Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
I fell in love with lemongrass - the fresh scent, the delicious flavour, its powers as a natural insect deterrent (clothes moths, mosquitoes, midges) & as an air freshener (perfect for those unwanted smells in bathroom, office or car). I knew so many sprays are toxic, and I wanted to sell only pure, safe and green products. My lemongrass items are all pure, smell divine, with NO added chemicals – and they work!
Everything is mixed on site - I work in a beautiful stone hall built by monks in 1480. I sense them looking down benignly, remembering their own days of mixing herbal medicines and brewing mead. The lemongrass and other essential oils are sourced from Kerala, South India, known as "God's own country." Cochin lemongrass is famous as the highest quality you can find.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
There is a plague of clothes moths now in the UK - munching their way through our cashmere sweaters, tweed jackets, bespoke suits and persian rugs. My lovely customers tell me that they are even attacking judges' robes, and the ceremonial ermine that puts in an occasional appearance in the House of Lords! Of course chemical remedies exist, most of which smell horrible, and some are toxic. As soon as I launched my natural lemongrass & cedarwood anti-moth spray, it seemed to fill a need. I was lucky to be mentioned in The Observer, one of the UK's most respected papers, and the orders flooded in. But I have to say it's pretty seasonal. Since then The Times fashion editor featured us as her chosen weapon against moths, and there was another flood of orders, but I am still pretty much a one-woman-band who does it all herself.
My Shopify site brings int he most traffic and sales. I have sold some products on Amazon, very few on eBay. Otherwise I sell at fairs, in pop-up shops, with one or two exclusive retail outlets.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
Google Analytics – this made me look up Shopify's tools, and I shall now be using some of them. Everything is packed on site. I try to make each parcel a good experience for the customer. The wrapping, ribbon and labels match the branding, and I sometimes give a box a spritz of lemongrass, just as a welcome when the parcel is opened. I am intending to go over to free postage, but it's a matter of affordability.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
1) Believe in the product 2) Take care of your customers 3) Hang in there!