Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
Our sister company makes gorgeous fabric for quilters - but not everyone quilts. So the idea was to create really beautiful products that everyone could enjoy made from the same outstanding 100% cotton fabric. While we are a start-up company, our family approaches our 100th celebration in the US textile business. The amazing thing about Shopify is that it's allowing us to move quickly and seamlessly into 21st century commerce. Our design point of view is to be fresh and incredibly functional. Our duffels, makeup bags and totes are updated classics. We're just getting started. The website is such a powerful tool for marketing. Our design team is in New York and Henley-on-Thames in the UK, and we manufacture overseas.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
We listened to the experts at Shopify (seriously). We reached out to bloggers and vloggers who started talking about our product. We had a launch party for key bloggers to get our name out there! We have had a great deal of success with social media and partnering with groups that have bigger outreach. For example, when we launched our Eric Carle Collection featuring The Very Hungry Caterpillar we partnered with the wonderful children's literacy organization, Reading Is Fundamental. For the promotion, every time you shop at Quilted Koala with the RIF code, shoppers saved 20% and we donated an additional 10% to the organization. Giving back to the community is also part of our mandate as a company, so we were delighted to make this connection for consumers. We also were featured on Good Morning America, which was an amazing opportunity to drive traffic to our site and to our brand. That sale was held on a custom-designed Shopify site as well! Facebook continues to be a very strong driver for us and now that we're building our email base of subscribers that is also generating sales. Finding people that already have expressed an interest in our brand is essential to growth.
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 have relied heavily on the support team at Shopify to get the site up and running. We've used the Clean template - also getting lots of support there! We saw a huge jump once we added PayPal to our site. We also now use Campaign Monitor and Rafflecopter as a way to fun campaigns. We have a warehouse that handles our white-glove service. It was important to us that every package go out feel like a present (even if you're buying it for yourself). So the products are wrapped in tissue, fastened with a Quilted Koala sticker and every box goes out with a thank-you card and a prompt for people to join us on Instagram with the hashtag #welovekoalas.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Be open to change. What we love about starting a new business is the journey - it's always going to be filled with the unexpected. Since we launched the new collection last November our team has grown. We're finding new ways to reach potential customers. We are a family-run business as well, so there are many generations striving to make Quilted Koala the next big brand. We're confident we can do it and thrilled that Shopify is part of our team.