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Sell Online Live Your Dream Abroad

To experience the dream of living life on your terms, traveling and living in exotic destinations while still able to derive an income, is something that is nothing short of a pipe dream for most of us. For Tessa Hartnett and her husband, this lifestyle is a reality, thanks to modern technology and fantastic business and supply opportunities. Tessa currently lives in Thailand and operates a modern metals men’s jewellery website, selling ceramic, titanium and tungsten products predominantly sourced from China into the Australian and overseas markets.

Tessa started the business, with Nathan, to fund their lifestyles, which included a passion for international travel.

The business started from humble beginnings as a hobby, selling on eBay in 2006, original stock being sourced from a supplier through Alibaba. Although the business has grown naturally they have sourced some capital from family. “Capital for the business was sourced from family, and staff of the business is family based, this allows for more control and trust while working from remote destinations, ” says Tessa

As the business evolved, they developed their own website and used Channel Advisor to aggregate their stock to eBay. Lucky for Tessa her partner was a web developer so it was a natural progression to develop their own websites to complement their eBay sales and truly own the customer experience.

“One of our most hair-raising experiences was when we signed up and paid for a 3rd party ‘complete solutions’ package, at a conference (mainly for the merchant facility) that took our payment but never delivered (Pre Channel Advisor), this stopped the business in it’s tracks for us as we suddenly had no cash flow!” says Tessa

Today, people skills and social media are important tools that are necessary to develop the business and grow the database and more quality traffic to the website.

Domains were and, but as the range grew beyond titanium and tungsten they moved to one brand and website;

There are future plans for leveraging ranges from Vurge, to target a new set of online traffic.

Customer service is a key driver to the success of the business. Men’s rings, like shoes or clothin, are occasionally not an exact fit for the customer, and Vurge jewellery allows for a free exchange to cater for this possibility including ring sizers with the original order.

All stock is sourced from suppliers in China and distributed from a private distribution centre in Brisbane. Tessa notes that she has secured all her suppliers via Alibaba, the Chinese-owned supplier portal.
“Stock sourcing from China has at times been overwhelming, even using Alibaba. More clear user guides would be nice, and quality control is an ongoing issue. We were stung by a supplier we had used previously “ says Tessa. “We placed a new order being quite satisfied with the initial order. We were let down by a sudden drop in quality from this supplier in the second order, it was disappointing. Saying this we have been quite happy with our suppliers across the board and have only traveled to China once to meet suppliers.” Tessa now uses AliExpress.

We use email to market direct to our database and have a Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Pinterest being managed out of Asia. Local delivery is done by Fastways and Australia Post, and customers are predominantly women.








1. Vurge – approximately 100 targeted unique visitors a day

2. Fascinators Australia – 150 targeted natural unique visitors a day, which launched only a few months ago

3. Remaining sites are too new to talk about at this stage.

Going Social:

With so many different social media platforms now available for businesses, a degree of guesswork that comes with selecting new product designs is reduced.

Tessa asks questions in various Facebook Business Group pages to know about product ‘likes’ and dislikes. If businesses want to know what stock is needed as they go into busier seasons, they can look at the products that have been re-pinned the most on their Pinterest boards. “I’ve found these are just little indicators to help take some of the guess work out, which in turn can save business owners a lot of time,” says Tessa

Pinterest Points:

Backlinks have helped to drive traffic to the network of sites. We’ve pinned original content from our website to our Pinterest boards and it becomes a backlink to our webpage.

“I would recommend to your readers that it is important that they do not pin all of their items from one page, but from each individual items page. These Pinterest images also become traffic drivers, as people re-pin and click through from your image they are taken directly to the source, which drives them back to your website.”

Why we went mobile?

We noticed a gradual increase over the years in mobile traffic, and once it started hitting 10% of our traffic on a regular basis, that’s when we decided it was time to go mobile. Our first mobile sale came through within a week.

Global Sourcing Tips:

“My businesses are based on sourcing products globally. Recently, I spoke at the PeSA Conference about my Top 3 Tips to global sourcing, and I wanted to share them with IR too:”

Use email as an interview tool – Emailing suppliers before you commit to them opens-up a channel of communications and allows you to ask clear concise questions in dot points. The responses you receive (or do not receive) will be helpful in deciding what supplier you ultimately use. Did they respond quickly? Were their responses appropriate?

Request a Sample – In every situation, always ask for a sample, even if you have to pay for it (within a reasonable price bracket).

It is far better to pay a little more and be comfortable with the quality of the item, than to invest a lot of capital in a supplier whose quality may not meet your standards.

It will also give you an idea of how quickly this supplier’s shipping process takes and how they package their items, which all business owners should know before their customers do.

Tag onto another order – If you need to increase your range but are unable to increase your quantities, request to be notified when another company is placing an order. The supplier may allow you to tag a smaller number onto the end of a ‘run’.

Tessa has suggested that it has been a labour of love, a lot of hard work and energy to get the business as a whole off the ground. In a fast paced and competitive environment, she and her team need to consistently put effort into quality stock, fast customer service and a consistent marketing effort to drive sales, yet it’s all worth it in the end for the lifestyle it affords her and her partner as they move through exotic destinations in Asia.


Mark Freidin

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