I am always interested in other online business stories as I dabble in it as well. In this interview I will be asking Steve Clark at CubeStuff about his online business. Steve actually reached out to me recently since I also have a website that deals with cubicle-related products and accessories called CubicleBliss.com.
So, to be honest, we are competing for the same search traffic but I’m a person who feels that if you reach out to people in your own niche, you can improve both businesses instead of competing with one another. Also, Steve’s story is very interesting!
If Steve never emailed me about his business, I’m sure I would’ve come across his site eventually, but it’s great that we connected so early in both of our online business ventures. So I’m just going to jump into the questions for Steve.
Steve, tell us a little bit about your online company – CubeStuff.com?
CubeStuff.com is an online store that highlights and promote products for the office work space. We have searched the internet over and over for the best products to make your drab cubicle or office feel more like home. We have many arrangements with manufacturers and wholesalers AND we continue to add new products fairly routinely. As a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business, we hope to get this site self-sufficient in no time at all.
Have you been involved in the online world in the past?
Somewhat. I was introduced to internet marketing several years back working for the federal government (EPA). I found myself consulting on site development, WIKI pages, and blogs. Luckily I got away from it before Twitter and Facebook exploded. This explains why I have hired a marketing firm to establish some serious SEO for the site. We just went live with the site back in October and just this past week started the SEO, so it will take some time to build traffic.
What spurred you to creating the website CubeStuff?
I have worked in cubicles and stuffy offices for the past 20 years, and I can honestly state that I FULLY AND IRREVOCABLY relate to our target clientele. I would pass by cubicles where coat hangers were bent over the side of the cube wall to form a coat hook. Why would someone hang a $400 suit on a bent over coat hanger, or a $200 leather jacket.
I would try to hang pictures of my kids in my cube and couldn’t find anything in the office supply lockers and cabinets to help. I began to see a trend and found myself spending a few hours on the weekends looking for “stuff” to make my cube better. Lamps, organizers, foot rests, mug holders, filers. I would find one thing on this site and 4 things on another site that I liked. I just got so frustrated that no one had a complete office accessory store that I liked. Stuff I or my co-workers would like to have. So, the idea played over and over in my head for years, I eventually decided to put my mouth where my, well, mouth was and made it happen.
I even put a wood floor in my cube. Yep, I said it. A wood floor in my cube. (See his image above) I had a box and a piece of Pergo flooring left over from my basement flooring project at home. I thought “Man, this would look good in my cube.” I decided to take a few measurements and made some cuts at home.
So, here I am one morning in DC, riding the Metro with a dolly of Pergo and just casually strolling into my office building. I went in about 30 minutes early and placed it on the floor in my cube. I did that over 5 years ago and, even though I don’t work there anymore, it is still there. People apparently fight over it when the next person leaves. I think it’s great. It just shows you what people really want. In this case, a wood floor.
Like it says on my site homepage, you work 40 hours a week in a cube, your home away from home – so why not? You spend more in coffee each week at Starbucks and your cube still looks like a dry, cold mess. Take a few minutes, look around, and then go to my site and find something that will help make your “other” home feel more comfortable for you.
We have a majority of our products under $20. We want to keep it affordable. Some products are, unfortunately, not that inexpensive. I even placed WOOD WATCHES on my site because everyone kept asking me about mine. I even had a drive thru person grab my arm as I was paying. She wanted to know if it was WOOD. They’re light, too. Almost don’t even know it’s on your wrist.
Our best sellers are Fake Goldfish in a Bowl, USB Desktop fan, and the ever lovin beanbag for your cellphone.
Do you do this full-time?
I have 2 businesses right now. One is the Vannet Group, an environmental consulting firm specializing in water programs. We do a lot of drinking water training for operators, water sampling from aircraft, and Stormwater Program Implementation and Management. I know water and environmental programs, so why not do what you enjoy?
I tell my kids that if they are not enjoying what they do in the workforce, then they need to find another job. Don’t look for Disneyworld to happen every day, but look at why you don’t like it and why you are not the problem. Sometimes it is you being the catalyst for your own stress and discomfort. Anyway, I am rambling. I am supplementing CubeStuff right now, but things are picking up.
How's your traffic? How do you plan on promoting your business?
It’s exciting and humbling all at once. It didn’t explode overnight, much to my chagrin. I am learning that patience in the internet is important. I have over 1000 likes on facebook, and average 40 site visits a day. It’s a start. Once this SEO kicks in, we expect much more traffic. We are going to start looking and taking whatever “profits” we have and turn them into more marketing. I hope to be able to hire my own marketing team one day.
Do you have any other online businesses in mind for the future?
I think 2 are enough. We are excited about a new product we are almost done developing. I intend to roll it out in January so stay tuned to the site for more details. It is an idea that is so simple in thought, but you wonder why didn’t someone do it before. I have played with this idea for 5 years now at least. Time to just do it. Hey, if it doesn’t take off, then at least I can say I tried!
Oh yeah- one more thing- enjoy your life to the fullest and have fun – it’s too short not to. At the bottom of my emails is this saying,
“Is what your living for worth dying over?”
I want to thank Steve Clarke of CubeStuff.com for agreeing to do this interview and for enlightening us on owning an online business. You can visit Steve's site for a vast array of office accessories and fun products. You may also want to visit my sister site called Cubicle Bliss.com which also deals with office products for building a happier workspace.