One time we had a customer ask what the price would be for a single sock
The idea was to create a company where I could take my dog with me even in situations where it could be seen as inappropriate (e.g. work, planes and trains!). I missed not being able to take my dog, Rocky everywhere with me. Nowadays I bring him with me wherever I go.
We make personalized items for pet lovers. A customer chooses a product, uploads a photo, our artists create an image and we send the customer their personalized product!
We got our first three customers through friends and family. I had our artists draw some of my relatives' pets and when they received their images they were keen to place an order! This allowed me to validate the idea as well - seeing my family love the product proved that perhaps there was something here! Nowadays about 60% of our customers are US based, 15% are in Canada, 15% Australia and the UK and 10% over the rest of the world.
Prior to We Furry I worked in advertising so understood a little about ads, and had seen a lot of campaigns that did well and some that didn’t! When you start advertising on facebook and instagram there is an expensive learning curve that you go through. My experience in the industry did help, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t painful!
I started in a similar way to how a lot of people start businesses, with $500 and a lot of hope. I looked at a lot of pet related websites and noted down what I liked. This helped build a picture of how I wanted my own site to look and feel. I wanted to convey to customers that we were using great quality materials and be honest about shipping. We are a custom product so it takes a day or two extra to arrive because we have to have designers create artwork for every piece we ship.
One of my most difficult challenges is the mental one to keep going. I was advised by a lot of family members and friends to find a co-founder for the business but at the time I didn’t know anyone who could help. It has been hard at times not having someone going through the same experiences as me to share problems with. But the hardest times are always outweighed by the good and seeing customers send in photos after being delighted with their products always cheers me up!
One time we had a customer ask what the price would be for a single sock would be. He wanted to see if we would halve the price if we only sent one. I asked our team of artists if we should do it and it made everyone laugh. He asked in such a genuine way that we decided to send not just one sock, but two! I followed up with the customer to see if they were happy with the order but didn’t hear back. Perhaps he was offended that we didn’t send him half a pair of socks.
The majority of our sales come from Google ads, we test a lot of different angles to convey what we do to a customer. Explaining the journey in an image is more difficult than you think, we need to show that we customise different clothing and accessories with pets and that we also draw every pet. Trying to show that we draw each pet is the most difficult part to get across. We also use Instagram and Facebook which perform well for us too. Our best sellers at the moment are the custom blankets and Magic mugs.
We use Shopify to handle the transactions side of business and we are heavy users of Google Sheets. Every order is automatically pushed from Shopify to Google Sheets using Zapier so our artists can begin work. We also use Hootsuite to handle our social media.
I listen to How I Built This by Guy Raz whenever I need motivation. My favorite episode is the Patagonia interview with Yvon Chouinard. They have an epic founding story (but i won't spoil it!). Each episode is generally less than an hour long so it’s perfect to listen to while on a run. His interview style gets in the mindset and perspective of someone building a company in an inspiring way.
My go-to business book is Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh - founder of Zappos. He describes that whatever our intermediate goals in life may be (buying a house, finding a partner) that our ultimate goal is to be happy. Zappos became renowned for having the best customer service in the industry and he goes into detail explaining how they achieved it and maintained strong core values whilst scaling to a $1 billion dollar Amazon acquisition.
Our current revenue is around $8,000 per month. At the moment we are working on expanding our range of products and building a community of pet lovers. We have lots of ideas in the pipeline including personalised table cloths, armchairs and scarfs - so watch this space.
I cannot imagine ever selling my baby, so no!
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