Often, the path to creative exploration and freedom has unexpected starts and stops. For Maggie Louise Callahan, Founder and Creative Director of Maggie Louise Confections, her journey to Oprah’s favorite things, Good Morning America, The Today Show, Southern Living, and more started at the other end of the spectrum: a career in law.
Heading to college, Maggie had a choice: she grew up in a household with both an artist mother and a lawyer father. As a child, she explored both her artistic and analytical sides. Ultimately, she decided to focus on the analytical. “I practiced for almost 10 years, had a great career, worked on exciting M&A transactions,” Maggie says. “It was engaging and sophisticated work but I knew something was missing.”
That ‘something’ was Maggie’s creative side. While she always enjoyed working with her hands and cooking, she found that working 12 hour days, on top of having an 8-month old baby, meant she wasn’t exploring her full potential. When she moved to Austin, TX 5 years ago with her husband, Kevin Callahan, CTO of Maggie Louise Confections, she took the plunge and went to culinary school. “While there, I discovered chocolate. We did just a little bit of work in chocolate, but it was my first introduction to the fact that it’s this amazing artistic medium that you can shape and color without affecting the taste.”
As they say, the rest is history. With the help of her tech-y husband, Maggie Louise Confections launched an online store. Back then, though, they weren’t using ShipStation. Instead, their workflow was more than a little manual—and time-consuming:
- An order is placed.
- The MLC team receives customer’s order (and address) in Magento.
- Chocolate is produced.
- The address is copy and pasted into FedEx.
- A label is generated.
- Copy and paste the tracking number back into Magento.
- Magento send the customer the tracking number via email.
“When it first started, I would go the FedEx office and ship a product by giving them a note [with] the address and you spend like a million dollars per box. There was no automation, there was nothing,” Maggie says. “Kevin came in and saw opportunity for not just being more efficient, but providing better service to our clients with visibility so they know where their products are.”
When Maggie Louise Confections was featured as one of Oprah’s favorite things in November 2014, they saw an incredible increase in orders. It was this uptick that led them to ShipStation. Kevin had built Maggie Louise Confections on Magento in 2013 due to its open source platform, allowing Kevin to create unique features essential to Maggie Louise Confections. ShipStation’s easy-to-use integration with Magento made their Oprah feature a rousing success. “I don’t see how we could’ve gotten through that period without ShipStation in place,” Kevin says.
Once Kevin had installed Magento’s ShipStation plugin, their time spent shipping was cut in half. “Boxes came in from the kitchen, we were able to set the [package] presets, get the labels printed, and then have them ready for FedEx to pick up,” he says. “We have a certain number of sized boxes of chocolates and so we have [a few] different shipping configurations that lend itself it very well to the ShipStation presets.”
Utilizing shipping presets gave Maggie Louise Confections multiple package dimensions to apply to orders of particular sizes. If a great-aunt in Nevada orders two boxes of mini-donuts, ShipStation can know, based on SKU and quantity, which preset to apply (this can also be done manually). But if it’s a corporate event/gift order? A different, bigger set of boxes can be applied upon orders importing in to ShipStation.
Shipping presets were just scratching the surface. Today, Maggie Louise Confections has found efficiency in barcode scanning. Scan a barcode and ShipStation will perform an action: it can pull up an order, ship one, or even send a label to print.
Going from having to cut and paste all the address information into the FedEx site, cut and paste tracking numbers back into Magento to now quick scan two times and you have a shipping label, I mean that’s pretty incredible. – Kevin Callahan, CTO, Maggie Louise Confections
When the feature was originally rolled out, Kevin didn’t fully understand how to utilize it but, being in Austin, TX, asked for someone from ShipStation to come down and show it off. “It’s been night and day because [the ShipStation] team showed up with a whole bunch of bar code scanners two weeks ago. So we’ve completely re-tooled our processes and we’re shipping things faster and we’re shipping things with a lot less error,” Kevin explains.
(See the barcode scanner in action in Maggie Louise Confection’s User Success Video at the 51 second mark.) CTA to set-up Barcode Scanning in-app or start a trial.
Constantly creating beautiful designs has propelled Maggie Louise Confections into the national spotlight. She follows her instinct, advising new entrepreneurs to create something they love. “I to this day create things that I think are wonderful and I assume everyone else will agree with me, instead of trying to read what the market wants.”
“If people are shopping online they’re shopping with their eyes,” Maggie continues. “You can only offer [shoppers] something else, which is an experience in a visual sense.” We agree: great product photography, showing off what makes your product distinct increases conversion.
So now that Maggie Louise Confections is shipping more efficiently than ever before, giving themselves back countless hours to strategize and plan and design, what’s next? Conquering the world, actually:
“We hope to grow and be the next premier luxury gifting chocolate company in the US. And then after the US, there’s the Middle East and there’s Asia and there’s all these other places to go,” Maggie says. “I have a lot more chocolate designs to do and a lot more people to reach.”