The story of Rustic Trades Furniture started with the same need you may find yourself with as you read this: My wife and I needed a table. We looked everywhere for the big, beautiful table of our dreams. As newlyweds, we moved into our new house in 2007. We were just married and facing a rough time like many Americans then. So, with no furniture we left our television on the floor and turned our attention to finding the perfect dining table.
Our search led us to countless furniture stores and warehouses, but we always left frustrated. The cost of the tables we found rarely matched the quality. When we thought we found the perfect table, we were blown away by the poor quality compared to the price.
That’s when I told Maggie I’d build her a table. And it would be a table that would last our entire lives. No particleboard, just real wood.
I researched how to cut, design and build a table. Out of several hardwood options I chose birch and bought all of the tools I would need. In the end, we had a dining table that would last us forever for about half the price of the table we almost bought at a big chain.
What started with a promise to my bride turned into a hobby and in 2010 Rustic Trades Furniture was established. Each table is made differently and with lasting quality that’s hard to find in a furniture store.
These days I’m focused on improving each table every time I make one. I’m always researching and improving the stains, finish and quality of each table because I understand the investment you’re making. I know this isn’t just another piece of furniture for you. For some of you, this table could hold countless family meals and last for generations. For others, it’s a piece of art that can’t be put on a wall.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
We started with craigslist. It blew up so we started a blog. The blog blew up so we made a website with the option to place an order online. The ordering process did not work well. It was a form generator program that didn't work correctly.
We recently decided to upgrade to Shopify to provide our customers with a little familiarity to online ordering. We are about to launch and are very excited to how it will improve our customers experience.
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 started with Google forms, Wufoo and Quickbooks online. Then we added Freshbooks for our invoicing. But still, our customers were having a hard time getting the information they needed to confidently complete an order. "Why cant I just use a cart like every other online business?" Shopify is the perfect solution. With the help of many apps, we can have the flexibility of an online form while using the familiarity of an ecommerce platform.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
Share the experience. Ask your customers to share their product experience. Welcome the potential customer into the homes of your current customer. Make the experience raw and real as if you were sitting around a table and having a friendly conversation. Since when does business need to be so stiff?