Wonder Woman Wednesday
Lady Bosses creating their own path.
Welcome to the first entry in our new Wonder Woman Wednesday blog series! The role of the modern working woman has changed. We are taking things into our own hands and making it work for us. Some prefer a traditional career schedule while others want more flexibility and control over their time. There is no wrong or right way. We’re excited to profile inspiring businesswomen in Rockland County, NY, and Bergen County, NJ. These lady bosses have taken charge of their lives and launched exciting endeavors we’re sure you’ll want to hear about. Learn all about their businesses and the women behind them the 1st Wednesday of the Month on the blog!
First up, meet a high-end “toy concierge” who’s come up with a tech-savvy way to help busy moms find the perfect presents for birthdays and beyond and raise money for those in need.
Name: Paulette Pera Laurenzi
Business Name: Spring Lake Toys
Phone: (201) 962-0865
Where are you located: Bergen County, NJ
I share space at the All is Well Boutique, 257 Everett Ave., Wyckoff, NJ, and I’ve created a new service model: “Text for Toys” and “PM for Presents.” To me this is cutting-edge service. I work best with clients when they either text or PM (personal message) me. For example, my client, Brandyn, will text me needing a birthday gift for a 5-year-old boy with a budget of $25. I will then text her pictures and a brief description of a few of my selections. We decide on one. I gift wrap for free and deliver locally for free*. Perfect model for busy moms!
*Local is currently defined as Franklin Lakes, Oakland, Wyckoff, Mahwah, Allendale, Ramsey and Saddle River.
Describe your business in 50 words or less.
Spring Lake Toys retails high-end toys, games, arts & crafts, science, plush and more for babies to tween. We are a leader in toy fundraisers, having conducted more than 75 toy fundraisers for schools, hospitals, temples and various 501c3 organizations in the last two years. We also have a service model that caters to the busy mom. Text for Toys or PM for Presents are our cutting-edge service models. We select the perfect gift for you, gift wrap for free and deliver locally for free as well. Shipping available for a small charge.
Why did you start your business?
I spent 21 years in corporate banking. I rose to a Senior Vice President/Executive level where I managed teams of VPs and below in commercial banking. I then had my beautiful son and my life changed. I wanted to enjoy all the time I could possibly spend with him. Hence, I left my job and started my own business. Owning my own business coupled with my unique business model provides me with the utmost in flexibility.
What can your customers expect from you?
The highest level of service quality. Plus, the perfect children’s gift!!
What’s different about you versus your competitors?
1) I am a leader in toy fundraisers. I hold these events at a venue of their choice and give back generously to the cause.
2) I cater to very busy moms! People call me a “Toy Concierge” because I select the perfect gift for them, gift wrap for free and deliver locally for free too. I work 24/7. It is not uncommon for me to be texting my ideas at 11 p.m. at night, ready for delivery the next day. I do also ship via UPS if not a local delivery.
What was the last big milestone or benchmark you hit and how did you reach it?
Biggest milestone is when I hit 75 fundraisers. People are getting to know and understand my business model.
What is the most misunderstood part of your business?
Some people don’t always understand why I partner and/or share space in a store rather than have my own store. The answer is partially about my young son. I would like to care for him. I prefer not to commit to 50-60 hours a week at this stage in my life. Yes. I do work crazy hours during the 2 months leading up to Christmas and the 1 month leading up to Easter. But that is only one quarter of the year. Another reason a store hasn’t been top priority is my current business model. My model is all about service. Whether I am holding a Toy Fair at a school in their location or just delivering a few gift-wrapped toys to a client’s house, the service model has been fulfilled without the need of owning a store.
What part brings you the most joy?
Putting a smile on a child’s face. I once did a holiday fundraiser whereby we gave two-and-a-half dozen high-quality toys to one child with cancer. The doctor was clear that the girl was to spend Christmas in the hospital. Well, the opening of an abundance of gifts lifted her spirits so much that a miracle occurred. To the doctor’s surprise she got well enough to leave the hospital and spend Christmas with her family at home. Beautiful stories like this are what matters most in life. I was crying when I heard the end result.
What are the pros and cons of having your own business?
I love the flexibility as to when and where I work. I enjoy working most when my son (and dog and husband!!) are asleep. I also accomplish a lot during the school hours of my son.
I don’t see any cons. Perhaps if I needed a strong paycheck, I would have gone back to my corporate job. But, that is not what life is all about for me now. I like helping the community and am enjoying growing my own business.
What do you wish you had known before starting a business?
Because I financed and analyzed businesses for 21 years, I came into this with a sound knowledge base. However, since owning my own, I have gained a tremendous appreciation for all businesses, big and small. Many businesses may appear simple and seamless. But, truth be told, there is a considerable amount of work, behind the scenes, to get to that point.
What is one piece of advice you can give to any woman starting her own business?
If you are starting up a new business, like I did, be prepared to be the “chief, cook and bottle washer” at first. Then, depending on the business model, seek growth by bringing on the right people to help you. Surround yourself with great people and you will succeed!
Any upcoming events or promotions you’d like to share?
Absolutely! Spring Lake Toys is hosting a Toy Trunk Show & Fundraiser at All is Well Boutique in Wyckoff on Friday, March 11, 2016, and Saturday, March 12, 2016, from 10 am to 5 pm on both days. Come learn what are the “must have” toys for 2016. Proceeds of your purchase of baby items, toys, games, crafts, science and plush will go to purchase new toys for two local children – Ava (4 months old) with seizure disorder and Liam (15 months old) with cancer. Stock up on many small goodies for your Easter baskets and place a smile on the faces of these two children. If you miss this fundraiser, come Tuesday, March 15, 2016, and support the Mahwah Cub Scouts. Same location and 10 to 5 timeframe. Or, still busy? Bring your age 6-to-12-year-old child to a cool craft class to make crazy putty! Class is on March 17, 2016, from 4 to 5 at same location. Must RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org for the class. $15 fee collected at the door. All is Well is located at 257 Everett Ave, Wyckoff, NJ (behind Weichert Realtors which is across from Dunkin Donuts).
Tell us something about you, not the business:
I love summer! Summer is my slow season and, most important, the season whereby I get to spend a lot of quality time with my son since there is no school in session. Summer is my time to completely relax and enjoy the outdoors. I love being at the beach in Spring Lake and at our club in Franklin Lakes.
That wraps it up for Paulette from Spring Lake Toys. If you like to shop in person check out her selection of toys at the All is Well Boutique. Or let her make your toy shopping a breeze and check something off your to-do list with her Text for Toys and PM for Presents service!
In the coming months, we will introduce you to a Personal Stylist, an Anti Aging Guru and so many more unique lady bosses creating their own path to happiness.
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