Pure Pajamas – Case Study
About Pure Pajamas and Owner Melinda Felton
Pure Pajamas is an online boutique offering designer sleepwear, loungewear, and yogawear. The business was launched in 2007 by stay-at-home mom Melina Felton, who earned her initial investment back within her first six months of operation. Today, Felton owns a second online sleepwear site and PurePajamas is a highly successful online boutique, valued at more than three times what she paid for it just two years ago.
The Making of a Mompreneur: A Stay-at-Home Mom’s Entry into Online Retail
In 2007, Melinda Felton decided to take the plunge and go after her dream of running her own business. Her husband was an entrepreneur, and she knew from his experience that she too had the skill set to run a business and contribute to her family’s income. When her youngest child entered kindergarten, she found herself with extra time on her hands and seeking new challenges. In January 2007, with no previous retail or online experience, Felton purchased and launched PurePajamas.
Lack of Previous Experience
As Felton quickly realized, the barrier of entry into the online world is easy – anyone can buy or launch a web business. However, the actual ins and outs of running an internet business and ensuring its success can be difficult – and Felton needed guidance. “In the beginning, I didn’t even know what the initials SEO stood for,” she said.
Her number one piece of advice to burgeoning entrepreneurs is to find a mentor or hire a professional consultant. “One thing I’m so grateful I had to foresight to do was purchase a ready-to-go website that also came with 40 hours of consulting from Pure eCommerce,” says Felton. “Forty hours may seem like a lot, but let me tell you I used them all, down to the last minute. The learning process was a long one, and having an experienced eCommerce expert to guide me throughout the launch and growth of my business was just invaluable.”
Improving SEO Rankings
One of Felton’s first orders of business was to work on improving her Search Engine Optimization ratings, which were very low in the early days of launching. In fact, she set a goal to get her site to appear on the first page of the major search engines for her key search terms. “I tweaked my site to include keywords everywhere, and also added keyword rich text. I applied for one way links to my site and put my site in the Yahoo Directory and Google Base.”
Felton’s hard work paid off – within the first few months, her site appeared on the first page of the major search engines for her key search terms. She also started a blog with targeted news that her niche customers base would be interested in.
Balancing a Growing Business with a Growing Family
Felton remembers clearly the moment she received her first sale, only two weeks after she purchased the site. It was a life-changing moment for her, as her business was now “official” and she suddenly had a responsibility and obligation to not just her family, but her customers as well. “Without a doubt, the biggest challenge for me has been time management, especially since both my business and family have continued to grow.” In order to make it work, Felton came up with a self-imposed routine that she rigidly enforced. “I made hours as if I had an office job. When it was time for work to be over, that was it. I closed my laptop and my family time began.” She also engaged her family’s assistance during busy seasons, and hired her teenagers to help fulfill orders during the holiday crunch time. “We work together as a team and they get the benefit of learning how to run a successful business.”
Up until this point, Felton says she’s been able to manage all her duties through multi-tasking and her sheer passion for her business, but she will most likely need to hire someone in the near future in order to meet growing demands.
Finding Success in a Down Market
One of the reasons Melinda feels she’s been able to succeed is because her business is so niche. “We have good margins on our inventory and a great selection of merchandise within a defined target market.”
In fact, Felton’s success inspired her to recently purchase a second turnkey web business from Pure eCommerce called NursingPJs.com. The site is aimed at pregnant and lactating moms, and provides items such as nursing bras, nursing pajamas, and nursing pillows. Felton bought the site just six months ago, during the height of the down economy. However, she says sales are strong because she provides these specialty items that news moms need, but are getting harder to find as more and more brick and mortar stores have gone out of business. In fact, Felton believes there has never been a better time to enter the eCommerce industry, since about 150,000 brick and mortar stores are expected to shut down in 2009, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. This reality means consumers will increasingly turn to internet shopping to find what they need.
Plus, unlike traditional boutiques, her upfront investment was truly minimal. “A huge advantage with both of the businesses I purchased through Pure eCommerce is that I don’t have to buy and carry inventory up front, since most items are drop-shipped directly from the manufacturer. Therefore, I was able to make a modest investment initially that will pay off in big ways,” says Felton.
Feltons’s Tips for Burgeoning “Mompreneurs”:
Find a mentor – “Having a personal, experienced consultant is what I credit my profitability to.” For online businesses, Felton used and recommends Pure eCommerce.
Consider your Passions - Choose an area of trade that you have a persona attraction to. The more passion you feel for the product you’re selling, the harder you will drive your business.
Educate yourself - Learn as much as you can about every minute detail. Knowledge is power and is critical to running an online business.
Evaluate and “Revaluate” Constantly - Every day I spend at least 15 minutes doing some type of optimization for PurePajamas.com. I am always evaluating what I can be doing better. I look to see what my competitors are doing, and I always seek out ways to improve upon my customer service.
Be prepared to sacrifice “me” time - especially in the beginning as you get your business off the ground.
For more information go to http://www.pure-ecommerce.com