Laura Jordan, Flour Mill Kids
Kids and aprons are part of every recipe—at least they have been for Laura Jordan, for as long as she can remember. Jordan's grandmother Louise Hue, aka "Nanny," taught her the skill at age 5 or 6. The two spent hours in the kitchen every Saturday morning baking chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies, cupcakes, and cakes.
"My culinary skills at that time consisted of getting to stir the ingredients, putting cupcake liners in the pan and getting to lick the spoon," Jordan reminisces. "I took credit for the finished product!"
Back then the little baker didn't know she was building memories that would last a lifetime. For her, the process was simply about making delicious treats and getting to put on the aprons she loved so much—although one might have outweighed the other. "I'm not so sure it was really about the cookies as much as it was getting to help and wearing my apron," Jordan admits.
Regardless, it was a happy time, she says. And wanting other children to make similar memories they'll cherish for years, Jordan opened Flour Mill Kids on Auctiva Commerce, which features kids' aprons like the ones she loved, cookie cutters, measuring cups and spoons, and other accessories little bakers will need to make tasty treats with their loved ones. She also sells these items on eBay under the ID flourmillkidscollection.
"[At the beginning] my Flour Mill Kids aprons were actually the stars of the show, since I loved aprons as a child," Jordan notes. "But I needed something to complement the kids' aprons, and so cookie cutters became the focal point. I thought it was a way to unite the family and everyone could participate in some aspect."
I bake cookies while I'm listing. It keeps me connected to the outside world
Flour Mill Kids began in 2010, but Jordan was in the retail business long before that. She owned a brick-and-mortar shop in the '80s in Lake Ozark, MO, a tourist community, where she sold collectibles, primitive pine items and antiques she gathered from estate sales and live auctions.
"I loved the store. I loved meeting the tourists, but it was demanding in terms of being physically available every day," Jordan notes. "Selling online can be just as demanding, but in a much different way. I love doing what I do from the comfort of my home, and find it much easier to multitask because of it. I even bake cookies while I'm listing for my Auctiva Commerce Store. It keeps me connected to the outside world."
However, having a physical shop in a prime tourist locale did make selling easier. "People are there to have a good time, and [vacationing] is a happy time," Jordan explains. "Even in slow economic times, if people are vacationing, they're going to buy."
Getting more cooks into the kitchen
When she made the transition to online, she quickly learned you have to work hard to get your items found. Search engine optimization is crucial but so is scoping out the competition and offering something they don't, she says. Jordan has also found that it helps to give shoppers information about what they can do with the products instead of waiting for them to decide, and "Gift Lists" and freebies can also be a big hit. She offers both, even posting her favorite recipes on her Auctiva Commerce shop site. This entices buyers, she says, but adds that the real key to anyone's success is in loving their business and their products.
"Your passion shines through in your descriptions," Jordan says. "You have to get that across. If you're not excited about what you sell, why would anyone else be?
"And communicate," Jordan advises other sellers. "If you communicate with your buyer, that buyer will become a repeat [shopper]. Buyers like to buy where they're comfortable and familiar, where it's easy, and from whom they know they can trust."
She constantly keeps these things in mind and it seems to be paying off. Sales increase every day, she says, which encourages her to dream big about becoming the premier shop for cookie cutters, and to continue adding to her product selection. Drawing a crowd will be the key to achieving these goals, so she's spreading the word on Facebook.
"You have to have patience and promote! Having an online store requires commitment and dedication,"Jordan says. "You have to invest yourself 100 percent."
I had no experience with an online store until Auctiva Commerce. I'm so glad Auctiva made this opportunity available
Anything but cookie cutter
Jordan's describes her inventory as "just fun," and has a playful business motto that echoes that sentiment: "Say it with a cookie cutter from Flour Mill Kids."
That motto might suggest that Jordan has had baking in her business plan from the get go, but not so, she says. It actually took this expert bread maker some time to get into the baking niche. In fact, when she started selling on eBay in 2002, she sold antiques and collectibles, items she had in her brick-and-mortar shop. But later when she wanted her own store, she reverted to what sparked happy memories.
"Flour Mill Kids is a new product line for me, [but] I have no doubt it's going to do just fine," she says. "Online sales continue to grow and, with Auctiva's introduction of the standalone stores, it's possible for anyone to open an online store. I had no experience with an online store until Auctiva Commerce. I'm so glad Auctiva made this opportunity available."
Jordan's grandmother is no longer around to see where her little baker's shop will go. Although Jordan misses her every day, when she bakes, she feels closer to "Nanny," she says.
Helping in the kitchen taught her several lessons, for instance, how to count, measure, be safe around a stove and how to share, she adds. But what she'll remember most are the memories she made.
"I can still hear my grandmother say, 'If we're going to bake, you need to put your apron on,'" Jordan says. "[Baking] reminds me of such a happy time in my life that I wanted to bring back those memorable times and pass them on."
Visit Flour Mill Kids on eBay and on Auctiva Commerce.