Miann & Co: Growing their business with the right ‘team’ behind them
We spoke with Terry Meyer, director and co-founder of Miann & Co, to find out more about how he and his wife Rebecca took a small range of natural children’s toys and turned it into a lifestyle brand shipping 1200 orders per month, globally.
“It’s all about the team behind you, not just the staff you work with but the integration partners, like StarShipIT, Shopify and TradeGecko – they’re also part of your team. When you get that right, then life gets a lot easier as it frees you up to focus on a lot of other things in the business.”
What was the inspiration behind your business?
We started La De Dah Kids started back in 2010, after the birth of our second son. Our son suffered from allergies and eczema and it was hard to find toys that were using natural fibres like 100% cotton. Although there were a lot of plush toys on the market, it was hard to find toys that had a handmade feel to them. We saw a gap in the market for this type of children’s product and La De Dah Kids (now rebranded as Miann & Co) was born.
“We market our products as keepsake items, that stand the test of time.”
What makes your business unique?
Rebecca has the inspiration for all of the products in terms of the designs, so they are all unique to us. Rebecca designs all of our products from scratch and we work with a women’s co-op in China for production. “Our handmade crocheted toys are made out of the comfort of the ladies homes and now there are 150 – 200 ladies who crochet for us from home. We only use natural fibres like 100% cotton and some of the clothing range is organic cotton”.
How do you and Rebecca share responsibilities?
Rebecca designs our products and liaises with the workers and factories in India as well as in China. I focus on running the business – from admin, finances, IT, and logistics. We also hired our first staff member in 2011 and today we have 3 permanent staff members, in addition to casual staff to help with packing orders.
How do you promote and market your business?
We rely on social media, particularly Instagram and Facebook advertising also does really well for them. In addition to this we use Google Adwords and re-marketing campaigns to drive traffic to our website. We have an in house graphic designer who works on a lot of our imagery before we use them on any social media platform. Rebecca is also responsible for most of our imagery. We have 2 photo shoots per year for our winter and summer ranges and we use a professional photographer for these shoots. We have an annual marketing calendar which follows seasonal promotions and we plan all of our sales and promotions 12 months out.
What was life like before TradeGecko?
We used an accounting system that had some inventory management capabilities but it was very basic. In saying that, the range wasn’t as big then as it is now so we used a lot of Excel spreadsheets, which is always very time consuming, a lot of room for human error and lots of manual updating. There is a lot of responsibility in trying to keep those sheets up to date.
When we moved our website across from a small template website, as site traffic increased we wanted to move to a larger platform and we decided we’d use Shopify. At that time I felt it would be really worthwhile changing everything. If we were going to build a new website from scratch, we should build some integration in there as well, in terms of integrating our accounting software and also adding in some inventory management software.
As the range has grown from 50 sku’s to over a 1000 sku’s now it would be impossible to manage it without an inventory management system. Not a lot of inventory management systems would integrate with various pieces of software and it was all about trying to find programmes that would integrate with each other as they needed a more seamless operation without having 3 staff members looking after individual areas. TradeGecko ticked all the boxes for us.
What was life like before StarShipIT ?
Just trying to get orders out was so time consuming! When we first started out, we used to take the parcels to the over the counter service at the local post office. We then moved to eParcel which saved some time but there was still a lot of time involved in data entry and getting addresses and printing labels to then put on the parcels.
With StarShipIT, all we need to do is pack the order and print the labels. In terms of actual time saved, it equates to almost one full time person in busy times doing those processes which saves us over $40,000 a year”.
How did you discover StarShipIT?
Integration with TradeGecko and Shopify was our primary requirement for a shipping integration, as well as being able to integrate with both Aus Post and DHL to cover both domestic and international shipping. For us it was all about trying to find programs that would integrate with each other, since we needed a more seamless operations system. StarShipIT ticked all the boxes for us.
Key benefits since using StarShipIT?
One of the biggest headaches we faced with shipping internationally was around the paperwork just for one order. 2 sets of forms for every shipment customs forms, address details, weights, declarations, signed etc – but with StarShipIT we can now do an automatic lodgement – now all we have to do is print the labels. Customs forms are sent to DHL automatically and now we only need one label which has saved us a lot of time in terms of paperwork and the labels etc!”
Since using StarShipIT, we have reduced the amount of time we spend on admin and shipping dramatically. All the orders are in there, the addresses are there – if a customer has keyed in an incorrect address, we can easily correct it. We no longer have to flick between multiple systems and spreadsheets. And the support is excellent, which was critical for our business.
“Before StarShipIT we used to waste a lot of time by having to manually enter addresses and parcel weights before we could print postage labels for our orders. StarShipIT integrates with TradeGecko where all the customer and order details for our wholesale and online orders are pulled and with a Thermal printer we can now print labels in seconds. All of our orders are on one screen and we don’t have to reference multiple systems, which saves a lot of time. Our peak periods are now a breeze and packing orders takes half the time it used to.”
What other integrations do you use?
We use Xero purely for accounting purposes, StarShipIT for shipping and tracking, TradeGecko for inventory and we have some other add-ons and plugins in Shopify.
What’s on the horizon for Miann & Co?
It’s always evolving, international has been a big focus for us. We would like to take the business to the US and set up there as well. We are also working on older kids clothing ranges too. In the next month or so we have a new range coming out – moving into larger (older) children’s clothes. Up until recently it’s been up until 0-18 months but now we will do up to 5 years. If that does well, we might even extend it beyond 5 years.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
“It’s all about the team behind you, not just the staff you work with but the integration partners, like Shopify, TradeGecko and StarShipIT – they’re also part of your team. When you get that right, then life gets a lot easier as it frees you up to focus on a lot of other things in the business and you know there’s a team out there looking after that.”