After we opened our first retail unit for Big On Children at the Dubai Mall, we then opened our first international location at FAO Schwarz in New York, following which we set up two pop-up locations in Dubai and another long-term location at Hamley’s in Dubai Mall. These were major accomplishments for Big On Children in its first year alone, and the company grew from three people to 12 in a span of eight months. So I thought: what next?
We had secured the exclusive rights for the Middle East region for our core products, and I felt that we are finally ready to franchise, or as we like to call it, distribute. We decided to follow a simple model that will allow us to distribute our products faster and build our brand name quicker. We started with the “package” sales in the region. What do I mean by that? It is basically a business run by startups, small companies or new entrepreneurs looking to start their own business or brand line, without needing a big investment or having to pay upfront fees. There are three types of packages, and they consist of different products at different prices. A package can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000, depending on how many brands one wishes to add to their basket of products.
We found that this model was especially popular amongst the fresh university graduates and stay-at-home mothers in the region. We started selling our packages in the region, and slowly the word got out that you can start a profitable business with 300-400% profit margins in the comfort of your own home. We had three university graduates in Jordan who made their first investment ever with Big On Children, all the while keeping their own jobs. Their entrepreneur spirit was so infectious that I personally vowed to do everything in my power to assist these guys to succeed. They started out with a package and they used to re-order products from us every six to eight weeks.
A few months later, we had a long chat with them and explained to them if they become the exclusive master distributor for Jordan, their costs will drop, they will get all the potential leads for franchising the business (which will help them sell packages into their territory and keep the full profits) and most importantly, becoming a master for the country will allow them to open a kiosk or a shop (since they will have the full inventory at hand as part of the deal) and they can plan their cash flow and manage their brand better. As a master also, they will be able to trade under our company name Big On Children, which will automatically help them in all marketing and PR aspects.
Slowly, we went from two exclusive distributors, to six in just 18 months. As great as that sounds, we, of course, faced some major challenges as well. This progress meant we had to ensure we had products available to send to our growing distributor list, and so we also had to hire more people and get a bigger warehouse with a proper inventory system. This meant that the money made from all the transactions had to be allocated to the above important aspects of business. However, we also needed to invest more money into buying the company brand name and assets of our core product, Sing Your Name, because we were quite happy with the products and progress, and we had major developments that would take the brand to whole new level. Adding to that long list of important and urgent matters was developing new products and new revenue streams for us as a company and for our distributors, which meant a flight to China to meet the various suppliers and to start a good relationship with them became a must.
I am personally passionate about new products, sourcing them, testing them (through my two young daughters of course), and then sealing an exclusive deal for our region. I believe besides PR and marketing, a good product mix guarantees customers to come back for more. Adding new products constantly will definitely ensure the continuation of our current distributors and will attract new ones. Where the retail model is focused on location-location-location, our distribution model revolves around products, product availability and more products!