When the creative team behind Frostbeard Studio captured the nostalgic scent of old books in their hand-poured candles, they created a truly unique brand.
As they received more and more orders, the logistical challenges of packing and shipping products to customers often left them feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. After joining Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN), things changed, and they were finally able to focus on what mattered⸺creating innovative new products and growing their business.
How it all started
Frostbeard founder Roxie Lubanovic is a ceramic artist and self-professed book nerd who lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Before launching Frostbeard Studio, most weekends you could find her at local craft fairs, selling her pottery. On weekdays, you could usually find her at a coffee shop or library, engrossed in a good book. For Roxie, reading a book was a full-body experience that involved sight, sound, and scent. She wanted to capture the smell of old books, coffee, and antique wooden book shelves in a scented candle. “Why not have that around me all the time or whenever I want it, literally at the strike of a match,” says Roxie. “But I couldn’t find one anywhere.”
Determined to bring her idea to life, Roxie began experimenting with different types of wax and scent designs. That’s when the Oxford Library scented candle was born.
Before long, Roxie was selling candles at local craft fairs, along with her pottery. As demand for her candles grew, she struggled to keep up. Eventually, she enlisted her husband, Tom, to help out.
Tom brought strong technical skills and a fresh perspective on running a business. It was his idea to start selling online. “We knew that if we really focused on it, we could potentially support ourselves as creative people, and be our own bosses,” he says.
Both Roxie and Tom wanted Frostbeard Studio to be front and center so it would stand out from other brands in online marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon. Tom elaborates:
“The main thing we were looking for was a way to have control over our brand and have a customizable website of our own.”
That’s when they made the decision to join Shopify and build FrostbeardStudio.com.
The world caught a whiff of Frostbeard candles
Just before the 2013 holiday season, someone from Buzzfeed caught wind of Frostbeard’s evocative, scented candles. That’s when life for the creative couple changed. Tom recalls: “Things just blew up. We got featured on BuzzFeed and we were suddenly supporting ourselves.” Sales quadrupled that Fall, and grew another 50% in December. This set the foundation for steady year-over-year growth for the business, especially over the holidays.
With holiday orders pouring in, Roxie, Tom, and their team worked out of Roxie’s mother’s house, scrambling to make candles and pack and ship orders as quickly as possible. Everyone pitched in. Family celebrations became packing parties where loved ones gathered around the table to decorate candle jars, pack orders, and prepare shipping labels. “Right from the beginning, when we were in Roxie’s mom’s house, we had one room for making candles and one room for shipping,” says Tom.
Shipping was taking time away from creating new products
Eventually, Roxie and Tom realized they couldn’t do it all themselves. “When we had our apartment and an art studio in Minneapolis, we hired our first employee to be our fulfillment person,” Tom says. “So I was making candles, and she was putting things in boxes. The studio was half production, half shipping. We were always kind of… juggling things.”
Packing, labelling, and getting boxes to the courier depot was taking up all of the couple’s time and energy. Constantly dealing with the logistics of picking, packing, and shipping orders on their own had become unsustainable and was no longer working for the growing business. “Shipping was such a headache that we weren’t getting anything done with production or coming up with new ideas,” says Tom. Adds Roxie:
“Literally half of the time in our business is spent on shipping. What I want to focus on is the making. Focus on production.”
Roxie and Tom knew they needed help, and that would mean outsourcing fulfillment to someone else—an expert who understood the complexities of packaging and shipping products. Roxie struggled with the idea. Like most small business owners, she felt she and Tom should manage all aspects of the business themselves. Tom finally convinced her they couldn’t. “But, it’s hard to let go of control,” Roxie says.
Finding the best shipping partner for a growing business
Roxie and Tom explored different options with third-party logistics (3PL) companies but had a difficult time finding a fulfillment partner that aligned with Frostbeard’s values. They needed a solution that would apply the same kind of care and attention they did when it came to packing and shipping. Moreover, they wanted a partner that would shine a spotlight on the brand they had worked so hard to build.
Tom first learned about Shopify Fulfillment Network at Shopify Unite 2019. SFN is a full-service fulfillment solution that integrates seamlessly with Shopify stores. It synchronizes orders, inventory, and customer data across all sales channels and fulfillment centers in the United States and Canada. SFN partners with business owners to pinpoint the best fulfillment center locations for inventory, based on sales data from their Shopify stores. This ensures orders are shipped to customers faster and for the best price.
The choice was easy, especially when the world was gripped by a pandemic. Lockdown orders were put in place, and brick-and-mortar stores were forced to close. Tom recalls: “When our business got shut down for the stay-at-home order in Minnesota, we recognized that we needed this fulfillment center. I felt very confident, because I knew Shopify wanted to do fulfillment right.”
With Shopify picking, custom-packing, and shipping orders to customers, Roxie and Tom could finally concentrate on growing their business. And with a baby then on the way, SFN couldn’t have come at a better time.
“Not having to worry about shipping has been such a load off, ” Roxie says
Since joining Shopify Fulfillment Network in 2020, things have become a lot simpler for Roxie and Tom. They no longer have to scramble to prepare for busy seasons, and the dinner table is used for meals and not packing boxes. Their business has grown, allowing them to ship over 100,000 orders. They’ve launched new products on SFN, and expanded their inventory into a second Shopify fulfillment center to better serve customers from coast to coast. “It was just such a relief not to have those four to six weeks over the holidays be super stressful,” Roxie says. “We were able to be at home with our newborn and give our employees time off.”
With SFN, Roxie and Tom can focus on creating innovative new products. Roxie says, “We can get those creative juices rolling and think, what do we want to make ”.
Could Shopify Fulfillment Network be right for you?
If your business has outgrown your current shipping strategy, where you take care of the packing and labelling yourself, SFN might be right for you. To learn more, visit our website at Shopify.com/fulfillment.
To hear the full interview with Roxie and Tom, listen to the podcast below.