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Store of the Month: October

4 Oct

Freewebstore’s Store of the month time 😁😁. This month’s accolade goes to KitUK – premier supplier of kits and equipment for sports clubs in the UK. Jason, the store owner, took time out of his very busy schedule to answer a few questions.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

I’ve worked in marketing for over 25 years. I’ve also played football to a semi-

image005professional standard, I’m a level 2 football & goalkeeper coach, a voluntary football manager and I’ve been involved (and still am), in amateur football for nearly 40 years! I say I’ve got two full-time jobs – my marketing career and my website! I’m also a season ticket holder at a premier league club and lifelong supporter, though I won’t say who! My wife has pretty much given up now on trying to get me interested in anything other than football!

Where did you get the inspiration for KitUK?

Sounds a bit odd now but I used to spend my time as a kid re-painting Subbuteo players kits, organizing football leagues, in between playing and watching football! So I suppose I always had an eye for design and a bit of an odd interest in football kits, which to this day, my friends and family don’t quite understand! There were only 3 TV channels back when I was a kid and most of what was on was absolute rubbish or repeats, so I did my own thing – and that pretty much meant something related to football 24/7! Even now I hate sitting around watching TV.

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I’ve always had an eye for design – all my kits on my website I’ve designed myself from scratch and bring them to life in a 360 degree customized kit builder. And I do all the marketing stuff myself which helps keep costs down a bit. When I left university I got into marketing – it was the one thing I really enjoyed (apart from football!) and I was never going to be an accountant! I now sell football kit and equipment to clubs across the UK – everywhere from Cornwall to Aberdeen and also Ireland. I have basically made a business out of a passion. I’ve also worked in marketing football teamwear for PUMA for pro and amateur clubs.

As a football coach myself, I could see how difficult is can be sometimes to buy kit and equipment. It’s quite a complex purchase and can be frustrating and time consuming – so I’ve set up to make life easier and more fun for clubs / teams / coaches to purchase football kit. I’ve been there as a customer myself and I understand the football kit industry inside out, because I’ve been involved in it all my life! I’ve got a bit of a habit of thinking I can do things better, then give it a go. But I’ve lived and breathed what I do for most of my life, so my inspiration comes from doing what I enjoy to the best of my ability!

What is the best thing about owning your own business/online store?

You’re only as good as the effort you put into it. For me, it’s a passion – a hobby of mine. I’m part the way down the road now making this a viable business I can take a salary from and make a living, but I’ve a well paid, responsible full time marketing job that means I don’t have to rely on that while I build the business up and earn a living from.

I work really hard full time and I work as hard again on my website business! I like the fact that I’m in control and I don’t have to report to anyone and can make all my own decisions, right or wrong – and learn from them!

How do you market your product? Do you supply your kits to schools?

I’ve built up a marketing database, so most of my advertising is on email, Facebook and Google Adwords. I supply amateur football clubs and teams across the UK including schools, although I’m planning to do more with colleges and schools very soon! My biggest cost is marketing and you know what – I’ve had more business come from word of mouth and recommendations – but my business simply wouldn’t exist without marketing and lucky for me, I’m blessed with lots of experience there.

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If you could have a celebrity employee, who would it be and why?

Ha! I wouldn’t! Why? Because I know from experience they are expensive to hire and retain and can be high maintenance (not all of them I might add!) I’ve been involved in lots of photo shoots with pro footballers and with other celebrities outside of football and it’s a high cost / high risk strategy. Plus while I’m building up my business, there’s not enough budget. But you never know!

Your web store really does stand out. What tips would you give new store owners? Why do you feel good quality product images is key?

Thanks. I look back at what I’ve achieved and how much time I’ve put into building my website and I’m really pleased with it so far. But there’s so much more I want to do to develop it further. I wish there was more time in the day! The best advice I would give any new start-up / store owner is to do something you are really passionate about and enjoy. Keep negative people well out of your life and just go for it – life really is too short! It’s better to give it a go and it not work out than spend the rest of your life regretting not trying. The world is full of negative people who don’t / can’t / won’t make decisions – and not one of them are successful, at least I’ve never met anyone who is.

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I would also say be persistent and never give up – you need to be really resilient as it’s tough, especially in the first 12 months (I’m still not quite a full year into my website). Your website is your shop window – I spend more on imagery, photography, graphics and banners than anything else, so I’m a little unique from that point of view. I also think you need to be quite selfish and driven, but not stupid enough to recognize sound advice when you see it!

Is there a specific reason you chose to use freewebstore as your eCommerce platform?

I prefer to work with local partners and suppliers and most are. Ones that aren’t I think it’s important there is a good relationship and honesty. That said, I chose freewebstore because customer service is something I value very highly in my life and freewebstore have been really good from day one. My site has quite a lot of technical add-ons and I’ve found the support ticket system really helpful. I like the layout and options freewebstore offers but my site feels like my own, not an off the shelf template. The other thing I would say the freewebstore platform is easy to manage and good value. I also like the fact that the people you speak to via the support tickets are based in the UK and not some overseas call centre who you can never get through to then wish you hadn’t when you eventually do!

If you could choose one magic power, what would you go for?

Easy one that! I’d slow time down so we could all do more every day!

Why is eCommerce important for your business?

ALL my sales are via e-commerce. It gets me in front of customers I would never otherwise reach or speak with. Many of my customers are like me – they work full time and buy football kit in their spare time! I wouldn’t have a business if it wasn’t for online. The Internet is the best invention of the 20th Century as far as I’m concerned.

Tell us your best joke.

Sorry to disappoint. I don’t know any jokes and tend to forget them anyway, good or bad! I find the most funny things are the stuff you see and hear in everyday life. Good comedians don’t tell jokes, they tell a great story we can all relate to!

And finally, do you have any celebrity customers using the products you sell?

Actually, I do! I’ve had a few ex-footballers who are now coaching and have bought kit or football equipment off me. They tend to be quite modest, but I’ve checked them out quietly and were definitely who they said they were! I won’t say who though and to be fair, they aren’t household names – but if you know your football, you’d know them! Do they count as celebrities? Otherwise, no I haven’t!

Jason is using the boundless design and he’s done a fantastic job, the customizable kit section definitely adds a real cutting edge to his web store. If you would like to be considered for the freewebstore store of the month get in touch with our success team at successteam@freewebstore.com.

On set with Sonja Elisa

29 Sep

A brief insight into our day with the impressive freewebstore eCommerce store owner, Sonja Elisa, for an upcoming video feature. 

I had the opportunity to visit Sonja’s creative studio, in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, Barcelona.  Observing Sonja’s passion for her work, her creative flair and determination it’s clear to see why she is the premier supplier of boutique silk accessories in Barcelona.

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Sonja showcasing one of her products

I had the opportunity to learn more about Sonja and her story of becoming a successful business owner. Having been in the corporate world for a number of years, traveling all over the world and dealing with all that corporate life threw her way, the lifestyle was having an impact on her work/life balance. With Sonja’s creativity, passion for fashion and determination to ‘go it alone’ – it was always in the plan to own her own fashion line. However, it was one opportunistic moment built the foundations for her business – deciding on a present for her brother’s wedding! Wanting to give her brother a unique gift for his wedding, Sonja designed a silk bow-ties gift set.

After receiving raving reviews Sonja started to design a range of products and research ways to enter the market and she hasn’t looked back since! Sonja’s bespoke silk products now reside in numerous boutiques across Barcelona, fashion markets and, most importantly, her very own freewebstore eCommerce store 😉

Once Sonja told us her story (which will be available to view soon) it didn’t take long before the enthusiasm for creating bespoke designs and products kicked in, and I got to watch the process of creating a silk scarf. Each of the scarves she has designed has a unique story behind it and the process from start to finish was (surprising to me) very therapeutic. This particular design was inspired by a recent music video Sonja had seen and the end product was fantastic.

It was great to meet Sonja, who risked the security and relative comfort of ‘corporate life’, to follow her dream of starting her own fashion brand. I hope Sonja’s success inspires many more entrepreneurs in the future.

Matt.

Sonja’s video feature will be released soon. Please follow our YouTube, Facebook and Twitter channels.

Store of the Month: September

1 Sep

The freewebstore Store of the month for September (September already!?!) is the creative, Barcelona based store SonjaElisa 🏆 You know the score, we caught up with Sonja for a chat about her business and how things are going so far 🙂

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1. Please tell us a bit about yourself, your business, and where it all started

I’m a Finnish fashion designer living in Barcelona. I have been making things since I can remember, cutting, gluing and hand sewing before my mum let me use her sewing machine at the age of 8. After working for corporate for many years, I ventured into freelancing and started feeling the need to create again. I wanted to go back to making something handmade, where I could truly express myself, something I felt passionate about and that related to slow fashion. So I launched my own line, Sonja Elisa silk accessories, which I make in my Barcelona workshop. 

I make silk accessories for women, men, and kids. Products include scarves, shawls (silk paired with a warmer double layer), bow ties and pocket squares. They are all hand painted and hand sewn, each one unique in its kind, as no pattern turns out the same way. I love silk painting as it is flowing, organic and unpredictable, and each piece has its own magic!

2. What is the best thing about owning your own business/online store? 

The best thing is the freedom. I can manage the store easily on my own and in my own time, and it’s a great window into the global marketplace, through which I can connect with customers all over the world.

3. How do you market your product?

I mostly use social media (Instagram and Facebook), to showcase my work. I also attend occasional markets and makers fairs, and a few retail stores feature exclusive collections. My silk scarves and bowties are very unique in style so I try to find the best channels to reach customers that relate to the aesthetics and values of my brand.

 

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One of Sonja’s fantastic products: Men’s bow-tie

 

4. If you could have ANYONE to come and work for you, who would it be and why?

 Sophia Amoruso, she has passion, drive, and edge. I find her story very inspiring.

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Sonja finds Sophia Amoruso’s story inspiring

5. Do you have any advice for new store owners?

Don’t try to get it perfect on the first go, it is only natural to evolve your store. If you don’t start you won’t know what you want to improve! Ask for help from the guys at freewebstore if you get stuck, freewebstore have a great customer support team. Also, BELIEVE in your idea and don’t give up or get discouraged, try to learn from critique and improve your products and branding.

6. Is there a specific reason you chose to use freewebstore as your eCommerce platform? 

Freewebstore offers a great combination of functionality, design, technical support and price plans. It’s super easy, fast and simple to manage, and contains all the tools I need in an online store platform.

7. If you could choose one magic power, what would you go for?

Mind reading! And teleportation. And telekinesis. Oh wait, did you say only one??

8. Why is eCommerce important for your business?

I think eCommerce is essential for my business, it’s the best way to be able to reach my niche customers around the globe, and not be limited locally.

9. And finally, do you have any celebrity customers?

I do have a few celeb artsy bow tie customers. For example Matthew Waldman, American designer, and artist; Janne Kyttänen, 3D artist and designer and Jari Karttunen, Finnish dance artist.

 

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Matthew Waldman is a customer of Sonja’s

 

Sonja is using the crystal clear design for her store and we definitely think she’s done a great job. If you would like to be considered for the freewebstore store of the month series then get in touch with our success team at successteam@freewebstore.com 

Store of the Month: August

7 Aug

Freewebstore’s Store of the month for August is the very glamorous Madame Sole Protectors. Our team got in touch with Sophie, the store owner, to talk all things business (oh, and which superpower she’d choose, of course!)

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1. Please tell us a bit about yourself your business and where it all started.

It all started when I was living in Mumbai and I took a pair of new Louboutins out for a spin and when I returned home the beautiful, delicate not to mention expensive red soles had been scratched to smithereens. I’m not going to lie I was mortified so searched the internet for something that could potentially protect my soles and maybe cover the existing damage.

I couldn’t find anything suitable and although I could get them re-soled I wasn’t going to leave my precious Louboutins at a cobbler so just lived with the fact that this was the price I had to pay for gorgeous shoes.

Fast forward a couple of years I found myself living in Shanghai and was gifted a new pair of Louboutins, I was not going to make the same mistake this time, oh no, I was in the manufacturing capital of the world, if I couldn’t find the product I required I was jolly well going to find someone who could make it for me. After scouring Chinese manufacturing websites and with a little help from a translator I found a factory who produced all items associated with shoes and it went from there. The lady I was in touch with spoke ok English and we managed to develop the product I desired together!

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My first order was for 500 pairs as that was the minimum but I didn’t sell any until I moved back to the UK a few years later, I just used them to protect my growing personal Louboutin collection.

2. What made you get into this line of work?

Since I was young I’d always had ideas for products and, although I never pursued it, it was in me!

I had been a trailing spouse for a number of years working to meet people in various companies, then I fell pregnant for a couple of years. Unfortunately, my husband and I split up and all of a sudden I was a single mother of a 6-month-old and 2-year-old living back in England thinking ‘what the hell am I going to do?!’

I didn’t feel I could do a 9-5 as I had two babies and couldn’t afford full-time nursery fees and remembered I had the 500 or so Sole Protectors upstairs & thought maybe I could sell them. So I did!

 

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Sophie and her family!

I started on an auction site and sold them all very quickly but this site was very expensive, so that plus the PayPal fees and it had so many rules on how you could market the product. I really wanted to make my own website and cut out that ‘middle man’ but I didn’t want to pay someone to do my website. I found freewebstore and it actually was completely free to set up the website using their existing templates and start selling!

I ditched the auction site and now only sell on my own website www.soleprotectors.co.uk

3. How do you market your product?

I mainly market my products on Facebook, I’ve got involved in many shoe appreciation groups and feel they love my product as much as I do and they love how the sole protectors can protect their beautiful soles from damage. We have great feedback using the rating feature on our freewebstore which I feel fills other customers with confidence when buying our product.  We now do clear sole Protectors as well as red sole protectors so are suitable for all types of designer shoes including jimmy choo, Valentino, and Irregular Choice as well as your everyday shoes for a little extra grip!

4. If you could have ANYONE to come and work for you, who would it be and why?

 

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Baroness Michelle Mone would be Sophies ideal work partner

For sure it would be Michelle Mone of Ultimo! I heard her talk at a conference when I was 18 and I was in ore of what she had achieved; I really felt inspired.  She broke down doors to get to where she is today and I feel that someone like her would really help me get to where I would want to be in the future. She’s also fabulous so she’d fit in great. I just love her.

 

5. Do you have any advice for new store owners?

Advice to new store owners would be to ask for support from the freewebstore help desk if you need it, they are so knowledgeable and can save you so much time than trying to figure it out yourself. As they say ‘time is money’

6. If you could choose one magic power, what would you go for?

My magic power would be to click my fingers and everything be tidy and clean or done for you. Example .. ‘Click, the toys are tidied away, ‘ click, the dinners made ‘ Click! The washing up’s done’ ‘click, my sole protector orders are packed’ Think Disneys Mary Poppins, a spoon full of sugar! (Haha, great!)

7. Why is eCommerce important for your business?

Although we do supply a few boutique stores the large majority of our business comes from our eCommerce store. It is so important as it allows Madame Sole Protectors to reach a much wider customer base, not only in the U.K but abroad too. My web store is my showroom and I can add and delete products and information at any time. When people are looking for a product these days the first place they look is the internet and my store gives my business the opportunity to be found and noticed. I am very grateful for this.

I work from home and live in a little village, in a bid to support my local community and keep our local post office open, instead of having a franking machine I send all my items Royal Mail through the local Post office.

8. And finally, do you have any celebrity customers?

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Sophie presented with her ‘best new product’ award by Caprice at the mumtrepreneur award ceremony.

Well I can’t imagine the likes of Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian scouring the internet for sole protectors personally, they have people for that, however we are well informed that our sole protectors have been used in fashion catwalk shows and on the soles of pop stars in concerts to help prevent them slipping over in their designer heels during their performances.  Not to mention the one and only Caprice who awarded us with the Mumtrepreneur award for best new product last year. (congrats!!)

If you would like to learn more about Sophie’s fantastic business or to purchase some sole protectors then visit her website at soleprotectors.co.uk.

If you feel like you deserve to be Store of the Month, contact us at info@freewebstore.com with the subject ‘Store of the Month’ or visit us at freewebstore.com.

Store of the Month: July

10 Jul

Our store of the month for July is Rainbows and Sprinkles. Lucy took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to answer a few of our questions – take a look!

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1. Please tell us a bit about yourself, your business and where it all started

I am full-time Mum to my son Oliver who will be 2 in September, it was during the first 6 months of his life that I was spending a lot of time at home during the cold winter months and was looking for something that I could start doing at home to make myself a bit of pocket money. I experimented with various different baby products until I decided to develop a handmade children’s clothing range from newborn – 4-5years. I found a lovely lady in Exmouth to work with me to develop these products and we started working together very quickly after that!

 

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Lucy and her family

 

2. Do you make the clothes yourself or do you have a team to produce these?

We all have our own part to play in making every garment. I now have a team of 4 ladies who all work extremely hard to make each piece. Everything is cut out, sewn and assembled by hand all in sunny Devon.

 

3. Do you have a physical store as well as an online store? How do you market your product?

We advertise through Facebook and then customers order through my freewebstore. I’ve done a few stalls in the past when the business was very young however, I can reach so many more customers via Facebook and my website that it’s not worth selling at stalls. However, I would love to have a physical flagship store one day.

4. If you could have ANYONE to come and work for you, who would it be and why?

I would love Jo Malone to come and work with us! I love her work ethic and the reason so started her business is quite similar to mine. My aim is to be as successful as her – you’ve got to aim high!

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Jo Malone would be Lucy’s ideal celebrity employee!

 

5. Do you have any advice for new store owners?

If you have an idea just go for it! I thought about launching Rainbows & Sprinkles one evening and was so driven to make it work even though I had no background in textiles or clothing. It’s very cliche but you have to believe you will succeed. I was absolutely determined that Rainbows & Sprinkles was going to work, there was no other option.

6. Is there a specific reason you chose to use freewebstore as your eCommerce platform?

I think freewebstore is a fantastic platform. Almost all of my sales are placed on smartphones and my website adapts to smartphones so well and makes it so simple to use and navigate. I love the way my orders are set out and it makes them so simple to manage which is a massive bonus for me and If I ever have a concern or question, my emails are answered almost immediately which I think is just fantastic.

7. If you could choose one magic power, what would you go for?

I would love to teleport! I adore traveling and would love to see as much of the world as possible so definitely teleportation!

8. And finally, where do you see rainbows and sprinkles in 5 years time?

I have so many plans for Rainbows & Sprinkles in the next 5 years. We are always developing new products and introducing new prints – we are launching dresses in July and are discussing developing an older children’s range from 6-12y. I am also talking to a number of wholesalers at the moment to discuss various shops stocking out products and we are also working on moving from a made to order basis to an ‘in stock’ system to dramatically reduce lead times – we all know how fast babies and toddlers grow!

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Check out Rainbows and Sprinkles here. Interested in making a fantastic store like Rainbows and Sprinkles? Learn more here.

Store of the Month: June 2017

15 Jun

Our store of the month for June is the very imaginative thebiggerpictureart.co.uk. We spoke to the store owner, Aimee, who told us how sibling rivalry drove her to excel in arts and crafts how traveling the world helped to inspire Aimee’s fantastic business!

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Please tell us a bit about yourself, your business and where it all started

I graduated from University with a degree in Photography back in 2011. Having begun to collate a portfolio of work I decided to go traveling to expand on this further. Outside of my studies I’ve always had a passion for design and can recall many a weekend building and inventing things in my Granddad’s workshop as a child.

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My studio, The Bigger Picture, is a combination of these passions for art and design. I hope that my work conveys some of the inspirational things I’ve been lucky to see and explore. Combined with a bit of imagination, people can take home a product that is unique and brings some of the wider worlds right into their homes

What made you get into this line of work?

Both my sister and I grew up with a love of arts and crafts, and I think the competition element of sibling rivalry drove me to try and excel in this! We both have careers within the creative industry now which is great to bounce ideas off of one another.

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Do you have a physical store as well as an online store? How do you market your product?

Although I have years of experience with customers, retail, and design, I am relatively new to the world of business and would like to establish myself as an artist with an online presence before contemplating a store. Marketing is an ongoing process using social media.

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If you could have ANYONE to come and work for you, who would it be and why?

I think Dawn French would be fantastic to work with, it’s essential to surround yourself with fun and vibrant people if you want to keep the creative juices flowing. Dawn is also really active on twitter so I could put her in charge of social media!

 

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Aimee thinks Dawn French would be fantastic to work with!

 

Do you have any advice for new store owners?

If you really want it, you will make it work.There will be days when you question is it worth it? Will I ever get there?

The main thing to remember is ‘don’t give up!!’ And if you do, it’s never too late to start again. Cultural trends are constantly changing, so what didn’t work the first time might work better on another occasion.

Is there a specific reason you chose to use freewebstore as your eCommerce platform?

Freewebstore has such a vast range of designs, and with the ability to make alterations you can have your website set up in a matter of days which is great when you want to show potential consumers the latest products available to them.

If you could choose one magic power, what would you go for?

I would like the ability to speak every language in the world fluently! Imagine being able to communicate with anyone and everyone, I bet you’d hear some amazing tales from around the globe. Of course, this would come handy if I go traveling again too.

And finally, tell us your best joke!

My dog used to chase people on a bike a lot. It got so bad, finally, I had to take his bike away.

 

Store of the Month: May 2017

18 May

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A big ‘gratulerer’ to our store of the month for May, Norwegian furniture company Møblene!

Møblene is built up of a group of people who are dedicated to providing the best furniture at the best price in Norway.We caught up with Idar, Jan and the team at Møblene HQ to find out a bit more about the fantastic business!

Please tell us a bit about the business 

Behind Møblene.no you will find a group of dedicated people, who have been working with ‘value for money furniture’ for a long time.It all started with practical and affordable bunk beds for Norwegian homes. We have evolved as a team to deliver high-quality furniture at the right price. We value good design and this is reflected in our products and on our website.

We predominately work with our product development and design in Norway, but we also use global sub-suppliers in Europe and Asia.

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How did you get into this line of work?

For the industry itself, we had a wood processing factory which gradually grew into the furniture business, based on market requests. We progressed online with the help of our web designer who is the creative sort, with a broad range of skills, tools, and frameworks available.

In Norway, we call these people “Potatoes” because you can use them for anything!

 

Do you have a physical store as well as an online store? How do you market your product?

We do have a showroom close to the factory and also have partners or resellers who sell our products.

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Outside of the Møblene office

We mainly resell a few models via retail chains, but more and more is sold via the internet. We truly believe that we have to “go digital or die”

How do you market your product?

Our marketing is mostly done through digital mediums; ads, banners, and campaigns. We use social media like Facebook ads, Online Newspaper banners, digital ads sites and the odd furniture convention.

On the digital side, we use banners and graphics to catch the attention of sleepy customers. It is a fluid way of working; you have both the need and ability to adapt and work fast. When we do conventions and reach out to customers in the physical realm, we need artifacts. Here we have large posters and banner, we print out newsletters and product booklets. Just as with online advertising, it is always a challenge to stick out from the crowd.

Learning to adapt to new media and tools is both interesting and necessary.

If you could have ANYONE to come and work for you, who would it be and why?

We would love to have a world class furniture designer working with our Smart Furniture team. This is one for the future!

Do you have any advice for new store owners?

Start creating your ‘brand identity’ as soon as you can. Having a brand framework available will give you guidelines which you will need to keep your brand consistent. This will be the foundations for so much more, and it will reduce a lot of cognitive loads later on.

Also, take advantage of all the functionality in freewebstore, but do not underestimate the design you can add yourself!

Is there a specific reason you chose to use freewebstore as your eCommerce platform?

Freewebstore offers a soft start option and has a lot of functionality and designs that we find very useful.

FWS workflow template

The framework is very well balanced for both designers/coders and for those less savvy IT users. One of the main strengths of freewebstore is definitively how easy it is for anyone here at the office to add and edit products on the fly. With some decent coding skills, you can circumnavigate and complement the framework where needed. (freewebstore store builder)

Where you need help you simply ask, and will always get informative support, regarding code editing and any other questions. Seriously give your support staff a pat on the back, they are both friendly AND competent. (thank you very much!)

When we also have our payment gateway ready, the solution will be complete. Freewebstore is the way to go for us.

If you could choose one magic power, what would you go for?

Be able to read people’s mind! We always strive to understand our customers better! (Also, teleportation would be pretty cool).

And finally, tell us your best joke!

With our flip up Smart Furniture, dust is history in children’s room, so here it goes:

A little boy came downstairs crying late one night. “What’s wrong?” asked his mother. “Do people really come from dust, like they said in church?” he sobbed. “In a way they do,” said his mother. “And when they die so they turn back to dust?” “Yes, they do.” The little boy began to cry again. “Well, under my bed there’s someone either coming or going.”

Many thanks for your time guys!

If you would like to learn more about Møblene and check out their fantastically crafted furniture head over to their website: www.møblene.no

 

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Store of the Month: April 2017

11 Apr

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Our store of the month for April is the fantastic ‘Childrens Outdoor Toys‘. Andrew had a dream to become his own boss. He didn’t let poor health stop him from realizing his dream and, using skills and contacts built up over time, has built up a successful business.

1. Please tell us a bit about yourself, your business and where it all started

Well, I’m Andrew originally from Shropshire in England, now living with my partner Sarah on the Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire border with my 2 step son’s and our daughter who was 3 this week (the real cheeky monkey) and our little 11-month-old tea-cup chihuahua called Lucy.

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The real cheeky monkeys of the business!

I did spend 10 years in the army and after that, I worked in mental health. After 3 years I decided to be my own boss and started up a private medical company to cover children’s events and sporting events. Things went downhill with my health as I was treating a patient I could not get back up so I visited the doctors and was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and severe arthritis and back problems. I thought it time to give up but found doing nothing was too boring.

2. What made you get into this line of work?

With all the contacts I picked up over a few years I decided to sell sports equipment and children’s outdoor toys. We decided to go for active toys and sports to get children away from the T.V and Game Station and get out in the garden and be active!

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I have played lots of sports in my time so the choice selection had to be around something I knew a lot about to help in making sales. Also, I set up at home at first as I cannot get out much then we hired an office address.

I love selling active toys and sporting equipment knowing that I am helping another person’s life to be more active than my own right now.

3. Do you have a physical store as well as an online store? How do you market your product?

At the minute we have an online store with a facebook store along with a pop-up store that my partner sets up either at fun days or a home shopping party. We are in talks to set up a retail unit but looking for the right location to be able to set up a good showroom.
At the minute I am enjoying taking the phone calls and processing the orders at home (if my partner is not in the office). I do a lot of blogging and Facebooking along with Twitter, just to help boost the sales.

4. If you could have ANYONE to come and work for you, who would it be and why?

It would be Alan Carr! He is soooo amazing, funny and he would be the best of people to jump around on our trampolines or play table tennis!
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Alan Carr would be Andrew’s perfect employee!

5. Do you have any advice for new store owners?

Never give up (as you have read above with my health). Giving up does cross your mind many times if you want something in life just grab it and be determined. If you fail, try again and again. I did…..

6. Is there a specific reason you chose to use freewebstore as your eCommerce platform?

I did purchase from a supplier when I was selling on facebook and saw the platform they used, freewebstore. I looked into it but saw another platform I went with. It turned out not to be what we were looking for – 7th place on Google was NOT what we wanted. Now we’re with freewebstore and we are 3rd with our keyword children’s outdoor toys and we’re looking at increasing this.

7. If you could choose one magic power, what would you go for?

I would like to have the power of healing – so I can see my daughters first day at nursery.

8. And finally, tell us your best joke!

I have given up on telling jokes! My little girl always says I am cheating when I tell her jokes. Oh and I won £2k for my last joke, would you believe it? Not really, I’m only joking… 😉

 

You can visit Sarah and Andrew’s shop just in time for summer by clicking here.

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Store of the Month: March

16 Mar

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Our store of the month for March is the delightful bellesheartsncrafts. Maxine, after learning from her father, has turned her passion and hobby into her very own creative business! We caught up with Maxine for a chat…

1. Please tell us a bit about yourself, your business and where it all started

I’m originally from England and before I moved to the USA I lived in a small village in North Lincolnshire with my 3 older children, dogs, cats, goats and chickens.

I met my American hubby in quite a bizarre way – playing a game called ‘Clash of Clans’ on my mobile phone. We traveled back and forth for a while, decided to get married and I moved over to Pennsylvania to live 4 years ago!

I was an English Language and Literature teacher in England, specializing in students with social and emotional barriers to learning.  To make any kind of difference, I had to be creative with teaching and learning – an anything goes kind of approach – learning through art, through building, making, drawing, painting – anything that interested my students and helped them to learn.

After I had my little boy, who is now 3, I wanted to combine being a stay at home mum with something to stimulate my mind and soul – bellesheartsncrafts was born.

2. What made you get into this line of work?

My father was an amazing artist, carpenter and all round DIY man, I spent hours as a young girl learning skills from him.  I love working with wood; in fact, I was the first girl ever in the history of my high school to take wood work and metal work as subjects rather than the only girl option of Home Economics.

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I love working with my hands, with wood, painting, it soothes my soul; every single item I make at bellesheartsncrafts is made from my heart. I decided to have a ‘dabble’ with selling some things I had made – mainly photos transferred onto wood and wood burned Christmas ornaments, to begin with.  It soon evolved into wedding ring boxes, hand painted signs, ornaments, leather products to name but a few – all made by hand by me.  I just LOVE being able to make something special for someone to treasure;  to help people in times of grief with memorial ornaments; to capture precious moments and memories for people to hold on to;  knowing it was specially made just for them with my love poured into it.

3. Do you have a physical store as well as an online store? How do you market your product?

I currently don’t have a physical store, it’s something I’d like to do in a few years maybe, but I’m enjoying working at home at crazy hours to fit around spending time with my family.

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I’m just really starting out with looking at marketing; I have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, my shop, word of mouth at the moment and am really excited to be expanding into building my own website as an additional place to show and sell my products.

4. If you could have ANYONE to come and work for you, who would it be and why?

Oooooo – this is a tough one! It would have to be my daughter who is 15 at the moment and is still living in England, she loves making things with me and we work really well together; but then I’d need my oldest son too who’s about to finish his Graphic Design degree – he’d be a great help! and my middle son too who has a great eye with aesthetics…what a team!

5. Do you have any advice for new store owners?

Never, never, never give up – if it’s your dream and you love it – just keep on going; be determined,  open-minded, tolerant, accepting and willing to try and fail and try again.

6. Is there a specific reason you chose to use freewebstore as your eCommerce platform?

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Fantastic display on Maxine’s freewebstore homepage

Actually it was a place I follow on Instagram called Oakley Dokely – they’ve recently started a website with you and I thought I’d take a look – it looked great; easy to build, FAB customer support (and incredibly patient with me when I’ve asked a phenomenal amount of questions!) I can’t wait to get all my products listed, set up newsletters, blogs… – so exciting!

7. If you could choose one magic power, what would you go for?

Oh my! – Does being a unicorn, a faery or a dragon count as magic powers? If not, then I would choose the power of healing.

8. And finally, tell us your best joke!

According to my hubby,  I don’t have a ‘best’ joke – but one of my favorites (and I apologise in advance…)

Why was the sand wet?
Because the sea-weed…..

Store of the Month: February

20 Feb

Our store of the month for February is fantastically elegant Pearls with Hanna!  We managed to grab a few words with Paul, the store owner about his and wife Hanna’s pearl business!

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1. Please tell us a bit about yourself your business and where it all started

We are Hanna and Paul. We’re both 31 and have three children aged 13, 9, and 3.  The idea of Pearls with Hanna was born in the spring of 2016 when Hanna found a live feed of a lady in America selling similar items in the same format. She got chatting with various people about how they went about starting up their businesses and it looked to be a non-starter as everyone doing it was in America and their suppliers either didn’t cover the UK or had an 8 week lead time.

Not one to be deterred Hanna continued to scour the internet for quality suppliers and eventually stumbled across a lady called Liz from Northern Ireland, who had established suppliers in Japan and China and had the vision to become a UK wholesaler for sterling silver jewellery and saltwater Akoya oysters, soon after her company Les Bel Amour Global was born.
Naturally, we jumped on the bandwagon, pushed in our investment and used our already established network marketing to launch in October 2016. Pearls with Hanna was born!

2. The pearl craze seems to have taken off in recent months, can you tell us a bit more about this? How did you get into this?

The pearl craze has been somewhat of a global phenomenon! It has taken off like a rocket in the online marketplace with many distributors, using different suppliers on multiple continents. It’s a thoroughly addictive watch on the live feeds, the anticipation of the next colour pearl and if there will be twins or even triplets!

3. What kind of marketing do you to attract visitors to your store?

Our marketing is primarily Facebook. We add our videos into selling sites and encourage people to like and share the page and the feeds.
Word of mouth from our customers to their friends and families plays a large part to.

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-11-40-184. Do you have a physical store or do you operate solely online?

We are solely online at this pint in time but it is our overall aim to have our own shop!

 

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Pearls with Hanna – range of products

5. Do you have any advice for new store owners?

Try to make your store as user-friendly, informative, and as eye-catching as possible! Don’t be afraid to try something new or change something to a different style – you can always put it back afterward!

6. Is there a specific reason you chose to use freewebstore as your eCommerce platform

We use Freewebstore as it is the preferred site of the lovely lady who set up our store for us to begin with.

7. Please, sum up your freewebstore experience

So easy to use and maintain, fast response to tickets and really helpful staff. Everything is there for you, so logically placed and easy to fiddle about with to get it how you want it!

8. And finally, tell us your best joke!

I dreamt of a beautiful walk on a sandy beach last night. I guess that explains the footprints in the cat litter this morning.

Take a look at the fantastic range of products at pearlswithhanna.co.uk