Friday, 3 February 2012

The Genesis of an Internet Entrepreneur

Wow! Right? That is what my husband call me. It always makes me laugh because it sounds pretentious, but from now on, it is true!

Today, I proudly announce that the opening of my very own yarn shop will take place on
Monday, February 7th! 

Before encouraging you to stop by, I wanted to tell you a little bit about the process, in case any of you were considering going the same route. The first thing one has to have is confidence. In my last post I mentioned my daughter's fearless knitting. Well, I have jumped fearlessly into the e-commerce world. I can be hard on myself for many things, but I have never been afraid to try new things.

 You also have to have a niche. What makes you different? Why would someone buy from you rather than someone else? If you can't answer these questions, you will have trouble. Reading, selling on Etsy, blogging and meeting wonderful people online have helped me define what is important to me and how to use that to differentiate myself.

 That means in my shop:

- I will only sell yarns from natural fibers. - Acrylic fibers are readily available, they don't "fit" with my values so I don't sell them.

- I will only buy yarns from companies that support sustainable development. Here again, my values, helping people, animals and the environment.

- I will not charge for shipping. I get so frustrated online when companies either don't ship "outside the continental US" or only offer free shipping within the "continental US". The Internet is a world market. You have to be willing to trade with the world or what's the point?

- I will not use plastic in shipping, believe me, this is extremely hard, but I'm working on it!

- I want people to have a pleasant shoping experience. That is why I insist on the word "shop". For me it implies cozy, friendly and calm, a place you would like to visit and spend time.

 So, you know what you do and don't want to do. What's next? There is no way around it, money. I don't want to frighten anyone, but you do have to have a certain amount of money either from savings or a loan to start with. The basic costs are for your logo, website (domain, hosting and design) and your merchandise. Not being technologically gifted and knowing that an attractive, functional website is the key to success, I went with the company Go Daddy who did everything for me and I am very pleased with the result.

Working with wholesalers is a whole new ball game! I cannot even compare myself to a small fish in a big pond. I feel more like a fish egg in the ocean! Some of the wholesalers I have worked with are absolutely lovely and very encouraging. Others haven't even returned my calls. Still others have policies that state that they only sell to brick and mortar shops and not online only. I can understand that, but one of the companies that I very much wanted to do business with sells to online only shops in the US, but in Canada (where I am) you have to be brick and mortar. Confused? I sure am! The other important thing to mention is that first wholesale orders have a minimum requirement to verify the seriousness of the retailer I imagine, but these minimums range from $300 to $3000 dollars. The old saying is true, "It takes money to make money!"

Through these experiences we adjust. We stay in contact with the companies that are pleasant to work with and respect our values and goals. We also learn patience. I cannot have a fully stocked store from day one, so no point in worrying about it. I would eventually like to make a living with my shop, but my first goal is to do something I love, have fun and make a difference doing it. As for those goals, I think I am on the right track!

So, this is the beginning. I would love for you to stop by and let me know what you think. When you do, please sign up for my Newsletter. You will all receive a 15% all time discount and the first 50 people, this lovely cotton shopping bag.

Free just for signing up!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!


Angels and Everlastings said...

May you prosper in your new venture. I loved looking at your daughters knitting!

Sweet Posy Dreams said...

So exciting! Best wishes, Laurie, with the online shop. It takes courage to try something like this, so you go, girl!

Sonya Kanelstrand said...

Oh, how exciting Laurie! That means that tomorrow is a big day! I like how you sound calm and fearless. I know this is a sign of success and with your positive attitude and charity projects you will have a lot of customers. I wish you to start making a living from Hands with Hearts sooner than you thought!

Your advice is very sound and useful. I am with you on all points, especially sticking to a niche.

I can't wait to drop by tomorrow at the official opening! And the bag? It is such a lovely idea! I would be proud going around with your bag, honestly!

Good luck!

Additionsstyle said...

Laurie, you website looks great and congratulation on your grand opening. Sounds like you are ready for success!
Everyday Inspired

Laurie Fortier said...

Thank you so much Lynette, Valerie, Margaret and my dear Sonya! I really appreciate your support!

Melinda said...

Congratualtions! I wish you much happiness in your newest endeavor! :) The shop looks great. I applaud your natural only fibers, I'm definitely on board with that one. One thing I have a hard time finding is organic cotton yarn, so please let me know if you start offering this, I'll be first in line! :) Oh, and what is 'brick and mortar'? It sounds like a shop that has a physical location but I'm unfamiliar with the term...

Laurie Fortier said...

Thank you so much Melinda! Isn't that the funniest term? I hadn't heard it either until I got into this retail adventure. It means exactly that, a physical location. It must come from the old days, buildings made of brick and cement.
I do have different organic cottons by Green Mountain Spinnery and Be Sweet, so do stop by! (I'm laughing as I write this, I'm not used to sounding like a shop owner!).

Melinda said...

Oh, that is wonderful! Apparently I didn't spend enough time meandering around your store. I'm off to take a peek... very excited ! :)

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