Well, not quite. But you can make a tidy sum of money working from home as a partner in Bag Happy, says Ian Cohen. Workingmums spoke to him to find out more.
Bag Happy started in China around two years ago. Ian Cohen and his family had a furniture business there, making kitchen doors which were sent all over the world. On the side, his daughter and his wife had a mini business selling bags to boutiques and at parties. When they decided to return to the UK they expanded the bag side of the business and it now operates nationally through a network of partners.
“We’ve had to invest a lot of money,” says Ian. “It’s been a completely different learning curve from the furniture industry. What works in the professional world does not work in this world.”
He says his daughter Lucy handles the day to day business of running Bag Happy. Most partners are mums working from home and they are selling to other women. “Anything that is too professional turns them off,” says Ian. Everything, including the website design, has to take this into account.
The company has invested recently in a bigger range of stock, advertising and a revamped website.
The new website, he says, makes it very easy for customers to understand what the business is about. The company has just under 100 partners nationwide, but they would like to have several hundred. They get a license to run the business and Bag Happy ensures that there are not two partners selling in the same area.
Potential partners are sent an email giving them an information pack about the business, but says a lot of the information is also on the website. Bag Happy withholds certain information, however, to test how serious they are. The company also encourages them to call for a chat. Ian says “If they call they are 80% of the way towards becoming a partner”.
The basic cost for a licence is just £99 which gives a partner their own part of the website, login details and start-up/marketing manuals. They then order from a menu-driven price sheet for things like business stationery and samples. “You can become a partner for a relatively small amount of money,” says Ian, “and then the choice is up to you how much extra you spend.” They can decide how they sell the bags – whether it is through events such as parties, fairs and charity fundraisers or to shops, for instance.
Partners often need a lot of support at the start and have a lot of questions, but after a short period of time they know what they are doing. Bag Happy doesn’t interview potential partners formally as there is often a difference between the people they think will do well and those who do. What matters is that they want to do it and are enthusiastic, says Ian. The worst problems are people who pay the £99 then do nothing or people who expect too much, but Ian says these are very much in the minority.
“It was designed for mums who are at home and who would like to do something which completely fits around their existing commitments” says Ian. Bag Happy suggests running an event a week and cultivating a few local shops by asking to put some of the bags/accessories there and taking any orders that result. “You can earn a nice little income for a few hours’ work,” says Ian.
He reckons you can earn between £3,000 and £15,000 a year, depending on how many hours you put in. “I’m not saying you can earn £50K,” he says. “That would not be realistic, but it is perfect for mums who want to earn a nice income for a few hours work a week.”