Q&A with a Winner! Meet Sophie Kovic owner of FlockStocks
Sophie Kovic is an Australian small business owner on the rise. She is the owner of FlockStocks, feathered hair extensions made from selectively bred roosters from Whiting Farms in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado. About one year ago when the feather extension craze took flight in the United States, Sophie decided to use her beauty industry experience and small business research to tap into the trend. In the beginning she was not sure exactly what feathers would best suit her customers taste so she shipped out different types of feathers. Sophie found that feathers are extremely hard to come by and she found herself only being able to get feathers from fly fishing stores or directly from fishermen, making for an inconsistent product. As she continued to research feathers and learned more about exactly what her customers wanted she was able to narrow down her search to the farm that produced feathers to suit their needs. In her second month in business, Sophie made over $100,000 with the assistance of Google Adwords. Sophie is also the winner of Shopify’s Build-A-Business contest in the Apparel and Jewelry category. The 25 year-old mom and super savvy small business owner has taken time out of her schedule to share a few small biz diamonds.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what lead you to starting your own business
I read the book The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. It really resonated with me as I’ve always believed in working smarter not harder.
What resources did you use to start your own business?
I used the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to identify my product and then used the ecommerce platform Shopify to open up my store. I then used Adwords to drive traffic to the site. In the past I’ve used Alibaba to source suppliers but in this case I had to trawl the net to find small pockets of stock available mostly from fly fishing supply sites and fishing forums.
Would you call yourself an accidental entrepreneur? Did you know while you were working at your local cinema that FlockStocks would be such a big hit in the United States?
I wouldn’t call myself an accidental entrepreneur. I worked pretty hard at identifying the trend and have always had an interest in selling online. My previous venture was a 1950’s inspired range of dresses I called Pinup.
I had no idea Flockstocks would be so successful. When I started I had a goal of making $10,000; which looking back, I probably made in the first month alone.
How far into the launch of your business did you quit your day job or do you still work at the local cinema? If you are still working, what are your reasons?
I don’t work full-time anymore, but I employ someone to run my feather business so I can have more time to do other things. This includes doing some projection at the cinema, spending time with my baby and working on other business ideas.
What other countries are FlockStocks highly favored in?
My biggest market at the moment is Australia. Early on it was the US and then a little of Canada.
Tell us about your $100,000 month. What marketing tools did you have in place to achieve this? How did you feel hitting a number like this in one month’s time?
It was my second month in business and it still seems outrageous to me. All I used was Adwords and my budget was pretty small. I was sometimes having days where I sold $8,000 worth of product. I didn’t realize how big it was until I looked back and did the numbers. It was a crazy time trying to meet the demand. I actually had to turn off my adwords in order to catch up with the orders at one period.
When you first launched did you experience ‘naysayers’ or ‘haters’ that said your idea was crazy or it would never sale? If so how did you handle their negativity?
I think I got a lot of people who would just smile and say “oh that’s nice” and not really understand but I never really faced any criticism. My boyfriend tells me he thought I was crazy to spend that first outlay on some fishing feathers but he never told me at the time. I was pretty certain at the time that I could make it work, because I had already tested the idea using Adwords and a testing website. So I was certain of the potential, which kept me on track.
What has been the overall outcome of winning the Apparel and Jewelry catagory of Shopify’s Build-A-Business contest? What was awarded to you?
I won $25,000 USD, a VIP trip for two to New York, $7,500 worth of Adwords credit and a lunch with Seth Godin. For me, the prize money and trip were great, but the lunch with Seth is priceless. I just returned from New York and visiting his office was a dream come true. Also meeting all the other prize winners and the staff from Shopify has been fantastic. It’s been a hell of a ride, and I’m so grateful.
How does social media impact the way that you do business? Which social media platforms do you prefer?
I don’t think I utilize social media effectively. I use Facebook and a bit of twitter but I’m still learning. I try to engage with my followers and fans as much as possible and I have some who are highly interactive but it’s definitely not where it could be.
What is the toughest part about running your own business?
Driving traffic to the site.
What is the best thing about being a small business owner?
The best thing would be having a creative outlet that can also be lucrative. When you make something that people want, and you can actually make money from, it’s a very good feeling. And if you enjoy doing it, which I do, it’s amazing.
Do you have a business plan?
I have no specific business plan, other than working out my percentages for costs, advertising, tax, profits etc.
What is in the future FlockStocks?
I’m seeking new distributors in Australia. I’ve done a deal in Western Australia and am looking to do similar exclusive deals in other states.
Please share a small biz diamond that you would like to pass on to other entrepreneurs and small business owners?
Test your idea before you outlay any time or money. This can be done in a day using a test website and a Adwords account. It’s so important. I spent two years designing and manufacturing a range of (beautiful) dresses no one wanted and no one could find. Tim Ferriss outlines this in more detail in his amazing book The Four Hour Workweek.
For small business owners The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and Purple Cow by Seth Godin are both amazing books and have shaped who I am in business. If you can keep your mind open and surround yourself with inspiring people, good things happen.
Set high goals then make them happen. Define them, write them down, then write down the steps to make them happen. Start the first step now. Make the phone call, book the interview, email the lead. Do something that once it’s done you can’t cancel or postpone. And stop avoiding the important.
With a small budget and a clear focus, Sophie has successfully used Google Adwords to get traffic to her website and ultimately close sales. This feature added with the perfect timing lead Sophie to experience making $100,000 in a month. Have you tried implementing Google Adwords for your small business? If so what has been the outcome? Please share your small biz diamonds in the comments section below.
Have a successful day!