Close Buy Catalog
424 Fore St., Portland
School fundraisers are a common occurrence, almost like a rite of passage.
But Masey Kaplan was tired of seeing her kids come home with catalogs for wrapping paper or cheap plastic toys.
So she decided to start a company that would assist school fundraising, and at the same time support local businesses.
Today, Close Buy Catalog features dozens of local products – from coffee to candies to knit goods – and serves a diverse purpose.
Q: What were your most important needs in getting started?
A: A willingness to laugh easily and forgive myself for not knowing everything. I needed a city with open-minded families and schools, who were willing to take a chance on something new, and I needed great products. There are so many amazing products made in Maine. Also, starting out with zero capital, I needed communication skills and a graphic design background because there was no way to hire someone else to do these tasks. Having a partner who was willing to equally share household and parenting duties so that I could focus on work was critical.
Q: What factors from your upbringing gave you the courage to venture out on your own?
A: I have a very energetic father with a great sense of humor, and a very supportive mother with a generous spirit and a history of activism. I would consider myself fortunate if any of this was passed along to me.
Q: What are the advantages of being a female entrepreneur?
A: I wouldn’t say that there are advantages to being female, but I would say that in this case, motherhood helped. It has taught me to juggle several things at once, and also to keep things in a healthy perspective. In my case, motherhood was also the doorway to realizing that school fundraising methods needed some work. Close Buy wouldn’t exist had I not had little boys coming home from school with wrapping-paper catalogs.
Q: What advice would you give an aspiring woman entrepreneur?
A: Don’t say no to people who want to help. I think many women tend to decline help and think they can do everything themselves – we don’t want to impose on other people, friends, colleagues. There is so much time and work and know-how that goes into building a business, and if people are generous enough to offer assistance – their time or their knowledge – I’d advise other women to gratefully accept. Also, remembering to take care of yourself can be hard – eating right, exercising, sleeping. These things can often get placed low on the priority list, and yet, they are crucial to having the energy and mental wherewithal to do a good job.
Q: If you knew then what you know now, would you have done anything differently?
A: I would have taken better care of myself when time allowed Massage, yoga, showering, sleeping.
Close Buy catalog items are locally made, from coffee to candles and so much more. The items are available as an alternative to traditional school fundraiser packets, and benefit not only the schools but the local businesses that produce the items, as well.