Behind-the-Scenes of a Fast-Growing Brand: Shiny By Nature (what a 3PL is really like)
“If we had known about Atomix at the beginning, we would have chosen to work with them without a second thought”
- DTC Brand: Shiny by Nature
- HQ: New York, New York
- Founders: Alex & Tianshi
- Industry: Fashion
- Website: shinybynature.com
- Launch: In 6 months grew to 1,000+ orders per month
Alex and Tianshi are the cofounders of Shiny by Nature. They met each other in 2017 and got married in the summer of 2020. While Alex majored in engineering in college, she has always been passionate about fashion. Growing up in a small town in Texas, wearing colorful and expressive clothes was often something to be frowned upon, especially for someone with a curvier body shape. In early 2021, she started making a more dedicated effort in creating fashion-related content on social media, and growing her audience online. Alex learned to sew a few pieces of clothing and accessories in 2019, but she was never professionally trained in fashion design. Nevertheless, she felt tempted to give it a try as she had many design ideas. Shiny by Nature was launched in September 2021, and has been having an extremely successful journey ever since.
Six months after launching, Shiny by Nature had already created and released a full line of products with thousands of orders.
Alex and Tianshi had zero experience with shipping and fulfillment, which led them to do everything by themselves in the beginning.
They ended up renting office space in Brooklyn to serve as their warehouse, but quickly realized how difficult it was to manage this aspect of their business on their own.
They were also under the impression that a 3PL company would not work with them due to being such a small startup.
“When we found out about Atomix , I was thinking to myself: how foolish we were packing and shipping orders ourselves the whole time? If we had worked with Atomix from the very beginning, we would have saved a ton of money spent on rent, our inventories would have been professionally managed from the very beginning, and we would have had much more time working on other things.”
To Alex’s and Tianshi’s surprise, Atomix has specialized in partnering with early-stage and fast-growing brands for years. Further, our entire process is constructed around the needs and growing pains specific to early-stage brands (read about the Micro-Pod Model here).
The Learning Experience
Managing logistics when you’ve never done it before can be stressful but is extremely valuable in the entrepreneurial journey. “We made ourselves look like ‘idiots’, but through the experience, we became more and more committed to what we are doing. Indeed, to founders who are truly passionate about their mission, nothing can be more satisfying than putting your own products into a poly mailer or a box, sealing it, putting a shipping label on it, and dropping it off at a UPS store. There was a magical feeling. That feeling makes you want to believe you can actually change the world.”
Additionally, from our experience, there is the benefit founders and entrepreneurs have, of going through the experience of shipping & fulfillment yourself. In their own words, “because we did the hard work ourselves, we will never take it for granted when someone else takes care of it for us. And I believe this makes us a more understanding and better partner and client.”
The Growth Phase
As business started picking up quickly for Shiny by Nature, they soon realized that they needed a new solution for their warehouse and shipping situation. After researching 3PL companies, they found Atomix, requested a meeting, and were signed up with Atomix two days later.
“What is truly priceless is the peace of mind knowing that all of our existing as well as future inventories will be professionally managed, and all incoming orders will be shipped out in a timely manner and with almost zero error. We suddenly feel we are no longer on our own on the battlefield. All of the support provided by team Atomix feels like a permission that we can stay focused on executing on our core mission, and much of the most physically and mentally demanding work will be properly taken care of. This empowering feeling is truly invaluable.”
The Reality of a Modern 3PL Partner
The attraction of working with a 3PL can seem tantalizing. In their own words,
“What Atomix had to offer sounded almost too good to be true: high-quality service, reasonable costs, and prompt communication. We were a bit skeptical but nevertheless took a leap of faith. Now that we have almost finished the work of the transitional period, we are starting to realize some of the key benefits of this new partnership which we did not even think of at the beginning.”
- Cost Savings: “First of all, the cost-saving aspect of the partnership took the draining financial pressure off our shoulders, so we no longer need to constantly chase after month-to-month sales numbers just to survive. We can finally go back to doing what we do best, which is designing new products.”
- Focus on Product Development: “We brought our focus back to product development, which is the number one key to our long-term success.”
- Startup Mentality: “Another rewarding aspect of the partnership is the motivation we get every day from working together with a fellow startup. Atomix is definitely further along their journey than us. Nevertheless, we feel the refreshing drive and optimistic spirit from team Atomix every single day.”
- Responsiveness & Solutions-Driven: Initial learning hurdles to solve for required rapidly developed solutions (more detail below).
Overcoming Challenges, Together
While the benefits were realized by Shiny By Nature, not everything was perfect:
“There were also challenges that we had to overcome together at the beginning. Because we had always been fulfilling orders ourselves, we never felt the need to assign SKUs to any of our products. During our transition period, this turned into several of the wrong items being sent out in a single day.”
First, that’s why we often stress to entrepreneurs the importance of SKUs (read more here).
Second, we provide a detailed 10-step onboarding process that covers 99% of customers’ questions and can handle any type of fulfillment process.
Lastly, while we strive for perfection and operational excellence, we routinely implement and improve workflows to over a better customer experience. When we implement these solutions, we focus on speed and quality.
“What was truly impressive was how quickly team Atomix was able to implement new solutions, and how effectively those new procedures turned things around. Recently, the rate of error has dropped to basically zero, which is perhaps unheard of in the 3PL industry. When Austin sent us a panorama photo showing all of our inventories being professionally stored and managed, I understood that warehousing was a form of art, and team Atomix was as serious about their craft as we were about ours.”