by Tom Sims
Snowflakes Keep Falling and Rising! Yes! It Snows in Clovis!
I had a recent conversation with LaDonna Snow from Clovis’ Snowflake Designs. It reinforced a business conviction I have long held: If you’re going to do business today in this climate, you’re going to have to be flexible.
Flexibility means that whatever the outer environment throws at you, you can roll with the punches. You can adapt. You can adjust. You can dream new dreams. You can create new products. You can create a new business or marketing plan. You can and, often, you must. Ladonna Snow understands this.
With over forty people on her payroll producing attire for the gymnastics industry, the world was plunged into a pandemic. Gyms and studios closed all over the country and the planet. Clients had to retool, regroup, retire, or suspend their businesses.
The law of supply and demand dictated a slowdown in sales and orders. Ladonna, whose business Snowflake Designs started thirty-five years ago, was required to retool as well.
It was in the 1990s that circumstances evolved and a two-year-old daughter became interested in gymnastics. LaDonna, who, by that time, had a degree in criminal justice and a career in law enforcement, began to sew leotards. She had been a baton twirler herself growing up.
What she did not know, was that she had a knack for design, for sewing, and for business. What began as sewing for other moms, evolved. In 1995, Snowflake Designs, in her words, hit the internet. Orders came in from around the country and from around the world.
Roll down to the year 2020. It is not surprising that LaDonna and Rick Snow figured out a way to keep their business moving and to keep their employees employed. It was about that time, that LaDonna was approached by a friend at Valley Children’s Hospital. There was a shortage of face masks. Snowflake Designs had the infrastructure, the materials, and the people to produce and to supply enough of the masks to quickly meet the need. Ladonna designed a face mask that was attractive, functional, and met the standards for the hospital.
Ironically, she did not ultimately supply all those orders. However, she found a vendor who could do so, and she launched her face masks business to the general public, and it’s saved the company and most of the jobs. Now, they are back in business making leotards for young athletes and for older athletes. They continued to create new and innovative designs and to lead the industry.
Snowflake Designs understands the internet marketplace and the importance of social media. That two-year-old gymnast, Kindra is now, with her husband Ryan, a vital part of the business. Several employees specialize in social media, and video marketing. Videos do not just promote the business but educate the public on topics such as fashion and how to clean the garments.
LaDonna says, “I didn’t have a background in computers because of my age. My brother, on the other hand, is a computer genius. He was thirteen years younger than me. However, I was determined to learn. And so, I dinked around with the website and learned… Part of the learning is I get myself in trouble and then I get myself back out of trouble.”
She has learned what it is to struggle online. So, she wants you to know that they have a very easy to use shopping cart. It is just one of the examples of how this Clovis company stays ahead of the curve.
Speaking of clientele, they have become like family to LaDonna and her family. I observed during the crisis LaDonna Snow was often sharing her concerns about people that she knew in the gymnastics business who were struggling. She did everything that she could to serve them, and to help them.
This is the culture of service that caused my path to cross that of the Snow family over a decade ago. We met through a campaign to raise money for the hungry online, through a food drive, and through a Toastmaster meeting. It was then that I realized how deeply involved this family and business was in the Clovis and Fresno County community and how service oriented they were.
As a business, Snowflake Designs is constantly re-evaluating and improving products and that is part of a story.
LaDonna’s pastor recently remarked to her that she was a pastor herself in this mission field of commerce, creating jobs, “sheltering” her employees, and spreading the love. Many of LaDonna’s employees come from the Hmong community which she loves. They speak Hmong. They also bring a strong work ethic and attention to detail, as well as a love for making beautiful things.
In this industry one must experiment with materials and how to use them most effectively. However, one of the challenges of the pandemic has been disruption in the supply chain. Getting new materials has been difficult. So, there has been a need for innovation and increased entrepreneurship. Trading and resourcefulness have been tools of the business during the time of crisis. There have been challenges with equipment breakdown, with marketing, and with shipping.
Among the innovative tools that Snowflake Designs uses would be their ambassador program. Ambassadors are young girls who are excelling in gymnastics. Some are nationally known. They wear the products, and they share the information.
Snowflake Designs has a showroom, but most of their sales or online.
There are more stories than I have time to write, or you have time to read. LaDonna would be happy to share them. Some are on the website. Facts tell, but stories sell. There are also lessons in marketing, in entrepreneurship, and in resilience that grow out of this Clovis business.
Not all businesses survived the pandemic. Very few businesses survive and prosper over the Long Haul much less thirty-five years.
What is the secret a Snowflake Designs? I would venture several possibilities. The first is LaDonna Snow herself and her husband and business partner, Rick Snow. LaDonna had the vision, and she runs the business. Her character, determination, commitment, work ethic, imagination, creativity, and people skills have become the perfect brew for Snowflake Designs. Because of her own personal development and skills, the business has succeeded.
This is no mystery. These are qualities that every business requires in leadership. The second is a great team. The team is made up LaDonna’s family and people she has nurtured, trained, equipped, trusted, and released to carry on the tradition with excellence.
Third, has been a quality product that has met the needs of the customer. That is why there is so much repeat business. A relationship has developed, and quality is consistent.
To put it simply, Snowflake Designs’ product stands out and is in demand. In fact, there is a new spring line that has recently been released and can be reviewed on their website.
Finally in these recent days, adaptability has been a friend of the business. Great businesses must adapt.
We can all learn from LaDonna Snow and Snowflake Designs. And we are grateful call them part of our “neighborhood”, for their leadership, their love of the community, and their commitment to provide for their employees and for their customers even in the worst as well as in the best of times.
Address—2893 Larkin Ave Clovis, CA 93612