Change the world

Innovation Office

10/10/2017

Propella Business Incubator Music, Arts and Design incubatee Ingrid Frauenstein weaved worlds of adventure for young and old – all while learning to navigate the world of digital business through her brand, Popsiebelle. Read the full article that appeared in The Herald on 2 October 2017, below:

Online shop Popsiebelle sells creative items for kids, meant to start stories and conversations.

WITH a range of children’s books, toys, decor items and other products designed to develop imagination from a young age, Ingrid Frauenstein has weaved worlds of adventure for young and old – all while learning to navigate the world of digital business through her brand, Popsiebelle.

What is your core service?
Our products are story starters. They are not just beautifully designed and made, but the goal is that each of our products have a job to do: they are meant to start stories and conversations, inspire imaginations and make Mom’s day and a child's day a little more fun. We sell fun, adventure and untold stories.

Where was the idea for Popsiebelle born?
My daughter, Sophie, is the inspiration for Popsiebelle. The only thing that I could not wait to hear was her voice; I knew all the little bits were there and in the right places, but what would she sound like? Finally I got to hear it. Her voice created Popsiebelle, her mispronunciation of words created many character names and her imagination has shaped the characters and stories we have told to each other.

We were living in Canada at the time, and she used to call a popsicle a “poxibelle”, and so with a slight adjustment, the name Popsiebelle was born. 

What makes your business unique?
We grow imaginations. Our products are unique, quirky and creative and encourage participation.
The characters are dissected and their stories unfold as told by your child.

If someone wanted to copy your business model, how would they start?
Keep asking questions. If you make a mistake, learn from it and move on. I have made so many mistakes along the way, but through making them I have learned a great deal. 

What are some of the biggest inhibitors your business faced before even getting off the ground?
Financing is always a challenge. I also think not having enough business confidence was a problem.
I have had to learn to think more with a business mind, but my creative mind continuously takes over. Sometimes all I want to do is create, but you also have to sell to be sustainable. This is where I have benefitted from having wonderful, strong woman mentors who have tried to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs or new business owners?
Never give up. Time moves whether you do something or not. Begin and keep trying, reinvent or change direction, but never give up!

What is the best advice anyone ever gave you about success?
Climbing toward the big picture in your head is extremely daunting. The best advice was to write down your goals and each day make sure you do one or two things that will get you closer.

What are some of the best practices that have made your business successful?
Being part of the Propella Business Incubation Programme for the last two years has helped. Being an entrepreneur can be quite lonely and sometimes you feel quite isolated. Through the programme I have received mentoring, business courses, support and a great deal of advice.

How did you decide on pricing?
We consider the fabric printing, manufacturing, size and packaging of the product.

What kind of advertising do you do?
I advertise on Facebook and Instagram, through word-of-mouth and on the website.

What have been the greatest advantages and challenges of running an online business, as opposed to a physical store?
Our overheads are low, so we can have shorter runs and smaller stock reserves to see if a product sells or not. We do have the ability to change direction a little faster, as it is a digital shop as opposed to having stock sit in a physical shop. The downside is that you continually need to feed the digital world and social platforms and it can become very time-consuming.

How many people do you employ?
I outsource the printing and manufacturing to local Port Elizabeth companies.

Do you have any plans for expanding the business?
We are participating in two national shows this year. This is the first time we will be on a national platform and we are hoping that it will give us more exposure to buyers and new markets.

How did you acquire funding for the business?

I have used my own funds to grow the business, as well as receiving help for the two national shows from Propella and the Export Help Desk, which is an initiative of the Eastern Cape Development Corporation and Nelson Mandela Bay municipality.

Contact information
Ms Elzaan le Roux
Public Relations & Marketing Administrator
Tel: +27 (0)41 504 4903
Elzaan.LeRoux@mandela.ac.za