Lawrence Tom's journey to entrepreneurship began with something a bit different: home ownership. As he and his wife worked to furnish their new home, they couldn't find any lighting fixtures they actually liked. That's when Lawrence, who went to art school and spent more than a decade as a product manager for appliances and fixtures, decided to build his own furniture out of his garage in the Bay Area. Soon after, his home furnishing company, emark, was born.
To build his pendants and chandeliers, he visited Alibaba.com looking for lights, and made his first order of a small cardboard box of bulbs. After posting his designs online and receiving positive feedback, he decided to quit his corporate job to build and sell custom furnishings full-time. He visited clients’ homes to discuss, design, and build bespoke furniture; but as his business began ramping up, so did the pandemic and associated restrictions. Instead of visiting homes to build custom furniture, they pivoted their business to manufacturing ready-to-ship pieces, and expanded their ecommerce footprint.
Lawrence used Alibaba.com to search for ready-to-ship products that would allow his business to thrive, and in doing so, he reconnected with his original lightbulb supplier and began sourcing materials that helped him build ready-made products that were easy to ship. He originally had trouble finding suppliers that fit his particular needs, but after working with his lightbulb supplier, he was able to get everything he needed fast and efficiently.
Lawrence successfully pivoted from building custom pieces on a case-by-case basis to a thriving ecommerce retail and wholesale business that continues to grow quarter over quarter. He started with a tiny cardboard box of lightbulbs and has just ordered his first 20-foot container of lightbulbs and parts. Through the moments of uncertainty, one thing that remained steady was his relationship with his supplier– he continues to meet and do business with his supplier on Alibaba.com, using Trade Assurance for peace of mind. Despite never having met in person, Lawrence considers his supplier a trusted partner, and a critical part of his business success.