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Thank you, Wendy, for sharing about iLoveStroopwafels.com and your inspirational story!
Tell us about your online store and what inspired it:
I am originally from the Netherlands and started a business there almost ten years ago at the age of nineteen. Although in reality, it was more of an experiment, as at the time I had no idea what I was doing. I had a lot of friends that lived overseas and they always asked me to send over stroopwafels. So, one day I decided it might be a good idea to do something commercially with it. And so my first business, TypicalDutchStuff.com, became a reality. It focuses on the export of typically Dutch products to countries all over the world and is still going strong after almost a decade.
During those ten years, I also managed to obtain my MA degree in American Studies, as I have always had a fascination with the US from a very young age. One of my dreams was to start a business in the US. Sometimes you need a little bit of luck and coincidence and that is exactly what helped me with the launch iLoveStroopwafels.com. My partner spotted a small article about a Dutch/American soccer club, the Dayton Dutch Lions, on a Dutch website back in 2010 and what was supposed to be an email about a small banner on their website, ended up in a full sponsorship for our Dutch company. That was the door that opened and allowed me to take the next step and make my dream of having a business in the US a reality. Since stroopwafels are by far the most popular Dutch cookie and also TypicalDutchStuff.com’s best selling product, I figured it would be an amazing product to introduce to the US market. That way, instead of exporting stroopwafels from the Netherlands to the US, I could actually bake gourmet stroopwafels in the US, ensuring the best possible quality and taste.
Because of the distance, as I live in the Netherlands, and my experience with an online business, the choice to make iLoveStroopwafels.com an online business was easy. It’s all about having the right people in your inner circle, who are dedicated to make it a success as much as you are. An online business also helps you to start and grow without having to invest thousands of dollars in a storefront. Moreover, it helps to establish your brand, not only in your own state, but nationwide and in some cases even worldwide.
What is your favorite part of making and selling gourmet stroopwafels?
Being able to offer our customers a hand-baked gourmet stroopwafel is the best thing in the world. We are all about authenticity and quality, so we only use imported ingredients, all of which come straight from Gouda, the Netherlands, which is also the birthplace of the stroopwafel. When we start baking, the entire kitchen smells delicious, which is definitely not a bad thing. I also love the look on people’s faces when they try their very first stroopwafel when we bake stroopwafels fresh at events.
What is your most popular product?
Our mini stroopwafels and our heart-shaped stroopwafels are both best-sellers. Also our imported gluten-free and sugar free stroopwafels do very well, as they allows anyone with a gluten free or sugar free diet to enjoy a stroopwafel as well.
What have you learned from selling online?
It has definitely taught me to be less of a control freak. As a business owner, it is crucial to be able to delegate and it has taken me quite a number of years to learn this. However, when you are on the other side of the ocean, you have to trust the people that work for you and I am blessed to have an amazing team that is so dedicated and motivated to make this business a success. It has also definitely helped me to be resilient, as you are bound to make mistakes or experience failure. However, I have learned to always see the glass as being half full and there is always tomorrow when you will be able to celebrate your next success.
What have you found to be a successful tool for promoting your business?
I believe in the power of social media, as it allows us to interact directly with our customers and other businesses. We have advertised and we use social media, like Facebook and Twitter, to easily update customers and fans of iLoveStroopwafels.com about what we are doing. I believe social media gives a voice to the people behind the business and in my experience; customers like to buy from a company that has a face and a voice, so to speak.
How do you use coupons to bring customers to your store?
I definitely look for coupons myself when I shop online and I often browse websites like NerdWallet to see if I can find one. That’s why I love the fact that iLoveStroopwafels.com is also listed on NerdWallet, so potential customers can get a nice deal and enjoy our stroopwafels.
What advice would you like to share for business owners just starting out?
My first and foremost advice for other business owners is that you have to be a glass half full type of person. You have to be able to think positively, as you will experience failure, make mistakes, and have to deal with all the hurdles and stress. There is no one you can rely on in this case but yourself so be sure to trust yourself and your capacities. Do not take failure and criticism personally. Failure is not a reflection of who you are. The fact that you own a business and have taken that step along with all of the risks involved makes you a winner.
All images are used with permission from Wendy and iLoveStroopwafels.com.