I’m the owner of hausenware, a Sonoma-based small business specializing in ceramic and glass tableware. I founded the company in 1995, with the idea that large retailers would benefit from a design and sourcing partner to execute their unique private label collections. We work with retailers like Starbucks, Fred Meyer and Crate & Barrel, and they know that we can find them what they need at the right factory someplace around the world. Factories are full of energy and creativity, and that passion comes from my father, who at 81 is still running, and constantly innovating at his small aerospace manufacturing business.
That ‘someplace around the world’ means I do a lot of traveling, visiting factories in Japan, Korea, Indonesia, China, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Brazil and the U.S. The ‘small business’ part means hausenware has always intentionally operated as a virtual company, with a small operational team in our inspiring rural location of old growth redwoods, vineyards and farms. Everyone else is scattered around the country and globe (which is why I do so much running around. Fortunately, I love being all over the place).
I’ve always dreamed of making product in this country. In the fall of 2011, I was inspired by Howard Schultz’s vision and his to call to businesses to create jobs in the U.S. I made a few phone calls, and a few days later, found myself in East Liverpool, Ohio – once the Pottery Capital of the USA. I had no idea we had this history. I approached both Howard Schultz and the owner of American Mug & Stein and suggested a collaboration. In our fifth year together, we continue to create special mugs for Starbucks. Here’s a short video that tells that story better than I could:
Retail is so much faster than it used to be – products are constantly being refreshed and re-imagined – seasonally, quarterly and even monthly. I’m constantly collaborating with my customers, and that means continuously showing them reference photos of ideas, products and processes.
Managing all these photos was completely frustrating for me year after year, especially because I need to be hands on with the photos to know what’s going on with our products. Two things in particular were driving me up the wall: finding things fast and accessing them offline. I tried Apple’s photo product, but was challenged by not being able to organize a lot of photos, then find the one I wanted quickly. I can’t spend an hour looking for a single image! And, Dropbox was only good for dumping and storing photos.
So, I did yet another quarterly Google search, and came across an article and emailed the author. He told me about Mylio and…done! I don’t even remember who he is to thank him, because I don’t need anything else. I was an early adopter, and have been on it everyday since.
With Mylio, I can be in a meeting with a customer, and if they want to see something from a year ago, I can find it – fast. And I can do this offline, which is critical because in meetings or on the road, you can’t always count on wifi availability, speeds, etc.
Using Mylio thumbnail and preview images on my iPhone has also been super helpful. I’ve never had to say Oh shoot, I can’t email you that image from my iphone, I have to wait until I’m back at the office or hotel. I can be sitting on a subway in Hong Kong and share images from my phone with no problem. I’ve never emailed a thumbnail from my iphone that wasn’t perfectly acceptable for someone to make a decision.
How I Use Mylio For My Small Business:
I use Mylio for two purposes: documenting product development, and maintaining the hausenware product catalog.
Mylio and Product Development
When I visit factories, I take photos and videos of techniques, equipment, product samples, and ideas (say showing a certain color next to a certain material). I document all this both for myself, and to show people with whom I’m collaborating. Mylio is perfect for me, because I can work seamlessly both online and offline.
When I’m on the plane again, I’ll do my sorting on an iPad, getting rid of what I don’t like and organizing the new stuff into folders and subfolders. One factory folder, for instance, may have 25 subfolders. And once I land and get back on wifi, all my devices sync.
I’ll also tag photos – maybe put red stars on the ones I need for a presentation. In the meeting, I’ll go through these photos really quickly – flip flip flip – and if a customer likes one, I’ll add another star. Or I can open a folder – say for a particular product – and we can scan 2,000 images super-fast. When the meeting’s done, I have my starred images of what they’ve approved.
Mylio and Product Catalog
Everything we sell to any retailer comes through our office, where we have a little Canon DSLR photo setup to catalog them. Since almost no picture comes out of the camera that doesn’t need editing, we use Mylio for that too. I’m not a photographer; I don’t know how to use Photoshop, or Aperture, or Lightroom. They’re too complicated. The settings in Mylio are very easy, so I can do basic edits and boom – totally presentable.
Mylio = Real People
It’s so easy to take a picture with your iPhone that photo organizing can become a massive, frustrating time waster. Other companies get into this space, then get out of it – Dropbox Carousel for instance – but this is what Mylio does, and they’re really good at it. The support staff is always there with a knowledgeable answer if you have a question. Call them, and you’ll get a real person with real answers who cares. This is a real, solid business with old-style customer service which in today’s world is rare. In the current app economy, nobody is going to take the time. I couldn’t have adopted this workflow without help from support. I was asking a lot of questions the first few months, but once I got it set up, it runs really, really nicely. Support hasn’t heard from me in years!