Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
I couldn't find a large pedestal cake stand anywhere for my wedding so I used my experience as a woodworking apprentice and built my first design. Seeing that large cake stands did not exist anywhere prompted me to fill this niche market by opening an online shop. Initially, I made the products by hand in my garage and then once the orders got too big I outsourced certain parts to USA manufacturers. We still manufacture and assemble all our designs in the USA.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Etsy was my first experience with selling online and my first sale happened within one day of posting it there. Soon, BRIDES magazine contacted us and, as a result, our business quickly expanded. Word of mouth through bakers and wedding blogs also quickly helped escalate sales. Organic Google Search is still our number one revenue stream as we exist in a niche market and no one sells a variety of cake stands like we do. Our newsletter is also our main revenue stream followed by social media channels like Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.
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?
Mailchimp app is the most important since it connects us with our fans and generates a lot of sales. Google Shopping app ensures our products show up correctly and is invaluable. And, Yotpo is a silent hero in that it helps new customers feel more confident buying from us and gives us immediate feedback about what is (and is not) working with our product designs. We fulfill and ship everything ourselves since that allows us to ensure a great experience for our customers. It also allows us to personalize the experience by adding in thank notes or rushing a delivery for a customer in need.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Gosh, that's a hard one since there's so much to say! First, no matter what anybody says or what experience (or lack thereof) that you have, you can do it. It will be hard with long hours and each type of business has its own learning curve but it is completely possible to do it. Second, make sure you crunch the numbers to the penny before deciding on a sales price for your product, even if that means delaying your launch to find a better manufacturer and source for your materials. We got hampered by a sales price that didn't have good margins and that crippled us for a long time. Price your products right the first time so you can survive and grow.