Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?

My sister and I started our business in 2009 in order to employ and empower artisans in the developing world. We saw great talent in the artisans we met in Morocco and Mali and knew that with our design skills we could help develop products to sell on a global market. We custom design our line of handbags, scarves, and jewelry and collaborate with over 85 artisans in Morocco to produce our fair trade accessories collection. We opened our Shopify store in November of 2012 and have plans for major expansion online.

We custom design our accessories line, producing two new handbag and jewelry collections a year with our artisan team in Morocco. One partner is based most of the year in Morocco in order to work directly with artisans in the production of our collection. We take great pride in the fact that we know the people and families personally who work with us. We have plans to produce more of our own clothing and, in the meantime, source clothing locally in the US, supporting local designers and companies with sustainable production methods.

How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?

Our first sales were at home parties (trunk shows) where a woman hosts a Mushmina shopping event in exchange for free Mushmina products. We did very well and then continued to enter both the wholesale and retail markets opening our first retail shop in 2012. Our retail shop is generating the most sales for us, but we see huge potential for growth in the online e-commerce sector. Our current challenge and strategy is communicating our story and brand through the web in the same way we are able to in person. Most of our products are handmade and tell a story so it is important that our customers feel connected to the artisans who made each piece and our mission of employment and empowerment.

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?

We use the Lightspeed POS system which is integrated with Shopify. This has been great for managing our inventory both in our shop and online. We also use Mailchimp in sending a weekly newsletter, and this type of marketing has been the best driver of sales. We use FedEx Ground for shipping all US orders. USPS for international orders. Fulfullment is done by the Mushmina team in our shop.

What are your top recommendations for new store owners?

Our top recommendations are that as small business owners, you need many streams of revenue and online sales are a very important piece of your income pie. Invest in getting the feedback of your important customers and then devise a marketing plan to reach key customers both on and offline. Lastly, keep moving and perfecting what you do best. "The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running."

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