WoodPecker shades are selling handmade, eco-friendly wooden sunglasses. The company which makes its products with sustainable materials was founded by two childhood friends Eoin & Alex after they became bored of their corporate jobs. I met with Eoin to ask him about his venture and what he’s learned throughout his journey.
You had a very stable job working as a buyer for Tesco. What made you take the leap to starting your own business?
I thought to myself, “if I don't do it now at 24, when will I?” I went in with the mindset that this idea might not make us millionaires - but that's okay. It's not about that, it's about learning as much as I can about starting a business.
So you decided that this was something that you guys wanted to do. Where did you even start?
Myself and Alex were chatting for a good few months about starting a business; we were constantly sending each other back and forth entrepreneur success stories. One business that we looked up to in particular is called Gymshark. They sell gym clothing and are doing really well. We just thought to ourselves these are guys our age; it's actually possible to do this. We looked at the gym clothing market but it was really saturated. So we did a lot of market research online, mostly using Google Analytics. We looked at all kinds of products and had to weed out a lot of 'bad ideas'. Eventually, we found that one product we could see a consistent increasing trend of interest in was wooden sunglasses. We then had some conversations with friends of ours (who were luckily the target market) asking them if they'd be interested in a product like this. We spoke with about 25 twenty something year olds and this combined with our online research made us believe we were on to a winner. So we decided that would be our product and that was our first step in setting up Woodpecker Shades.
So it sounds like a lot of consideration and market research went in to deciding on your product. Other than that what was the most difficult part of getting woodpecker shades set up?
The hardest part about getting started was actually sitting down and doing it. I was in work, Alex was in college, so you might only have like 2 hours in the day to actually put into this. You just need to decide that you're going all in and put in the work. Other than that, the hardest part - and actually what I learned the most from - was sourcing our product. We spoke to a number of different suppliers from China and different countries but when we got the samples we found that the quality was just awful. After shopping around in different countries with different suppliers we decided that if we wanted great quality we would need to speak with people with very specific skills. Milan is famous for fashion and quality items so we found that this is where we could get the best quality products. We found a supplier that let us design our own glasses the way we wanted them so this was huge. However the whole process took about 3 months which was a long time when we were looking to move to market for the summer months.
Is there anything that you would have done differently with the process if you could go back and do it all over again?
One thing that the whole process has taught me is that where possible, doing business face-to-face is so much better. Obviously flying out to Milan wasn't an option for us when we were just getting started, but if I could do it again that was something that would have made the process a little smoother. This way we might have gotten to market quicker. Our original goal was to go to market in May to get the summer holiday season - but because of the sourcing and everything we didn't go live until July. You really need to be conscious of the seasonality of your product.
What advice would you give to someone who's thinking about starting their own business but isn't so sure?
Do it now, just get started. If an idea pops into my head I'll write it down and research it when I have time. You really don't have to be the smartest person in the world to start a business you just have to be willing to work for it, give it your all and just get started. I've learned a lot from the entire process that I'm going to bring into my future business ventures so like I said your first business doesn't have to be your ground breaking money maker. Be prepared to try, fail and learn.
You can check out WoodPecker Shades right here. Don't forget to subscribe to the blog for more interviews and how to guides.