In our brand spotlight, we feature Abound brands who are ready for retail. This week we sat down with Alexis Trembone, owner of The Bedford Life. The Bedford Life sells aprons, placemats, coasters, recipe cards, and more, is based in New York, and has been in business for five years.
Robin: Why did you decide to start this business? Why this business and not a different one?
Alexis: The Bedford Life began when I had a desire to develop a product line that exemplified my love of fashion, family, and food. I was greatly influenced by my childhood memories of spending time helping my mother, Gesi. She worked as a fashion coordinator at a high-end boutique and making family dinners with my dad, Bob. These experiences were at the core of becoming a future foodie and fashionista.
R: How did you make your first prototype? What changes have you made to your product since then?
A: In 2013, we created our very first apron design and after 3 years of perfecting our craft, we launched our Signature Collection which included 6 styles for women and girls. Our kitchen aprons started to create a buzz and our clients were chomping at the bit for more.
With the major success of our Mommy and Me aprons, I soon realized it was time to expand our product line. During the 2017 holiday season, we created four Winter/Christmas paper placemat styles that sold out quick!
These four styles eventually led to a full collection that continues to grow and now includes over 20 designs plus matching paper coasters.
R: How do you make your product? What’s your process like?
A: Our aprons are handmade in New York. I am very hands-on with production but have a seasonal assistant to help with trim work/packaging.
R: What’s your day to day like? Do you have any favorite and least favorite parts?
A: As an entrepreneur, there are never enough hours in the day. Each day varies which keeps it interesting but I work on growing my business everyday.
R: Where was the first place you started selling your product?
A: Our first retailer was a local handmade artisan shop called Beehive Collective.
R: Where do you sell your product now?
A: The Bedford Life is available in over 25 small specialty food and gift shops across the US, and in spring 2018 our products were picked up by several West Elm locations on the east coast.
R: Where would you love to sell your products in the future?
A: I love building relationships with other small businesses and hope to partner with more brick and mortar locations both nationally and internationally.
R: What’s your marketing like? Is social media an important part of your business? If so, how?
A: When I started in business (pre-internet and many moons ago with my first brand), it was about “pounding the pavement” and getting my products in front of as many people as possible. I gained a lot of face to face sales experience which is a great skill to have.
Now combining that with the ability to reach thousands of people with social media (in the comfort of mismatched PJ’s and my hair in a bun) is a win-win! I’m glad I have learned both aspects of sales.
R: What are your ultimate sales tips and tricks for both online and in person?
A: Not sure if it’s an ultimate sales tip but a friend told me many years ago, “If you don’t promote/market your products, it’s like winking at someone in the dark, only you know what you’re doing.”
R: Do you have a favorite product?
A: I’m very proud of every design The Bedford Life offers but if I had to choose just one, it would be the “Jessica” apron. It’s named after my beautiful and incredibly stylish Mom. She’s the best!
R: What are some of the most frustrating challenges and/or moments you’ve had with your business?
A: Accepting that not everyone is going to like what I offer. I have learned not to take it personally – the first rejection hurt the most, after that – no biggie!
R: What are some of your greatest achievements and victories you’ve had with your business?
A: I feel most proud when clients send pictures of themselves, their daughter, son, or loved one, wearing our aprons. Their smiles are priceless – they always look so happy (or maybe it’s the thought of the brownies they’re making?)
I love that our products are bringing a mom and daughter, a grandma and grandson, sisters, or cousins together to share family recipes (or even the one on the box – we’re judgment free at The Bedford Life) and make lifelong memories!
R: What advice do you have for people who want to sell a product?
A: Find a niche, develop a design aesthetic that sets you apart from the crowd, start with one or two products and master it. Rinse and repeat.
R: Is there any business advice or quotes you’ve heard that you think about often?
A: Keep going – You’re your toughest critic!
R: What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?
Accepting both the successes and failures of my business. It makes me a stronger leader.