In 2010, on a backpacking trip through Asia, my brain ran wild. The wide assortment of goods produced in China was endless, and although some of it was junk, a lot of products were made exceptionally well. How could I get this stuff into the US? How much would it cost? Would any of it sell? What type of products should I import? Where do I being?
Fast forward 3 years, and in January of 2013 Laura Davidson Direct was launched. Currently, our main products are mid century modern era office chairs, and we're slowly expanding into other contemporary furniture pieces as well.
What are the key factors that have helped your store be successful?
From the beginning, we wanted to offer top quality furniture at a reasonable price. We scoured the web looking at competing products, and finding the lowest prices offered. It then took a long time to find a quality manufacturer in Asia that would make exactly what we wanted at a price that would allow us to be competitive.
Creating an online store wasn't our top priority in the beginning. We utilized 3rd party sites like Amazon and E-Bay to sell our proprietary products as well as a few similar products obtained through wholesalers.
In hindsight, creating an online store proved to be a huge boost. By listing with Google Shopping, Amazon Product Ads, and Craigslist, we've driven a decent amount of customers to our site. Our advertising budget isn't huge by any means, but we've been extremely selective on where to spend our dollars. Any time we can sell directly through our website, our profit margins will be significantly higher than when we sell on Amazon or Ebay since they take a large chunk out for fees.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Have fun! Let your unique personality shine through into all aspects of your business. If you browse our site, you'll find little quirks along the way. For example, our return policy and FAQ aren't the typical boring copy found on most e-commerce sites.
A quote I love and try to incorporate into business: "It's fun. Living your own life, in your own way is rewarding. Following our dreams keeps our souls alive." - Simon Dale
Any Closing Remarks?
Running your company is a long journey and isn't always full of gum drops and rainbows. It's important not to let the bad days get you down, and realize that there's an abundant supply of customers and opportunity around the next bend. Being small and agile, you have the advantage of doing things your big competitors can't, so be creative and try new things in your industry!
There's no such thing as an overnight success. As much as we desire the rewards of business success immediately, it's important to stay focused, grow slowly, and enjoy the ride!