There is a certain trust involved in purchasing from anyone, online or not. Knowing a bit about the seller and their motives helps provide a clearer picture of the people you're doing business with, and helps you make better decisions. I think complete transparency is important at the start of any relationship.
With that in mind...
It Starts With a Really Good Camera
I live in Australia. Just outside a little country town of 250 people, two hours from the nearest capital city. Yes, I have spiders and snakes and miscellaneous bugs as regular house-guests, but it is beautiful and it is peaceful and I love it.
Last year I finally got a really good camera. A proper one. A Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR). It is the bee's knees (pun intended) of cameras, and I've wanted one since before they went digital. So I promptly set about photographing everything in my immediate vicinity.
One of the little miracles that came with the new camera is my range of lenses, which allow me to photograph images that I would not otherwise even be able to see, let alone capture. They produce fine detail in very small, or far away, objects that my regular lens just can't. So I have spent many happy hours photographing the little things in my tiny section of this huge country. My beautiful home means I don't have to go far to find incredible inspiration.
Photo manipulation Is Fun
The results of these photo jaunts, combined with my general love of imagery and image manipulation, lead me to produce pictures that present my world in kind of different ways.
My subjects are generally caught between the real world, and the unreal world of photo-manipulation. I enjoy the metaphor this creates when applied to modern society, and its emphasis on visual perfection. (I think there's a philosophical statement in there somewhere, but I'm not entirely sure what it is, so I wont go into it too much. Maybe we can explore that together. :) )
I shared the pics on social media, and it turned out that some other people like them as much as I did. It turned out that some people might even be interested in purchasing various product items bearing said images.
So far, so cool.
I Like Cool Stuff, Too
The next logical step (for me anyway), was to find various cool products to have printed with these cool pictures, and share them around to prospective customers. I looked for suppliers that produce high quality items, while keeping my end prices as low as possible. (Turns out this is not as easy as I thought it would be. I guess I should have known that from my years of complaining about online shopping prices. Anyway...)
A name for my little venture wasn't hard to find: my first name is Jen, my last name begins with C. Simple. Initially, I settled on a Birds, Bees and Butterflies theme, because that's what my camera lens found the most often. Since then, I have been struck by a million other things that I want to share that don't quite fit into the Birds Bees and Butterflies theme.
So I have broadened my horizons somewhat, focusing now on this wide brown land I call home. Australia is an exquisite place, with simply astonishing countryside and animals. I want to share it all!
So, to sum up, the whole shop thing came together pretty fast, and now here we are, with a full blown e-commerce venture, and all of its associated bells and whistles. It's all been a bit of a whirlwind, really, but it's also been enormous fun.
A Word About Advertising
I need to tell you this. I hate advertising. I hate it as a concept. I think advertising has caused a blight on our planet that has been both insidious and blatant in its infiltration of humanity. Consider the ubiquitous billboard, impeding views of incredible countryside on our afternoon drives, even if we are far from civilization. I hate it. It stinks.
That being said, when starting any venture, there is a need to get the word out to the expectant throngs. The ones that will ultimately form a loyally branded family, accompanying me on my commercial journey. (This is what I've been lead to believe by all the marketing stuff I've read so far, anyway.)
(A brief, but necessary, detour: I went to a religious school, so I have a dubious view of organized religions in general, but one of the things that I do remember is that Jesus (or someone) said "Don't hide your light under a bushel. The bushel might catch fire and then everyone is screwed." (I might be paraphrasing) )
Anyway, the point is that when I decided to put my designs on the coolest products I could find, I had to then consider ways that I would let people know about those products.
Thus the website was born, along with the blog, and associated evil advertising. Right now I am advertising a little bit on Facebook, Instagram and Bing, but I am very poor and advertising is very expensive. On top of that, I hate advertising. I think I may have covered that.
So my goal is to be able to drop the advertising altogether and rely on you, my loyal and socially active customers, to spread the word about my fledgling venture. I understand at this early stage, "loyal customers" may be stretching our relationship just a little bit, but I am confident that it wont be long, and we will settle into a long and mutually beneficial partnership.
Tell Me, Tell The World
In that vein, I will need your feedback to become the best little Birds, Bees and Butterflies shop online. So I encourage you to drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or message me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/JenCDesign), and let me know what you think of the shop so far. Any suggestions you may have, or general comments, are all welcome.
If you have purchased from us already, and are happily enjoying your (undoubtedly gorgeous) item, let us know that, too. Post photos or comment on the Facebook page for everyone to see, and hold me to my word of providing the best customer service ever. Its all about transparency, remember.
Check out the blog, as I keep you informed on progress with news, product updates and new design concepts. You will get to have a say on new product designs before they are even released.
Don't forget to sign up to our newsletter, too, to make sure you stay up to date. Thanks so much for joining me on this journey. I think we can all have some fun.)