Our founder, Brian Johnson, started theUncommonGreen in 2009 to make everyday products that meld artistry with functionality, practicality with wit, and style with sustainability.
Drawing inspiration from his background in mechanical engineering and industrial product development, Brian started looking for ways to incorporate high-performance industrial materials into designs for the home. Among his earliest creations was an end table made with "flotsam", a composite used on the decks of U.S. Navy Destroyers and deep sea applications for buoyancy control.
Another was the Pi Bottle Opener, a piece of pure steel that relentlessly cracks open beers while paying homage to our favorite irrational constant. As new designs piled up in his apartment, it became clear that they were ready to be shared, and thus the UCG was born.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Our first store was on Etsy and really showcased a few hand-made items that were in the prototype phase and shipped directly from us.
As we grew and added consistent packaging and larger numbers of products we needed started using Shopify. This helped us have a great experience for us and our customers and allowed us to integrate with help on the fulfillment side of things which really helped us grow.
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?
As we grew our first addition was a fulfillment company to help us manage inventory and shipping logistics. This was very important to us so we could focus on creating new products and interactions with our customers and make sure we had a streamlined process to have consistent on-time delivery of orders. With this established we have added numerous apps and custom coding to provide small tweaks to our site. These were all intended to improve the experience on our website and show off our products in a simple clean manner.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
Here are a few of our top recommendations:
1. Design your store with your customer in mind, never forget customer service!
2. Really get to know the ins and outs of how the Shopify platform works. It takes a bit of time and you may not be the one making changes, but when others are helping you out it's useful to be able to understand why they are making changes to the .liquid page template to handle those custom assets.
3. Automate, automate, automate. The more you can do this the more time you have to spend on other things!
4. Don't be afraid to reach out to others doing similar things to ask for help. There are so many others out there and some of the connections you can make just in helping each other can be invaluable to the growth of your business.