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Small-Business Success: Brandi Temple and Lolly Wolly Doodle

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LollyWollyDoodleCompany website, celebration on reaching 300,000 Facebook fans, and Lolly Wolly Doodle founder Brandi Temple
Last year I was in a meeting with a group of Silicon Valley business executives discussing small business and innovation. I brought up what I considered to be a sterling example of a standout small business success story.

This company's founder accidentally did everything right, starting with a solid set of core values and a follow-your-passion philosophy. She smartly tapped into social commerce tools to reach and nourish devoted customers. She created a lean startup MVP (minimal viable product) process without ever reading Eric Ries. In a few short years, this 39-year old Mom helped revitalize her small town by adding jobs and reviving an industry. Her innovative "just-in-time" business model brilliantly supports "Made in America" principles.

As I finished talking, I realized that virtually every person in the room was staring at me. Definitely not in a good way. Not only did I dare mention a start-up that was neither hipster nor born in a local incubator, but the company's name was all wrong. Lolly Wolly Doodle. Huh? The brand didn't sound Web 2.0, TechCrunchy or remotely pre-IPO.

This is why I was delighted to hear of America Online co-founder and Revolution master entrepreneur Steve Case's $20 million investment into kid clothing manufacturer Lolly Wolly Doodle of Lexington, North Carolina.

Aside from proving the value of founder Brandi Temple's genius, it also proves the tangible power of social tools for sales, design iteration, forecasting and production.

Facebook is actively and successfully powering 60 percent of the company's sales

Instead of being a mere cog in a branding strategy, social is used in ways many of the big brands have yet to master, in which Facebook is actively and successfully powering 60 percent of the company's sales. The rest come through Lolly's website. I expect we'll soon be learning of the brand's inevitable success on Mom stronghold, Pinterest.

Brandi's accidental entrepreneur story is already legendary.

In 2008, Brandi was making clothing for her young daughters. She had some extra fabric so she decided to put it up for sale on eBay. This idea worked so well that soon her hobby boomed into a thriving eBay store. When Brandi's husband lost his job two years later, they decided to take the leap and expand their online sales from eBay to Facebook. She offered her designs on a first-come, first-serve basis. Bazinga. Today, the company has $10 million in annual revenue, 160 employees and thanks to Case, more expansion ahead.

Courtesy Brandi TempleLolly Wolly Doodle founder Brandi Temple and her family
Do you have an accidental entrepreneur story? I'd like to hear about it.

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