28 Nov The Outdoor Table
Question 1: What does your business produce or supply?
The Outdoor Table is an online retail store that sells homewares for people who love outdoor dining and entertaining, it’s a place where you can shop for beautiful things but need to be practical about it. We have robust dinnerware, unbreakable drinkware, serving ware and accessories, along with decorator items such as lanterns, candles, table clothes, trays etc. And for those of us who like to venture out and about, we have picnic supplies, picnic rugs, back packs, portable picnic tables, Turkish towels etc. Many of our products make great gifts, so we’re pretty busy at this time of year.
There are a few basics principles that will always underpin our business model. We focus on bringing the customer products that are both functional and of a high quality.
* There is no single use plastic sold on the website. – I’m not looking to contribute to Australia’s Landfill problem
* Our products are better for you – All our products are BPA Free
* Looks always matter – You don’t need to sacrifice style for practicality; you can have both
* Our prices are affordable – so all of us can enjoy the products
* I want to help you have a worry-free lifestyle – because life really is too short to worry about a broken plate.
Question 2: What motivated you to start your business
I love to dine alfresco, if the weather is right – I’ll always choose to sit outside. At home we are lucky to have a great outdoor area, but whenever I’d search for tableware suitable for outside, I was less than impressed with what was available in the shops. It was mostly pretty cheap, some of it full of toxins and most of it less than attractive – I mean just because we’re sitting outside tonight does not mean I want to drink my pinot out of a chunky plastic glass covered in sunflowers and pineapples (apologies if sunflowers and pineapples are your thing).
Shopping in the higher end stores, I would sometimes find products there, but they were always at the upper end of my budget. It got me thinking – there must be others out there that have a similar mindset, and by that, I mean, just as fussy. I thought there must be practical, unbreakable products available somewhere that were both affordable and beautiful. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a place where I could shop, that was dedicated to all facets of outdoor dining – A kind of backyard entertainers holy grail. A place filled with tasteful and practical items for outdoor living.
And after many years of procrastination… I started my own store. I’m proud to say that we’ve celebrated our sixth birthday this month, and our future is looking very bright.
Question 3: When you think about your business what keeps you awake at night?
I think the biggest challenge I’ve had this year is trying to get stock from wholesalers, and my biggest worry is that I will sell out and my customers will be disappointed. I find it extremely frustrating that when the stock runs out at the wholesalers it can take a really long time to come back, or worse – It’s gone forever. I have one customer who has waited more than a year for his blue bamboo dinnerplates. Fingers crossed they will be docking at the end of November, and he will finally have his dinner service for Christmas this year. I am very lucky to have such a patient and loyal customer base.
Question 4: What has your business taught you personally?
If you wake up early, turn up and do the work, it pays off. But… You have to do the work, and it is hard and tiring and sometimes all consuming. I’ve also learnt that you can’t do it all alone and to recognise where I need help and to get the help quickly. Time fly’s past whilst you procrastinate, so act quickly and you will overcome your obstacles quickly and make them ancient history. I also think it’s important to find a tribe of like-minded people who you can communicate with and support each other. Being a small business owner can be quite lonely at times, especially over the past two years.
Question 5: What’s a recent business success that you have had, that has motivated you to keep going?
Last year I worked really hard to rebuild my website. It was a total redo, with new software and all. I think this has paid off big time, as this year I’ve been contacted by several interior designers, who are working with me on an on-going basis to supply larger scale projects, including fitting out a luxury yacht with bamboo dinnerware over in WA. More recently I have supplied the Christmas gifts for a large corporate enterprise with over 3,000 staff. That was a huge win, and a huge honour to be asked to quote for the job. I think they wanted to help small Australian Businesses, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity.
Question 6: How do you feel about the future of your business in the next three years?
I’m quite excited. Outdoor dining is a big thing, since Covid arrived on our shores, people have turned their attention to renovating and decorating their homes and this includes their outdoor spaces. Picnics are also becoming popular again, with lots of people choosing to be outside, rather than in a crowded space. Plus the caravanners and campers are heading off in droves, and they need to be kitted up with great products that are lightweight and robust. My business is certainly ramping up and I’m ready to scale.
Question 7: How does your relationship with SRBEC help you and your business?
I’ve worked with Dales Whyte for several months; he has helped me to better understand the language of marketing and we’ve worked on putting together some great copy for ads. He’s teaching me to change my very formal ‘technical’ writing style to a more ‘marketing’ style. And I’m very grateful. I can definitely see the difference in how to approach my ad copy now. I’ve been very fortunate to have had meetings with Kaye Keough, the digital expert, who’s wisdom regarding the technical side of SEO, Facebook and website maintenance is invaluable. I’ve also attended as many webinars as I can, and the learnings are very practical and useful. Overall, I’m very grateful to have found the SRBEC. I know my business has definitely benefitted from the wisdom of many experts.
Christine’s contact details are as follows:
PS: If you would like your business to be showcased like Christine’s, please contact your BEC business advisor to discuss.