Reprinted from the Apple Small Business site. For more Macintosh small business profiles, go to http://www.apple.com/business/profiles/.
“I’m not really a business person,” says Susan Bing, with a sincerity that belies her success. The founder and president of Trixie + Peanut, the premier purveyor of luxury pet products, still seems genuinely amazed by her company’s rapid growth over the past six years.
In that time, a project that began as her personal creative exercise — “all I wanted to do was design my own beautiful catalog,” says the lifelong art director — has evolved from a surprise direct-mail triumph, to an e-commerce site with a global clientele, to a Manhattan boutique that caters to the likes of Uma Thurman, Diddy, and Paris Hilton (and, of course, their poodles, pugs, and retrievers).
Ahead of the Pack
The secrets to her rapid rise? “No secrets, really,” says Susan. “The name came from my dogs, two rescued boxers. Of course, I did my homework; I knew this was a market with potential. But a lot of it was being in the right place at the right time,” she says, referring to the recent boom in designer-sweater-clad Pekingese. “And certainly a lot of it would never have been imaginable without our Mac computers.”
“We’ve used nothing but Macs from day one,” says Mark Edwards, Susan’s husband and business partner. When the catalog moved to the web, Susan insisted on maintaining absolute control of the site’s look —photography, retouching, and layout — on her Mac. When it became clear that the burgeoning online brand merited a bricks-and-mortar flagship, Susan worked closely with a design/build firm to create a store design reflecting the Trixie + Peanut website and incorporating Mac computers.
Susan’s devotion to the Mac was evident in every aspect of the business: “We photograph all of the merchandise for the website, and use iPhoto to organize that photography. We use Mail to respond to customer inquiries and send bulk promotional emails. We handle our appointment schedule, employee schedule, and personal calendars with iCal. We scour the iTunes Music Store regularly for new music to play in our store and our back office. We use Spotlight constantly to locate various documents, images, and layouts on our computers. And we used the Dashboard calculator a lot, which is handy since we can never find our calculators.”
“Susan’s merchandising decisions and her design aesthetic were pretty much the soul of the brand,” says Mark, a former advertising account manager. “And her tool of choice had always been the Mac. There was never any consideration of using PCs.”
Priority: Point of Sale
Nevertheless, Mark’s business-oriented brain knew they needed a reliable point-of-sale system to run the Trixie + Peanut store. “Once we found PayGo for the Mac, everything fell into place,” he says. A powerful POS application built upon a flexible FileMaker Pro database, PayGo lives up to its name by being remarkably easy to learn and use, and scales as store SKUs grow.
“Being a former PC user,” says Mark, “I must say I’d never seen a POS system so intuitive, and so customizable. We can train employees on PayGo for the Mac in no time at all. We can control the design of all the documents that go to our customers and vendors, which is very important to Susan and the integrity of our brand. We can do custom reports that pull just the information we want regarding sales or inventory. We can completely track our inventory, so we know exactly what we have with just the click of a button.”
From Insight to Foresight