It’s a quintessential success story: what began as a stress reliever for a pair of engineers has grown into a full community of entrepreneurs and hobbyists, and a successful ecommerce business. Damon Oates and Parker Stelly created New Orleans-based DecoExchange in pursuit of passion, not profits, but now, with the help of ShipStation, they’ve found both.
Coming Full Circle
“Damon and I were both chemical engineers before we started this business,” says Parker Stelly, co-owner of DecoExchange. “Damon started making wreaths for stress relief, just something fun that he liked to do.”
“But then, people started wanting to buy the wreaths off of our front doors,” he says.
As it turns out, Damon’s niche hobby wasn’t so niche after all. In fact, Damon and Parker found there is a huge audience for wreaths of all kinds, and a large portion of that audience wants to make wreaths themselves. Before tapping into this market, though, Damon and Parker had to start small.
“We started doing craft shows, like local fairs, and we did really well. Damon’s really, really good at making wreaths,” Parker says.
From there, things took off for the men in ways they hadn’t expected. In addition to wreaths and wreath making kits on Etsy, they now offer tutorials, guides to the wreath business, and a sense of community for fellow “wreathepreneurs”.
Scaling with ShipStation
While Parker and Damon were creating the DecoExchange brand and reaching out to new audiences, they were struggling with keeping their massive list of new orders organized. That’s why they decided to try ShipStation in 2019.
ShipStation was just the solution the pair was looking for, and it has been there to see them through their tremendous growth ever since.
“We’ve been growing so much and so consistently that I don’t even know what the slow or peak seasons are, it just is constant. We’ve been growing so much that I can’t even compare this year to last year. I have no idea what a normal year is at this point,” he says.
“We have 16 full-time staff in the warehouse now,” says Parker. “And then we have a ton of contractors that help us with social media and all the behind-the-scenes stuff. So we have around 30 to 40 employees, including contractors.”
Scan to Verify
“The scan to verify system has been so great, because before we just did everything ourselves. We didn’t go to training, I didn’t go to school for this, so it’s just been trial by fire. We were just reading, packing slips and checking things off manually. So that barcode system and scan to verify have been really great.”
Reduction in Errors
“The number of orders that we get wrong is a metric of success,” he says. “If there are too many wrong, then we’re doing something bad. So ShipStation’s verify system has really helped a lot. I would say our shipping errors probably went from around 2% to less than 1%. So it’s really, really good to have.”
“Back then, we were writing order numbers on the cardboard boxes and we were trying to match the label to the box and it was just… a mess,” Parker says.
“It’s funny to look back on it now. Since we use the portable scanning feature to scan our barcodes for every order, we will never have to rely on our handwritten numbering system again,” Parker says.
Beyond their massive growth in sales, Parker and Damon have also fostered a staggeringly large community of “WreathPreneurs” in the past few years.
“Things really changed when we started doing stuff online,” Parker says. “Damon created a Facebook page and started going on Facebook live, showing how to use our products.”
“Now, we have over 370,000 people on our Facebook page,” he says.
This community of wreath enthusiasts looks to Parker and Damon both as a source of inspiration and also, friendship. Pictures from meetups, workshops, and fans fill DecoExchange’s Facebook page. Clearly, this is more than just a hobby to the hundreds of thousands of people who participate.
Andin return, Parker and Damon offer more than just wreaths:
“We have a digital education subscription group. One is all about being creative, one is all about running a creative business selling on Etsy, marketing, social media, all of that. One subscription is all about physical products. We have a monthly subscription box and then we have our actual warehouse where we sell retail, go on our website, buy whatever you want kind of store,” says Parker.
“It’s all happened really fast. It’s been a crazy journey.”