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Interview with a Shopify Store Owner: Mandy Nagel

I Thought of You is more than just a business. Mandy Nagel founded I Thought of You with a mission to do good and promote global community. Through fair trade, eco-friendly accessories, her company facilitates sustainable income to artisans in developing countries. Further, the I Thought of You Curator program empowers affiliate partners to partake in spreading these globally-conscious business objectives. Realizing these goals has all been made possible through Shopify.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

The creation of I Thought of You was a joyful accident. As an avid traveler, I was on a trip to Indonesia to experience the culture and explore their beautiful country. I met what would be our first artisan group at a local market. Their handcrafted glass bead and carved wood jewelry was beautiful, like nothing I had seen before. I purchased quite a few pieces from them to bring home and see what others thought. My friends back in the US loved them just as much as I did. I traveled back to Indonesia to collaborate with the artisans to create many styles that would translate to style trends here (my degree in design was a huge help with this!) After we felt like we had a nice collection of products, we launched our online shop. The response was tremendous and encouraged us to brainstorm how we could continue growing going forward. Our team now travels to new countries in search of new artisans groups using new materials and new styles.

I Thought of You fair trade accessories

If you had one piece of advice for someone just starting out, what would it be?

Start somewhere, but start small. It’s natural to want to be the next big global brand, but that’s not a realistic goal to begin with. Identify the most important things you want to accomplish and map out how you plan to get there. Identify the strengths you personally possess that can be a benefit to your company and be diligent in finding the right partners to supplement your strengths.

What was your biggest ‘a-ha’ moment as an eCommerce store owner?

I love seeing the real difference that I Thought of You is making in the communities of our artisans. We visit our groups several times per year and being able to know them on a personal level and having a hand in their growth and prosperity is truly an inspiration. I never thought a small accessories brand could have such lasting impact on communities a world away.

What's your favorite 'productivity hack' that you use in your day to day life?

It's no secret that running a small business demands that you wear many hats. On any given day, I find myself tackling items related to marketing, accounting, inventory, product development, customer service, team building, and order fulfillment. Small business owners also aren't familiar with an 8 hour workday/40 hour workweek, it's a challenge to find the right time balance of business productivity and necessary time to unwind. I've found that it helps to have a cutoff time that you always stop checking email. For me it's 7:30pm. If an urgent matter arises, I know I'll receive a phone call or text so there is no need to worry that anything can't wait until morning.

What Shopify app could you not live without?

Refersion: Our business is based on sales made by independent selling partners (we call them Curators) and this app helps us track their sales and pay the commissions they’ve earned. Electric Eye helped us get this up and running after we had tried several other apps that weren’t meeting our needs. We’re thrilled with it so far!

I Thought of You artisan craft accessories

Do you have any other advice you would like to share?

Don’t limit your sales to just your e-commerce store. Explore other opportunities that can compliment what you’re doing online; craft fairs, holiday markets, and even wholesale partners can leverage much of the work you’ve done to get up and running and bring in additional income.

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