In our brand spotlight, we feature Abound brands who are ready for retail. This week we sat down with Ryan Larson, owner of Tin Parade. Tin Parade sells party, gift and home goods, is based in Los Angeles, California, and has been in business for seven years.
Abound: Why did you decide to start this business?
Ryan: I was a wedding planner and was always creating one of a kind things for clients and my husband and I thought wow, I could make these in bigger numbers and sell them. I love that this business compliments what I had been doing for so many years.
A: Do you have any crazy wedding planner stories?
R: Of course! Too many! I have had a few weddings canceled shortly before the big day and as sad as that is, it’s of course better to do that before the wedding than after! I also had a groom that I know was considering walking out within an hour of the wedding. He went through with it, but I heard they only lasted 6 months.
A: How did you make your first prototype? What changes have you made to your product since then?
R: I drew it on paper, then we made it as a digital design and tweaked and tweaked using InDesign software, and finally sent that to our chosen factory for a sample. We ended up refining the size to accommodate larger/thicker napkins. We use a factory that specializes in metals and artistic pieces.
A: How did you find a factory to make your product? Do you have any advice for companies trying to find a factory?
R: We got an American agent who helped us find a reputable factory. I think at the beginning it’s worth paying that extra percentage to an expert to be sure you are working with a good factory and to help you navigate the logistics.
A: Have you had any problems with the factory you use?
R: We have worked with them to get the product to the quality we want. It was a bit of a process but they have continued to fine tune it and the packaging, as well as the process and timeline for shipping.
A: How big is your team?
R: We are a small team of three. We also have a few people that work when needed, as well as someone based in Europe who works remotely for the international orders
A: What’s your day to day like? Do you have any favorite and least favorite parts?
R: After I get my kids off to school, I take the dog on a somewhat energetic walk and finally get down to business. We always go over what the big priorities of the day are and the longer term projects that need attention that day.
A: What was your initial investment? How did you get the money?
R: $30,000.00 and we did a business loan.
A: Do you have any advice on how to apply and get a business loan?
R: I think you could use a crowdfunding site for the initial funding and then once you’ve got some orders and revenue under your belt it will be easier to apply for a business loan.
A: Where was the first place you sold your product?
R: We first got a rep in Los Angeles and they mentored us through going wholesale to buyers.
A: Where do you sell your product now?
R: All over the world but mostly in the U.S.A.
A: Where would you love to sell your products in the future?
R: We would love to be in Harrods in London or somewhere that just feels like people from all over would see and appreciate the goods on their travels. That sounds exciting.
A: What’s your marketing like? Is social media an important part of your business? If so, how?
R: We do a lot of outreach before and after each gift show and that includes emails, postcards, and yes a lot of social media.
A: Do you feel like any particular social media or marketing move has been especially useful?
R: I think I could not do my business without Instagram. I talk with my customers every day on Instagram. I also post photos of new pieces there. My customers love that because they get the first view and they can see it in a lifestyle setting without getting that extra email in their already bursting inbox.
A: What’s a gift show?
R: A gift show is a tradeshow where brands come and set up a big amazing booth to show off their brand and their product. The buyers walk the show and come in, see and feel, and hopefully place an order.
A: What are some of the most frustrating challenges and/or moments you’ve had with Tin Parade?
R: There is just never enough time in the day. We each wear many hats and that can be fun but also sometimes it can be overwhelming.
A: What are some of your greatest achievements and victories you’ve had with Tin Parade?
R: We have won some design awards and that is the most rewarding. It feels great to have acknowledgment of our work.
A: What advice do you have for people who want to sell a product?
R: Be ready to work hard! And be organized but flexible.
A: Is there any business advice or quotes you’ve heard that you think about often?
R: I think it’s important to know a person who is ahead of you with their product biz that you can reach out to when you need to. You will eventually be that for someone else. It’s paying it forward for your mentor and you will do the same.
A: Any advice for how to find a product mentor?
R: I think it’s a matter of building relationships. I meet most people at the shows (gift/home shows) that end up becoming mentors or that I end up mentoring.
A: What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?
R: I can pick my kids up from school each day. I cherish that time in the car with them right after school. I get to make my life the way I want it to be.