Being a lifelong animal-lover, I volunteered at my local municipal shelter while still in middle school, and I became a vegan soon thereafter. My passion for artisan chocolate developed a bit later, when I moved to New York City and was confronted by all the incredible chocolate choices. One day, walking my dog in the park, I decided to combine these two passions, and Rescue Chocolate was born. I source my products locally from a factory in Brooklyn.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
The first sales came through my website, and that still represents more than half of my business. I also sell wholesale to groceries, pet stores, veterinary offices, vegan shops, and gift boutiques. I can drive sales to both these streams through heavily cross-promoting on social networking sites.
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?
I rely on Shopify for presenting my game face to the online public and also for feeding me up-to-the-minute data on my customers and their product choices. I invoice with Curdbee, send out newsletters with MailChimp, create shipping labels with OrderCup, and accept payments with PayPal.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
Don't be afraid to take a crazy idea and relentlessly drive it into the reality of a new product or service. It doesn't matter if you have formal business training, you will learn most of what you need to know on the fly. Superb visuals can help with whatever you're selling, but there is nothing quite like a superior product to really generate customers.