Take the plunge, earn from your passion: Dan’s story of changing perspective & forging your own path
Today we’re talking to Dan Lawson. He’s the founder of Parallaxx, a watersports lifestyle and apparel brand, and is a firm believer in finding profit where your passions are. Sometimes you just have to make that change in order to succeed – for Dan, it’s about making the opportunities yourself, and creating and pursuing the life that you want.
Dan also talks about his own personal experiences in online selling and affiliate marketing, and has some great advice for those thinking of diving into the world of eCommerce. Read on to find out more!
Let’s start with a bit about who you are and how you got into ImportXperts.
I joined the SFM about 18 months ago after my brother recommended it to me because I wasn’t very happy with my job at the time.
I’ve always been an independent person with a thirst for travel so the reality of working in an office every day was soul-sucking and felt like it required suppressing so much of who I truly am. I used to work solidly for a few months to save up to travel, then I’d go away for a few months, and then I’d return to New Zealand to work some more… And then I’d do it all over again.
But once I started with the SFM & ImportXperts, I realized that it was possible to work while traveling, so location independence was always a big driving factor for me.
I started doing affiliate marketing and learned a lot about marketing which has been really useful. However, I’ve always been interested in the idea of buying-and-selling. It’s an evergreen process – people will always buy things – so I thought it’d be a great market to get into.
So tell us about your journey launching your products.
I learned the process of buying-and-selling online with some small products like knife sharpeners, wrist guards & dog seat belts. They all sold quite quickly; however, I didn’t feel motivated to sell them. They weren’t linked to my hobbies or lifestyle and didn’t really mean very much to me.
So I sold the stock – surprisingly quite quickly! – and that’s when I decided I needed to sell a product linked to my interests.
I asked myself what lifestyle do I want to live, and I realized – I don’t want a boss, I don’t want employees, and I want to be location-independent. And if I’m going to spend my time working on products, they need to be linked to my hobbies and interests, or I just won’t be motivated enough.
The other little hack I thought about was that if my business was related to my lifestyle, all my hobbies would be a tax deduction too!
So that’s when I decided to create my own product and launch a brand linked to one of my other passions: kitesurfing & watersports.
And that’s how Parallaxx was born!
So tell us a bit about Parallaxx…
Parallaxx is a watersports apparel brand which I launched last year. I started off designing a poncho for kitesurfers to wear after getting out of the water. Now, the range has expanded into caps, rash vests, bags, and more.
But it’s more than just a watersports apparel brand… I’ve been focusing on the philosophy behind the brand because that’s what I really want to grow.
Parallaxx as a word actually refers to the idea that when you change your perspective on something, it appears to change. Parallaxx is what led me to change my lifestyle, and it’s what I want to help others achieve too.
Which marketplaces do you sell your Parallaxx products on?
I launched on Amazon Australia and recently I started selling on Amazon US too. I also sell on my own website, which I built on Shopify. People seem to find me on Google which has been cool. And now I’m looking at expanding into other markets too.
How has Amazon US gone, in comparison to Amazon Australia?
Well, I experienced a lot of delays when I was launching in the US just due to timings. It was at the end of 2019, then there was Christmas followed by Chinese New Year followed by COVID… So I launched around 3 months later than I originally planned, but when my products finally reached the warehouse, they flew! From the first day, I was hitting record sales, all with no advertising.
It’s been crazy – I’ve only been live on Amazon US for a few months, and already my sales have exceeded those of Australia! The market is just so much bigger so I’ve sold a lot more there.
So what are you working on now?
Well my biggest problem now is my stock count; I can’t restock fast enough! I guess the worst case scenario (if I do run out) is that I lose all my ranking – but hopefully, if that happens, I’ll bounce back as quickly as when I launched originally, so we’ll see.
I’ve got more stock on the way, more stock in production, and I’m trying to foresee the demand. (but of course, it’s so hard to predict at the moment!)
And what’s next for your business?
Launching in new markets… I’m getting a lot more visitors to my website from international countries so I’ll probably launch next in Canada followed by the UK. But at the same time, expanding into new markets without any investment is expensive so I’m planning it carefully so I don’t run into issues with cash flow.
Are you still doing the affiliate marketing too?
A little bit, but my focus has really been on Parallaxx as it’s been keeping me so busy – and I love it too! But a big driving factor of launching Parallaxx was to prove to myself that all the online training does work – and be able to share my story with others too.
So if someone wants to launch a business related to something they’re interested in… I’ll share my story: this is what I’ve created and if you follow a similar path, then you could do it too.
The idea is definitely to pick the affiliate side of things back up when Parallaxx quietens down a bit!
Has it been an easy ride so far?
Erm… Yes and no! I really enjoy putting the work in and have so much fun doing it, so in that sense, it doesn’t feel like work.
When I first started out, I was always aiming to make $10k… Then I realized that wasn’t actually that hard! Within 2 weeks, I was making $300 in revenue everyday, so I got to $10k surprisingly fast. And that was just one channel!
That’s great! But what about the difficulties? Did you experience any?
There have been difficulties though, of course. I had a nightmare recently where my supplier shipped 9 cartons of stock from China to me in Australia, and the shipment was rejected in Australia because the address was missing my apartment number (even though parcels shouldn’t need this to get delivered as there’s a receptionist accepting all post!)
That meant all the 9 cartons were shipped back to China, and I’ll have to pay to get them shipped back again! And the worst part is that I’ll be sold out for months and there’s nothing I can do about it.
It’s been a tough pill to swallow; initially, I wanted to blame anyone else! But ultimately I have to accept the responsibility. I should have paid more attention to detail and noticed it sooner, so even though it seemed so unfair, I’ve accepted that it is my fault and not to do it again!
Where’s your ultimate goal for your business?
Part of it is definitely to grow Parallaxx… but aside from that, I really want to inspire others to create their own ideal lifestyle too. I’ve started coaching to help people work out the type of life they want to live as I feel that will have a greater impact and make a difference.
Is there anything you wish you knew now from when you first started?
Well, everything has been a good learning experience so I don’t regret any part of the journey. I guess it would have been good to have known about this whole possibility earlier, so I could have launched everything earlier and been a bit further ahead.
There’s a great saying about how you’ve can’t wait for things to happen to you – you’ve got to create the opportunities for you.
Ducks only start to line up when their Mother makes the first move, i.e. things only move when you move. Nothing happens from staying still. So I always recommend people who want to make a change to go make that change, now.
And finally – what words of wisdom would you give to someone starting out now?
Don’t try to go it alone. I see lots of people try to start a t-shirt brand or another type of eCommerce business, and they try to do it without any education or a community. I’m sure you could do it… but if it’s something you’re serious about succeeding in – get the education, find the people who are doing it, and learn from them.
And lastly – back yourself. Treat it like a business, not just a hobby. The sooner you can commit to achieving your goals…the sooner you’ll achieve them!
Ready to start your own eCommerce journey like Dan? Then just apply here.