Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
I've always loved pencils. I wanted to make my favorite pencils more easily available in the U.S., as some global pencils are difficult to come by here. I've built relationships with different suppliers around the world, but I also source antique items from collectors (and eBay).
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Our first sales were mostly made by word of mouth through friends (my mom was one of my first customers.) Early on, we also had a lot of support from the Erasable Podcast and other bloggers in the pencil community. And right away, the store's Instagram caught on really fast. We get a ton of traffic from the different press that we've gotten. When our physical store first launched, we were featured in the New York Times, which was huge for us, and recently we've been in The Guardian and Entrepreneur. We also do a lot of outreach on Instagram. And the community of worldwide pencil enthusiasts has been really supportive.
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 primarily use Shopify - both to power our website, as well as the in-store POS app. Zapstitch integration for Shopify has been massively helpful for integrating with Quickbooks and running reports. We've also integrated Mailchimp with Shopify for email outreach. And of course, we spend a lot of time using Instagram to promote our products. Our small team handles it all in-house from our Manhattan store.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Product photography and creating a really pleasant user experience is extremely important. And also - do it slow, and do it right.