Annette Giacomazzi, founder, CastCoverZ!
Who she is: In the fall of 2008, Annette Giacomazzi’s then 10-year old daughter, Elli, broke her humerus, the large bone in the upper arm. As a mom, her heart just sank seeing her child burdened with her sixth broken bone. Yes, her sixth. To cheer her up, Giacomazzi made her a few colorful cast covers and sling sets. Friends and family raved. But, the crafty parent figured that’s what friends are family are supposed to do.
What she does: What really gave her pause, though, was when strangers stopped her and Elli on the street and asked, “Where did you get that? I want one for my kid.” After the third time, bells began going off for Giacomazzi, who had a strong marketing background. She started doing some research into what might be available commercially in the marketplace, and realized colorful covers for casts were a sorely (no pun intended) needed product. And so, CastCoverZ! was born.
Why she does it: “Our mission is simple: provide fun and functional products that comfort orthopedic patients,” says Giacomazzi, our Truly Amazing Woman of the month. Below is our Q&A with this clever businesswoman, who epitomizes the adage that necessity is the mother of invention.
NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION
Hope Gibbs: Tell us about your business background, and what convinced you that you could create a profitable company.
Annette Giacomazzi: I actually have a strong sales and marketing background. But, I got my business savvy from my dad, a small business owner who made his living distributing toys, crafts, and models. Eventually, his clients ended up being giant retailers, including Target. Of the three kids in my family, though, I was the only one with a strong affinity for business. Whenever my father and I had a “Daddy and me” day, I wanted to go to the office.
Hope Gibbs: Do you think entrepreneurs need a background in business to get their business up and running?
Annette Giacomazzi: Not at all. The Internet is a virtual library full of free information. Other than a computer and an Internet connection, you only need time and the knack for asking the right questions.
Also, everyone has people in their lives willing to give solid counsel and resources. If you can’t quickly name four to six people who would be willing and able to help and encourage you, you need to go outside your comfort zone and find a new circle of friends.
Hope Gibbs: Is there something more important to know about running a business than what is taught in MBA school?
Annette Giacomazzi: MBA schools teach theory and formulas. A number of attributes are needed to run a business. You must have a vision and you must take action. Don’t wait for perfection and don’t get imprisoned by fear.
Ask yourself, “What is the worst that could happen?” If you can answer that question, a lot of the fear will be removed.
Hope Gibbs: How hard has it been for you to build a successful business?
Annette Giacomazzi: There is a saying that success will cost an entrepreneur twice as much and take three times longer than expected. I think that’s an MBA formula and they were conservative.
Hope Gibbs: What is the greatest lesson you have learned?
Annette Giacomazzi: Ask more questions. Do not surround yourself with people who have the same abilities as you, but do surround yourself only with people who encourage and support you.
Hope Gibbs: What is the biggest mistake that you have made?
Annette Giacomazzi: I went into partnership with a friend who was a lot like me (marketing background, outgoing, friendly, business acumen), and who filled a deficit in my personal life (a connection). I knew I made a mistake in the first month. What I needed was someone with the same mind-set, but a different skill-set.
Hope Gibbs: Would you do it again?
Annette Giacomazzi: A lot of people refer to the service people they contract as vendors. I call them partners. I invest a lot of resources (time and money) in them, so I make it a conscious choice to do business with people I like and people who believe in me and my vision.
For example, my webmaster (love that woman!) understands my obsessive compulsion to please my customers, my SEO/marketing advisors (www.webmarketingtherapy.com) have my back and are helping me achieve total web domination, Tamara Monosoff of www.mominvented.com kept me focused and held me accountable, and my employees and customers give me hundreds of reasons to wake up with a smile every day.
I rely on all my partners, and they guide me to make wise choices and to challenge myself beyond my comfort level. I also have a financial, but silent partner. I would only take on a financial partner who is active in the business if the business were at a certain level. Right now, it’s still too personal. CCZ! exists because of my daughter’s suffering and my vision.
Hope Gibbs: You battled cancer shortly after starting the business. How did that change your perspective on what was important, and how you run the business in general?
Annette Giacomazzi: I circled the wagons. And, I intentionally eliminated everything that was nonessential and increased what was meaningful. That meant no volunteer activities, no business/product line expansion, and no hiring of new employees. My approach then was to simply maintain what I had, take care of my physical health, live in my faith, and support those I love.
Hope Gibbs: What are your goals for the future for your business, and for your life?
Annette Giacomazzi: Values drive my goals. I want to live simply, love deeply, and serve well. I want to be a good steward of all the gifts I have been given. This includes my greatest gifts, my children. I want CCZ! to be a reflection of my values.
Hope Gibbs: What one thing do you want readers to know about your success?
Annette Giacomazzi: You must believe in yourself, your vision, and your promise to your customers. To do that, you have to understand who your customers are and how you can solve their problem with an authentic heart. You also must have something bigger than yourself and your company to believe in.
For more information about CastCoverZ!, visit www.castcoverz.com/.