In 2004, Michelle’s husband, Brig, received a generous gift from one of his students while teaching abroad in Moldova: a unique ratchet belt. Fascinated with this belt, Michelle envisioned the potential of modifying this buckle for the fashion industry and bringing it to the US.
Michelle and Brig worked as a husband-and-wife team searching for a factory that could produce such a unique product. As newlyweds in college, they used their own money to pay for molds for the prototypes from various factories, but the quality was terrible! After losing a couple thousand dollars on poor prototypes, Brig remembered he had a friend living in China at the time, so Brig and Michelle paid to fly his friend to southern China to help them source a quality factory. The results paid off and they made their first order of 400 belts. SlideBelts was born. We have updated and redesigned our buckles and leathers several times over the years. We have grown exponentially ever since by word-of-mouth and with the help of our growing number of 5-star reviews.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Brig’s roommates were our first sale. SlideBelts grew by word-of-mouth from there. After that, people found us via Google search. We currently make the most sales through Amazon.
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?
SlideBelts uses ShipStation to generate shipping labels for orders across all our sales channels. We ship directly to individual customers worldwide through USPS (Priority Mail & First Class) and also ship in bulk to Amazon to utilize their Fulfillment by Amazon service. Our main apps include ZenDesk for all guest services, Veeqo for inventory management, When I Work for scheduling employees, ZenPayroll, and Xero for accounting.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
It takes awhile for your website to gain traction so be patient! :) Also, invest in your product photography. It's so important for your company. Additionally, I feel like entrepreneurs put so much thought into their products and the front-end of their virtual stores that they forget to think through the back-end. Have a plan of how to get your product to your customers; find an affordable system that works that can grow with your sales. Finally, do everything you can for your customers! They will be your best allies and advocates.