The beginning of any new venture can start out either as an adventure or a misadventure. Quite often it all depends on one’s point of view. Starting an e-Commerce business is, overall, something that takes a lot more hard work than what most people imagine.
It can become frustrating when you put in many long hours of work day after day and yet don’t see that it is getting anywhere. Especially since one often doesn’t see the results in the time frame expected. However, no matter how difficult the process is, it hasn’t stopped many entrepreneurs from tackling the world of e-Commerce and starting online business.
The secret is to provide consumers with a quality product (or products) that fill a void within a niche field. This is exactly how SCY (Strong Confident You) got started. When Jonathan Waldmann invested that first $5000, little did he imagine that it would soon blossom into a $7.2M enterprise that caters for every individual.
Starting From A Mustard Seed Beginning
The business definitely had a mustard seed beginning – starting with an idea to sell hand-made Gimp bracelets and headbands on Etsy. These were items that Jonathan, Illona and her mother (Sonja) made by hand. It took a lot of time and effort but had very little return so they were on the lookout for a more profitable idea.
In 2012 crystals were really popular and so Illona hit on the idea of making crystallized wedding apparel. It was a market that was just waiting to be mined so Jonathan decided they needed to go for it. Purchasing the first batch of crystals and blank shirts, they started to make their own products by hand yet again. It was only later on that they found suppliers who had all the necessary material and would customize their designs for them.
Jonathan and Illona did their research and decided that they needed to go with vinyl printing instead of screen printing as it would allow the greatest versatility for color and design customizations.
When they started out they were doing it all from their small loft apartment and originally just had the bridal category, but as the business grew, so did their inventory. Customized clothing for holidays, travel and pregnancy were added and this required full time attention to the business.
The Ingredients To Success
In the beginning, all the profits were reinvested back into the company so that products could be ordered in bulk in order to save money. Every start up has its problems, but finding a way to work through them and find solutions is what leads to success.
Etsy allows its users to start up a business without much difficulty and launching their first online store was a much simpler process than creating their first products to sell.
Both Jonathan and Illona put their all into the business, working long hours every day to make sure that quality products were designed, created and shipped. Jonathan Waldmann provided the capital for the start-up as well as support and Illona took care of the graphic design for the products. Illona and Sonja were able to find the sweet spot of how to creatively list the products so that there is constantly a steady stream of browsers and customers.
They realized that it was important to take things slowly and not try to rush the growth of the company. By making sure that they were comfortable with each growth phase of the company, they were able to ensure that the company never grew faster than they were able to cope with.
That first initial investment of $5000 was all that was needed to start the business and they haven’t needed to add extra capital to the company. This is something that not many companies are able to say.
Customer Attention Is Key
When it comes to an e-Commerce business (especially when doing business on Etsy), an important aspect of the business is responding to customer queries. If a customer wants to know something about a product and they enquire but don’t hear back, chances are that they will find somewhere else to shop.
In order to prevent that from happening, Jonathan and Illona had to work even longer hours (including weekends) to make sure that they answered all the customer queries in a prompt and timely fashion. Eventually, though, they were able to hire someone to do this so that they were able to concentrate their attention on the other aspects of the business.
Having a business that caters to each and every individual also means that each person needs personalized attention should they require it. Whilst it is time consuming and sometimes takes more time than you think you may have, it is what sets great businesses apart from the mediocre.
Let It Grow
Etsy really helped in driving traffic to the store and overall the business has been growing at a rate between 10% to 25% revenue, which is steady growth. As the business grew, they decided to start up another brand that caters to the Christian demographic and provides trendy, comfortable clothing that is also combined with a great Christian message to add to the fabulous designs.
Thanks to the steady growth of the company, they have now been able to invest in some new and better printers, which allow for more intricate designs and faster printing.
Added to this, they are in the process of completing another online brand that will focus more on products geared towards men — and those looking to purchase gifts for their family, friends, spouses, etc.
What started as just a small idea during a holiday getaway has grown into an online presence that is growing in popularity. The secret is to find something that someone needs and/or wants and then provide it.