Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
I started making soy candles out of my apartment in December 2012 as gifts. I grew really passionate about what I like to call "fragrance mixology" and using safe, sustainable ingredients: American grown soy, lead-free cotton wicks, pure essential oils and premium grade fragrance oils. I opened an Etsy shop in September 2013 and, before I knew it, I was struggling to keep up with wholesale orders out of my Brooklyn apartment (which almost got my husband and I evicted!). The business grew naturally out of something that started out as a side hobby and eventually pretty much became my life. Everything is made in-house. Production is kept small and simple — candles are poured by the Brooklyn Candle Studio team in batches of 9 or 10. Each candle, from wicking to wax melting to pouring and wick-cutting, is created with the utmost care and precision.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Our first sales on our Shopify site were from a Gilt City sale we did to spread the word—many people learned of our site through Gilt and our e-commerce site revenue has grown exponentially since then. First, our wholesale orders, and second, our Shopify wholesale and retail sales.
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?
Shippo for shipping, Bulk Discounts for Gilt sales, Product Options and Quantity Breaks by BOLD, Locksmith, Printout Designer for custom designed packing slips, Spring, Shipbob for our fulfillment. Shippo has been amazing to streamline our in-house shipping, and Quantity Breaks has really made a difference in our retail sales.
We handle shipping both internally and through a local fulfillment house, Shipbob. We ship out all our wholesale and Etsy orders internally, and our fulfillment partner fills most of our Shopify retail orders.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
There's an app for everything! I really love Shopify for the flexibility in the themes (I know CSS, HTML and my way around liquid, so it makes it easy to customize), and there are tons of apps that help customize your store and optimize the customer experience. My advice would definitely be to take advantage of the apps in the App store.