How Tony and Ness increase sales by 1000% in 1 yearReading Time: 7 minutes
Today, we’re shining the light on Tony & Ness – aka. the super couple who have built their eCommerce business at the same time as their dream home… All while looking after and home-schooling their 3 kids. They share the rollercoaster of their journey and have a ton of wise words for us all!
Before we get into ‘question time’ where we get all the juicy stuff, you can meet them (and get a sneak peek into their new build!) in the short video below.
And 6 months later, here’s where they are at…
Let’s start with a bit about who you are and how you got into ImportXperts?
Hello, we’re Ness & Tony! We have been members of the SFM for almost 4 years. We joined after Tony had an accident, fell off a roof and broke his arm. It meant he couldn’t work his normal day job as a builder. We needed to find a way to make a living at home or we wouldn’t be able to support our family… Then, we joined the Import Xperts team in November 2017.
We had always liked selling random bits and bobs on eBay, so when we heard about ImportXperts to help us make it into a business, we thought it’d be perfect for us.
Had you ever sold anything online before joining ImportXperts?
Actually yes – we tried to, but it didn’t go so well!
We jumped on what we thought was a ‘trending’ product: loom bands. We spent £5k [$6.3k USD) on stock but when we finally launched, we were too late to the game. The demand had hugely fallen and the sales just didn’t happen.
And that’s why we joined ImportXperts really – to help us shape our ideas so we didn’t make any more mistakes. We liked the sound of step-by-step guidance and support, especially after spending so long “trying to figure things out”. It’s been great so far and we are loving the journey!
So tell us a bit about where you are now.
In the last year, we have started selling across Amazon, eBay, and Gumtree. It’s quite fun to sell across multiple channels and it’s even given us the love back for eBay, as it’s so easy to create a listing there.
We have been focusing mostly on our brand, Minky Babies: a baby brand with no nasties, no chemicals, plastic-free packaging, etc.
We also sell a few other unrelated products where we spotted some gaps in the market, with high demand and low competition. We quickly jumped on board, briefed the agents in China, and started selling them! We figured the more products we try – at least we’ll further “learn our craft”!
What has been your proudest moment since starting your eCommerce journey?
Getting Amazon’s choice for our baby pram muff was amazing. To have Amazon’s recommendation was a great vote of confidence but we got a big spike in sales from that too! Plus, it gave us a little reassurance that we can do it.
We’ve also just hit our first major goal as we made $10k in revenue in the last month. We couldn’t be more excited that our first income goal is now ticked off the list… now the next one is 20k a month!
How about seeing your products in person for the first time?
Oh yes – receiving our Minky Babies pram bag was one of the best moments too!
We had worked on the sample for months, so when we saw the final prototype (or finished product), all the hard work felt worth it.
You’ve obviously created a great product with $10k in sales in one month! Have the sales been quite regular?
Sales always fluctuate on a day-to-day basis but generally, it’s been pretty amazing.
This month we’ve generated 26% more revenue compared to the last month. And this year, we’ve generated over 1000% more revenue than last year! (That change happened when we joined ImportXperts)
It just shows it’s incredible what you can achieve with the right guidance and training. If we carry on at this rate, we’ll continue to grow our brand into something really special.
What part have you enjoyed the most?
We’ve probably enjoyed sourcing the product the most. Going to China last year with the ImportXperts team was incredible. It’s like a product playground! We met with suppliers and just got SO much inspiration.
We’re still refining the samples – and it’s taken longer than we would have liked – but we know it’s important to get it 100% right. The feeling when we see our final product makes it all worthwhile.
Have there been any challenges that almost lead to you throwing the towel in?
Blimey, there have been challenges, but we agreed from the beginning that we would not give up. We always hold the end goal in sight and I think that really helps.
We’ve had our listings canceled, accused of infringement (wrongly!), listings getting blocked, stock being damaged, and just rude customer emails – but these are just hurdles to overcome and if you really want it, these are some of the problems you might come across.
The closest time that we came to throwing the towel in was when we found a box of our stock damaged in the rain. This happened the same day that we received a rude complaint from a customer who wanted her money back because she found a similar product cheaper elsewhere.
We’d also had a quality-control report back that day, where one of our sample products was far from ideal. We had issues with the delivery company we were using. And we’d had a lot of issues at home too…
- House dramas (we’re building our house at the moment and have been living in a mobile home for nearly 2 years)
- A crazy 2-year-old hooligan daughter had been running around, causing havoc!
- And our other 2 other children were at home too. It was manic, to say the least!
That was all within a couple of days, and it did make us question things.
Wow, that sounds pretty crazy! How did you keep on going?!
Well… I [Ness] actually considered applying for a “normal” job, like working behind the supermarket tills. I thought maybe it would be easier if I just went to work, came home, and didn’t have to think about work outside of the 9-5.
However… a few days later…
I worked out that if we sell just one product per hour – with a profit of £6 [$7.50 USD) – we’d earn more than minimum wage.
That way, we wouldn’t have to trade our time for money, and we’d still keep our freedom.
So far, we have exceeded that! And what other career allows you to look after 3 kids at home, as well as manage a self-build house? I realized we had a pretty sweet deal after all, and it’s totally worth all the hurdles.
Imagine where we will be in another year when the house is finished and we have more time too!
Yes, there are hurdles and you’ve gotta be resilient. People face them all the time in life, it’s your solutions that separate you.
Plus, we said from day 1 that we wouldn’t give up… So we had to stick to it!
That’s very inspiring! Has it been more or less work than you envisaged before you started?
The thing about eCommerce is that it takes a bit of time and effort to start, but once you’ve set it all up, it’s fairly easy to keep it ticking along.
Of course, it’s been hard work – is anything ever easy these days? But the money we get back, compared to the effort we put in, is what keeps us going. Plus we love the excitement of bringing really amazing and unique products to people.
It’s the end of goal of seeing other members making $10k+ per month.
Our best month to date is £4000 [$5000 USD], and it just seems to be going up! Once you’ve found the product, created the listing, and optimized for launch – it’s fairly easy after that.
Have you been enjoying the nomadic lifestyle?
Not at all! We’ve been working from our mobiles homes on our self-build plot, but that’s only because we’ve been building our dream home at the same time as our business. And we’re also starring in a self-build TV show too!
But the fact that we can do all this is amazing! So when our home is all finished, we like the idea of spending more time away for family holidays.
Using Amazon’s FBA service, you can work from anywhere in the world. That was one of the most appealing reasons for us.
What are some of your ultimate goals and aspirations for your business?
After we finish building our home, we’re going to focus all our attention on Minky Babies and lose the smaller “fad” products.
We want to grow our brand into an online shop, full of good quality, plastic-free, and chemical-free baby products. We have massive dreams to revolutionize the baby market by developing all these no-chemical products for babies.
So what’s next for your business?
We’re about to build our Shopify website so we can start to generate our own sales. We’ll also continue to grow eBay and Amazon.
We’re also sourcing new products so we can scale up our business. We need to continue to grow and evolve otherwise we’ll just be standing still – and no-one ever gets anywhere doing that.
And finally, what words of wisdom do you have to offer someone looking to start an eCommerce business?
Be patient, resilient and always keep going. You will only fail at something if you give up on it.
Everyone wants the lifestyle but you need to be prepared to put the work in.
And if you’re sourcing products in China, don’t rush. Make sure your samples are perfect; this might mean going back to the agent three times. But it’ll be worth it, you’ll have a fantastic product that your customers should love if you’ve been meticulous about it. And then you’ll be destined for success!
We won’t let ourselves quit; we keep telling ourselves “this has to work”. And we are not going to stop!