It’s flawed to say “Manufacturing is ‘dead’ in the U.S.” Heard of 3D printers? Well, think of 3D printing as manufacturing that fits much better with modern business needs. And by modern, we mean this decade and the next.
3D Printing for Small Business
Many people regard the 3D printing world as more of a place for prototypes and experimentation. This is only partially true, because today businesses of all sizes turn ideas into physical items through 3D prints. It’s gotten better and easier to do so.
For example, 3D printing app Voodoo now allows Shopify merchants to create and customize items and immediately list those items for sale within minutes. What’s more, Voodoo claims 3D design skills aren’t required. Small Business Trends chatted with Connie Cheng, an entrepreneur who says her creative ideas come to life thanks to the app’s integrations. Our discussion below might inspire you to cast fear aside and to weave new ideas into your brand using this very 2018 technology.
* * * * *
Connie Cheng is the owner and product designer for Corgi Things, a lifestyle brand for corgi owners and lovers. After working in tech for several years, Cheng started Corgi Things in 2016 as a small passion project. The project unexpectedly grew to a full-time business by 2017. Cheng collaborates with other talented corgi lovers in the community to design and curate all types of fun corgi products. Her mission is to cultivate and spread happiness with other like-minded “corgi people” around the world, one Corgi Thing at a time.
Connie currently lives in New Jersey with her 11-year-old corgi, Lucy. You can follow their daily adventures on Instagram at @corgithings.
* * * * *
Small Business Trends: How were you able to quickly scale your company? Who do you cater to?
Connie Cheng: Corgi Things caters to the corgi community. We design products, promote other small businesses, create content around raising, adopting and rescuing corgis and build relationships with corgi fanatics. The main reason we were able to scale our product offerings so quickly was because of print-on-demand services, like the Voodoo App. The Voodoo App has allowed us to test products and get feedback from customers — and it’s so easy to use. One thing that really stuck out to me was how easy it actually was to create the cookie cutter itself. The Voodoo app allowed us to design cookie cutters without having to learn any 3D skills or software.
Small Business Trends: Have you ever considered 3D printing products before?
Connie Cheng: My boyfriend has a 3D printer, so I’ve thought about 3D printing the Corgi Things logo and making a cookie cutter out of it. But the reality is, we didn’t and still don’t have the capacity to print them in bulk and ship them out. That’s why we had to put that idea on the back burner until we were able to source someone in the U.S. who could print and ship for us. That’s why we were so excited to learn about the Voodoo App, so we could bring our ideas to life!
Small Business Trends: What’s next for Corgi Things?
Connie Cheng: This year we migrated from Etsy over to Shopify, so that already opened up a lot more opportunities for us in terms of offerings, merchandising and branding. We spent half of the year adjusting to the new platform. As for 2019, we’re going to introduce some apparel, since our customers have been asking for this for a while now. We’ll also continue working on seasonal home decor items, like garden flags and floor mats.
Small Business Trends: What can you share about the transition to Shopify and how it affected your growth?
Connie Cheng: When I first started, I created our blog on WordPress. Once we started offering small products like stickers and magnets, I ended up using Etsy because it was the easiest platform and also had tons of organic traffic. Etsy worked well for all of 2017.
We were able to scale quickly on Etsy without having to manage an entire shop. Once we started rolling over into 2018, our product line had really grown and we were looking for better ways to merchandise our products. Basically, we wanted more control over marketing, and it was really important for us to be able to capture more emails and leads.
I’m very happy about migrating over to Shopify because it gives us that marketing control, seamlessly integrates with more apps, and allows us to easily contact our customers.
Small Business Trends: What else are you doing to grow Corgi Things?
Connie Cheng: As a new business owner, there’s a lot of marketing I didn’t do from the beginning because I didn’t have the time to focus on it. Because of that, we left a lot of opportunities on the table. In 2018 we really stepped up our marketing game, making outreach more consistent.
In 2019, we’d like to focus on running more social ads because the majority of our traffic up until this point has been organic. By focusing on social media ads, we think we’ll be able to continue growing our following and reach other like-minded and corgi-obsessed people.
Images: Corgi Things