Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
I was trying to find a pair of fun fish-themed dress socks for my father, who likes to fish. At the time (about five years back), I could only find novelty socks - like clownfish or a shark eating your leg - and I knew he would never wear those to the office. I spent quite a bit of time searching before I realized that if I wanted dress socks like this, I'd have to make them myself! I noticed there was a rising interest in fun socks, and after some market research decided this could be a great place to start a new business. We source overseas to Colombia for our socks, and to China for our tie bars and knit ties. Talks are in the works with US manufacturers, but so far we have not been able to find manufacturers who can produce our products in the same high quality of construction.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
We used a combination of 3rd party blog posts and social media. Getting free blog posts written about a new business is fairly easy, especially if you are willing to send free samples. Our newsletter sparks the most sales. Dollar for dollar, it's the best money we spend. We also sell quite a bit to offline retailers now.
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 try to have most of our apps built in-house to minimize monthly expenses. I used one of Shopify's experts to build our site, and continue to use him to this day. Shipping and fullfillment is handled internally at the moment.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Learn how to take good product shots. It's going to be a pain if you're new to it, but it is worth it in the long run. Hiring a 3rd party photographer can get very expensive very quickly, especially if you have more than a few items. You'll want lifestyle shots as well as product shots, and being in control of the process makes a huge difference not only for branding, but to keep costs under control. Also, do not skimp on getting a good camera and a solid lighting setup - it will make your job much easier in the long run than saving a few hundred dollars now.