Podcast 27: Jess Stern, Mustard Made

This week, Mat chats with Jess Stern, co-founder of Mustard Made. Mustard sell great looking lockers that add colour to your home. They talk about having a business partner on the other side of the world and the fun of drop testing her product.

29 January 2020

Listen to episode 27:

Show notes

Jessica Stern, Mustard Made

  • Jess founded Mustard Made with her sister in 2018, their aim was to bring colour to people's homes through their custom lockers
  • While Jess and Becca live on opposite sides of the world, they've always talked about starting a business together to bring themselves closer together
  • Becca suggested they started a locker business – she had a collection of ones she'd got second hand or found on the side of the street
  • Jess took a little persuading, but eventually was on board with the business idea
  • Initially, Jess was still working a full time job
  • Balancing the two was a tricky task but was essential for financing the first stages

Sorting a supplier

  • Jess's previous jobs in the fashion industry meant she was used to talking to suppliers about products
  • This helped a lot with sorting logistics
  • They took a trip to China to suss out different factories, one stood out in particular – a modestly sized family owned factory who had excellent attention to detail

Jess' factory advice

  • Meet with multiple factories or suppliers and try to understand their ethics and processes
  • Make sure you get samples made
  • Scrutinise every part of the design stages
  • Finalise pricing in person

Attending a trade show

  • Jess and her sister attended a trade show in Australia with just samples of their lockers, they had no business set up at that point
  • Their product was unique and drew a lot of attention, with 50 stockists placing orders
  • They were 'shell-shocked' at how well their product had done
  • Once they discovered there was a clear demand for their product, everything else fell into place

Biggest challenges

  • After initially launching in Australia, Jess and Becca did not expect the UK market to be so different
  • After successfully selling their products to a range of stockists, they had to deal with a number of cases of damaged products as a result of careless couriers. Jess travelled to China and designed sturdier packaging to combat this issue
  • Knowing how much stock to order has been tricky, getting the balance right is important to avoid keeping customers waiting

Marketing

  • Mustard Made's lockers primarily target the 'Instagram mum', but their wide range of colours and sizes mean they can be for everyone
  • They started their marketing organically, but also use influencers, Google, Facebook and Instagram ads

The big biz whiz quiz

  • Jess scored 7/10

Brilliant or bonkers?

"I never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself."

– Florence Nightingale

Check out Mustard Made's lockers here!

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Mat White is an Accountant Relationships Manager at iwoca, writing on everything from finance to food. He's also the host of iwoca podcast '9 to when?'.

Article updated on: 25 March 2020

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