Carolyn Seeger

CEO, Keystone Gifts
Keystone Gifts

I first met Carolyn over a cup of coffee, and it didn’t take long for my cheeks to hurt from smiling. She is just magnetic, joyful, and draws you in. This is only part of what makes her successful. It is how she looks at her business and the relationships she has built over a career. There is a lot to learn from this wonderful woman.

When did you know you would be an entrepreneur?

I think I have had the entrepreneurial spirit for a really long time. I’ve always worked for “somebody” in the corporate, non-profit and government arenas, but always had a side gig that was my “own” business! It also didn’t matter where I worked, I gave all of myself as if it were my own business. I guess that’s why I didn’t shy away from really becoming an entrepreneur, like for real, when the opportunity presented itself.

Tell us all about your business.

Keystone Gifts has a long history, 28 years in fact, of helping corporate and small business owners find the right promotional products at the right price, while really showcasing the client’s brand. In May of 2020, I had the honor of buying Keystone Gifts and have been working on making it “mine”, bringing my personality and vision to the business. We still provide quality promo products at a great price. But I also try very hard to help the gift giver (the buyer) shine in the eyes of their recipients. Because my love language is gift giving, I want the giver to get as much or even more out of the giving as the person receiving it. My message that I want to convey to my clients is that their pride of their brand should reflect in their gifts. Great brands give great gifts!

What was your ambition when you started?

When I took over in May, it was all about retaining our clients and making the transition as seamless as possible. I wanted to keep Keystone Gifts growing into a million dollar company.

What is your ambition today?

I now want to grow Keystone Gifts into a multi-million dollar company and yes, while giving my old clients a seamless transition, stepping up to give them even more. More services, more love, more concierge services.

What is the best advice you ever got about running a business?

Keep in touch with your clients to build loyalty and keep you top of mind. No “one and done” business can sustain you.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced as a business owner so far, and how did you overcome them?

I think the biggest challenge has been keeping my confidence up through this pandemic. There are so many unknowns in the world right now, it’s been difficult to know when this will pass and if business will resume to its former state. Since my business revolves around events to a large degree, and since events are not happening, it would be easy for me to throw in the towel. Instead I choose to deal with it by putting one foot in front of the other. I look every day for the clients that align with my philosophy of recognizing and appreciating their clients and staff, even through this time of social distancing, by offering innovative ways of gifting.

Keep in touch with your clients to build loyalty and keep you top of mind. No “one and done” business can sustain you.

How do you define "success" for you?

Success to me is that I feel I have truly helped someone in recognizing and being recognized for a job well done. That at the end of my work day, I have been productive and that I have accomplished what I set out to do.

What is your "secret" to success?

Planning! Not down to the minutia, but strategizing my week so I know what needs to be done. And at the end of each day, looking at my tasks and seeing how well I did. And if I didn’t do so well, figure out if it’s something that really needs to be done or if it should be tabled to another week. I give myself grace to not be perfect. It’s a marathon not a sprint.

Now, tell us a fun "secret"!

I wish I had long hair! LOL! But wait, let me tell you why! I would love to take up hula again. And I’m pretty sure having long hair will make be better at hula.

What great advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Don’t sweat the small stuff. You can only do what you can do, but don’t be too easy on yourself either. Be accountable every day. It’s amazing how fast time flies and if you’re not accountable daily, those things that are important to you have a way a slipping away. Have a dream board or a vision board, so you can keep working TOWARDS something. I know as a woman, when we really want something, there ain’t no stopping us! So don’t stop!

What is the best business or self-development book you recommend?

Anything else you want to share to inspire and uplift other women entrepreneurs?

Keep smiling and laughing! The entrepreneurial ride has got to be fun and joyful! Open your heart to the contributions you can make to the world and the rest will follow!

What pumps you up?

I feel like this should be my “fun” secret! The Sweet Escape by Gwen Stefani