Before he founded Forest Noodles, Minyo had built startups and even managed a team of designers. Now, he owns a Pinkoi shop that sells noodles that taste like local flavors. He’s here today to share with us his experience of managing his brand, Forest Noodles.
Why did you decide to start Forest Noodles?
After I returned to my family business, I kept thinking about how to put our traditional craft into a modern business, because if we hadn’t, we would be left in the back and this craft of handmade noodles could potentially be lost. I decided to combine our century-old craft with fresh local produce, thus founded Forest Noodles.
Since our second anniversary, I’ve borrowed $3.3 million USD to rebuild Forest Noodles Workshop, and now it’s getting ready to reopen! I set a 5-year goal right from the beginning, and it has really motivated me: I have discovered that by gradually accomplishing each step, new ambitions naturally appear and push me forward.
What is the brand message of Forest Noodles?
Forest Noodleshopes everyone can taste and feel the local flavors, so the ingredients we use are as natural as possible, and we hope people see the possibilities of traditional crafts.
We’re curious how noodles are made the traditional way. Tell us more!
The biggest difference between Forest Noodles and other brands on the market is the ingredient. Each flavor is derived directly from local produce which gives each batch slightly different colors. This is because our ingredients are fresh, and the color varies slightly in fresh produce. This goes to show how much care we give our noodles and customers can tell from the taste.
We would sun-dry the noodles after they’re made, so the intensity of the sun plays a part in the texture, and sometimes the weather affects our delivery time as well.
You may not know, but our sauces are created with factories that has a lot of experience. After several discussions and tastings, we would then decide the sauces that fit best with our noodles. For example, our pepper spicy sauce is tested with friends who don’t normally eat spicy food, and the pumpkin noodles alongside our oil onion sauce gives the sweetness of pumpkin a bit of savoriness—you’ll definitely slurp down the noodles in no time!
What’s the greatest fulfillment of running your own business?
The biggest fulfillment is when we slowly reach our goals and witness our achievements! When we see the love and support from our customers, it’s especially heartwarming and meaningful.
The part we love most, of course, is that we can be our own boss and manage our baby. The amount of effort we put in doesn’t always guarantee positive results, but we constantly feel ourselves going forward at a solid pace.
What was the most difficult part to overcome when you first founded Forest Noodles?
The most difficult part would be to establish brand visibility and trust. I remember we took some beautiful photos, but because people were new to our brand, they didn’t want to try. Pushing customers to take their first steps is difficult, especially when we had zero reviews. But when you seize an opportunity and build their trust, all you need to do in the future is to rely on reviews and new customers will show up!
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
At the beginning, we focused more on packaging designs and marketing promotions, and neglected the product itself. A customer once purchased 40 packets, but ended up returning 39 of them. He said, “How could you sell me such bad noodles?”
This remark really hit home, and made me realize the lack of attention we gave our products, so we began working on flavors. And now, more than 80% of our customers keeps returning for more!
What are some biggest accomplishments you’re most proud of?
A customer from Hong Kong told us she was going to visit her future in-laws for the first time, and picked our noodles as a greeting gift. A month later, we received a postcard from Hong Kong, and on the card she wrote how thankful she was, because our noodles got her into her mother-in-law’s good graces!
We also see a lot of loyal customers when reading reviews on Pinkoi. Almost 8 out of 10 messages are from familiar faces, and this really motivates us when we encounter problems.
Why did you choose to sell on Pinkoi?
As an e-commerce seller, we notice most customers tend to make price as their priority. However, most customers on Pinkoi consider the quality of products first rather than the price, so we actually communicate and connect with the customers more efficiently.
What’s more, Pinkoi customers are more willing to give sellers support and reviews: We’ve accumulated over 1000 reviews just 1 year into joining Pinkoi! Because of these reviews, we have the courage to constantly move forward and improve.
Also, Pinkoi is more willing to promote new shops, unlike most websites where newer brands have less exposure.
What is your experience with Pinkoi? How did your brand grow?
Before we joined Pinkoi, we were selling on other platforms, but the customers were harder to communicate with. It’s a lot easier connecting with customers here on Pinkoi, and we can feel their passion too! We’ve gained a lot of loyal customers here, and it helps Forest Noodles develop a better direction. We try to improve as we go, and now we can really see the difference in numbers.
What have you learned from managing your Pinkoi shop?
What we’ve learned most on our Pinkoi shop is the detail in services. There are lots of experienced shops to take example from and learn how they serve customers. From the moment customers receive their merchandise to the moment they send out their reviews, we learn that every step can be more considerate in order to connect with our consumers. Therefore, I have to say that we receive the most positive feedback on Pinkoi than anywhere else.
Our customers are open to giving us support and feedback, and they also give us critique and some even suggest improvements. So we find our relationship with customers on Pinkoi very precious, because we value the personal interactions.
What advice would you give to aspiring Designtrepreneurs?
Actively participate in Pinkoi events. There are lots of great events that are free where you can expose your brand. At the same time, you should observe other brands, because you’ll discover lots of things to learn: Whether it’s product photos or product descriptions, pay attention to the details and your shop will become increasingly competitive.
What would you like to say to the Pinkoi team?
You’re awesome! We hope Pinkoi will always grow alongside with us.