Bohomonde buys pashminas in traditional patterns, with a long and rich history, from the Kashmir region and Nepal. The woven patterns help our products stand out and appeal to artsy, boho buyers. We resell the pashminas under our private label brand via Amazon FBA.
Tell us a little about yourself and your website?
I have a BFA in fine art and worked for 10 years as a retail buyer and manager in a brick-and-mortar retail import store. I wanted to start an online business using my retail skills but creating something of my own. I fell in love with the traditional patterns of the Kashmir region pashminas and I chose this unique niche because:
- the products are not sized, helping produce a lower return rate, making them easier to give as gifts, and making it easier to stock a range of products without having to go deep with sizes.
- Scarves and shawls are flat, making them easy to ship and hard to damage in shipping
- They are excellent gifts
- They have a good margin.
Bohomonde was started in late 2013 and launched on Amazon in July of 2014.
How and where are your products made, and how does the order/shipping process work?
Bohomonde buys pashminas in traditional patterns, with a long and rich history, from the Kashmir region and Nepal. The woven patterns help our products stand out and appeal to artsy, boho buyers. We buy higher end Cashmere and Cashmere/Silk blends, as well as a lower range of silk/pashmina blends.
Bohomonde also manufacturers and imports vintage inspired sequin shawls and headbands, that appeal to the boho and gift customer but also include the formal/prom/wedding market. I buy from 1 primary supplier in Nepal and supplement this with 2 others in India. I work with one factory in China that makes all the vintage lines, as well as the packaging.
The products coming from China I import myself with a broker and they arrive already packaged and ready to be sent to Amazon Fulfillment. To avoid Amazon storage fees I store the inventory in my basement and send shipments to Amazon about once a month.
The items for Nepal come from one supplier who has agreed to allow me to private label the pashminas they manufacture and import. I place one large order for the fall/holiday season and smaller maintenance orders throughout the year. These items I hangtag, box and inspect myself before sending to Amazon fulfillment. The sewn in labels are generic with material content only and no branding.
The suppliers in India I have the same process with, only less frequent orders.
What marketing channels are you currently using?
We advertise primarily internally on Amazon targeting keywords that are relevant to our product. There would be a great opportunity for a buyer with experience in Facebook or Google advertising as this is an untapped marketing avenue for our company simply as I don’t have experience in that technology.
Bohomonde has 16K followers on combined social media:
- Pinterest- 3.2K followers – main product board has 1.9K
- Instagram – 8,913
- Facebook – 2,828 followers
- Twitter- 1246 followers
- 927 Subscribers to our email list
How much time each week are you currently spending on the business?
It takes an average of about 20 hours a week to run Bohomonde across the year.
Spring and Summer are slower months, where work only averages around 4-6 hours each week, answering the occasional email, doing some marketing and sending a shipment Amazon fulfillment once a month. During the late summer, fall, and the holidays it is busier and takes more time. Most of my time in the fall is spent doing the packaging for the Nepal import products. I usually have a few friends help with the packaging when the big shipments come in in August. I pay my nieces an hourly rate for some extra money to help as well. I don’t pay anyone more than a couple hundred dollars, and most of my friends and my mom help for free just to hang out. Between Black Friday and the end of the year, sales are so high that I do daily marketing and tweak the Amazon advertising campaigns on a regular basis.
I also do all the product photography and model shoots, so when I add products there is more time for photography.
Why have you decided to sell the business?
I have a fine arts degree and have always wanted to make a living as an artist. I wanted to build a strong online sales channel so that I could eventually turn my attention to designing products as the business ran itself. While the business has grown to be a strong online sales channel I have struggled with finding good mentors and people to delegate marketing work to, so I spend very little time designing.
I work part-time as a graphic designer and really want to focus on my illustration and design skills. I plan to go back to school to get an illustration degree and want to focus on this full time.
Additionally, as Bohomonde has grown so much, it has reached a size where I think it needs an owner who can take it to the next level. Ideally all the branding and packaging should be handled either by a 3rd party logistics in the US, in country in Nepal or by employees of Bohomonde. I have learned a tremendous amount about running a business, but I am ready to hand off some of these growth issues to the next owner as it isn’t where my skillset resides.
What would someone need to do or know to continue operating the business in its current form?
The new owner would have to know how to source the products and how to pack the items in their branded packaging. A general knowledge of Amazon advertising and keyword campaigns will be needed as well. I choose products based on what seems to be selling and expanding into that area, and by paying attention to market color trends, both with my sales and by surveying social media, so certainly a bit of passion for the fashion and design industry would be beneficial, though not absolutely necessary.
Can you list a few growth opportunities for a potential buyer?
- Expanding internationally through amazon FBA to Europe, Canada, etc.
- Using Amazon FBA to fulfill orders directly from Bohomonde.com
- Reducing the Amazon fulfillment fees and growing audience.
- We have a Shopify site, Bohomonde.com, that currently directs to Amazon, but could easily be turned on to have Amazon fulfill orders from the Shopify store.
- Store all inventory based at a third party logistics that fulfills both and is qualified for Prime shipping.
- Updating the listings with enhanced brand content will increase sales.
- There is real potential to market directly through Google Ad campaigns driving traffic to the Bohomonde.com site.
- Expanding the Bohomonde.com blog would also significantly increase direct traffic.
- Working with influencers on instagram is an area I have considered but not explored.
- Finding direct manufacturing partners in India and Nepal, moving away from private labeling will reduce the cost per piece, and expand the range with unique/exclusive colors and designs.
- Actively going after email subscribers, using the email list and increasing interaction with customers this way.
– Hey, everybody. This is Ben with Flippa and we’re here today with Mairin, with her company Bohomonde. They sell some incredible pashminas and other boho style merchandise. Primarily, through Amazon, and we’re gonna learn quite a bit about her business today. So, Marian I will throw it over to you, if you wanna just introduce yourself. Let us know a little bit about your background and how you came to start this company.
– Hi, I’m Mairin and I started Bohomonde in the end of 2013. I have a fine art degree and I graduated from college and I was like what do I do? So I started working at a import retail store. And I worked my way up to being a buyer and a manager there, and at the same time I was selling my art at music festivals. So I made a lot of connections with international buyers, and I was like, I wanna start my own business and I wanna do it online, ’cause that’s where retail has gone. And so I used my just brick and mortar connections to start messing around with an online business. And I intentionally chose, scarves and pashminas and shawls because I love them. I find textiles fascinating and beautiful. There’s this really long tradition of pashmina making in the Kashmir region of India and Nepal. And they’re flat, they’re easy to ship, they can’t be damaged in shipping really unless they get wet, and they’re not sized so their return rate is lower because no one says, “this scarf doesn’t fit me”, it’s not a thing.
– It’s a huge bonus, it’s something a lot of other people have to deal with.
– Yeah, and I know from being a buyer that when you’re buying a sized item, you’re like, “wow this shoe’s great, now we gotta buy it in eight sizes.” So you have to go really deep when you pick an item. You have to spend a lot of money on it, ’cause you have to buy that same thing in each color, in five sizes, and a quantity. Whereas if it’s just one thing, one size in that color you don’t have to spend as much money to experiment or try new items. So I intentionally picked scarves and shawls, and I just started buying stuff wholesale and listing it on Amazon and seeing what sold. And then I picked areas that seemed to get traction, that seemed to do well and I expanded into those areas. And so for the last five years that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing. And I started private labeling stuff with my brands, so all my suppliers know I put it under my brand, and that I label it under my brand, and they’re all fine with that. And I started, ’cause most of my products are like a fall, holiday products. Pashminas and shawls do really well in the fall and for Christmas. So I was like, I need to expand into spring, summer. So I started selling sequined shawls to kinda get into the formal, prom, wedding market.
– So that’s like the other part of my business. And that stuff I manufacture and import directly myself. So, um, yeah.
– That’s cool. Yeah, I know the sources, sourcing and manufacturing that’s always like a big question for anyone who’s gonna take over the business. And then you also mentioned you kind of private labeling on it, so I’m curious kind of what, what goes on with that process? Where are you getting things from, how are private labels getting kind of attached to the product, like what’s–
– Yeah, yeah so all the stuff pretty much that’s made in China comes with all, you know my sewn in labels are on it. It’s hang tagged, it’s in my packaging. I designed, I’ve been moving toward plastic free packaging, because I think it’s important to me and it’s also important to a lot of people to reduce one use plastic. And packaging is the largest source of wasteful plastic. I designed a craft paperboard box, that all the scarves come in, and it creates a sort of boutique experience and it also creates a sense of higher value of the product that just opening it in a nice box makes its perceived value higher. So, and it’s also ready to give. So you get it, it’s in a nice box, you can just like slap a bow on it. So, anyway everything from China comes like that already done, it’s in the packaging. All the packaging’s also made in China, because it’s easier, it’s cheaper when they’re making a round of shawls to be like, “add three thousand boxes to that” ’cause they’re already making boxes for the shawls. And then the stuff that comes from India and Nepal, it’s that’s the stuff I private label. So all the designs are basically antique designs, there’s all these factories that have been making these sorts of paisley designs for hundreds of years. They just sort of tweak and update them, but it’s such a long tradition, it’s like who designed this? Who knows, it’s been going for so long. So I work with two main suppliers, one in India and one in Nepal. And then they have a generic sewn in label that just says the material content and it has a little goat on it, because pashmina and kashmir come from goats. And then I, once I get those products, I hang tag them, and I box them. And so that’s the most labor intensive part of my business hands down. And I could very easily just send the shawls to China and have it all done there, but I’ve chosen not to do that because it’s important to me to support the local, the region where this product is a traditional handicraft. So I’ve been doing this more labor intensive process on purpose. So, if whoever buys this business is good at sourcing and manufacturing you could probably very easily have it packaged in India and Nepal. My main supplier in Nepal, I’ve asked him a couple times about could he do this for me there? And at that time I wasn’t a big enough buyer for him to be interested, I wasn’t moving enough products for him. He was like, “No I’m not doing that for you.” So I’ve just made the choice to leave the manufacturing in India and Nepal, and to do the packaging myself. So I get one main large shipment usually in August, and then I package much of that as I can, in advance, and then ship it to Amazon for the fall holiday season.
– And I usually have like, my friends come over and help me and we have a couple of big days of just packing. And like, I’ll pay my nieces some cash, ’cause you know, they’re not 18, so their like, they’re all looking for a little side hustle.
– How much time would you say you kind of spend on this business, in the end it fluctuates?
– Yeah, that’s the thing I would say it averages out to probably around 20 hours a week. Like this time of year, it’s, I’m not doing much at all. Like there’s the very occasional email. I look at my ad campaigns, and then I send, I like to keep the storage rates at Amazon really low, so I send them a shipment about once a month. So I will pack all that stuff in boxes and ship it to Amazon, instead of having all my products stored there. But, during the holiday, fall holiday season, I’ll spend 30 hours for a couple weeks. I also, I work part time as a graphic designer because design is really my true love. So it can be a little hectic around the holidays ’cause I’m trying to fit it in around working at another job. But, yeah that’s the most labor intensive part is the packaging and I try to do it in like a concentrated few weeks moving into the holidays. So I’d say it averages out to about 20 hours a week, over the whole year.
– Right, no that’s pretty interesting. You mentioned some of the Amazon work you’re doing kinda behind the scenes. Is that sorta the primary place where you’re spending time advertising? I know you mentioned in your listing, you actually have like a decent following on social media, things like that. But I don’t know where you’re kinda spending time doing real work.
– Yeah, I spend the most money hands down just advertising on Amazon. Consumers on Amazon are already shopping, they’re already looking to buy something. So I feel like spending money there’s a better value, because you’re not just randomly floating ads on Google where somebody might me doing research, they might be, why are they looking at that keyword, who knows? But, they’re already on Amazon, they’re usually looking to actually buy that item. So I spend most of my advertising budget on paper click, keyboard campaigns internally on Amazon. I do have social media, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook. I have presence on all of it, and I do post to those. And during the holidays I will promote those posts so I do spend some money there. But, for the most part I don’t.
– That’s a bit more unique.
– And I really, I have an art degree and I love design, and I love textiles. But, I’ve had to learn how to run a business, and I’ve had to learn everything about marketing and advertising on my own. So I Google ad sense and all that, I’ve tried to learn it and figure it out and drive traffic on my own, and I haven’t really cracked that nut. If whoever buys this business is good at those things, or has a great mentor, you could very easily drive a lot of traffic that way. I just, it’s not really been something that I’ve figured out how to do well. So I just, you know I do it, and I do have a loyal following that gets excited when there’s something new or whatever. But, for the most part, yeah I spend money advertising on Amazon.
– What, if anything, I’m assuming there’s a few things, might the new owner have to know how to do, just to kind of run things status quo?
– Well you’d have to either know or learn about how to sell on Amazon, like how that works. All, just the interface, the pages, the, how Amazon FBA functions. My business, like is said I don’t store all my inventory at Amazon, so you’d have to understand how to send a shipment to Amazon. If you didn’t wanna do that, there are definitely lots of third party logistics, that will take care of that for you. I’ve never really researched them, but there are third party providers who do have seller fulfilled Prime, so they’re Prime eligible on Amazon. So you can still have Prime listings, even though your inventory isn’t at Amazon. You’d have to understand enough about Amazon keyword campaigns to monitor and run the campaigns. It’s, you know I’m completely self-taught. I built this business with no business knowledge, that I didn’t figure out on my own. So it’s not super complicated. I do feel like if whoever bought this business is like you said a whiz at advertising, or knows someone who is, I know there’s uncracked potential there because it’s something I just really detest. I don’t enjoy it, I don’t like figuring out retargeting audiences, and I don’t like it. So, I feel like I’ve never been good at it ’cause I’m not passionate about it at all. If somebody loves that stuff, there’s a total potential there. Also, the logistics of it. I know some people love logistics and figuring that stuff out, and I know this business could be a lot less time if a buyer knew or wanted to learn, was excited about getting the logistical parts moved out. What else would you have to know? It’s good to, just with picking products, just paying attention to what’s selling and I also just pay attention to general market trends. Like what colors are popular, like I added rose gold sequined shawls and they sold great, because rose gold is, everyone’s iPhone is rose gold now. So, just paying attention to market trends, color waves, what are people talking about on social media. So you can put together some sort of sense of style, or access to somebody who has, um you know, yeah. Fashion is a moving target, you can’t just have one product, I don’t think and sell it forever. Because, nobody wears the same thing forever. So, I’m always trying a few new things and phasing a few things out. So, just having an awareness of what the brands identity is, and how that group of people are moving in the world.
– Yeah, no it makes sense. It’s almost like saying have at least a little bit of passion for the market.
– Yeah, yeah, just have some interest in what’s happening in that market. Yeah, like I just, you know just Instagram, Pinterest, you can just look at it a couple times a week and get an idea of what’s happening. Pick a few influencers you like, and just be aware. So you can pay attention to that. And when I was a retail buyer, occasionally I don’t so much now, I would go to trade shows. And you can learn a lot about where things are moving by just walking a trade show and looking at everyone’s booth.
– Yeah, great tip.
– What are big companies selling, what seems to be yeah.
– So I think, yeah there’s been some great information and you kinda hit it in there. I think we’ve sort of tackled the on, what are some potential growth areas for a new owner. I mean everything from advertising outside of the Amazon platform, to kinda changing the logistical situation around, I think there’s a lot of ways for someone who has experience in the market to kinda take this and grow. I’m curious, I’m always curious, why are you selling? It’s a great company, why you getting rid of it?
– I, as I’ve built it, I just realized more and more that I love design, like I got into this because I love design and textiles and I love making things. I spend a lot more time, you know just thinking about logistics and advertising than actually designing. And I got a part time job as a graphic designer, because I missed design work and I missed hanging out with people who are designers, instead of trying to find FBA mentors. So, I’ve just realized that, what I really wanna be doing is like design work, not running a business. And even though this business is, you know it’s not a full time job to run it, I really wanna focus full time on my design skills. I get super jealous when I see illustrators who can do stuff I wanna do, it makes me angry. I want those skills! So, I wanna go back to school and study illustration, which is what I should’ve done when I went to college the first time, but I didn’t know what illustration was. The the difference between fine art and illustration. And, anyway, I really wanna be an illustrator. And I wanna do that full time, so I need, I need time to just really focus on those skills and make them better.
– Yeah, that’s definitely an amazing answer. You realize what you’re passionate about, and what you wanna do, it’s what you wanna go towards. No, it makes sense, and you sound like, kind of like this ideal person who had this idea and something that you thought you had a mind for, you can start it up and you can run it for a few years but, it comes a time to hand it off to someone who’s more of a “business” oriented person.
– Yeah, and I feel like it’s grown so much. My business grows every year, it’s grown. That now it’s almost scarier for me running it, because I really feel the areas that I don’t know. Because I have to, I’m moving so much more product, I have to spend a lot more money on inventory because, I’m selling a lot more inventory. You know, my advertising budget keeps growing, because I you know? So it’s all working, but it just, it almost, I feel like it, I would love for somebody to buy it who really understands these things and is passionate about them. Who can take it to that next level, because I feel like I just, I’m not sure I want to. I don’t, I don’t. And so as it’s grown, it sort of it intimidates me a little bit now. Like I feel like I need to start delegating or finding real experts in these things to help me and yeah. I’d rather be drawing.
– I love it, that makes a lot of sense. I think you’re in the same boat as a lot of people who are selling their sites on Flippa. Like you kinda grow to somewhere, and they’re like, “I did a great job, and I’m ready to move on.” Well thanks Mairin. I’m really excited to have this on Flippa, I think it’s a really cool company, a cool listing. You’re cool, everything’s cool about it, the product is really nice. Obviously for anyone watching this on YouTube, or a blog, or wherever you find it, the link to the listing will be just below. So click it, see the numbers, ask questions in the discussions, and Mairin will get back to you. Thank you very much for joining me today.
– Thank you, it was awesome.