Another Man’s Treasure: How Eric Hebert Found His Fairly Odd Treasures
May 28, 2018
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Eric Hebert started out with a promising career in project management.
“I started working with a group of software programmers as the Project Manager and were one of the early developers on the iPhone app store. We had some successes early on. But I was also selling some stuff on the side to make some extra money.”
Eric liked his job, but he became increasingly interested in logistics, and managing the movement of product.
With a background in software development and the online space, he knew that physical retail was on its way out.
The trend is moving toward automation, streamlining, and the web
“The trend is moving toward automation, streamlining, and the web. So, ecommerce is where it’s at. We can see that with the success of Amazon while big physical retailers close their doors.”
So, when Eric left his project management job to sell products full time, he knew he’d operate entirely online.
“When it came to the internet and ecommerce we had to find a niche to work with. We couldn’t do what everyone else was doing, so we played around with some products to see what stuck.”
Eric actually started out selling Desiccant material, which are the moisture-absorber packs you find in product packaging.
“That was our first niche. Not a lot of people were doing it, and we found a retail market for it. We developed our first brand and were able to sell it online. That got our foot in the door.”
Finding Fairly Odd Treasures
Once Eric had established himself online, he started to look for more interesting things to sell.
“It was a lot of trial and error. We’ve failed at a lot of things because finding niches is hard work. The real difficulty, and what makes it a bit easier, is that you end up selling something that nobody else wants to touch.”
He had to push his products to the edge. To find unchartered territory, Eric had to think differently.
“We went with novelty items. You wouldn’t think it, but they’re a really niche market. They aren’t something that Walmart’s gonna sell in their stores because a lot of it pushes the envelope. The less available a product is, the stronger the niche, and the more solid our place in the market is.”
The less available a product is, the stronger the niche, and the more solid our place in the market is
Talk about variety.
“It’s quite a mix. You go from being a serious industrial inventor selling Desicant products to making novelty poop jokes. It definitely keeps the job adventurous everyday, and makes what should be a stressful job a lot more fun.”
Since reaching out into new markets and niches, Fairly Odd Treasures has vastly expanded its inventory. Eric has 14 brands and 13 patents selling over a thousand products from kids toys to gun safes.
But, it’s not all fun and games. Eric is still running a business, and with a background in software development, he needed it to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
Perfecting the Process
Fairly Odd Treasures doesn’t use their website much.
They’re an ecommerce business, but don’t sell much of their products directly to customers.
“99.9% of our sales come through third party marketplaces. After a couple of years, Walmart picked us up, and we’ve steadily gained traction since then. Third party marketplaces have been good to us because we can just invent more and better products without having to worry about SEO, marketing, and all that other stuff.”
Along with developing a good product, the extra time Eric saved allowed him to develop better and more efficient ways to keep Fairly Odd Treasures running.
“We just list the products on Walmart’s website, they sell it, and we ship it. It’s as easy as that. But, with my experience in software and project management, I knew that we could be running smoother and faster.”
Fairly Odd Treasures currently has four distribution centers around the world, and they’re growing.
The biggest success of Fairly Odd Treasures, for Eric, is automation.
“Distribution has been a huge part of our business. There wasn’t a lot of cloud-based stuff when we first started. So, we actually fully-automated our shipping ourselves. There’s no human printing orders, nobody deciding how to ship an order. The system knows everything about the shipment, and tells us everything we need to know.”
Reduced overhead and time saved has allowed Eric to price his products lower than the competition, and to develop new ones in his spare time.
“We even developed our own inventory system and receiving software. We have API connections with Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Home Depot, and more. Name one, and we’ve got it. Our software background allowed us to do that, and create these relationships in the process.”
Thanks largely to these technological developments, and some cheeky products, Eric’s company has grown tremendously. Fairly Odd Treasures currently has four distribution centers around the world, and they’re growing.
But, to keep everything running smoothly, Eric needed a way to pay efficiently.
“We invent the products here, but we manufacture in Asia. Plus, for our distribution centers around the world, we just had to find a streamlined way to send money.”
Automation, Automation, Automation
Eric has spent most of his time perfecting the processes at Fairly Odd Treasures.
So, when it came to international payments, he wanted to find a service that was reliable, fast, and didn’t take up as much of his time as the bank did.
“When you have success, time becomes your most valuable asset. So, as we grew, we were trying to develop ways to pawn some of the daily grind off of me, and hire other people to put it onto. But, when it comes to payments, it’s a hard thing to hand off to somebody else.”
Through Veem’s method, I can save around 15 minutes a day. That may not sound like much, but it adds up after a while
That’s what got Eric searching for something new.
“We were looking for someone that offered the kind of streamlined service we were creating, just with payments. So, when we found Veem, it just seemed like a perfect fit.”
The fast processing and automation employed by Veem saves Eric the time he needs to create new products, and grow Fairly Odd Treasures.
“Through Veem’s method, I can save around 15 minutes a day. That may not sound like much, but it adds up after a while. But, it’s also the transparency and oversight. We hire a lot of remote workers, so it’s great to be able to see into a payment, where it came from, and where it went.”
Plus, he saves a bit of money too.
“With our bank, we were charged anywhere from $25 to $30 per international transfer. With Veem, I’m not charged a cent. And even if I was, I just enjoy the experience of Veem more. It’s easy, streamlined, and I love the direction they’re taking.”
Between his four distribution centers, remote employees, and Chinese manufacturers, Eric needs this transparency to ensure his business is running smoothly.
“Our partners love it. I had an employee email me from the Philippines just to rave about the great currency exchange rate.”
With our bank, we were charged anywhere from $25 to $30 per international transfer. With Veem, I’m not charged a cent.
But, with Eric, it call comes back to streamlining through technology.
“We’re really excited about Veem,’s API. We’re looking to integrate with that soon to make us even more streamlined, save us more time, and make us more efficient. It’s really ideal for us. That’s just not something you’ll get with a bank.”
For Eric, it’s all about speed and efficiency. He’s running at full speed, and runs his business fearlessly.
“What I’ve found is that your costliest mistakes are your best lessons. You can’t be afraid of failure, and need to learn from what didn’t work out.”
That’s the nature of ecommerce. The internet is constantly changing, and you have to roll with the punches.
For Fairly Odd Treasures, Eric wouldn’t have it any other way.