Alicia Vanderschuere, is a USA manufacturing advocate, an idealist, a champion for women, a believer in good, a corporate survivor, a spreadsheet and organizational junkie, a healthy living proponent, a wife, a mother, and an entrepreneur.
RosieMADE is a USA made online gift shop. They sell products from women friendly companies. The team hopes to use consumer spending targeted at women in business to help women increase their influence in the world, especially since women are responsible for 80-85% of consumer spending, although have only 15-20% of key decision making roles in large corporations and public policy.
MO: How did you come up with the concept for rosieMADE?
Alicia: I started searching for USA made products and found there were very few companies that incorporated great design while offering a wide product assortment. I also wanted to target women-led businesses specifically to feature, since there is such a disparity between the size of women-owned businesses and the number of them. I’m hoping to share my passion for the American Dream and for women achieving professional success with an audience that shares this passion!
We encourage everyone to “vote with their dollars,” whether that is in voting for rosieMADE, or something else that a person is passionate. People underestimate how powerful conscious spending is.
MO: Can you expand on the process of first having the idea to actually turning it into a business? What were some of the early challenges that you faced and how did you overcome them?
Alicia: There are a lot of steps between idea and execution. I have sought out resources, asked a ton of questions, and relied on others for insight, expertise, and feedback. Starting a business is a lot of hard work. It requires a much different skill set than running an established business successfully.
It also opens you and your idea up to the world for criticism, feedback, and accolades. It is important to keep tough skin, while keeping your core values steady and still creating an environment for change and implementation. It can be a tough balance.
MO: What are some examples of how you’re helping build awareness for women who are setting great examples in the business world?
Alicia: We run features on women, called our Real Life Rosies, where we share their successes as well as their insight into concerns and issues that are specific to women. We also have a free online business directory, links to great resources for entrepreneurs and business leaders, and we run weekly giveaways to promote businesses. We know how difficult it can be to build awareness, so our goal is to help facilitate this process. We hope to roll out additional content in the future that will round out our offerings.
MO: Can you talk about the process of scouring the US to find the products you feature on your site?
Alicia: It’s actually a lot harder than I expected! We use various resources, with online search, in person networking, and referrals all being important. Now that our message is getting out, businesses are starting to find us! As the USA made trend increases, I am hopeful more trade shows will cater to USA made buyers, which should make that process easier for us and like-minded businesses.
MO: Can you elaborate on why and how you’re constantly making changes to your website aesthetics and flow?
Alicia: I started out with an enormous vision for our site and brand. Then, every day I get new ideas on how we can create a better flow, create better content, or reinforce our branding and aesthetics in a better way. There is still A LOT of work to be done on our site to get it to what I envision. Each day it gets a little closer. Right now site performance is our biggest challenge and priority.
MO: Where does your passion for entrepreneurism come from?
Alicia: I’ve always been really passionate about business. Everywhere I go, I’m calculating the numbers on profitability, SG&A Expense, payroll, etc. It’s actually a bit of a curse. I’m sure it drives my husband crazy!
I think my passion for small business comes from all of the research I have done about the disparity between the richest Americans and the rest of our citizens. The disparity of pay of Fortune 500 CEOs (for instance) vs. the average worker is unconscionable. I used to think that these CEOs earned enough value for their organizations to earn their pay. Then, I developed relationships with some of these people and realized they aren’t that much better or smarter than their team, but they are great at trimming expenses when needed (i.e. those average wage earning jobs).
While living in the Midwest, I also saw first-hand how outsourcing was affecting major economies, especially for those cities that have been decimated by the auto and durable goods industries. I was always taught to create a solution versus complaining about a situation.
So I took my concerns about big business (and the misguided ethics), coupled that with my passion for USA made products (and the corresponding jobs), and added in my dreams for women-led business. Becoming a social entrepreneur wasn’t something I sought out–it just developed through my experiences.
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