On-demand and online movement brings people together from all across New Zealand and beyond, but what is very special is getting to know so many amazing people within our Dunedin community (Barre Base Anywhere's hometown).
One of our Barre Base Anywhere members who contributes so much to the Dunedin community is Emily Cooper.
We spoke with Emily about one of her current projects, Dunedin Online, a business that celebrates, supports and markets Dunedin businesses that sell products or services online.
I was born here in Dunedin and never left! These days I live back in my hometown of Waikouaiti, which is about half an hour north of the city centre. I have a fashion background. I did a Clothing and Textile Science degree at Otago University, working afterwards at Tamahine Knitwear, Nicholas Blanchet, Limited Editions - and Jizo! I sold silk sheets on the side, then I started Silkbody clothing with my Dad in 2002 and we ran that for 16 years. I was lucky that there was a lot of international travel as we had outlets all around the world. We sold the Silkbody brand three years ago and since then I've designed and built two AirBnB properties and, now, my latest jam is landscape design. I have a ten-year-old daughter with my husband Sam, who is a web designer and game developer.
When we started selling Silkbody online the concept of ecommerce was really new. The internet hadn't been around that long! I really loved it. I even coded our first ecommerce site myself, because I'm a bit nerdy. Focussing on selling online totally transformed the profitability and success of our business. It was an exciting time, working directly with customers. But I felt like it was easy to get isolated, doing your own thing, and I knew there were other people doing interesting things and selling online from little old Dunedin too. So the Dunedin Online concept really started as a kind of support group! Sam and I decided we wanted to showcase the cool brands that were operating out of the city with an online directory, but we also wanted to help them work together. By banding together, we could negotiate better courier deals for members, hold seminars for upskilling and have some cool 'offline' popup shop events.
The traffic to the site went through the roof. Online shopping was proving its worth to everyone! Dunedinites wanted to stay at home, order online and still support local. We added heaps of sites to the directory, we added online fitness and yoga classes being run from Dunedin, and we also added lots of local products to our showcase and Facebook shop. Social media really helped get the word out. We set up new categories for local online stores that were delivering essentials during Level 4 lockdown and for cafes and takeaways that were doing contactless delivery in Level 3 and promoted that. We really tried to respond to what people needed at the time.
We got some voucher funding from DCC's Enterprise Dunedin so we could offer the first three months of a Premium listing for free. This has been great for 'onboarding' new brands. We've added so many cool new stores since the first lockdown. We've just added a new free section for promoting Dunedin musicians that are selling on Bandcamp too.
It's all about sharing local online businesses with potential shoppers and sending them to their sites to buy! We have multiple links to each site through their listing and product showcase, plus we share about the sites on our social media and in our newsletter. It's important for websites to have quality links to their site for helping their Google ranking, so a listing on Dunedin Online helps with that. We negotiated a deal with NZPost to give all members 40% off their standard rates. This has been a huge help to some members.
I got a message from one excited shopper who had just discovered Dunedin Online on Instagram and she said she'd spent 1.5 hours on our account, exploring all the cool brands that she had no idea existed in Dunedin. That shows we're achieving what we set out to!
I think it's shown everyone the importance of diversifying and being able to be as flexible as possible in your business. Look at Barre Base Anywhere! Something born out of lockdown is now part of fans' everyday lives. Having an online presence in COVID meant that even if stores weren't able to send out packages during lockdown, they could still take orders and get some income flowing in. I think, for some businesses, it has opened their eyes to the possibilities of online and that it definitely has a place in the tool kit. It can be hard to decide to do things differently in a business and sometimes a push like this has a silver lining.
I'd love to add more categories of online purchasing, like booking Dunedin accommodation. I'd also love to bring back some offline events, like the pop-up department store concept. For smaller businesses that sell mostly online, having a chance to sell in-person to customers can be really cool. The other thing on my radar is negotiating more benefits for members to go with the NZPost deal. 140 local businesses can have power in numbers. And providing more resources for members to support their work. I've always got ideas!
I used to do a lot of long yoga classes when I lived in town but with Barre Base Anywhere I can get the same sweet satisfaction of moving my body mindfully and with strength, and it's a lot easier to commit to a short session! Since working for myself for 20 years I'm not very good at running to anyone's timetable but my own. Plus I work from home, so Barre Base Anywhere is perfect for heading into the sunroom for half an hour to myself away from the computer - when it suits me. And Rosa, you have such a wonderful manner. I love that you are here in Dunedin, not some random YouTube guru!
I do like the Strength and Freedom series but I enjoy exploring all the classes. I love that they target specific areas so if you're feeling like an area needs stretching out you can really make a difference. I just did the Strength and Freedom for glutes and it was brilliant. Thank you Rosa!