Bello Lane began as a retail store selling decor and furniture accents but has transformed into a retail store with a much bigger purpose.
Hello, I am Cali Burzota, founder of Bello Lane.
I had a desire to do something different, to start another business, one where I could still use my graphic design skills and be a bit more creative, so naturally, I opened a retail furniture business. I named it TWCI, an acronym for "together we can inspire''. I was collaborating with my daughter Tawni and two other artisans to sell one-of-a-kind pieces. Our inventory began with the pieces they would create along with the new pieces I would buy at market trade shows. We also take on refinishing projects and requests for small custom build pieces.
Gravitating back to the digital world I opened an online retail site and changed the business's name to Bello Lane. A short time later I made the decision to close the brick and mortar storefront as this business model had grown to be very demanding on time and energy.
In the beginning, the online site was growing and I was fascinated with website development and online marketing. And then, two algorithm changes happened and my numbers dropped, it was like someone turned off the lights and I couldn't find the switch to turn them back on. Knowing I needed to adjust my strategy, I began examining how I could adapt to the changing online retail space.
Meanwhile, Tawni, 28 at the time, a stickler for details, extremely organized, and a passion for creating was reexamining her career path after working as a dental assistant since college. Our storefront had introduced her to decorating homes for clients, which prompted Tawni to get her interior design accreditations.
To gain experience without leaving the security of a steady paycheck, and an employer she values, Tawni began working for an eDesign platform that would match her up with clients. Hoping, the platform would give her a quicker start to eventually work from home so she could one day be a stay-at-home mom. She knew these platforms didn't hold the designer as their first priority but she chose to go forward despite these knowns to gain confidence and experience with her designs. It soon became apparent that there were many more issues that would hinder growth other than just the extremely low designer fees and affiliate earnings.
Tawni found the platform didn't allow her to control her own work schedule or timelines and didn't set clear rules and guidelines for clients to follow. Clients were able to request endless changes and were being granted refunds at any time during the design process, including at the end of a project after they had received all the deliverables. To earn the 3% or 4% commission the platform paid, she needed to keep in touch with the client to ensure the purchase of the furniture was done using her affiliate link and was done before the time-limit on the link ran out.
Tawni quickly became stressed and exhausted trying to keep up with the deadlines set by the platform while continuing to work as a dental assistant which made her decision to leave the platform an easy one. She continued to do work for local clients using Bello Lane as her procurement and merchant agent, enabling her to make higher profits than affiliate programs offer the eDesign model. Her strategy was to invest the profits from her local clients into the marketing of her own eDesign business where she could duplicate her method of handling sales to her online clients.
The target market for platforms offering eDesign, is an audience that is looking for fast inexpensive room designs and furniture. Their business strategy is to hire designers using their talents to create beautiful rooms to sell furniture and pay them very little.
Seeing the challenges my daughter experienced and helping her to change strategies to one that would navigate the limits of online design, I developed a passion to help struggling eDesigners transform their business strategies to produce a higher income and a balanced work schedule.