LilBluVan drivers Reilly and Melissande take Quirky Products to Every Internet Friendly Gadget
Can you imagine a world without constant innovation? If everyone followed the same boring pattern, how monotonous would our lives get?
Reilly and Melissande, the couple who created Lil Blu Van decided to add some quirk into everyday things to make them exciting. From household items to apparel and accessories, all products sport that edgy touch. The days of hunting for craftsmen for that one artifact you had in mind are over! Beautiful products, all handmade by artists, are only a few clicks away.
How did they come up with such an idea and the tools to materialize it? Well, let us hear from the creators themselves.
Let’s start with a few questions about Lil Blu Van.
1) Before we begin, tell us about your brand? What products do you sell?
Remember those times, when you wanted something cool and quirky for your home or to gift a close friend? Well the only way you could get something was to scour the by-lanes of Bandra, if you lived in Mumbai or scrolled through hundreds of pages of handmade crafts sites. Even after all that, you had limited options and you weren’t sure if the quality was questionable.
So that’s when it hit us. What if there was someone who selected the few best and quirkiest artists, hand-picked the top products from their respective collections, and displayed them all at one place?
Well, that’s what we, at Lil Blu Van do. We’re the Curators of Quirk. Every week, we showcase one quirky artist and their collection of hand-picked products on our site. Products like, hand-painted artefacts, paper foldables, art, lamp shades, tote bags, cushion covers, mugs, notebooks and tee-shirts. Apart from the existing ones, we add more cool products every week.
2) So, what does it take for a brand or an artist to make the cut on Lil Blu Van?
First and foremost, the designs or the products have to be quirky. They should be conversation starters. If a person can’t have a conversation around a product, it won’t be on our site. Secondly, the brands have to have a strict adherence to high quality standards.
3) What is the ‘Featured Artist’ feature on your website?
Every week, we introduce a new artist / brand on the site and we showcase them as our ‘Featured Artist’ for the week. They get pride of place on our homepage and are also promoted intensively on our social media channels. This also means, that every week there’s something new and exciting on the Lil Blu Van.
4) How are you different from the other sites?
There are a few things that set us apart from the others.
The biggest point is that we’ve positioned ourselves as the ‘Curators of Quirk’. So you’ll find only the best and the quirkiest products here. Nothing else. You won’t have to search through dozens of pages to find something unique or interesting, as compared to other open marketplaces.
We also actively promote both the artist and their products on our social media channels. On an average, there are a minimum of two posts that go out to all our fans and followers, thereby increasing the visibility for the artist. This frees up a lot of time and effort for the artist and he / she can focus on doing what they do best. Create interesting products.
Also, my experience as an advertising professional, with the last few years, being in the digital space, has helped us in giving our site a unique look and brand positioning that fits in with today’s connected generation.
5) What’s the story behind you taking the plunge into e-commerce and starting your own online store?
The story in short, was that we found a consumer pain point and thought of fixing it in an interesting manner. My wife and I, managed to put in some method to the madness.
6) What all online marketing channels have you dabbled into since you started, say blog or social media, etc that have helped increase your sales? Which ones have shown you maximum returns?
We use Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, are currently putting the finishing touches to our Blog and also have plans to start our Twitter handle soon. So far Facebook has given us the most traffic and we received lots of good word of mouth promotion via Instagram.
7) Apart from your online store, what are some of your other point of sales? Say, exhibitions, retail outlets, etc. Which ones have worked best for you?
Right now, all we have, is our website rolling about the internet. We haven’t moved into the real world as yet.
8) How has the whole experience of setting up your own online store with Zepo been?
In all honesty, it has been quite good. The guys are reasonably quick to respond. And the dashboard is quite easy and simple to understand.
9) Can you tell us about 2 features on the Zepo platform that you absolutely love and can’t do without? And 2 features that you think can do with some improvement?
The biggest plus point of Zepo is that you get a platform that works and all you need to do is customise it to fit your brand. No errors. No busy designers. No over-charging programmers. Also, the ease with which, we can add widgets is really nice.
In terms of improvement, if there was a way, where the logistics process is simplified in a way that saves time would help.
Now some questions for you, as an entrepreneur!
10) What were you doing before you started with Lil Blu Van?
I was a Senior Creative Director in one of the top ad agencies in India and Melissande was then an Organisational Development Professional turned Learning and Development Consultant, working with leading multinational companies.
11) Keeping the same levels of enthusiasm every day is not easy. What keeps you inspired and motivated every day?
Our future castle in Scotland. And our vision, to give each and every person, pieces of home decor that double up into conversation starters.
12) What are some of the decisions that have worked best for you in your business?
To find a gap in the market and plug it. Simply put, an online store where you get just a curated collection of India’s quirkiest artists / brands and not a store where you get anything and everything and you are left to luck and a diminishing patience threshold to pick the best one.
13) If you could give one piece of advice to other Internet entrepreneurs who are trying to make money with their online store, what would it be?
Clichéd as it may sound, listen to your gut.
So if you haven’t already, its high time you checked out the lovely and beautiful Lil Blu Van. You can also get in touch with the makers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks Reilly and Melissande for sharing your story with us. We wish you all the best! Keep the quirk on!