24 Feb Paradiso Ceramics
Question 1: What does your business produce or supply?
Paradiso Ceramics is the Australian home of beautiful pottery made in Deruta, a medieval town in central Italy and one of the largest producers of glazed Italian earthenware known as ‘maiolica’. We buy directly from the makers which enables us to offer customised pieces as well as a wide range of items such as bowls, jugs, decorative wall plates, earrings, lamps and lava stone tables. We sell online through our Shopify store and rent space in retail emporium Ensemble & Co in the country town of Crookwell where we live.
Question 2: What motivated you to start your business
Our love-affair with Deruta ceramics began during a dream holiday to Italy in 2006. Over subsequent years, we revisited Deruta many times with several friends and filled our home with beautiful ceramics. In 2017 we were delighted when friends Mike and Marguerite Walsh suggested we team up to import Deruta ceramics – they would finance the venture and Jan and I would be responsible for marketing and selling. After a buying trip to Italy in September 2017, Paradiso Ceramics was launched in December that year.
Question 3: When you think about your business what keeps you awake at night?
Because COVID has meant more people are shopping online, our online orders have increased considerably in the last two years. However, after four years of trading, we are still pouring all our profits back into the business, mainly buying stock, rather than repaying the seeding funds. We are not yet able to draw an income either. We know that, unless we can increase sales, this is not sustainable.
Question 4: What has your business taught you personally?
With little retail background, the learning curve has been steep – ordering from suppliers in another country (and language!), dealing with freight companies and customs, buying stock, setting prices, managing stock levels, dealing with customers, packing and sending breakable products around Australia from our garage, setting up and managing our website, learning how to use Facebook and Instagram for business, as well as the quagmire of marketing our products. Perseverance, a willingness to learn and finding great advisers has been critical in getting this far.
Question 5: What’s a recent business success that you have had, that has motivated you to keep going?
Our sales have doubled in the past 12 months thanks to the online surge, due to COVID. Doubling our sales is very motivating!
Question 6: How do you feel about the future of your business in the next three years?
Cautiously optimistic. A friend is now managing our books and he feels the figures are encouraging. We now know the profile of our ideal customer well, but we are struggling to be strategic and effective in reaching them. We know that marketing is the key to growth for us now.
Question 7: How does your relationship with SRBEC help you and your business?
We were fortunate to be connected to SRBEC in our first year and our advisers have assisted us in so many ways, including pricing, use of social media, design and structure of our website, the value of professional photography, marketing and developing our brand. I have participated in several SRBEC webinars in the past year and have found these really helpful. Our current adviser is Narelle Blackadder. We are grateful for her expertise and encouragement and for connecting us with other specialists in SRBEC who can move us down the road to increasing sales and growing our business.
Marg and Co.’s contact details are as follows:
Mobile: 0414 860 034
PS: If you would like your business to be showcased like Marg’s, please contact your BEC business advisor to discuss.