Written by Starshipit
Just over a year ago, two brothers founded a company supplying personalised, premium leather goods. Inspired by the sophisticated designs of Parisian fashion houses, they set about creating their own brand with a distinct identity; Maison de Sabré. We talked to founders, Omar and Zane Sabre about their journey from a little garage project, to a serious contender in the personalised leather space.
The two brothers have always been interested in business, inspired by their father who hails from a long generation of businessmen. Unfortunately, their father was diagnosed with a serious illness and they needed to find a new revenue stream to help fund Zane’s university tuition. The two budding entrepreneurs were continuously scouting for new venture ideas.
“It was like I had a lightbulb moment. We understood that consumers today have an emotional connection to their phones and before anything else, it’s the first thing they reach for in the morning”.
He called Zane and he agreed that it’s the ultimate form of individuality for the devices. From there they started researching, getting samples of leather and planning their designs in a scrapbook. Maison de Sabré then started to evolve from a little garage project as they poured their heart and souls into it.
While they were planning, they were posting on Instagram, and whilst original content was non-existent, the duo built an audience around the lifestyle their future product would evoke. The duo progressively built an interactive audience and 174,000 followers later, they have a serious following.
What were some of the failures you encountered on your journey to where you are today? Or some of the key challenges when you first started out?
“Initially, we designed and produced a whole range of premium small leather goods however they just weren’t up to scratch. We wasted a lot of time and money as well as it being a confidence breaker. When you run into issues and getting stuff back that wasn’t up to standard, it was incredibly disappointing. As we were a small start-up we didn’t have a lot of time or money to invest and the knockbacks were hard to take at times.”
The brothers decided to go back to the original idea of the phone case and put all their time and effort to create an impeccable feature product that would then set the tone for their future releases and help them turn the name into the brand they are today.
“The main challenge is to find the right people that will help you achieve your ideas. Simple stuff is never easy. So be prepared to fail, try again and again and problem solve. That was a big one for us. A lot of people with industry experience will just say no, that’s not possible. They can’t see out of their box. As a start-up, you will get told no a lot, but you have to keep going until you achieve exactly what it is you set out to achieve.”
Zane is the Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director while Omar is the Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director. The brothers like to think of it as dealing with internal and external aspects relating to the business, however, both oversee their supply chain management and sourcing.
In addition to Omar and Zane, they have a marketing director, social strategists, content strategists, content creators, customer care lead, data analyst, videographer and dispatch staff that vary in number according to the orders that need to be processed.
“We used to go to the Post Office, buy mailers, all handwritten, paying each time and then keeping the receipts. It was a nightmare, with lots of human errors and we had the extra level of work and frustration where we needed to then go back into Shopify to add in the tracking details. Last Christmas Omar and I ran two laptops side-by-side, to copy and paste all the details and ran around finding the right packages.”
Realising there must be an easier way, they reached out to AusPost and with their sales volumes, qualified initially for an eParcel account. They used this for around 1-2 months, which helped improve productivity and efficiency.
It needed to integrate with Shopify and be very user-friendly – this was a must for Zane.
“I had tried using ReadytoShip but found their customer service a little sub-par – I could never get a full answer, and I didn’t like the user interface, I wanted someone I could directly reach out to by picking up the phone and getting support.”
After speaking to their account manager at DHL about alternative solutions, she suggested they look at Starshipit. They watched some of the videos and liked what they saw, so they started a trial. Anthony got them set up and shipping and although there were a few challenges at the beginning after they were properly set up with support from the team, things have been a breeze since.
Prior to Starshipit, Maison de Sabré was using eParcel and found international shipping challenging.
“With eParcel there are quite a few additional fields you have to fill out. Addresses aren’t populated which is frustrating; you have to enter everything in. You also need to make sure you click on the right shipping method, and that it’s correct, then pick and pack and then stick on a shipping label."
"The shipping labels didn’t print in order with eParcel. So you then had to separate them all and then manually find the one that marries with that order. Very time consuming and frustrating. Today we are supplying 90 countries with orders from over 30 countries in any one day. With Starshipit those challenges have virtually disappeared.”
"It made us incredibly more productive –one less thing to worry about. We can focus on other areas of the business, look at the company as a whole and no longer have to worry about dispatch. We have ultimately streamlined our entire dispatch process, meaning our efficiency and accuracy is second to none. Dispatching orders doesn't have the potential to bring infinite returns to the business like marketing or strategy does, so we can now just remotely oversee it and focus on other areas."
"We ship hundreds of orders a day and now save around 4 minutes per order when you’re doing high-volumes the minutes and seconds all add up. It’s saving us so much time – which is our most important resource. Human and delivery errors are also minimal now with auto address population and everything automatically integrating and triggered to Shopify."
We have some big plans for this year. We are both transitioning to full time roles within the company as up until now we’ve both maintained our professions in Dentistry. The plan is to continue to build upon the brand that we have created with our team and focus not only on new product releases, but providing the best online and offline consumer experience. We’ve always believed that Maison de Sabré doesn’t sell products, it sells experiences. We’re incredibly excited to take this to the next level and have some amazing innovations in the pipelines.
For us, we feel it is the 3 P’s – patience, persistence and problem-solving. Patience because things do not happen overnight, persistence because it will never be right the first time, and problem-solving because there will be so many issues that you won’t even have thought of that will come your way.
It’s all about keeping the vision you have in your mind – you really have to truly believe whatever it is you foresee will become a reality.