Product Marketing Manager
Julia from Mayan spoke with these successful female entrepreneurs and owners on Amazon, who shared tips and tricks for success.
It’s Women’s History Month, and March 8th is International Women’s Day - so we’ve prepared something special for this week’s blog post.
Ever wonder who the sellers are behind your favorite Amazon products? The movers and shakers? The ones whose day-to-day tasks revolve around getting their products into the hands of their eager customers, among many other things. We at Mayan were curious to find out…what drives an e-commerce entrepreneur in 2022?
Every brand you see has a story behind it, and we dove a little deeper to discover more about a few women sellers on Amazon that truly have us impressed. They are part of a community of women entrepreneurs that help bring some of the most innovative and sought-after products to market. While the average week of many small business owners isn’t necessarily glamorous, their efforts are most definitely needed.
Julia, Product Marketing Manager from Mayan, spoke with these female entrepreneurs and owners, where we gained some more insight into the reality of being a seller on Amazon. Find out more in our post below.
#GirlBoss might be a trendy hashtag, but after taking a look at the current numbers, we discovered that there’s still a big gap when it comes to representation. The results of this survey showed that only 32% of Amazon sellers are women, versus 68% businesses that are run by men. When it comes to women entrepreneurs running small businesses on Amazon, will their numbers grow as we continue into 2022 and beyond?
And even though it’s not necessarily related to building a brand on Amazon, this study revealed that while businesses started by women aren’t as profitable as men’s at first, they have lasting power.
Amy Shuster, Sophie Bramhall, Leslie Pierson and Daniela Bolzmann are successful and savvy women entrepreneurs on Amazon. When we sat down to chat with them, they shared with us why they began putting their passion to paper (digitally speaking) and gave some expert insight on what’s involved nowadays with running a profitable e-commerce business, including some obstacles that they’ve encountered along the way as women business owners.
Amy runs a successful small business creating delightful floral arrangements in takeout boxes. Each arrangement is unique and comes with a fortune cookie where you can add in a personalized message.
A couple of years ago, Amy looked into branching out on Amazon but selling customizable items wasn’t an option yet. As she told us during our interview with her, “As soon as they (Amazon) started doing customized things, that’s when I got on the bandwagon.” And her business has been thriving. The Lucky You Flowers Amazon store launched in June 2021 and they ship throughout the United States.
Amy is a landscape designer by trade and started out by doing floral arranging at weddings and other events. And after all the experience and a lot of experimenting, Amy found a recipe that works and that’s how Lucky You Flowers came to be.
Julia: What would be your advice for, say, someone who is looking to start a business on Amazon and they just don’t know where to start?
Amy: It’s very complicated, but first, check out who you’re competing with and what they’re doing. And learn the formula that’s working. Check out the sales of your top competitors and figure out what they’re doing right and mimic that formula.
Julia: Is there anything else you would suggest or advise to anyone who’s new to Amazon or is looking to become a seller?
Amy: I think people make a lot of mistakes on Amazon. One thing is that some don’t have good photography. I have a professional photographer that I work with. She’s actually a food photographer, but she also has been able to work with the flowers. (As an Amazon seller) you have to have really good pictures of the product.
And the other thing I’ve learned on Amazon is that you have to be completely humble. Because sometimes you’ll get a message from a customer, saying that “this is the nicest arrangement I’ve ever seen in my entire life!” And the next review can be horrible. So you can’t take it to heart because there are people out there that it’s not for them, or they have different expectations (of your product).
Julia: So what do you find rewarding about what you’re doing? What gets you out of bed in the morning every day?
Amy: I think what’s rewarding for me at Lucky You is that no matter what kind of day you’re having - we do these fortune cookies - and so we see the messages that people are sending to people all over the country and they’re all full of love. From “Have a good day”, “I love you, Mom”, it just shows you how much love there is out there. So that, for me, is a really neat thing to see.
Sophie has been selling innovative underwater products on her company website and on Amazon since 2016. Her company produces underwater iPhone cases that compete with the GoPro, as well as unique snorkel dive masks complete with an anti-fog film.
ProShot is a fully remote company and she currently has five employees to manage from different parts of the world. (In fact, when Julia was interviewing Sophie via video call, she couldn't help but be jealous of Sophie's sunny-looking background since Sophie was spending a month working from Dominica.)
As an active entrepreneur selling on Amazon, Sophie’s day-to-day tasks currently include working on developing new products as well as the manufacturing and logistics for restocking inventory. She also works daily to monitor sales, her Amazon store’s activity and placements on Google.
Sophie: I’d say my number one piece of advice is, before you start the business, really really research the industry that you’re trying to break into.
The number one thing I find that’s important for selling a product, especially a new product, is a differentiator. It’s extremely hard to sell a product that is already saturated in the market. And you’re just trying to kind of sell a product that’s similar to what’s already out there, especially on Amazon.
Amazon’s so competitive with lots of brands trying to sell the same product, so I’d say make sure that you are passionate about the product that you want to start selling because it’s going to become your main focus.
(As a business owner) you think about it all the time. You are always trying to sell it. And the more genuinely passionate you are about the product or company that you are trying to start, the more that comes through in your sales and your marketing. And, it’s just important for your happiness and life as well.
Sophie also emphasized how important measuring demand is before investing time and money putting your product to market.
Because creating a product that you like doesn’t necessarily mean everyone else wants it. So make sure that demand is out there and that it’s something that you want to be spending all your time selling.
Sophie: I’d say that there’s a unique demand for female entrepreneurs right now. There’s a unique interest in us at the moment. You can feel that a consumer respects and is excited by a female entrepreneur. So don’t hide that factor.
Be proud of that and try to establish that sense in your brand. Also, I’d say having confidence in your product and in yourself and your decisions is very important for being an entrepreneur, especially a female.
Sophie: (As a woman entrepreneur) you’re going to come up against a lot of confidence in other business owners. Many of them will be male. So standing your ground and being able to fight in that male dominated world is definitely something I recommend. And just try not to question yourself too much. This is something I do on the daily, but the more confident I am in my decisions and if I move forward with it without second guessing it is just a much more effective route for entrepreneurship.
When talking with your suppliers, Sophie explained how it’s really important to let them know that you are the one they’ll answer to: Just to reinforce that you are the one they’ll be talking to.
Most of the suppliers I speak with are men. So making sure that they are not trying to change the rate or take advantage of you as a woman. This is something I’m always aware of and making sure that that’s just not happening in the business world.
Leslie founded and created GoodHangups out of a desire to support her son’s passion for creating art - without ruining her walls. GoodHangups is a damage-free magnetic hanging solution that turns any wall into a magnet board. (Fun fact - she even went on Shark Tank and pitched the product to the Sharks!)
When speaking to Leslie, it is clear that beyond creating GoodHangups, she exudes an overall entrepreneurial spirit. Since creating GoodHangups, she’s also gone on to create “Bold Made” (a modern twist on “Old Maid”) that features beautiful artwork of inspirational women. Even cooler is that Leslie even inspired her 7 year old son to create and sell his own game called Taco vs Burrito.
Leslie: Little things pop up all the time within Amazon, and it’s really just creating an infrastructure for yourself to ride the wave because you need people who know more than you. Find groups of people that you can connect with. I go on LinkedIn and I connect with people quite regularly just to make sure that if something goes wrong, I'll have a line of attack to help me because little things are always going to pop up. Things like inventory limitations, all of those, there's going to be new ones next year.
Leslie’s second piece of advice echoed Sophie’s advice about making sure you are passionate about the product you are selling.
Leslie: I would say start with what you're passionate about, because it's a lot easier to sell things when you love the product. So we're not very unique people. I mean, we think we are. But I might be quirky in a certain way, but I wanted to hang my artwork because my son was making something. But a lot of other people want to hang other things. And if you solve your own problems, you're often going to be able to find the ability to find a customer.
I find that if I'm not the customer of a product, I wouldn't be able to sell.
Leslie’s insight is that now, more than ever, it’s important to be able to sell products that differentiate from competitors.
Leslie: I do think that's ending in Amazon, the ability to say, “Oh, there's an opportunity to sell this spatula”, unless you've done something unique with it. It's a challenge to get started because most people have gone into those already. So find something you're interested in. Make it something you would buy. I think that will help you weather any issues that pop up because you'll love the product.
Leslie: The opportunity that Amazon gives to grow a very large business without hiring a ton of people or having a lot of issues is enormous. It’s not common that you can do that. If you opened a store in downtown of your city, it’s going to take a lot more effort. You’re going to have to monitor at all times, deal with a lot of employee issues. You can easily start an Amazon business alone with no other people. So if you’re willing to put the time in and really learn the market, and kind of bob and weave with the things that pop up, it’s the only place I know you can do that.
We do FBA, and it would be way more work if you didn’t. With FBA, they’re shipping it. You don’t have to deal with shipping or customer support.
Daniela Bolzmann is the Founder of MindfulGoods.co, which is your one-stop-shop for Amazon listings done better. She runs this women-led agency and has had their work featured in a case study by Amazon and supports hundreds of passionate brand builders to step up their Amazon game.
Among her many daily tasks as an entrepreneur, she manages her remote team of women freelancers located in over 5 different countries. They’ve been able to optimize over 100+ brands for clients in their 4 years of business.
We asked Daniela what inspired her to build a remote company like Mindful Goods.
Daniela: I wanted to be able to pick up my laptop and go wherever I wanted to go. I wanted to not have employees, but be aligned with contractors who are in a very similar mindset as me of wanting to grow a business and wanting to help businesses in the world in the way that we do.
I wanted to just build something in my own little corner of the internet and e-commerce lends itself to that. And one of the quickest ways to get up and running in any space really, is to learn the craft and offer services that can help people. So that is why I started doing services first and products later.
Daniela: It’s great. I will say that I think it goes back to the choice of working remotely. And I think a lot of women in their careers have chosen to opt out of a traditional 9-5. Whether it’s freedom to travel or freedom to be with their families or care for their kids, or do all of those things without everything that requires having a full-time job.
There’s a lot of women out there that have skills that are very transferable to e-commerce and the Amazon space, and they just don’t know it. So really my strategy as I was building this team was to find people who were exceptional at what they did. They were already rockstars on their own, even building their own companies and their own businesses.
What my role in all of that was to help them understand that they could do what they’re doing, but also apply it to helping brands on Amazon and helping them get seen in a different way.
Daniela: The biggest thing I think is important to start with is understanding demand. It is so much easier to build a business if the product that you’re selling already has demand in the marketplace. I think it’s a big misconception that people have, that just by putting something up on Amazon you’re going to get instant sales.
I always like to explain that when you don’t sell a product that has demand built in, it’s like swimming upstream. You have to put a lot more investment up front. So you might as well put it into something that has demand, so that you can accelerate your growth faster.
(Understanding demand) is one of the most basic principles. What people don’t know is that there are software tools out there and we can actually pull that data. You can actually see what is selling well in the marketplace and you can come up with your own unique branded version of things and build a brand that you’re thinking about for five to ten years in the future. The people who are successful in e-commerce are thinking about building something that’s much bigger ten years from now.
Feeling inspired by these amazing women entrepreneurs? Be sure to follow their businesses for the latest updates on new products and services.