Making $5K Per Month Mailing People Melons
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Ivory Mouzon and I’m the Chief Accountability Officer and Founder of Honeydew Lists.
We physically mail honeydew melons with custom messages on them! Our customers submit messages or lists to send to their “honey” and we write it on a honeydew and ship it!
We are focused on revamping the honey-do list because there is such a stigma surrounding acts of service. A typical honey-do list is a list of chores on a boring piece of paper stuck to the fridge, sent in a text or verbally told to the recipient with little motivation to actually do it.
So many people write it off as nagging and research shows that nagging and lack of communication is ranked high on failed relationships/partnerships. Our honeydew list is anything but that. We are sending joy, confusion, and fun on something that something that makes most of the world happy; FOOD!
We just launched a few weeks ago, but we are expecting to bring in at a minimum of $5000 in our first month.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I am a woman who is constantly living in creative chaos.
I started college thinking that I would go on to become a nurse but my creativity always won in the end. I decided to throw in the full-time towel when I turned 26 to start my own business. I started out with an Etsy business that did really well. As time passed, the ideas started to flow nonstop.
I knew that entrepreneurship was my end goal. I am a part of a tech startup that we plan on launching one of our ideas in January of 2019 but I wanted to create something that could support the dream. The idea of the Honeydew List kept forcing itself back into my life because my cousin was always talking about his honey-do list.
I was walking down an off beaten trail with my friend and now melon partner, Jermaine, and I pitched the idea of sending a honeydew to people in the mail. Like most people, he asked why. I said ‘for a honey-do list, get it”? He laughed and said it was the corniest but most ingenious thing he had heard in a while. I knew that if I could break through his rind the rest of the world would be my sliced melon. Only after they read their list of course!
When I first started thinking up Honeydew List I was most concerned with shipping. I thought that I could make a ceramic or plastic model that would light up on the table when something needed to be done. I quickly realized there was no fun in that and It would also cost a great deal of money. I may have been cutting back on shipping cost but I would be shipping out more money on prototyping. The bottom line was that there was no fun in it.
My thoughts quickly came back to sending an actual honeydew. I realized it was possible because of what potato parcel had done. I tested the idea with my husband first and he thought it was funny. If the pun could be understood right away the idea was gold. I cleaned out the refrigerator, put the melon inside and let the honeydew do the rest!
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing the product.
While we want to spread laughter through a witty way we know that we are using a valuable resource. There are many organizations that are fighting to eliminate world hunger. In order to avoid being wasteful, we only use edible markers to write our messages.
I think eventually getting our melons will be a bit more challenge. They aren’t something we can buy in advance with a good shelf life. Our desire and biggest fear is getting an order of 1000 melons in one day and not have all of the farmer's markets be able to support our heavy load but that’s a good worry for tomorrow. Right now, we are purchasing from all neighborhood farmers markets and stores with fresh, not too ripe honeydews! If you must dew, we must too! We need to send ourselves honeydew list once and a while! Go buy more melons to support your orders, stat!
Packaging is the most exciting part of the process for me. I wanted it to look like a giant piece of candy. It’s like a healthy trick! I purchase the gold wrapping paper while sale and cut it in sheets. Just like you’d wrap a basketball we do the same for the melon and tie it with a ribbon and a label. Depending on the location of the recipient, it could come in a padded envelope or a box. Either way, there will be paper confetti surround it as well. The entire unboxing is a prize!
Not only are we sending messages that put a smile on your face you can also put something healthy in your tummy. We dew not promote food waste! A big part of our design was finding the best edible markets. It may sound simple but writing on food can be challenging. We had to make sure it didn’t spear or smudge before to its location.
We don’t consider Honeydew List a food startup although its food. We run the business strictly like a gifting shop. Our startup cost was very simple. I built the website on my own. I am a part of a technology startup outside of Honeydew Lists (www.fibe4.com) so I could use my skill set to cut cost. Finding the best honeydews to write on is important. The less ripe the better because shipping takes at least two days.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Creating the website for HoneyDew Lists was the easy part.
I used Wix because I knew that it would be the quickest setup for the smallest investment. Building out a platform from scratch didn’t make sense to me because of only needing a simple e-commerce website for a simple product. When the business idea came to mind there was no online presence for it. The website and all of the social media accounts were created simultaneously.
My partner, Jermaine Lamar, and I bootstrapped the entire process 50/50. We are that are low investments bring in high returns. Everything we have done from the start has been done with cash. We both work outside of the business so we can sustain the startup money without any hiccups. As the orders come in the honeydew is bought to be designed and mailed. We don’t keep anything in stock because it would spoil.
We’ve learned that there’s no right time to launch. Everything is in start-up mode. We had to take a leap of faith and go for it. We have spent our time each day reaching out to reporters and bloggers to assist with our marketing and exposure.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Marketing is one of our hardest challenges but we are committing to posting on social media daily. On our initial launch, we had 30 people buy our honeydew and shockingly a few of them had a very common message, “wash the dishes, or else”. I think many of the women sent them out to be funny.
We are currently running an ad campaign on Facebook. Because it is all new to us we began with a small test budget to see how the return is. Neither of us has a background in marketing so it is all trial and error.
We ran the ad campaign a few of the different images we shared on our social media accounts. It was more of a call to action. On the very first day of running the ad we got the email about our very first click to our website. It was small but it was exciting. Knowing that the money were were spending brought in results allowed me to breathe a bit easier.
We used Reddit's Ask Me Anything a few days before launching to gain attention through real people who we knew wouldn’t hold back with their opinions. Not only did we use to share what we were thinking, but we also shared pictures of our products. The design of our delivery was given very positive feedback so we know that it will be a huge asset to keeping the traction up.
We had some people who said our idea was really stupid but stupid sells. I want to be the stupidest business in the world that worked. There isn’t a way for me to track if we got any orders from reddit but it has inspired me to send follow up emails asking “how did you hear about us”?
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today we are focused on getting our Honeydew List our in a timely manner from our two locations. We exist to all across the United States and we hope to expand to other countries in the future. Our operations are simple: We brand it (write on the melon), wrap it and ship it.
A honeydew package costs $12.95 not including shipping. Our cost to make it is around $6 so I think our margins are pretty good. Once we start getting more others we are hoping we are able to work with a fresh market that can give us better rates. Maybe we will send them a honeydew saying ‘honey dew you have a discount’! For now, we are pretty satisfied though.
Our long-term goal in a short time frame once we are profitable is to expand to new products. We have milestones set ahead to offer more to the customer to make sure they are return customers. We understand that one honeydew may be one laugh but the products that can be paired with that one melon can create a memory that will last a lifetime.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I have learned that not hiring for marketing is a huge mistake. We all know how to use social media for personal use but when wanting to grow your business it takes so much more. It is an expense worth making room for.
Don’t hesitate. Just begin and begin again. Don’t be afraid of your ideas.
Trying to do it all is the biggest failure anyone can make when launching a business. Within the short amount of time since we launched Honeydew Lists I’ve found myself overwhelmed and it was mostly my fault.
I have a partner to lean on and I have to make sure that I trust that he can do exactly what he signed up to do. Never spread yourself thin.
The last thing that needs to happen is getting burned out before even being able to see the finish line in the distance.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Against the advice of everything I read online, I’m using Wix as the platform for my e-commerce store. It includes everything that I need. I can accept payments knowing that my customer’s information is safe and secure because Wix has full SSL secure payments support. The shipping tools are built into the platform and I was able to set my shipping rate.
Wix has been the easiest for me when working on SEO and marketing features. I’ve been able to easily navigate each page to make sure I have included all of the correct keywords to make sure that Honeydewlists shows up first when searched.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I know it isn’t a book but Shark Tank has been one of the most inspiring resources for me since I got bit by the entrepreneurship bug. I didn’t even understand valuation before watching the show. I also enjoy attending entrepreneur forums.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
I went to an event with a panel of speakers and what stuck out the most was hearing Rodney Sampson say “create a business that is affordable so you can fund ideas that cost more” and I knew I had to take the leap. Airbnb started on the same principles by selling cereal to raise money for their big idea. In order to execute your ideas go for it. People may not always be supportive in the beginning but it’ll come. You must first believe in yourself.
Don’t hesitate. Just begin and begin again. Don’t be afraid of your ideas. If you’re a person with a super creative mind you will have ideas all of the time. Write them down, do the work and you will make it happen.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are looking to hire for marketing. It’s our biggest focus. We believe that through marketing everything will grow from there. We are interested in having someone focus on all of our social media accounts. As our business continues to grow we will need to hire for other jobs as well.
Where can we go to learn more?
- Website: honeydewlists.com
- Facebook: facebook.com/honeydewlists/
- Email: [email protected]
- Instagram: @honeydewlists
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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