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How Travel and Design Merged in Meggan’s Creative Venture

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

How Travel and Design Merged in Meggan’s Creative Venture

In this interview, we discover the fascinating journey of Meggan Fadden Wynja, the visionary design director and owner of Color Cord Company. From the birth of a unique business idea during the challenges of the Great Recession to pioneering in the niche market of customizable and DIY lighting solutions, Meggan’s story is a blend of innovation, passion, and resilience.

Meggan and her husband Beau talk about the company’s approach to product development, customer engagement, e-commerce strategies, and the challenges of scaling a business. This interview is a treasure trove for entrepreneurs, design enthusiasts, and anyone intrigued by the interplay of creativity and commerce.

Background and Inspiration

SBS – What inspired you to start the Color Cord Company, and how did your background influence your business approach?

Color Cord – In 2008, during the Great Recession, my wife, Meggan, and I had a grim outlook on our careers. She was a hotel and resort interior designer, and I was in sales in the outdoor sporting goods industry. We both had a passion for design and travel. We dreamed of one day traveling around the world and starting our own business. We decided that then was our opportunity, so we backpacked around the world, meeting Fairtrade and artisan groups to start a furniture and decor business. We traveled for two years, visited 46 countries, and were able to begin our first small business. Our furniture and decor business would eventually pivot into a different, more specialized niche business. 

Niche Market

SBS – How did you identify and capitalize on the niche market for customizable and DIY lighting solutions? 

Color Cord – The DIY and customizable lighting niche was born from our furniture and decor business.  We were developing a light fixture made from fish trap baskets made of rattan in a small fishing village in Indonesia. We needed to make that basket into a light fixture. We were inspired by the cloth-covered wire we saw in Europe. After some research, we learned that most of the world’s lighting is made in Zhongshan, China. We flew there and found a supplier for the components of this fish trap light fixture. After launching this product on our furniture website, we kept getting questions on where to find the colorful wires we had on our lighting. We were also getting traffic to our website with the search query of “cloth-covered wire.” 

We struggled to maintain a business with such a broad product mix with just the two of us. We saw the opportunity for a very niche business. A very literal domain was available: colorcord.com. The day we bought the domain, I stayed up all night taking photos of the 12 colors of cloth-covered wire we had, set up a Shopify store, and launched the website. We received our first order, 200 feet of red pendant wire, in Miami, FL, within an hour. Soon after, we offered the other components to use with the wire and eventually started manufacturing customizable lighting solutions made from our components. It was an extraordinary but fun journey on how we became a lighting company. 

Product Development

SBS – Can you describe your process for developing new products and deciding which products to add to your catalog?

Color Cord – We are a solutions-focused company. If our product assortment does not cover what our customers need, we do our best to develop products to address those needs. We also closely watch trends in the design industry (especially color) to try to anticipate what our customers will want. 

Customer Engagement

SBS – How do you engage with your customers to ensure your products meet their needs and preferences?

Color Cord – Positive customer engagement is everything for us. Our business operates based on our five core values: fun, approachable, art, continuous improvement, and resource. We apply these principles to our customer service via phone support, live chat, and content on our website. We try to keep a fun, irreverent style to our content. We don’t want to be a stuffy business in the design world; we want to be easily approachable. Our products and visuals need to be as artful as possible. We always try to improve both the things we are good at and not-so-good at. Lastly, instead of simply selling products, we try to sell ourselves as a resource for our customers, providing excellent service and educational content.  

E-Commerce Strategies

SBS – As an e-commerce business, what strategies have you found most effective in attracting and retaining online customers?

Color Cord – Sticking to our core values. As long as we make decisions based on those five words, things seem to work out, and our customers continue to come back to us. We also heavily rely on the multitude of great resources out there for entrepreneurship and e-commerce to learn and continuously improve ourselves. 

Website Optimization

SBS – How do you optimize your website for user experience and search engine visibility?

Color Cord – Things have changed from the days when we just needed to recognize people who were finding us by inputting “cloth-covered wire” in their browsers. Our strategy is to provide our customers with the best possible content and have SEO experts implement it on our website.   

Digital Marketing

SBS – What role does digital marketing play in your business, and which channels have been most successful for you?

Color Cord – Digital marketing is at the core of our business model, as most of our business is via e-commerce. We use a holistic approach — we try everything from PPC on several platforms, continuous SEO tweaking, creating weekly scorecards through Google Analytics, maintaining consistent and valuable social media channels, and creating artful content for all the above. There is no clear winner. They all feed off each other.

Supply Chain Management

SBS – Can you discuss your approach to supply chain management, especially with the unique challenges of customizable products?

Color Cord – We source most of our components from overseas. We have found that our best strategy is building solid relationships with our suppliers. We stay loyal to our suppliers and work through challenges as business partners versus a more adversarial relationship. Price isn’t everything. The most essential part of the supply chain is obtaining a product when you need it and how you need it. 

There are unique challenges to customizable products. The customizable portion of our supply chain works in concert with our in-house production team in Denver and our component suppliers overseas. Maintaining inventory in bulk while doing one-off production jobs is counterintuitive. This got so complicated that we developed our own app to manage our production jobs and their timelines while communicating without inventory and PO management software. 

Scaling the Business

SBS – How have you scaled your business over the years, and what challenges did you face during this process?

Color Cord – We have scaled our business through the years using a “turtle wins the race” approach. We try to maintain a profitable business versus scaling the top-line sales. Whenever we try to force scale, our profitability suffers. We have found that our focus is on sticking to our core values, listening to our customers, and providing a great workplace. This strategy seems to lead to growth. Other ways can grow the business faster, but usually, that comes with a cost of profit and loss of control of our business, which we are uncomfortable with. 

Customer Feedback and Innovation

SBS – How do you incorporate customer feedback into your product innovation and business strategy?

Color Cord – Every Thursday, we have a companywide team meeting. In a portion of this meeting, our customer service manager keeps the rest of us, including product development, informed about frequent requests from customers. We take these requests very seriously; often, they take priority over our internally developed new products. 

Sustainability Practices

SBS – Are there any sustainability practices that you have implemented in your business operations?

Color Cord – Yes, we have been developing a few practices. One is to limit waste during our production process. We now have several recycling partners who take scrap wire, rejected metal, and plastics to give them a new life. We are also looking into incorporating more sustainable raw goods into our products. We are also working on minimizing our packaging to be more sustainable.


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How Travel and Design Merged in Meggan’s Creative Venture