My name is Elizabeth Trail. I am the founder and principal here at Microbusiness Toolbox. I was a small business owner for 35 years. My experience runs the gamut from the nitty-gritty of office management to hiring and supervising production employees. I’m particularly interested in strategic planning, developing marketing strategies, and creating marketing materials, from press releases to web sites. I’ve also been a production artist and a journalist. In fact, I write for the local newspaper here in northern Vermont.
I began as an artist in the 1970s, doing one-of-a-kind clay animal sculptures which I marketed at dog and horse shows, and local craft fairs. Ten years later, my then-husband and I founded the Best Friends Collection, a membership craft gallery in the upscale tourist town of Middleburg, Virginia, representing 50 to 60 artists in every conceivable medium. We somehow managed to run the gallery and act as mentors to our artists, while exhibiting our own designs at juried craft shows and on the horse and dog show circuit.
Ultimately my own work evolved from one-of-a-kind creations into a retail and wholesale production line. All of a sudden we were deep in the world of trade shows, sales reps, distributors, and other aspects of business-to-business marketing. However, this left little time for running a brick and mortar gallery, so with the emergence of the web, The Best Friends Collection migrated online. Over the next few years, I developed our e-commerce site, ran eBay auctions, and opened storefronts on eBay, Amazon, Alibris, and Yahoo.
It turned out that my real love was marketing and management — parts of a craft-related business which most artists dislike. In 2006, I began to work directly with small businesses as a consultant and service provider.
In 2010, I went back to University of Vermont to learn more. After completing most of a master’s degree in public administration (and doing undergrad work in environmental movements, communications, and food systems,) I am transferring into a program more closely aligned with my interest in facilitating microbusinesses and small nonprofits.
The “us” part of the equation is that Microbusiness Toolbox is assembling a group of people with experience ranging from accounting to law in order to offer a more complete suite of skills to our clients.
And I’ve started doing sculpture again….