One of my favorite online store is Design Toscano , a multichannel retailer of mostly European-inspired gifts, home furnishings and decor. I stumbled upon the store when I was looking for unique wall decors, and I have been extremely pleased with the quality and price of their products so much so that most of the decors in our walls come from Design Toscano.
In an interview with Catalog Success magazine, Design Toscano c0-owner Mike Stopka (he runs the business with his wife Marilyn) said that the business was inspired by his travels and love for European culture. Design Toscano markets European exotic products to the American public, including Venetian masks, historical and antique replicas, statues, among others.
His biggest initial challenge was money, starting the business with only $6,000.
I started and ran the business for years with no cash. I literally used the credit from the vendors for advertising. I had to use the printer’s credit to grow the business. The bank won’t give you a $2 million credit line until you make money and have some assets.
But the husband and wife team persevered, and they worked to show to the bank that they can manage and grow the business.
With financing secured, Stopka was able to market their unique product line and grow their niche business to $30 million in sales. The key to their success is understanding their niche audience, and staying true to its core audience and brand.