Finding the right product, part 3 “finally the right product”

So how did I finally find THE right product?

In summer 2006 I met a german, Philipp, who moved into the block next to us. He also has his own business on eBay, selling electronics like mobile batteries, USB cardreader, MP3 player etc. So we sat together quite often and discussed our ideas. I told him my ideas about selling fashion to Europe and he convinced me to check out Thailand. So we flew together to Bangkok and went for hours and days around Bangkok to find interesting suppliers. I found a few different manufacturers, all selling totally different fashion, so I bought some samples and put them online. Ebay is great for testing new products and see the response if a product could be sold or not. At the end, the products from one manufacturer were successful and we now order from him frequently. He has a huge range of products related to Japan, kawaii style and other cute items. It is a lot of work to find a new product or supplier, running around from company to company, negotiating, buying samples, putting them online and testing them. But in the end, I was successful and found one good supplier for me.

Tenshi Neko
Tenshi Neko bag from Thailand

But that wasn’t enough. I need more suppliers with different products. I wanted to have a bigger collection and variety. So I kept searching in Hong Kong and China for interesting looking fashion. It drove me almost nuts, every time when I went shopping, I just kept looking for suitable products. I couldn’t stop thinking about it anymore. I went to many wholesale markets, trade fairs, wholesale malls, companies my friends recommended etc. Finally, in the beginning of 2007 I found another supplier, a manufacturer from China who is manufacturing garment and accessories with styles like rockabilly, emo, gothic, rock etc. So I ordered some samples, tested them and found out that they sell really well. Now, we order from them very often and our wholesale customers love the items as well.

Stars bag
cool bag with stars from China

But I cannot stop searching for new products. I have to keep searching for the next hot item that could fit into our collection. When I find the next one, you will definitely find it in our shop. :-)

Finding the right product, part 2 “my mistakes”

I was looking continuously for new products that I could sell in my eBay shop. I tried out many different things and of course I also made some mistakes.

I got cheated by a wholesaler selling me “authentic” Emily the Strange T-Shirts. I didn’t know the brand in 2005, so I couldn’t recognize that they are fakes. I just liked the designs and quality of the shirts. The wholesaler advertised them as leftovers from the factory and “proved” that by the cut labels inside the t-shirts. They said, leftovers in the factory are marked with this cut to make sure, no one can sell them as “new” items in a shop anymore. That was b**s**, but I believed them. :-(

Later on, a company sold me some fakes from Juicy Couture, Miss Sixty and Rock & Republic. I was too excited that I found a hot brand supplier to realise that the prices are way too low for these brands. Luckily, I could get rid of the Emily shirts, the Juicy Couture and Miss Sixty items quite quickly (of course eBay cancelled my Emily auctions, too many fakes there). I dropped the Rock & Republic Jeans into a container for poor people in need. I hope they are happy with getting some brand new jeans ;-) At least I did something good to humanity, though I lost some money with them. I also bought some Harrods bags in the market as they were so popular among Hong Kong people. They sold quite well, but I decided that I don’t want to have anything to do with fakes anymore, so I stopped buying and selling them as well.

Juicy Couture Hoodie
Juicy Couture Hoodie

Emily the Strange shirt
Emily the Strange t-shirt

Emily the Strange label
small cut in the label (through the name “Emily”)

Harrods bag
Harrods bag

In 2006, I heard about shops selling leftovers and overstock from factories in China. Many people confirmed that they are authentic items, so I started hunting around Hong Kong to find something suitable. Indeed, I found shops selling some branded stuff, but they also had fakes. So it was really hard to figure out which item is authentic and which one is a fake. I tried out some items from American Eagle, Scary Mary, Pucca, Paul Frank and Phat Farm. That stuff wasn’t suitable for selling because I wasn’t sure about their authenticity, so I quit this idea very quickly.

Scary Mary
Scary Mary t-shirt

Coming Up:
How I finally found the right products for my online shop and for my wholesale business.

Finding the right product

I read it in many books: “Finding the right product is the hardest thing of starting your business and being successful”.

I totally have to agree with this. It is really hard to find a product that you can sell. There are many factors to be taken care of, like popularity (is it a popular product?), originality (am I the only one selling it or are there already hundreds of other sellers?), price (can I buy it for a reasonable price and sell it profitable?), sources (where can I buy it?), etc.etc. I planned to start selling on eBay, as its the easiest and fastest way to find customers worldwide.

So, I started looking around to find THE product in Hong Kong.

While I spend time in Hong Kong during summer university, the ESPRIT outlets were very popular among my female classmates. ESPRIT is a Hong Kong company and producing a lot of their clothes in China and Hong Kong. They have some great outlets where they sell leftovers, overstock and last season items for a very low price. So I started going to these outlets and buy hundreds of t-shirts, tops, trousers and jackets, take pictures of them and put them on eBay (Summer-Autumn 2005). As the competition of ESPRIT items is very though on eBay and our profit margin was too low, I stopped selling ESPRIT clothes and started looking for new products.

Anyone who is visiting Hong Kong and wants to check out their outlets, here are the addresses:
KAISENG Commercial Centre
4-6 HANKOW ROAD
TSIMSHATSUI
KOWLOON
Hong Kong

CITYGATE
SHOP 201, LEVEL 2
TUNG CHUNG
NEW TERRITORIES
Hong Kong

Esprit Tanktop
black ESPRIT tank-top

Esprit trousers
beige ESPRIT trousers, was one of our best sellers

During that time (End of 2005) Apple released their new product iPod nano and that product was HOT. it was released later in Europe than in Hong Kong and the price was much higher than here. Additional, Apple’s iPods were sold out, so I thought, this could be a profitable income. I started selling on eBay iPod nanos and was quite successful with it. The only problem was that some customers had trouble with customs and had to pay extra tax. After a while, there was more competition on eBay and the profit margin was reduced, so I started looking for new products again.

iPod Nano
that was our first “bulk” shipping of iPod nanos

Sony released their very first SONY PSP (End of 2004). Hong Kong was one of the first markets to get these new popular game consoles because many wholesalers import from Japan and so you can get almost everything that is available in Japan immediately. As the sales of iPod nanos wasn’t attractive anymore, I started selling Sony PSPs. The Japanese versions were very popular in Europe because of the special white colour and because you could play copy games with it. I sold PSPs for a very long period of time but after a while (around a year) the market was saturated and not attractive to me anymore.

white Sony PSP
selling Japanese white SONY PSPs with one of our eBay accounts “hk-trends”

Coming up:
What other products I tried to sell and how I found THE product.

The Beginning

How did i start this whole adventure?

Well, I will start right from the beginning. In 2004 i finished my Master studies in Computer Science at the Fachhochschule Vorarlberg in Austria. Now I could call myself Dipl.Ing.(FH) Sandra Boch. ;-) During my last semester I was invited by a Hong Kong university (Polytechnic University Hong Kong) to join their 2004 summer school program. Since High School I always wanted to study/live abroad for a while. As i haven’t had any plans yet, I decided to join this summer university. The program was conducted in Hong Kong for 4 weeks and after that we flew to Beijing for another 2 weeks. The classes were about Chinese language (Putonghua) and Chinese culture.

Summer University
my classmates and me at our Putonghua class during summer university

During that time I realised how desperately I wanted to go abroad and started looking for suitable interesting study programs while being in Hong Kong. As it was summer already, the number of choices were very limited. I was looking for a marketing/business management course for 1 year (including a degree). Luckily, I found one called Business Management and I would get a Bachelor degree in Business Management at the end of one year. The course was conducted by Northumbria University in the UK, but classes were hold in Hong Kong. During that year I learned a lot about Hong Kong people and culture, studying in china (such a difference to Austria) and so on. I started thinking about my future and what I should do after finishing this degree. I successfully graduated as a Bachelor of Arts with Second Class Honours (Upper Division) in Business Management in May 2005.

Classmates and me
with my classmates (Weny, Yan, Cybill and me)

I didn’t like the idea of looking for a “normal” full-time job as i hate paternalism and restrictions and love the challenge. So i decided to try and start my own business right after leaving university. During that year i also met my future husband Alan. He also had his own company and supported me in the idea to start my own business.

That’s how my adventure started….

welcome to my blog

Hello,

this is my first post on this blog. I would like to write about my company modeS Group Ltd. and all the interesting things happening while trying to make this company successful and bigger.

What are we doing? modeS Group is an online retail/wholesale company for fashion (garment and accessories) for the following styles:

emo, rockabilly, rock, gothic, batcave, punk, skull, kawaii etc.

We have some brands as well: Pucca, Tenshi Neko (similar to Hello Kitty), Nightmare before Christmas, Minmie, Living Dead Toy, Guru Gala, Mimori, Akuma etc.

We started with a few eBay accounts, example modes4u, and quickly realized that eBay can’t be the future as the fees are ridiculously high, customer usually “difficult” and the profit margin just too small. So i looked for different opportunities and found the wholesale market. Shops and wholesalers in Europe/USA are looking for new suppliers with good prices and we can offer that as we order all our items directly from factories in China and Thailand.

So, that’s it for my first post. I will write in more detail about the different products we have, about wholesale and online-retail etc. later on.

For now, have a nice day.
Sandra

Sandra Boch
that’s me, Sandra Boch

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