I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with Karen Locker of Mommy’s Bazaar fresh off her Thanksgiving Turkey Win to understand a little bit more about why she does what she does and how it all started for her. Karen is a very passionate and caring individual and one that many follow as a thought leader in eCommerce. She focuses her attention on her family and her business and is addicted to Twitter just like me.
Q: How long have you been selling online?
Since January 2008
Q: What is the link to your Addoway store?
Q: What prompted you to start?
I found some old commercial slicers a neighbor left behind and was able to sell them on eBay for a nice amount of money. I then realized I could make some money and still stay home with my kids. They were 5 and 2 at the time.
Q: Why did you choose to the products you sell?
A lot of my products find me either from estates or house cleanouts. Some are items from my own household that we no longer use but I know would be put to good use by others. The bath and body products are created by a fellow ecommerce seller who had quite a bit of success with them and was moving to more wholesale sales. So we were able to enter into an agreement that I would be the first licensed retailer for her products. They provide high quality all natural skin care as our world becomes more eco conscious.
Q: What inspires you?
Watching people take their ideas and make them a reality. Showing my children that if you work hard you can accomplish many things.
Q: What is unique about your store?
My store has a wide variety of products from raw sheep fleece to children’s clothing to the new bath and body luxury line.
Q: Which type of products that you sell seems to be the most popular?
One of my biggest sellers believe it or not is the sheep fleece in the last year I have sold at least 20 of the over various websites. Next would be bath sachets and all natural soaps. Another popular item that I work with is Challenge Coins. I manage and eBay and Amazon store for a company that manufactures Challenge Coins.
Q: How many times have you switched direction in regards to the product you sell?
At least twice because when I first started, I would sell almost anything. I now specialize in items received from estates under the Mommy’s Bazaar brand and I will be selling all natural bath and body products under a new brand name.
Q: What advice would you give to other online merchants trying to grow to become a large-scale seller?
Find products that will give you an acceptable profit margin. Just because you can sell anything does not mean you should. Find what format or venue works for you and stick with it. Have a plan and realize the plan will evolve as your business does. Seek out mentors and listen to them but don’t take any one opinion as the only way it will work. Make connections with others in ecommerce and work at maintaining them. But above all be yourself and be real!
Q: Could you discuss some of the challenges and obstacles you have faced?
Juggling family and workplace like most mothers of younger children. I generally work later into the night, so I have time during the day to take care of the kids. Learning how to effectively market my products, focusing my energy towards specific goals and not shifting gears every time something new comes along are common challenges.
Q: How have online marketplaces helped expand your business?
The various venues I have sold on over the years have given me exposure to products and ways to reach different types of buyers. Buyers like sellers have their comfortable marketplaces and tend to be loyal to them until something makes them look at other places.
Q: Do you have your own direct website?
Not yet I will be working on a direct website in 2011. Currently venues work better for me as the learning curve is less intensive and allows me to manage my business and still be involved in my kid’s school and activities.
Q: If you could change one thing about the big online marketplaces out there, what would it be?
Remember every big business started out small somewhere. Do not make the smaller sellers ability to grow a complicated experience. The seller who leaves out of frustration may just be one of the next big businesses.
If you have any questions you would like to ask Karen, please leave them in the comment section below. If you would like to be interviewed and featured, please let us know.