Melanie Downey has been featured, profiled, quoted, or mentioned in thousands of magazine, newspaper, TV and radio stories, in countless online stories, and a few books, too.
Here's a sampling of media she's been featured, profiled, or quoted in:
Wilava, a skin and body care business that is built around the sole principal of using the freshest and most effective ingredients available, was born of necessity nearly a decade ago when Downey began seeking ways to provide her eczema-riddled baby with something to ease her discomfort. The evolution from a hobby shared with friends to products marketed to a national audience took two years when Downey officially became a sole proprietorship and started putting her business plan into action in April 2009.
"It's a feel-good job without having to sacrifice what I consider to be a good, solid family life," she said, "and I am fulfilled because I feel like I am doing something important."
"You have flexibility, not only in terms of days and hours, but in the direction of the business and the rate of your growth."
"Have a written plan. Write things down! It will help guide you and make sure that you don't overlook important aspects of the business. At the same time, be flexible, and revise the plan as often as you need."
After Melanie Downey’s daughter, Ava, was born prematurely, she had several health problems, including food allergies and severe eczema. When her doctor suggested putting Ava on steroids to treat her skin, Downey frantically researched alternatives. “She had already been through so much, I didn’t want her to deal with side effects of steroids, too,” Downey said.
Melanie Downey never worked less than an 80-hour work week. It was the internet heyday and Downey was Director of Public Relations and Marketing at Monster.com. “I was always really intense, and really identified my entire being, self-esteem and confidence with what I did for work,” says Downey. Even while pregnant, she attempted to keep up her old pace.
I don’t think I can leave her. Downey’s daughter was born two months premature with a tricky mix of health complications: colitis, epilepsy, and a laundry list of food allergies. She nursed every 45 minutes and cried about twenty hours a day. The tiny, ailing baby couldn’t go to daycare, and Downey didn’t want to hire a nanny since “I was afraid that they might shake her or hurt her because she was crying constantly.” With a week left in her maternity leave, Downey had never yet been away from her daughter. She told her husband, “I just don’t think I can leave her,” and decided to become a stay-at-home mom.
Downey began by selling skincare products at weekend fairs and online, managing the business while Ava, and her younger son, Will, slept. Within a few years though, she was back to working 80 hour weeks, just to keep up with the demands of her new business. She overheard her kids saying things like “Mommy used to play with us a lot before she started making soap.” For these reasons, Downey is shifting the focus of her company...
"Of course, we want to be the wave of the future, but we think we're doing pretty well in the present, too," she says.
The Indianapolis Star
Public Relations specialist Melanie Downey reminds businesses that “larger media outlets often look to the smaller ones for story ideas.” Stories from local outlets often get picked up by ABC, MSNBC, Yahoo, and other bigger sources that have more clout when it comes to distributing viral content.
Downey argues that the desire to connect with a brand that has a unique personality is why customers and clients seek out small businesses in the first place.
“The businesses who really catapult themselves into the world are those who own their individuality and build their business around that,” she says.
“Make sure that every contact your customer has with your brand supports your brand vision and the points that came to light during your customer interviews,” says Downey. “This includes the look and feel of your studio, how they’re greeted at the front desk, the classes you offer, any ‘extras’ you offer, as well as any other contacts you have with them, like email newsletters, birthday cards, social media, ‘challenges’ and even music.”
"Get creative in how you promote yourself to the press. This one takes a little bit of thinking, but it’s free. It can get your book in front of a whole new audience, and it works for both fiction and nonfiction writers.
Think about how you can tie in to ideas that the press is already going to be writing or talking about, that are related to a topic in your book. If you’re a sci-fi writer, you could talk about how to decorate your house to look like a scene in your book for Halloween.
If you have a business book on accounting, go beyond tax time, and pitch an idea like, “What you need to be doing in August to make tax prep easier in April” to business journals, magazines, and even talk radio."
"Meeting people and letting them try my products at shows has been the best way [for me] to attract new customers. If I can get someone to try my products, they usually become long-term, loyal customers."
Book: Driving Profitability at Craft Shows
Also, for products that have a "touch and feel" factor (natural skin care products or soaps, for example) offering samples is a great reason to do craft shows. "My products are really something that need to be tried and tested," said Melanie Downey, founder of Wilava.
You’ve heard the phrase, ‘One step forward, Two steps back’? Well, a good leader is one who can keep people motivated when they’re taking those two steps back. Success is never a constant, steady increase; there are dips and valleys. In order to succeed, people need to be able to keep working through those dips, and get to the good parts. Great leaders understand this process, and know how to keep people motivated so they don’t give up when things get hard. The job of a leader is to make everyone else feel like a success.