Promotional product minimums are prohibitive for small businesses, but One Roof member, Bronwyn Smith is changing the ordering game

The start-up experience is different for everyone, but many of us can agree; spare time becomes a little sparse, work days get a little busier, and the to-do list seems to get longer and longer. Bronwyn Smith knows the start-up life all too well, and she's a self-confessed serial entrepreneur.

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She's the first to admit she’s learnt a lot through her previous businesses, and now Bronwyn finds the support she needs being a Virtual One Roof member. She's in her second year of business as the Founder of Promoloco, and she now supports other small businesses with a unique approach to promotional products.

Minimum order quantities (and the high cost associated with them) can often be prohibitive for start-ups, but Bronwyn is passionate about making promotional products accessible for all businesses - both big and small…

What was life like before launching your business, Promoloco?

I remember I had more time for sleep and video games! I had been working in promotional products for other companies since my early 20’s, in both manufacturing and distribution. I even did a year in workwear and safety products, so I now know a lot about work boots and hi-vis now. Before that, I tried to start my own music event management businesses, which failed miserably, but it taught me a lot of lessons about running a business and a lot about myself too, considering I was only 18 at the time.

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What are the pros and cons of being an online-based business?

The pros of being a primarily online based business are that you can work with low overhead costs. At this stage, we don’t need a dedicated storefront or warehouse. I can work remotely from a co-working space, my home office, or on the go. One negative would be how lonely it can get; I communicate mostly via emails and messenger services all day, so I often find myself going a bit batty. Luckily, I've recently found One Roof, which gives me the space to work on my own business whilst being surrounded by other people doing the same thing - and it's great.

What’s the best thing about being a ‘Virtual Member’ at One Roof?

I loved it so much, I actually just upgraded to the three days a week on a 'Flexi' membership. YAY! But the best thing about being a virtual member was being a part of the One Roof community even when I wasn't physically there. I was welcomed to One Roof events, which have been incredible for developing my business too.

How did you discover a gap in the market for small-batch promotional products?

During my time working in the industry, there has been a gradual shift in the market for lower minimum order quantities. Promotional products were once something that had to be ordered in huge quantities. The products were usually of poor quality to offset the cost of how many you had to order to meet minimums too. I provide products at the lowest minimum order quantity I can, so that businesses can invest in better quality products that their customers will actually re-use, while keeping to their budget.

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Why is offering sustainable products important to you?

In a roundabout way, my industry contributes to a lot of landfill. When cheaper promotional products are given out at tradeshows, they usually end up in the bin. I want to change that by offering businesses products that their customers will re-use; whether it be for their original purpose like a drink bottle or for a new purpose like a tin of lollies. When promotional products are re-used properly, brand exposure is much higher than a product that is seen once and thrown away. It's a win-win.

Have you ever had a customer challenge you couldn’t conquer?

Trying to meet minimum order quantities for customers has always been tricky. Luckily, I do have a wide range of products now which, for an additional charge, can be ordered without MOQs. I am also in the research and development stages of manufacturing my own products, which I will brand locally with low minimum orders.

What’s a week in your shoes look like?

Like all business owners - busy! I try to break up my week from working from different places, mainly One Roof or home. When I work from home, I make sure I still get ready for the day because as dreamy as working from your PJs might sound, it’s not as productive. Outside of work, I spend time with my partner and stepdaughter, playing board games or with Lego. I still love music, so I like to check out gigs on the weekends when I can. Being a maturing lady of 30 now, I especially like Sunday afternoon gigs that finish early so I can be in bed by 9. 

What advice would you go back and give your pre-launching self?

This is a question I ask myself a lot, and although it would make my life much easier, I have a lot learnt a lot of valuable lessons along the way. But if I could, I would tell myself to invest in a local website developer or pick an easier website platform like Squarespace or Wordpress to begin with, instead of taking the work offshore and trying to build a complicated e-commerce website from day one. I also would invest in a co-working space from the beginning. Working from home in the building stages of my business was tough, especially when things didn’t go how I wanted them to.

 What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs wishing to launch a business and explore co-working?

Start your business in a community-based co-working space like One Roof. It makes all the difference. Throw yourself into networking events and workshops. Take advantage of every opportunity given to you by your co-working space. Make sure you don’t settle for a co-working space before trying a few first. But let’s be honest, One Roof is the best!

 Visit promoloco.com.au to learn more about Bronwyn or order your own promotional products.

 This blog was written by the incredible and talented Claire Goldsworthy, Founder of The Fashion Advocate.

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