ComfyEarrings co-creator, Christina Gillick, had been looking for comfortable earrings that she could wear 24/7 since she was a child. When no other company created them, Christina decided to take matters into her own hands.
Read on to see how one idea turned into a lucrative home business!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your entrepreneurial journey.
Probably the most surprising thing is that I didn’t set out to become an entrepreneur. I wanted to be a freelance writer, but owning a business selling a physical product, like earrings, never crossed my mind.
Instead, I just wanted comfortable earrings for myself. Then, once I had the first prototypes, the business took on a life of its own, so to speak. Friends started asking for their own “Comfy Earrings” and little-by-little my husband, Nick, and I developed the idea into a business.
How did you fund your business?
It was crucial for us to test the idea before taking out any debt. We didn’t even know if anyone would want ComfyEarrings, so we were cautious at first.
Because of that, we started out really lean with just a few hundred dollars in inventory, which we pulled from our 9-to-5 job paychecks and freelance income.
Beyond that, we only needed a very basic website built on WordPress and some shipping supplies. I created the website myself, so the only cost there was the domain, hosting, and theme. As far as shipping supplies, we keep the cost low by buying in small quantities on Amazon.
How did you create your prototype?
Because I only needed one pair of ComfyEarrings (for myself), I didn’t even think to look at jewelry manufacturers. Instead, I went to a friend who worked in the body piercing industry. We brainstormed options for converting different types of body jewelry into earrings.
Once we had a good idea of what we wanted, we worked with a body jewelry manufacturer to customize one of their styles.
I was very happy to get comfortable earrings for myself, but knew that process wasn’t viable for a business – my cost was over $50 for one pair!
How did you find a manufacturer for your product?
Once friends started asking for their own comfortable earrings, Nick and I began to search for a manufacturer who could make the earrings in bulk. That search led us to Alibaba …
What tips do you have for working with vendors on Alibaba?
While we did use Alibaba for our first few orders, we quickly found that it was better to find and work directly with body jewelry manufacturers. The service we received was about the same, but we could get better pricing and lower quantity requirements.
However, we soon found that working directly with manufacturers wasn’t for us either. It was time-consuming and an area where we did not have experience. To quickly get over these hurdles, we hired a firm in the U.S. to work with the manufacturers on our behalf.
What type of e-commerce website are you using? Why did you choose this platform?
We currently use WooCommerce by WooThemes. We chose it mainly because of its easy integration with WordPress and scalability.
At one time we used 1ShoppingCart, but customers had to leave our site to complete their purchase. We strongly suspected that was costing us sales and, after moving to WooCommerce, learned that we were right.
What do you believe has contributed to your success?
If I had to choose just one thing, it would be continually moving forward even when we didn’t know the next step.
Anytime we were unsure, we turned to a Google search to get pointed in the right direction. Sometimes that search led to information. Other times it led to people that we worked with on a contract basis.
How are you currently growing your business?
Right now ComfyEarrings is our full-time job, so we’re constantly working on growing it. We’re marketing it with search engine optimization, a variety of social media channels, and pay-per-click ads.
We’ve also expanded to sell ComfyEarrings on Amazon, and we have several styles available on Amazon Prime! We’re currently crunching numbers to see if Multi-Channel Fulfillment by Amazon is a viable option for us.
Finally, we’re continually developing new styles and colors of ComfyEarrings. We hope to roll out custom styles (handmade right here in Dallas, Texas) within the next month! Then, by the end of summer, we plan to release all birthstone colors in the prong style (which is a customer favorite).
What advice do you have for other women who want to develop a product?
Try to test your idea on a small scale before investing in a lot of inventory. Based on customer feedback, our product has changed many times between our initial idea and current ComfyEarrings design. By ordering the smallest quantities possible, we were able to test and develop a product that is immensely better than our original ideas.
What has been your greatest success in business?
Positive customer feedback, no matter how brief, always feels like great success. Just hearing from a real person that ComfyEarrings allows them to feel beautiful (without the hassle and pain of traditional earrings) makes me feel like I’m changing the world!
Thanks, Christina for sharing your story!