Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
As an avid shopper myself, I found myself searching for unique and one-of-a-kind products that just didn't exist. This is when I decided it was time to take a handfull of art and ideas and try to reach the world. We started out with a handful of locally sourced apparel and house-made wooden accessories. We eventually sourced our own laser cnc machine and now make our phone cases and many of our components in house.
As business has grown, some components of our primary product (wooden sunglasses) are now produced outside, but all final assembly, packing and final prep are still in house. We also hand carve our bowties right here in Charlotte. We also produce all of our marketing in-house (photography, graphic design, promotional videos,)
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
We pushed hard from a social media front. Word quickly spread through these channels, including our activity via Fancy.com. Before we knew it we were being spotted in different major blogs, publications, and even tv. Our website is our largest source of retail traffic. We also manage our other branch Johnny Fly Holland via Shopify (JohnnyFlyCo.NL). We also do very well on 3rd party sites such as fancy.com. Beyond this, 2015 has been a major year for our wholesale growth, and we have since used our site not only as a retail store, but a great branding site. It is a great place customers can gather product info and still purchase from their local Johnny Fly retailer.
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?
My gosh, we have used so many along the way! We were store number 9,388 so we have rode through a lot of great apps and updates, as Shopify has kept getting better and creating the solutions we need. App wise I would say that our long term favorites would be Riskified (fraud screening), Zopim (Chat), and our newer favorite Shopify POS (allows us to accurately track sales and inventory when we do live sales events.)
We handle it all in house. We have used ShipStation for years now and it has allowed us to grow gracefully and manage orders like a professional warehouse. We have recently added Trade Gecko which allows us to track our cost of goods and production much better.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Don't over complicate things. I have opened and run four different stores now, and I still find myself chasing the sale with a new site by adding and adding, when patience is the true formula. Find your niche and focus on making it the most it can be. If you do that, success will follow. Don't be afraid to build yourself for success. Go ahead a spend that little extra on better apps, and really create an environment for success. Don't build the wall you want to be in, but build the walls you ARE going to grow into.