Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
Initially I worked as an artist and illustrator for band merchandise including album art, t-shirts and posters. I began my company when I was 16 but solely offered art services for a long time. I have worked with bands such as Lamb Of God, Whitechapel and Meytal Cohen. I enjoyed working as an artist for these bands but also did so many more creative things aside from just art, I made jewelry, sewed and designed clothing, and of course created personal art.
It came very naturally with being a merchandise designer to start designing my own products, and eventually begin selling them as a side job when I was 18. I was in school as well so I didn't have a lot of time to focus fully on my company until I was about 20. When I turned 20 I was forced to do a medical withdrawal from college because of a neurological disorder I developed. Although, I was on bed rest and stuck at home I was able to really put my effort into growing my company (because there wasn't much else for me to do). I never went back to college, and am dealing with my illness, but having my company really helped me through it.
I now sell my own artwork and prints along with apparel designs featuring my artwork, custom handmade jewelry and a few other innovative products as my full time career. Two of these innovations are my PATENTED Plug Earring Converters (US9003830 B2) and Original Waist Capes. With my Plug Earring Converters girls with stretched ear lobes (a form of body modification) are now able to wear earrings with in their plugs. With this product girls are now able to design their own plugs, disguise their plugs, and easily change up their plugs simply by inserting any conventional earring into the face of the plug. My product Waist Cape Belts are an adorable waist belt like accessory that are extremely versatile. The high to low dress meets belt feature of these pieces instantly change up any pair of leggings, dresses or swimwear with a simple belt click. Jamie Koala Art & Design has been a creative outlet for me from the beginning, and now it allows me to share my creations with everyone around the world :)! All products are made in the USA in Los Angeles, in house in Carol Stream, IL and by me, Jamie Koala.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
When I first started my company I used to sell my custom-made apparel and accessories at rock concerts! Since I was always working within the rock and metal music community, I met a lot of venue owners and promoters who let me set up booths at their concerts. Facebook and Instagram are generating the most traffic for me now.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
Stamps.com has made shipping insanely easy. I used to sit at the post office for 40 minutes every week shipping international orders (USPS workers have to manually type in every address). As much as I love the girls working behind those desks, it was just horrible holding up lines and I know they dreaded doing it too! Now with stamps.com I just fill the addresses in, stamp.com prints the labels right at home on my printer, and I drop them off with no hassle! And no glaring looks from people behind me in line. Haha! Everything is shipped through me personally.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
I think the most important factor is to secure your business name on all social media platforms. I also think product photography and branding is a huge deal. Nice photos can sell almost anything and good branding can also sell almost anything.