Branding Expert Behind Grind Atelier
Meet Lorena Rossi, serial entrepreneur and Co-Founder of Grind Atelier, a branding School for Solopreneurs. Lorena alongside partner and marketing expert Marjorie Joasil have built the perfect model to help business owners bring their company to the next level. Goss Club sat down with Lorena to discuss her journey as an entrepreneur and how to grind to success!
Tell me about your journey and how it led you to open Grind Atelier.
I've been an entrepreneur for almost 10 years now, I was a stay at home mom and I wanted to go back to work. I started making custom stationary from home, working with event planners in the city and then eventually in 2009, I opened my very own gift boutique in Little Italy. Three years later I designed my own line of linen products. Then I got tired of just running a store, so I closed up shop and launched a collection of online stationaries.
Then I turned to my husband, and said "now what?" and he's like: well you just launched. It wasn't it; I wanted more. At one point I started questioning my own entrepreneurial gene: I thought maybe I'm not cut out to be an entrepreneur, I'm doing everything you're supposed to, I'm working hard, and something wasn't working.
I decided to take a break and get a 9-5 job.
I started working for a company doing data entry and a bit of creative work an then after a month of working there I became the creative director; managing six offices across the world. Being inside a company I started realizing how it didn't matter how pretty I made everything from the outside, something wasn't sticking.
I really got interested in business models, I started to get really interested in branding and then I understood why it didn't work for me the way it should have.
So I left my job. I had a great salary, I had my own team, really had the best situation but when you're an entrepreneur and you're driven, there's no 9-5. That pay check every two weeks is not what gets you excited.
I got back into branding. I did workshops for free for women, I did my first workshop - I had four people. Less than a month later, I did another one and 20 women showed up - then I saw there was a demand.
Photo credit - Dimitra Rougalas
How did Grind Atelier come to life?
I was doing one on one branding for clients and then I met Marjorie, she was working for Lacoste, coordinating Marketing nationwide in Canada. We had similar stories and similar paths and I saw how her brain works which is so right brain and I'm left brain. This came along, and she's like a list maker, things work in boxes and I thought, I need her! One thing led to another and I said, let's just do this together so we partnered up and now we have grind Atelier - we put our heads together and we created our own branding model,
What's the concept behind your company?
We teach solopreneurs how to build a brand that sells from scratch. People used to create products, and then they used to brand it, and then they used to give it to the marketing department and that's how it went. Now the branding and marketing has to be built in. Before it was all centred on the business owner, it hd nothing to do with business owner. Our model is centred on the client because without a client you have no business, you have a hobby.
Branding has changed and evolved a lot and no one's addressing it.
It's really identifying that client, and their needs super perspective When you hit the "G spot" it's a gem. The thing is you might think you know it, but there's a process where you have to go and confirm it, you have to validate your idea. It happened to me because I did the free workshops, you have to give it away and see what happens and see if the demand is there. Then you're building a business on a need - you're answering a need. Because today, products are not sold anymore, products are bought. That's the difference. We have no power anymore, it's the client, the consumer has the power. They have less than 3 seconds to decide if you've got something for them or not. Your offer has to be clear, it has to hit a specific micro-niche. People are scared to go so niche because they think they're losing out but it's the opposite.
photo credit - Dimitra Rougalas
Is there a specific niche you cater to?
Our clients are solepreneurs - which means you're running your business by yourself. We came down to that because, you know when you read so much people will tell you "you need to delegate" but when you have no one to delegate to, when you're a solopreneur it's a very different reality. You're also very isolated because you're alone all the time. Most solopreneurs go into business to pursue their passion so all they really want is to make a decent living doing what they love. The motivation is different, their situation is different.
Our clients are also operating their business for 2-3 years already - so they already have the information at hand, they've done the trial and error and a lot of them are stuck. Grind Atelier gives you that clarity, that focus so that you can start to grow.
How do you balance being a mother, a wife, an entrepreneur which is a 24/7 job?
A very understanding husband (laughs) that's probably a key thing. You have to sacrifice so much, he'll be there for the kids especially when they were younger when I was out also our priority is always the kids, that does't change so I do try to schedule my time around the kids. I think another important thing is to get your family involved, I got into the habit now of writing a schedule and putting it in the living room and my husbands always saying that the kids are asking: where's mom where's mom, so now they know that I'm out and I'll be home at this time. The other day my son was like: oh mom tomorrow you have something at 9. So they know what's going on. Balancing. I love what I do and I love working. I always say if I didn't have kids - I would work 24/7. It's not easy, sometimes you have to shut off.
As you get older it gets easier because you learn to say no, without feeling guilty. When you're first starting you're afraid to say no because you're afraid to lose a client - but then you realize that people are nice, people are reasonable so when you say: I don't answer emails at midnight, it's normal.
What have you learned in the last 10 years as an entrepreneur?
You can't be successful without having had failures. I don't know anybody who has. Failures come in different shapes and sizes, it could be that you got into a certain project and you thought it was going to be something and it's not. You're better off cutting it off, because you're in the wrong place. You're in the place to gain something and when you feel like it's over, it's over. Falling flat on your face, but getting back up and trying again.
Patience. Not expecting things to happen so quickly, putting it the time. and to listen. The more you listen to your clients. Ask your clients, I know it's hard because you're putting yourself in a vulnerable position but they have the answers for you. The customers, your clients they are holding the answers for you. Listening is a huge thing.
What do you credit to your success?
The support from my family. My father is an entrepreneur so he's always encouraged me. He used to say that you're better off having $50 in your pocket than $100 but know that you earned it and that it's your business and you're in charge of it. Entrepreneurship is in my family so I've always been very encouraged by my father, my husband who's always believe that "yes you've got something" and he's been in on this journey with me since the beginning.
Being surrounded by a good circle of women.Being in a room with women entrepreneurs, you almost don't need to say anything. It's just so much goes understood. I think having that energy of women who are positive and driven is really important.
What's coming up next for Grind Atelier?
We're going to be doing a couple workshops and mostly webinars and online courses - we're going to be putting together a book as well because we have put together this model which is the new way of doing branding and we want to share it with others.
We want to grow online, so we can reach entrepreneur across the world - we're aiming to reach entrepreneurs in Canada first and the US but we would love to reach a bigger scale. A book is also in the works in the future for branding.
We have a workshop coming June 22 (in french). It's all about branding. Re-focus and get clear about your brand!