One of the downsides to starting up a successful retail side hustle is spending all week at your full-time job, then spending all weekend hurriedly boxing up goods to send to your customers – especially when those goods involve slabs of marble.
“We spent many Sundays packing our heavy orders in our mum’s garage,” says Bonnie Adams, one of the owners of Kindred by Marble Basics. “You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do in the beginning.”
Adams began the business with her sister Bliss Egan in 2014, but they’d been thinking about the idea for a couple of years. Just out of university – Egan had studied interior design, Adams studied visual arts – the pair began their product journey with one item. “It was a traditional terracotta-shaped pot that was formed in marble,” Adams says. “We did a bit of research and were shocked but pleased to find it didn’t exist anywhere.”
Now Kindred by Marble Basics – which creates homewares such as clam bowls, brass planters and granite platters – has become something of a phenomenon. The pair rented a third-party warehouse in Laverton North (west of Melbourne) so they could focus on production, constantly brainstorming ways to grow the business. Their quick success was ¬– in part – thanks to Instagram. According to Adams (who runs the brand’s social media), the platform played an integral role in the rapid growth of the business. Kindred now has 37,000 followers on Instagram clamouring for the Melbourne sisters’ designs.
“It really did explode that year,” Adams says of their first year in business. “I feel that was a prime time for the app.
“Posts directly converting to sales were very prevalent at that time, but it’s a bit trickier now,” she continues. “People don’t necessarily want to feel like they’re being sold to. They want to get a sense of a lifestyle. However, it’s still a huge part of our business.”
The app also allowed the sisters to connect to retailers such as Minimax and Scout House, which were important partners early on. Having a traditional retail presence is necessary “so our customers have the ability to feel, see and touch our unique product”, explains Adams.
She believes the company owes its success to “strong, engaging” content on social media, particularly when it comes to styling products in home settings. “Who wants to follow an Instagram page that has crummy imagery?”
But the power of imagery goes both ways. “It’s always nice seeing how our customers are using the products. Sometimes they’re using them in ways we’ve never thought of,” Adams says. “Your privy to the customer’s interaction with the product. That’s pretty priceless.”
Aside from considering the best time to post to reach followers, Adams doesn’t worry about the minutiae of each post. “I don’t look at analytics too much,” she says. “Sometimes you’ll post something and it doesn’t get the same traction as another [image] you posted on a whim.”
Overall, her advice to anyone looking to start a business or switch things up is to make the leap. “If you have the means to do something, just give it a go early on,” she says. “Don’t wait!”
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