I am particularly pleased with this article featured on the VISA social media sites. It's hard to get better publicity for your business! Hope you like it too.Behind every business lies an interesting story, but there are few with a more hair-raising tale to tell than Karyn Climans, founder of Tail Wags Helmet Covers. Her entrepreneurial spirit was sparked into action following a serious ski accident where the use of a ski helmet saved her life, “At the time helmet use was rare, so I set out to find a way to make protective headgear fun,” she explains. Leveraging her background in costume design, she created a range of over 40 unique helmet covers. “Children love the dress-up and the imaginary aspect to our covers,” she says, “and adults love making a statement and personalizing their headgear.”So now, after seven successful years in business with the company growing at a steady rate, it just goes to show that sometimes, a perilous exploit can become an exciting opportunity to create a positive future. Today, Karyn shares her story with us.What makes Tail Wags unique?
Tail Wags helmet covers are made exclusively in Canada—in fact, all of our sewers work within a 20 minute radius of my office. Keeping production local is important to me as I want to ensure that the quality of the product is maintained.How did you raise capital to start your business?
Initially I used my own capital to purchase the industrial sewing machines, fabrics and other supplies necessary to start my business. One of the things I pride myself on is that I never went into debt to grow my business; for the first three and a half years, I reinvested every penny from sales back into my company.What do you love about being a small business owner?
Everyday I wake up and feel good about what I’m doing. I love the creative aspects of my job and the daily interaction with my customers. Another bonus for me is the flexibility—I get to plan my days and weeks according to my own schedule. There’s no one looking over my shoulder and I like it that way. I know that if I don’t work, I won’t sell—and that’s enough motivation to keep going.What has made Tail Wags a success?
I credit my passion for the product and my imaginative flair as the key qualities that have led to Tail Wags’ success. I also realized early on that I needed to hire people to do the tasks that weren’t my forté, like bookkeeping, accounting, and web programming.What advice would you give to somebody that wants to start their own business?
Don’t give up! If you’re confident in your product or service, you need to persevere through the first three to five years of business because they’re definitely the toughest. No one achieves overnight success, but hard work always pays off in the end.PAYMENT CARD PROGRAM WITH A DIFFERENCEWhy did you decide to use VISA?Personally, VISA is the only credit card I use, so for my business it was an easy choice to ensure that my customers could pay for their Tail Wags products with VISA as well. My business has now been accepting VISA as a method of payment for over seven years.
What VISA products/services do you use most often?
I have a personal and business VISA credit card, and whenever possible, I pay my business expenses on my VISA so I can enjoy the VISA rewards program to the fullest.
In your opinion, has VISA helped you grow your business?
If I didn’t offer VISA as a method of payment for my online and direct sales, I would have lost sales because people don’t like carrying a lot of cash with them to marketplace events. I’ve always believed that you have to make it easy for your customers to purchase your products—and VISA makes that happen. Paying for large business expenditures on VISA has also helped me manage my cash flow, as it provides me with an additional 30 days before the payment is due.
Why do you continue to do business with VISA today?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
Do you have any unique or stand out customer service moments that you have experienced while working with VISA?
VISA provides us with insurance while travelling outside Canada, and one year, while on vacation in the Bahamas, one of my sons developed chicken pox so we weren’t allowed to fly home until the quarantine period was over. VISA paid for all of our medical expenses plus the additional hotel expenses that were incurred.
FINDING TIME TO DO WHAT SHE LOVES
What do you love to do outside of your business?
I love walking my dogs, working out with my personal trainer, going to book club, and travelling. One of the nice things about my business is the out-of-town business trips. I recently came back from events in Edmonton and Calgary, and in between there were three days of leisure time, so I rented a car with friends and drove through the Rockies from Jasper to Banff. It was one of the most breathtaking road trips I’ve ever taken.
How do you find time outside of your business to do what you love?
By working hard and working smart. I don’t waste time when I sit down to a task because I value leisure time wherever possible.
How do VISA's products or services help you find the time to do what you love?
VISA works hand-in-hand with my payment processing company to ensure all customer payments are deposited directly to my business bank accounts. I don't have to worry about verifying that a customer's account has sufficient funds, because I receive immediate approval from VISA for all legitimate customer transactions. The ease of this system makes my life more manageable, because I can relax knowing customer payments are where they belong—in my bank account.
What aspects of your business do you love to do the most?
My favourite aspect of running Tail Wags is the creative design work, and I also love the direct interaction I have with my customers.
How does VISA allow you to spend time focusing on your favourite aspects of your business?
Every minute saved is another minute earned. As long as I can rest assured that customer payments are being handled professionally and securely, I can focus on the other aspects of my business that I love.
And finally, what are your business goals for the future?
80 per cent of Tail Wags’ sales are Canadian, so I’d love to expand by offering Tail Wags helmet covers in the US, and ultimately, worldwide.
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