Today we’d like to introduce you to April Watkins.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
It all started when I borrowed a friend’s book and after having it for a couple weeks, I was unable to return the book on the condition that I received it. I work full time and take MARTA to and from work throughout the week. I didn’t realize how bad I was destroying the book between it getting wet from my sweating water bottle, smelling bad because of the different lunches that the book would come in contact with and getting crushed by my laptop and other miscellaneous items that were in and out of my bag throughout the course of a day.
I then said to myself, I wish I had something to put my book in to protect it while it’s in my bag. I casually ran the idea by my best friend Jasmine and she immediately assured me that it was a brilliant idea and agreed to help me get it launched. I then reached out to another childhood friend Mo, who currently resides in Los Angeles and works in the fashion industry. I did my best to explain over the phone my vision for the bag and she was able to put a sketch together AND come up with the name of The BookedBag which I loved.
From that point on, Jasmine, Mo, and I held weekly calls to walk through the details and assign tasks. It was decided that Jasmine would own the website, Mo would own design/production and I would own anything in between, from social to all the legalities that come with starting a business. As a full-time sales professional by day, I also would lead the sales strategy.
We placed our production order near the end of July and the bags were ready by mid-August. We took a few days to plan the release and made our first sale on August 20th (in person). Our website launched on August 24th and we were extremely excited because we can now take online orders.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’d say the road was a bit bumpy but at the same time, they weren’t bad bumps, they were learning bumps and I believe those are the best bumps to encounter. This was my first time actually starting a business. I’ve had a few ideas in the past, but this is the first one I decided to act on and invest in.
The biggest challenge for me was funding. By no means am I rich, but I make a decent salary and was able to put some funds aside each pay period for a few months. This meant scaling back in other areas including going out, ubers, shopping and eating out. Because my two partners were dedicating their time to this project, I agreed to provide the funding for anything we needed. In an ideal world, I would’ve loved to have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on different sizes/colors for the product, advertising, etc. but we had to work with what we had. In turn, it took us a little longer to get to where we are today as we weren’t able to get things done as quickly as we wanted to because of funding.
Another challenge that we faced, which relates to funding was not being able to afford a lawyer to ensure that our product and brand would be protected. Thank goodness for research and the internet. I was able to compose a basic trademark search and apply for our trademark online after thorough research. A friend also put me a contact with a friend that was a lawyer and I was able to run a ton of questions by him at no cost.
The last challenge that I’ll touch on is that we had to build our brand without having the product in our hands yet. We utilized social media by creating an Instagram and Facebook account. Through these social mediums, we would post lifestyle images that were branded with The BookedBag logo and was tailored to readers and authors. We also utilized hashtags and even completed a giveaway. I was able to get a copy of an unreleased book, in which we ran a promotion to gain followers over the course of a few days. We picked a winner and mailed the book to her. She was super excited when we revealed her as the winner and even reposted the book. We were able to gain a good amount of followers from this giveaway alone and we’re definitely planning on doing more of these in the near future.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about The BookedBag – what should we know?
The BookedBag is a book protector. Unlike any of the book covers that are on the market today, the BookedBag not only protects the front and back covers, but it also features a zipper that encloses the book to protect your pages. The Bookedbag is made out of neoprene which is water resistant but also maintains the softness and stretchiness needed to fit various sized books. We’ve added pockets to hold your cell phone, credit cards and pens making it the one-stop reading shop. Not only is it effective but it’s stylish and complements any outfit and that’s what we’re most proud of.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
We’re solving a problem and that will always be at the forefront of our success. In these next few months as we add more sizes and colors, team up with local artists on special collections and begin to explore additional customization offerings, the consumer is our priority and we’ll ensure our service and product exceeds their expectation.
- Blu – $19.99 (free shipping)
- Ruby – $19.99 (free shipping)
- Website: www.thebookedbag.com
- Email: email@example.com
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