In our second interview with growing and successful Shopify store owners, Melanie Vandersluis from Montreal shares her experience, failures and inspiration in establishing Melanieaudrey.com, creative bracelets that make a difference.
1. Describe what Melanie Audrey sells in one sentence
Melanie Audrey sells handmade semi precious stone bracelets each one inspired by a real individual.
2. How did your business get started? Give us a rundown of the history/lore.
Two years ago I was working at a job that I loved, most days. On those off days I often felt just very unhappy and I didn’t have an answer as to why. In the summer of 2013 I had an opportunity to travel so I took it and resigned from that job. While traveling I felt like the happiest person in the world and I knew deep down that I could never go back to the way things were. I needed a new adventure so I decided that I was going to become my own boss.
While traveling you’ll often find travellers collecting keepsakes along the way, these are often in the form of a bracelet. I came home with an armful! When I came back to Montreal I tried creating a semi precious stone bracelet that was on an elastic cord, easy to put on and easy to take off. One of the problems I encountered with some of the jewelry I collected was it was too hard to put on so I just stopped wearing it.
There was still one missing element. I wanted these bracelets to be meaningful and make a difference.
One night my father told me a story about these pet rocks. You could get them at the corner store and they would all come with a name and story. A lightbulb went off and I started naming these bracelets after people who inspired me. I gave them each a story about a real person so people could connect with their bracelet. I sent the first one to the person who inspired it as a “thank you for being you” gift.
Once the concept was final the rest is history! I opened an online store with Shopify and got started with less than $250. I started small and grew slowly. Using an online platform like Shopify makes this possible!
3. Tell us about one recent major success and one recent epic failure.
As of a few days ago we are working with our first stockist! Melanie Audrey bracelets will officially be sold in a physical space! Very exciting!
In my mind I look at epic failures as epic learnings. There are plenty of learnings when you start your first business. An epic learning I had recently was biting off more then I could chew. Saying I could have something done by a certain date and killing myself to make it happen. I’ve learnt to set realistic by-when’s for projects and to always be honest about it with customers. Customers like transparency.
4. What has been the most successful sales or marketing campaign you’ve personally executed?
In terms of marketing we have loved working with Facebook ads. We focus on website clicks because we want customers to head to our website so they can learn about our story. FB ads are easy to use, effective (with great photography and captions) and works with any budget.
Social media is a beautiful thing! It’s not just about trying to sell your product it’s about creating a family and community all over the world where people can share how they feel about your product. It’s the most incredible feeling when a customer that is half way around the world posts a picture with our bracelets.
5. What is one piece of advice you would give to yourself if you could have a conversation with your previous self (pre-store owner)?
If you have never run a business before you will realize that there is so much you don’t know. If you give yourself too much time to think about something you may never do it. Just start. Don’t stop. Take one thing at a time and don’t get discouraged. When you’re in a rut just keep making moves, keep working and you’ll get out of it.
If you know an entrepreneur that has run a business before take them out for lunch and talk to them about their learnings and experiences. Having a mentor of sorts can really be handy. And the most important thing is that you love it! If you love what you do then it makes everything else worth it.
6. What is your biggest goal for 2015 and are you on track to reach it?
One of our goals for 2015 is to have at least 5 stockists and it looks like we’re on track to get there!