Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
Painted Fox is the fruition of dreams and passions for Jen and I. We started off as treasure hunting best friends, not with shovels and work boots, but with cross-body bags, wallets and hand sanitizer! The pair of us were always gypsying about, in search of the perfect piece to add a certain flavor to the eclectic decor of our own homes. Goodwill, St. Vinnies, Salvation Army, Auctions, Flea Markets, Garage Sales, Art Shows, Antique Malls, Estate Sales... curbside throw aways! Jen and I have always been ready for a good hunt. But, in the end, we began to run out of space. The trouble was, we hadn't run out of ambition.
We had a light bulb moment, an epiphany of sorts. Why not sell our finds? Why not a shop? Why not online? That way we could share our love of quirky farmhouse cool objects with a bigger audience. And so it began, Painted Fox.
Each product has a unique journey. Some are special ordered, other's are custom made. We hold much of our inventory in-house and also work with makers who ship directly upon order. Additionally, we work with vintage procurement agencies who travel the globe looking for gorgeous found items. Some of our items may take a bit of time to arrive on our customer's doorstep, but we think they would agree when we say 'We promise, it will be worth the wait!' It is such an interesting day and age to do business in. We feel that we have made so many dear friends, and most of them, we have never met in person. Email, conference call, social media, Facetime and Skype have offered us the incredible ability to connect with artisans, manufacturers and creatives who would otherwise be out of reach. The list is never complete, because lucky for us, we continue to grow this list of 'loved ones' and their treasures, in our pursuit to grow and enhance Painted Fox.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Our roots first grew on Facebook, in the feeds of Buy Sell Trade groups. The groupies came fast and we found ourselves meeting in Marshalls and Walgreens parking lots with lines of women who had arrived to trade $ for treasures. We were becoming quite a spectacle, and the harsh Wisconsin winters were not a friend to us! We were quickly ousted from Facebook. They flagged us due to high traffic and gave us the final boot because we were not a 'person'. Nope, Painted was not our first name... there was no Ms. Painted Fox. So we moved to a small web-server and started shipping our finds. So the story goes, until the volume of sales began to make it far to hard to keep up with the demand of hunting, photographing, listing and selling single items. So, we moved to wholesale. We began hunting for wholesale products that honored the farmhouse style and swag that we had become known for. We searched high and low, and continue to, in order to offer a fresh, funky, unexpected farmhouse/industrial style products to our customers. Our shop has grown and grown. We outgrew our first site and moved over to a bigger better server. We find ourselves working with incredible designers, bloggers, writers and best of all incredible wholesalers and customers. Our social media presence is solid. We have over 50K followers on Instagram and our numbers are growing fast on Facebook and Twitter also. We are on Houzz, Polyvore, Wanalo, and Pinterest. Our most interactive social media channel is Instagram. It is truly a community of sorts!
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 many of the Shopify addon apps. We use Gift Reggie, Refersion, Mailchimp, Out of Stock to name hair a few. We love the helpful and easy to contact nature of Shopify customer service. We ask lots and lots of questions and are always wowed by the quick and comprehensive response! We also have used the Shopify expert recommendations for web design, coding and consultation. We use Kahuna for our book keeping and love the service we receive. We do the majority of our shopping in house and love using ShipStation for all of our shipping needs. Fed Ex is our preferred carrier. Some of our products are shipped directly from our artisans and manufacturers.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
We are right in the trenches of this business. We do not have an extensive staff. Our company is run purely by family members and the two of us have our hands in every single bit of it. Because of this total immersion in the business, we quite honestly aren't aware of the gender specifics of the business world around us. We have been so blessed to work with incredible individuals in every part of the business. Wholesalers, sales representatives, FedEx and UPS drivers, mail carriers, truck drivers, bloggers, artisans and best of all customers have filled our days with vibrant and positive interactions. We are very big question askers, and every single person has answered us with patience and wisdom. As business owners, we are seekers of information and input. We want our business to be dynamic in every aspect. It is our goal to have an ever-changing inventory and to work with a variety of talented decorators, bloggers, wholesalers and artisans. This keeps us current in the market and keeps the business fresh for us each and every day. Our best pieces of advice would be: be present, be aware, be brave, be creative, be ready to work hard and work OFTEN, outsource and ask for help when you need it. Most of all....Be nice. Just plain old kindness and genuine care will take you far!