This is a guest post from Ron, who is a student in my Create A Profitable Online Store course.
What’s funny about Ron is that he asked a lot of questions early on in the course but then disappeared for several months. Initially, I thought that he had given up altogether but he recently came back and showed me what could perhaps be one of the best looking shops in my class thus far.
Ron runs SunnyDecals.com, which is a store that sells high end nursery wall decals. Because Ron did not want to deal with the mechanics of using an open source shopping cart, he decided to go with Big Commerce and did an incredible job!
How We Found Our Niche
Our story begins with the birth of our baby boy. In the months before the birth, my wife and I spent weeks trying to put together the perfect nursery. We are both very particular about how we wanted things to look so every decision was very thought out from color palette to theme to what type of paint we should use.
We made custom cornices to cover our windows (I never knew what a cornice was prior to this) and they matched the bedding that we used in his crib.
When everything was completed, we noticed that the walls looked a little bare. We did not want to hang pictures above his crib for safety reasons, so we started looking into nursery wall decals.
To start our research, we started looking online and noticed that there are so many sites that offer an array of products but everything looked so generic and cheap. We spent all this time and money on our nursery and we could not find something that would match our décor. My wife contacted a shop on Etsy and worked with them to create a custom decal for our nursery.
Our decals arrived two weeks later and when we opened the package we immediately noticed the nasty vinyl smell. We were pretty disappointed about the toxic smell because we have been so careful up to this point with using nontoxic products in the nursery.
The decals arrived in 16 pieces that had to fit together like a puzzle. It also came with a lot of instructions and a squeegee. We realized that this is going to be a lot more difficult than we expected. It took us about 3 hours to put everything together and initially we were happy with the way it looked.
However a few months later, the vinyl shrunk and now there was a visible gap between all the pieces. That’s when my wife said “we should just make our own decals, we can do such a better job than this.”
Finding The Time To Start A Business
At the time, we had a lot going on in our lives. We had a baby on the way and my wife was working from home as a contracted Graphic Artist/Web designer. I had my own business for 8 years that involved business to business sales in the wireless industry. So the idea of starting this new business was put on the back burner.
About six months after the birth our child, things were taking a turn for the worse in my business and after careful consideration, we decided that it was time for a change.
Since we were always talking about starting our own nursery decal business, we decided to go for it.
I knew that we had many challenges ahead because we have no experience in e-commerce or web marketing. It’s something that always intrigued me and I knew that it would be worth our time and money to learn more about this industry. That’s when we found Steve’s course “Create a Profitable Store Online”.
At first we were a little leery because we weren’t sure about what we would get out of this. However, it turned out to be much better than we expected. Not only was there a detailed a lengthy manual that we downloaded, but there were tons of videos (I watched almost all of them), and he continuously adds more content.
What I find even more valuable is that I am able to ask him questions and get a professional response from someone who has found success in E-commerce.
While I started taking these courses, we teamed up with my wife’s brother to get started on our designs. My brother in law is an amazing artist and he works for one of the largest clothing companies in the U.S. He designs bags, clothes, phone cases, and more.
The two of them made a great team and they were able to bounce ideas off each other to create the look that we wanted for our new business. Our goal was to create a product line that would appeal to a larger audience at first and then focus on even more unique ideas that we have not seen with any of our competitors.
Some of our designs are unisex, but we also created unique wall decals for boys and wall decals for girls. Our product stands out from most of the competition because we use a non-toxic, fabric material with a water based adhesive.
What makes it different from vinyl is that it won’t shrink, stretch, tear, and you can reposition the decals many times over without damaging your walls. It’s so much easier to apply because you don’t need special tools like a squeegee and if you mess up, then you can simply take it off and reposition it. We manufacture our product locally so it’s not outsourced to any foreign countries.
Finding A Cart And Going For It!
One of my first challenges was trying to figure out if we should use open source or a fully hosted shopping cart. If you watch all the videos in the course, it seems to make more sense to go with open source because you have full control of your store and you have so many more options.
After going back and forth, we decided that maybe Magento would work the best. It’s the hardest to use but it’s the most feature rich shopping cart. After discussing this option with Steve however, I realized that maybe it wiser to start with a fully hosted shopping cart since I’m not very technical and Magento was having issues at the time. We ended up going with Big Commerce and so far, I believe that we made the right decision.
After many months of hard work, we finally launched our site after the New Year (2013) and we are looking forward to the challenges ahead. We have the drive and motivation to make it work and I hope that we can emulate the success that Steve has found with Bumblebee Linens.
Editor’s Note: Fast forward to 2015 and Ron’s store is now making a 6 figure income!
- How Small Actions Lead To Big Gains And Why I’m Proud Of These Student Shops
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