Hello! Who are you and what are you working on?
My name is Julien Plouffe. I’m a Canadian living in Miami Florida. I am the owner of Moonglow Jewelry. I love snowboarding, car racing, surfing, motorcycle racing and anything that involves adrenaline. Naturally, this makes me a risk taking entrepreneur.
My Company Moonglow sells jewelry featuring phases of the moon from the date of your choice. People normally choose a meaningful date like their birthday or anniversary, and we customize their jewelry with the moon phase associated with that date.
We have been growing quicker than I ever imagined we would, but I feel we still have a lot of room to grow. I started this business out of my apartment doing about $200,000 in revenue, and now we’re aiming to hit $7,000,000 this year.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Unfortunately, I was always messing around in school, I loved socializing and was friends with everyone, I was pretty bad at everything except theater and sports. Bad in a classroom setting, but I flourished out in a crowd selling.
When I turned 16, the principal told my father I should quit school and work for him. I did. My father had a pitch business selling infomercial-type products in fairs across the United States, but most products I sold were either passing trends or did not hold my interest, at least not until Moonglow.
In 2011 at a fair in Springfield, MA called The Big E is where my life changed direction a bit. I was 23. I was selling Moonglow for the first time and the sales were great. People loved the idea, the concept, and I knew this was the product I wanted to focus on and could really build a brand.
At the age of 25, I broke off from my father’s business and concentrated on building Moonglow with a business partner. We set up a website and continued selling in fairs, markets and many other events like Comic Cons. It wasn’t too long, we had a crew of four people travelling and doing events for us.
One day I was selling at an event and thought, "There must be a better way" than one on one sales. I really wanted to scale Moonglow and I was getting tired of the traveling; the setting up and taking down at each event; just to do it all again. I decided I wanted to work with boutiques and stores to sell our awesome line to their customers. I spent the money to enter a B2B trade show in New York, (a pricey $10,000) and covered the costs of the show in less than a day, with new orders from stores. I knew from that moment, this is the way to go and scale.
Shortly after the trade show, we hired our Director of Sales who handles all of our in store placement and customer acquisition on the wholesale side.
With ever increasing sales, I could no longer run the company out of my Miami Beach condo. It was time for an office and a warehouse. We opened a small office/warehouse in Doral, FL. Hired two employees, one for customer service and another for picking and packing order.
Now we have a talented team of 12 employees and seven contractors. There are plans to hire additional members as Moonglow continues to grow.
Describe the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing the product.
Manufacturing is a process. We contracted with some amazing designers and through a lot of trial and error we came up with a process that has become polished and seamless.
I hired a conversion rate expert who told us our site flow was really bad, we identified that people needed to click way too many buttons in order to checkout, every button you add, the more people drop out and you lose potential customers along the way.
I truly believe we produce some of the nicest jewelry pieces around. But more often than not, it’s trial and error and most designs are not on time, there is so much back and forth, get ready to never give up and learn from mistakes. I write them down to make sure I don’t do them again
Most of our jewelry is made in Canada and brought into the United States for assembly and shipping. We service both our wholesale and online customers through our U.S. facility.
We needed more money to purchase more inventory. Financing for initial manufacturing costs came from a $40,000 line of credit I convinced my banker to extend to us. Within a few months that line of credit was increased to $140,000 and we were off. Most of the funds was used to buy merchandise and to market VIA live events where people can see and feel the product from one of our team members.
Describe the process of launching the online store/business.
The revenue raised from fairs and events provided the capital to launch our first website. We used an agency from San Diego and paid $3000. It was terrible, pictures were horrible, the branding colors were not consistent, the flow was off, I cringe at it now but it was 2012 and we were focused on fairs and events and less so on internet sales. Even though, the site was bad, sales still trickled in.
I believe one of the keys to Moonglow’s success was reinvesting a lot of our early profits into marketing.
A few years later. We started to focus on our website as we really wanted to ramp up this channel. We kept a close eye on conversion rates, branding, photography. We also hired an SEO agency back in 2013. We now rank for most of the moon jewelry related keywords generating over 50,000 qualified visitors monthly who are looking for us.
I hired a conversion rate expert who told us our site flow was really bad, we identified that people needed to click way too many buttons in order to checkout, every button you add, the more people drop out and you lose potential customers along the way. Our branding was off and we needed to become more of a lifestyle mainstream brand if we wanted to keep growing. We needed great photography and videography. This is so important, we use to go cheap on these things, but not anymore. Don’t be afraid to invest in your business. If you’re always going cheap, you’ll generally get what you pay for.
One summer in 2014. I was walking in Huntington Beach, CA and met a marketing agency. We chatted and they convinced me to spend $1,050 a month on social media marketing. They were bassically posting on Facebook and Twitter. This was before the time of sponsored posts and ads.
I believe one of the keys to Moonglow’s success was reinvesting a lot of our early profits into marketing. Earlier on, almost all profit went back in to marketing, additonal tradeshows, Facebook ads, Instagram ads, new displays, new packaging. We always try and make things better and never stay complacent. If you don’t innovate, you’ll get left in the dust as the bar gets higher every day.
Since launch, what has worked to attract new customers?
Social Media marketing works. Today we spend over $1,000,000 annually on Facebook and Instagram ads and our website generates over $5 million annually.
One day, I was in Greece reading Forbes about a brand that went from $0 to $1,500,000 in a year all from Facebook ads. I called up the agency they worked with. They were not cheap and most people who I asked if I should work with this agency said it was way too expensive. Don’t listen to the noise, trust your gut. Since we started working together, we went from a website that was selling about $400,000 a year to about $5,000,000.
We run a lot of Facebook campaigns and are always monitoring. Were not afraid to take risks here but don’t bet the farm either. When something is working, I continue to invest and see how large we can go. The sky is the limit.
We work with a lot of influencers, we use this platform called Socialix to help us connect with influencers looking to work with great brands. Before Socialix, we would just DM a bunch of influencers. It worked, but it got way too messy and was hard to track.
We continue to create content to stay ranking in search engines. On site optimization along with good content has helped tremendously. We are constantly writing about our brand and creating content with other writers.
Next year, we are doing our first pop up in NYC.
How is everything going nowadays, and what are your plans for the future?
We spend quite a bit to acquire customers, about 30% of our costs go to customer acquisition. It’s important to have good margins or you won’t have enough money for marketing and advertising. I recommend a margin of 75% or higher.
Our online traffic this year will hit about 5,000,000 visitors. We try to hit a 2% conversion rate consistently.
Our social media impressions are around 3,000,000 impressions weekly.
Our next goal is to reach ten million sales if all goes right by the end of next year. In terms of product, we update and add new designs yearly and are considering a jump into fine jewelry.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
The success of Moonglow is our focus. Whether it’s our brand strategy, our financial goals, or our level of commitment. The management and employees of our company are goal driven.
Another key focus is hiring the right people. Like a chain, a company is only as strong as its weakest link and we have had to do a lot of hiring and firing to come up with the strong team we have now. The fun of running a business, some days are amazing and the next, you think the whole ship is sinking.
When you do the right things, reinvest your money back into your company, and put your heart into every single aspect, the results just seem to come.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Of course, our biggest platform is our website with Shopify Plus and have a strong presence on Facebook, and Instagram to ensure maximum visibility for our brand.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The most influential book I have read is Rich Dad, Poor Dad. It shifted the way I think in terms of money and now I use my business earnings to fund other real estate projects, generating an income for myself that will last a lifetime.
The last thing you want to do is make a bunch of money and spend it all. Make your hard work last.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
My personal success depends on waking up early, staying in shape to keep my mind fresh and lots of coffee.
Love what you’re doing and the day flies by. I was working twelve hours a day and loving every minute of it. You’ve got to love what you’re doing. It’s the reason why you do something that is the most important, and that’s something you can only find in yourself and only you can answer.
Some advice to give other entrepreneurs is to first figure out if being a business owner is really for you. I remember when funds were low I had to take a loan on my car to make ends meet. You must be willing to put IT ALL ON THE LINE.
Many people say they want it, but they really don’t, they’re not willing to invest their money to learn, wake up early to hustle. They only seem to want the rewards, get rich quick type stuff, and that doesn’t happen 99% of the time. Set a plan and follow through.
Focus. Follow one course and success will follow.
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