Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
We saw a gap in the market for customers who were looking for something out of the ordinary for their home. Although many of the items we sell are quite conventional, it's the items that are so far out of most customers comfort zones that creates our point of difference.
We find our customers are willing to be unique in purchasing these items so we keep pushing the envelope in our product development. It all starts with "Ohh.. I have an idea!!" We are all about working together on ideas. We sit down together and start sketching ideas and talking about uses. From there we develop a one-off that we then send to our manufacturer in China so we can make a sample. From there we select what trend colours we will run with and will create initial samples to look at here in Melbourne. We also sell hand made items which are sourced using local materials and local artists.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
We first started selling one product off a wooden box at a small artists market in Fitzroy. From there our customer base grew and so did our social media following. We now have three main elements of the business that contribute to sales: our wholesale business, physical retail store and online store. We grow the wholesale aspect of our business through trade shows selling directly to businesses at the events. Our physical store in South Melbourne Market has been open for over two years and we have regular customers as well as new customers discovering us for the first time every week. Lastly our online store is driven mostly by our social media following.
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?
We use the Shopify POS app for in-store sales. We also have used Shopify for our website along with the Quantity Breaks app which allows our wholesale customers to log in and purchase items for their store at a discounted rate. We handle shipping internally so we have complete control over when it goes out. It also ensures we can inspect all items before they are dispatched. Ensuring quality is one of our main focuses, especially while growing our relationships with our stockists.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Never take a loan. We started in 2010 with $1000 in savings and just an idea. Now we have over 200 stores who stock our brand as well as our own flagship store. Over the last 5 years we have grown slowly but steady. If we were to take out a loan at the start we wouldn't have been able to grow at the same rate and learn the lessons we needed to learn along the way. The hardest thing to do is to stick it out and keep going.