We interviewed Edda Olafsdottir, of Pimp My Diabetes to talk about her incredible journey from a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes to creating her own line of diabetes accessories
What’s your name, your background and what business do you run?
My name is Edda Olafsdottir, and I run Pimp My Diabetes.
I sell accessories for diabetics such as decorative stickers for diabetes devices, patches to keep the devices in place and looking good, bags for diabetes supplies, jewelry and more.
I have a background in web development (had been working in the industry for over 10 years) but kind of accidentally got into ecommerce following my Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis.
How did you come up with the idea?
When I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2014 it was a big lifestyle change. When I started looking for accessories for diabetics shortly after being diagnosed, such as medical alert bracelets, bags for diabetes supplies and stickers to decorate my diabetes devices, I did not find a lot of choices on the Canadian market. I saw this as an opportunity to start my business and the reception was good from the start.
What was the process of designing, manufacturing and bringing your first product or service to market?
I knew some companies in Europe that were making the kind of products I was looking for, so I contacted them and brought their products to the Canadian market. I had ordered from some of them before and knew the quality was good and could see them becoming popular in North America.
As time passed, I added more products and expanded the variety of products I offer. I was contacted by a few other companies asking if I was interested in selling their products in my store. I also have some jewelry custom made (or make it myself) and some of the decorative stickers as well. I regularly add new products and have made seasonal collections for Halloween and Christmas.
Describe the process of launching the business and any issues you had at the beginning
Since I have experience in web development I made the website myself. I was working full-time in web development for the first 9 months so I worked on Pimp My Diabetes at night and in the weekends.
I would say figuring out everything related to shipping was the biggest challenge. For example finding the most accurate rates based on weight and volume and setting accurate expectations for shipping time. It was a bit of trial and error in the beginning, going to the post office and getting advice from them for how I could package the products in a cost-effective way depending on size and weight. As more orders from around the world came in I started to learn more about the different rates and options and created a shipping price system to keep the cost to a minimum.
“figuring out everything relating to shipping was the biggest challenge….It was a bit of trial and error at the beginning”
What strategies or marketing channels do you most rely on?
I am most active on Instagram and Facebook. I post quite regularly and have managed to build a good group of followers. I also send out emails regularly with updates and promotions. In the beginning I used Facebook ads to introduce my brand to the Canadian market, but I haven’t used any paid ads for a while. Instead I focus on posting regularly on social media and spreading awareness of my brand that way.
From the start I added a form on my website offering people to sign up for the email list. In return they get 10% off their first order. This has worked very well and helped me build my email list.
I also send a postcard with every order encouraging people to share what they bought on Instagram with a specific hashtag. Often people post a picture of themselves wearing the decorative stickers and patches on their devices and those posts tends to be the most popular. People want to see the products in use and it gives them a feeling of community seeing other diabetics wearing their devices loud and proud.
“I also send a postcard with every order encouraging people to share what they bought on Instagram with a specific hashtag…People want to see the products in use and it gives them a feeling of community seeing other diabetics wearing their devices loud and proud”
What platform, tools or software do you use for your business?
(Editor – if you’re looking for more great Ecommerce resources, then check this out)
What does the next 12 months look like for your business, and for yourself, professionally?
I’ll be continuing to grow the business. I’m currently looking into finding an office space as I’m running out of space to keep the inventory and pack the orders. I might also look into hiring someone to help me pack the orders as it’s getting more and more busy and I don’t have time to do everything by myself. It might be a part-time employee to start with, or outsourcing some of the other work.
What do you wish you knew before starting?
That it’s going to be a lot of work, but at the same time it’s very rewarding to build something from scratch and see it grow. You will learn a lot through the process of running your own business!
What resources would you recommend for others looking to start a business?
Do you have any words of wisdom for other entrepreneurs looking to start their own ecommerce business?
Do a lot of research before you start. Is there a market for your product? Are there many competitors doing the same thing? Research your competitors and see what they’re doing well and ask yourself if you could do it better. Figure out logistics such as creating the website – can you do it yourself or do you need to hire someone to do it? Where can you get the inventory from or do you need to have it manufactured for you? Do you need to hire an accountant? Prepare to spend a lot of your free time on building your business, the more work and passion you put into it – the better results you will have.
“Prepare to spend a lot of your free time on building your business, the more work and passion you put into it – the better results you will have”