True Confessions: Mushmina’s Epic Fail and Best Business Decision

The Epic Fail:  Ignoring the Value of Diversification

Mushmina’s fair trade accessories were taking off. From the onset, owners Heather and Katie O’Neill participated in wholesale tradeshows to quickly connect with retailers nationwide. In the early days of the company, wholesale was their primary channel, but then they opened a retail boutique in Philadelphia and expanded their e-commerce web site.

“Although the wholesale channel had been great for us, wholesale margins are low. So, we decided to focus on our retail and online sales, and sit out the Spring wholesale show—and that was a mistake. We definitely felt the impact in our numbers that year,” explained Heather O’Neill, co-founder and production manager for Mushmina. “Even though the margins in wholesale are lower, the volumes are much greater, and the product exposure on national and international levels are invaluable. Our epic fail made us recognize the value of diversifying our markets and our sources of income.”

The Best Decision Ever:  Following Their Heart

Heather and Katie left great jobs and their trendy New York apartments to move back in their parents’ basement to make Mushmina a reality. Although their parents were supportive, their well-meaning mom often left newspaper ads for “real” jobs on their beds, “just in case.”

In retrospect, this dynamic duo’s best business decision to date is simply, “doing it.”

“Our best decision was simply believing in ourselves, our vision and the path to start a business,” said Katie O’Neill, co-founder and creative director for Mushmina. “We made the sacrifices and now we have the company we envisioned. We’re doing something worthwhile. We’re making a difference in so many lives.”

And now, their mom is one of their best salespeople—and can’t imagine her daughters in any other profession.

Lesson Learned: Diversify your markets.

Best Decision: Believe in yourself and your vision, no matter what.

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