Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Two local women turn unemployment into cash crop

Talk about turning lemons into lemonade.

Two Sarasota women laid off from their jobs this year and down on their luck after running through their savings can officially add another title to their belts: Entrepreneurs. And successful ones at that.

Stephanie Aucoin, 48, and Barbara Bourn, 59, were back to square one a few months ago after being given lay-off notices from their respective companies. Money in both savings’ accounts quickly disappeared; Aucoin had to borrow $10,000 from her parents to make it. Bourn had to sell her house, like so many others.

They didn’t wallow in their misfortune for long. Bourn and Aucoin put their heads together and came up with an idea to bring attention to the unemployment plight of so many: wristbands.
Every worthwhile cause lately (and a few NOT so worthwhile) has its own wristband, but not the jobless cause. These two ladies decided a whole lot of people could benefit by wearing one. And they made them screamin’ mustard yellow with bold black lettering: LAID OFF NEED A JOB.
Can’t miss ‘em. And just being seen with one of these babies on your wrist is good self-promotion. Aucoin found that out first hand, too. An exec riding up in an elevator with her saw the band, was intrigued, and offered her a position on the spot! See, fairy tales do come true after all.

The pair put their ingenuity into the business, put up a website and got themselves on Twitter for networking. And, after some local coverage, the Wall Street journal picked up the story and gave them some national media attention! Something tells me they’re sales may go up.

After five weeks, their site boasts over 500 hits daily. They’ve got a ton of followers on Twitter, and have sold more than 4,500 bracelets. Enough to cover their investment and pocket almost $9,000 in profit. Not bad for two girls just trying to make it. Great inspiration for the rest of us!

You can visit them on the web and get their full story, get yourself a bracelet (even if you don’t need one, something tells me they may be a hot commodity after the media attention) at:

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