For somebody starting off, for sure, that doesn't really know where to start, Alibaba is quite daunting. There's so many different vendors there. So I can definitely see the value in SaleHoo. I have friends that are often looking for advice on where to start. That's, you know, one of the big questions to get the ball rolling. Like, how do I look on Alibaba? Like what should I be looking for? So having a platform that makes it a little bit easier for people, I can see how SaleHoo would be an amazing asset for new businesses.

In today's interview, we sit down with Maggie Outridge, who, alongside her fiancé, made a bold move to break free from the 9 to 5 routine. They kickstarted their entrepreneurial journey by selling their car for $12,000, channeling every penny into their eCommerce venture specializing in dog accessories. Within a remarkable 18 months, their endeavor turned into a $600,000 success story. Maggie openly shares the challenges and hurdles they faced, offering valuable insights on navigating issues, from optimizing paid ads and leveraging influencer marketing to securing the right inventory and discovering the elusive product-market fit. Tune in to learn from their journey and discover how to steer clear of potential pitfalls in your eCommerce endeavors.

Michelle Yuan: Hey everyone. I'm the host of the SaleHoo eCommerce podcast, where we interview entrepreneurs, marketers, experts, and people who are knee-deep in the daily grind of the e-commerce world. We want to uncover the latest e-commerce trends and get actionable insights that you can incorporate into your daily hustle as you build your online business. Today, we're interviewing Maggie Outridge, co-founder of St Argo, a luxury pet supplies company based in Melbourne, Australia. So thank you, Maggie, and great to have you on the show.

Maggie Outridge: Thank you for inviting me on the show. I'm excited to answer your questions.

Michelle: No problem. As a dog lover myself who was obsessed with my dog, I'm really excited to have you on our podcast. So first off, can you just tell me a bit about your company? Why did you start it and what was the motivation behind it?

Maggie: Sure. I feel like we get this question quite often because my background definitely isn't in product development or marketing. I was studying law at the time we founded Sanago, and my partner was working in finance, but we'd honestly just moved from Queensland to Melbourne and we just moved across from a dog park, walk in the park. And that was what sparked. We kind of wanted to start a side hustle at the time anyway, but we were there.

We didn't have a dog at the time, and we were wandering around and we would just be those weird people that would go to the dog park and look at everybody else's dogs and want a dog. And so we thought, let's bring out a dog product. And at the time we brought out our dog carrier, which was a bit different from anything else that was on the market, but it was spurred on by the fact that we were living so close to so many cute dogs in Melbourne. Really?

Michelle: Okay. And how did you learn about what you actually needed to do to start an e-commerce company? Did you get courses or did you have a mentor or just Google a lot?

Maggie: Well, we're really, I think, there's like two kinds of people in the world, honestly, and there's the kinds that are like that will do everything to the book and that will do everything that will bring something out, you know when it's perfect. And like, we were where like the crazy people are doing it like nothing was ready when we brought it out. We were unsure of our manufacturer. Like, honestly, we were just like at the point where we were bringing products out and the point that we'd chosen a manufacturer, we had no money. So we were like, we need to make this work. Like we didn't have the time or money to do courses or we were just like, let's just do it. Like, you know, other people can do it. We can do it. So it was naivety and. Just the need and the like. It needed to work, you know?

Michelle: And are you both working on this full-time now?

Maggie: We were, for like the first, so we weren't for the first, maybe like eight months. And then it really took off. And so we were, but now we have time. It's quite a self-sufficient model. So now we have time to do other pieces as well. So it's kind of like part-time for us now.

Michelle: So are you working on other jobs or just traveling the world?

Maggie: We're working on other products, and traveling. And we do a little bit of contracting work as well.

Michelle: Oh, okay. And, so how did you like I mean, you talked about you lived across a dog park, but why exactly? You could do a lot of, you know, pet products. Like, why exactly? Collars and poop bags and things like that.

Maggie: It's so weird. When I look back on it, I don't think I ever considered anything else. And in all honesty, at the time, I wasn't that certain about the product that we were bringing out. I didn't know whether it would work or not. I knew I wanted to do something, my partner really wanted to do something. But it was the product I was most certain about. So that's why we decided to bring it out. We brought out just one product at the very start, which was our carrier. I was more sure about that than anything else because nobody had done anything like it. We based it around a designer handbag, you know, all dog carriers were like fabric, and they looked like they had mesh and pieces like that. We didn't want anything like that. We wanted it to look like literally a designer handbag. It was like our vegan leather. So it looked very different to anything else. And that's why we decided to do that, because there really wasn't anything like that.

Michelle:Okay. And, were you worried at all about competition or like you said, you felt like there was nothing else but, you know, sometimes when something comes out and it's very easy for people on like, you know, AliExpress or anywhere to just copy it and make a cheaper version, were you worried about that at all.

Maggie: We weren't at the time. Again, it was we were just so naive. We were so like, I was 23, my partner was 22. So like we were just fresh onto the scene and didn't consider that, just thought about, let's just make sales. Let's bring out something let's, you know, like it's so fulfilling. This is so cool. I'll figure out Instagram, you figure out Google. Let's make sales. We never considered competitors. Now we do know that the brand's more established and we do see copies as well now. So now we're I think, you know, we think more about those pieces, but at the time, no idea what we were stepping into. So you don't know what you don't know.

Michelle: And how much did you like, what was the model that you started off with? Did you start dropshipping or did you just buy a bulk of inventory or use a manufacturer, like, what was the model that you started off with?

Maggie: So we went on Alibaba as everybody does, sourced like we chose a few factories, to look at. And then we flew over to China where they were all based in Guangzhou. And we chose our factory, who we're still with today. They're amazing. That again, though, you know, when there's so many options to choose from and you have no idea what you're doing, that was a huge risk. But it paid off for us because we landed a great factory. But yeah, we bought they were really lenient on the minimum order quantities for us, which was great starting out because we had maybe $12,000, like we had nothing. So I think we got like 600 units of bags. No we didn't.

We got one, two, three, four, five. Yeah we did, we got 600 units of bags, which was a lot for us, in six different colors. And we did get some collars and leads as well, because there was a lot of leftover fabric from the back of our vegan leather leftover from the bags. So we decided to, you know, use that and turn it into collars and leads. I did not think the collars and leads would work at all, but it's turned out we've now that's pretty much all we do.

That's their our top sellers. So that was a good call. Again. Again, luck. So we got the inventory. We got it shipped over in a big container, which was insane to us. And we had a storage facility at National Storage, which was a 40-minute walk from our apartment. We'd sold our car to buy all the inventory. So every time we had to stock up on new inventory because we were shipping it ourselves from our flat, we would walk 40 minutes to National Storage.

And then we would get an Uber back because we didn't want an Uber both ways, because it was too expensive. So we would Uber back to our flat, whatever boxes could fit in our tiny studio apartment. And then we would haul it to Oz post whenever we would make sales. And that was like six months of hauling. After all, This person asked, rocking up to us post with his boxes of stuff and the Ospreys people being like, oh, so yeah, that was the our model, if you want to call it that, until we could afford to move into now what we have, which is like a street, we're working with a three PL.

Michelle: And, so it seemed like you started off with $12,000 for your business. Did you mention or was that just inventory? Like, how about other things, like how did you allocate a budget? Okay. Like I'm going to spend this much for this business to see if it works or we. Okay. So you're just like winging it scraped.

Maggie: Together every dollar that we had. And it was all we saw as the cost was inventory. And then we'd worry about shipping as it comes, you know, like, we sold a collar. So that pays for, you know, a 10th of its shipping. It's shipping anyway. So we just did it kind of like case by case. We weren't actively spending on ads or anything at that time. Packaging was included in the manufacturing cost. So it was really just getting the inventory and then we would figure out the rest. The storage was hardly anything. I can't remember what it was, but it was just a little storage cage in National Storage. So that was it. We were very lean. We still are lean. But we were very lean.

Michelle: So how did you determine how much inventory you should purchase? Or is it just, you said, like, we're going to spend 12,000 or we're going to buy this many units, or.

Maggie: We were really working with a manufacturer on, like, what their MOQs were. So we wanted to bring out bags, and we had three colors in one style, three in another. And the MOQs were 100 of each SKU, so 100 of each style and colour. So we knew, okay, there's 600. That's the outlay. How much is that going to cost us? And we went with that. I think we had a little bit left over of the 12K; like we didn't put that all into the first order. I think we saved a bit for the second order. I can't remember exact numbers, but pretty much it was just working on what do you guys need for us to get this started? And we worked with them.

Michelle: But did you have different sizes or were you just going to cater to one dog?

Maggie: No. So we had the bags and then we had collars. I think we brought out three colours. We brought out black, blue, pink, and cork material, which was a total flop. But we had three sizes, and they were all over the place as well. We were looking at what other brands were doing, but we really needed five sizes, which we have now. So we had the bags and then we had the three sizes. At that time, we really weren't servicing a wide variety of dog breeds like golden retrievers and Labradors wouldn't have fit into our products, which we discovered after.

So I think we went quite lean on the collars at the time because we really didn't know what we were doing. We were ordering just bare minimums of everything, testing it out. And then in our second order, we got our sizing and products together a little bit more than what they were for the first one. The first one was like, let's go, let's see what happens. It was a test, you know?

Michelle: So how important do you think the supplier and the relationship is for your journey?.

Maggie: I mean, it's been so important for us. I can't think of anything more important, because, you know, it's somebody that you work with a lot. I'm not a designer, so they. Well, I design our pieces, but I will send them word documents or pages. Documents with, photo ideas with, descriptions. And then it's up to them to put, you know, the 3D rendering together. I don't get anybody else to do that. They do that and I'm back and forward with them, constantly. So if there wasn't a good relationship there, it would be really hard to bring out nice products. It would be really hard to innovate.

And as a small business, I just feel like if there was no flexibility there, I think that's where people can really struggle because they were really flexible with their moqs for us. Without that, we wouldn't have been able to bring out the products that we did test pieces and like, move as quickly as we did. We'd still be stuck with hundreds of units of stock if they were really strict on their moqs. So having a good relationship with them has been a blessing, and sticking with them the whole time is amazing because, you know, we know them. Like we will try and visit the factory as often as we can. That's been difficult with Covid, but we've just gone back again and it's amazing. It just it makes it a much easier process to be bringing out products to people.

Michelle: And that's why with the SaleHoo directory, our company, we allow beginner entrepreneurs to easily connect and work with the most credible and trusted suppliers from around the world. The key is that we can filter out the suppliers so that you only choose from the ones that are more trustworthy. You have the flexibility to choose from specific locations and regions, including local ones that can significantly impact shipping times and accessibility. So what do you think of something like SaleHoo?

Maggie: Like amazing. For somebody starting off, for sure, that doesn't really know where to start. Alibaba is quite daunting. There's so many different vendors there. So I can definitely see the value in it. I have friends that are often looking for advice on where to start. That's a, you know, one of the big questions to get the ball rolling. Like, how do I look on Alibaba? Like what should I be looking for? So having a platform that makes it a little bit easier for people, I can see how SaleHoo would be an amazing asset for new businesses.

Michelle: Sometimes you want to work with not just suppliers from China, but suppliers locally or somewhere else. And that's where I think SaleHoo can come in as well.

Maggie: For sure. Like at the moment where, we're trying to get the manufacturing of our poop bags. So they're the little biodegradable doggy bags that you take walking. Done. In Australia, because not that we have any issue with them being done in China, but there's such a low cost, like a low-value product for us. And we have like they're a reasonable price to be made in China, but shipping them to Australia costs so much money because they're like in a box. They're quite bulky and they're heavy. And then the taxes and import charges on top of that means we break even, we make a little bit of money, but the profits are very slim. But there's nobody in Australia that has the technology to make the compostable bags, but not to actually roll them into the rolls. So having a hand with sourcing manufacturers, I mean I've just messaged like tens of them and they've all had the same response. And that's like, taking my time and effort to do that. So, you know, if I knew that beforehand, that would have been amazing. So I can see why that would be really valuable to somebody.

Michelle: Let's move on to pricing. So, how did you come up with the pricing of your products? Did you do a lot of research or look at competitors? How did you actually figure out where to price? Did you experiment?

Maggie: So at the start, we, I think, we just have factors to consider in pricing. One, we always try to remain competitive. So be less expensive. Maybe it's a few cents. Maybe it's a dollar. We always want it to be less expensive. We at the start had this weird thing where we always wanted to end our pricing in a four or a nine, so like a color would be 29 or $24, I don't, I think we were trying to make it under the 25 or the $30 mark we had that we were just throwing ideas out there. Obviously, we needed to make a profit on it. And we always based our profit margin with a ten-time multiplier. So just from, you know, having it made, if it's made for $2, we'll try and sell it for $20. We soon came to realize, though, that obviously now we've got marketing spend and then there's shipping costs to us and then shipping costs to the customer. So we've changed that around a little bit now, but that was what we were doing at the start. And then we.

Michelle: So what's your?

Maggie:I think that was it. And, I think it's actually eight times now. It's actually less just because we're trying to stay competitive. And we've assigned ourselves plenty of wiggle room as well. We're quite lean on marketing now as well. So it's not such a huge hit to us, but we have really pushed up our prices as well over time. As the brand has gotten more recognition, I think we started off with some colors at $21, and now the least expensive is around $42. Just because, you know, nobody knew who we were. Now they know who we are. There's a lot that's gone into the brand, and the products have developed as well. We've listened to feedback and leveled up our products as well. So I feel like the price tag can be justified now, whereas I didn't at the time. Different considerations, but we're constantly mixing it up, changing it. With inflation as well, we made a bit of a change when that was happening last year.

Michelle: But when you experiment, how exactly do you do it? Do you give them two landing pages and then see which one is converting better? Or do you just adjust the price as you go and see if you're making more sales or if you're making less sales, kind of like that. What exactly is your process?

Maggie: No, we've not done like an A B test with it. We've just raised a couple of dollars every now and again. I think we've done it maybe three times now. To still be competitive, I think. Now, the difference is that we're looking at other brands that are more similar to us, like perhaps Max Bones or Wild Ones, and trying to be that price versus at the start we were looking at other brands. I don't know who we were looking at at the start, but trying to be more around the lower price. So that's kind of how we've done it now and, but still try to be a couple of dollars under the bigger players. Because, you know, we're not at the stage that Max Bone or Wild Run is, but that's where we want to be. So that's how we base our pricing.

Michelle: Okay. And how did you get your first customer?

Maggie: My first customer was my mom. So that.

Michelle: Or a stranger customer, like.

Maggie: I think our big thing at the start was I was on Facebook in lots of dog groups posting about this new bags, and we got a few styles of bags which were amazing at the time because they were $200. They were like a big ticket item for us. Some sales started coming in through people that I'd seen on Facebook, like different dog pages. That was how. And then it really started expanding on social media for us on Instagram. When I was, I was just constantly on there, posting stories. It was me, in my apartment, showing people the products. That's when more sales started to stream in, obviously all organically.

Michelle: How many years or was this recent or how many years ago was this.

Maggie: 2019.

Michelle: Okay. 2019.

Maggie: So, I think we launched in August 2019, and then we were maybe making a sale a day, probably mostly through Facebook and as well. I'd say people showing other people around them because we were getting lots in the same areas because it was like a $200 dog bag that looked very different from anything else. I think there was a lot of word of mouth back then. Before we started really actively advertising, maybe 6 or 7 months later.

Michelle: Okay. And, what exactly are your main sales channels now? I mean, you're not still posting on Facebook, right? Or.

Maggie: No, our main sales channels, we've got a great email subscriber base. So they're very engaged. I think Instagram is still great for us as well. And of course, we're actively advertising on Google. We advertise across meta as well, which does do well for us, but it's a little trickier to guarantee that it will do well for us versus when we first launched and Facebook was, you know, firing. That was amazing, so email, google, and like facebook

Michelle: Okay. Have you done, like, I saw you had a TikTok. Do you guys do TikTok ads, or do sales come through from TikTok?

Maggie: I don't think so. Like I think we really struggled with TikTok. That's one of my goals for this year, to be more active on TikTok. I love TikTok myself, but we've not found any luck yet. We pulled in ads there for a little while, but it really chewed up our spend quickly before we could see any conversions. So I think we just need to have a little step back with spending on TikTok and have a bit more of a strategy around that. Would love to be on TikTok shop, but that's not a thing in Australia yet. TikTok is definitely an avenue that we want to explore. I love TikTok again, but I'm not quite ready for it yet. It's quite expensive to get past the learning curve there, I believe.

Michelle: Do you think it's because your products are a bit higher priced than for TikTok, their younger users maybe.

Maggie: Potentially, yeah. Like we've got a TikTok shop over here. I'm in the EU, and I buy stuff off there all the time, and it's all low-cost stuff. I buy it because it's 70% off and it's just ridiculous not to. So yeah, I would say pricing does play a factor in that.

Michelle:Okay. And so you said that in terms of your spend across meta and Google, is Google working better for you?

Maggie: My partner saw the ads.. But I do hear him go on about Google. Google does like it. I think it's more consistent than meta. When meta works. It's great. But you know, you can have a week of it working and then a week of it not working. Google does more. Display ads. Definitely. Yeah, that's all I can really speak to that because he is more of the Google girl than me, but we're constantly advertising on Google. Okay. And are you did you get into like, pet shops and like

Michelle: Okay. And are you, did you get into pet shops and like, are you stocked in stores? Like, how did you get that to work?

Maggie: Yeah, we love working with retailers. We have a long track record with working with retailers. That's again part of our strategy for this year. Retailers we've found do tend to die off after the Christmas period. Just as you would imagine, people aren't shopping on Myer and David Jones right now. But, during the Christmas periods, we've been really lucky. Like we've been stocked with the iconic where they purchased a bunch of inventory. It wasn't consignment or drop shipping. That was an amazing break for us. And that sold really well. We are also stocked with lots of little pet boutiques. We're not stocked with any big guys yet, like the pet barns and the pet stocks.

That's again, a goal of ours. But I do think that being stocked with those guys, the cost of the product definitely plays a role because there's lots of low-cost, really great items in those stores. So that's why we're doing things like we brought out a treat pouch mid-last year. And it's quite low cost, but it's a bit different to anything else. It's super durable. It's really, really cool that we're hoping that that's kind of like our gateway product into getting into the bigger stores. So we're definitely thinking long term with the products we bring out and who would want to buy them, trying to offer a bit of a range of products to different retailers because I think they'll probably dabble in different products. Our harnesses are more expensive than anything they stock. So yeah, we keep pricing in mind definitely with retailers as well.

Michelle: Okay. So how did you actually get stocked? Did you do cold calls or cold emails? How did you get stocked in these pet shops?

Maggie: Well, Sometimes it's cold emails. That's that was like one of our strategies at the start, especially to smaller guys. We found that with the big guys that just doesn't work like they're not interested. If they haven't reached out to you, they don't want you generally. Honestly, I don't think that they would send out an email to David Jones and say, Hey, have you guys heard about us like we would with a small retailer, and they would be like, Oh, we haven't but we would love to like that just doesn't happen. So without big retailers, they've always approached us with minor and the iconic but with small ones.

Yeah. It's a mix. Generally, they will reach out to us a lot of the time it's over Instagram, yeah, they've reached out to us and then that's what happens. But we also used to in the beginning, when we were actively looking for retailers, we would just send out bulk email, like I would just look up pet stores. And just that's how we would do it. There's definitely a smarter way of doing that, But yeah, that's what we did at the time. We were just cold email

Michelle: Okay. And do you have different agreements with different pet stores? Like, are some on consignment or do some buy bulk from you? How does it work for.

Maggie: No, just with our inventory, we wanted to keep it really straightforward. So everybody has just purchased from us. There's no consignment. And everybody is on the same agreement with bigger retailers that we really want to get into. I won't say exactly like what the numbers are, but they definitely can twist our arms more with the terms, you know, with payment terms and with the actual wholesale pricing, like the percentage pricing. But still we all try and keep it like as even playing field as we possibly can.

Michelle: Okay. And what's the breakdown of sales now? Do you see most of the sales still coming from ads or from pet stores?

Maggie: Oh, definitely. Through our platform, pet stores when we're not, like, active, that's really slowed down for us. I think like time of year, but we're also not actively looking at the moment. So it's really whoever approaches us. Definitely through ad spend is where we get the majority of our sales, and that's something that we're really trying to work on as well. In, you know, like if you turn your ads off and sales dry up, I don't think that's great for sales. So we're also really trying to work on our organic marketing as well. Our SEO.

Michelle: Okay. And how did you determine, does your partner or your fiance now, does he just do all of the ads, or do you guys outsource to someone who runs them? And how did you figure out how much you want to spend at first? Because you do need to spend quite a bit to at least see results. It's not really like people say they'll 1 or $5 per day. I mean, I've never seen results like that, but how did you figure out how much to spend?

Maggie: He, I wish that he was on this call to explain this to you, because I'm not exactly sure. I mean, we don't outsource any of it. He does all of it. He's amazing at it. He's on it every day, I think. Like, it's pretty much it's not his full-time job, but it is a full-time job of monitoring them. Tweaking them. We spend a bit to see the results. Yeah, like it's not $1 to $5 a day, I think. I don't know exactly how much it is, but it's not $1 to $5. It's in the hundreds to see results. And it's constant. But I just think the thing that we're working on at the moment is if they're switched off or if something happens, you know, or if they're not working, like we've all of us have seen with the privacy laws changing with Facebook just being like really across the board, not great with advertising. That's like that's just a bit of a threat with our marketing. So I think it's trying to diversify as well and not just not focus as much on ad spend, focus a little bit more on the organic traffic and organic sales as well.

Michelle: I guess it's really about capturing the emails because you said you have a pretty good subscriber list. So wuld you say a lot of the sales come in from there?

Maggie: Yeah. They do, we send, we try to send an email every six days and then of course, our email subs will always get sales notifications and they're signed up to restock alerts. So whenever we restock, the email goes out, we get sales. Email subs are great. They're really, really engaged. So definitely if you can invest in your email subs, treat them nice. It'll come back tenfold. Absolutely.

Michelle YUAN: And you basically work on the email subs through ads right? Or is there another way

Maggie: like in attaining email subs, yeah. Yeah, so like, obviously we have like a pop up when you first join our website I add some more targeted at just like converting not really getting emails subs. So as soon as you hit our website, we make it really easy for you to subscribe to that pop up and then there's like subscribe boxes pretty much all over the website. So it's easy for them to find. Whenever I'm doing any posting as well. It's always like signing up to be notified. It's just like reminding people that you can like you get more benefits and being a subscriber with us then with you know, than not we also always try and make sure our content is like fresh. And actually something somebody I know everybody says this, but really it's not just like spammy. We offer them a lot in our emails. Yeah, so I think that's important. I want people to see our email pop up and be excited. about it. And I'll be like, Can I answer unsubscribe? But emails are like the number one ROI I read somewhere the other day and I think that would be the case for us. Definitely. When we send out an email and there's a sale or a restock, like we get conversions. straightaway.

Michelle: But what else do you offer in the emails besides sales or gifts or restocks? Like do you tell them like dog tips or like how to take care of your dogs, things like that, or what exactly. Do you nurture them.

Maggie: We'll tie it into events that are happening if it's dog Monday, we'll send out a nice email. We'll notify them if we're thinking of bringing out like a new colorway we often wish before like polls, like for people to cast their vote and like kind of be more part of the brand as well. Like do you want to see yellow or do you want to see hot pink, an email subs get access to that? I think that's really great. Whenever we post a blog, we'll also email people about it. So there's a blog on all these like the top 10 routers that your dog absolutely cannot eat. You know, whatever that is. We'll email subs as well. They're all dog people, obviously if they've subscribed to us though. Yeah, but not really. Like we always kind of like have try and have a point purpose to it as well. Like, if there's a blog that's going out, we'll email them about it, but I wouldn't just like to email them randomly about like, top dog training tips unless it was like in our blog, so I kind of like always try and tie it together with what's on the website as well.

Michelle: To get them back to your website to hopefully purchase.

Maggie: Yeah, hopefully to convert.

Michelle: Okay. And do you work with, or do you do influencer marketing like work with dog influenza?

Maggie: Hey, this is something I can talk about. 100% like I love influencer marketing so much. We don't do dog influences really? Like we really were really targeting ourselves towards lifestyle brand women's wear. Not so much like the doggy like, like just a pet brand. Like I don't want to just be seen as a pet brand. So yeah, we work with influencers that I personally love. Often and content creators Yeah. That's where we get like a lot of our content. You know, Instagram Tik Tok. They're like content, beasts. They love content and we personally with like we couldn't create enough to keep up with it so constantly every single day working with content creators and influencers to mostly create content I mean, I'm looking more at We haven't like we've been lucky enough to always work with content creators and influencers on it like gift for content basis, so they can choose what they want from the range. And they'll create content for us. And then we may or may not depending on what they want, have the rights to post it as as, and they may or may not want to post it themselves. A lot of the time, it's just it's smaller UGC creators who don't necessarily have a big following, but they create beautiful content. And we, we use that content as as are now. So yeah, definitely worked with a variety of content creators and influencers on different basis fees as well.

Michelle: So you're not really like banking on them, creating sales for you, but kind of just like getting content from them. Right,

Maggie: Exactly like fresh content. I think that's like being out strategy this year was wiggling a little bit and we'll be pushing more on, you know, hopefully being in a position where we can be spending on them and getting that like getting the exposure from them. So asking that they repost because, you know, it's part of the deal. Asking that they would appreciate a story or whatever, rather than just getting the content from them. That's kind of the next step up, but we've not been in a position to afford that yet. But that's probably the next step especially as with the Facebook really not performing. Well looking at. Yeah, what swiveling and you know, putting the spin into influences because it's just it's a lot of fun and lots of other brands are doing it and I think there's real potential there for our brand.

Michelle: Okay, and when you say Facebook is not performing Is it because like the cost per purchase is too high and you're not like making you're not making it back or it's just like, not putting it in the right spots? Or

Maggie: Well again, my partner does this all right. Yeah. I think it's, um, it's mostly not it's just the cost to get in front of new eyes. We've just found that we're spending on Facebook and it's kind of just, it just is sent to the same people on rotation and we don't get good feedback from that and we don't get you exposure from that, versus, you know, putting that however much $1,000 into a couple of influences. And they post to their million person audience. What's that gonna do for us versus Yeah, putting money into Facebook. We're just not. It's really not as easy to get new eyes on our products as it used to be. That's, I think the best way I heard it described.

Michelle: Yeah, I mean, I guess you wouldn't know until you try with each influencer. But yeah, that it could be like a better way to get sales. Okay, so do you. Do you yourself do work, like reach out to the influencers and do the email marketing or do you guys have a team or it's just really just you guys just you too. So you do so you design the emails and you reach out and make the agreements with influencers?

Maggie: Yeah, so we generally do it. I generally do it over like direct Instagram, because unless they don't get back to me and I'm really really keen on this one specific influencer because I like I'm usually on Instagram anyway, looking at like, do I want to work with this person? Do I like this content? Are they like a good fit and fee because then I know that I can go directly to them versus potentially going through to an agent and like, guaranteeing that you know, they're going to be asking for for money. Of course, that's always fine. You know, if an influencer will just say like, I only work on a paid basis, that's fine. When we're in the position to do that, we'll be doing that. Definitely i love influencing marketing, yeah I reach out via Instagram DM usually and they're usually get back to me on there and they're Keen to work so that's been working so far. We'll be looking this year at hopefully bringing on somebody to help us with that though as we swerve towards more of this like social marketing because it is quite you know time consuming going through Instagram and reaching out to people and like negotiating you know what do you want you know like all these pieces so that's really exciting but my partner does all the ads and he also puts together the emails for the subs and I'm more of like the social side of it.

Michelle: Okay, so how do you guys know how to design emails like is this something you guys learned or you get templates or

Maggie: Yeah, so where, my gosh I don't even know the database of email that we're on what what clav no no no, what email database are we on what email do we use, no what email like to send emails to sub, privy because it's like a random one, we use privy he just taught himself that and he we just like always make sure they're you know packed with imagery and they look really nice every time and they've got like a clear cord of action and link to our website and he just yeah he taught himself that it's quite an easy platform to use I believe.

Michelle: Okay that's interesting so can you just like run me through both of your days? I guess like for people who are just wondering what it's like to run an ecommerce company day to day like what do you guys do, what time do you wake up? What do you, is it like work 24/7? Or

Maggie: Yeah, so we wake up and try to wake up early because Australia is still awake then, and then if we have to get back to our, like our warehouse, or if we've got any meetings booked. It's always pretty early in the morning while we're overseas.

Tim, like I think Tim likes to jump into the difficult stuff straight up, like fiddling with ads and pieces straight away which will take a few hours, and scheduling emails as well, which will take a couple of hours as well, especially when he gets all the content together.

I jump straight away into emails, which will take a few hours as well because I want to get back to people while they're still awake, and then in the afternoon, I work on, like influencer outreach, content creation. I'll usually do like later in the day influencer outreach, in the afternoon because like I still kind of need to be a little bit fresh for it, but then the content creation I'll do like in the afternoon or the evening because it's like nice fun stuff and it's usually quite time-consuming put together like editing videos so I can spend a few hours just doing that in the afternoon which is really nice and that's it yeah so influencing stuff content creation, emails, meetings in the mornings. Tim will do the advertising in AM and then in the afternoon he'll probably focus more on email pieces. Yeah that's it

Michelle: Okay interesting, so just like along your full ecommerce Journey. What do you think are the big biggest mistakes that you've made along the way?

Maggie: Okay, definitely we still continue to make this. We don't learn our lesson, we, I think, never underestimate like the cost and the time of shipping goods from overseas. There's always, even if we give ourselves a two-week buffer from like the estimated landing time, they are always late, and we have pre-order functions on our website, which are amazing for cash flow but not great if people are expecting something by a certain time, especially during the holiday period, and we're over by a week and they're not going to get it by Christmas. Like that's really stressful for everybody.

So, I think, like, literally never underestimate how long something takes, not just to get overseas or to get packed but also to get, you know, to go through customs in Australia, to get possibly held up there and inspected, to get delivered to the factory, to get unpacked at the factory. We've done this for four years, and we're still, we're never early, certainly. Sometimes we're late, sometimes still late. Unfortunately, we can't not have that function. Like if we're, our products, we have some clear top sellers, and they always sell through so quickly. But if we turn off that pre-order, like, people will wait. They won't choose another color, oftentimes. They'll wait, or they'll, like, purchase that color on pre-order. So, we can't, we really can't not have that pre-order function. But we need to, we really need to work on the timing and the logistics still of getting the products to us.

I think that's a big, big piece, and as well, the cost. Like, I think it's not a mistake we've made because we were always really strict with we've got to give ourselves a buffer of that 10% profit. I mean, now, at multiplier, now we're at 8%, around about, I mean eight times around about, but, I think people can think, 'Oh my gosh, that's such a big multiplier,' but honestly, it's not. Obviously, just the cost of the goods, it's the cost to ship them, which you know about, that's fine. But then you don't, there's so many unexpected costs with getting them into Australia customs, like they, you know, can just randomly inspect your products, and it's an extra $2,000. Like, it's just, there's a lot more that goes into it that you don't realize. So, that would be a big one that I would say to people, like, keep that multiplier up, otherwise you're not going to have any profit, and it's not going to work.

Michelle: Okay and so would that be like one of your biggest tips that you would give someone who is you know looking to start their own e-commerce business in today's climate or are there other tips as well

Maggie: Yeah, that would probably be my number one, because that was a tip that was given to me from another business owner. She's amazing. I won't say who it is, but she said to me from the start, when I came to her, when we were looking at pricing. So, okay, we did do like a little bit of research, but she said just keep that 10 times multiplier if you can. She, I think, she works on more, she has a very different product to us, but that 10 times multiplier is like such a big one.

I also think that a tip that I would say to people is like do something before you're ready. I think that's something we've always done. Don't wait until perfect because like there's never perfect, you're never ready, you never know every contingency, see that's going to happen, but you just need to start and you need to do it. And if you knew, I think like if I knew everything that was like ahead of me and like all the stress, of course, it's good. I'm talking like it's not like nice, but there is like lots of stresses and uncertainties. I don't think I would have done it. So, I think that naivety, like sometimes can work, to help you definitely because you don't know what's coming.

Michelle: yeah and what do you think is like the maybe one or two key factors that really catapulted your brand to where it is today

Maggie: I generally, when people ask me this, I always say, it was a mixture of luck, timing, and okay, we do have nice products, of course, but there, there's other factors that play as well. we really started taking off because we were doing well, like we quit our jobs and we were doing it full-time in like early 2020, but mid-2020, when Australia really, like, shut down and Covid happened, we took off then, and that was timing for us because everybody was shopping online, where obviously Ecom and everybody was buying dogs, and we were just perfectly positioned. We're not expecting it; that was when our brand, like, really, really took off, and we had to start taking it seriously, as in like, do we do marketing on this now, do we retarget these people, like, wow, now we're really in it, like, now we're actually making sales. We've moved to a warehouse; like, we've got costs now that the products are just, are here, you know? It's not just like the cost of manufacturing it anymore.

And we, I think we capitalized on that as well with the hard work that we put in from that point. Yeah, there was a little bit of luck and timing that got to that point, but then it was like, okay, now we educate ourselves on how do we advertise to these people, how do I really make Instagram work for us now, like, how do I do this influencer thing? I had no idea, and like the product development as well, the products have come such a long way from even that point, so we like, there was like the hard work that went into it and like the products are a lot better now too. and I also think, oh, I had another point; we put every single scent back into it as well, like, we didn't, we kept reinvesting in it and kept making the products better, like eating two-minute noodles at night, but like, at least the D slots on the collars are, like, so much better than they were last time, and nobody can copy that and like that kind of thing, we just were like obsessed with it, so the hard work that went into it as well as timing and luck that like, I think, shot us to the next platform.

Michelle: okay so last question what's next for St Argo are you going to be expanding into other products or just trying to get your products into more stores across the world I know you have your new poop bag but are you trying to also expand to other countries or

Maggie: Yeah, so look, honestly, we moved to the UK in early 2021 because we were to expand to the UK, because I mean, apart from the US, the UK is our top like purchaser at the moment, and we don't actively advertise there, so you know, we know that there's the demand there. and it was easier to there, so we were like, okay, let's go there and we'll set up there, but just on the cusp of that happening, we got stocked with mea, and again, it's just Tim and I, we don't have any investors or anything like that, so we just could not get the stock together to set up a warehouse there, in the UK with this big man, um, this big retailer coming on board. In Australia, the plan is we're bringing out really cool products constantly, we've got heaps in the works this year, and eventually cracking into the US will be our like our first bigger Market that we crack into through Amazon, that's the plan. I mean, we're stocked on Amazon in that in Australia but it's it's really not the same Beast as Amazon in the US, so that's hopefully a plan for like end of this year getting into the US market and getting on their TikTok shop finally, yeah, through Amazon.

Michelle: okay, okay well thank you so much for this interview was really really informative and I think a lot of listeners will definitely learn a lot from your e-commerce Journey so if you want to get more actionable insights on the e-commerce industry be sure to subscribe to our saleHoo e-commerce podcast and also our YouTube channel, so you never miss an episode. Thank you and see you in the next episode.