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Locker Love: The Mustard Made Story | #173

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Nathan Bush is a director at eCommerce talent agency, eSuite. He has led eCommerce for businesses with revenue $100m+ and has been recognised as one of Australia’s Top 50 People in eCommerce four years in a row. You can contact Nathan on LinkedIn, Twitter or via email.

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Becca is one half of Mustard Made and a mum to three boys. She is originally from London but now lives in Newcastle here in Australia. Mustard was born from the dream to work with her sister Jess and a need for really good storage for her home. The obsession with lockers and the style are inspired by her love for vintage furniture. She loves working for herself as it means she gets to do so many different things and that really suits her as a person.

You can contact Becca at Mustard Made

Becca’s shares her thoughts on calculated risk-taking, trade show launches and the unexpected ways to getting your brand in the homes of A listers.

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Becca Stern, the Co-founder of Mustard Made, the place to go for stylish, functional lockers.  Yes, you heard me right, lockers…the essential high school backdrop in American coming of age movies.  Becca’s lockers have evolved into a range of shapes, sizes and colours…mustard being one of them of course.  Back in the day, Becca had a habit of rescuing vintage lockers she spotted on the side of the road.  This locker passion grew and grew and when Becca succeeded in convincing her sister to get in on the business, there was no stopping them.  Now a multimillion dollar company, selling in Australia, the UK and US, Mustard Made is well and truly…well, made.  In this chat, Becca shares her formula for calculated risk-taking, the epic upcoming work road trip she’s taking with her sister and we find out what Kim Kardashian’s Mustard Made locker was filled with…not what you’d expect!

“A risk doesn’t mean jumping off a cliff, it means taking a well thought through step in the right direction”

Becca Stern

Questions answered in this episode include
  • Who is the audience for Mustard Made lockers?
  • What’s the secret to working with family members in growing a business like Mustard Made?  
  • How do you manage customer expectations around an uncertain supply chain?  

Unpredictability and Kim Kardashion

“In terms of having a team, sometimes people do like to know where we’re going. So that’s been the balance.  I don’t want Mustard to be fixated on particular goals, because things drop into our inbox daily that are better than we could have strategized about, we couldn’t have predicted. 

Like recently we had this amazing opportunity with a Mac and Cheese brand that launched in America. And they bought 250 lockers and sent them out to the most A-list of A-list celebrities filled with macaroni cheese boxes. Who would have put that in their business plan for the year?

Do you know Kim Kardashian?  Kim Kardashian has a locker. The Rock.  Some pretty big A-listers.  I really thrive off that surprise. That is the joy. If I knew exactly where I was going and I knew exactly what was going to happen, it’s like watching a movie when you know the whole plot. It’s not the same experience as watching it for the first time. Maybe that’s a good analogy for how I like to live.”

Home, work, play

“I think when you think of lockers, you might think gyms or high schools. Ours are more about the home. So definitely there’s a big audience of mums buying them either for themselves, for their own things to keep away from their kids or maybe to have their TV on so they can keep all their cables and PlayStations or whatever, neatly inside. 

Then I suppose there’s the workspaces. So especially with a lot of people working from home, it’s this one stop shop for all your office storage. And then, I guess we do appeal to more corporate environments. So we’ve had things like Pilate studios or lawyers offices or a vet bought some the other day. So there’s that practical element that brings a little bit of colour, but still really functions really well. So yeah, for home, for work and for play is how we sum it up.”

Trade show launch

“So the way that we actually launched was going to this trade show with our samples and what looked like a business. We had a logo, we had some leaflets, we had some order forms and yeah, we had these shiny, nice samples there, but we didn’t have production. We hadn’t pushed go yet. We hadn’t even set up a bank account and we hadn’t registered our business officially, because that cost about $1,000. And you don’t want to spend $1,000 if this all goes to itself and doesn’t go anywhere.

So we went to this trade show with enough in place to test the market and see whether we were going to make any sales. And if we hadn’t, then great, we hadn’t bought container loads full of lockers. And if we had, then we would know what products were going to be popular, which colours. And so we could get that product mix right when ordering and then supply based on that. 

So it still makes me laugh thinking about us standing there like, yeah, place an order!  We had enough ducks in the row. It wasn’t like we were scamming them. It was just that we needed that lead time to know and to prove to ourselves that there was something in this product. We set ourselves this goal that we were going to get nine orders in a four day event. And we smashed it the first day. So yeah, we went home just feeling like, okay, I just think we might be onto something good here.”

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