Where I started my career: The ground floorI began my career where many successful people begin: sweeping the shop floor of a sail loft in Oakland, CA. Three months later, the production manager put me behind an industrial sewing machine where I made sails for sailboats. It was at this job where I first began learning manufacturing processes.
While doing the sailmaking job and going to school full-time, I also cleaned houses, worked my campus Work Study job, and did boat maintenance – everything from washing boats to fixing them.
While in school, I served as Student Council President of the School of Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences. In 1986, I was honored with the President’s Service Award for Outstanding Volunteerism to my university.
Early career 1986 – 1993: Office admin and then some
After graduating from California State University Hayward (now East Bay) in 1986 with a BA in English, I worked at the Northern California Marine Association. As the office admin, I did everything, from typing the Association’s newsletter on the good old IBM Selectric to manually affixing labels to thousands of direct mail pieces and then running the filthy bulk mail bags to the main post office in East Oakland.
Although it wasn’t my job, I asked if I could submit articles to the Association newsletter. Request granted. And thus began my love affair with small business owners as I began profiling them and their businesses in the newsletter. (The picture shows my first article, written in 1986, about William J. Cryer & Sons Boat Builders — 4 generations of being family owned and operated!)
I also learned how to put on trade shows (both in-the-water and at the Moscone Center in San Francisco). From working with exhibitors to putting out fires over the course of the show, I definitely learned quite a bit.
In 1988 I became the Business Manager for Precision Technical Sewing, Inc. (PTS), a woman-owned industrial sewing company. For seven+ years, I did everything and anything: from office administration and answering four phone lines to lugging heavy bolts of cloth up the stairs to the shop floor and shipping out finished products.
While I learned a great deal about business administration and customer service, I also learned about manufacturing, including:
- Coming up with creative ways to solve people’s challenges
- Quoting the custom jobs
- Sourcing the materials that went into making them
- Determining if we made a profit (or not)
I have fond memories of sourcing all kinds of things using the original green Thomas Register books.
Mid-career 1993 – 2010: Marketing communications + SEO
After completing my masters degree in English at CSU Hayward in 1993, I then worked “corporate” at Varian Associates (1995 – 1998), where I supported two factories as a MarCom Specialist: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and Gas Chromatography.
During this time, I served as board Secretary, and then President, for the CSUH Alumni Association from 1993 to 1997. During my tenure, I founded the Association’s newsletter and helped increase membership by 33%.
After my son was born, his father and I moved to the East Coast. In August 1998, I set up shop as a copywriter in order to be home with my son. It was a great time to be in business. The Internet was just taking off — and the subsequent dot-com boom.
In 2001 I taught myself SEO or search engine optimization, and by 2003 I had became one of the few B2B SEO copywriters. In 2005 I published the e-book, Turning Clicks into Leads through Search Engine Optimization: A How-to Guide for Small Businesses.
My client base grew as people found me online due to my own optimized website and press from the e-book — with clients ranging from small to large B2B companies across the U.S. I did everything from copywriting and SEO to full-scale marketing campaigns that included PR, blogging and social media.
I even ghostwrote three books for CEOs of companies in the Boston area.
Today: Focused on working with small industrial manufacturers
In 2012, I began reassessing my business and my life and in December 2014, I shut down my copywriting business and changed my business name in order to narrow my focus and concentrate on what I love: working with small industrial manufacturers.
Although my business has changed over the years, one thing hasn’t: I care about your business as much as you do.
Manufacturers have faced real challenges in the last decade. Those that survived did so through sheer guts, determination and smarts.
This is the story I want to tell.
Manufacturing is what made this country great. I’m proud to be part of its history. Even better, I’m happy I have the ability to form deep connections with people like you and then tell your story through marketing.
Quirky, Original, and Smart.
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