In this 20th episode of The E-Comm Show, our host and BlueTuskr CEO Andrew Maff is with Oguzhan Kardilag or Ozy Kar of Lotus Linen. Learn more about Ozy's story about how he managed to pull off a 7 figure revenue in just 3 months. Having the right mindset and proper strategy made him pull off a once impossible feat that he never thought he could achieve.
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A Millionaire's Mindset from Rags to Riches
Andrew Maff and Oguzhan Kardilag
I never worked in my life until age 26 and came from a completely different lifestyle before moving to the US. Fresh from Turkey, I’d ventured to the US on a mission to master English and complete my MBA degree. It was love at first sight. Staying required finding work, so I launched with full spirit into the towel and bathrobe industry, working 15 hours a day, 7 days a week in a warehouse, headphones glued to my ears as I drank in every morsel of knowledge about how to grow a business. My spirit and passion caught on like fire; I have quickly been promoted up the ranks as an inventory manager, supply chain manager, and finally e-commerce manager. Still, while the pay was great, that burning drive to deliver superior service and products to customers wouldn’t stay at bay. The problem? The industry is heavily dominated by large, entrenched players with deep pockets. They have zero incentive to deliver a better product. I had one choice. Give up the paycheck, and battle the ‘big guys’; the only move that allowed me to deliver the superior quality bathrobes previously reserved only for frequenters of elite hotels. Leveraging my knowledge of what this industry lacked, I took a deep breath, invested my entire life savings, and poured my soul into creating superior quality bathrobes that spoil even the pickiest of senses; and Lotus Linen was born.
Why Lotus Linen? Why not Supreme Bathrobes or the like? Because Lotus Flowers, like many bootstrapping, business-owning Americans, produce the most beautiful flowers when their roots lay in the dirtiest water. American’s bloom through adversity. I’ve had the pleasure of watching business bloom, never losing faith, even during the darkest days, and never cutting corners or losing my desire to serve you only the best. From the bottom of my heart to yours. Thank you for supporting this American Dream.
If you obsess about what you do then you don't feel you're working. This is Michael Epstein. Hey, it's Jay Myers. I'm with full commerce and you're listening. You're listening to
Welcome to The E-Comm Show, presented by BlueTuskr. The number one place to hear the inside scoop from other e-commerce experts share their secrets on how they scaled their business and are now living the dream. Now, here's your host, Andrew.
Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of The E-Comm Show. I'm your host Andrew Maff and today I am joined by Oguzhan Karlidag of Lotus linen. This one's going to be a great one super excited for this one. This is something a little different only because Ozy's business is relatively new, however, already growing far past what most sellers can do in this amount of time. Ozy is very excited to have you on the show you ready for a good show today?
Alright, take care, everyone, your show. I am so excited to do it will be my first podcast show with
your great I imagine you're doing a lot of firsts right now I know that. So one of the reasons I thought it'd be great to have you on the show is because Lotus linen even though you guys are only about, I think six months-ish, since you've started Correct, yes. So traditionally, on our show, we usually have, you know, e-commerce sellers that are surpassed like 789 figures and stuff like that. But your story was very interesting because this is your first year and you're already going to do that, which is very, very rare. Um, so why don't I give you the stage for many here and let you kind of tell us a little bit about yourself how you got here. And then obviously a little bit about Lotus linen. Sure.
Actually, let me tell you my story, starting with interesting because I immigrated from Turkey eight years ago, and I never worked in my life until age 26. So I had no business experience, no work experience, nothing at all, because I didn't have to, like my parents always supporting me when I was going to scroll. Nice. So I came here for a language school for only a year, best opposed to going back and then all my mind everything is changing. So I went to the MBA business program. And during that period, I met with my wife. So I decided to stay here and my journey started. Oh, my English is like it was zero, but I get to here and I was struggling to figure out how is that everything was working so I couldn't find the job. And then I found a job as a warehouse employee.
It was very tough for
me, I didn't have any just like otherwise I will never work because I never work in my lab, it was really tough for me to like figure out everything in the warehouse. I am very self-educated and a quick learner. So my curves helped me to promote faster. So I am in the same industry, I started from like packing in the warehouse-like level one. And it's very short term in two years, I was on the top logistic and supply chain manager in the same company.
I moved to a different company in the same industry as an E-commerce manager. So we had as I was away experiencing, I was learning but somehow I was able to get in the company and prove myself as an E-commerce manager. And in the same company, I got the opportunity from the owner
profit shares partnership. So the deal was like I was
take over one of his accounts from scratch and building out defied defy success. So I will obviously go a lot of money. And in that time period, I wasn't able to figure out everything I was really working on because I was learning but I got so excited. I said yes, miserable. I work for zero salary
that was there. And during that period,
I was trying to figure out how can I make money I start all the psychic things like on the weekends and weekdays literally I never sleep. I will say on
the weekends First Year, that's like,
I don't know how many hours I work ever. But eventually, I made it. million dollar revenue in that company
in what I have here. Wow, in two years
company passes over $3 million over here. And then, unfortunately, everything is not really worked out with the partner. So I decided to move on and start my own company. So how lots of snack bar. So everything everyone's thinking like, oh, what I'm gonna do, like if I go over start over again, but we are not starting over everything from scratch. We are starting with your experience. And when I found my inner words, like it was something saying me, you can do it even better in the short term period. So that's how I noticed numbers so I decided okay, I'm going to start over again. It was scary, but in six months, I will pass my first Meier startle.
That's quite the sword. So you must be a very charismatic person to be able to go to be promoted so quickly and then to go to another company where you didn't even really have the experience and yet you were able to still figure it out and then continue to grow from there which is amazing. So the last business you were in, you know, you mentioned things in workout partner happens. Was it the same product line as Lotus linen? Yes,
it was. Same industry but they will they were heavily in the towel industry towel their bedroom but they remain the same in the towel but Metro it's I don't know I was working the same industry about bedroom always become my
picture. It's I have its
bias the worker but my goal is to change the traditional bedroom industry to a more fashionable side.
Tell me a little bit about Lotus linen-like what is it you guys sell like tell me a little bit more about the visit itself?
Sure. So lots of snap.
Our goal is to create the
softest. I absorbed said serve the customer
incredible like the feeling their lunch and feel like they're in the luxury hotel. They want to make sure they feel the same feeling but they used to live in the five-star hotel. So the Lotus linen van they get lots of
SLAM further they don't have to go to the
spend a lot of money for all the reserving or the five-star hotel should they get three in their
home. So that's a
very crowded space. What made you feel like you know bringing Lotus linen into the market was going to make such a difference in comparison to all the other competition that
you have out there. Sure. So before starting
the Lotus snare, I start buying all different competitive products.
Of all the top levels,
but my competitors are selling what they are like top brand, why they are expensive. Who's their customer what their customers complain about their product. I collect everything I literally all each customer review what is the European, so most of them, their pain is this product is not so this product is not really high of service. But I wish it is showing up. I didn't like it like all customers in the same pain. They don't feel like what they paid for it when they received their product. They are surprised either by the quality of their spies either their size measurements, or they're expecting like what they paid for. And I start to work the product improvement. So I am highly 100% confident to say like they never feel any experience with other product because they will ban they get to their last name product it's I will say the toughest softest bedroom ever when they were in their body. Yeah. And plus also was thinking how can I add more value to our customers and I added extra matching color slippers for each bedroom so when the mat when they purchase their bedroom, also they receive free matching color slippers with the same material.
Nice, so the big question obviously is you started six months ago you're on track To within your first year clear seven figures. Yeah, what is it? That was what would you say is, you know, your secret sauce that that is kind of allowed you to kind of get things up and running, especially when you've been bootstrapping it this way.
My biggest marketing, I will say mouth to mouth, like Guerilla Marketing. I didn't follow Google ads, like traditional paid advertising, because I see that everything is really expensive. And I cannot compete with the big players with paid advertising, obviously. And I was thinking how can I like, advertise my brand without spending a lot of money and I start working micro-influencers and I see I was tracking on my end, the repeat customer we have a lot when they purchase the purchase, again, they buy a gift as a gift for someone else. So my our big, big like advertising, Aria, I will say mouth to mouth marketing
with being you know, mostly mouth, like you basically have been doing like a pretty strong micro-influencer approach. So how are you finding these micro-influencers? And how are you kind of deciphering which ones to work with? And which ones not to? Oh,
that's, that's a tough one. So I try a couple of agencies because I am, I was doing a lot of stuff already. And it wasn't enough for me to figure out everything. So I thought okay, let's go for agencies, at least they can handle for me, so I can move somewhere else. And unfortunately, that didn't work out. So I started doing myself literally on Instagram and a couple of platforms I don't remember the name right now. And you just keep in touch with your with them. It's obviously the influencer like everyone trying to keep in touch with them, they're receiving a lot of messages you have to be unique. And like some high kitchen messages, we have the sat down so they have to open your message and ask where you even when they received your product they don't even post I mean we are not required to post the product, I would just want to make sure that when they received our product, they are heavy the posting because they like it because they are happy. They feel like their audience will get satisfied with the largest number. So when I realized okay, most of them is the US getting them posting their Instagram Tik Tok and I will say the Tick Tock was the best platform so far missing.
Yeah, so you're doing a lot of tick-tock influencers. Yes. That's great. So what kind of like what kind of posts do you have them doing? Are they do you give them a discount code and you know, basically add have them act as an affiliate, or do you just send them a free product and you know, have them post
free products? Also, I sent them so we are doing the personalization, customized embroidery name on the bathroom? So it's your name? Oh, yeah. Okay, Elisa. Okay, I was putting the name on the petro which is, I don't say I am going to put your name embroidery but when they receive it, they were so happy. So also plus we give them the promotion right now free embroidery for all elders who purchase the Lotus lamb bathrobes. We just want to make sure everyone gets the free embroidery on their neck.
Nice on the bathroom. I mean we are out yeah, sorry go ahead. I noticed
this is on the other promotional side. It's which is no one is doing it to purchase usually like okay or 50 $150 if you purchase the product you get free shipping or you get this we are not like promoting like this okay, free shipping for all products free embroidery for all
purchases. So which is installed paid
advertising which is as I said Matamata marketing I got the Lotus now they have free shipping plus they give you a free embroidery
so your strongest focus is really making sure that you're putting out a quality product giving them a very easy understanding of all you're paying for is the product shipping and embroidery all that stuff is covered and then you're just leveraging influencers to tell people about it so that's essentially how you're keeping your marketing costs down. Exactly. Any paid advertising
obviously on the Amazon side like we do advertising we have which is I was already working on but on our website Without like, literally I am not running any advertising for our website. Yeah.
Wow. And is which of those channels is your biggest revenue driver? Is it your website? Or is it Amazon?
It's Amazon of course because you are using the
high source of traffic. And yeah, of
the course that also we are already like most of the other market sales channels Walmart where I mean eBay is our website but the biggest main revenues from Amazon
and are you still
allowing free embroidery through Amazon? Yes.
Not Amazon. It's only our website.
Only website. Yeah, that makes a lot more sense. It's, it's, it's if we just
did one day it blow up all the sales. So are the handles so
it's getting there? Nice.
So you started six months ago, which was like
almost a day so as
of right now as we're recording this it's February of 2022. So that would put us back to about you know, August ish the correct of 2020 Yes. So that was like almost peak supply chain issues. So how have you been able to kind of resolve those issues of the fact that it's been a nightmare for a lot of sellers to even get the product to sell
so the inventory is in the bank right now.
So I knew
I never our biggest problem is supply chain so when I start the business like people usually start with the low-end inventory but I started with the three big containers and my friend told me I do crazy like we are putting all your money for the inventory and you're not gonna even make any money like next a couple of months is it I know when you start your marketing your product when you get the auto store in the beginning then you waste all your time and everything and customer just go somewhere else. I start with a lot of inventory in the beginning and of course, right now I am out of stock because my products right now at the port that like long before are very crazy right now. But I believe I am doing better than most of the other sellers.
So you do
Do you still have inventory coming in through the port right now?
Yes, it's right now in the port. So I am waiting to receive interviews. But still, I have some inventory in my warehouse as well. But when I started the business, I started big inventory, not the small amount.
Wow. So you took a big risk. You said you did three containers at the beginning for three containers and then so you stocked up hard in the beginning and now you're already to a point where you're replenishing six months later
wow. That's very impressive. I mean typically that was a big risk. Obviously, it worked out you clearly knew that it was going to work which is fantastic. So are you now back on like kind of a traditional ordering approach Are you doing another big bulk like three or four containers
I ordered like I am receiving my two containers right now. So it's trying to my goal eventually will be monthly basis the container but right now which is six months later I am receiving to container and I will be replacing three months later another container is getting ready for the Christmas time.
And where are you fulfilling out of and usually a business you're not at your size but at your, I guess age is still almost filling it out of like their garage or something like that. There you using a three PL Are you sending it straight to Amazon? How are you?
I have a minute. So I receive all products in-house to my warehouses and keeping here and some of the products I sent three PL which is he helped me to save time. Also the shipping prices and of course, we are sending inventory to Amazon as well. But we have to keep monitoring the warehouse because we do personalization. The customer, obviously from Amazon at our website.
And do you have any employees that you're working with right now? Do you have anyone on salary or do you have it's just you?
Just me I am doing everything myself?
Do you have any contractors any agency anything? Yeah, nothing. That's the year so if I look at your social that's you posted all your social posts right now?
Yes, otherwise Wow.
Yeah, you don't sleep Yeah,
I mean it's I used to so okay let's say this like venue, obsess about what you do. We don't feel we are working right now is excellent to me. So I don't feel really I am working with a baby our daughter is five months old. And actually, she changed all my mindset love it because I realized I used to work over 15 hours a day, 15 hours a day of 16 hours a day. And my wife said like, we have to save time for us. But we keep working and working. And I said I was listening to the podcast the other day and the people just talking about like only one reality in the desert exists, we can all die one day, which makes me kind of like waking up the current all the messes like I am working really hard all day and piles spat with my family time. So what is the matter, we are all running to an end and we are forgetting to enjoy the process. And I say it myself, okay, it's no matter what I have a cutoff time. It's 3 pm Every day, and I am not gonna work out at all, which is I wake up every day at 4 am still nine to 10 hours. Yeah, but right after, like three weeks I am implementing right now. It's so far so good. Like nice. I get back home.
So going back to the story you had mentioned at the beginning like you didn't work until you were 26 and you started working and now you're at this level so what at what point did you realize like okay, this is what I want to do.
You mean what I want to do right now what I am doing or
like is like owning your own business is an E-commerce seller being and you know, this industry like what made you realize like, Okay, I this is the direction I want to go in. Okay,
if I did tell you, in my honest opinion, I never want to work in the warehouse, if I must, because I didn't have any option. I was the first a couple of days after leaving the warehouse. I was like crying What the hell I am doing right here. I went to private school and everything like my friends said because my main major was sold engineering. So I went all the private school and everything and what the hell am I doing like literally, but I love my wife. Also, I don't like she doesn't wanting to go move obviously to Turkey immediately because it was our first year and it was so tough. Like if I had any other option I will Don't worry at all but then you get used to it by you struggle it. It makes you actually a better person because you start working on yourself because you're getting out of your comfort zone. And then when I stopped learning and working harder, it's I don't know, it's maybe naturally or I just stopped liking it. And when I stopped promoting it for forgetting promotion, I feel more confident. I'm like, Yes, I like it. So but nice.
Quick answer. What um, so Alright, so you're let's go back to Lotus Lenin. So you're doing a very big like micro-influencer approach that works fantastically for a while and then obviously will continue but what do you think is the next thing you're going to start to implement to kind of keep that growth going? Are you going to start looking into paid advertising? Are you gonna go to more macro-influencers? Like what do you think is the next step for you guys
actually, my hope is it will be different My Next Move in two years will be going follow up the pitching my product with the small boutique hotels and the other hotel business so I want to get into the hotel businesses and the organizations because we are in the personalization I select a bridal party or super volatile so I just want to get in the more expand my business even bigger it's kind of it's the very retail but same time I want to show the other
the day you're gonna take a bit more like a b2b approach and try to go directly into these hotels and all these businesses that obviously can leverage your product Have you thought about going into retail at all?
You mean retail-like yeah like
the retail-like brick and mortar like selling to individual retailers or you know going into like a Bed Bath and Beyond or a Walmart or something like that. Yeah,
I understand we are currently right now doing it already. As I said we are on the wayfare but right now we are we have one I have a one-person like in the conversation right now trying to figure out how can I get into bed and beyond? And also especially I don't know when I get in the moment is I see lots of spam. Okay, should be here. Right now. I
am working on that. And you so you just said you're on Wayfair as well Correct?
Yes, we are. Okay fair.
How's that doing for you?
Now we are on Wayfair, Walmart eBay we have small customers on Etsy, which is they purchase from us and right now as I said we are trying to get in like Bloomingdale's Nordstrom so I am trying to figure out how the process will work, how can I get in and as I said like I learn everything myself and trying to figure out how you're able to get employment the other retail store
Nice. So you obviously have a short window because you have a five-month-old so I don't want to take up any more of your time. I obviously really appreciate you having to show your story is amazing. I would love to give you you know, take a moment to let everyone know where they can find out more about you about Lotus linen. And you know for
sure so they can find out lots of SNAP, the shoplotuslinen.com. Like we offered our old customer 60 days for return. If they're not happy or satisfied with their product, it's no question as they can return their item within the six days period. And we had a cat follow us from our Instagram page sharp lotusland.com And same time on Facebook as well. And my name is Jose colada, and they can reach out to me from my Instagram sticker. Like if they have any questions. I am happy to help other sellers as well in my experience. And yeah, that's all, and thank you for leaving the show. It was really great, enjoyable
time. I appreciate it as you are great. Thanks for being on the show everyone who tuned in, obviously thank you so much for tuning in as well. We will obviously see you all next week. But please make sure to rate review subscribe to all that fun stuff wherever you're watching this or if you're listening on any podcast platform YouTube or if you want to head over to ecommshow.com For more, but either way, we will see you all next week. And thanks again. Have a good one.
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