entrepreneurship



Interview with Evan Cagner, CEO of TechBlue

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Evan Cagner is the founder and CEO of TechBlue, a company that provides managed IT services to businesses of all sizes. Evan has over 15 years of experience in the tech industry and has helped numerous businesses grow by leveraging technology. He is a thought leader and innovator in the IT industry, with a keen eye for emerging trends and technologies. In this interview, Evan Cagner shares his insights into the world of tech and entrepreneurship.

What inspired you to start TechBlue?

I’ve always been passionate about technology and how it can be used to solve business problems. I started my career working for a large IT consulting firm, and I quickly realized that there was a big gap in the market for managed IT services. Small and medium-sized businesses often struggle to keep up with the latest technology trends, and they don’t have the resources to hire full-time IT staff. That’s why I decided to start TechBlue – to help these businesses leverage technology to grow and succeed.

What sets TechBlue apart from other managed IT services companies?

There are a few things that set TechBlue apart from other managed IT services companies. First and foremost, we are incredibly focused on customer service. We believe that building strong relationships with our clients is the key to our success. Second, we have a team of highly skilled technicians who are constantly learning and staying up to date with the latest technologies. Finally, we are very flexible and can customize our services to meet the unique needs of each of our clients.

How do you stay on top of emerging trends in the tech industry?

I’m always reading and staying up to date with the latest news and trends in the tech industry. I attend conferences and meet with other thought leaders in the industry to discuss new technologies and how they can be used to solve business problems. I also encourage my team to stay up to date and share their knowledge with each other.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the IT industry?

The pandemic has had a significant impact on the IT industry. With so many people working remotely, there has been a huge demand for cloud-based services and virtual private networks (VPNs). There has also been an increased focus on cybersecurity, as remote workers are more vulnerable to cyberattacks. Overall, the pandemic has accelerated the shift toward digital transformation and has highlighted the importance of having a reliable and secure IT infrastructure.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses?

My advice would be to focus on building a strong team and never stop learning. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and who have different skill sets. Be willing to take risks and make mistakes, but also be willing to learn from those mistakes. And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice from other entrepreneurs who have been through it before.

What is your vision for the future of TechBlue?

My vision for TechBlue is to continue to grow and expand our services to meet the changing needs of our clients. I want to stay at the forefront of emerging technologies and continue to be a thought leader in the industry. Ultimately, I want to help as many businesses as possible leverage technology to achieve their goals.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and staying active. I’m an avid runner and I also enjoy playing basketball and golf. I’m also a big fan of music and enjoy going to concerts and discovering new artists.

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Evan Cagner is a true leader and innovator in the IT industry. His passion for technology and customer service has helped TechBlue become one of the most respected managed IT services companies in the business. With his keen eye for emerging trends and technologies, Evan is sure to continue to make an impact in the industry for years to come. To learn more about Evan Cagner and TechBlue, you can visit their website or follow them on LinkedIn.

Liked this interview? Check out this interview with Makayla Gordon

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