When I first started out, my daughters and I made cute designs of things they liked, and brought them to market on Amazon. After all, it was seeing Kylie create drawings on her empty storage bins that gave me the first a-ha moment of making our bins. She had a hand in helping us create the early versions of our bins which had colorful desserts, cute animals, and unicorns.
Many of them sold really well on Amazon. It was an incredible feeling to see people paying money for our creations. In all my years working corporate, no matter how amazing a product we put out, it was never as rewarding as this had been.
However, that early success also handicapped me from pursuing a longer term vision for kaikai & ash. It seemed to me at the time that we just needed to keep making more designs, advertise them, and sell even more.
Some may ask, isn't that the name of the ecommerce game - sell more of what you have, and keep it up? Yes and no. Definitely sales is the overall priority. But without a brand vision and meaningful story, it would be hard to sustain the sales. Being a business selling storage bins with adorable designs wasn't going to get us too far.
Then it happened. In a matter of a few months, out of nowhere, Amazon became flooded with cheaper alternatives from factories in China. I'm not sure why it suddenly happened. Despite the cheaper bins being lower quality, I had a hard time competing because the only thing differentiating us was having nicer designs. At the end of the day, we were just another company selling storage bins.
Now I wasn't ready to quit, because in those two years, I had been getting many supportive emails and reviews from customers, telling me how much they loved our bins. I knew that there was something here for us, but I had to rethink how I approached the business, and make some drastic changes.
I'm going to end Part 1 here. Part 2 will be about what we did afterwards, to get to where we are right now. We are still a work-in-progress, but are much closer to where I want to be.
Thanks for reading.