Transition Mission: Female Air Force Veteran and Spouse Launches Profitable E-Commerce Venture
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Transition Mission: Female Air Force Veteran and Spouse Launches Profitable E-Commerce Venture


♪ I’m Torrance Hart, the founder
of Teak & Twine. Teak & Twine makes custom gift
boxes for weddings, events, and corporate gifting, and we also
have an online store. I was in the Air Force for four
years; three of those I was a protocol officer, which is sort
of like being an event planner for the Air Force. I had a lot of fun
doing that job. As I was thinking about
transitioning out of the military, I found this niche in
the market where more expensive weddings were using wedding
welcome gifts to greet their out-of-town guests for their
wedding, and at the time, there wasn’t a business that was
creating these gifts for brides. It was just a do-it-yourself by
either the bride or the wedding planner, and I thought, “This
is, this is my chance.” I started really small with the
inventory at first. I experimented putting together
different gifts and posting them on social media, and then I just
listened to my clients and what they were looking for, and they
surprised me by actually being really excited about corporate
gifts and client gifts–a lot of things that I hadn’t thought
about when I first started the business and now make up for the
majority of our sales. The great part of Boots to
Business was that they not only give you the tools to figure out
what kind of business you want to start or if you are the kind
of person who wants to start a business, but if you’re already
on your way like I was, they also give you a lot of tools
about different ways that you can raise money. And then, what I have found to
be the most helpful was the outreach and the advice that
they provide on a continuing basis after Boots to Business. So, I have called the VBOC
several times and asked them questions, and they have been
awesome about talking to me on the phone, even coming to my
house, giving me advice once they saw how we put together our
gifts, how our production line is organized. So, they’ve really given me
great advice every step of the way. (PEACOCK) The goal of the
Veterans Business Outreach Center is to assist that
Veteran, that active duty military member,
military spouse, or Guard and Reservist to have access to
capital, training through Boots to Business and Boots to
Business Reboot, assistance with government contracting, and
business consulting services to help them to be successful, to
grow and form a sustainable, Veteran-owned small business. Starting a business while you’re still active duty is very doable
and, in fact, I think it’s beneficial. So, for the past
year I’ve been running Teak & Twine while full-time active
duty and going on TDYs and all that. It not only gives you the
financial stability while you’re making this very big
leap, but it allows you to move slowly, test your product with
your clients, fine-tune what your model is going to look
like, and by the time you get out, you really have that
confidence that you’re moving toward something that’s
fantastic, that’s resonating with your clients, and that is
going to support you full-time. And what I love about starting
your own business, especially in e-commerce, is that location
doesn’t matter. You could be based out of any
town in the world and still run a great e-commerce business. I absolutely love running my own
business and it’s just been a fantastic transition to move
from being active duty to being a full-time entrepreneur. But, as important as it is to
absolutely love what you do and be really proud of the product
that you’re putting in front of clients, it’s even more
important to be passionate about the nuts and bolts of running a
business, and that is growing a team, doing your accounting,
working on marketing, and thinking about what processes
you’re going to put into place to make your business
successful. And, those are the nuts and
bolts that they emphasize in Boots to Business and at the
VBOC; those are the things that you need to focus on for how
you’re going to grow, how you’re going to scale, and how
you’re going to market your business. ♪

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