Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
We are two students from Germany who founded TAKE A SHOT 2012 during their Bachelors. Matthias saw early models of wooden sunglasses in Beijing during an internship at a big german car manufacturer. Those sunglasses were big and clunky but the trend was already there. We decided to take our own approach and work with what we call the 'hybrid model': a sunglasses frame made of synthetics combined with temples made of wood or bamboo. The synthetics give us freedom in design and the temples are the details people love those sunglasses for. We love wood for its rich colors, textures and uniqueness. The market for wooden sunglasses in Europe was already on the rise - perfect timing to start with the next step: hybrid sunglasses.
Trying the usual sourcing platforms on the internet lead to many problems. So we decided to 'take a shot', bought a return ticket to China and travelled Mainland China for around a month, accompanied by a translator. We saw a lot of production facilities, many of them 'sweatshops' (what encouraged us not to produce at a place like this!) but also some real good ones. We got to know the management and the workers, saw their craftmanship, built trust and didn't regret that decision. We still work with our manufacturer on a very personal basis - so far successful! Besides that we got to travel the world, met great people and dived head-first into a completely different culture. During these 4 weeks we learned more than in one year at university.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
From the beginning we relied on our good network of friends. We talked to people. Our teamriders from various kinds of Action Sports helped us spreading the word, building a reputation in the skate, surf and snow segment. Per season we visit over 15 fairs, small and big ones. At the ISPO, the most important fair in the sports business, we got awarded as one of the Top50 Newcomer brands with the BrandNew Award 2015/2016 in the category style. This award got us a nice little booth next to all the big spenders in Hall A1. Besides that we exhibit on a lot of small design fairs where we also sell our products. This put our products in front of the customer helping us driving sales right from the beginning. People are now regularly coming to these fairs expecting our booth somewhere, buying their third, fourth or fifth pair of sunglasses. This offline reputation really impacts the success of our online store. It is hard to track down the efforts of our offline marketing activities. In online marketing its SEO and Facebook.
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?
The biggest impact was made by Langify. As we work in Europe and can offer cheap shipping to all countries near Germany, internationalization was a key strategy for us. As Shopify unfortunately lacks the possibility to translate the store, we were really surprised how well this app solved our little language barrier problem. We started packing all our shipments, those for Shopify, aswell as the B2B-orders, on our own. After giving some students a job to assist us, we decided to outsource the complete logistics processes. We had several appointments with local companies that are experienced in this field. We now work closely with a company that actually comes from offering bike messenger services. For us there is no better fit than this! They handle everything in B2B and B2C - from preparing exhibition material to managing orders and returns. This helped us focusing on things we do best: Hustling.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Focus on tasks you can actually achieve. Outsource those others can do better. Publish work even though its not perfect - everything is a progress. Form a good team - for us its the best way to create original solutions for all kind of problems.