From a Basement Venture to a Busy Warehouse, Lynn & Liana Serveware Dishes Advice on Cooking Up Global Sales
The family behind Lynn & Liana Serveware.
As a new mom, Melissa Funk never thought she would be able to successfully run a business. She soon realized that with family by her side and a burgeoning digital economy, the opportunities were endless.
She started her company, Lynn & Liana Serveware, back in 2018 along with her husband Evan and her parents Candice and Mike. At the time, the family had learned how to work with resin from friends who manufacture epoxy. They started experimenting with it on serveware and loved the way it looked.
“It looked absolutely beautiful so we decided to see if we could sell it,” Melissa explained. “We started in my parents’ basement with a very basic website and some photos on Instagram. We knew we didn’t want to open a retail location because we all had jobs and enjoyed working on this on our own time and it was clear e-commerce was becoming more and more powerful.
Indeed, being online is what catapulted their business from a small basement experiment into a wildly successful company with a busy fulfillment center.
“We focused on cross-border selling from the very start. We were contacted via Instagram from a gift boutique in New York City who wanted to know if we would wholesale our products. After that we grew from being in one store to 50 in just three months,” Melissa said.
Today, Lynn & Liana Serveware is available in 600 shops across North America.
Lynn & Liana Serveware.
“Needless to say, we’ve all quit our full-time day jobs and are concentrating on this full time now,” she said with a chuckle. “We also now have 25 employees.”
The family got a huge break in 2020, just before the pandemic hit when their products were featured on the hit U.S. show, ‘Good Morning America.’
However, when a global pandemic was declared in March, the family saw a sharp decline in sales.
“Our sales dropped dramatically because people didn’t feel comfortable buying things that were non-essential. Our wholesale customers were struggling, some temporarily and some permanently. As a result, we saw some of our orders being delayed or cancelled completely.”
Rather than panic, the family decided to be proactive and push forward, focusing on direct sales rather than wholesale. They had another appearance on ‘The View’ booked and to prepare, they revamped their website, making it easier for people to purchase items online. A big part of that plan was integrating PayPal solutions into their website.
“PayPal was a huge way for us to bring in more customers and help them feel secure about making purchases, especially because we sell across North America,” said Melissa. “Once we integrated PayPal, more people chose to use it. Plus, PayPal really simplified the process of selling overseas by allowing people to pay in their currency of choice.”
PayPal has helped the company with their cross-border sales.
Another way they futureproofed their business was by diversifying their supply chain. When the pandemic first hit, they found getting their supplies from their manufacturer challenging. They added two more manufacturers from different regions to their list to keep their supply steady and intend on continuing to use all three manufacturers in the future. The move has helped keep them in business despite rolling lockdowns across the North America.
“We currently have thousands of boards in inventory so we are less concerned about future closures, but we can only prepare so much,” Melissa said. “It’s a big financial investment to create inventory you hope to sell in the future. It’s scary but you have to believe in yourself.”
Another way they have invested in their business is by tripling their warehouse space which now works as a fulfillment center. Not only does it handle deliveries, but it also allows for local pickup. They have also invested in a business coach who will help the family take their business to the next level so that they can concentrate on the future rather than the day-to-day operation.
“You can’t read the label if you’re inside the bottle,” she quipped.
When asked about advice she would give other entrepreneurs finding their way through a pandemic, Melissa was very clear.
“Believe in yourself. Believe in your brand and take the steps needed to set yourself up for success. There is no reward with no risk.”
Believing in herself is why she has come so far, she said.
When Lynn & Liana first came to be, Melissa had just given birth to her first child. While she had worked at an office before and loved the structure of her day, she found she loved being her own boss even more.
“I never imagined having a young family and a young business at the same time,” she said. “Now that I’m in it, I can’t imagine having to work for anyone else ever again. Running a business has grown my confidence and made me realize I’m more capable than I ever thought possible. I never imagined this story could end this way.”
For more information on how other business owners have found success during the pandemic and how PayPal has helped them grow their business, visit our Newsroom's Business of Change feature. Also, for tips and expert advice, including how to get started with PayPal Checkout, Invoicing, Seller Protection and more, check out our Small Business Resource Guide.