I am Nicolas, a 37 years old French entrepreneur who has founded Vivalatina, an online jewelry workshop specialized in custom-made jewelry. This is a B2C business specialized in high-end jewelry. I have a background as a mechanical engineer, so I could not foresee my future as an online entrepreneur. Moreover, I hated marketing (I thought I was) before that and now this is the most exciting part of my job.
As the founder and director, I am in charge of running the business, managing the workshop and launching our new website in English: vivalatina-shop.
- Monthly Revenue: $7k per month
- Date Started / Years in Business: July 2012
- Location: We are located in Puerto Vallarta in Mexico as I left France to follow my Mexican wife that wanted to go back to her country.
- Number of Employees: Currently, I have 2 employees although I had 3 last month. I should have 3 employees again by the end of 2018 as I try to scale my business and get some help to run all the tasks I manage on my own.
During the launch phase, did you maintain a full-time job? (or even currently)
I launched this project online back in 2011 as a side project while I was working full-time as a mechanical engineer in France. Back then, I was trying to sell online Mexican silver jewellery I was importing in France. It never took off. So in 2012, after moving to Mexico I started from this point, dedicating myself full-time to this project. Then, listening to the requests of my clients I started to offer custom-made jewellery services.
How did you acquire customers/subscribers/users?
Since the beginning, I have always relied only on Search Engine Optimization to drive traffic to my website and convert them into customers. This is due to my first marketing trial with La Poste in France (the government mailing service). I launched a mail marketing campaign with them to deliver 15 000 fliers in my city, which had cost me 1200 euros and resulted in one sale of 30 euros. So, feeling robbed, I promised myself that I would never ever pay again for marketing services and started to learn SEO.
What software/platforms/tools have you utilized since launch? Which have worked / not worked?
My first boutique trial was with Oscommerce. I had to code in HTML and CSS (which I knew a bit) learn PHP which was hard for me and then I got my website hacked by someone. So feeling puzzled and losing my motivation for coding my own website, I decided to switch to Shopify services and since then I have not tried another else as I am fully satisfied with their service.
I also use software for SEO, as Google Analytics to analyze my website, Secockpit for keyword research, and Ahref for backlink analysis. For emailing service I use Madmimi. The main tools I use daily are CAD software for jewelry modeling and a 3D printer for was masters prints.
Indihackers is also a platform I use to get in touch with other entrepreneurs or be inspired by others’ accomplishments.
How did you fund your startup and how do you make money/revenue?
I had almost no money when I was starting my business, so I ask for help to my parents to fund me. With my business model at the beginning (reselling jewelry) I did not need much money, I needed time to learn the basics of SEO and get results. This money my parents gave me allowed me to pursue my project while not making money from the business at the beginning.
Now that the business is running, we make money selling custom-made jewelry making and design service. We make unique personalized jewelry pieces for customers using CAD design, photo rendering and 3d printing and foundry process. We manage all these processes in-house.
Now that we make money, it is used to buy new machines as CNC engraver, a motorized roller-mill soon and a small CNC milling machine by the end of 2018.
We are also starting to offer our services to physical jewelry shops in France as a subcontractor.
To date, what have been your biggest challenges as a company? What have you done to overcome them?
My biggest challenge has been the lack of knowledge and vision about my business possibilities. I have worked blind for 2 years as I was not educated enough about marketing and did not new well enough the online jewelry industry.
I could overcome my lack of knowledge in SEO and marketing by educating myself with books, webinars, paid courses and blog reading.
And now, after almost 6 years in this industry, I have a clear vision of what I could achieve and the way to get to it. This vision helps me a lot to plan my goals each year and the people I will need to hire so to join the team.
If you had to do it all over again, would you? What would you do differently?
Of course, I would do it again. This is the most difficult and exciting challenge of my life.
I would start to learn marketing and SEO before being involved full-time in my project.
Lastly, if anyone reading this wants to know more about your company… where do we send them?
You can discover our company and contact us through our website. https://vivalatina-shop.com/
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