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SamUSA

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Carol

Thats pretty crazy. I myself work with textile products, cheap and effective! I assume that you guys didn't stay in the "ironing board niche" so I wanted to ask: What kind of niche are you guys currently in? Do you stick with just textile products? Also do you invent your own products, or do you make already existing products better?

Your time in awnsering these questions would be greatly appreciated! Please feel free to reach out if you need help with manufacturing, I built a pretty good relationship with a manufacturer!

-SamUSA
 

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Carol Jones

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Carol

Thats pretty crazy. I myself work with textile products, cheap and effective! I assume that you guys didn't stay in the "ironing board niche" so I wanted to ask: What kind of niche are you guys currently in? Do you stick with just textile products? Also do you invent your own products, or do you make already existing products better?

Your time in awnsering these questions would be greatly appreciated! Please feel free to reach out if you need help with manufacturing, I built a pretty good relationship with a manufacturer!

-SamUSA
G'day @SamUSA from rural Australia,

My apologies for taking so long to answer you.

In December, my partner and I sold our beautiful rural property in NSW. And relocated to the alpine region of the state of Victoria. Still in Australia. We are in the rural foothills of Mt Hotham. Victoria's premier ski resort. We've purchased another rural property, 42 hectares (105 acres). My partner, Victor Pleshev, is an architect. And he's designing a house for us to build on this property.

The property is very steep. And we will build our house on the top of a hill. Which has 360 degree panoramic views of a valley below of farmland. And the stunning surrounding hills that form a part of Mt Hotham. So we'll be able to see the snow caps in winter. We also have a seasonal creek at the base of the property which flows freely during winter. When rain is plentiful.

To your question. What niche do we currently occupy? Ironing board covers! We've created an enviable reputation for our product living up to its name - Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover. We also have almost 500,000 customers. in 30 countries. It would be foolish to abandon this market segment. Especially as fewer people are ironing every year. So makers of ironing board covers are dropping out of the market. Which means their exit. Is my gain. There will be fewer and fewer choices for people who want a quality ironing board cover.

No. We don't invent our own products. We choose existing products that don't work. And redesign them so they do work. When others don't work. We've done this with 6 products.

Our products are textile products. With the exception of my jigsaw puzzles. Which are created from my photographs taken in rural Australia. Photography is my hobby.

We don't make cheap products. And don't look for cheap options. The cheap category is full to the brim with competition. We choose quality over cheap. And price our products accordingly. There's less competition at the quality end.

People buy our products as a last resort. When they've burned through the cheap products and finally convince themselves that quality is worth it. They buy from us. We're very patient.

All our products are made with love and care in rural Australia by men and women who have a disability. So we don't look for manufacturing alternatives. Comments from customers confirm that many of them buy from us because we give challenged people an opportunity to participate in the workforce. Which enhances their self-esteem.

I hope this answers your questions, Sam.

And welcome to The Fastlane Forum. You'll meet so many talented people on this forum. Who give. And who are very helpful.

If I can help you in any way, please let me know. And I hope we stay in touch. ~Carol❤
 
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Carol Jones

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Dear Carol, thank you ever so much for all your hard work and for sharing your experience with us. You are a luminous candle in the dark. Thank you for being you.
G'day @Star Dust from rural Australia,

I love your comment! Thank you so much!! You've done more than your share in illuminating my day. And making it so much brighter!!!

Welcome to The Fastlane Forum. You'll love it here. There are so many stories. And so many people willing to share their knowledge and experience with you.

If I can ever help you, please let me know. ~Carol❤
 

NMdad

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Hey, Carol, really appreciate your sharing your experience.

A few things stand out:
  • Focus on quality: Going upmarket means less competition & fewer high-maintenance customers.
  • Long-term focus: You mentioned "We're very patient"--basically that when the time is right & pain crossed a threshold, people become your customers, and then stick with you, refer you, etc.
  • Helping others: Not just here on the forum, but with your products & your choice for who manufactures them. Brilliant way to create value from end to end.
  • Non-obvious niche: Ironing board covers--who'd a thought? While everyone else is chasing fads, you're off the radar, plugging along, executing, and succeeding. Reminds me of a recent podcast episode about a quilting business that became the economic engine of a formerly-dying rural town: Lesson 1: Stitching It All Together Business Schooled podcast
 

MTF

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In December, my partner and I sold our beautiful rural property in NSW. And relocated to the alpine region of the state of Victoria.
Just curious: was it because of the droughts or something else? Seems like a difficult decision to sell your beloved rural property in NSW.
 

Carol Jones

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Hey, Carol, really appreciate your sharing your experience.

A few things stand out:
  • Focus on quality: Going upmarket means less competition & fewer high-maintenance customers.
  • Long-term focus: You mentioned "We're very patient"--basically that when the time is right & pain crossed a threshold, people become your customers, and then stick with you, refer you, etc.
  • Helping others: Not just here on the forum, but with your products & your choice for who manufactures them. Brilliant way to create value from end to end.
  • Non-obvious niche: Ironing board covers--who'd a thought? While everyone else is chasing fads, you're off the radar, plugging along, executing, and succeeding. Reminds me of a recent podcast episode about a quilting business that became the economic engine of a formerly-dying rural town: Lesson 1: Stitching It All Together Business Schooled podcast
G'day @NMdad from rural Australia,

My apologies for such a tardy reply. This move from one state to another is all consuming. Add in the complexities of purchasing a new rural property. Designing a home to put on it. Restarting my business. And life becomes very busy.

LOVE the podcast. How wonderful of you to send me the link. I love stories like this.

Age. Experience. And the wisdom that comes with age. Allows me to travel under the radar. And know that it's the best route for me.

I can't remember a time when I've been attracted to fads. And have always avoided them. Even in high school and university. When peer pressure is very strong to follow the pack. I've learned that I'm often on the outside. And many times, when looking inside, I've observed the mistakes people make in trying to be in synch with the current trends. Which are often very short lived.

My innate intuition to travel the road less travelled has always served me well. The downside is many people try to point out what a mistake that is. I've learned that I'm not obligated to anyone to defend my position.

Quote
Long-term focus: You mentioned "We're very patient"--basically that when the time is right & pain crossed a threshold, people become your customers, and then stick with you, refer you, etc.
/Quote

Regarding the above. In 2016, I sent a brochure to a friend of a customer. At the request of my customer. Part of my Thank You Note is a page called 'The Referral Tree'. Where customers can send me names of family and friends to send brochures to.

They stay on my database. For future reference.

Two weeks ago, I received an order from that friend. For 6 Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover packages. That's AUD$448.05. With an accompanying note telling me that in 2016, she was shocked/horrified/astounded (her words) at how expensive a Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover package was. But. After burning through $$$$ in cheap covers over 3 years. And the attendant irritation that comes with these poorly fitting covers. She crossed the threshold where quality matters. She made a purchase for her children. Her mother. Her mother-in-law. And of course, herself.

Not everyone believes in being patient. But it's an unsung virtue. It's a given that time and experience changes opinions.

If ever I can help you, please let me know. I'd love to hear from you again. ~Carol❤
 

Carol Jones

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Just curious: was it because of the droughts or something else? Seems like a difficult decision to sell your beloved rural property in NSW.
G'day @MTF,

Thank you for asking!

There were many factors in play.

One was that my partner, Victor Pleshev, is an architect. And has always wanted us to live in a home that he designed. Up until now, we've always purchased properties with a house on them. And renovated them.

He was hankering for the opportunity to design a home from scratch. To suit us.

He started talking about this in 2014. And I was very resistant. Because we both loved our rural property. And had invested 20 years in developing the showpiece garden. And Meadow House. Which he designed for his mother. We also spent a considerable amount of time improving the 54 hectares (135 acres).

When his mother died in 2014, he thought it was the perfect time to make a clean break. And find another property. Which would be smaller.

I didn't warm to the idea at all.

So Meadow House became a guest house on our property.

But. As time passes. Opinions change.

I could see that Victor was unhappy about not having the opportunity to live his dream. Which is to design and build a house that we'll love living in.

Standing outside. Looking in. It was apparent that I've had my dream come true. Which is to own my own business. And work and live from a beautiful rural property.

And it was unconscionably selfish on my part to not allow Victor to have his dream come true.

Until September of 2018, we were in severe drought. Down to bare earth. The heavens opened. And the rains poured down for a month. We had almost our yearly rainfall in one month.

We went from living in the desert of Saudi Arabia. To living in the emerald green pastures of Ireland.

Victor said this was a small window of opportunity to put the property on the market and have it sell quickly. While it looked so beautiful. He also reminded me that an El Nino was predicted for our location starting in December 2018. And once the El Nino kicked in. We would look drab and brown again.

I made an instant decision that he was right. And he was.

We put the property on the market on 1st October 2018. It was shown to 5 couples. And two couples made offers on the 10th of October 2018. Within an hour of each other. We were fortunate to be able to secure full price. Which we didn't expect.

We settled on the 14th of December. And when I closed the gate for the last time at midnight. To start a new life. I blew a kiss to the property. Thanked it for all its wonderful years.

But knew that I was fully ready to join Victor on his adventure. To make his dream come true.

Come December. The rain stopped. And by the time we left, the landscape was starting to turn brown again.

A friend who raises Alpacas not far from where we lived says her property is now down to bare earth. And she's in a normally high rainfall area. Her property was a potato farm when she purchased it 20 years ago. Very green. And very lush.

The decision to sell was indeed difficult for me to make. But once having made the decision, I had no regrets. And have no desire to look back.

Our criteria for our new location was. Cooler. Wetter. With spectacular views.

We're now in the foothills of the Victorian Alps. The temperature is on average 7C cooler than where we were. And although this area is also experiencing a drought. The landscape is still partially green. With no bare earth. Yet!

We purchased 100 acres in Swifts Creek, Victoria. A small town that in its heyday, was a gold mining town. The property is steep. And once you get to the top (which requires a 4 wheel drive) the 360 degree uninterruped views are sensational. We look down onto a small valley of farms. And the distant hills of the Victorian Alps completely surround us.

We'll be able to see the snowcaps in winter. And watch the hills change throughout the day as the shadow of the sun passes across them. It will be morning and evening mists. A constant breeze. Fully off the grid as there is no electricity. And only mobile phone coverage.

We're more remote than where we were. Shopping is now a 2-hour drive to the closest regional centre. With 40km of the 125km drive being a hairpin bend, two lane, ultra narrow country road. With no roadside barriers to stop you from driving off the side of the cliff face. But as no one speeds. We're not overly concerned.

The drive into Bairnsdale follows a river on one side. And the face of a cliff on the other side. We drive through sun filtering through the mountain treescape. And have trouble keeping our eyes on the road because the landscape is sooooo very beautiful.

When other people our age have put their feet up and are in the departure lounge of life. (It gets earlier and earlier with each generation). We're powering through another change. Energised by the newness of everything. And back to solving more problems in a day than most people solve in a year.

I'm so pleased to have made this change. It's so exciting experiencing new things. Meeting new people. Doing things in a different way.

I highly recommend it.

In 2014 I had no idea I'd be where I am today. And I'm very appreciative of Victor not haranguing me about how much he wants to make a change. But letting time help me make the decision to change.

We are renting a quaint house in the town of Omeo for 12 months. Which is how long Victor estimates it will take to build on our property. We're in the centre of town. So have no real neighbours. Mainly businesses. We're an 18 minute drive from Swifts Creek. And although surrounded by other buildings. We have the privacy we crave by not having neighbours who pop in and out.

It has a big country kitchen. A gas stovetop. But no oven! I'm a baker, so I've had to improvise. I purchased a convection microwave oven. Which although small. Does allow me to bake.

And for roasts, it's the 1970's standby that all of us in Oz had when we were renovating our terrace houses and were without kitchens for a while. Sunbeam's high top frying pan. I was searching the internet at 3am one morning. And finally found one. On eBay. The last one for sale.

It makes the most succulent roasts ever. Much better than an oven.

Again, @MTF, thank you for asking. Answering you clarifies even more for me that it was the best decision. ~Carol❤
 
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MTF

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Thank you for sharing this story, Carol. I hope you'll enjoy your new home. Please post some pictures when the house is ready! I'd love to see pictures of the land, too.

What are you going to use for electricity? Solar?

Are you going to keep manufacturing in NSW or are you looking to move it to Victoria, too?
 

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Carol Jones

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Thank you for sharing this story, Carol. I hope you'll enjoy your new home. Please post some pictures when the house is ready! I'd love to see pictures of the land, too.

What are you going to use for electricity? Solar?

Are you going to keep manufacturing in NSW or are you looking to move it to Victoria, too?
G'day again @MTF,

We have to be totally off the grid. So it will be solar power. There are problems with that. Backup at night is by battery. And so far we can only find battery backup for 15Kw. More than that, and a diesel backup is required. The refrigerator is the problem. Finding one that's big enough. That won't drain the battery at night. So we will probably opt for battery and diesel backup.

There are larger refrigerators for solar available in the USA. But so far Australia doesn't have large ones. Only very small ones. And as we can't shop every day for fresh food. The tyranny of distance raising its head. It's going to be a challenge.

The manufacturing is absolutely staying with our sewing company. Who have been our partners for 25 years. 'Made with love and care in rural Australia by men and women who have a disability' is what opens peoples hearts to buying our products.

The downside is the time it takes for stock to arrive from NSW to Victoria. 5 working days. As opposed to overnight when we were in NSW.

We'll adjust. I just need to keep larger quantities of stock.

Thank you for being interested. I love that! ~Carol❤
 

MTF

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We have to be totally off the grid. So it will be solar power. There are problems with that. Backup at night is by battery. And so far we can only find battery backup for 15Kw. More than that, and a diesel backup is required. The refrigerator is the problem. Finding one that's big enough. That won't drain the battery at night. So we will probably opt for battery and diesel backup.
How about Tesla Powerwalls? Tesla Powerwall You could buy two of them and have 26 kWh.

Here's an Australian case study: Living with the Tesla Powerwall: the first Australian case study
 

Carol Jones

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How about Tesla Powerwalls? Tesla Powerwall You could buy two of them and have 26 kWh.

Here's an Australian case study: Living with the Tesla Powerwall: the first Australian case study
G'day @MTF,

Thank you for this. Victor is very interested.

He's been talking to solar power installers and no one in this area has ever installed a Tesla battery. So no one recommends them. And no one will install one.

This is a very small area. The tradespeople come from 2 hours away. And many won't come here at all. (No one fixes washing machines. We have to put it on a courier truck. And courier it to the nearest Miele repair centre 3 hours away. Just did this!)

If Victor can read about an installation. And talk to someone about their experience. It will help him in his quest to find a qualified installer.

So. Once again, @MTF, your links are appreciated.

I don't know your gender. Or where you live. I clicked on your avatar. But was told I am unable to view your profile. So you're a complete mystery!

I'll keep you up to date on our quest for a superior solar backup battery. ~Carol❤
 

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Wow! Wonderful thread. Thank you, Carol, for sharing your story and taking the time to answer questions.
 

JWM

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Love this thread. I always spot it when I jump onto the forum and I take a quick read through to get the juices flowing again. I'm based in Melbourne and I'm in the early days of my journey, which mostly feels like i'm neck deep in mud, but I'm pushing through! Congrats on the success and thanks for the all the info shared.

Josh
 

Carol Jones

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Love this thread. I always spot it when I jump onto the forum and I take a quick read through to get the juices flowing again. I'm based in Melbourne and I'm in the early days of my journey, which mostly feels like i'm neck deep in mud, but I'm pushing through! Congrats on the success and thanks for the all the info shared.

Josh
G'day @JWM,

Thank you so much! I love reading this.

I'm now closer to your part of Australia.

My partner, Victor Pleshev, the architect who designed the Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover for his mother, and I left NSW in December. With no fixed location in mind. Just a desire to start anew. Again reinvent ourselves. In another beautiful location.

We've just purchased 40 hectares ( 100 acres) in Swifts Creek, Victoria. Not far from Omeo. In the High Country of the Victorian Alps.

The property is very steep. And Victor will design and build a house for us at the very top. We have panoramic views of a valley of farms below. And are surrounded by the rugged - and beautiful - hills of the Victorian Alps. The views are truly sensational.

Regarding being stuck neck deep in mud. I'm not sure that ever goes away. Being successful doesn't mean you no longer have problems. You just have different problems. And one of the problems is being too complacent. Because you no longer need to hustle as hard as you did before.

That hustle is what motivates many people. And is one of the reasons we're doing what we're doing. At a time when many people our age are putting their feet up. Looking forward to a quieter life.

We still have our business. And will continue to grow it in our new location.

What are your dreams? I'd love to know. I hope to hear from you again. ~Carol❤
 

JWM

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G'day @JWM,

Thank you so much! I love reading this.

I'm now closer to your part of Australia.

My partner, Victor Pleshev, the architect who designed the Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover for his mother, and I left NSW in December. With no fixed location in mind. Just a desire to start anew. Again reinvent ourselves. In another beautiful location.

We've just purchased 40 hectares ( 100 acres) in Swifts Creek, Victoria. Not far from Omeo. In the High Country of the Victorian Alps.

The property is very steep. And Victor will design and build a house for us at the very top. We have panoramic views of a valley of farms below. And are surrounded by the rugged - and beautiful - hills of the Victorian Alps. The views are truly sensational.

Regarding being stuck neck deep in mud. I'm not sure that ever goes away. Being successful doesn't mean you no longer have problems. You just have different problems. And one of the problems is being too complacent. Because you no longer need to hustle as hard as you did before.

That hustle is what motivates many people. And is one of the reasons we're doing what we're doing. At a time when many people our age are putting their feet up. Looking forward to a quieter life.

We still have our business. And will continue to grow it in our new location.

What are your dreams? I'd love to know. I hope to hear from you again. ~Carol❤

Thanks for the reply Carol, really appreciate it.

Sounds like you're describing the dream with that location, that is incredible. The closest I've been to that area is Lakes Entrance and Marlo, of which I recommend.

I should have described the mud part a little better. I think it has more to do with so much happening but not getting a lot of those positive echoes (sales, strong interest etc.). It will be a different story once things are thriving a bit more. I enjoy the uncertainty of going after something new, but not for this amount of time.

As for my dreams, a family and working on a business that solves environmental issues, getting it going then moving on to the next problem.

To start with though, I am currently working on a couple of projects with my business partner which are starting to gain some interest with the right people. So we may have a busy few months on the way, fingers crossed. I am going to make a post about all this soon.

Then for those material dreams, a rural property maybe near the Otways (Great ocean road area, I need to be near the ocean, still need to learn to surf!) with a big workshop. I'm an Engineer and I need to use my hands, I must have a workshop. Being able to spend time on my hobbies to make things without relying on them for income. A Kingswood HZ, motorcycle and the freedom to fly where I want and when. Simple? Yes, but that's how I like it.

Thanks again for the reply, it's great to speak to someone local who has been through it all.

Josh
 

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G'day again @pkom79

I really appreciate all your information about online advertising. You've gone to a great deal of trouble to put together facts to support your belief in its value.

But you and I will have to agree to disagree on its value for my products.

I don't make that decision lightly. I am very erudite regarding digital marketing. I've been immersed in it for many years. And spend my hard earned $$$$ to keep learning about it. More than 99.99% of other people.

I also frequently attend webinars about the virtues of online advertising. Including Facebook advertising. Wanting to be convinced. I've not yet had one convince me it was worth spending my money on.

Perhaps it's because I strongly believe that personal communication is more powerful than online anonymity. I'm a big user of the telephone. All my joint ventures have been put together over the phone. I ring customers regularly just to say G'day. And learn about them. Which helps my marketing.

The biggest waste of time is to constantly seek new customers. The best use of time is to cultivate my existing customers. So I can discover how I can create new customers. From my existing customers.

I look for opportunities to move from online. To offline. That's where I excel. And I knock the socks off people who only depend on online conversions.

I'm sure there are many people on this forum who would leap at the opportunity to get help from you. And I appreciate your offer to me. If I change my mind, I'll let you know. ~Carol❤
Hi Carol:

I do a lot of digital marketing. And people who know me may be surprised at this, but I don't think paid advertising is a sustainable long term business model.

I might have said somewhere that your business is 'different' but it's not. At all. You sell a product that solves a problem and has a unique selling proposition and high salient benefit. That's literally every business that makes it work long term.

You, on the other hand, ARE different.

Paid advertising might work for your business. But it probably will not work for YOU. You don't roll that day. You care more about your customers proselytizing for you than you do about trying to acquire them with the new-fangled techniques of the 'pros'.

I have a rant about digital advertising but that's for some other day. Just know that I believe that organic growth is more indicative of the health of a business than increases in ROAS or ad spend or what have you.

JT
 

Carol Jones

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Hi Carol:

I do a lot of digital marketing. And people who know me may be surprised at this, but I don't think paid advertising is a sustainable long term business model.

I might have said somewhere that your business is 'different' but it's not. At all. You sell a product that solves a problem and has a unique selling proposition and high salient benefit. That's literally every business that makes it work long term.

You, on the other hand, ARE different.

Paid advertising might work for your business. But it probably will not work for YOU. You don't roll that day. You care more about your customers proselytizing for you than you do about trying to acquire them with the new-fangled techniques of the 'pros'.

I have a rant about digital advertising but that's for some other day. Just know that I believe that organic growth is more indicative of the health of a business than increases in ROAS or ad spend or what have you.

JT
G'day @The-J from Oz,

Wow! That's an unexpected response from a digital marketer.

Thank you!

I've often thought about putting on my website that I don't engage in predatory marketing activities.

Because this is my experience with digital marketers and paid advertising.

In 2015 my partner and I scoured the web for new chairs for our dining room. We looked at many sites before we made our decision.

It was then that I noticed that everywhere I went on the web, there were ads on sites I was visiting. From sites that I had visited for chairs.

I genuinely felt harassed. And was annoyed at being stalked.

To make matters worse, the company we purchased our chairs from stalked me relentlessly for weeks after our purchase.

I had no trouble making the decision that I would reward them for their efforts by never making another purchase from them again.

I then discovered AdBlocker. Which is now on every browser I use.

If I visit a site. And am blocked by the site from viewing its contents unless I turn off AdBlocker. I click off.

I've also noticed recently that the New York Times. For which I have a paid subscription. Is now asking me to disable AdBlocker. Which I refuse to do.

That's why I have a paid subscription. To stop being pursued by predatory marketers.

I also despise those popups from the side that tell me Joe from wherever has just purchased whatever I'm looking at. I hate them so much. I click off the site.

I don't need to be bludgeoned into making a buying decision. I'm intelligent enough to know how to collect information. Assess it. And make a decision.

I assume that my customers are also intelligent enough to make a buying decision. Or not. After they assess whatever it is I've provided in the way of information about my products.

The last thing I want is for someone to regret purchasing one of my products.

I assume that I don't make as many sales as a snake oil salesperson. But nor do I want to. I want solid customers. Who love what they spent their hard earned cash on. And who also love the way they are treated with courtesy. Dignity. And respect. And who come back again and again. And introduce me to their family. And friends.

These are the people who send me postcards from their trips. Email me when they're sick to keep me up to date. Or to share a happy event. Or when they change addresses. Or just to drop in to say G'day.

Over 26 years, this is how I've built my business to where it is today.

We are all a product of our experiences.

When I was 13 years old, I got my first job. Working Saturdays in a department store. It's a job I kept until I left for university when I was 17.

I learned a great deal about how to treat customers from that Saturday job.

That some customers are aloof. And want no help.

That others love it when a sales assistant helps them make a buying decision that they're struggling with.

I also learned that no one likes to be stalked. That is. Followed around the store. And leapt upon if they pick something up to look at it.

I've seen sales assistants do this. And I've seen people leave the store because of it.

This is what digital advertising is. Stalking people. And leaping on them when they pause for a moment to look at something.

In my day, these people were called pests. Today. I call them online marketing predators.

I've disengaged Messenger from all my Facebook pages because I can't stand the mindless approaches made by people who know nothing about me. Asking me to buy something I'm not at all interested in.

It's refreshing to read your opinion, JT. Which isn't shared by the majority of online marketers. I'm almost always shouted down when I tell people I do no online advertising.

Thank you for taking the time to drop in. Say G'day. And share your opinion with me. ~Carol❤
 

Carol Jones

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Wow! Wonderful thread. Thank you, Carol, for sharing your story and taking the time to answer questions.
G'day @Sunni from rural Australia,

I was positive I responded to your lovely comment. So forgive me for my tardiness in saying thank you so much.

And welcome to The Fastlane Forum. You'll find so many people here who are willing to help you. Share information. Give free advice.

I wish you well on your journey to being whatever you want to be. And thank you for taking the time to read my thread. ~Carol❤
 
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Carol Jones

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Thanks for the reply Carol, really appreciate it.

Sounds like you're describing the dream with that location, that is incredible. The closest I've been to that area is Lakes Entrance and Marlo, of which I recommend.

I should have described the mud part a little better. I think it has more to do with so much happening but not getting a lot of those positive echoes (sales, strong interest etc.). It will be a different story once things are thriving a bit more. I enjoy the uncertainty of going after something new, but not for this amount of time.

As for my dreams, a family and working on a business that solves environmental issues, getting it going then moving on to the next problem.

To start with though, I am currently working on a couple of projects with my business partner which are starting to gain some interest with the right people. So we may have a busy few months on the way, fingers crossed. I am going to make a post about all this soon.

Then for those material dreams, a rural property maybe near the Otways (Great ocean road area, I need to be near the ocean, still need to learn to surf!) with a big workshop. I'm an Engineer and I need to use my hands, I must have a workshop. Being able to spend time on my hobbies to make things without relying on them for income. A Kingswood HZ, motorcycle and the freedom to fly where I want and when. Simple? Yes, but that's how I like it.

Thanks again for the reply, it's great to speak to someone local who has been through it all.

Josh
G'day @JWM,

LOVE your dreams! Both material. And professional.

You've identified several things that are so important to you personally. Your need to work with your hands. Have a workshop. And have hobbies that aren't connected to being a source of income.

Too many people don't take the time to identify their needs. And feel frustrated and unfulfilled throughout much of their life. Because they don't really know what's missing.

They drift through life. Hoping that one day, happiness will find them. Instead. It's our obligation to identify. Find. And indulge in. The things that make us happy. And fulfilled in life.

I love motorbikes. So can appreciate your enthusiasm for having one.

Your freedom to fly where and when. Is part of your vision owning your own plane? Do you have a pilot's licence?

A Kingswood HZ. That brings back memories. Of the late 1970's and early 1980's. They are a very big car! Parking spaces today are so small. Do they fit into one?

This is a link on Wikipedia to photos of the village Swifts Creek. Where we will be living this time next year.

Swifts Creek - Wikipedia

I think living along The Great Ocean Road would be as lovely as living along The Great Alpine Road. There is much about Victoria that's truly beautiful.

I love staying in touch. And hope I hear from you again. ~Carol❤
 

Tanu1234

Contributor
Aug 4, 2018
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Good morning from rural Australia,

In a nutshell, my partner and I design and make textile products that are simple solutions for difficult problems. We have 400,000 customers in 30 countries around the world who think our products are the best thing since sliced bread. The icing on the cake is that all our products are made with love and care in rural Australia by men and women who have a disability. We are renown for our simple solutions that work. When others don't.

That's the event.

The process is this.

In 1992, my partner and I lost everything in Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating's 'recession we had to have'. We closed down two businesses. My partner's 12 year old architectural practice. My market research consultancy. We farewelled 16 loyal and supportive staff. We sold our home of 22 years. Two cars. And our personal possessions. To pay off what debt we could. And made a scheme of arrangement with our creditors to pay off the remaining debt.

Poor as church mice. We left the city lights of Sydney Australia. For a rural life in a remote village with no internet access. No email. Not even call waiting. But it met our most important criteria. We could live in a farmhouse whose rent we could afford to pay. The village was heavily affected by a severe drought. And the house was not a desirable place to live. But it was our safety net.

We made a decision to find our way back by utilising simple solutions. Our skills were in design. And research. So we reinvented ourselves as designers and makers of textile products. Our first product didn't capture the hearts of the marketplace. But our second product did. We redesigned the humble ironing board cover utilising a low tech solution to make sure it was firmly anchored to an ironing board. So it never moved. Which is what makes people hate ironing.

If you make one good product. Customers want more. So we designed 6 more textile products. And today we have more than 400,000 customers in 30 countries. Without any retail distribution. And all done online today. But in the beginning, it was all mail order.

We've been down dark alleys. Wondered if we were certifiably mad to keep doing what we were doing when ironing board covers are not top of mind with most people.

But we discovered they are very top of mind with men and women who must iron.

Even though the subject is not sexy, our products, and our story, have been written about in every major publication in Australia.

We've been featured on mainstream TV. Interviewed on radio. Included in two books. The latest being 'Hunch' by international best selling author Bernadette Jiwa. I'm the 'Ironing Whisperer' on page 73.

The process of working every day is what got us to where we are today.

We did what everyone said we couldn't do. We built a worldwide business from broke. On a remote rural property. Before the internet and email came to our rural village.

I'm here to mix with like minded men and women. I have 35 years of business experience to share. I've done the hard yards. And would love to be of help to those of you who can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.

And. I want to travel further along the road to wealth.

It will be a pleasure to meet you. ~Carol[emoji173]
Really amazing!

You turned adversity into prosperity.

How do you handle competition?

Generally everyone is copying idea.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Carol Jones

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Really amazing!

You turned adversity into prosperity.

How do you handle competition?

Generally everyone is copying idea.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Good morning @Tanu1234 from Oz,

Thank you for your very kind words.

How do we handle competition?

When I key in the search term ironing board cover/s into Google Australia, I'm told there are 19 million results that answer to the search term.

I have always operated in a very intensely competitive marketplace. Anyone can make an ironing board cover. And then sell it.

I have several advantages over everyone else in my market niche.

I have a background in direct marketing. So deeply understand the value of a database.

Because I worked Saturdays as a sales assistant in a department store from the age of 13 until the age of 17, when I left for university, I also intuitively understand that the customer I have in hand. And nurture as a friend and ally. Is more valuable to me than a customer who orders once. And never hears from me again except to ask them to buy again.

From the first sales I made in 1994 for my Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover. Either from mailorder ads in newspapers and magazines. Or from the 60,000kms a year we travelled for 14 years exhibiting at shows. I collected. And saved. Addresses. And later. Email addresses.

Using Australia Post. We mailed direct to customers until 2009. Frequently. And we made so many friends with my chatty newsletters. Brochures. And just plain down home messages to them that we love you and want to stay in touch.

In 2009, I stopped mailing because of the expense. And started emailing. The same messages. With the same frequency.

I developed a loyal customer base because I had the desire. And the skills. To devote to this labour intensive activity. I am not aware of anyone else in my industry doing this to the finite degree that I do. People want to do less work. Not more. In their business.

I also am a BIG user of the telephone. I am always struck by the surprise - and delight - I receive from customers/prospects who email me questions. And telephone them with the answers. No one uses the phone anymore other than to text. But to me. There is no replacement for the human voice in consolidating relationships.

Why don't people copy us?

There are several reasons why.

People copy a product because they think they can make it cheaper. And reap bigger profits by offering a copy at a lower price.

Our ironing board cover is difficult to make. And labour intensive. It's made with love and care in rural Australia by men and women who have a disability.

It can't be made cheaper in China. I've had people tell me they've priced it in China. And can't get a price low enough to compete with us.

We also keep our profit margins low. So it's not economically feasible to copy us. And make a bigger profit. Which is the main reason to copy a product.

When we started, we were thrown out of 3 sewing companies which employed able-bodied staff. To sum it up. The cover was a pain to make. Fiddly. We were too demanding. And no one wanted to work with us.

Why doesn't a competitor take it to another company who employs people with a disability? Because of the time it takes to train a person with a disability to do one task well. And only one task.

There are about 14 different men and women who have a disability who work on our products. Each person doing only one task. And then handing it over to the next person who's trained to do the next task.

We also have the slogan "Made with love and care in rural Australia by men and women who have a disability" locked up tight.

Our story - with our slogan - has been written about in every major publication in Australia. We've been featured on TV programs. Radio programs. In several countries. And will be featured on an international lifestyle program sometime in 2019. Filming was in September 2018.

Ironing board covers are a commodity product. No one thinks about them as anything important. You pop one into your shopping cart in the supermarket. Put it on your board. Complain about it. But go back and buy another cheapie.

We've dragged the humble ironing board cover out of the commodity bracket. And firmly placed it into the cult status bracket. For about a half a million people. All done with love. And care. For my customers.

There are roughly about 4 million ironing board covers sold every year in Australia. I don't want all those customers. I want the chosen few who appreciate quality. Are prepared to pay for it. And superb service. And who want to develop a relationship with me!

So I'm not encroaching on the territory of the cheap. I'm happy to let them have that market all to themselves. Therefore, I'm not seen as a threat to them.

To be truthful. Ironing board covers are low tech. Not glamourous. Associated with drudgery. Ironing is a hated chore. There are other market segments which are much more attractive to enter.

People still shake their heads in wonder that I can make a living out of ironing board covers.

Not many people are prepared to put in the labour of love that I do to create a thriving business out of something people hate doing.

I hope this answers your question @Tanu1234. And thank you for reading my story. And being interested in what we do.

I wish you all the best. And hope to hear from you again. ~Carol❤
 

Tanu1234

Contributor
Aug 4, 2018
70
57
56
Good morning @Tanu1234 from Oz,

Thank you for your very kind words.

How do we handle competition?

When I key in the search term ironing board cover/s into Google Australia, I'm told there are 19 million results that answer to the search term.

I have always operated in a very intensely competitive marketplace. Anyone can make an ironing board cover. And then sell it.

I have several advantages over everyone else in my market niche.

I have a background in direct marketing. So deeply understand the value of a database.

Because I worked Saturdays as a sales assistant in a department store from the age of 13 until the age of 17, when I left for university, I also intuitively understand that the customer I have in hand. And nurture as a friend and ally. Is more valuable to me than a customer who orders once. And never hears from me again except to ask them to buy again.

From the first sales I made in 1994 for my Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover. Either from mailorder ads in newspapers and magazines. Or from the 60,000kms a year we travelled for 14 years exhibiting at shows. I collected. And saved. Addresses. And later. Email addresses.

Using Australia Post. We mailed direct to customers until 2009. Frequently. And we made so many friends with my chatty newsletters. Brochures. And just plain down home messages to them that we love you and want to stay in touch.

In 2009, I stopped mailing because of the expense. And started emailing. The same messages. With the same frequency.

I developed a loyal customer base because I had the desire. And the skills. To devote to this labour intensive activity. I am not aware of anyone else in my industry doing this to the finite degree that I do. People want to do less work. Not more. In their business.

I also am a BIG user of the telephone. I am always struck by the surprise - and delight - I receive from customers/prospects who email me questions. And telephone them with the answers. No one uses the phone anymore other than to text. But to me. There is no replacement for the human voice in consolidating relationships.

Why don't people copy us?

There are several reasons why.

People copy a product because they think they can make it cheaper. And reap bigger profits by offering a copy at a lower price.

Our ironing board cover is difficult to make. And labour intensive. It's made with love and care in rural Australia by men and women who have a disability.

It can't be made cheaper in China. I've had people tell me they've priced it in China. And can't get a price low enough to compete with us.

We also keep our profit margins low. So it's not economically feasible to copy us. And make a bigger profit. Which is the main reason to copy a product.

When we started, we were thrown out of 3 sewing companies which employed able-bodied staff. To sum it up. The cover was a pain to make. Fiddly. We were too demanding. And no one wanted to work with us.

Why doesn't a competitor take it to another company who employs people with a disability? Because of the time it takes to train a person with a disability to do one task well. And only one task.

There are about 14 different men and women who have a disability who work on our products. Each person doing only one task. And then handing it over to the next person who's trained to do the next task.

We also have the slogan "Made with love and care in rural Australia by men and women who have a disability" locked up tight.

Our story - with our slogan - has been written about in every major publication in Australia. We've been featured on TV programs. Radio programs. In several countries. And will be featured on an international lifestyle program sometime in 2019. Filming was in September 2018.

Ironing board covers are a commodity product. No one thinks about them as anything important. You pop one into your shopping cart in the supermarket. Put it on your board. Complain about it. But go back and buy another cheapie.

We've dragged the humble ironing board cover out of the commodity bracket. And firmly placed it into the cult status bracket. For about a half a million people. All done with love. And care. For my customers.

There are roughly about 4 million ironing board covers sold every year in Australia. I don't want all those customers. I want the chosen few who appreciate quality. Are prepared to pay for it. And superb service. And who want to develop a relationship with me!

So I'm not encroaching on the territory of the cheap. I'm happy to let them have that market all to themselves. Therefore, I'm not seen as a threat to them.

To be truthful. Ironing board covers are low tech. Not glamourous. Associated with drudgery. Ironing is a hated chore. There are other market segments which are much more attractive to enter.

People still shake their heads in wonder that I can make a living out of ironing board covers.

Not many people are prepared to put in the labour of love that I do to create a thriving business out of something people hate doing.

I hope this answers your question @Tanu1234. And thank you for reading my story. And being interested in what we do.

I wish you all the best. And hope to hear from you again. ~Carol❤
Me too like human voice than text... But friends generally do text only o_O

I think having good intention is secret of your success. :clap:::clap::

Before 6 years, when I started business, I was thinking " money is everything" but then realized that we cant get satisfaction in work by merely making money. Customer satisfaction, employees happiness, human connection and our good intention - all are necessary to stay in business in long run. Entrepreneurs like you remind us these things.:smile2::smile2:
 

LinorCG

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Ironing board covers are a commodity product. No one thinks about them as anything important. You pop one into your shopping cart in the supermarket. Put it on your board. Complain about it. But go back and buy another cheapie.
G'day from Melbourne! :)

I believe it's because people get used to the thinking of the bigger crowd..."this is how it works and I should get used to it."

Got really inspired with your story, congratulations and more success to you!
 

Carol Jones

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G'day from Melbourne! :)

I believe it's because people get used to the thinking of the bigger crowd..."this is how it works and I should get used to it."

Got really inspired with your story, congratulations and more success to you!
And G'day to you @LinorCG!

We all fall into that pattern, don't we? We know something should be better. But it isn't. And the energy required to find an alternative. Or create an alternative. May not be how we want to spend our time.

I have a long list of . . . "I wonder if the manufacturer has ever tried to open/use their product?"

Included in that list are:

Ring top pulls on cans. Which break before you start.

Ditto for the pull strip on containers of cream.

Soft drink bottles that can't be opened.

Vitamin pill bottles with inner seals that can't be removed without a jackhammer.

Cardboard wine casks which aren't held together with enough glue to keep the ends from separating.

Wine casks with a perforation so tight. You can't pull the nozzle of the wine cask out without destroying the cardboard.

Tissues in boxes that DON'T pull out one at a time.

Childproof caps that are adult proof as well.

Et al.

We're almost near neighbours. Only 5 hours (400+kms) separate us!

What do you do? What do you hope to do?

Thank you for your kind words. It's also a privilege to meet you. And I look forward to you dropping in to say G'day again. ~Carol❤
 

LinorCG

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And G'day to you @LinorCGThank you for your kind words. It's also a privilege to meet you. And I look forward to you dropping in to say G'day again. ~Carol❤
Indeed, those simple things that we encounter in our daily lives but we don't even bother to think about. I think you have already shifted your thinking to a "Problem Solver", which is my goal too. :)

Currently, I'm in IT, I was very lucky I was granted a PR and I'm now saving as much as I can to restart my dream (after the big mess I did with my hard earned cash while I was in my native country - poor investment decisions). I also sell some things in Amazon, we have to start somewhere, learning the ropes on how to sell to an audience. 'Coz later on, I would like to create my own product just like what you did.

Thanks for the reply and maybe someday I can say G'day personally. Have a good one.
 

VIVEKSINGHJADONS

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Your story is truly inspiring. It is really appreciating that you answer each and every post and that too genuinely and with a pure heart and real words. Thanks again.
 

Vangoue

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Feb 20, 2019
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And G'day to you @LinorCG!

We all fall into that pattern, don't we? We know something should be better. But it isn't. And the energy required to find an alternative. Or create an alternative. May not be how we want to spend our time.

I have a long list of . . . "I wonder if the manufacturer has ever tried to open/use their product?"

Included in that list are:

Ring top pulls on cans. Which break before you start.

Ditto for the pull strip on containers of cream.

Soft drink bottles that can't be opened.

Vitamin pill bottles with inner seals that can't be removed without a jackhammer.

Cardboard wine casks which aren't held together with enough glue to keep the ends from separating.

Wine casks with a perforation so tight. You can't pull the nozzle of the wine cask out without destroying the cardboard.

Tissues in boxes that DON'T pull out one at a time.

Childproof caps that are adult proof as well.

Et al.

We're almost near neighbours. Only 5 hours (400+kms) separate us!

What do you do? What do you hope to do?

Thank you for your kind words. It's also a privilege to meet you. And I look forward to you dropping in to say G'day again. ~Carol❤
Hi Carol, I'm a newbie to this forum reading articles for inspiration which cause me to stumble on your story. The way your mind works is truly quite intriguing "Tissues in boxes that DON'T pull out one at a time". I don't have an exact business idea yet, I've been selling used computers on eBay for small sustenance as well as practice with ad copy. what were your thoughts at the moment you knew that iron board covers were the niche to take an educated leap in?
 

Carol Jones

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FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
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Oct 5, 2017
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www.interfaceaustralia.com
Indeed, those simple things that we encounter in our daily lives but we don't even bother to think about. I think you have already shifted your thinking to a "Problem Solver", which is my goal too. :)

Currently, I'm in IT, I was very lucky I was granted a PR and I'm now saving as much as I can to restart my dream (after the big mess I did with my hard earned cash while I was in my native country - poor investment decisions). I also sell some things in Amazon, we have to start somewhere, learning the ropes on how to sell to an audience. 'Coz later on, I would like to create my own product just like what you did.

Thanks for the reply and maybe someday I can say G'day personally. Have a good one.
G'day again @LinorCG,

We all make bad decisions. And we all lose money.

It's more tragic when that happens when you don't have any money to lose.

When Kerry Packer was Austalia's wealthiest man. And our first billionaire. He was an intrepid gambler. He lost more at the gaming tables than he won. But he was so rich, it didn't matter.

He also made bad business decisions. Lost money. But never enough to put a dent into his enormous wealth. Until James invested in One-Tel. And lost half the Packer fortune.

I'm not a fan of starting a business on Amazon. For two reasons.

You're using a mogul's real estate. Who can change the rules at any time to suit his own purposes. Without any thought as to how it affects you.

And because of the shoddy way staff are treated. I care about that.

On the other hand.

I agree with you. We all have to start somewhere. And honing your skills relating to how to sell to an audience is very forward thinking. Obviously, Amazon is not the end game. But the start. When all the chess pieces are still on the board.

A personal G'day will always be welcome. And best wishes on the road to more experience. Learning is one of the most exciting parts of being in business. ~Carol❤
 

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