Growing My Business with Support from Count Me In
"I always had great ideas, but never the business education to support them. Count Me In has helped me grow and understand every component of my business, from financials, to marketing, and hiring the right people. This program is giving me the education, confidence and support I need to take my company to the multi million-dollar level and beyond!"
Norma Rapko Vargas - Norma Rapko Vargas, Inc.
Norma Rapko Vargas is a former stay- at- home mom who, with a talent for crafting, innovative ideas and a head for business, is gaining a reputation as the Latina Martha Stewart.
The daughter of immigrant parents, a carpenter and a seamstress, Norma spent her summers working in her grandparents sewing factory where she developed her entrepreneurial spirit and her love and passion for creativity. Today she is building a diverse brand as an inventor, designer, author and crafting expert. Her Crystyler tool will revolutionize the application of crystals to clothes, accessories and more for do-it-yourself fashionistas worldwide. Her brand has a number of other craft tools and accessories in development. Norma has been featured on NBC and Univision, as well as in Summerset Magazine and Where Women Create. She is the author of ‘Embellished Memories’ published by Martingale & Co and was recently awarded the National Latina Business Women of the Year for Arts and Production.
In May 2012, Norma was named an Urban Rebound Awardee as part of an initiative designed to help women small business owners in three economically challenged regions – Los Angeles, Detroit, and Charlotte – grow their businesses to the $250,000 revenue threshold quickly and sustainably.
On her introduction to the Count Me In community:
I first heard about CMI when I saw Nell Merlino in a TV segment promoting an event a few years ago. I was intrigued by the program and signed up to receive e-mails and updates. At the time I was just starting my business again after years of being a stay -at -home mom.
Fast forward to 2012. In March I received word that I would be pitching my products to big box store buyers. I was nervous, as I had never pitched buyers of that caliber before. I remember hanging up the phone and checking my e-mails and there it was an invitation from CMI to meet Nell Merlino at a Pitch Party in my area. I couldn’t believe it - this was just what I needed! That event was life changing for me. I had the opportunity to be coached by Nell, and she prepared me for those very important meetings with the buyers.
On growing with the Count Me In Business Accelerator Program:
This program has been amazing for me! I have a new found confidence in myself and my business. Learning to pitch helped me successfully get my invention in a major retailer, and I’ve had very positive meeting with others.
I’ve also seen financial success as a direct result of coaching. My coach helped me identify the right people to approach to form a board of directors for my company. At our first directors meeting we discussed the financials and one of the directors gave us a $25,000 no interest, no stake loan to use toward getting our product to market.
On the support of the Count Me In community:
Connecting with other women entrepreneurs has been so valuable. It enables you to share issues you are facing with your business with other women who can give advice and understand what you are going through. The access to resources and information has also been amazing. I was invited to attend an Angel Investor seminar through CMI where I was picked to pitch my product on the spot. Because of the training and support from CMI and my CMI sisters I won that competition and got another investor!
On what growing her business really means:
Growing my business to $250,000 in annual revenues would allow me to work on some of the other innovative ideas we have in development, grow the brand into other markets, and create new jobs.
This would also give me financial peace. I have a son going to college in two years and would love to help him fund his education.
On what’s next:
I have moved from decorating frames in my garage for local craft fairs to focusing my time and attention as a product manager of the Crystyler!
On November 13, 2012, a patent number was issued for the Crystaler Pen, nearly five years after my original patent application! We plan to adapt the technology for other fields such as personal care, medicine and pet care.
Other next steps include getting the units into major retailers so that we can have a broader market launch in early 2013 and continue hiring. Our goal is to hit the $1 million revenue mark in 2013!
Visit her website to learn more.