Thursday, October 16, 2008

Retail Therapy: Moose

Use promocode “heartmoose” and
Receive a 15% discount at Moose!!
Offer good thru 10/20/08

Quick Facts:
# of employees: 2.5 (sometimes my dog Baxter helps out)
Did you write a business plan? Absolutely!
Day your doors opened: 13th July 2006
Owner: Matt Brown

>> Think you're ready to open up a shop? Read on and find out what really goes on behind the register...

1. Name one thing that completely took you by surprise when you first started Moose - something that neither biz how-to books or any small biz workshop prepared you for.

I never read any books that warned me how obsessive I would become at checking for sales on my website! My previous experiences in retail and advertising has prepared me for most of the other stuff, it was just hitting that Refresh button over and over that shocked me.

2. Where there any stand out books, resources or tools that were really helpful during the planning phase or even up until now?

My best resource has been my partner through all this, Kenny Lye. Kenny has a frightening sixth sense of what works in retail, what looks good, what’s hot etc etc. On a lot of days I feel like a really over-qualified gift-wrapper compared to his infinite retail wisdom. I also started my business with the help of an Australian government program called the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS), where you get a business management qualification and year’s worth of mentoring, plus a small allowance to help you survive in your first year of business – all lifesavers!

>> click here to continue reading about Moose

Owning a shop means constantly wearing different hats. Here's how Matt ends up spending his time:

10% Buying
15% Marketing & Promo
40% Production & Operations
10% Customer Service
10% Fulfillment/Shipping
10% Accounting/Billing/Finances

3. For those of us not familiar with Australia, can you briefly describe the area of Perth and it's homegrown handmade/indie community. Has the social situation you described in this interview at dropstitch from last year improved?

"In Perth, I think the biggest obstacle is a snob factor about it all being too small and unworthy of the effort to get out there. We might not have as many galleries or interesting boutiques as the East Coast, but it’s no reason to ignore what we do have!"

I think that people in sleepy little Perth are definitely embracing Australian made and handmade more, so the customers are there, but I think that a lot of artists still have their eyes on Melbourne and Sydney more. Perth is a beautiful, very clean and fairly quiet city, so it’s difficult for those with creative urges to explore them fully and earn enough to survive. Everything changes with time, though, so I think retailers like me just need to be patient!

4. Can you tell us a little about your background and what compelled you to get into retail and start an online business?

Originally, it never occurred to me to start online. I had dreamt for years about opening my own bricks and mortar store, and then when I applied for the NEIS grant, was told that my (super low-balled) cost estimates were too big. I really wanted to do the program, so Kenny suggested starting online as a much more affordable way to get started. Again: genius. Now I can’t imagine having done it the other way around, with a physical store first, as the rent alone would have shut me down within six months.

5. What's the best lesson that you've learned so far in owning your own business that you can pass on to our readers?

There are always ways to get things done. And – PATIENCE. I have seen so many businesses open with a burst of inspiration and then close soon after because people rushed ahead with one idea and didn’t realize everything else that would come up. It still sometimes drives me nuts to take it slow, but it really is the best and most natural way to evolve.

6. As an online-only business, do you find it more and more challenging to compete with online indie-giants like Etsy and DaWanda whose reach seems to be ever-growing?

I find those sites less like competitors and more like great resources for new artists. It’s great to see what everyone is doing, and I feel with moose that we are reaching a lot of people – in Australia especially – who would never normally buy handmade work online.

7. If Oprah decided to give you $10,000 tax free for your business, but you had to spend it in one week, what would you do with it?

Thanks Oprah! I Knew I bought her anniversary box set for a reason! I would fly to the east coast of Australia to check out the talent over there and sign up new artists. That wouldn’t use the whole 10 grand, but I would eat really really well.

8. Any plans to open up a brick & mortar Moose shop?

It’s still at the back of my mind (I can already lay out the whole thing in my head, know what music is playing, what it smells like etc etc) but it might be a little way off. Online moose still has a way to go before I feel the next step is a physical store. Can I talk to Oprah about it?

>> So you think your goods are perfect for Moose?

9. Do most of the other designers you carry approach you, or do you actively seek out new designers/crafters? If so, where?

I’m constantly amazed that we’re now in a position where just about everyone contacts us to be stocked, especially when I remember how much cajoling it took to get the first twelve artists when we opened! Now we’re almost at 100 suppliers, and I find them online (blogs, Etsy), at Grad shows, markets, in magazines and through other artists.

10. What is your process in choosing merchandise and what 3 things can artists do to stand out in your mind?

Moose has a certain aesthetic, so it’s important that a person’s work fits in with our overall look. We like original, well-made pieces that aren’t everywhere. We like work that is a little bit outside the square, and that has a great story behind it. When I originally started finding work, I was mostly concerned with whether it could be posted safely!

1. Birds #2 by Kate Banazi
2. Meds A4 print by Sean Morris
3. Teddy (Wood) Brooch by Allira Tee
4. Teddy Frog (Wood) Brooch by Allira Tee
5. OK Hand Mirror by Flatland & Flagship
6. Small Succulent Pot 001 by Sophie Milne
7. Palm Tree figure by Flatland & Flagship
8. Cloud Pendant by Kyo Hashimoto
9. Osaka Bloom (Indigo) Pendant by Angus & Celeste
10. Paper Crane Brooch by Dena Drake

Don't forget: Use promocode “heartmoose” and Receive a 15% discount at Moose!! Offer good thru 10/20/08


Thanks Matt!!


modish said...

Matt is one of the sweetest shop keeps I've ever (virtually) met, and his dog looks even sweeter! :)