Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
After an exhaustive search for a litter box to complement the design of his Brooklyn apartment, Rich Williams came up empty handed. In defeat, he complained endlessly to his wife until she said, "You're a designer, why don't you just design one!" Rich couldn't sleep that night and the next day he presented the idea to Brett Teper, his then-partner in a graphic design business, and Brett thought that the idea was brilliant and jumped at the opportunity to get started. Two years later, Rich and Brett introduced the Modkat Litter Box at the 2009 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), where it earned The Editor's Choice Award for Best Accessory, and soon after was bestowed the prestigious Red Dot Design Award. Modko was born. We had a colleague named Jim in Taiwan from a past project with Walmart and contacted him when we had the idea for Modkat. Jim screamed, come to Taiwan! Ten years later Jim's our partner and close friend and he's producing our whole product line. We visit him at least once a year!
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
We showed at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) just having received the first samples the day before. We had a great response and were overwhelmed by the attention. We were honored with the Editor's Choice Award for Best Accessory! Additionally we received spectacular press coverage, including "The iPod of litter Boxes" from the New York Times. Shopify, Amazon and international distribution bring in the most traffic and sales.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
We use a modified version of the Retina Austin Theme from outofthesandbox.com, ReferralCandy, Yotpo, and Shippo. Used to use Shipwire, but recently started to fulfill internally for more flexibility, faster turnaround, and better pricing.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
We were fortunate enough to have a great response right out of the gate and while we were in that whirlwind were saying "This is great, why doesn't everyone do this?" Shortly after, when the dust settled and we began dealing with QC surprises, logistics issues, money flow... we started saying "this sucks, why and how does anyone do this?" My advice, have at least one partner, know that everything is negotiable and don't dwell on things, there's always something just as important to do next.