Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
During the last year of my Master of Zoology degree, I knew I wanted to put my energy into raising funds for global conservation programs. The zoology degree was a mid-life change. I spent most of my career in the specialty food business so had an MBA and background in creating and curating specialty products. During field work in Nambia, at the Cheetah Conservation Fund, I realized I might not be the person in the field but that I could utilize my skills and knowledge by generating funds to support conservation programs. My focus was on big cat conservation programs, and my blog The Tiniest Tiger had a fierce feline following, so I created the original handbag line with the proprietary cat quilting. That was the beginning. The Tiniest Tiger quilted product line is made in the USA. I looked for a manufacturer within the USA and struck gold when I found them. I couldn't ask for a better company. I also source products overseas. I had the opportunity to travel extensively with my food company and met many people in many locations. This network has helped me locate and work with reliable and wonderful suppliers.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
The first sales came from promoting the handbags on my blog and social media accounts. Facebook is by far the number one site sending traffic to Triple T Studios. I have recently begun focusing more on Pinterest and Instagram too. There is seemingly endless potential.
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?
BoldApps were my first apps and I love them all. I use Product Discount, Product UpSell, Product Bundles and The Motivator. These apps help me offer promotions to customers that boost sales and the BoldApps team is responsive and helpful. I recently added Yotpo Reviews, Sauce and Refersion. Each app has their benefits for the store and I have seen positive results stemming from each one. At the moment, the orders are fulfilled by us, and when I say us, I mean our three cats and me. Seriously, I am currently doing our own fulfillment with the help of an assistant on busy ship days and have begun to explore outside fulfillment options.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Persistence and keep learning. Owning a business takes hard work and determination. I think it is hard to understand until you are standing in the business owner's shoes. Allow yourself to be open-minded and keep learning with childlike curiosity. Choose something you love and will hold your interest. Listen to the advice of other business owners. Ask questions. Whether you like what they have to say or not, the information is often far more valuable than you might originally think.