For more coverage of women entrepreneurs and the challenges of women in the workplace, read The Real Deal: Success for Women in Business.
Lauri Harrison of Denver, CO, has been a market strategist and communications guru for the past 16 years. This entrepreneur started dreaming of her own business when she was only 12 years old. “My parents had their own printing and graphic art studio in the ’70s and I was brought in to help with clerical duties such as filing, typing, collating books, etc. I thought it was cool that my parents were their own boss and I thought someday I would want to be one too,” she says. “When I turned 18, I set up my parents with their first financial software program, and handled their bookkeeping while attending college. I also helped them with marketing and advertising strategies to help them grow their business. At one point, I had thought about entering the family business and taking it to another level, but quickly determined I wanted to work for a major corporation once I graduated from college.”
However, “after working at US WEST for seven years, I left out of frustration of not getting a promotion after working on developing new product, creating the launch strategy and having a successful launch. I was hired by MapQuest.com (which wasn’t called that at the time) and entered the “Internet Start-up” world excited to charter waters that had never been chartered before.” Lauri worked at MapQuest for many years. “In early 2000, AOL bought the company. I refused to work for a large corporation ever again and so I quit and started my own marketing consulting business.” After consulting for five years, Lauri found herself approached by female entrepreneurs “with these fantastic products such as jewelry, handbags, diaper bags, specialty baby items, and more. I thought there’s got to be a way to help these women, and be compensated for my time. They didn’t have budget to hire me outright. So PeakUniques.com came to my mind.”
The business serves as “an ecommerce portal for all of these female and mom entrepreneurs. PeakUniques.com benefits all the vendors.” Lauri teamed up with web marketing guru Margie Shaw to build and launch PeakUniques.com, an online boutique store dedicated to selling women-designed products such as accessories and specialty baby items. The business is “ompletely self funded. Both of us dipped into our savings, and scraped and saved to get the cash throughout all of 2005. It was an initial $10K investment for each of us.”
To improve the chances for success with PeakUniques, “we did do a business plan – so we could have the blueprint of where we wanted to be after 1 year, and beyond.” Asked how she defines success in business, Lauri reflects: “Success for me is having a vision, seeing that vision to fruition and have it be available in the marketplace. Sales will come, eventually. But I feel very successful knowing we are helping other female entrepreneurs. We’re building their brand. We’re building our brand. And we will eventually give proceeds of our profits to Dani’s Foundation which supports teen cancer research. Success doesn’t always have to be about “hitting your numbers.” It’s more about the quality of the business you have created. There’s so much more to business, and to life, than money. I refuse to let money be my success factor.”
Her goals: “I would love to see PeakUniques.com succeed and be around for many years to come. I want emerging female entrepreneurs/designers to come to us as a springboard to launch their businesses.”