Today is an extraordinary day for me, I've finished the first draft of the book: Happy. Remarkable. You. I cannot begin to tell you how relieved and excited I am right now!
Here's a taster...
Happy. Remarkable. You. Introduction
It was Sunday, the 13th August 2006.
I got a phone call from Andy Topman. I was at my home in Liverpool and Andy was in Jersey. You could tell just in the manner in which he was speaking: he was excited.
“Matt, we’ve got our first order,” he proudly told me.
"But how?" I asked, "How did they find the website?"
I couldn't get my head around the fact that the website we had technically made live just a few hours earlier had it's first customer, I couldn't understand how they actually found the website. Had Google picked it up already
It turns out that it did.
We laughed and got excited about the fact that that first order had been placed. It was at that point that I think we all knew that Jersey Beauty Company would be a success. Sure, only one order had been placed on the website, but that one order was all we needed to believe that the website would work.
“It has begun.” Andy said. And there was no truer statement ever told.
It had, indeed, begun.
Little did Mrs Jones (yep, that's her real name) know that she was our first customer. Mrs Jones ordered 2 Skin Kits and a Moisturiser, so these were the first products that Jersey Beauty Company sold online. The journey had started, and neither Andy or I knew where it would take us, we weren’t aware of the adventures that would come our way or indeed, the obstacles. No one knew. That was what made it exciting. If you always knew the end at the beginning, it would be boring and stagnant. There would be no joy or anticipation. There would be no faith and no questioning. But in the adventure, in the unknown - all of those things co-exist.
Andy was excited and I was excited.
And we both had good reason to be, because here I sit almost 7 years after that fateful day, having shipped over 6 million products to around 250,000 customers across the UK and Europe. Andy had to take that first order to Mrs Jones down to the post office to get it weighed and post it out. Now, we have a purpose built warehouse and distribution facility.
So much has changed since that day, a lot of it has been great and fun. Some of it, though, some of it threatened to destroy the company and undo all the hard work that went into creating one of Europe's best loved retail websites.
But it had begun. One order from Mrs Jones at 7.40pm on the 13th August 2006 had ensured that the adventure had indeed begun.
This book, then, is about our story. It's about how we got from the beginning to where we are now.
In our story, just as in every story, there is a beginning, a middle and an end. Act I, Act II and Act III. And that is how this book is laid out.
Act I talks about the beginnings, about how Andy and I met, how I passed up on the chance to be a partner in Jersey Beauty Company and a gift company that failed. Act I takes us up to the end of 2010, where the first meteor hit the company, threatening to destroy it.
Act II talks about what happened after the meteor, about how Jersey Beauty Company moved from the small island of Jersey to Liverpool, how Andy and I became partners and the birth of an idea that would later be called Oqibo.
If at the end of Act I, we had a meteor almost destroy us, then what happens at the end of Act II is meteor ten times the size of the initial one. The fallout would be much greater.
Act III talks about what we did at the face of virtual extinction but at the same time, Oqibo grew and grew.
But Act III is not our ending.
In fact, such is the intrigue of life what could be been our ending is actually our beginning. As one chapter concludes, another one starts. So the unusual fact about this story, about this book is that I start writing it knowing full well that I will end at the beginning.
The purpose of this book is to connect our journey with our customers. So many commerce sites are faceless these days and the relationship between the company and it's customer is nothing more than transactional. I really don't want that for either Jersey or Oqibo. I don't want to be faceless but I'd rather show who we are and explain why we do what we do.
I hope that you also find it a little inspirational too. It’s funny how life doesn’t seem to fit in to the pattern of what should be done. It likes to detour, to throw you the curve ball and very much not be forced in to a definable formula. At least that is my experience. That’s the experience of our company. So, I share about the things that went wrong and what we did as a result, hoping that you find some inspiration in those stories.
For those of you who are involved in business as well, then I hope you pick up a few of our ideas about business because it is a wonderful and powerful force for good, and it is OK to do things just a little bit differently.
So, dig in, enjoy our story - I hope that you live it with us and enjoy telling it as much as we do. But the magic of it, is that the end is just the beginning.