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Eco-Conscious Retailer Builds Successful Online Hemp Shop at Home

Earth Friendly Network owner and eco-mom Amie Nguyen manages four eco-conscious websites all from the comfort (and sometimes chaos) of her Tulsa, Oklahoma home office.
    /24-7PressRelease.com/ - February 14, 2005 - Children, pets and a spouse aside, Amie attributes her success to professional designs, top-notch customer service and a long journey of lessons learned.

"The most important lesson I've learned is to build strong relationships with business contacts and associates," Amie said. Those contacts and associates in return refer customers to her business and can provide assistance to her in areas where they have more experience and expertise.

Through those contacts and associates, Amie has built a professional website and established a network of wholesalers for whom she retails her hemp and organic cotton products - all while caring for her four children, ranging in age from 10 years to 2 months. She also unschools the oldest two. (Unschooling is following your children's lead., allowing them to learn from a wide variety of experiences and resources.)

Managing her businesses and household, which includes a husband (who runs his own automotive accessory installation business and that she helps run), children, three dogs and a parrot, takes a lot of flexibility.

"It's like juggling. You have to be on the ball all the time," Amie said. "There is no time for idle thoughts (well not much anyway). The children/husband/family always come first so you have to learn to let go of what needs to be done in other areas so you can focus on what's most important. The balancing act never stays the same for long because each day, thing (the kids, business, etc.) are always changing."

Life wasn't always so hectic. Five years ago she never would have guessed what she is doing today - but she isn't too surprised.

"I was just never into what people said was it," she said. "I always challenged the norm and what authorities told me. Even as a 7 yr old, I thought doctors were full of it. But that wasn't because I had read about any natural lifestyle. It was just my instinct and personality."
Her instincts lead her to breastfeeding her children and co-sleeping with them, even before she knew there was a name for the attachment parenting lifestyle. Those instincts also led her to seek other ways to follow her natural inclinations instead of what the majority of society recommends.

Her two oldest children were born in the hospital, but when Amie became pregnant with her third, she began researching something different. She turned to the internet to find sources of information about the lifestyle choices she was making - and stumbled into a new world. From websites and message boards, she learned about attachment parenting, homebirth and natural living.

"When I was pregnant with Lucy, I found Hipmama.com (a radical version of Mothering.com). Many, if not most, of the members had homebirths. I had no idea people actually did that. I thought that was back in Little House on the Prairie Days. Then I started researching and the more I found out about homebirth, the more I found about natural living. Most of the sites with homebirth information had information about natural living. Each piece of information I found led me to uncover a heap of other information."

During her research, she also discovered cloth diapering. She knew that cloth diapers would be a perfect fit for her evolving lifestyle - and a perfect way for her to supplement the family income. This revelation led to the creation of http://www.wildnwoolygoods.com in 2002. As a friendly and outgoing person, entrepreneurship came naturally to her.

"You have to be confident in yourself and your ideas and be able to communicate well with others to be a successful business owner,"Amie said.

She decided that her Wild N Wooly Goods site should be focused on selling natural fabric, yarn, clothing, cloth diapers and other products to parents who practice attachment parenting. (Attachment parents believe in parenting practices that promote strong emotional bonds with their children, including breastfeeding, co-sleeping and natural living.)

Amie created http://www.earthfriendlygoods.com, http://www.hempfabricshop.com and http://www.hempbabygoods.com last year as a way to expand her target market from attachment parents and WAHMs to more mainstream consumers.
Through search engine optimization, participating on message boards, banner advertising and print ads in ezines and magazines, she built her sites to be well-known and respected in the WAHM world. She attributes much of her success to the DotComFamily.com community. To reach her new target markets, Amie plans to rely on her relationships with other business owners, Google and Froogle.

She knows that success won't be an overnight process though. Amie said it took two years for her to feel like her business had become successful.

"I don't think it was the length of time for me to become known - rather it was me learning the ins and outs of ecommerce," she said.
She also learned some hard lessons, like how to avoid under pricing her items and that she should have started out with a professional website design.

"Don't expect overnight success, always treat your customers right, don't under-compensate or overwork yourself. Do what you love - love what you do," Amie said.

She realized her business was taking off when she started receiving more orders - so many that it became a lot of work to keep up with it all. To compensate from the demands of her business, Amie makes time to chat with her friends and associates.

"We have a weekly get together with friends, turn off the computer and walk away when it's too much."

Amie spends six to 10 hours a day, six days a week working. But she makes sure she never forgets to "stop and smell the roses."
Life is too short to let your online business take over your life," she said. This lesson hit home when she got her first credit card charge backs.

"My lowest point was when I had my first credit card charge backs," she said. "I had to pay $3,000 that I did not have and was not making enough to cover. I seriously contemplated quitting at that point." Despite the fact that she was financing her business ventures with personal savings and credit cards, she decided to not let the setback drive her out of business.

Instead, she looked to the future, of her business and the industry she is in. Next week, she plans to launch a line of hemp food and oil. This will make her store the first to sell those products in Oklahoma. She hopes that her business and products will help increase awareness and use of natural products, which will, in turn, make the products more affordable for mainstream consumers.

"Unfortunately natural/earth-friendly products are not as affordable/inexpensive as convenience items found at mainstream stores," Amie said. "It's my hope that opening natural goods to a wider audience will create a large enough demand that it will become more mainstream and eventually more affordable."

Amie is personally familiar with what the mainstream consumer looks for when shopping.

"It wasn't too long ago that I was a mainstream consumer who purchased whatever was on sale, whatever was convenient," Nguyen said. Even as a child though, she knew some mainstream things just weren't right for her.

"I started with running a co-op for hemp fabrics," Nguyen said. I was able to sell enough fabric to get a significant discount on the fabric, making it possible for me to produce products and sell them at a competitive price. When I was ready to sell my cloth diapers, I began building my website and adding a few other items to my store."
Four websites and three kids later, Amie has come a long way in her journey - a journey that her customers will benefit from each time they make a purchase from her natural goods stores or learn something new from her informational sites.

The Earth Friendly Network strives to meet the growing public demand for environmentally friendly products, offering an extensive line of luxury, personal care, infant care, crafting, and leisure items. Each product has been carefully scrutinized for quality and monitored for fair trade production practices. Many of the products are made from one of the only sustainable and biodegradable fibers available - hemp. The network also carries products made of organic cotton, soy, flax, wool and other earth friendly resources. For more information, visit the website at http://www.earthfriendlygoods.com or contact Amie Nguyen at (918) 277-6299.


Photo Available HERE http://www.dotcomfamily.com/images/amie_web_photo_2.jpg

The Earth Friendly Network strives to meet the growing public demand for environmentally friendly products, offering an extensive line of luxury, personal care, infant care, crafting, and leisure items. Each product has been carefully scrutinized for quality and monitored for fair trade production practices. Many of the products are made from one of the only sustainable and biodegradable fibers available - hemp. The network also carries products made of organic cotton, soy, flax, wool and other earth friendly resources. For more information, visit the website at http://www.earthfriendlygoods.com or contact Amie Nguyen at (918) 277-6299.


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Amie Nguyen
Earth Friendly Network LLC

Broken Arrow, OK
USA
Voice: 9183575445
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