In our brand spotlight, we feature Abound brands who are ready for retail. This week we sat down with Rain Folden, founder of Cheeky Kumquat. Cheeky Kumquat sells greeting cards, is based in Seattle, Washington, and has been in business for six years.
Abound: Why did you decide to start this business?
Rain: I had been making cards for family and friends for several years, and my husband convinced me to try selling them online.
A: How did you make your first prototype? What changes have you made to your product since then?
R: I started out with hand drawn images which I would scan into the computer before printing. I then moved to drawing in Photoshop, and I now use Affinity Designer to create cards.
A: How do you make your product? Yourself? A manufacturer? What’s your process like?
R: I purchase materials wholesale and do all the printing, cutting, and folding at my home office.
A: How do you make your wholesale purchases? What do you look for in paper? What type of printer do you have at your home office?
R: I try to find companies that are based in the US and use sustainable materials. As for the paper, it has to be bright white and a nice thick card stock so that the cards themselves look and feel like something you would purchase at a store. I currently use a Canon Pro Pixma 100 to print all my cards.
A: What was your initial investment? How did you get the money?
R: Just a few hundred dollars for the professional printer, along with a very small amount of materials (paper, envelopes, sleeves, mailers).
A: Where was the first place you sold your product, and where do you sell now?
R: I started selling on Etsy, and can now be found at various privately owned shops around the country.
A: Where would you love to sell your products in the future?
R: I’d like to continue selling to smaller shops, but expand that base and get into more overall.
A: What types of cards typically sell the best? Are you surprised by which ones become popular?
R: My best sellers are definitely my pregnancy and love cards. I think these occasions, more than any, tend to be flooded by sentimental cards and I think people find that it’s nice to have an alternative.
A: Do you have a favorite card you’ve ever made?
R: My favorite card is probably the stepdad card, as I designed it for my own stepdad. It’s really hard to find decent cards for stepmoms and dads and I feel like it really resonates with a lot of stepchildren who maybe don’t want to go the sentimental route.
A: What’s your marketing like? Is social media an important part of your business? If so, how?
R: I do very little social media, as I like to keep the business separate from personal life and there is only so much you can post about the trials and tribulations of selling greeting cards.
A: What are some of the most frustrating challenges and/or moments you’ve had with Cheeky Kumquat?
R: Trying to grow my business without social media and coming around to the realization that it is a necessary evil.
A: If you don’t use social media to grow the business, how do you expand?
R: Word of mouth mainly, and providing top-notch customer service so people continue to come back and recommend me to friends and family. (Though, in all fairness, I have recently given in and created an Instagram account.)
A: What are some of the greatest achievements and victories you’ve had with Cheeky Kumquat?
R: I started selling wholesale to a nationwide retailer early on, which helped me pump money into better products/improved efficiency with my business.
A: What advice do you have for people who want to sell a product?
R: I’d say make sure you provide the absolute best customer experience possible.
A: What are some ways you make sure you provide excellent customer service?
R: Promptly responding to inquiries, having a fast turnaround time, putting some love into my packaging.
A: What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?
R: Interacting with customers and knowing that I am solely responsible for their positive experience.