FlockStocks: Wait Till You See How She Built A Business Selling Feathers. (Yeah, Feathers) – with Sophie Kovic

Posted on Jul 16, 2012 - 9:00 AM PST

Want to learn how to get Google to tell you which product to launch?

Today’s guest says Google helped her. We’ll find out how it can help you too. Also, do you know the dangerous part of running a trend-based business? You probably do, but wait until you hear today’s guest and how it changed her and her business.

Here with us is Sophie Kovic, the founder of FlockStocks, a company that sells feather hair extensions. Finally, why am I so stubbly? All that and so much more coming up in this interview.

Watch the FULL program


 

About Sophie Kovic


Sophie Kovic is the founder of FlockStocks, a company that sells feather hair extensions.

Raw transcript


Mixergy’s audio transcription is done by Speechpad

Andrew: Coming up, want to learn how to get Google to tell you which
product to launch? Today’s guest says Google helped her. We’ll find out how
it can help you too. Also, do you know the dangerous part of running a
trend-based business? You probably do, but wait until you hear today’s
guest and how it changed her and her business. Finally, why am I so
stubbly? All that and so much more coming up in this interview.

First, three messages. Who is the lawyer that founders in the Mixergy
audience trust? Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law. Have you seen
what Chris Pritchard posted on my Facebook page? His new company’s
incorporation pages that Scott Edward Walker helped him get. Scott Edward
Walker is the lawyer that publications like Forbes trust. Go to
WalkerCorporateLaw.com.

Next, when my friend had to close her company’s office but still wanted to
give callers the impression that all her employees work well under one roof
together, what service did she use? Grasshopper. With Grasshopper, everyone
who works for you could have an extension. They can pick up calls on their
extensions no matter where they are or what phones they use. They can
transfer calls to each other back and forth with ease. Get those features
and tons more at Grasshopper.com.

Finally, when Dave Jackson and Dave Petrillo invented a product that keeps
coffee at a perfect temperature, what platform did they use to create their
online store? Shopify.com. Look at how beautiful their store looks. It’s
because it’s built on Shopify. They did hundreds of thousands of dollars in
sales. Shopify stores are designed to help you sell. Patrick Buckley
invented an iPad case and used Shopify as his online store. Within months,
he sold over $1 million in cases. Get your beautiful online store at
Shopify.com.

Here is the program. Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner.
I’m the founder of Mixergy.com, Home of the Ambitious Upstart. In this
interview, I want to find out how a projectionist at a local movie theater
goes on to build a business that generated over $100,000 one month. Sophie
Kovic is the founder of FlockStocks, a company that sells feather hair
extensions. Sophie, welcome.

Sophie: Hi.

Andrew: What was your biggest revenue day?

Sophie: A day.

Andrew: Single day.

Sophie: I think it was $8,000, $8,000 one day.

Andrew: $8,000 coming in one day?

Sophie: Yes. I think that was my biggest.

Andrew: What exactly are you selling? What is a feather hair extension?

Sophie: A feather hair extension is a natural feather that is a rooster
saddle feather. I can show you, if you’d like.

Andrew: Yes. Do you have one handy?

Sophie: Yes, I do. This is a bunch of them. That’s a few of the dyed ones,
but I’ve got one in my hair as well. I don’t know if you can see. It’s in
there somewhere.

Andrew: It’s not coming in very clearly here because of the kind of
connection that we have, but yes, there, I see it.

Sophie: Yes. They’re just basically …

Andrew: There it is.

Sophie: … long and thin and just fit in with your hair so it just adds a
splash of color.

Andrew: I see. It looks basically like your hair with color and it’s
braided and you add it to your hair.

Sophie: Yes. It’s just the feather singly, and because feathers are so
similar to the structure of human hair, once you put it in, you can clamp
it in permanently and then you can style it with heat. So you could curl
it. You could wash it. You could go swimming with it. It lasts for months.
I’ve had these ones in for about three months. They are just really party
products for your hair.

Andrew: Unreal that you could do $100,000 in a month, that $8,000 could
come in in revenue in a day from selling that. What does one of those look
like? What does it sell for, what you just showed me?

Sophie: I would sell a bunch like these for about $30. So, one single
feather can cost between $3 and $5.

Andrew: OK. If I wanted to buy it, between $3 and $5 for one of them and
that bunch there costs about 30 bucks. Anyone who is reading the transcript
to this, I know that most people like to read the transcripts of the
interviews, or if you’re just listening to mp3, that’s the way I prefer
to listen to programs like this, you can just go over to FlockStocks.com to
have a look at it for yourself and see what we’re talking about here.

Do you remember the day when you knew this was big? Do you remember what
that day felt like, what it looked like? We’re going to go back in time and
see how you came up with this idea, how it developed, but I know that
there’s a moment in time when you know that things just work.

Sophie: Yeah. There were a couple of moments like that for me. The first
moment when I was really excited and knew it was going to work was when I
set up my testing web site. I made a little testing web site with Wade
Blake and put the product up. Basically, if someone tried to order one it
would give them an “out of stock” message, I would collect the data, so I
knew how many styles I would be making if I did get the stock in. I linked
that to my AdWords account, and within four hours I had 15 sales.

Andrew: 15 sales on a test site.

Sophie: Yeah.

Andrew: OK.

Sophie: It was a bodgie [SP] one page test site. It was just a couple of
stock photos chucked up there, nothing really out of the ordinary, and the
sales were just rolling in. Then I turned the AdWords off and tried to get
some stock.

Andrew: All right. We’ve got to go back in time and find out how you did
it. I think this gives us a good understanding of the kind of thought
process that went into this business and the way you think about business,
which is different than what you’re taught. You and I talked before this
interview started about how you didn’t go to business school. Frankly, if
you’d gone to business school they wouldn’t teach you that stuff. Here’s
where you learn to do that stuff. I want to hear from you how you did it.

By the way, one of the reasons I’m eager to do this, my friend Harley from
Shopify and I have been talking about how consumer based software companies
are all the rage. Everyone talks about how much Instagram sold for,
everyone talks about the latest iPhone app, what we don’t talk about are
businesses like yours. Many of us in the audience and me too are shocked
that you could sell these hair extensions and build such an impressive
business off of it because no one’s talking about it. My goal here is to
talk about it and see how you did it.

All right. Let’s go back in time and see the idea that didn’t work so that
we can understand what doesn’t work in business and then go onto how you
discovered this idea and why it did work. You told me before the interview
started about this business you launched called PinUp. What was PinUp?

Sophie: PinUp was a 1950′s inspired clothing label, so I made some gorgeous
dress designs, sent them off to be made in bulk, and then tried to sell
them on my site and through eBay. I wouldn’t wish that style of business on
anyone. I would never again start another business that required different
sizing and different colors, and I would certainly never sell anything
again that had to be something that would suit somebody’s body.

Returns, so time consuming, the profit margin was pretty slim, and it was
just way too much hassle for what it was worth. I never tested the idea in
any way. I just thought, “I really like this stuff. I can see a sites in
the States that’s doing it. I would love to be like them.” I never thought
how I was actually going to sell them and what my life style would be like
if I did do it.

Andrew: I see. So, you saw something that looked great, a site and business
that you wanted to be in, and you launched it. How long did it take you to
launch? How much money did you invest in the business?

Sophie: I didn’t invest much. When I first started out I probably spent
$6,000 on my first log of dresses, and that was made up of about five
styles in a few different fabrics, so it really wasn’t a big outlay or
anything like that. The main outlay was my time, how much time I had to put
into it.

Andrew: You said you didn’t do any research to see if anyone would buy it,
but it seems like people did buy it from you. How did you get customers at
all for PinUp?

Sophie: eBay.

Andrew: It was just putting it up on eBay.

Sophie: Yeah. I created a site. I thought that would be where the sales are
at, but I never thought about how I was going to get customers to my site.
I tried. I did small promotional things like that. I tried to spread the
word through friends and family, but it was just too difficult. eBay was
kind of the only place where there was already people searching, and they
would find my stuff and like it, but it was always a bit too much. It was
more than they wanted to pay, and there were plenty of cheap competitors
out there that were doing similar things, so in the end it just drove my
prices down and I just couldn’t really compete.

Andrew: How did you know that people thought that it was too expensive? Did
they email you and try to negotiate down?

Sophie: No, or sometimes, because I put a best offer thing on my eBay, and
people would often offer really low amounts. Whenever I did a sale, I would
sell a lot, so if I did, say, like a 30% off sale for a few weeks, then I
would shift a lot more, but that didn’t have the right margin in it for me.

Yeah. It was just a lot of hard work, and people are so particular about
things that they put on their body, as well. It’s got to fit them
perfectly, they’ve got to love the fabric, it’s just so difficult to deal
with clothing.

Andrew: All right. At what point did you know that this was just not going
to work out? We entrepreneurs are pretty stubborn. We want to find a way…

Sophie: Yeah.

Andrew: …to make things work even when it clearly isn’t going to.

Sophie: Yeah. You know what? I didn’t really want to give up on it, but
then my son Archie came along. I read “The 4-Hour Workweek” when he was
about six months old. I was still doing Pinup in my spare time, but really
none of my energy was going towards it anymore. I had lost my enthusiasm
for it, and then as I was reading through “The 4-Hour Workweek”, it was
just cementing it for me, no, this isn’t the lifestyle I want.

Yes, it can be easier. You can make more money. Yeah. It just solidified it
for me in my mind, once I read the book, that it wasn’t the type of
business that I wanted to run.

Andrew: Tim Ferriss’ book? That’s what made you say, hey, there’s a whole
other life for me?

Sophie: Yeah. Yeah. Definitely “The 4-Hour Workweek” was what changed it
all for me.

Andrew: OK. So, it helped you see what you didn’t want to do. What did you
pick up from it that made you realize what you did want to do?

Sophie: I think his whole idea of freeing time up to do the things that you
want to do really spoke to me.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Sophie: The money does come into it. I want to have nice things, and I
don’t want to have to worry about paying the mortgage and my grocery bills,
but more than that, I want to live my life to do the things that excite me.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Sophie: So, once I did start FlockStocks and I set it up from that point of
view that I want to live this free life and do the things that I enjoy. I
had that in mind right from the start, so I set FlockStocks up so that
someone else could run it. It was automated. I didn’t really have much part
in that once it was set up.

My partner and our son and I took off and went to Thailand for three and a
half months, and the business just went along running itself. We’ve just
been doing the things that we want to do since then basically. It was just
a whole game-changer for me.

Andrew: Wow.

Sophie: I had always thought in my mind that I wanted to work smarter and
not harder, but then it was “The 4-Hour Workweek” that actually gave me the
tools to do that. To learn about follow-through and to just go, well, if
you want to get somewhere, you’re going to have to do something to get you
there.

If you just consistently do those steps everyday, you do your three
important things before 11, then you’re going to end up somewhere. Free
your time up to do the things that you actually enjoy doing.

Andrew: All right. I’ve got a note down here to come back and ask you about
three important things to do before 11, but let’s go back to the way you
came up with the idea for this business. I understand how you tested the
idea for feather hair extensions, but where did you even get the idea that
this was a potential business worth experimenting with? What ideas were you
considering?

Sophie: I was searching in areas of knowledge that I already had. So, some
things that I was looking into were cinema projection parts, hair
extensions…

Andrew: I see. Because you were working at a cinema as a projectionist, you
said, hey, maybe there are some parts that I could sell online.

Sophie: Yep.

Andrew: OK. Where else did you come up with ideas?

Sophie: Because I was already interested in the whole vintage style
clothing, there were nylon stockings that people don’t really sell very
often, but there’s quite a, I think you call it a niche market in the
States…

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Sophie: …that we’d call it a niche market. Is that right? A niche, niche,
niche?

Andrew: Yeah. We call it niche; I guess you say niche market. It’s the same
thing.

Sophie: Niche, yeah.

Andrew: We go both ways here.

Sophie: Yeah. So, quite a niche market for nylon stockings, so I looked
into that. There were a few ideas there but nothing that really made sense
like the feather hair extensions. I was searching in Google AdWords, key
words that I had an idea about, and because we have a human hair extension
brand, Flock Stocks, I was typing in “human hair extensions” and anything
to do with that area of knowledge. The word “feather” kept popping up in
relation to human hair extensions. I was thinking, “Why would those words
be related? I don’t understand.” I’d never heard of feather hair extensions
before.

The trend had not even really started yet. It was just a little seed of an
idea that was beginning to be popular, so I looked into it and figured out
what hair extensions were, what the feathers were made of, and I started
looking at it closely. I found that there were over 30,000 global monthly
searches and, basically, zero sellers offering the product. So, I thought,
“All right. This seems like this could be a go.” Once I did set up my
testing web site with my Google AdWords, and I was using those key words,
feather hair extensions, to get the traffic there, I was really the only
seller there.

Andrew: Let’s pause this story for a moment, if you don’t mind, Sophie. I
want to ask a background question. FlockStocks you mentioned was a company
that you started that sells hair extensions. How big did it get? How did
you end up selling hair extensions?

Sophie: FlockStocks has been running a couple of years now. We are just in
the process of rebranding it at the moment. It’s a small business; it
doesn’t generate a lot of revenue, but it does generate steady revenue.

Andrew: You launched it after PinUp but before you launched FlockStocks.

Sophie: Yeah. During PinUp.

Andrew: Where did that idea come from?

Sophie: My partner, Tim, basically takes care of FlockStocks, and I’m
FlockStocks. I used to work for a beauty products store, and one of their
products were hair extensions, so I saw that there was a big demand for
that in Australia. There was a fair amount of competition for it, but, as I
saw it, nobody was really doing it properly. There were a lot of cheap
Chinese sellers in the market. I thought, “I think we can have a go at this
one.” Tim takes care of that one. That’s kind of his business and revenue.
I was taking care of PinUp and FlockStocks.

Andrew: What did you learn from you experience at PinUp that made
FlockStocks more successful? It looks like you did it differently but not
quite as differently and thought out as FlockStocks, but still clear
progress. What did you learn that helped you make that progress?

Sophie: I learned to delegate. I learned to trust other people. I learned
to add sauce, and I used to use the fulfillment center. That was a big
turning point for us.

Andrew: What did you learn about how to get customers? You were struggling
with PinUp and ended up having to go to eBay where people are pains in the
butt it sounds like. How did you get customers to FlockStocks?

Sophie: Through eBay as well. We do sell through our website more
successfully than we did with PinUp, but eBay, even though they can demand
the world because of the feedback system, which is basically a blackmail
system, and they can get anything they want out of you…

Andrew: Or else they give you a negative feedback which hurts you. Yeah. I
see.

Sophie: Then if you get bad feedback you get sent to Siberia so nobody will
see your listing for a whole month, so it’s very difficult to trade there
unless you’re spot on with everything.

Andrew: So, you still stuck with that marketplace, but you said, “You know
what? We’re not going to sell anything where we’ll need different sizes or
else we’re going to end up forever going back and forth with sizes.” You
said, “I’m not going to take the inventory in my home and have to fulfill
it,” which is what you did with Pin Up. “I’m going to use an outsourcing
company. I’m going to use a fulfillment center that’s going to send out my
product for me.” I get that. Tell me about how you found an outsourcing
company or a fulfillment center that would take care of the orders for you?

Sophie: We had a friend who used fulfillment centers. He just said, “You’re
crazy if you don’t get onto this.” I knew from reading The 4-Hour Work Week
as well that that was something I really wanted to do. We just looked
around. We don’t really have that much choice here in Australia. I’m sure
in the States you have so much choice, but here there’s only really a few
proper fulfillment centers. They still don’t quite offer the range of
services that we’d like, but they’re pretty good. They’re pretty big, and
they’re pretty fast. We would like a bit more choice here, but they’re
pretty good.

Andrew: I see. So “The 4-Hour Workweek” made you aware of this or made you
accept that this is a real way to run your business. You learned to
delegate. You said Tim runs the business. How did you structure your new
company so that you could delegate it to Tim?

Sophie: With LockStocks, that’s kind of his business. We both work on it
and we both share our ideas and things, but he basically structured that
one. He read “The 4-Hour Workweek” as well, so we’re both on the same page
with that sort of stuff. We have the ideas of what we want to do. We talk
it over, but at the end of the day LockStocks is his decision.

Andrew: How did that happen that he ended up with LockStocks?

Sophie: Well, he was a cafe owner and it was really, really tough work. He
put in a lot of hours and then the GFC hit. It really took a big hit to his
business. He wanted to have other options. We had Archie coming along, and
we knew we both wanted to spend more time at home. So he decided to have a
go at hair extensions.

Andrew: So basically, this was him taking on the idea. It wasn’t that you
brought the idea to him. You were just exchanging ideas together, and this
was something that he wanted to pursue. I see. You said the GFC hit. What
is that?

Sophie: The Global Financial Crisis. We live in a coastal resort town here
in New South Wales called Byron Bay. It’s a tourist town, basically. So
when the tourists don’t come, the cafes don’t have as much business. It
just became a lot of hard work for Tim and a lot of hours. It just wasn’t
going that well. He knew that if he wanted to spend more time with Archie,
there’d have to be another alternative. So, we started FlockStocks.

Andrew: Tim Ferriss must be loving you guys. You are really the embodiment
of all of his ideas. Anyone who says that “The 4-Hour Work Week” is just a
crock has got to, at least, listen to you. And I know that there are tons
of other people like you who’ve benefited from the book.

Sophie: Yeah, I’m a [?] advocate.

Andrew: I bet you are. So, I see how you tested the idea for feather
extensions. Did you test any other ideas and see that they bombed?

Sophie: Yes, I’ve tested generators.

Andrew: Like power generators?

Sophie: Yeah, power generators.

Andrew: I guess as long as you don’t have to fulfill it, as long as you can
get a fulfillment center to ship it out, it doesn’t matter what you’re
selling. Now you’re just in the business of basically selling ideas even
though you have merchandise.

Sophie: Yeah, that’s right.

Andrew: So how did that fair?

Sophie: Not well. I “sold” maybe one generator and spent probably a couple
of hundred on Google AdWords. There’s too much competition in the cliques
so it just didn’t work out.

Andrew: And you said “sold”. When you said it you put air quotes up. I’m
guessing you didn’t really sell it. You basically said “out of stock”
because you were still in your experimental phase. Anything else that you
tested?

Sophie: A rat. I tested glass bongs.

Andrew: Glass bongs. OK.

Sophie: Yeah. And I tested the stockings. The nylon stockings. I know I’ve
made some other testing web sites, but I can’t remember right now.

Andrew: OK.

Sophie: They were the main ones that I tested.

Andrew: Why do you think the bongs didn’t do well?

Sophie: My heart wasn’t it. No, that’s not it. I think there was too much
competition for the clicks.

Andrew: All right. And so, you put this page up. You know that people are
willing to buy because they are clicking on this site that they’ve never
heard of before, but they just landed on because of a Google search and
they’re going to buy. Can you tell me a little bit about what causes that
level of desperation, or let’s call it eagerness, where a customer comes to
you a total stranger and says, ‘I’m going to trust you with this product,’
and buys it. Or wants to buy it.

Sophie: Yeah. So, maybe that was a factor with the generators as well. That
they weren’t that desperate that they would get a generator so they would
trust me with their purchase. But, with the feathers, there was such a
level of desperation to get this product, quickly, because it was such a
hot trend, that it did not matter who I was or what my store looked like.
Even though, it looked rather nice. There were plenty of stores that
eventuated that just looked absolutely terrible. And I know they were
making sales. At that point, there was just such a demand for the product
and any seller that was visible there, on Google, was out of stock. Being
the only one in stock, at that time, just meant everything.

Andrew: I see. And the level of desperation came from women who are saying,
‘This thing is hot. I want to wear this. I want to have this look and I
can’t find it anywhere locally. And I don’t want to wait until someone that
I trust, who I know, who I’ve bought from for years has it, because by the
time my local store has it, this thing isn’t going to be so interesting.’
You put it up and you catch that fire.

Sophie: Yeah.

Andrew: I see.

Sophie: Exactly.

Andrew: Alright. Can you describe what that first webpage looked like? And
the reason I’m asking is, a lot of us would be too embarrassed to put up a
webpage that quickly and to put up one that doesn’t actually have a fully
working sales process. I want to hear your experience so maybe you can keep
us from being scared to launch something quickly.

Sophie: Basically, I used Weebly, which is a really simple drag and drop-
style web site template. You can choose your own layout. I basically just
had on image of somebody with feather hair extensions and then on the other
side of the page, I just had two products. One was the grizzly-style, which
are these strappy ones. And the other one was just a more natural-toned
kind of one. And that was it. Just one product, $50. Other product, $50.
Buy now, buy now. And a, maybe, one paragraph description. That was really
it. That was all.

Andrew: What were you counting to see, or what were you measuring, I should
say, to see if people actually wanted to buy this?

Sophie: The sales, really.

Andrew: You weren’t actually getting sales, because there was no shopping
cart in the process, right? So were you just seeing how many people are
going to click the buy button, versus seeing the page?

Sophie: Yeah.

Andrew: That’s it. And enough people clicked. Got it.

Sophie: Yeah, exactly. I thought in my mind, if I can sell, say a couple of
these a day using Google AdWords, I’ll give it a go. And it was 15 in 4
hours.

Andrew: Oh wow.

Sophie: So I just went, “For sure. For sure, I’m doing it.”

Andrew: That must have been an exciting time. All right, so now it’s
actually time for you to launch a business. What do you have to pull
together to launch a business?

Sophie: An online business? Not really that much, in my experience. If it’s
a product that already has a strong demand and you know how to get
customers to your web site, which in my case was Google AdWords. With the
[??] platforms that are available these days, like Shopify, which is what I
use for my store, it’s just so simple.

Andrew: You just went to Shopify and you built your store on there. It
doesn’t take any programming. You get a nice design. Do you use the themes
that were already built in there?

Sophie: I used the themes already in there. I actually used a free theme
for FlockStocks. Lockstocks was on a paid theme, because it’s a little bit
more complex, but FlockStocks was on a free theme and I had no experience
using that software before. It was just incredible what I got in one day’s
time. I stumbled upon Shopify because Tim Ferriss outlined it in the book
and suggested it and I just had to click around. The templates are
fantastic. I set one up with no previous knowledge. I can’t code or
anything like that, so it was just perfect for me. Up and running within
four hours.

Andrew: I’ve got a follow up question, but first let me just say this to
the audience. Shopify is a sponsor of mine, but the interview isn’t done
for them, but what I did do was I said, one of the things I learned about
in my past interviews is the power of partnerships and I said, “We’re
having a hard time finding enough guests to keep doing intense interviews
with successful entrepreneurs and finding entrepreneurs that the rest of us
haven’t heard about over and over again.” I said, “Who’s going to know
where these entrepreneurs are?” I said, “Shopify, they’re running a bunch
of stores. Maybe Harley over at Shopify will introduce me,” and he was good
enough to introduce me to several entrepreneurs who are built on the
platform.

I also did the same thing with TechStars because they’re investing so
heavily in entrepreneurs and startups, I figured they would know which ones
are doing well and David Cohen there helped me out. Founder Institute, a
program that helps entrepreneurs connect with mentors and also helps them
launch their businesses, I partnered with them, and I asked them also to
help me find entrepreneurs who are successful to interview. If anyone in
the audience has a similar relationship with that many successful
entrepreneurs, reach out to me. I’d love to interview the people in your
world. I wanted people to know that this wasn’t Shopify paying me to put
words in your mouth, or put words into these interviews. It just happened
that they have a lot of contacts with successful entrepreneurs and I need a
lot of successful entrepreneurs to keep the site going. Shopify helped you
create the store. What about accepting credit cards and what about finding
merchandise?

Sophie: I just used the PayPal payment gateway, so a buyer can enter in
their credit card data if they want through that gateway, but most people
just choose to use PayPal these days, on my site anyway, I find.

Andrew: I did that at first for Mixergy and I came across, first of all, it
was great for launching quickly. I didn’t have to get any permission. I
basically just hit a button and I was good to go with PayPal and it worked
for a long time and then I started to hear from people who wanted to not
use PayPal because they hated PayPal, or because they wanted to use a
credit card in a certain way, or because there were parts of the world
where they couldn’t use PayPal. Did you have any of those issues?

Sophie: I’ve had a few and I’ve looked into having proper merchant gateway,
but it just seems like a lot of hassle, at this point, and I’ve managed to
put on my frequently asked questions page really detailed instructions on
how to use PayPal without actually using PayPal, like putting your credit
card details in instead, because PayPal do like to hide the little, “Don’t
have PayPal? Want to use your credit card?” little icon down on the bottom.
I’ve got a big picture of that, big red arrows, like, “This is where you
click if you don’t want to use PayPal.” My people are happy to do PayPal at
this stage, but I think it’s something for the future that I definitely
have to look into.

Andrew: It’s impressive that it hasn’t slowed you down too much now that
you’ve still been able to build a successful business. So, PayPal for that.
What about fulfillment? This is a brand new type of product. People were
coming to you because they couldn’t find it at their local stores. Where
did you find it to fill it?

Sophie: This was the big problem. This was why I didn’t have many
competitors, was that the feathers were so rare at that point in time that
nobody could actually even get their hands on them. Because it was such a
new product that had basically just been, well I supposed not invented but
repurposed so no one actually knew how to make it or what to do with it.
So, the feathers originally rooster saddle feathers. And not any type of
rooster would have a feather like this. Only a specifically bred rooster
that was grown over generations to have long saddle feathers. And there’s
only really one farm in the whole world that has roosters that grow
feathers like this. And that one farm supplies their feathers to fly
fishermen to use for fishing [??], OK? So it’s a product that has a limited
pool of customers interested in it. And so a limited number of stock is
grown every year.

Because it relies on the roosters maturing and their feathers growing,
there’s not real way to fabricate this. The only way to get the feathers is
from the rooster that’s been bred for generations. And there’s only a small
pool of them. So as soon as the trend hit and people decided that they
could repurpose those fly fishing feathers into feather hair extensions,
that small pool of roosters was just gone. The fishermen had the feathers.
A few, a couple of sellers for feather hair extensions had the feathers and
that’s it. No more roosters. So, these feathers that, this is a saddle of
feathers. A full saddle. Say there would be 300 feathers on here.

Andrew: OK.

Sophie: This originally would sell to a fly fisherman for about $30 or $40.
OK? And then the trend hit. And then prices skyrocketed. And then I was
paying up to $800 for this one pelt of feathers so. . .

Andrew: So, basically the way you got it was by out bidding the fishermen
who were the natural ordinary buyers of this product?

Sophie: Well, yes. And even in the fly fishing websites, on the trout
fishing stores worldwide they were sold out everywhere because their small.
. .

Andrew: So how did you get it? I heard you went to look at Alibaba.com but
that didn’t seem to work for you. Where did you find it?

Sophie: Yeah. I looked on Alibaba. I actually paid someone in China to
source the feathers for me.

Andrew: What do you mean? Where do you find someone in China who is going
to go and source feathers for you?

Sophie: So, a couple of years ago we went to the Canton Fair in China.
Which is China’s largest import and export trade fair.

Andrew: OK.

Sophie: And at that time we had a Chinese contact who was our translator
who took us around the fair. And then also took us to factories in China.
This is when we were sourcing human hair extensions for LockStocks.

Andrew: OK.

Sophie: So, we had the contact. This cute Chinese lady name Jane. And so, I
just contacted Jane and said this is what I’m after. Can you please find it
for me? But at that stage I didn’t know that there was only one farm in the
world that provided these type of feathers. And that came from the States
anyway.

Andrew: Let me ask you something, Sophie. If someone is listening to us and
says, “Hey, you know what, I’d like to source something in China but I
haven’t yet been to one of the trade shows in China so I don’t have a
connection”, like you said, her name was Jane?

Sophie: Yeah.

Andrew: “I don’t have a connection like Jane”. Is there a way for them to
find someone like Jane? Or is there a way for them to connect with Jane so
that they can have this kind of scout in China looking out for them?

Sophie: I’m sure there’s probably a lot of services online that would offer
this if you just Googled it.

Andrew: I see. So you’re just Googling around and you’re saying I need
somebody to be my scout and look to see who can supply this. And it needs
to probably be in China because it seems like they are the supplier of
everything in the world.

Sophie: Yeah. So. . .

Andrew: Did she find it for you?

Sophie: There’s a lot of people that would provide you that service. It’s
just a matter of looking them up online and finding someone that you feel
would be trustworthy. In our case, it was a lot easier to trust them
because they were recommended by a friend anyway. So, that helped us. And
then, we went to China and we met with her. So, we knew she was someone
that we could trust. Because I think it’s always a good idea to be quite
wary when you’re dealing with people from a country that you’re not
familiar with, you’ve never met them before. I think it’s always a good
idea to thoroughly research if you’re going too fast.

Andrew: If an entrepreneur in my audience decides that she wants to be in a
business that needs to source something from China, can she reach out to
you and say, ‘Hey, I heard you on Mixergy. Would you mind making an
introduction to Jane for me?’

Sophie: Yeah. That’s fine. Yep.

Andrew: OK.

Sophie: That’s fine.

Andrew: All right. I’m sure that they could find you, so I’ll leave it to
them to find a way to get with you. A smart entrepreneur is going to be
able to connect with you in multiple ways.

Sophie: Can I just add something to the China thing?

Andrew: Please.

Sophie: I think Alibaba is a fantastic way to source products. I don’t
necessarily think that you need someone like Jane to do something like
that.

Andrew: OK.

Sophie: In all my previous experience, I’ve just used Alibaba and just made
sure to be really thorough with checking their trespass profiles, and just
making sure they’re verified. Once they have a profile that’s on Alibaba
for, say, two or three years, it’s very unlikely that they’re going to be
someone that’s going to be scamming you. I think it’s quite easy to find
somewhere in China that will supply you with a good product…

Andrew: OK.

Sophie: …through Alibaba. Yeah. I don’t necessarily think you need to
find someone like Jane. It’s just that with this product, I couldn’t find
it on Alibaba at all. That’s because it didn’t exist.

Andrew: OK. That’s why you needed someone like Jane? Jane hooked you up?

Sophie: Yeah.

Andrew: She found somebody for you?

Sophie: No. She didn’t. She didn’t hook me up.

Andrew: OK.

Sophie: She couldn’t find what I wanted because it didn’t exist there. If
it is not on Alibaba, it doesn’t exist. That’s what I think. If it’s in
China, it’s on Alibaba, and if it’s not there, it’s not there.

Andrew: OK.

Sophie: That’s what I learned out of that.

Andrew: All right. Then, how did you find it? I don’t want to spend too
much time on the sourcing, but I am curious. How did you find someone to
get it to you?

Sophie: Yep. I just contacted a lot of fly-fishing forums, and made friends
with fisherman. Basically, I just asked them if they had any of their
prized fishing lures, their collector’s items that they’d want to sell to
me. With one pelt of feathers, which can contain 300 feathers, that’s a lot
of stock for me. I don’t actually need that much stock.

A few pelts can get me a long way. It’s a very unique product, where it
doesn’t really require much stock at all. I do the dying myself, so if I
get the natural feathers and dye them, and then just make a few bundles up
and package them, and send them on their way, that’s really it. That’s the
whole process.

Andrew: That’s it. You’re not braiding them? You’re not doing anything
fancy to them?

Sophie: No. Yeah. That’s it.

Andrew: Dying, packaging it and shipping it, and you were going to do the
whole thing yourself?

Sophie: Yeah. I started off doing the whole thing myself.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Sophie: At that time, I had $3,000 in the bank. I thought, if I could get
to $10,000 at the end of this business, I will be stoked. That was my goal.
I think I got there in about two weeks.

Andrew: In two weeks, you got $10,000 in the bank?

Sophie: Yeah.

Andrew: Congratulations. OK, and then?

Sophie: Yeah. I think that $100,000 month was only my second month in
business.

Andrew: Wow.

Sophie: Yeah. It was just a skyrocket. It really was quite a wild ride. I
had to turn my AdWords off at one stage, and catch up with the orders. At
most times, I had a backlog of at least 50 orders waiting to ship out. It
was just insane right from the get-go.

Andrew: Unreal. All right. I read an interview that you did somewhere
online. I can’t even see where, unfortunately. Where you were asked, what’s
the toughest part of the business, and you said it’s driving traffic. At
some point, getting more customers became harder. When?

Sophie: Hmm. It became harder when competitors came out of the woods and
started using my keywords. At the start it was all light out there for me,
and I was just having the run of it. Nobody was using my words. I was
paying $0.20 a click maybe.

Now, it would cost me upwards from $2 a click, and it’s just insane how
many competitors I have. Right at the start, when I had 30,000, 50,000
global monthly searches, and I was the only one on there basically
delivering. So, the competition was very, very low. Now, it spiked and went
up to, maybe, 100,000 or more global monthly searches. Then the competition
moved up to high. And now it’s back down to, maybe 20,000 global monthly
searches and very high competition.

Andrew: I see.

Sophie: So my key was, it’s just not worth it anymore, with Google AdWords,
for me. I don’t advertise anymore with Google AdWords.

Andrew: Where do you get your traffic now?

Sophie: Most of my traffic now, comes from repeat customers. I’ve always
got a lot of traffic through my blog as well. It was always my second top
referrer. Just trying to provide good content in the blog. And then relying
on my repeat customers. I’m on a contract here, as well, with a good
distributor in Australia so that helps me as well.

Andrew: So eventually, you decided to get a distributor so you wouldn’t
have to keep shipping this out?

Sophie: Yeah.

Andrew: Do you still dye the feathers and then give them to the distributor
who sends them out?

Sophie: Yeah, I do. That’s my one part left in the end. I would love to get
rid of it, but it’s such an infrequent task that I really only have to do
it about once every three months.

Andrew: I see.

Sophie: I’ve actually got a big stock of feathers ready, waiting for dying
right now. I’ll get around to that soon.

Andrew: Let me see. What else do I want to know about this business? By the
way, I’m on your blog, since you mentioned it, and I see categories on the
right. One of them is called, Britney from Glee. And when I click on that,
it’s a category. When I click on that I end up seeing, “FlockStock heads to
New York.” I see updates on feather hair extensions in Australia. It
doesn’t seem to really be connected to Glee at all. This is your way of
using a keyword, a key phrase that people are searching for, on your site
so that you can bring people over.

Sophie: Yeah. I would have tagged that in a earlier blog. There is one blog
related to that keyword. Anytime a celebrity or a T.V. show or anyone
famous wears a feather extension, I’m sure to blog it. Because that is
often a top referrer.

Andrew: Oh, I see.

Sophie: There was a local talent search type of TV show, like an Idol,
where one of the Australian singers wore a feather hair extension. And I
blogged about it, his name is Reece Mastin. That has, for months, just
drive me traffic. It’s all about the celebrities with the trends, I think.

Andrew: And a way people will come to your site is, I guess, by searching
for the person who they saw on TV wearing feathers. They will then come
onto your blog, and from your blog, you send them to the order page. Right?

Sophie: Yeah.

Andrew: It’s not even an aggressive or, frankly, to be honest with you,
even that obvious a transition. They have to know to then click the name on
the upper left, and then they will take them to the sales page. Right?
You’re not aggressive. You’re just blogging because you know that works.

Sophie: Sometimes I don’t even blog in relation to a particular sale or
anything like that. I think people don’t want to be overly sold. I think
people are bombarded with advertising in everything single area of their
life. The least I can sound like I’m desperate to sell them something, the
more trustworthy I will feel and the more they would want to search my
products and trust me with their purchases.

Andrew: OK.

Sophie: I do put links in there that say like, with the Reece Mastin one,
“If you want to get Reece’s look, click here.” And then that would link
back to the type of feathers that he wore in that concert. But, it would
always be very closely related to how they had come in through the site.

Andrew: All right. I mentioned in the beginning that trends are great
because, if you ride them the way that you do, you go high. And then what
happens afterwards? How did you know that you were on a wave that was
cresting?

Sophie: Well, just with the Google analytics, really, you can see the spike
in it. I saw that chart, and it was the exact chart I was dreaming of. When
I came in onto it, it was just spiking, just starting up, going up so
steeply. And I thought, “If I can get on this, it’ll be amazing.” So it was
just a rush to get there. And I always knew it was a fad and I suppose, in
the end, got longer out of it then I ever imagined.

Andrew: So, you knew walking in that this thing was going to hit big and
probably going to, eventually, trail off. And the way you knew it was
trailing off, is, you just kept monitoring Google searches and you saw
that, “Hey, people just aren’t searching for this the way that they did
before. My sales aren’t what they used to be. My competition is making my
expenses go up. My sales are going down anyway. This is just going to start
to fall, or collapse even.” Did you try to transition away from feathers to
something else that were similar? Something that your customer base would
be interested in? It looks like maybe you tried microbeads and a couple of
other things.

Sophie: Microbeads are part of the product.

Andrew: I see.

Sophie: But, I have put a subtle link in that web site that links back to
LockStocks, the human hair extension brand. Then eventually, we’re going to
consolidate those two sites and just have them as one.

Andrew: I see. So I do see at the top of the page there’s a link that says,
“100% human hair extensions.” So what you were trying to see is, “Would my
customer base want real hair extensions?” What was that like? What did you
find out?

Sophie: I found out that, now FlockStocks is one of LockStocks’ top
referrers. So, it was very effective just adding that link on there for
LockStocks.

Andrew: OK I see. It also looks like you changed the URL on LockStocks to
Salon Hair Extensions? I’m guessing because that’s what people are
searching for?

Sophie: That was the original idea for it. I don’t really know that much
about SEO, but at one stage somebody told me if I had that it will optimize
the site, the keywords. So that’s why it’s there.

Andrew: OK. All right, let me see what else do I need to know about this.
You met Seth Godin.

Sophie: Yes.

Andrew: Tell me about that. What did you learn from talking to Seth Godin
about your business? He spent a lunch with you, going over your business
and getting to know each other.

Sophie: Yeah. That was just, family and relationships aside, the best thing
that could ever have happened to me.

Andrew: Why? One of the issues that I think Seth Godin would have is that a
lot of people who meet him, just want to be around him. And then they don’t
grab any ideas or nothing comes of it. But it seems like it was impactful
for you. Why?

Sophie: Yeah, it definitely was. I was very nervous and I probably didn’t
ask enough questions. But I did benefit a lot from the few pieces of advice
that he gave me. The biggest thing that I got out of that was just, really,
the confidence that I can do something that I really care about, and make
an impact in the world. Yes, I had a trend product, and it’s going to be a
very difficult business if I want to keep riding the trends. But there is
value to who I am and if I keep going down the path that I’m going, great
things will happen. That’s really the message that I got from him and it
was just a wonderful, wonderful thing. I’ve been reading his blogs and his
books for years and it was just an unbelievable experience. And just being
in his office, it’s so cool. He’s got such cool stuff. As soon as I got
back to Australia, I made over my office and added all these things in
there.

Andrew: Like what? What did you add because you saw it in his office?

Sophie: Oh, I got a big whiteboard, and put it on an easel and had like all
of these diagrams. I just made it a lot more me. I put all these things in
there that really meant a lot to me. I don’t know. It just made me look at
my whole life in a really different personal, excited, story-filled way.

Andrew: Yeah. I remember when I interviewed Seth for the first time, I
asked him about Purple Cow, and he goes, “I still have the carton, the milk
carton from the book. Do you want to see it?” And he went over to his
office, the part of his office where he had that, and he just brings over
this carton from Purple Cow. He holds it up. He has fun with it. And he
creates these things that are fun to interact with that have meaning for
people who’ve read his books.

Sophie: Yeah.

Andrew: I’m proud to say that I’m the one who introduced him, I think I’m
the one who introduced him to Shopify for the first time. They saw that I
interviewed him.

Sophie: No way.

Andrew: They said, “Hey, would you mind making the introduction?” I made
the introduction, and the reason that you got to meet Seth was, you won the
Shopify contest for the most revenue from a new store. Right? Getting to
meet him was one of the prizes that they had.

Sophie: Yeah. The big prize was to meet Timothy Ferriss. At the midway
point in the competition, actually, they announced the leaderboard, and I
was number one. For four months, I was there going, “Oh my God. I might get
to meet Tim and thank him in person,” but I’ll have to figure out a way to
do that later.

Andrew: Somebody else won?

Sophie: Yeah. Somebody else won the major prize, and then I won the
category prize.

Andrew: Did you end up talking to Tim?

Sophie: No. No.

Andrew: Did you reach out to him?

Sophie: Yeah. I wrote him maybe, an email or two. I always comment on his
blogs, but no reply.

Andrew: You know what? I’d be happy to make the introduction after this
interview goes up. I introduced him to an entrepreneur in the audience who
was just getting started with a business. Success story, not nearly as
strong as yours yet, which is why the guest hasn’t been on here yet.

One of the coolest things that I ever saw Tim do, no one even knows about,
he called up the entrepreneur at some point in the future. After I
introduced him, he just called him up. I guess the guy wasn’t there, so he
went into voicemail. He left this incredible voicemail that the friend
ended up playing for me. You could be as cynical as you want, but if you
open your eyes you can see why some people are as great as they are, why
they have impact and why they inspire so many people. That one voicemail,
you could pick up on it.

The fact that he would even think to leave that voicemail. The fact that he
would know how we was going to motivate those people in those days that the
team of entrepreneurs and those days when things weren’t going well,
because they had that voicemail. It’s tremendous. Most people wouldn’t even
think that.

Sophie: It’s unbelievable.

Andrew: He’s got to hear what he helped inspire with you, and I’d be happy
to make that introduction. Now, I don’t know if he’ll respond or not, I
won’t promise anything.

Sophie: Yeah.

Andrew: I really hope he does, because, man, look at what he’s done for
you.

Sophie: Yeah. He completely changed my life. Yeah.

Andrew: Really changed your life.

Sophie: Yeah.

Andrew: Sorry to interrupt as you were saying that. Overall, how much
revenue would you say you’ve made from FlockStocks?

Sophie: In terms of profit, I think I’ve probably made about $150,000 in
the last year from FlockStocks.

Andrew: With profit meaning going in the bank?

Sophie: Yeah.

Andrew: Or sales? Oh, really.

Sophie: Yeah.

Andrew: In sales how much did you do?

Sophie: Probably over 300 in the last year. I haven’t done the exact
figures, but my profit margin was very high.

Andrew: Wow.

Sophie: Yeah. It was a great product in terms of how little I had to put
into it for how much I could get from it.

Andrew: Wow. I’ve really got to thank Shopify for making this introduction.
All right. Let me just tell people about the most…

Sophie: They’re such cool guys. I’m so in love with Shopify as well.

Andrew: Aren’t they?

Sophie: I’m a big Shopify advocate and a big Tim Ferriss advocate.

Andrew: They’ve been fantastic for me. Really, they saw what I was doing
with entrepreneurs. In the beginning, I don’t even think that they cared
about how many sales they were getting from me. They just said, “Hey, you
know what? We see who you’re trying to reach out to. You probably have an
influential audience. We’ll support you and help you get this thing going
with Mixergy.” So, they funded my interviews here for a long time.

Sophie: They’re so (?). All the staff there is so friendly. I don’t even
know how they find such a bunch of cool people, and do get them all
together in one room.

Andrew: Can I also tell you what else there is, why they’re so friendly? I
don’t know their finances, but I believe that they’re doing well
financially. I believe they’re profitable, but I don’t know for sure.
Here’s the thing, when you’re bringing in revenue, when you have a solid
business like that, you can be happier, you can be nicer to people. Right?

Haven’t you found that in your life, that when you’re anxious to see, will
I get my next dollar? How am I going to pay this? You have lower self-
confidence, less time, less patience for other people. What I’ve noticed
from companies that charge me, is that when they charge me, they end up
doing better as a business and then they end up being happier to deal with.
They end up having more time to work with me.

Sophie: Yeah.

Andrew: I so prefer when it comes to business, to do business with
companies that charge than to do business with companies that think they’re
going to give it all for free and then make it up on volume somehow, or one
day in the future figure out how they’re going to get revenue.

Sophie: Yeah.

Andrew: All right. Speaking of companies that charge, Sophie, you’ll be
happy to know that I am a company here that charges. One of the things that
happened for you was you didn’t just sit back and say, “I want something to
happen in my life”, you said, “I’m going to learn how to make my life
better. I’m going to read this book by Tim Ferriss.” You probably have read
other books. I know for sure that you’ve read Seth Godin’s books and many
others. We are a small minority in this world, Sophie, a group of people
who believe that if you just learn… Just think about it, if you learn you
can get ideas that will help your business.

Most people in the world either have had bad experiences with school so
they don’t believe they can learn anything, or they’re too cynical to
believe that they can learn and pickup ideas that will actually deliver
some results in their business. So, I’m now, with what I’m about to say,
speaking to a tiny audience here, people who aren’t cynical and haven’t
been burned out on the idea of the word, learning, because of school. I’m
going to say to you guys, if you’re in a similar situation to where Sophie
was or maybe even where Sophie is today frankly from what I see of her,
where you believe that you can learn from real experienced entrepreneurs
about how to build your own business.

I’m inviting you right now to go to MixergyPremium.com where proven
entrepreneurs teach. They teach everything from how to get outsourcing…
If you’ve ever outsourced and things didn’t work out for you, it’s because
you didn’t know how to do it right. A quick blog post is not going to tell
you how to do it right either. I bring on people who have done outsourcing
for years to talk specifically about how they find the right people, how
they make sure that those people are going to be focused on them, how they
teach those outsourcers to get the job done properly and how they follow
up.

We do the same thing for how to get traffic. We do the same thing for how
to get traffic and convert it into sales. We do the sale thing for public
relations. We bring in real entrepreneurs to teach how they really do it,
and thousands of entrepreneurs in my audience are members of
MixergyPremium.com. If you’re watching, I hope you go to MixergyPremium.com
right now and sign up. If you do and you’re not happy, then, of course, I
will give you your money back.

What I’m finding is that most people who go through the program email me
afterwards and say one of two things. Either, “Andrew, you’re under
charging because once people have their credit cards online they’re willing
to pay more” or they say, “This is worth thousands of dollars to me. Thank
you for charging as little as you do.” If you’re watching, I’ll let you
decide for yourself how you feel about it by going to MixergyPremium.com.

All right. Sophie, by the way, as a fellow entrepreneur, what do you think
of the way that I just talked up my product here, MixergyPremium.com? I
have to give that call to action very clearly because I jumble my words
when I’m familiar with them.

Sophie: I think I’ve got a lot to learn from you because I have such
trouble selling anything really of myself.

Andrew: Really? But you do so well selling online. You created this landing
page that sold because you even had a product. So, help me understand how
someone who is shy or shy when it comes to sales can nevertheless launch
multiple landing pages that sell different ideas. You’re shaking your head.
Why?

Sophie: I don’t know. I can do it through a website, but when it comes to
face-to-face, I think I’ve got a lot to learn. It’s definitely an area that
I want to improve, and I think even for this interview for me it’s really
good for that and is a way for me to learn, just to have that confidence
where I can stand up and go, “Yeah, what I’m doing is good, and you should
believe me.”

Andrew: Yeah, you’re kicking butt. A lot of people in the audience would
die to build a business like yours and to have your thought process on how
to build a business, I’m sure too that they’d be inspired by it. When I
emailed you – I’ll reveal this – you sent me an email, I think, earlier
today. You said, “Andrew, how do I do this right? I’m not very familiar
with doing interviews.” Most entrepreneurs who I interview will pull me by
the throat and try to get me to do the interview quicker or post it faster.
You know what, I’m not so sure about this. How do I do this right? But you
did great.

Sophie: Thanks.

Andrew: You did great. Here’s the other thing. The reason I have my beard
is I had it on the calendar for the wrong date. You were in Australia. We
have tried to do the conversion. I used the website to make sure the
conversion worked out well, and I still got it wrong. Thanks to your email
to me saying, “Hey, Andrew, let’s go over what we’re going to talk about in
this interview” and the follow-up, “Hey, this interview is supposed to
happen now, right?” That’s when I realized my calendar was wrong.

Sophie: [laughs]

Andrew: Is it tough to do business in Australia because Americans get their
times so wrong, or am I the only one?

Sophie: It is tough because any time anybody wants to do anything face-to-
face or make a phone call, it’s just really not that possible. Our working
hours and your working hours just never line up. So, email is really the
best thing that I can do, and it does make communication a lot harder. We
are a lot more isolated and don’t have the same resources, and we don’t
have the same supporters you guys do. So…

Andrew: What do you mean? I just dropped my pen as I said that. What kind
of support?

Sophie: Just in terms of, I don’t know. I didn’t [??] government support,
events, even things like not having a broad range of fulfillment, so I was
just to choose from any services that we have really are very limited in
comparison to what you have at your fingertips over there. It’s a harder
place to conduct business and find a good network. It’s very difficult,
especially where I’m from, I live in Byron Bay, which is not a city.
There’s really nobody in my town who’s on a similar path to me that I can
catch up with regularly and have a chat about.

Andrew: Who do you talk to? I find that it helps to talk to other
entrepreneurs. I get fired up. I get my thoughts checked out by other
entrepreneurs instead of hearing people say, “Oh. You’re trying to do too
much. Why don’t you relax?” The entrepreneur conversation is different and
it’s exciting and it’s motivating. Who do you talk to to keep yourself
going? Tim?

Sophie: I talk to Tim, my partner, a lot. I’ve got one other friend in
Sydney who we went to the Canton Fair in China with. He’s also [??] a bit
of a similar path, but it’s pretty isolated, to be honest, for me. I have a
little difficulty with that and that’s why I love reading websites like
yours and Marie Fullier [SP], she really makes me feel motivated about what
I’m doing. Reading Seth’s blog. A lot of my motivation [??] is just all
online.

Andrew: Let me ask you this. The guys from Grub With Us are starting to
organize dinners with past Mixergy interviewees so that people who listened
to them and other entrepreneurs can get together with them for dinner.
Where exactly are you in Australia and what’s a near big city that we can
tell the audience about and maybe if we get enough of a demand, Grub With
Us will organize a dinner for you with some of the people in our audience
who are entrepreneurs.

Sophie: That would be so fantastic. I live in Byron Bay, which is about two
hours drive south of Brisbane, which is the nearest main city.

Andrew: Tell you what. If anyone in the audience is from there, or anywhere
near there and wants to organize a dinner, even if it’s not the same day as
we’re doing the dinners with the other entrepreneurs, reach out to me in
the comments or find another way to let me know and I will help you
organize this event guys, but I need somebody locally to help Sophie get
other entrepreneurs together. Of course, Grub With Us will help us, I
believe, and if they don’t, then maybe we’ll be the first people to start a
Grub With Us in Australia. What else do I want to know? Two more questions.
I’m gong to ask you in a moment about this new business that you’re doing,
since you’re understanding that the trend for feather hair extensions is
going down, but first let me ask you this. What’s the best thing, you
talked about revenue, you talked about profits, let’s talk about what
you’re able to do with it. What’s the best thing that you got to do for
yourself because of this business?

Sophie: I got to pack all of our earthly possessions into a storage shed
and travel to Thailand for three and a half months and support my family
and live an amazing life. Private pool, villa and eat, drink coconuts on
the beach everyday. What more than that can you want, really?

Andrew: While the business was still operating and generating revenue?

Sophie: Yeah. The revenue was just ticking away and I wasn’t doing
anything. For me, teaching our little boy to swim everyday in the pool, and
I bought a shiny new car and just having the freedom to do things that make
me happy and feel good about myself. The confidence that I’ve gained is
like from two years ago to today, it’s just completely different person.
The feeling within myself. Getting to meet these people that I’ve met on
the journey, Seth Godin and you and the Shopify team and all these
fantastic interviews that I’ve gotten to do. I’m so grateful and I would
never have thought that this is how my life would be at this point. I’m 25
and everything’s great.

Andrew: The word freedom just keeps coming up in my interviews over and
over, that’s why I introduce the interview and call the audience freedom
fighters. I was living in Argentina and what I saw was, first of all, in my
interviews, a lot of entrepreneurs will ask, “What’s the best part of
having built this business?”, or having sold your business? They would say,
“It’s the freedom to do whatever I want.” I kept hearing that over and over
again and then I did a marathon in Rosario, Argentina, Che Guevara’s
hometown. You know how in the U.S. everyone was wearing the Che t-shirt,
everyone was thinking, “Che’s the freedom fighter.” They still, believe me,
respect Che Guevara in Argentina, but when they were thinking of who the
freedom fighters were, they were thinking entrepreneurs.

The entrepreneurs who are putting the apps in their iPhones and in their
Android phones, who are giving them access to the rest of the world. The
entrepreneurs who are allowing them to start businesses anywhere in the
world, those are their freedom fighters. When they were thinking of who
they wanted to be, I didn’t see too many people who were aspiring to be Che
Guevara. Like I said, they still admire him just like we admire who comes
from our hometowns, but they admire the entrepreneurs and the freedom that
they would bring to the world and to themselves. I really resonate with
what you’re saying there.

The last thing I got to ask you about is, you’re launching a new business,
this is an opportunity right now for people to see what your business looks
like in the early stages as you’re thinking about it. Right now if they go
to FlockStocks, they’re going to see a business well developed and they’re
going to understand what the final product looks like. I want them to see
what an early version looks like and watch you as you develop it. What’s
the URL of the new business and what is the business?

Sophie: It’s www.snap2.nu. What my new idea is, is a decision making tool.
It’s a platform where you can go and you can upload a couple of photos that
would represent a decision that you’re trying to make and then you could
then share your decision through Facebook with just a bunch of your friends
or you could choose to share it with everyone on the site. That’s what I’m
working on at the moment and it’s fairly easy to see the frivolous aspects
of the site when you can be in Macy’s trying to buy a pair of shoes and
snap a couple of different ones and send that to your BFF, or you could use
it as a professional application where you could be doing market research
and you were trying to decide on a new logo and you could just upload the
two choices to the site and get a really clear snapshot of what everybody
thinks instantly.

That’s what I’m hoping for and that’s what I’m excited about is those
professional business opportunities that could come. I’m sure there’s times
when you’ve had your website and you’ve thought, ‘Does this banner go [??]?
What would other people think? I really like it, but would my audience?’ It
could be a really simple free tool for any type of business. So that’s what
I’m working on. snap2.nu. [??].

Andrew: I can go to snap2.nu and I could have a picture of myself with a
beard. This is the way that I look on Mondays when I don’t usually do
interviews and one without this and I could ask my audience, “Which look is
better?” Who knows? Maybe, they’ll think that this little stubble is a
better look and I won’t have to shave on interview day, or maybe they say,
“Andrew, you should shave every single day just in case you have an
interview.” That’s one way to do it. Another way to do it is I can see that
someone on the page, or maybe it’s you, testing it out, said, “Which book
should I read?” You’ve got a cover of Seth Goldin’s “Purple Cow,” and his
second book, “All Marketers are Liars”.

You would send this out to your friends or send this out to the Internet as
a whole or just leave it up on the site and have people vote on which of
those two books you should read. That’s, snap, the number 2.mu. Sophie’s
newest business. Check it out and if you’re anywhere near where Sophie is
right now and want to help us organize a dinner for entrepreneurs, reach
out to me. Let me know in the comments or find another private way to reach
out. Sophie, congratulations on this. I really love seeing success stories
like yours and I’m honored that you’d come here and be so open with your
numbers and your story and everything else that you’ve learned along the
way here with my audience. Thanks for being here.

Sophie: Thanks, Andrew.

Andrew: Thank you. Thank you all for watching.

Sponsors I mentioned

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  • Chris Mason

    inspiring story. really enjoyed this interview. andrew, what other interviews do you recommend to learn more on outsourcing?

  • Anonymous

    would love to hear about flockstocks tumble in traffic from ~30k in 7/12 to ~150 today. Was this a result of the Google Panda updates? or is the result of the trend fading out?

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    She talks about that in the interview.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner
  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.r.coleman Jason Coleman

    Do you know who the “Marie Fullier” Sophie referenced at the end of the interview? The transcriber added a [sp?] and might have gotten the spelling wrong.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.r.coleman Jason Coleman

    Sophie’s decision start up (http://snap2.nu/ - transcript has this as .mu) reminds me of a quick project we built a while ago to “Make Subjective Decisions Objectively”.

    http://www.topwhatever.com

    The tool allows you to setup a decision, input the important factors, and rate different outcomes based on those factors. The site doesn’t do any business/traffic and we don’t have plans for it. Feel free to steel ideas ;)

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner
  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks. I fixed it.

  • No Way

    I have a really hard time believing these numbers.  Can we see some tax forms?

  • http://www.facebook.com/adam.clinckett Adam Clinckett

    Hey I’m in Brisbane – anyone else?

  • Anonymous

    Great to see Aussies here :)

  • Justin Miramontes

    Haha, I remember reading an LA Times article about girls raiding fishing shops for those feathers. I think her greatest achievement is in the product sourcing/development.

    In such a competitive environment she figured out how to buy the feathers while they were still on the freakin saddle, plucked the bastards and then designed, color dyed, and packaged them herself.  That’s Hustling! Most non-hustlers at that time would just be trying to figure out how they could dropship them for a 10% cut (but that’s usually not possible with hot new products). She went way beyond that. She got her hands dirty and pretty much created her own. That’s why whatever she does next will also be a home run. Cool story :) Tim FTW.

  • Justin Miramontes
  • Kane

    Sophie & Andrew,

    Great interview! Inspiring and fully of useful specific information starting with Weebly (Andrew’s interview, here: http://mixergy.com/david-rusenko-weebly-interview/ ) through to sourcing the feathers all the way to shopify. 

    I have just one question of Sophie, and that is;  would you be willing to share the name of the fulfilment centre you’re using in Australia? I’m sure the Australian founders are dying to know! =)

    Thanks again,
    Kane.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Anyone?

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    I was intro’d through Shopify, which would have access to her info because they host her store and she entered their contest.

  • Kane

    Yep, I’m about an hour outside of Brissy at Victoria Point … I would love to do something, and perhaps we should all meet 1/2 way somewhere. 

  • jon

    If you want to find sourcing agents in China (or any country) try the “American Chamber of Commerce” or the “Australian Chamber of Commerce” or “[your country] Chamber of Commerce”.  These are full of expats living in the country you are interested in and they will have local “fixers” who they can recommend.  Also, make use of the Commercial Section of your country’s embassy.  It is their job to help citizens (YOU) do business in the country where the embassy is located.  

  • Brian

    Awesome interview as always.  

    One comment I would like to make is regarding Alibaba. Yes, Sophie had a good experience, but its still riddled with scammers.I almost pulled the trigger on a deal, but a final moment of paranoia led me to AlibabaScam.com, and a phone call with the owner.  His story about getting ripped off on Alibaba, and subsequently starting Alibabscam.com, is shocking.

  • MC

    I’m in Brisbane, would love to do a grubwithus with fellow entrepreneurs.

  • Edwin

    Hey I’m from Brisbane too.
    I would love to catch up.

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  • Colin

    Hey Andrew,  Great interview and love that she is a hustler.  First time commenting but have been listening for years and all of the interviews have really helped me in my business. During the interview you talked about partnering with organizations like Shopify and Tech Stars to get great entrepreneur interviews. Another organization that I would suggest checking out and that I am involved with is the Startup Leadership Program – StartupLeadership.com – I am a volunteer leader in San Diego for it and would find some amazing entrepreneurs who have gone through it. Let me know if you would like the correct contacts.  Thanks as always for these amazing interviews!

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Yes. I’ve been reading your site. You’d be great.

    Could you email some suggestions to shelley at mixergy dot com?

    We’re looking for tech entrepreneurs with big accomplishments under their belts. (By “big accomplishment” I mean lots of users, revenue, profit, etc. Not lots of potential or lots of funding.)

  • http://bradmills.tumblr.com Brad Mills

    Andrew / Sophie I’d love to learn the exact steps you need to take in order to do the sticky test before pulling the trigger on the business. Is there a specific set of guidlines and suggested products to use?  IE:

    -setup landing page with unbounce, use x free template with you product image, use x copy as it converts best.
    -spend x dollars on adwords, phrases x,y,z work best for this sort of pre-product sales testI’d love to hear some more specifics as I have a coffee business now which we’re launching and I want to test some different iterations to see if it would sell.

  • http://hackmybusiness.com Hack My Business

    I’m amazed at this story & especially the way the tests are setup according to The 4HWW. Read the book. From this interview, I think I’ll go ahead to test an idea I have before getting a proper site all set up.

    I in Malaysia so closer to Sophie’s time zone & don’t mind connecting with her. I’d like meeting with entrepreneurs too in KL

  • http://hackmybusiness.com Hack My Business

    Brian,

    thanks for the link. The Chinese even scams large corporations who went into China to do business there so it is always caveat emptor. That’s what my friends who worked there told me some years back.Having said that, I’m sure there are some that are genuine. Btw, I’m a Malaysian & Chinese haha

  • Colin Slade

    Sounds great Andrew, I will shoot over the email to Shelley and see if we can get a list of companies and entrepreneurs that may be a good fit. Thanks for all you do!

  • Aaron

    Hi Andrew, thanks for this interview. Sophie is a star. I’m based an hour north of Brissy, would be great to catch up with her. Out of interest, we were thinking of doing a similar business to Grub With Us here in Australia. I wonder if the founders would be interested in bringing this concept here?

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Do you want to coordinate with the other locals to do a GrubWithUs event? I’ll help promote it for you and intro you to Sophie.

  • SocialShout!

    Oi !  Oi ! Oi !
    Based in Malaysia but Aussie through & through!

    Glass bongs and Feather Extensions- only in Byron!

    Sophie ROCKS!

    Snap2 is real big picture stuff. Evolution of an entrepreneur in action! Well done!

  • Jeremy Cade

     I’m Brisbane based as well. Will be overseas from the 26th through the 15th. But I am interested in the meet & greet diner.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Looks like we’re going to make this happen.

    If anyone else is in the area and wants to attend, add your comment here (and use your real email address so I can email you privately when we do this).

  • Martin

    I remember listening to Tim Feriss talk about setting up a test site. Great interview. 

  • Anonymous

    I agree with Andrew when he says that there are people who don’t want to use PayPal. I try to open my online shop and I don’t know what Payment method to use. I think the experience with PayPal is really bad for the user and even more confusing for me if I try to program it or just configure it. Anyone can give any advice how to solve the payment? There are other Credit Cart Gateways to choose, witch work best?

  • http://www.facebook.com/interlinks Cameron Smith

    Also from Brisbane. :)

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