A spotlight on Azlo ecommerce entrepreneurs

For the holiday sales season, we wrote a series of posts to help entrepreneurs with ecommerce businesses: we covered core strategies for making the season a success, how to use digital payment tools to increase sales, and smart ways to automate your marketing strategy and reach more customers.

We also sat down with our customers — the founders of three different ecommerce businesses — to hear their stories. They shared how they got the idea for their business, the challenges they faced getting started, their strategies for differentiating themselves from the competition, and their number one tips for new ecommerce entrepreneurs. Keep reading to learn from them.

Alex & Sabrina, founders of Nature’s Items

The founders of Nature’s Items, Alex and Sabrina, just wanted to make candles. They quickly got fed up, however, with the merchants selling candle-making supplies. Not only were the prices high, the packaging was sub-par and the materials they ordered were often damaged and leaking.

Through the frustration, they saw opportunity. “We knew we could do a better job and provide high-quality products at lower costs.” They decided to open an online candle supply store.

Starting small and ramping up

Starting an ecommerce business seems straightforward, but it’s far from easy. Alex and Sabrina invested $3,000 in inventory, and they said “the first few months were very hard … we had to spend a great deal of time trying to get our name out and build our customer base.” All that work paid off, however. “Now, just a little over a year later, we are doing tens of thousands in sales each month and have over $70,000 worth of inventory.”

What sets them apart from the competition

The fragrance industry is large ($70 billion per year worldwide!), and there’s plenty of competition. Alex and Sabrina say “the greatest challenge is having to compete against so many other suppliers and their ability to purchase much high quantities at lower prices.”

To stand up to the competition, Nature’s Items has focused on offering unmatched value as well as competitive prices. “Customers love the quality of our products, our low price shipping, and fast order processing. They rave about our customer service,” say Alex and Sabrina. It’s that focus on quality, customer service, and community engagement that’s helped them to grow and succeed.

Our fragrance oils are freshly hand poured, weighed, labeled by us, and we package each item to order daily. We offer high-quality bottles of fragrance oil sealed with a special induction seal to prevent any leaks during shipment. We ship our products … using special packaging material to further prevent any damage during shipping.

Our customer service is top of the line; we respond to customer inquiries within minutes, day or night. We also own a very large Candle and Bath & Body group on Facebook and we spend a great deal of time helping people learn the craft.

Their number one tip for new entrepreneurs

When first starting out, you aren’t going to get everything right. Don’t beat yourself up. Learn from your mistakes and move on.

Trielle, founder of Casa De Interiors

How it began

Trielle, the founder of Casa De Interiors, got into ecommerce because her daughter was bored.

Every summer, she says, her daughter would have too much free time and not enough to do. Eventually Trielle got sick of it and asked her daughter to do something productive with all that energy, like start an online store.

To help her daughter get started, Trielle says, “I got on Shopify and started trying to build her a little site. I ended up becoming an expert at building Shopify sites — I can build a store and have it up and running in 3–4 hours.” Her daughter went on to sell phone cases, and Trielle started thinking, at the back of her mind, about opening her own ecommerce store.

She’s always loved furniture and interior design, and when she was shopping for furniture she made a thought-provoking observation:

I would go into the store and I’d notice that the sales guy would look in a book from the furniture supplier. I was like “Hmm, I wonder if I can call the supplier and buy it straight from them and pay the same price he’s paying?”

She did call a supplier and learned that furniture stores have huge markups due to their high overhead costs. She realized she could offer customers significant savings — as well as convenience and customized service — by opening an online furniture store. And so, of course, she did.

Starting small and ramping up

The first couple of years, Trielle said, involved a lot of ups and downs. For example, she hired someone to create her first Shopify site, only to realize that she could do a much better job herself (which she did). She also started out selling locally, and figuring out how to ship was challenging, she says.

“I had the hardest time getting a rep from UPS and FedEx to assist me. It’s a challenge when you don’t have a brick and mortar business. They’re like “wait a minute — does that mean we have to come to your residence to pick it up?”

The answer, by the way, is no. She explained that she wanted them to pick up the furniture from local warehouses owned by furniture wholesalers. It took a lot of time and tenacity to get the couriers to understand and help her, but she made it work. Now, she’s able to ship orders domestically and internationally — allowing her to reach more customers and grow her business.

What sets her apart from the competition

Casa De Interiors offers the convenience folks expect from a furniture store (like free delivery throughout the U.S. and flexible, interest-free payment options through services like Afterpay and Sezzle), but they also offer a highly personalized experience.

Customers can chat with support or set up an appointment for a free design consultation right from the Casa De Interiors website. If they’re looking for something and Casa De Interiors doesn’t stock it yet, Trielle will try to find it for them.

And, of course, their low overhead allows Casa De Interiors to offer competitive pricing.

Trielle says it’s this combination of convenience, customer experience, and competitive prices that attracts customers and has allowed her to become successful.

Her number one tip for new entrepreneurs

When it comes to business, be careful! Do your research. Always ask questions. If you don’t feel comfortable with an answer, don’t move forward.

Chikaya, Metanoia by Chikaya

How it began

When Chikaya started creating natural skin care products, it wasn’t because she was looking for a hobby or an income stream. It was out of simple necessity.

My son has eczema and I spent hundreds of dollars on skincare products to try and treat his skin. They weren’t working, and I was also concerned with the ingredients in these products. As a result, I started out making all natural body butter, progressed to soap making, and the rest is history.

She quickly realized that she wasn’t the only person looking for high-quality, natural skin care products, so she founded Metanoia By Chikaya and started selling her products online.

Starting small and ramping up

Chikaya founded her business just under a year ago. She says “The first several months were slow but exciting! It was so nice to see all my hard work produce sales and positive customer reviews.”

In the short time she’s been in business, she’s expanded her product range, narrowed down her target market, defined her brand, and built out her social media strategy. She’s also focused on engaging with her customers and offering them one-of-a-kind products.

She’s done all this while juggling a more-than-full plate: she also works full time, cares for her two small children, and goes to school full time. She says that making time has been a challenge, but she’s proud of her business’s growth, her customers’ glowing reviews, and all she’s learned throughout the process.

This is her first holiday sales season, and she’s using a variety of strategies to make it a success, including smart discounts and strategic promotions.

What sets her apart from the competition

When it comes to branding, Chikaya says, she “focuses on a journey — the journey of growth, development, education, and self-love.” Her products are all designed to be gentle and natural, and she uses eco-friendly, reusable packaging. She also makes a point of learning about her customers and talking with them.

I am always available to discuss products … I can and do create custom soaps, butters, and oils based on the customer’s needs. If my customers aren’t happy, neither am I!

Her number one tip for new entrepreneurs

Start small, with the basics, and then grow and upgrade as your company does. Everything doesn’t have to be on such a grand scale. Also, know your brand and stick to it with integrity.


Hi there! This post exists to offer you (hopefully) useful information but it cannot take the place of personalized professional advice. Please consult a qualified expert if you have questions about your business. Also, Azlo doesn’t endorse any third-party sites that are linked here.

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