Chooice’s website reported $ 2 million in revenue for 5,600 aspiring entrepreneurs
The electrician and self-taught, genius of 3D printing, Ivan Perez, presents his original planters in front of more than 500,000 potential buyers at the click of a mouse.
He and his wife Pamela Perez, who makes terrariums, are among 5,600 registered sellers using the Chooice Facebook group and associated e-commerce website to launch their first foray into business.
Sarah Colcord launched the New Zealand Made Products Facebook group during the lockdown last year to support small businesses, including her own event management company, never considering it would turn into an online incubator for thousands of kiwi entrepreneurs.
“It was definitely one of the social and economic outcomes that we hadn’t anticipated.”
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Renamed Chooice, the 549,000 members at 70% women make it New Zealand’s largest Facebook group, and sales through the outlet stores on the website launched last August had exceeded $ 2 million by the end. may.
Pamela Perez quit her job as a preschool teaching assistant in 2019 to start The Twig, a Christchurch-based company creating tiny gardens in glass containers, and recently her husband Ivan has largely quit electrical work to make the planters. in 3D printed plastic that he created to go with his terrariums. .
Although they have their own websites and the planters sell worldwide through Etsy, Perez said they will maintain a store on Chooice which accounts for a third of their sales.
“We learned as we went, for both of us, this is our first activity. We will be forever grateful to Sarah [Colcord] and his team.
Colcord said Chooice’s suppliers ranged from outdoor furniture makers to retirees selling knitwear, some seriously building businesses, others operating side businesses, and with a geographic spread as far south as the island. Stewart.
For many, this is their first experience with e-commerce, which prompted Colcord to start a Supplier Academy Facebook group with two staff members dedicated to helping social media newbies.
“A lot of people struggle with the basics, like how to post to a Facebook group.”
Salespeople get tips on how to write captions and choose images that will interest viewers, who, as Colcord says, “have the attention span of a goldfish.”
She says it’s gratifying to see people quickly learn how even minor tweaks to posts can mark additional successes.
“They want to know how our algorithm works and when are the best times to post to the band, there’s a lot of education going on.”
Nimeesha Odedra, who is in business with her mother Sue to sell Sobhna’s curry pastes, pickles and spice mixes, is one of 438 members of the seller’s academy.
She said the benefit of belonging to a virtual community of other small businesses facing similar issues was confirmed when there was a shortage of pots of curry paste, and another member of the group sent a message. message with information on where to find them.
Odedra credits products made in New Zealand and in Chooice, where they have a store, the confidence to turn a selling hobby at farmers’ markets around Auckland into a full-fledged online business selling to the nationwide.
“It got us thinking, okay, this is a viable business that we could really capitalize on.”
Odedra said their success has also rubbed off on other local businesses that they use for their branding and business website.
“Instead of printing labels on my printer, cutting them out with scissors, and gluing them with a glue stick, we needed printed labels.”
Former flight attendant and skilled hairstylist Sherrie Moleta couldn’t cope with a return to bad pay and poor working conditions in a salon when Covid-19 took her pilot job away, so she put in Messy Bun spot, styling hair for weddings and special occasions.
She said the initial push to the post on Chooice had a lasting impact. “I didn’t know anything about starting or running a business … I think I might be halfway to where I am today.”
The Facebook group and website have also proven to be a savior for established businesses.
Emma Heke has been running Heke Homemade Herbals for seven years, and as a single mom she ‘panicked’ when the pandemic wiped out her income from selling at Nelson Market and gift shops.
Posting to NZ Made Products and later Chooice helped double her inventory to 60 so she could afford to buy two booths and move tea-making operations from her home to the garden.
However, she just left Chooice, feeling her focus had changed with more rules and new fees, and although Heke understood the need to monetize the site, “it doesn’t fit my business model.”
Colcord said it introduced a monthly membership fee of $ 5 and a 5% success fee for sellers.
Those who don’t have a store on Chooice’s website pay $ 10 to post on the Facebook page, and Colcord said a “give a dollar a month” campaign aimed to raise $ 60,000 a month for a new one. platform “with all the bells and whistles”.
When interest in the Facebook page exploded, Colcord sought mentors to help it take it to the next level, and last year she partnered with Auckland’s creative agency Indigo, which manages also the Manaaki Online Advisory Forum.
Colcord considers its niche to be New Zealand’s largest small business market.
“A lot of small businesses feel left out of these big markets like Trade Me because they don’t think they can get as much exposure among larger, more sophisticated companies.
“They feel like they’ve lost their voice in these spaces, and it’s probably not for them anymore.”