October 15, 2009

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Article

Heather Granata and Jenny Farnsworth

Crafting Dreams

By Tom Haraldsen

October 15, 2009

It only takes four words for Heather Granata to describe Little Adventures, a company of dress up-style clothing she runs with Jenny Farnsworth. “Washable, comfortable, affordable and adorable,” says Granata. “That’s what really sets us apart from the competition.” Eight years ago, the Utah County moms and neighbors had little girls who loved to dress up. But their girls didn’t want to just wear these clothes; they wanted to live in them. “The business came from a need for us,” says Granata. “Our little girls wanted to be in them all day long.” To meet their need, the two began sewing their own costumes for their daughters. Once word spread about their creations, they started selling the costumes at craft fairs and local events. Although they worked hard to be prepared for every show, “we didn’t do so well,” admits Farnsworth. Then they tried to liquefy their leftover inventory on eBay, another seemingly unsuccessful effort. Realizing they had nothing to lose, Granata suggested a bold move: gradually raise their prices to find the price-point people were willing to pay. The gamble paid off. For the next three years, Little Adventures experienced steady retail growth. “At that point, we were getting enough exposure and people started approaching [us],” says Farnsworth. “We took the big scary leap and sold the retail end of the company and just went wholesale.” Little Adventures’ dress-up products are now be sold in national chains and mom-and-pop retailers throughout the country. Of the many kudos received, Granata and Farnsworth were excited to receive the Preferred Choice Award from Creative Child magazine. Most entrepreneurs begin with trade shows and then move to the Internet to increase sales. When Little Adventures was in its early stages, Granata and Farnsworth did the opposite. The advantage of their approach, as they can see in hindsight, was that they were better poised to connect with people in remote parts of the country when they eventually went wholesale. Granata and Farnsworth, who have eight children between them, didn’t start out to be role models as women business leaders. But now, instead of inviting women to lunch to learn their business secrets, they are in the fortunate position of being mentors for others. “I love sharing that [with others],” says Granata. “If we can spare someone else those growing pains [we went through], we’re happy to share.” Jenny Farnsworth’s favorite counsel is to remind women “that there’s a solution to every problem. You can run a business and earn a little money, and not leave your families to go to work.” Along these same lines, Heather Granata advises others to innovate: “If you’re struggling, find a new way. If you close your doors for every problem, you wouldn’t even get off the ground.” How has Little Adventures not only survived, but thrived during the recession? “Dress up is everybody’s way of escaping,” Granata says. “It’s a small ticket item. People haven’t given up the little stuff.”
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