My name is Sophie and I started FlockStocks a year ago when I first saw the Feather Extension craze begin in the US. My history in the beauty industry and interest in small business research lead me to spot the trend early on and after some initial testing I decided to act upon it.
At first, stock was very hard to come by and I shipped out all sorts of feathers, trying to find the ones that would make my clients most happy. It was trial and error as no-one knew much about feathers, or what type to use. At that point stock could only be obtained from Fly Fishing stores and for some time, only from the fisherman themselves. It was very hard to find a consistent product.
I learned a lot about feathers over that time and about what my customers wanted. I learned what dyes held best in the feather fibers after heat, washing and regular wear. I learned that no-one really wanted fat, fluffy feathers but no-one wanted the really skinny ones either. I also learned that only one farm was producing the feathers that were up to my standard. This farm is Whiting Farms in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
Whiting Farms are the premium supplier of rooster saddle feathers, which are the only feather we use. They supply the longest and most uniform feathers. Contrary to what most people believe, the saddle feathers are not taken from the roosters tail, but are harvested from the back of the rooster, much where a saddle would sit if we were riding a rooster!
Whiting Farms have selectively bred roosters for generations, specifically for the use of Fly Fishing lures. The comparatively small pool of dedicated fisherman who once drove the demand only accounted for a small amount of rooster to be bred each year. Once the fashion industry got involved it unfortunately had a negative effect on the original fisherman, sky-rocketing prices and making the once plentiful supplies almost non-existent. Anyone interested in opening a new account or obtaining new stock from Whiting were put on a two year wait-list to give the new crop of roosters time to mature. It was a very difficult period for both fisherman and feather hair extension suppliers as most were struggling to keep up with demand and in consequence resulted to shipping inferior product. This had a terrible effect on the beauty industry as many suppliers gained a reputation for inconsistencies and defective products. It also made the hobby fisherman very resentful of the beauty industry and there is still some reconciliation to be done. On a more positive note, some savvy fisherman were able to sell their feather collections off and fund substantial new ventures, the average increase from around $40 per saddle rose to upwards of $700 and many fisherman took full advantage. I personally know one fisherman who was able to buy a new car after selling off some old feathers he had in his garage!
Now Flockstocks aims to be the quality supplier of Feather Hair Extensions in Australia. We are located in the coastal town of Byron Bay in Northern NSW. We have every colour and pattern available and do our own dying using beautiful, waterfast organic dyes. We are always working on ways to make our company better. Our latest project was our new method of application, "pre-looped" feather extensions. This new technology allows the wearer to have the freedom to add extensions in as they choose, without the hassle of Salons and expensive tool kits. We also provide bulk solutions to those within the hairdressing and beauty industry. We are interested in creative projects and local and international collaborations. If you have an exciting idea we'd love to hear from you.
We also have created a line of Human Hair Extensions called LockStocks. The idea around LockStocks is to create a new way for customers to identify what quality of Hair Extensions they need, and what the differences are. There are many different types and it can be pretty confusing to the average consumer. This new grading system will be launched late this year, and we currently sell what we call "silver grade" hair on our partner website www.lockstocks.com.au
Sophie, 24 (Founder of Flockstocks), her partner Tim, and their one year old son Archie live in Byron Bay, Australia, a small town about 500 miles North of Sydney. Last year, Sophie was working at a local movie theatre. Like many aspiring mom entrepreneurs, Sophie read Timothy Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Workweek and was immediately inspired to start an online business.
Sophie decided to delve into the world of online selling nine months ago when she learned about a contest run by Shopify, an ecommerce company that makes it really easy to sell stuff online. Read her full story here.