WHO WE ARE IN 5 SHORT SENTENCES
Susan and I favorite sport is to eat. As such, we try to make products people would enjoy as we do. We are health conscious for ourselves, our employees who have become great at what they do and care about others' health too. We see our company as a 'family of brands' as each one of our lines of products is its own mini brand so to speak. Our Company name is St Amour, Inc. but use the easier name to remember for our web presence as www.FrenchCookies.Com
HOW IT BEGAN IN A NUTSHELL
22 years ago, Susan and I flew to France on a free round trip ticket from Pan American. When we got to Paris we also had arranged for a free car offered to me as an ex-news correspondent. All we had to pay for was gas and our meals. Oh, I forgot to say that we were almost totally broke. Susan had taken a school sabbatical that year and me as a typical entrepreneur, I had just lost a small business I had started two years before.
Anyhow, we thought that hopping from family member to family member in the south of France would not be costly and would allow us to take a breather, clear our minds of negative thoughts and start again.
Many interesting things happened during that trip as we were invited to many memorable lunches and dinners so many times that it seemed inconceivable. That food part alone, in and of itself worth writing a whole story about. I guess that our love for food was contagious and the moment we said that we were from Los Angeles, in France no one knows Laguna Beach, we were received like royalty.
During that trip, one day on our way to fly back home, we decided to stop at a village lost in the mountains to buy something to munch on. We entered the one and only store. Susan went one way and I another. To our great surprise, we had both grabbed the same thing. A bag of very hard cookies loosely wrapped in a cloudy plastic bag with no particular markings other than the name and phone number of the local baker. I was very surprised because Susan would never buy anything this hard to eat. But I must say, those cookies looked very interesting.
One hour later, after leaving the village Susan said
"I bought those cookies for you but I am hungry, I am going to have a cookie"
She had one bite and screamed. I almost lost control of the car, such was my surprise.
"I love those cookies. They are fabulous!"
"Oh my God! You scared me to death" I said bursting out in laughter.
Knowing me my wife said
"You must call the baker and get that recipe"
And then the story gets funnier and funnier.................................
If you wish I'll tell you the rest of the story at another time. Quite a story.
HOW DID WE EARN OUR FIRST SALE?
Back then there was no Internet. I had found a French bakery who rented me a table and the use of their oven and mixer during their down time. With a total of 100 square feet and 4 hours a day, I was baking the cookies.
It had taken 8 months of calling the French baker almost every day to convince him of selling us his recipe, I charged on a credit card. He finally did. That too is a very interesting story. But the recipe was not the end all. The process was the impossible task. That was solved by again, thanks to a credit card we could fly the baker to Orange County to show us the process of making those cookies.
He did not come but he sent his right hand guy who almost flew right back as we had been delayed by heavy traffic on the freeway. The poor guy was scared. He had not expected what he saw at LAX. He was thinking more like Cow Boys and Indians.
Anyhow, I loaded my car with cookies, kissed Susan goodbye and said, "I'll come back when the car is empty" . It was the time when the first coffee shops were sprouting up like mushrooms. I came back 3 days later, sleeping in my car, selling a case at a time, eating from the revenues.
Susan had gone back to school and she was supporting the fledgling venture and yes while making these famed cookies, I was trying hard to find something else which could prove more remunerable.
Two years later, we had come up with another product, my childhood cookies this time, Susan baptized them 'Rocks N Rolls'. Yet another story.
Sales rocketed when one day, we got a call for the cookie buyer at Trader Joe's. We worked almost exclusively for them making only two flavors out of the 6 we had developed. Things were great for a few years until the day a new buyer decided that they wanted the cookies under their label. We tried to convince the buyer not to do so but she was adamant.
We argued that we had a following to which she said as she put it: " We have a bigger following". No contest. With their label 'Rings N Things' the following 6 months sales dropped to zero.
Fast forward. Today we launched a site with Shopify, www.FrenchCookies.com. Out of the 8 lines of cookies we offer and their 32 varieties, our first sale was of course: The Rocks N Rolls. From a customer who used to buy them at Trader Joe's years ago.
TOOLS WE USE FOR SALES
Because we are no longer 'Spring Chicken" we are not very good with Internet tools and Apps. Having said that and because we are your sempiternal (constant) learners, we try to do our best to learn about apps but for us it is almost like trying to understand Martian. and you know the Martian dialect is very difficult.
The growth of our sales so far has come strictly from word of mouth and the old fashion phone call. That does not mean we are not making every effort to use new tools. We are. We are exploring, watching hundreds of how-to videos etc. Why don't we employ an expert would you say? We did just that a few years ago to find out that the people we employed had a great story to tell but were not efficient at all when it came to sales.
So Susan and I decided to learn as much as we could so we could make a more appropriate decision as to which would be the qualifications of a new potential expert in Internet marketing we would employ. But for the time being we'll go with the old adage that "One is never better served than by self."
HOW WE HANDLE SHIPPING AND FULFILMENT
We have an account with UPS.
Susan Nicolas, the owner of the company takes care of the processing and creating invoices from our PC at our home office and I faithfully take to Lorena who is in charge of putting together the order, packaging it and generating a UPS label.
WHAT WE RECOMMEND TO NEW SHOPIFY STORE OWNERS.
We used to be with another platform which had no were near the same support as Shopify does and nowhere near the neatness of designs available. So our best advice to new shop owners is: Learn, learn, learn and if you are lucky enough to know more than we do, hey! Continue to learn.