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SMALL-BUSINESS MAKEOVER

Building buzz for an eco-boutique

How Road Less Traveled can become an eco-destination

March 02, 2009|Cyndia Zwahlen

Because only a tiny fraction of what the store sells is available through its online shop, she suggests Snell assign an intern to collect the photos and information necessary to get more products online.

"She has the capacity for almost unlimited expansion online, and she is really not taking advantage of it," Kaye said.

* Set up partnerships. The Bowers Museum, which recently hosted the Chinese terra-cotta warriors, is a block away from the Road Less Traveled and a natural partner for the shop, Kaye said.

Though some staffers are customers, Snell needs to meet with the director and the board to explore mutual promotions. Her customers are likely to be museumgoers, and museum visitors would probably be interested in her offerings, Kaye said.

Working with the city of Santa Ana is also a good bet, she said.

"She is a natural connector, but she need to be more strategic about partnering so she can use her hours wisely. She only has so many," the expert said.

* Focus. Kaye would like to see Snell focus on interests that will promote her store. That should boost sales, giving her more resources to share her knowledge with more people.

"She's already spread thin, I can see that, but she could get herself so thin that she's just not as good a businessperson," Kaye said.

Funneling her energy to meet business and personal goals will be a powerful force for growth.

"She's got really good instinct for business, and she's achieved a lot," Kaye said. "She's on the cutting edge with a very going concern in a growth industry. The potential is great."

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If your company could benefit from a free business makeover, to be published in The Times, send a brief description of your company and its challenges to bizmakeover@latimes.com or to Business Makeover, Business Section, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles CA 90012. Include a daytime phone number.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Paving the way

COMPANY SNAPSHOT

Business: The Road Less Traveled store in Santa Ana is a retail and online operation specializing in locally sourced, fair trade and nontoxic items for the home, green building materials for home remodeling, gifts and office furniture, plus workshops on green living, alternative energy and do-it-yourself projects.

Owner: Delilah Snell

Employees: 1, part-time

Revenue: $150,000 in 2008

Opened: March 2006

Start-up funds: $12,000 in personal savings

Website: roadlesstraveledstore.com

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CHALLENGE

Market the store beyond current customers and develop a strong Internet presence

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GOAL

Open two or three more retail stores over five years and develop a line of local artisanal goods

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Meet the expert: Hilary Kaye

Hilary Kaye is founder and president of HKA Inc., a public relations agency that has operated in Orange County for 25 years. Previously, she was a public information officer at UC Irvine and a journalist. She is co-author of "Plant Extinction: A Global Crisis," published in five languages; was associate editor and chapter author of "Newport Beach: The First Century" and author of numerous articles concerning public relations and media. Kaye is a founding member of the Women's Philanthropy Fund and the Women's Business Institute. She is also a board member and director of public relations and advertising for the Orange County chapter of the National Assn. of Women Business Owners.

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