Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
FabRap designs and produces 100% organic cotton fabric gift wrapping which is reusable and repurposable (also known as Furoshiki). As the Founder of FabRap, I’ve been wrapping with fabric since I was a child. Having lived in many countries as an ex-pat, I was shocked at the number of plastics that are used in wrapping gifts, and even more shocked to learn that most wrapping paper is unrecyclable. Add that to the amount of paper used for wrapping gifts during birthdays and holiday celebrations and this was all a huge motivation to create something to solve the problem. With my knowledge in textile designs and previous experience with sourcing organic cotton garments, I decided to bring my passion for gift wrapping and sustainability together to create a brand of wrapping that incorporates exclusively designed fabrics.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
Product design and production, logistics, marketing, accounts – what doesn’t a small business owner do?! The list is never-ending and at the same time all worth it when people appreciate what you do. The awareness for a more sustainable approach to wrapping gifts has grown so much over the past year, and we are very grateful to be a part of this important shift. Changing the way we give, one gift at a time!
What are your best selling products, what type of materials are used in your creations, how do you design your products, what makes your products stand out?
Our products are all made from 100% GOTS certified organic cotton. I have carefully chosen the weave and thickness of the fabric to ensure it is not only easy to wrap with but will also be durable enough to last a lifetime. All our designs are exclusive to FabRap. I personally design each print we use. Some designs are for specific occasions for example ‘Midnight Reindeers’ (clearly a Christmas design), and others are much more general for example ‘Make A Wish’ (which can be used for anything from birthdays to anniversaries). There is no one particular design that stands out from the crowd – they all sell just as frequently as each other. There are certainly many brands of fabric gift wrapping – and new brands seem to be popping up every day. I believe there is room in the market for everyone and that each brand has its own unique style. FabRap exclusive print designs are different as we do not use fabrics that are available on the general market. Also, the quality of our fabric has been specifically designed to ensure ease of wrapping and durability. Our packaging is also unique as each FabRap comes in its own recycled paper envelope that makes it easy to store and reuse your product over time.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
The thing I enjoy the most is the variety of tasks that I need to juggle on a daily basis – from accounts to design to sometimes tackling IT problems – my days are never the same! Funnily enough – what I love the most is also the biggest challenge at times. It can be difficult to stay on top of everything – especially when the buck really does stop with you. There’s no one to hand over to either, so if you have a ‘down’ day (which hey let’s face it we all need those!) that’s a business day lost. At the same time, it’s very important to keep things in perspective. When I began this business I vowed that I would grow it sustainably and that means not running myself into the ground 🙂
Who do you sell to (and how do you get customers)? What marketing tools or strategies you use to boost your sales? Are you satisfied with the results?
We sell direct to consumers via our website and also via other affiliate sites and of course Etsy! We also sell wholesale to retailers across Europe and the UK. We are lucky enough to have distributors based in France and the UK which help with our retailer distribution efforts. Normally we would visit many markets throughout the year but of course, 2020 has really put a stop to that. Most of the larger trade fairs have shifted online though and so we are listed on many of these. We also advertise through Etsy, Instagram, and Facebook. We have especially been very happy with our results through our Etsy advertising efforts.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
Research, research, research. Make sure you know your market and also be sure that the product is hitting the right mark from a quality and price point perspective. All the research you do in the beginning stages of your brand will pay off later. It might take longer to start, but you’ll have a stronger foothold and will be able to spread your branches out quickly if you’ve done the necessary groundwork.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
The toughest moment was pushing the button on our first production. Not knowing whether or not the product will actually sell and risking capital and time. The research I had done showed me that this was a viable product, and at the same time when we started, this was a relatively new concept so even though the research was pointing in the right direction it was a difficult step to take.
What inspires you when you’re creating? How do you get ideas for new products? What are some methods or tools you use to get creative?
Inspiration comes from many different sources. I’m inspired by nature and fabrics as well as architecture and technology! It can be difficult to keep all those creative juices flowing in the right direction so I tend to pick a theme and design towards that – this keeps me focused and efficient. For example early this year we had a 1920’s theme running with our Art Deco and Art Nouveau-inspired designs (Sunshine Nouveau, Art Deco, Make a Wish, and Ocean are all inspired by the 1920s).
Do you ship your product internationally? How do you handle postage pricing? What is the average time it takes from the order to the delivery? Do you use free shipping? If so, why? How do you package your products?
We do ship internationally and the costs vary from region to region. It’s always best to price your product to include a certain percentage of the postage price and offer free shipping. This won’t necessarily cover all your postage costs, but it will encourage high sales volume and therefore be beneficial. Our products are packaged in recycled paper envelopes and shipped in recycled and recyclable brown cardboard boxes for shipping purposes.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
Be prepared to be hands-on with every aspect of the business. For example, it is essential that the owner of the brand understands the technicalities behind advertising and marketing online as well as how to take a decent picture! As an entrepreneur, you are often in the position where you will need to handle a multitude of different things and you definitely need to be prepared to just get in there and learn something new for the sake of your brand. For example, when I first started out I need to learn how to take decent videos and images so that I could easily post professional looking imagery for Instagram campaigns or new products.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Set yourself realistic goals. Make sure you take the time to celebrate even the small wins. Surround yourself with like-minded people who understand what you’re going through and can be there for emotional support when you need it. No one ever said it was going to be easy, but if you give yourself the time you need anything is possible! Go easy on yourself and be relentless at the same time. There’s a quote that keeps me going when things are particularly hard: ‘You have not failed until you quit trying.’ – Gordon B. Hinckley
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
Business success for me is a mixture of the freedom and balanced life I can lead, and also being able to create a product that I believe is benefiting our community and lives in general.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
My day generally starts rather early at 7 am once my daughter has left for school. I work normally on general tasks from 7 – 12, then pack orders from 13.00 – 14.00. When we are in peak season I deliver orders to the Post Office after this time and then pick up my daughter from school. We eat a late lunch together and then head to our desks to work (well, homework for her!) again normally until around 19.00. Then it’s dinner and sometimes more work, or a little light reading before we head to bed. Not all days run as smoothly as that – some days we are eating much later! But this is definitely the norm when things are not too busy.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
In 2021 we are hoping to partner with more distributors across the globe. We have plans to design many more styles and hope to create different brand categories. We will also soon be offering a subscription box.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Etsy is an amazing marketplace for small business owners and is relatively easy to use. I think back to when I started my first brand – BORNSAGE – which was before Etsy was on the stage. It was much harder to communicate your product and sell to such a large audience back then and so I sold mainly B2B. The only thing I can think of is that the titles of your products need to fully describe what you are selling in order to be searchable easily on the Etsy platform. Also, don’t shy away from Etsy advertising. It really does work 🙂