Keeping Up With Demand While Fostering Growth: Rustica Hardware Talks About Scaling Up
Not everyone can always see the explicit beauty in ordinary objects. But that’s exactly what Paul Allen, co-founder and product designer of Rustica Hardware did. Rather than simple portals in and out of various spaces, he saw doors as unique canvases, an expression of art. Pretty soon, the functional yet wildly sophisticated doors and hardware he created began making their way into more and more homes across America.
Scalability is probably one of the most harrowing things for a small business owner hoping to be successful to consider. Always trying to keep up with demand while fostering growth and expanding a business can overwhelming at times. Luckily, we were able to speak to Seth Parker, Product Manager at Rustica Hardware and gather some great advice for small brands just starting to scale up.
The key to keeping up is precision.
“I think the hardest thing to overcome is to change your own habits and processes. A small business and a large business have different processes,” Seth explains. “For example, [initially] at Rustica, if we came out with a new product the process was: 1) Take a picture 2) Put it on the website. Now that we are a bigger business, the process for creating new products is a lot more complex to help ensure there are no errors. It is okay to make mistakes on 1% of your orders when you are only selling one hundred products a month. When you start selling thousands of products a week, mistakes become very expensive.”
Let the quality of your product be your best marketing tool.
While tight operations are what keeps the business running smoothly, stepping into the spotlight every once in a while is a definite boon to getting your name out there. For Rustica Hardware, it wasn’t about beating down doors to get people’s attention like one would imagine – their product spoke for itself. “We actually have people approach us about our product because we truly create a beautiful, high quality product,” boasts Seth (deservedly so). “We believe that truth attracts more truth, and we have seen great people reach out to us because our product is great. Those amazing individuals have helped us get in the right spotlights and it has made all the difference for our brand. Having a good product is only half the story.”
Pursue each and every opportunity.
Make no mistake, brand recognition is no excuse to rest on one’s laurels, no matter how good of a product you may have. The power of hard work should never be underestimated! Seth puts it best, “The other half [of the story] has been working hard, or what we call ‘scrappiness’. It isn’t about being at the right place at the right time, it has been about being at good places all the time. We don’t wait for the perfect opportunities and the perfect conditions. We are at as many places perfection may show itself as possible. We went to a lot of trade shows, retailers, and designers looking for opportunities to grow.”
Protect your assets.
Unfortunately, there’s another side of the scaling coin – knockoffs. Definitely a case where imitation is not a form of flattery. Being that they are in very competitive industry, Rustica Hardware has experienced this in the past (hence, their patented Adjustable SpacerTM). “One of our core competencies is innovative solutions, and we saw many competitors copy products that we put a lot of heart and soul into creating,” says Seth, “After growing and learning about design patents and copyrights we were able to protect our later innovations. One piece ofadvice I would tell people is that to get a patent you can’t have your product on the market for more than a year. If your product has been online for over a year, you are out of luck.”
Bet on yourself.
After all their trials, errors and many, many successes, Rustica Hardware continues to grow and bring soul to consumers’ living spaces with their innovation and integrity. When asked for any final advice to a small brand trying to keep up with the big guns, Seth had this to say, “My advice is that perfection is the enemy of success. Waiting for something to be perfect will take forever. If your product is good enough, then send it out the door and make the changes as you go. This will only work in the short term, but it will get you off the ground. The bigger you get, the more careful you should be, but NEVER wait for perfection.”
Truer words were never spoken.
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