It’s great when simple ideas turn into fabulous businesses. Such was the case with Kt Steppers—a mom-run business that crafts hand-painted, personalized step stools for kids. Kt Steppers has had lots of celebrity mom fans and word-of-mouth praise, so it’s no wonder that it was your Totally Awesome pick for best eco-friendly room décor. Owner Katie O’Neill recently took the time to chat with us about what makes Kt Steppers awesome, her most exciting moment as a business owner (it involves a celebrity!) and more. Read on:
Red Tricycle: Congratulations! Your community recently voted you “Most Awesome.” What do you think your customers value most about your business?
Katie O’Neill: I think being able to purchase something and make it personal is of huge value. From the nursery to the kitchen to the bathroom, Kt Steppers will give all rooms and kids the ‘Step Up’ they need with a personalized touch.
RT: What inspired you to start your business?
KO: My ‘Ah ha’ moment? I think I knew I would always start a business, so the urge was there. I just needed to figure out what I wanted to do and do it. I was always creative and loved art and drawing, etc., so when I received a step stool for my second son as a gift I had that ‘ah ha’ moment. A few months later the first “stepper” was conceived when a family member was looking for something unique and personal to give as a gift for a new baby.
RT: Any advice for new business owners just getting started?
KO: Ask for help! You will not be able to do it ALL yourself. I now know that I can ask for help and will find it. Join Networks for women/mom owners that offer support. We are all in the same boat and ‘paying it forward’ only helps you grow together.
RT: Can you give us one tip for balancing entrepreneurship with parenthood?
KO: Be clear (from DAY 1) of what your priorities are. And of course—time management!
RT: What is your proudest moment as a business owner or parent?
KO: I will answer both. Of course becoming a mom was a very proud moment since the possibility was uncertain in my 20’s because of a brain tumor. After brain surgery and all being benign – I fell in love and became a mom.
On the business side of things, in 2009 I received a very amazing, personal email from Giuliana Rancic! A piece of it read: “After hearing his [her husband Bill’s] speech, I got ur email and I realized that u were a lot like him. Emailing me a nice, passionate note and twittering me as well. I admire that passion and determination and it proves you are an inspiration to a lot of women out there.”
From Giuliana’s email I was featured on E!News (national TV) for Giuliana’s 2009 Holiday Gift guide.
Giuliana Rancic helped put Kt Steppers into many homes with kids all over the country which was a very proud moment for me and my business that holiday season! I will forever be grateful! Plus telling me I sounded a lot like Bill? I’ll take that, too!
RT: Is there a special offer you’d like to include for Red Tricycle readers?
KO: We would love to offer Red Tri Readers a great offer, especially with the holidays coming. Please take 25% off our custom, eco-friendly Cricket Steppers (our standard kt steppers). The value is $99 (includes shipping in US/Canada) – so email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with subject line “RED TRI Reader 25% Discount”. Offer valid through January 1, 2014.