Electrician and self-taught in 3D printing, Ivan Perez puts his quirky planters in front of more than 500,000 potential buyers with a single click.
He and his wife Pamela Perez, who makes terrariums, are among the 5,600 registered sellers who use the Facebook group Chooice and the associated e-commerce website to start their first foray into business.
Sarah Colcord launched the New Zealand Made Products Facebook group at the close of last year to support small businesses, including her own event management company, without ever considering turning it into an incubator. online for thousands of kiwi entrepreneurs.
“Without a doubt, this was one of the economic and social outcomes that we did not anticipate happening.”
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Renamed Chooice, 54% of women with 70% women, makes it New Zealand’s largest Facebook group and sales through vendor stores the website launched last month. August had surpassed $ 2 million by the end of May.
Pamela Perez left her job as a preschool assistant in 2019 to create The Twig, a Christchurch business that created tiny gardens in glass containers, and recently her husband Ivan left much of the electrical work to make the 3D printed plastic planters he created to go with his terrariums.
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON / Things
Among the thousands of kiwis selling their wares on Chooice’s website are Pamela and Ivan Perez, who run a Christchurch business called The Twig.
Although they have their own websites and the nurseries sell all over the world via Etsy, Perez said he will maintain a store in Chooice that will account for a third of his sales.
“We have been learning as we go, for both of us it is our first business. We will always be grateful to Sarah [Colcord] and his team “.
Colcord said Chooice vendors range from outdoor furniture makers to retirees who sell fabrics, some are seriously building businesses, others operating side town halls and with a geographical extension that reaches as far south as the island. Stewart.
For many, it’s their first e-commerce experience, which prompted Colcord to set up a vendor academy Facebook group with two staff members dedicated to helping newbies on social media.
“A lot of people struggle with the basics, like how to post on a Facebook group.”
Vendors receive advice on how to write titles and choose images that will engage viewers, who, according to Colcord, “have the attention of a goldfish.”
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON / Things
More than 67,000 products have been sold to Choice in the last ten months, including these 3D-printed planters made by Ivan Perez that are sold through a business he runs with his wife Pamela, who says the New Zealanders are willing to support locally manufactured products.
She says it’s gratifying to see people learn quickly how even minor adjustments to posts can get additional visits.
“They want to know how our algorithm works and the best times to post to the group. There’s a lot of education.”
Nimeesha Odedra, who works with her mother Sue, selling curry pastes, pickles and Sobhna spices, is one of 438 members of the vendor academy.
He said the advantage of belonging to a virtual community of other small businesses facing similar problems was confirmed when there was a shortage of jars of curry paste and another member of the group received information on where to get it. the bear.
Chooice CEO Sarah Colcord is doing a “unpacking” on YouTube with Indigo CEO Monty Betham, whose company is a shareholder in Chooice. His reaction to the opening of mysterious boxes is used to promote products for sellers with stores on the Chooice website.
Odedra credits New Zealand Made Products and Chooice, where they have a store, to give them the confidence to turn a hobby they sell in the agricultural markets around Auckland, into a completely nationally sold online business.
“It made us think, okay, this is a viable business that we could really do.”
Odedra said his success also affected other local companies he used for his branded and business website.
“Instead of printing labels on the printer, cutting them out with scissors and gluing them with a glue stick, we needed printed labels.”
Messy Bun owner Sherrie Moleta admits she was a complete business novice when she returned to the hairdresser after losing her job as a flight attendant, and NZ Made’s Facebook page helped her profile on the networks social.
Former flight attendant and qualified hairdresser Sherrie Moleta could not cope with the return to poor pay and working conditions in the salon when Covid-19 took her flight job, so she created Messy Bun, preparing hair for weddings and special occasions.
He said the initial push for publication on Chooice had a lasting impact. “I didn’t know anything about starting or running a business … I think I would be maybe in the middle of who I am today.”
The group and the Facebook website also proved to be a lifesaver for established companies.
Emma Heke has directed Heke Homemade Herbals for seven years and, as a solo mother, “freaked out” when the pandemic ended her income from selling at the Nelson market and through gift shops.
Publishing at NZ Made Products and later at Chooice helped double their stores to 60, so they could afford to buy two booths and move tea making operations away from home and into the garden.
Still, he just left Chooice, feeling that his approach had changed with more rules and new rates, and while Heke understood the need to monetize the site, “it doesn’t fit my business model.”
Colcord said they introduced a $ 5 monthly subscription fee and a 5% success rate for marketers.
Those who don’t have a store on Chooice’s website pay $ 10 to post them on their Facebook page, and Colcord said a campaign “gives money a month” with the goal of raising $ 60,000 a month for a new one. platform “with all the bells and whistles.”
Emma Heke says NZ Made Products ’Facebook page has helped her double the number of stores and find new outlets for her 70 herbal tea blends, including a maternity website that now sells her mix of Mums and Bubs tea with its own label.
When interest in the Facebook page erupted, Colcord sought mentors to help him move to the next level and last year established a partnership with creative agency Auckland Indigo, which also runs the forum. Manaaki Online Advice
Colcord considers its niche to be New Zealand’s largest small business market.
“A lot of small businesses feel pretty out of place in these big markets like Trade Me because they don’t feel like they can get as much visibility among the bigger, more sophisticated companies.
“They feel like they’ve lost their voice in those spaces and it’s probably not for them anymore.”