Picture it: Pace University marketing class just at the turn of the 21st century. Two hopeful young women meet and say “Someday we will do something together.” Meet Marin Milio and April Bukofser. While adventuring through the industries of TV production, event planning, sports marketing, advertising, start-ups, design, publishing, and a hedge fund firm, the ambitious duo found themselves periodically tossing business ideas around at the diner.
Then one day it clicked, April had bought a custom dress that fit her perfectly. After bringing the idea to Marin they decided to just try their hand at custom clothing, tailored to fit one’s body. After designing 3 samples: a dress, a shirt, and a jacket, they did the smartest thing ever: they wore them! People loved it and it was clear untapped potential was about to expand their idea into a reality.
What do two women with great clothes do? Throw a launch party for over 100 friends, family, and invited the local newspaper of course! The party was a hit and the orders rolled in that evening. “We ended up making $1000. We though we were loaded! Looking back we probably didn’t make a dime We were excited that people were interested,” recalls Marin.
The “After Party” frenzy
The party’s success inspired April and Marin to try to grow their idea’s potential while still working.
Marin: “We were running out on our lunch breaks to measure people hoping our bosses didn’t wonder where we went. I was going back to my sports marketing job poking my eyes out.”
Less than a year after their launch party, both women left their jobs to focus on growing their company: AprilMarin Custom. They expanded their scope to now include scarves and wraps. Seeking out every opportunity to be seen, they worked the trade show circuit, built their media presence, and did everything themselves from fulfillment to billing and marketing.
The Big Break
Then in late 2011 their big break came: The Today Show. They scrambled to prepare their website to handle the traffic as they’d be featured on Jill Martin’s “Steals and Deals.” “We did our homework and saw that other vendors sold between five and ten thousand pieces after doing this same segment. “ shares Marin. In one day they sold over 16,000 pieces. All of the hard work, the schlepping trunks and mannequins, and the late nights packing orders from their kitchens had led them to this moment.
Marin: “We definitely consider ourselves lucky. We got lucky because we were SO out there. We hustled to get that opportunity. We were carrying 100lb mannequins in the pouring rain! It’s always work. Someone should never look at another’s success and think ‘They are so lucky!’ We put our heart and soul into this business. When you are hungry and you really want something, you don’t give up.”
The Today Show launched them to the next level of success and the company continued to grow and experience success. In 2012 both women took it a little easy as they expanded their families. April and Marin both have young children and run their business while balancing home and family. Marin shares, “Our kids would come be coming with us to meetings. This is what women go through. It’s hard to get anything done.”
April and Marin share their advice to Mom’s considering starting a business.
April: “The work/family dynamic is difficult. Running your own business gives you the flexibility to set your own hours and work when the kids were sleeping. It’s near impossible to really do something successfully with your whole heart with all of those responsibilities. When the kids are young and not in school, explore your ideas and find out what you are passionate about. A great time to launch and dive in is when they are in school.
Marin: Learn as much as you can and talk to people in different areas of professional expertise. Talk to people who are more business minded and who have talent in accounting, sales, and marketing, Use your resources as much as you can. You can get a lot of free advice from people who want to mentor you and see you succeed. Even now we are so open to feedback, suggestions, and ideas. We want to better ourselves. When you are open and willing to take it all in, really good things happen.
In 2013, as the their kids got older, they’ve expanded into office space and both commit to coming into to work 3-4 days a week.
Marin: “We’ve seen to really grow this business and grow the brand we needed to go the wholesale route.” We are still small but we are growing and getting recognized.” (AprilMarin Custom is now 200 stores.)
April:“I’m so happy with what I am doing. I don’t ever say that I am going to work. When it’s yours, everything is exciting. I’ll definitely never go back to work for someone else. I’m very thankful that we are able to do this and that we are both so driven.”
Meet April & Marin!
I am a proud AprilMarin Custom addict (just check out my favorite city ruffle shawl here!) I’ve invited April and Marin to add their expertise and share their amazing clothing and accessories at our Sound Change Career event on Monday October 20th, 2014 at 7pm at GRIND 1412 Broadway at 39th Street. This event is designed for people considering or in the midst of professional changes. You’ll get coaching, support, and hear stories of people who have and are finding ways to do what they love for a living. You’ll also get sound financial advice from Amanda Steinberg, found of Daily Worth. Tickets are $119 and include and interactive seminar, materials, food, networking and more! For 10% off the early bird rate use the code “APRILMARIN” Click here More information and to purchase tickets.