Be a CEO from home like NJ mom Lisa Gold. Meet the LikeWear apparel co-founder

It's no accident that many work-from-home jobs are held by stay-at-home moms.  Many women I know have made careers out of blogging, writing and graphic design.  Others found success with direct sales companies like Arbonne, Mary Kay and The Pampered Chef. Whatever it is, staying at home full-time with your kids does not mean you have to give up making an income, especially if you enjoyed that part of your pre-baby life.  

The work-from-home gig is not just for moms anymore however. Last year, you may remember my interview with husband-wife team of Erik and Beth Kent, co-founders and publishers of, a business conducted from the comfort of their Central Jersey home. Now, I'd like to introduce you to North Jersey couple, Lisa and Ken Gold, co-founders of LikeWear, a direct sales apparel company focused on selling licensed apparel and accessories.  Lisa, the CEO of the company, describes their product line as ranging from "modern day and vintage package art, to exclusive designs and unique twists on popular culture." The over 100 images available feature popular brands like Wheaties, Trix, Tootsie Roll, Dots, and Honda. 

LikeWear was created to be financially rewarding and flexible, providing products that parents and kids would love to have in their wardrobe.  Their clothing line includes a lot of mix-and-match items for various sizes and ages (like the fun samples shown below) and aims to live up to their simple tagline-"wear what you like." 

You can find both Ken and Lisa online through Twitter (Lisa: @LikeWearChick | Ken: @LikeWear), Facebook, LinkedIn (Lisa | Ken) and their company blogs (Lisa | Ken), but I asked Lisa to share some more background of the business.

What was your inspiration to start LikeWear? 
Although I loved being an at-home Mom to my three kids, I decided that I wanted a bit more in my life than just coordinating carpools and setting up play dates.  I wanted to make a little extra money, but not have to go back to work full time.  I came up with the idea of embellishing children’s clothes with fabric, rhinestones, heat transfers and patches with popular “kids images” and selling them at house parties and local sales events.  
Then a couple of other inspirational things happened.  I had started to build up a respectable business and somewhat of a local following and I even started to sell to some local boutique stores.  Then, as a result of some of my products being given as gifts, I began receiving unsolicited requests from women who wanted to sell my clothes at house parties and sales events in other markets, some as far away as Boston and Chicago.  Simultaneously, my husband Ken who has a background in marketing and licensing noticed that there were very few officially licensed apparel products being sold at the local sales events I was attending.  So we did a little research and discovered that what I was doing was very similar to the home business opportunity that direct sales firms like Mary Kay or The Pampered chef offer.  We also learned that Direct Sales is a $30 billion category and there were absolutely no companies focused on selling licensed apparel.  And that’s when we were really inspired!  If we could get the apparel licensing rights for brands and properties that people would “like to wear”, we could provide a turnkey business opportunity for moms to sell licensed clothing in their local neighborhoods all across the country!!! 

How did you decide on "LikeWear"?
I remember it vividly.  Ken and I were sitting in bed one night talking about the business and how great it would be to have a line of clothing and accessories embellished with popular brands and products that people like… and maybe it was because we both started out in advertising… but we both blurted out our tagline at the same time, “wear what you like”.  With a little additional brainstorming, we quickly realized that “Like” is also a combination of the “Li” from Lisa and the “Ke” from Ken...  so we added it to Wear in order to make LikeWear.   About 60 seconds later, we saw that the URL was available and new that we had our name.   

Between your design concept and the clever name, you a both very creative people.  Where do you get your design ideas?
We get our design ideas from a lot of places: our kids and their friends, advertising and marketing, pop culture, walking in the supermarket (seriously), etc.  I guess the main thing that we try to do is have a different look than other licensed apparel that’s available elsewhere.  Typically, the licensed apparel that you find in stores is from the same top 10 or so licenses (Disney Princesses, High School Musical, SpongeBob, WWE, NFL, etc.) and it all has a very similar, formulaic look -. key art, big logo, maybe a tagline or key phrase related to the license. Many other licensed apparel brands have focused on a vintage look, both for the creative as well as the garments, by utilizing muted colors and distressed, washed out styling and fabric.  LikeWear, on the other hand, has a more modern, almost Andy Warhol design sensibility that features current packaging and marketing materials and uses bright, vibrant color schemes. We try to challenge preconceived notions of what licensed apparel normally is and raise the bar from a creative perspective.  We also place our images on a wide variety of high quality clothing and accessories, as opposed to the majority of other licensees who simply have t-shirts as their merchandise focus.   

How does your apparel showcase the iconic brands? 
We try to create images that incorporate our licensing partner’s brands in ways that you wouldn’t expect, or combine them with other phrases, vernacular, icons or other cultural references that people like.  Peace signs and hearts, for instance, are hugely popular with kids nowadays and have been the basis of some of our most popular images.  We also try to incorporate our licensing partner’s brands into popular sports, trends or current fads – like soccer, tattoos or Andy Warhol style “pop art”!

Sometimes we even design unique, LikeWear exclusive images that are not licensed but are current and popular among our target audience.  For example, our kids and many of their friends attend either day or sleep away camp, so we worked with them to come up with some fun camp-specific images.
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Do you work with artists or are the designs all your own?
Ken and I concept everything, but Ken has created about 70% of the 100+ images we’ve developed to date. The remainder have been farmed out to an amazing art director/illustrator that Ken used to work with years ago while in the video game industry.  Ken stayed in touch with him over the years, and as our design needs grew, we knew he would be perfect for us.  We brief him on the concept and give him some direction and art assets, and he usually amazes us on the first submission. 

You mentioned above that your apparel became popular at home parties like other direct sales companies like Mary Kay and Pampered Chef. What sets you apart?
The main thing that sets us apart from other direct selling/home party companies is that we are the first – and only – company to focus on selling licensed apparel via this channel.   There is nobody else doing what we’re doing (and we have confirmed this with the Direct Selling Association – of which we are members).  There are a few direct sales clothing companies, but most target their products to women and/or have more of a seasonal “trunk show” model where a rep gets a sample trunk of clothing for a limited time before they have to send it to another rep so they can have their parties and so on.  LikeWear, on the other hand, offers a variety of Collection Kits that include the best representative samples of our styles, images and available sizes that can be used all season long.  The Collection Kit contents are sold at well below their MSRP value and we encourage our reps to sell their sample pieces at the end of the season to recoup their cost on this important business tool. 

That leads me to another major difference, not just between us and other home party companies, but all clothing brands… customization.  We like to say, “Most fashion companies are all about their image… but at LikeWear, we’re all about our images.”  We have created most of our 100+ images so that they can be “mixed and matched” on the wide variety of colors and casual clothing and accessory body styles that we offer.  There are literally thousands of combination possibilities!  This feature can make for a lot of fun at home parties as moms and kids pick and customize their favorites. 

As a NJ business that grew by word-of-mouth, how has the support from the NJ business community been? 
We’ve had some real mixed experiences with NJ business and government entities.  On the positive side, F&M Expressions, a Mahwah based company that makes our heat transfers, has been amazing.  They’ve taught us about the ins and outs of embellishing and are there for us any time we need help.  The quality of their transfers is second to none and they’ve put up with our numerous and meticulous requests for perfection.  We also love our accountants, JDS & Associates, based in Denville.  They’ve been a huge help to us in setting up our business and making QuickBooks work with the accounting requirements of licensing, clothing and direct selling.  

Have you ever done a design contest or accepted designs submitted by fans/customers? 
Not yet, but we REALLY want to!!!  We’ve talked about doing a design contest with General Mills in conjunction with their virtual community web site and using artwork from all of their great brands.  It would be really cool if we could make digital versions of LikeWear clothing that you can “buy” in their online virtual clothing store as well!!!
We’d also love to do a kid-submitted artwork contest where kids can either hand draw a rendition of their favorite existing LikeWear image or perhaps design their own original art.  Contest winner(s) would have their art turned into actual transfers that would be featured and available for purchase in future Collections. 

What do you love the most about your business?
We have the ability to help women change their lives by giving moms a fun, flexible way to have their own business and earn some extra income – without having to significantly alter their lifestyle!   We try to make it as simple as possible by providing our reps with all the “tools” they need to get started.  Moms are familiar with clothing sizes, brand quality and what their kids and their friends are into.  So just by doing what they’re already doing, they’ve got the “experience” needed to sell a fun line of casual kids clothing and accessories - particularly, one featuring well known brands and products! 

I also love exercising my creative side and secretly get a thrill each time I’m working with the art assets of our licensing partner’s iconic brands.  And there’s nothing better than seeing the feedback firsthand.  I often say that it’s like I’m living in a focus group with my kids aged 12, 10 and 6. It’s great to be able to involve them in the work that Ken and I do.  It’s something that they can understand and relate to – after all, they’re our target market! 

How is it having your spouse as your business partner?
There was definitely an unforeseen closeness that Ken and I have experienced as a result of working together.  Most people marvel at the fact that we do work together (and out of the house no less!) and have managed to not strangle each other in the process!  But, LikeWear is something born of both of us – a shared idea, made better every day by the joint input we put forth.  Most couples complain that their spouses can’t relate to what they do and go through all day.  We can and do. 

What are your best tips for someone who’s interested in starting an online or at-home business? What are some things that you discovered along the way that have helped you tremendously?  
As far as tips for starting an online or at-home business, I would suggest the same thing that we tell our representatives.  You’re an entrepreneur now, so be organized and treat your business like a business!  For example:
  • Keep business income/expenses separate from your personal and other business records.
  • Set up a business account at your bank.
  • Obtain a separate credit card to be used just for business purposes.
  • Save receipts for all business expenses.
  • Talk to your accountant about tax deductions and implications. All businesses are a bit different so make sure your accountant knows about the intricacies and nuances of yours.
  • Consider setting up a special area in your home for running your business (check with your accountant as you may be able to deduct this and/or other expenses from your taxes).
  • Be organized and create a good filing system. You should designate an area for “hard copy” files (expenses, customer database, etc.) and an area on your computer for “digital” files. Do this early on and you will save yourself frustration later on.
  • If you’re in sales, make a database with key customer information (name, address, email, phone, kid’s names/ages/birthdays, buying habits, etc.). This is probably easiest on the computer (you can use Outlook, Excel, or any other database program), but you could also keep paper records of this (paper files, note cards, ledger, etc.).
  • Keep a calendar to track events, meetings, appointments, follow-ups, etc.
  • Access to email and the internet is essential for business today.  Make sure you have a reliable internet connection (preferably one with good bandwidth).
  • Make sure you know the basics of Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook and/or other programs relevant to your business.  Also make sure you have the latest version of Adobe Reader as it has become a standard for documents in lots of places.  Its’ free and you can get it here -

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