Names: Arun & Anne-Michelle Frances
Business: Ohana Board Shop
Location: San Jose, CA
Arun and Anne-Michelle Frances opened their first skate and surf board shop in busy, bustling Silicon Valley. Why did this married couple opt for an urban location rather than, say, near the beach? Because Ohana Board Shop’s target market is overworked 9-to-5ers in the heart of the Valley.
Anne-Michelle and Arun, both former stressed-out, exhausted techies, built their brand to help customers reconnect with the passions and hobbies they abandoned due to work and family commitments. Ohana means “family” in Hawaiian, and the Frances fam, including their four children, are proud to run a family business built on a their deep commitment to ohana. Offering boards and also camps, lessons and camping/surfing trips, Arun and Anne-Michelle want everyone to feel part of a big, welcoming family. Their mantra? “Less egos, more amigos!”
Hi Arun and Anne-Michelle! What is Ohana Board Shop all about?
It was Arun's childhood dream to have a shop that people could walk into and feel comfortable. No bad vibes, no attitude, just a place where beginners aren’t intimidated about asking questions that might be seen as dumb. We all start out as beginners when we try something new, and we believe helping each other get to the next level with a strong sense of community and support is the way to go.
We wanted our shop to be relaxed, with a family feel and a fun, laid back atmosphere. We serve our customers with good vibes and top-notch customer service. We've always shared this philosophy with our employees and emphasize the importance of treating people with respect, kindness and gratitude.
What’s one thing you know now that you wish you’d known when you were starting out in business?
Our business is so much stronger when we collaborate. As a husband and wife team, we often take on the responsibilities that each of us are good at without consulting with the other. Once we changed that outlook and began working together on all aspects of the business -- from hiring employees to jointly coaching our water sports day camps -- the entire business began to flourish.
What has been most satisfying about starting and running your own business?
The freedom to create our own schedule is the reason that we work so hard! We have four children, three of whom are in co-op schools that we volunteer at weekly, and one child we homeschool. When the forecast calls for beautiful weather, we bring in employees to staff the shop so our family can play hooky and enjoy time at the lake, in the ocean or at a skatepark. We travel where and when we want, and our business meetings, networking and product demonstrations all happen in our happy places.
What has been most challenging or surprising about starting and running your own business?
Employees have always been the most challenging and surprising aspect of running our business. No one cares about the business as much as we do, and it is so important to create a strong company culture for our employees to emulate. It's difficult to ascertain which employees are a good fit after an interview. However, we are getting better at the hiring process, and we are currently stoked with our staff!
Tell us about your “mindset” as a self-employed person.
We work hard, and we play hard. We are motivated to provide for our family. We love learning from others who have already been successful in business. When you are an entrepreneur, you are always a student. There is always a better, faster, more efficient way to do everything, from email marketing and social media to ecommerce and building brand awareness. In the end, being real with people, establishing relationships, creating strong connections, building our community and providing superior customer service makes us thrive and gives us the energy to do it over and over again.
How are you gearing up now for the busy holiday season ahead?
To have a successful holiday season, we are placing orders, setting budgets, calculating shipping times, managing social media and email marketing outlets and training employees! We are taking all of our Ohana-branded retail (apparel, hats, skateboard decks) online for easy purchasing, and we’re offering free local delivery during the season. We’ll also be adding our Ohana “experiences” (lessons and camps) to our website for purchase as holiday gifts. We love to host customer appreciation parties where we release our latest lines, host guests in our retail space and take time out of the crazy holiday rush to relax and just be.
What do you hope to gain from attending QuickBooks Connect?
We love QuickBooks Connect! This will be our third year attending, and we have learned so much valuable information for our business that is above and beyond any other conference or meeting we have ever attended. Each of the classes are designed for entrepreneurs and small business owners from the day-to-day operations all the way through to the big picture of the business, with everything in between. When we attend QB Connect together, we become stronger as a business and as a team.
Now it’s your turn
QB Community members, how long did it take you to turn your idea into an official business? What steps did you take to make it happen?
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