Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Grateful Dead Business 101

Date night + Grateful Dead Further Show = WAY FUN!

I'm not a jam band kind of girl, historically. Call me stuck in the 80s, I've preferred music I can sing along to. So, when A bought the tickets to see the Grateful Dead, I was...underwhelmed.
But, in a marriage sometimes you suck it up and make the best of it. So, I tried to
enthusiastically embrace the experience and have a good time. And I did!

me and A
A and I were transported back to a freer time in our lives, and our relationship.
I'd say we were about 28 yrs old. We'd lived a little in the real world, but were still innocent
and the path of life felt infinite. We laughed, we flirted, we listened, WE TALKED.
Anyone with kids knows that typically you get 2-3 words out before interruption.
As you tell your child to stop interrupting, you find the conversation is still...well, interrupted.
barefoot at the concert
As unexpected a good time as the concert was (PS - I no longer consider myself not a jam band girl), who could have guessed I'd leave the concert with some lessons in business?! What was really great about this is that it didn't feel business. It was about a connection with the audience.

As I watched and listened, here are some observations I had:

It's All about the Experience:
The Grateful Dead welcomes people recording their shows. At most other shows, there are no recording/ no picture rules. Not at a Dead show. You are expected to record your experience. Ever heard of the expression people don't remember what you said, they remember how you made them feel? I've never felt and seen it so true. Fans record the show, copy it and share it with their friends. The net effect is a giant conversation phenomenon. Holy word of mouth, Batman! Companies hire PR and Marketers by the millions to get the same effect.
Lesson Learned: Too much proprietary information is archaic. Open your business, and let everyone in on the experience and they will share it.
The belle&beanzer experience: I'm sharing my belle&beanzer venture adventure in this blog. I'm going to listen to you. I'm going to incorporate your voice in the line. It's truly a garment line made with supporting families in mind. Less struggles, and more snuggles!!

Engage your audience with a new twist on familiar theme
If you've been to a Dead show, you know that a reason fans record the show is because they cant wait to anticipate what's next, and they want to remember/relive this later themselves and with others. The three guitarists lead the listeners on a journey. They drop hints in the transitional jams for what is to come. In doing so, they create a joyful expectant anticipation and they are right there with their audience. One plays the song now, one plays pieces of the song next, and one bridges the two melodically. As I understand it, each show is different, but the same. Not all the same songs are played, but it's all songs you know linked together in new creative ways. As I listened to this, I was actually amazed at the skill and talent it took. It was beautiful.
Lesson Learned: There is comfort and security in a familiar experience, but the surprises are key.
The belle&beanzer theme: We've taken all your baby basics and redesigned them for simplicity. When things are simpler, there is a natural grace and ease that follows. And that opens the door for more humor and connection.

What's old isn't always old, it can be awesome again.
After the show, I was way intrigued by The Dead. So, I started listening to The Dead channel on XM. The station replays shows from across the years, at different venues. Guess what? People remembered where they were, what they were doing, who they were with, how they felt...just like A and I felt transported. They're there again right along with the music.
Lesson learned: Amazing experiences are timeless.
The belle&beanzer legacy: All our clothes are high quality fabric and construction. They will be able to be passed down and passed on. They are soft, snuggly and utterly huggable. You will remember the closeness you've had with your little one in our clothes. How it felt to hold your baby, and have had time laugh and connect, rather than distract and hurry through a dressing or changing.

I'm so proud that we're creating quality garments that have real intention to support and connect families.

The update: I'm going through the process of deciding on a factory, picking the final fabric and updating the garment design. Not to mention, my logo, business cards and website features. All this busy-ness is why it's been so long since my last post. Staying true to sharing the experience, as soon as the garment updates are done, I'll do a fun post about the prototyping process with pics and video. I'm so grateful that my baby model moms have been so willing to share a pic of their little one. Also, I'm thinking through the tithing aspect of my business. I've known that I want the business to stand for something, to give back. My friend, and AMAZING marketing consultant, Deb, connected the dots for me. She clearly pointed out that if a key value of the business is to support families, why not contribute to a charity that does just that. LOVE THAT! It is so simple, and directly aligned with the simplicity and family support business values. I'm looking into ones that exist, and what it would take to create my own if it doesn't exist. Any ideas?? Please comment, send links, let me know!

What do you think about my Grateful Dead business lessons? Can you relate?
What are some business lessons you've learned in unexpected places?
What are your top three business lessons you've learned in general?


  1. What if you could make baby clothes out of used clothes that are in good condition? We know that many people give away clothes that they have only used once or twice away. You could get that material at discount. Then you could of course wash it, disassemble it and then cut it down for baby sized clothing, and create something of your own design. It would be "green" and hopefully save on costs of new material. Could be a good marketing angle.
    I just gave you my million dollar idea. :)

  2. Hi Anonymous (okay, if I ask who this is?) That's a really interesting idea! I'll have to look more into the logistics. Each garment requires a certain amount of yardage, and has to be cut into pattern pieces. So, would need to factor that into the construction (and construction costs. although you'd save on fabric prices). Hmm... Will keep thinking. Could potentially test it out on a small scale and proceeds go to my tithing program. A Give Again program... Thanks! I'll let you know what I find out about it.

  3. I really like Anonymous's idea! Baby clothes from older kid clothes! These days, no kids seem to wear hand-me-downs (does anybody younger than my generation even know that word?), so why not reconstruct what's unfashionable into a new look and get the most out of that cloth? Love it!

  4. Keep up the good work. :)

  5. I love that you take real life and apply it to your business! At the end of the day your customers are real people and I think you are so relatable. I can't wait to hear about the prototype process and for the product to be available! My baby would love a simpler way to get dressed...and so would hurry, PLEASE!

  6. The best business advice I have learned.."jobs" come and go, but passion is something you are born with, if you find passion IN your job...its a cocktail for succsess, if you have no passion, move on.
    I love to read about the passion you have for belle& inspires me!

  7. Tracie, thank you so much! I can't wait to put more out there. Next post will explain in more detail where I am at...

  8. Kim, perfectly put! Thank you! Yes, I do have so much passion for this business, children and family, art and design. To be able to do them all at's a dream come true!