“I was a bit discouraged, lacking confidence in myself and having fears about expanding my business,” Lai says about the early days of her business, Heart to Heart Gifts, Inc. “When you feel that way, you tend to think small, settle for less and stay in your comfort zone where you feel safe.”
Lai used her beloved butterflies to launch Heart To Heart Gifts’ Web site in October 2004. Since then, she’s gradually added other product lines such as costumes, accessories for parties and weddings, nylon flowers, and themed room items.
“Sales had been relatively flat,” she says, “but after working with the SCORE team of counselors, things seemed to change literally overnight. Sales steadily increased week after week, and within five months of working with SCORE, they had jumped an incredible 1,900 percent. We’ve grown four times in less than four years, and we are projected to top $1 million in sales in 2008.”
Her uniquely-designed products have since been featured on ABC-TV’s Extreme Home Makeovers program, Discovery Channel’s Party Show, and MTV’s Spring Break at Disney World. They are in demand by some of Hollywood’s hottest set and costume designers. Business is on the rise so much that she projected a 100 percent increase in sales for 2005.
“Having my own business gives me the freedom to choose who I want to work with or for,” she says. “My business is a also a channel for me to express creativity in a very positive way. I am the artist of my business, starting with a blank canvas and my own vision. These are all the good things of having your own business.”