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I am a HUGE Monster Products fan. Why? I adore an authentic business leader who shares his successes alongside his failures and Head Monster Noel Lee does just that. But more than raising the bar for authentic leadership in business, Monster Products creates innovative products that set the standard for quality. With the Superstar Backfloat Waterproof Speaker (valued at $149.95) they have created a summertime speaker that is perfect for my girls to use at bath time, even better for my backyard pool barbecues, and (as you can see on the left) even better when I want to listen to some James Taylor while getting some sun in my pool. I love this product so much that Monster Products gave me an extra one to give away to you! 

Here’s how you can WIN: 

1. Post a photo of your favorite summer photo tagging #MonsterSummer on your Instagram profile and make sure you tag me @keepinupwkrista (if you like my profile please follow, but not required) 

2. That’s it. Make sure you post it by Friday, July 31st at 3PM (PST) and then watch your Instagram on Friday afternoon because I will pick a winner to send this out Friday afternoon. I don’t care where in the world you live, how many followers you have, and you just have to keep the summer photo G rated. No one wants to see your nakedness. 


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The team at Jord Wood Watches reached out to me to share their story and document the craziness that is my world. From pool side lounging to playing with my girls to giving superhero presentations in front of large audiences, my Jord Cora- Koa wood and rose gold watch stood up to it all and gained me many compliments. From day to night the Cora kept it classy and didn’t miss a beat. To get yours click here

What was your biggest challenge when you created JORD?
 

-No one uses a watch for the functionality these days. Everyone has some sort of device in their pocket, purse, or near by they use to tell the time. How are we going to break into a market that major designers and brands have had a strangle hold on for so long? To my first point, we wanted to create something a little different, we wanted to take advantage of people not using their watches to tell time, but to show their personality/style. To my second point, we needed to figure out a way to market ourselves, go somewhere that none of the other major designers or brands have gone, surprisingly that was the web. We have really developed our marketing strategy and have ranked well in Google. I would say overall breaking into the watch marketing and breaking the metal/plastic/rubber watch mold was the most difficult. People were a little skeptical to see if a wooden watch would hold up.

Why wood watches?
 -Everyone grows up following trends, doing wearing what everyone else is wearing. We wanted to break the trends of the Rolex, Fossil, Michael Kors, etc watches and start our own trend. Wooden watches are environmental friendly, which does go along with a huge trend now, everyone wants to go green. Our watches tell more than just time though, they let you know about the person’s personality. Each watch is different, even if it is the same model, unique down to the wood grain. Our timepieces are unique in every way, fashionable, eco friendly, and do give the time. 😉

What has been the most exciting part of growing JORD? 
 -The most exciting part in growing our business is watching it grow from the ground up. It sounds cliche but there has been a million and ten growing pains. We were told by hundreds of people that we couldn’t do it, we would needs thousands of dollars in funding, but we started within our means, bootstrapped everything and have grown the business into one that is profitable. It is awesome to see some grow from the beginning, you treat like it is your baby. We were looking at a target market that is young professional 25-40 years old, but we have learned that our market ranges from 10 year old children to 70 year old adults, it is hard to find a product that is loved across the board like that. To be a part of something like this is truly a blessing, and very cool to see it day in and day out.  One of the most gratifying things that is still hard to wrap my head around is creating and designing a product, seeing thousands of people post pics of it on their wrist wearing it all over the world. 

Tell me where you see the company in 10yrs. 
 -Right now we are very focused on online marketing and sales, that is where the majority of our business is. However, down the road we would love to be a part of the major department stores, in jewelry shops across the United States and even the world. We have also discussed the possibility of moving into other wooden products such as tie clips, cuff links, sunglasses, belts, etc. In 10 years from now I see us as one of the leading trend setters when it comes to jewelry not with just wood, but other natural materials.


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Huge thanks to guest contributor and fellow unicorn, Sabrina Marshall-Wojtewicz, for writing this inspiring piece that couldn’t be a more perfect way to celebrate Independence Day. Home of the free because of the brave and I find it so incredible that Rodney served our country in battle and then came home to serve it even more by helping to grow our economy with his entrepreneurial venture. Please join me in supporting this hero. -Krista 

In honor of July 4th today, we wanted to put a spotlight on an entrepreneur who has fought for the independence we will so proudly celebrate today. Not only is it a unique product that will appeal to a mass market of Dad’s, service-members and outdoors enthusiasts, it just launched on Kickstarter THIS WEEK in celebration of a veteran owned business bringing independence to Dad’s everywhere, who have ever been forced to carry the pretty floral brands us Mommy Unicorn’s so often love!

Enter, TacTikes: The Last Diaper Bag you will ever buy! Founded and run by Rodney Curry. We asked this Army veteran-Daddy some questions:

What ignited the spark in you to start TacTikes?

I had just been laid off from my corporate job and I was looking for my next gig. Upon exhausting every job listing in Austin, I came across the Entrepreneurial Boot camp for Veterans with Disabilities. I presented my idea of a modular diaper bag as my business idea, and the excitement and great feedback I received fired me up. The encouragement and support I received in the EBV program gave me the fuel I needed to start TacTikes. Six months later I joined The Bunker @ Austin, and the network of community support there kept the fire burning. My fellow veterans empowered me to become an entrepreneur, and pursue my dreams.

How did the idea for TacTikes come about?

I was sitting on my couch one day, thinking about how much I want to take my daughter to an upcoming festival. I was looking at her diaper bag with busted zippers and no backpack straps, dreading taking that with us to the festival. My Army bag was sitting next to it, and I had an “Aha” moment to merge both bags and create a durable, functional bag with a baby and toddler focus.

What motivates you?

During my 12-month tour in Iraq, too many soldiers in my unit made the ultimate sacrifice. The brotherhood we forged in combat left a permanent mark on me, and one I will always cherish. Every day, I think about those soldiers no longer here to pursue their dreams. Pursuing my dreams is my way of honoring their sacrifice.

What is TacTikes up to these days?

This is a VERY exciting time for TacTikes. We are launching our Kickstarter campaign on  July 1st! The month of July is filled with engagements to continue spreading the word of our launch on Kickstarter, and I plan on being very busy come August 1st, fulfilling tons of pre-orders after our successful campaign.

What three pieces of advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

·       Get and keep a day job. Your startup’s revenues will not support your salary.

·       Don’t go at it alone. Find a partner(s) with which to pursue a venture.

·       Wherever you are, be there.

How many hours do you work a day on average?

My day starts at 7am and typically goes until midnight or so. I split the hours up between MBA classes and projects, TacTikes operations and events, and spending dinner with my family. I’ll typically work 12-14 hours a day, but I carve out a couple of hours here and there for fun time like going to the shooting range, catching a movie, or hitting up a driving range. 

How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?

Being an entrepreneur has taken a lot of hours away from family time. That is not easy to deal with, but my hours are fluid, so it gives me the ability to accomplish things during the day when places aren’t crowded. It’s a night and day difference in how we are able to spend time in the military. As an entrepreneur I get to see my daughter and wife every day and can rearrange my schedule for important events. This is another way I honor the sacrifice of my brothers and sisters: by never taking for granted the time I am able to spend with my family.

How do you define success?

To me success is happiness. It may sound cliché, but to me it really is that simple. I spend a lot of hours every day to reach my goal of making TacTikes successful. Empowering parents to spend more time on outdoor adventures makes me happy. Accomplishing tasks and having a creative outlet make me happy. TacTikes allows me to do a lot of things that make me happy.

Who has been your greatest inspiration?

My daughter. She inspires me every day to be a better person than I was the previous day. I would have never thought to create the best diaper bag known to man if I was never a parent.

What are your hobbies?

I have loved shooting all my life. I started with a bb gun, moved to tournament competition paintball, and the army allowed me to become proficient in firearms. I am now venturing into 3-gun competitions. Shooting is a place, for me, where nothing else exists. Controlling my breathing, trigger pull, and sight picture take a lot of concentration, and that concentration is what I love about it. 

TacTikes is based in Austin, Texas and will be manufactured in the USA. You can find everything you need to know at the website, www.TacTikes.com, or through the Kickstarter campaign launched TODAY!  Stay updated by following @TacTikes on Twitter and Facebook.

If you are a veteran or military spouse interested in starting or growing your own business, you can contact The Bunker Labs location nearest you. The mission of The Bunker is to catalyze the entrepreneurial potential of the military experience to lead innovation in the American economy by initiating immersive entrepreneur & venture development programs, connecting current and former military service members with thriving, diverse, and relevant networks and creating a laboratory environment for military service members to build & test new solutions for customers, veterans, and the American economy.

About the Author: Mother, military spouse to a Marine, and entrepreneur – in that order, Sabrina Marshall-Wojtewicz is a digital marketing and communications professional with a passion for entrepreneurship, innovation and personal, professional and leadership development. Her interest and enthusiasm in these areas coupled with the desire to empower others and give back to her community led her to found and organize a local Austin women’s networking group from 2006-2010. She has served on the Board of the Lakeway/Lake Travis Rotary Club and has most recently joined The Bunker @ Austin and The Bunker @ Texas teams where she will continue contributing her time and talent towards an innovative startup community of military veterans as they launch and accelerate their businesses. You can keep up with her on Twitter @GlamGirlSabrina.