Highlight Interview with Amazon Seller
Garland Sullivan - Co-Owner of AllYouNeed LLC
Why he's Featured
The reason I asked Garland if I could feature him is two-fold. First, his business is creative, cutting edge, and niche. Second, his focus is on improving the lives of others through the business, which embodies the heart of the millennial generation.
When I listened to Garland talk about his business, I knew he was sharp, driven, and motivated to bring others along for the journey.
The thought of creating a business that leverages Amazon to generate profit is on par with how millennials view our world. Businesses are no longer only bricks and mortar. Marketing is no longer limited to print, radio, and TV.
Read on to hear about how he and his business partner started their Amazon selling business and what they've experienced since then.
What is your business and how did you get the idea to do it?
I'm an Amazon seller, so I sell products through Amazon. We started in college with my business partner and I. We started selling in college part-time and it pretty much just evolved from that. We went from buying our first three toys to now we moved over 21,000 products in the last year. So we move a lot of products.
There's four aspects of our business. We have retail arbitrage, online arbitrage, wholesale, and private label.
Retail arbitrage is when you go into a store and you see the price of that product and you see what it's going for on amazon and then you sell it on Amazon because you can see you can make money on the difference.
Same idea with online arbitrage, you contact people online like online distributors, liquidators, or a close out sales person. You see their products, what they're selling for, compare prices, see how quickly they're selling and then either buy it or don't buy it.
Wholesale is finding a product and contacting the manufacturer. Then we prove to them that if we sell their their product we would increase their customer reach, product protection, improve their listing, etc.
Private label is taking a product you've seen doing really well and then you work with a manufacturer to create your own private label product to sell on Amazon.
Some of the main aspects of the retail arbitrage side are apparel, shoes, and women's clothing - specifically lingerie. What we've been able to do and find in stores is buying discounted or even at retail price bras. Because women most of the time cannot find their size bra in the store, so women will pay a nice amount of money to have their right size bra. I'm talking anywhere from 100-400% profit. I think the largest return we've ever seen is 1,300% profit, which is unreal. It's crazy. Bras are definitely big time and shoes are big time. Shoes made up a good chunk of our sales for the last year - mostly running shoes, all brands.
We really saw the concept of e-commerce through another guy. He was doing the same business that we are doing. He was about a year and a half ahead of us. He is actually still one of our close friends and mentors. He's done very well and we saw his progression in such a short amount of time. We took his same system and applied it to our business here in Jacksonville.
Obviously as a kid, you didn't say, "I want to be an Amazon seller when I grow up". What did you always dream about doing?
As a really little kid, I wanted to become a paleontologist, but I didn't know how to say it, so I just said I want to dig up dinosaur bones. But that did not happen. Then I wanted to become an artist, that was in second grade I believe. Then I realized you don't make any money doing art unless you are dead. Then, I really didn't know what I wanted to do for a long time. I went into college wanting to be physical therapist, took my first science class and quickly decided I wasn't going to be a physical therapist.
I always knew I wanted to have my own business because my father is an entrepreneur as well. He has a construction business. My mom went to college and finished her degree. My dad got kicked out of college after a year and a half. They both did different routes and obviously each person is different. My mom has always been a strong proponent of "Rich Dad Poor Dad", Robert T. Kiyosaki, and has implemented that into our lives since we were little.
When you were starting the business and were getting ready to do it full-time talking to your parents about it, did they have any, "Whoa, wait a second's"?
They were a little weary because they knew that I had other opportunities. I had four other job offers out of college. I decided to do my own business. Just because I knew that the job offers that I had gotten, it would be a lot longer before I would see success. It would be a complete grind for anywhere from 3-5 years before I would start seeing decent money.
It sounds like you've had success mostly throughout, but were there ever any times where you thought, "Maybe I should have taken one of those job offers?"
Yes and no. One of the job offers was working for a guy that's high up at a venture capital company. I love looking at a business, analyzing a business and taking that business to an extreme level. That would be awesome to be a part of that. That would have been awesome to be almost mentored and pretty much apprenticed by this guy. That's something I really kind of thought, "Dang. That would have been awesome." But in the end, I think I made the right decision, for sure.
Did anybody give you advice as you were starting the business?
All kinds of people did. One of the main motivations for my business partner and I, is when we would talk to people about it, they don't understand it, obviously. When people don't understand something, they are weary and unsure of it. That's what we probably saw the most.
When we talked to people about what we were doing, what our goals were and what we were going to achieve, they pretty much all said, "Good luck".
They didn't believe that we were going to do what we did. I love that. I love when someone tells me I'm not going to be able to do it because then I know I'm going to prove them wrong. That's just the kind of mentality I have. If someone says I can't do it, I'm going to find a way to do it.
Did you have enough business and income momentum leaving college to where you didn't need any additional capital?
My business partner and I each got $3,000 from our parents, which is not a lot, but is a lot at the same time. When you don't have anything, that's a good chunk of money.
We also used credit cards as our funding. When you get a new credit card, typically you have anywhere from 6-18 months APR. So we just looked for cards with 0% APR and then also cards that had no annual fee. So we had free money anywhere from 6 months to 18 months.
It's risky if you don't know what you're doing. We did a very good job of taking that money and that capital and making good purchases. We pretty much started with that $6,000 and we broke even within two months. In 2015, our sales grew 800%.
Tell me more about your private label products.
We heard about what private label is and saw many articles online about private label. After doing some research, we decided to take Andy Slaman's course on private label. The course was very informative.
We were able to accurately judge the the success of the pasta maker. We knew that the pasta maker was going to be a home run! it was awesome being able to see a product be successful by following the instructions of a course.
We modeled the box after the Dyson vacuum design, a black matte finish, which gives the box a feel of quality. The box feels and looks like a product one would purchase from a store. When we first showed people the box, the reaction was, "Did you get that at Target?" I just smiled when I heard that. Our name, G&M Kitchen Essentials, was derived from, Garland and Max.
The glasses were created because of an online meme or gif. A gif is a video where someone says a really strong statement, then the video freezes, and these pix-elated, "Deal with it" glasses go over their faces. Well, no one has had the real life version of those glasses. So we created the real life version of the glasses. The glasses turned out great.
What do you see as a vision for the business in the future? If everything goes right?
I would like to have at least 12 more private label products. The cool thing is that private label doesn't need to necessarily take up a lot of money and it's pretty quick to see your money come back. It's your product. If you find one product that's a game changer, that one product can change your life.
The coolest thing about private label, once you launch the product, once you have that product as an acknowledged product online, you're going to be able to take it away from online. You're going to be able to take it into retail. You're going to be able to take it to your own site, to where people are directed to your site instead of Amazon. Not only that, but it becomes to the point where you're reordering. You're not having to do anything anymore. That's the best part. That's the beauty.
The pasta maker is already at that point - we launched in December. That's what's cool. By the end of the year, if we just have ten more products that have the amount of success the pasta maker has had, that would be good goal to have accomplished by the end of the year.
Is there any advice you would give others who are trying to create something?
If there's one thing I'd say for advice, it's that action always trump just thinking about it. It's a Tony Robbins quote or he quoted someone else, "Knowledge is power, but without implementation knowledge is nothing." And I agree with that 100%. All I have to say is people just need to do it. Just do it. I know it sounds super simple, but it literally is the answer. Just go out and do it. 9 times out of 10, that's the hardest part is just getting started. You think you don't know what you're doing or if it's right, but you'll find out really quickly if it is the right thing or not, just by doing it.
I have two books to recommend if you're starting a company. The E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber. Every entrepreneur should read that. The other book is "Good to Great" by Jim Collins.
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