Emma Pope is the founder of Wooden Wonderland, an online business selling wooden toys and products for children.
Facebook has been instrumental in helping her grow her business significantly over the past three years, helping her to shift her business into the black.
Pope particularly likes how, through using Facebook’s business tools, it helps her to test and gauge the success of potential products. She also feels that by using the retargeting tool, it enables the business to get in front of the audience who are actually going to buy her product. Pope has shared the story of her business journey with us.
How did you get started with Wooden Wonderland?
I came across Wooden Wonderland for sale on Gumtree three years ago. It was setup as a website with a limited drop shipping range and had never been marketed or promoted. I took what was essentially a dormant website, completely re-built it on a new platform, increased the stock offering and turned it into what it is today. The only thing left from the original purchase is the business name, the rest has been completely transformed. Wooden Wonderland now operates primarily online with a stock offering of over 1000 different wooden toys, games and furniture for children. Last October we moved into a new 550m2 warehouse in Brisbane and finally feel like we can spread out and be comfortable in our work space. It is a far cry from the toy lined garage (that also fit two cars) that I was working out of a mere two years ago!
What ways are you using technology to reach and build your audience?
For the past three years Facebook has been our primary marketing channel. It has been so easy to promote to our target market and our products are visually appealing with bright colours and patterns which makes advertising through visual media the perfect match for us. Being able to promote to our target market has also been invaluable as too has been the ability to target our website visitors and people who have engaged with our Facebook page. No other form of advertising or marketing provides for such a level of targeting through such a cost effective and easy to use medium. Facebook was and still is one of the biggest contributors our business success.
What have been some of the challenges/obstacles you faced as a startup?
Cash flow early on was a big one for us. We grew at such a rapid rate and always wanted to ensure that our best sellers were always in stock so that required quite a bit of upfront capital to ensure our stock holdings were sufficient to cover peak seasons as well as times of unexpected demand spikes for certain products. Facebook advertising has come in incredibly handy in this space though as it has allowed us to run flash sales when we require a cash boost and also market specific products when we have excess stock. Another challenge has been finding the perfect web platform that works for our business. We are onto our third website since inception and finally feel that we have found a platform that is a match to our specific business requirements.
What advise can you give to other women who have a dream for a new business but don’t know where to start?
There is no right time. If you keep waiting for the right time, it will never come. There will always be an element of having to juggle and prioritise family life and social life with the needs of your business, but if you are up for the challenge, the rewards will no doubt be worth the effort. I would also suggest starting small and growing within your means. I started with a bare website platform and built up the stock offering over time as the business grew. Wooden Wonderland only started out with 30 product lines and we now carry over 1000 today, but this was a gradual process and it took time. Growing at a manageable pace has meant that no part of my life has suffered as a result and I continue to have a very happy family and social life with a successful business to boot.
What’s your ultimate goal for Wooden Wonderland?
My ultimate goal is to have the business running like a well-oiled machine without my day-to-day involvement. I am currently on maternity leave with my first baby and the last three months have been the ultimate test for the business. However, everything is still standing, the orders and still flowing and the staff are all happy so I think I’m close to achieving this goal. From here, I just intend for the business to continue to grow and be recognised nationally as THE place to buy wooden toys. I am also open to considering diversifying into other similar businesses as well, so the years ahead are full of possibility.