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RedNek Wine Glasses.
RedNek Wine Glasses.

Small Business Briefing

RedNek Wine Glasses make company millions Add to ...

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Licensing deal proves lucrative

Carson Home Accents, a 41-year-old family business based in Freeport, Pa., struck gold when it started manufacturing and selling RedNek Wine Glasses, according to a story from CNNMoney. The Mason jars glued on a candlestick holder chalked up $5 million (U.S.) in sales in under a year.

"One of our salespeople saw this item on a shelf at a Hallmark store," said Carson vice-president John Hill, adding his company met with the original inventor and signed a licensing deal with her.

Okie Morris, 43, who invented the Original RedNek Wine Glass, calls herself a "repurposer."

"I use old things and give them a new twist."

The RedNek Wine Glass is currently No.1 on the bestsellers list for glassware and drinkware items on Amazon.com. The other big seller? The Toilet Mug.

I kid you not. Go figure.



Putin calls for 'national entrepreneurial initiative'

Russia has consistently received very low ratings for corruption, financial development and attractiveness for business, and the government's own Audit Chamber said in a report that Russians feel corruption is more of a problem than ever, Interfax reported Wednesday. Now, The Wall Street Journal points out, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has kicked off his presidential campaign on an anticorruption and pro-business note, vowing Wednesday to make his country a hotspot for entrepreneurs in the next 10 years. He proposed changes to the tax system and said the country could eliminate export duties for goods other than commodities, which make up the bulk of the country's trade. "We need to work out and achieve a road map that will contain concrete practical steps aimed at improving the business climate," Mr. Putin told a business congress Wednesday in Moscow, Russian news agencies reported. The program will be dubbed the "national entrepreneurial initiative," the Journal says, but Mr. Putin offered few details.

New TV show on L.A.-based entrepreneurs

Cameron Casey, the producer of TechStars, which premiered on Bloomberg TV this year, is shopping around a new TV show featuring a Los Angeles startup accelerator called Start Engine, TechCrunch reports. The documentary-style program will follow entrepreneurs apply through the Start Engine process, as they get chosen, participate in the mentoring process and make the big pitch to investors. There's no distribution deal in place, but the plan is for a multi-season series for a network. Bravo announced in October that it was casting a reality show of Silicon Valley residents who “live life in the fast lane,” The Hollywood Reporter has said.

Portrait of Quebec entrepreneurs

The release of the English version of the 2011 Quebec Entrepreneurship Index, entitled Quebec Entrepreneurship Culture: Are Our Entrepreneurs Taking Root?, marks the third year the survey of the province's small-business owners has been conducted by the Fondation de l’entrepreneurship in association with the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and Leger Marketing. There were four key findings:

  • What’s holding Quebec entrepreneurs back isn’t their predominantly francophone roots, it’s the province’s entrepreneurial culture, or lack thereof. There are 2.2 times more anglophone entrepreneurs in Quebec than francophones. But there are about twice as many francophone entrepreneurs in the rest of Canada as there are in Quebec.
  • There has been an exodus of Quebec talent: 10 per cent of native-born Quebeckers aged 35 or older who still reside in the province are business owners, compared with 21.6 per cent of native-born Quebeckers from the same age group who live elsewhere in Canada.
  • The main stumbling blocks to creating and expanding a business in Quebec are shortage of funds, lack of time, and administrative, legal and fiscal red tape.
  • Despite weaker indicators of entrepreneurial culture in Quebec, more people see entrepreneurship as a desirable career choice: 62.6 per cent in Quebec and 46.6 per cent in the rest of Canada.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Celebrating success in Saskatoon

The Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce presents its 2011 Celebrate Success Awards Gala on May 17. Nominees can have up two General Business category applications and one in either Small Business of the Year or Business of the Year. Non-profit organizations do not fit the application criteria. The nomination deadline is Feb. 29, the application deadline is March 14 at 5 p.m., and there will be a finalists reception on April 17. Once the judges' evaluations have been returned to the Chamber, and before the results are made public, all nominees, nominators and respective award sponsors will be invited to attend the reception.

Innovative opportunities for biofibre

Shaping Alberta’s Future: Report of the Premier’s Council for Economic Strategy states that “the agriculture and forestry sectors are well placed to move into profitable new business providing the biomass and fibre used in the production of advanced materials, chemicals, drugs and nutraceuticals." An Alberta BioMaterials Development Centre seminar in Vegreville, Alta., on Jan. 19, will focus on the role of fibre processing to drive innovative opportunities for biofibre. From 8:30 am to 3:30 pm there will be presentations, discussions and a tour of Alberta’s fibre processing facility.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

'Strong desire to empower women'

While celebrities remain the focus of jewellery maker Hillberg & Berk’s ads, the company’s campaigns have taken on an added focus on female empowerment in recent years, a dynamic that emerged from founder Rachel Mielke's frequent trips overseas in search of manufacturers and materials. “I’ve always had a very strong desire to empower women, just through my own life experiences, and as I started to travel, I thought ‘H&B is going to be my tool to do that,’” she said in a story.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Search ads catered to specific global markets

Advertising globally has been good to Jonathan Defoy. The founder and CEO of BizTree, a Montreal-based business-in-a-box service, said in a story from April, 2011 that it was running ads against about 100,000 search-engine keywords around the world. BizTree’s focus is on one product: its $200 collection of 1,500-plus pre-written document templates covering everyday business transactions, and it sells most of them online as digital downloads. To get the word out, Mr. Defoy runs search ads that cater to clients in each market he’d like to be in.

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