Monday, December 20, 2010

Almost to the Finish Line

Well, I've been biting my fingernails for the past month and realized you may not even be aware of what is happening on our beloved team:

Robin Muskin has blown by Mile Marker 3 of Barefoot's 4th Quarter Challenge and is currently in First Place as the top seller! The top seller will win a one-year cash allowance toward the purchase or lease of a new “green” vehicle, or toward their existing payments on a hybrid or electric vehicle. Robin has already won a framed piece of original art specially commissioned by one of twelve Barefoot artists. Congratulations, Robin, and you'll have to let us know which artist you picked!

I briefly introduced you to Robin in a past post as our newest Barefoot Leader. Once everything has calmed down, we hope to have a guest post where she will let us know just how she does it. Until then, you can learn a bit more about Robin here. Please join me in rooting Robin on the last two weeks of our 4th Quarter Challenge!

Team member Carie Miele has already won the Mile Marker 2 prizes of a ten different signed Barefoot Books:

* Clare Beaton, Mother Goose Remembers
* Alison Jay, I Took the Moon for a Walk
* Sophie Fatus, If You're Happy and You Know It!
* Debbie Harter, The Animal Boogie
* Nicoletta Ceccoli, The Barefoot Books of Fairy Tales
* Carol Ann Duffy and/or Rob Ryan, The Gift
* Laurie Krebs, We All Went on Safari
* Hugh Lupton, The Story Tree
* Stella Blackstone, My Granny Went to Market
* Miriam Latimer, The Prince's Bedtime

PLUS a Barefoot-inspired Haba Footprint Rug. Congratulations, Carie! I'm hoping Carie will also write a guest piece as she made Leader in one year. You can read more about Carie here.

Congratulations to all of you that have won the $100 spa gift certificate. I'm sure we'll all be needing a good foot soak after the holiday season.

We'll talk soon!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Are You Missing Out?

One of the things I love about running a Barefoot business is the flexibility. For example, a few years ago we were faced with a very large and very unexpected bill when our water pump went out. A few extra events were added to my calendar and the bill was happily taken care of.

The flexibility of your Barefoot business works the other way as well. Whether your military husband has been deployed or you've just experienced the birth of your second child, your Barefoot business will be right where you left it until you are able to pick it up again.

But wait, even in this period of inactivity did you know you may be missing out on a team commission? As a team leader, I review the month's activity and send friendly reminders out to those who may not have noticed potential earnings. Laurie M. has gone a step further to show us the math in her blog, Marketing Barefoot. So, let's take the jump to answer the question: Are You Missing Out?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Too many books?!?

Sarah, who shares her adventures as a working mom in Iowa at Barefoot in the Prairie, recently asked:

What do you say to people when they clearly like the books but claim their kids already have too many at home? I hate to feel like a pushy salesman so I just don't know how to handle that.

Raise your hand if you've heard that one at an event. Just reading Sarah's question gave me flashbacks that are um, well, just a bit too distressing to even talk about. Oh, wait, notice that Sarah isn't asking about the people that will pass by your booth in 30 minutes sporting a mylar Spiderman balloon and a Diego hamper. Sarah said they clearly like our books.

Could it be possible that there are book lovers who really have too many books?!?

Just a few weeks ago I found myself surrounded by a complete mess, contemplating the purchase of a Kindle and uttering that same exact phrase under my breath. As soon as the words escaped my lips I knew something had to happen so we got busy. We culled the boys' bookshelves of anything second-rate or predictable that had made its way in. You know what I'm talking about, they're the books that make you groan inwardly when picked at bed time - the ones that offer no fuel for the imagination. In Charlotte Mason terms it's referred to as twaddle. Great word, huh? Try it out. Twaddle.

Granted, we also had a lot of non-twaddle. Good books that never really clicked, those that satisfied with one reading, or books that are better than good but we wanted to make room for the best. Now let's take another look at that photograph:

The picture above is actually from my oldest son's first-grade curriculum two years ago. It is chock full of the classics, including Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, James Herriot's Treasury for Children and Andrew Lang's Blue Fairy Book. It also includes Barefoot's The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems, Shakespeare's Storybook and The Hare and the Tortoise and other Fables of LaFontaine. Nothing second-rate there, these are books that offer a place for one's mind to explore, the ones that will never be given away and, most likely, my children will read to their children.

So, the next time someone is in your booth, clearly liking the books, but says their children have too many, engage them in some conversation. Sympathize with the plight of too much stuff and ask them what their favorite book was as a child. Pick up a copy of Guo Yue's Little Leap Forward, or the Barefoot Book of Fairy Tales and tell them about it's heirloom quality. Tell them about your friend that cleared out all the twaddle to make room for books like these. Show them the stories that will be enjoyed over and over, the ones that have staying power - not only on the bookshelf but in their child's heart and mind.

How about you? What have you or would you say in this situation?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Sorry, my random chance pickers (Maxim & Luca) were out of town yesterday so we had to wait until today for the draw of Goddesses: A World of Myth and Magic. Pots and pans drumroll please, Luca...

, who said:

It's on my wishlist too! I'm currently working with one, possibly two, dance studios for fundraising and I thought it would be a great addition to promote to a group that is primarily girls and women. The illustrations look beautiful. I love that she sketched her signature. How unique!

Congratulations, Colleen! You can get to know Colleen through her clever writing over at Destination: Happy. Fair warning: There is a very high coffee spew factor as Colleen adds much delicious humor to her description of life with husband (hubs) and children in their 1950's home.

Aah, I love my team. Stay tuned for an answer to Sarah's burning question and an introduction to our newest team leader, Robin Muskin, who is taking NYC by storm.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Team Give-Away

How about we take a few moments out of our busiest season for a bit of fun?

Fellow-ambassador Tricia Santos and I had the pleasure of hosting Rebecca Guay and Burleigh Muten for an author/illustrator-signing. Generous and gracious - everyone loved meeting them.

Can you believe Rebecca Guay sketched her signature? This beauty has been sitting on my shelf waiting for a proper home.

If you haven't seen this Barefoot book, it is an illuminated dictionary portraying the thoughts and ideas of other minds and cultures. Rebecca revealed that she took a bit of criticism after the books release for the cover-design of a blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess. Hmmm. I love those little tidbits. I also love Rebecca's other book with Barefoot, The Barefoot Book of Ballet Stories.

Look, Burleigh signed the book as well!

Burleigh has published four books with Barefoot. Burleigh's book, Grandmothers' Stories has always been a best-seller for me. When asked whom she would like to narrate the book, top on her list was Olympia Dukakis and it was also top on Barefoot's list. Aren't we thrilled Ms. Dukakis agreed?

So, how do I win the book, Richele?!?

Leave a comment (sorry, this give-away is just for my beloved team but still feel free to comment) and tell me anything. Ask a question, tell me your thoughts regarding the book, the author, the illustrator, what you would do with the book, what you are up to at the get the picture. This will be a random chance drawing and will end October 31st.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Inventory and Money

While steadily reinvesting some of your Barefoot earnings in your business, don't forget to have some fun. I take my family out for pizza after a successful event or let my children each pick something from the Barefoot catalog.

I'm happy to say that a Barefoot business can be started on a shoestring budget. In fact, when I went to France I found out that none of the leaders there had invested their own money in inventory. So, how did we build our businesses and our inventories?

"Slow and steady wins the race" we hear from the tortoise throughout The Hare and the Tortoise, Fables of La Fontaine as he eventually crosses the finish line in front of the hare. The same goes for your Barefoot business.

I started with a small selection of samples (the equivalent of a Kick Start Bonus) and took orders at every free or low-cost event around. I made it my goal to participate in a few small events a month, reinvesting much of my earnings each time in inventory until I could do those large events (20,000+ visitors) that would only take me away from my family six times a year. This was accomplished in eight months with community events, tiny craft fairs, home events, and daycare fundraisers -- all catalog orders -- and I made leader to boot.

Those large events can put you in front of a wide audience, result in large sales and the opportunity to grow your team more quickly. They also carry higher costs and risks so your homework should be done in advance.

Think through your goals and decide where you want to finish. No matter what, remember: slow and steady wins the race.

Monday, August 16, 2010

An Appetizer

Please bear with me as I snuggle my children and deal with the suitcase explosion before giving you all the scoop on the conference. A few shots to whet your appetite:

Something you don't see every day - SteveSongs watching a performance rather than being on stage. We were mesmerized together with Steve's gorgeous family by Susan Reed's music and storytelling. By the way, Steve's last name is Roslonek and he used to be a business consultant. Are your kids as glad as mine that he changed career directions?

I think it's safe to say that we were all impressed by Barefoot's newest Ambassador Leaders, Africa Hands and Carie Miele.

What a thrill to meet Clare Beaton and learn all about her artistic process - not to mention she actually showed us a picture of her home!

If you didn't yet get the news, Clare's latest books are in the What's New section of the Barefoot shop - along with our exciting new paperback versions of Arthur of Albion and Odysseus. The new kick-start bonus has also gone into effect along with the on-boarding emails for new Ambassadors.

Talk soon!

Friday, August 6, 2010

We have a Winner!

The winner of the $50 Barefoot books give-away is Karen D'Agostino! Three cheers for Karen!

Winners of the marvelous mixed marketing packets are:
Carie Miele
Corrina Duvall
Tricia Santos
Dawn Betke
Hope Peters
Melissa East
Sandra Price
Karen D'Agostino
April Ward
Heather Klinefelter
Brandi Wood
Sarah Smith
Cindy Calvano
JJ Rhinehart
Stacey Mulholland
Heidi Seim
Sandra Chetelat
Liane Kascha-Hare

Congratulations to all the winners!

Be sure to let me know if I'll be seeing you at the conference as I'll bring your marketing packets along!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

News in a Nutshell

A big congratulations to Carie Miele for attaining leadership status in one year! The word from the office (and I quote) is that she is "indeed FABU," which, of course, we already knew. Congratulations on your 1st Anniversary with Barefoot and your promotion to Barefoot Leader, Carie!

The inside scoop from the Leaders' Call yesterday: We reviewed the new On-boarding training/info emails that will be sent to new Ambassadors. Barefoot has done a great job putting together information to welcome new ambassadors into the community and get them started on the right foot. This will make our jobs smoother as sponsors as the emails will walk them through the basics, such as how to edit your profile, and we can help with the meatier issues.

A huge kudos to Barefoot for also using these welcoming emails to encourage new Ambassadors to find a leader if they don't have one and -- if they do --to reach out to their leader for support. The launch of the on-boarding emails will also include the new "Kickstart Bonus" with a great incentive for new members to order within the first 60 days.

Fingers crossed for these to be rolled out in the next few weeks.

Team members Dawn B. and Karen D'A. are currently in the top running to win my cashmere Barefoot banner. The person with the most new team-members that have placed orders by the end of August is the winner. My best to you all!

I'll be announcing and sending out the marketing packets for our June and July team challenge winners in August. If you haven't won yet, there is still a week to go! Here are details to our current team challenge.

And lastly...we're heading out on vacation this weekend through the 28th. Until then, I hope you are all enjoying these precious days of summer!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Continuing our series of posts based on what you wanted to hear, we come to the topic of fundraising and working with schools. Fundraising is a great chance for people to invest in their values and has been an important aspect of my own Barefoot business. My sponsor, Laurie, has put together two posts that are definitely worth checking out:
Fundraiser Basics
Hosting a Fundraiser

Putting together a presentation kit is a great way to approach potential organizations. I stick mine in a basket of books for the organization to experience in their circle time/story time/classrooms for a week. I then schedule a time to pick up the books and meet with the contact person for further discussion.

This is a picture of team member Elizabeth Stegmayer's presentation kit. Try this with Barefoot's tri-pocket folder for an extra-polished presentation! Elizabeth says:

hi r,
my presentation kit for the home event ( a grandma who was elected to the school board this year and is a retired english teacher) was sent with the host in mind. she's a smart cookie and appreciates information...

i use a double pocket paper folder (staples red) with a large label on the front which announces with the barefoot logo. then i "waterfall" the contents inside, placing the largest object in pocket first and then layer in the smaller things so that you can see the titles of all the different elements.

left pocket:
then inside i place my business card on the left pocket with a copy of the winter specials flyer that i printed out. i made sure to mark the deadline for the sale. the winter catalog was on top of the sale flyer.

right pocket:
this is where i customize. i placed the "best of flyer" in first, next the new gift list, then the awards list, each folded about an inch smaller in size. this way the titles each show individually. i also placed the oprah announcement, which printed 6x6 on my computer. (in the future i may alphabetize the order of the flyers by their title)

lastly i hand write a letter to the host confirming the specifics of her party and place it in an envelope with her name which i tuck the flap into the right pocket so that it's the first thing she sees when she opens the kit.

i include the event invitations in this mailing, but have found that the kit can't handle too much more so i won't be stuffing them in the pockets.

i may shift the best of flyer to the left pocket when the sale is finished and add in the time magazine/ motherbridge press release to the right pocket. when i made the fundraiser kit i placed a letter introducing myself in the right pocket along with a mock up of the poster that i provided for the event. probably three or four items in each pocket is the max info load most people can handle. for a teacher i will also place the country of origin flyer since it's helpful with curriculum connections.

Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth! Don'cha just love our team? Questions or comments?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Finding Events

Our team-member Karen (aka Disorganized Harmony) asked:
I need to know how to find out about events before it's too late to sign up for a spot. I always seem to find out about them too late.

That's a great question, Karen, and one that we all face - sometimes more than once. I hope my experience can help you.

Two years ago our family moved to a new town and I felt like I was beginning my business all over again. Wanting to be plugged into my new community, I started by finding the city's Events Calendar on the their website. I then noticed the city had an Office of Cultural Development, brimming with information and links. I made an appointment with the Director of Cultural Development and put together a letter of introduction, a list of ways Ambassadors have introduced culture (via Barefoot Books) to children in their community, and a sampling of books that included the arts and exploring different cultures.

I'm happy to report that I walked out of the meeting with eight events and was contacted for more. Events included an ethnic fair, a celebration of African culture and an Irish sister city event. The director of cultural development was able to give me a list of contacts to whom I could send press releases and announcements. If an event came to my attention I could contact her and ask about the event coordinator, whether it would be a good fit, and turn-out in the past.

Additional tips:
1)Write your letter based on research for your particular community. I love to use Barefoot wording as much thought has already been given to the presentation of Barefoot Books already. Study Barefoot's website content.
2)The office and title of Cultural Development may be different in your area. Check the city site or even call the mayor's office!
3)Can you make your own event? What makes your Barefoot business unique? For example, I offer teacher training sessions using our books and have presented on the history of children's literature in the US with Barefoot books as an alternative to commercialism.
4)Even if you missed the event as a vendor do attend anyway. Talk with the vendors about events that would be a good fit for you. Many place postcards at their booths to advertise where they will be next.
5)If your community offers it, sign up for emails newsletters that advertise upcoming events. Track them on your calendar.
6)One title events can be highly successful. We've had Ambassadors sell Ballet Stories or Stories from the Opera at their local theater. I sold about 30 copies of Tales from Old Ireland in 45 minutes at the sister city event.

I hope that gives you some ideas to work on. Please leave your own tips on how you find your events in the comments section!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Get SMART - Setting Goals

This is our home office. I set up partner tables (IKEA) so I can stay engaged with my children and they don't have to look at mommy's back during my Barefoot time.

Wow, your comments have given us enough to talk about for the next few weeks as we get to know eachother! So far, what we'll be looking at is:

Gaining Confidence.
Inventory and $ for start-up.
Finding out about events.
Tips on making an event successful.
Finding more hours in the day. Hmm, though 24 is all we can get, lets have a look at organizing your home and business in order to make those hours more effective.

So, where should we begin? At the end, of course! Begin at the end to determine what it is you want to achieve. This means setting goals. You'll find in the training section of My Barefoot a document called "Setting Goals." I've also included it in the "Goodies for Your Business" section at the top of the blog for your downloading pleasure.

Strategic planners in the business world have coined a mnemonic known as SMART - goals that are Specific, Measurable, Action-based, Realistic, and Time-frame or Trackable. Our friend jokingly refers to SMART as "Saving Marriages and Reducing Tears" - I like to make it SMARTER by adding Evaluate and Re-evaluate.

Now that you've downloaded and printed this've done that, right...good. Please read over the document carefully. Consider, pray, think through and discuss with your sponsor, husband, or team leader (if you like) and then write your goals down. Once this is done, find someone to be accountable to and set up an appointment -- I like doing this every two months -- to discuss where you are and where you are going.

Setting goals was instrumental in helping me achieve the success that I wanted in my business. When I began as an Ambassador (we were romantically called Stallholders back then) the earning structure was much different. My goals were to replace the income from a part-time job I had, gain enough inventory to do large events (while not using any family finances but money earned from small events), and build a team. I then had to turn these goals into SMART goals and sort-of work backward to figure out what specific steps I would need to take to reach these goals.

Having a good understanding of the Barefoot compensation plan will help you during this process. If you haven't yet, please view this video put together by Laurie M., my sponsor and your up-line, as it will give you a good, do-able starting point.

If you have questions during the goal-making process, be sure to get in touch. If it is general, leave a comment and I'll address it here. If needed, we can set up a time to discuss this in more depth via phone or email.

Everyone have a Happy Independence Day!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

$50 book give-away!

Packing up for an event.

This blog was started for you. A place to post the most frequently asked questions from our team-members, give you a behind-the-scenes look at a real Barefoot business, and offer ideas and support. As a Barefoot Leader, I often receive the Barefoot news in advance -- the news that affects our businesses -- and I want to share it with you.

If you are a team member (anywhere in my down-line) and push that button to follow this Barefoot business blog, you'll receive a chance to win $50 in Barefoot books from me. Leave a comment telling what would help make your business a success and receive another chance at winning. The give-away ends July 31st and is a random-chance drawing.

Our Current Team Challenge

You could win my cashmere Barefoot banner shown here! Children under the display table are not included.

There had been some chatter on the Barefoot forum about the improbability of winning the June challenge and laments of watching every challenge go by and nay a prize. This made me want to come up with a challenge for our team in which everyone really can win something. Even a really big something. So...

1)For the months of June and July, if you place a $100 order you will receive a packet of Barefoot marketing supplies from me. One packet per member.

2)Starting in June and running through August, the ambassador who signs on the most new team members will win my cashmere Barefoot Banner along with a table covering!

So, no matter where you are in your Barefoot business, everyone is at equal footing in these challenges and everyone really can win a prize. I hate to but I need to add the caveat that your new team members will have to place an order to count, as in previous Barefoot challenges, people were signing up their relatives in order to win the prizes. I know you will all play fair though.