Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
When I started Avallone, I decided to start small by selling wallets. I started with one design, which consisted of suede on the outside and leather on the border of the outside and inside. This style of wallet was not being sold by anybody in the market, and it started the basis for my leather goods collection. As those wallets began to sell, I expanded to more matching products including bags, and then belts later on. I did a lot of research to find reputable and quality manufacturers over-seas. I started by ordering samples from different factories and then small production runs to test quality. Additionally, I also know how to hand make leather goods, so I am currently working on a hand crafted belt line.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
My very first sales were on ebay, and then via a flea market in New York City. I also cold called independent boutiques and larger stores to gain wholesale orders, which I still do now. Wholesale generates the most sales for us, which consists of inquiries from the website, and orders from in-person meetings or phone calls with stores. I am now also generating a significant amount of direct retail sales via the website by driving traffic with Adwords from Google.
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?
I use the Storeya app and Mailchimp. The storeya app gives a 20% discount when a customer signs up with their email address. This has helped significantly by giving them an extra incentive to buy right now, and by allowing me to stay in contact with them by email, even if they don't purchase. Mailchimp automates the email process by letting me send an automated email stream to them once I have their email. I include detailed product and company information in each email to help build trust. I handle shipping internally by myself.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
My top recommendation for new store owners is that they should have patience when marketing their business. Telephone sales and Adwords have been a significant driver of business for my company, but Adwords did not show a profit for around 3 months, and telephone cold calls took a whole month to generate my first wholesale order. If I had stopped either of those due to lack of results in the beginning, I would not be in business.