After the hit COVID-19 gave to businesses, Jane Coloccia sought to do something meaningful while her business was in limbo. She created A Case For Good, which features original artwork on cellphone cases which tie into a specific causes and organizations. Here’s how she’s made a strong case for credit cards.
Jane Coloccia has been an entrepreneur for close to 30 years for one excellent reason: She had a burning desire to call the shots and not work for corporate America. So, she built her own public relations and marketing communications firm, focusing on the hospitality and tourism industry. Yet when COVID-19 struck, travel was put on pause.
“I’m a workaholic, and suddenly finding myself with not much to do drove me crazy,” says Coloccia, who lives in Laguna Niguel, California. “So, I decided to find a new business angle, because who knew how long travel would be on pause. I had been looking around and noticing that, today, the one thing everyone had on them was a cellphone. Women would carry their phones and car keys and rarely a purse anymore. So, I thought the cellphone (or more likely the blank back of the cellphone) was a perfect vehicle to start a conversation. I came up with the idea to create A Case For Good which features original artwork on cellphone cases which tie into a specific cause, and I could use the sale of the cellphone cases to help donate to those causes.”
So far, Coloccia has featured artwork highlighting organizations that help with Alzheimer’s, pancreatic cancer and Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), as they had personally touched her life. But that was just a start, and she now has cases with thirteen other charitable causes represented – and many more are in the works.
“It feels good to finally do something with my career where I am giving back,” says Coloccia. “And while my regular day job has rebounded, I plan to keep this business going as well.”
To get this new venture off the ground, Coloccia makes a strong case for credit cards.
See related: Doing good with Goodr
How is A Case For Good going so far?
I just launched the website publicly on June 25, but the start was actually quite easy. I had the idea and knew how to build my own website with Wix. I then checked out online resources to source out artists to create the illustrations for the cases, as well as a place to get them produced.
At first, I thought I would have to invest a lot more money in pre-printing phone cases in advance for the 13+ phone styles there are, but then I happened to stumble upon a company that makes print-to-order cases, so that simplified the process immensely.
And you integrated credit cards into the business?
Yes! I have a Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and a Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. My illustrations were all purchased from artists who are around the world, and the company I hired them through made it easy for me to purchase the work with the credit cards.
I also charged my website URL, setup and hosting, as well as the monthly subscription for the print-on-demand company. And since I didn’t like all of the illustrations I originally purchased, it was helpful to have a credit card to order new illustrations from different artists.
There are other expenses I use the cards for, too, such as social media advertising and the fees to process the e-commerce through my website.
Sounds like a lot of charging! Do you carry over a balance?
Thankfully, I remain debt free. I’m able to pay off the balance each month. This startup was not hugely expensive. I know people who do brick-and-mortar stores (like restaurants and boutiques) have a huge overhead, and I probably would have had a bigger expense if I had to stock up and buy all of the pre-printed cases ahead of time.
See related: Guide to Brex: The card for startups
What are the future plans for the business?
I need to go into overdrive with social media marketing to create awareness. Because I do public relations (my other day job), I can do that myself!
Future plans include adding in new charities and causes, figuring out a way to partner with some organizations to see if they can promote us as well and identifying some celebrities and influencers who have personal experience with a cause who might be willing to share our cases.
I’d also like to find more people who will let me tell their story about how a particular cause helped them, so I can feature more personal stories on my website. Right now, I have a few, but I think someone’s real story resonates best.
What is your advice to entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
As someone who deals with a lot of entrepreneurs from my marketing consulting practice, I know that all too often, they become fixated on just the daily operations and give no thought to marketing. And then when I ask them how they want to position themselves or what do they offer that is different than the competition, they become paralyzed. They don’t know what to feature on their website or how to distinguish themselves at all.
So, this is important: If you want to be an entrepreneur, consider your point of difference as that is key in helping you to market yourself.
What have you learned about credit and money along the way?
I don’t borrow what I know I can’t immediately pay back. I don’t want to be in debt. I chose not to apply for any PPP loans for my other business because the financial burden of having to pay that back – since it is not automatically forgiven – would be too great.
I worry for those who have taken them because as sales and business start to resume, we will all be lucky if we can recoup and get back to where we were. But when you have to add on the financial burden of interest to pay back that loan, it becomes a much more difficult situation.
I would say to launch your business on the frugal side. When I started my public relations and marketing company, it was home-based. I was there for about three years before I saw a steady income coming in. I was able to put money in the bank, and then when I felt I had a large enough cushion, I got office space.
There are a lot of costs involved when you get an office or a storefront. It’s not just the basic rent. You have to consider a phone system, computers, internet, insurance, furnishings and office supplies. Then staffing and salary in addition to the cost of goods you are producing or the service you are offering. It all adds up so try to take baby steps and be as frugal as you can.
I’m also a huge fan of Marcus Lemonis’ “The Profit” on CNBC, so I advise anyone thinking of starting a business to watch that. You will learn a lot!