JC Holmes understands what is special about cracking open an old book. He also has caught on to the new days of electronic readers, and with his business partner Maha, has made the two compliment each other. Introducing: Reauthored.com, a website that sells beautifully hand-made electronic reader cases made from real books. They currently sell online and are going to be entering a few brick and mortar stores in the near future. What makes the Reauthored.com cases different than other tablet cases? They are not made to look like books, they ARE real books.
JC learned the importance of quality and integrity when he ventured into a business called Vintage Prime LLC selling high-end designer bags on ebay. He went from there to working for VAMortgageCenter.com with Maha and credits them with giving him the support and experience to go out on his own. Now JC and Maha are working hard to get the word out about Reauthored.com and trying to get the cases in the hands of as many customers as possible.
What originally inspired you to create the reauthored kindle cases?
It started a few months ago when I stumbled across a forum post online that was showing a gift a girl had gotten from her boyfriend. The gift was a new Kindle, but the “wrapping” was what got my attention. The guy had taken an old book, cut the middle out and put the Kindle inside. It was pretty crude, but I thought it was a neat idea and wrote it down in my little book of things to consider. A few months passed and I decided it was time to try a new venture. With that in mind, I went looking through my book to see what I could possibly take a shot at. I came across the Kindle case idea and decided to go make a prototype and see what people thought. I got a lot of positive feedback and after pitching the idea to my co-founder Maha, we decided that this was the idea we should try and run with.
I see that right now we can purchase the cases on your website www.reauthored.com how do you plan to market this website, or what other distribution methods are in the works?
We are currently focusing on some good old grass-roots marketing. Blogging, Twitter, Facebook and most of all, word of mouth. We are doing our best to get our product in as many hands and in front of as many eyes as possible. We really believe in and are proud of our product and we know that if we can get people to take a look at our cases, they will love them too.
The website is live and even though the Kindle Case is our “flagship” product, we are currently adding cases almost every day for other eReaders and Tablets. We now have cases available for the Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Ipad, Samsung Galaxy, Blackberry Playbook, Sony Digital Touch and will continue to add products for several other devices very soon. We are doing our best with a team of 2 and a limited budget to market the site and we feel like we are doing pretty well so far, but it’s a long road. Maha has written several blog posts and we continue to add new content to the site every day. Since our biggest surplus right now is time, we are trying to focus our efforts on on-site SEO as much as we can.
Outside of marketing our site, we are also looking at several other avenues to get our product out there. Etsy has been our first effort and we seem to be getting a good response there. It’s a great cost-effective storefront and we have been more than pleased so far. We are also listing items on Ebay and even though it seems to be more saturated with competition, we are still getting a positive response from our listings. Outside of that, we are looking every day for retail outlets for our products. We’ve identified a few local retailers that are interested in carrying our products and we will be further communicating with them in the coming weeks. We also encourage anyone who thinks our cases might be a good fit for their stores to contact us.
Many of the entrepreneurs we interview on MO.com have online companies, or service companies. What do you think is the biggest challenge of selling a product rather than a virtual experience or service?
Our biggest hurdle seems to be communicating how cool our cases actually are through pictures and text. Our product is unique and because of this, it’s sometimes hard to communicate the benefits of our product in the short window of time someone is on our page.
Another challenge is that we are currently only catching the “aftermarket” crowd. Many of our potential customers are purchasing cases at the same time and from the same retailer that they are purchasing their eReaders and Tablets from. These customers are paying 2-3 times what we are charging for a case that is half the quality of ours because of convenience and lack of knowledge of alternate products. We are doing our best to get in front of buyers before they purchase their devices while also trying to educate customers who already own these devices of their options.
You worked as a loan officer for VAMortgagecenter.com, and President of Vintage Prime LLC, after getting your BS in Agribusiness Management from The University of Missouri. What do you believe in these backgrounds has helped you in launching Reauthored?
Wow, it seems like a strange path when you write it out like that! Honestly, my background has been less important than the people around me. My Ag degree from Mizzou has helped me because of all of the entrepreneur, marketing and finance classes I took in addition to my normal classes. Vintage Prime will most likely be the strangest business I am ever involved with. I bought and sold high-end designer handbags on Ebay for almost 2 years through college. The most influential thing I took from that was how important legitimacy is online and off. I branded myself as a retailer of only authentic merchandise and garnered a pretty good premium by doing so. When people search for your name, they need to know they can trust you from the first article they read to the last. If you don’t have your name, you don’t have anything and I will carry those principles with me to the grave.
Maha and I both actually worked at VAMortgageCenter.com before starting ReAuthored. Being a loan officer was a crazy experience and I learned so much. Not only was it sales, we were helping people with one of the biggest financial decision of their lives which requires great communication and patience. I made some great friends and business connections there as well; Brant, Brock and the rest of the VAMC team have gone out of their way to help us and we greatly appreciate it. If I didn’t have this entrepreneurial virus, I couldn’t think of a company I would rather have retired from.
You now have cases for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Ipad, Samsung Galaxy, Blackberry Playbook, Sony Digital Touch What is next? Can we expect to see reauthored branch out from selling solely electronic reader cases?
Oh yeah! We are currently adding products almost every day. We have gotten some great feedback so far and one of the things we hear often is, “We love your cases, but do you make them for xxx device?” We love the great feedback, but our goal is to offer enough product variants that we can avoid that comment. Tablets are the market we are going after next. We just added the Ipad, but are working feverishly to add cases for all of the great tablets on the market. Soon we hope to introduce cases with new tablets and eReaders as they roll out.
What are the advantages of the reauthored cases over other electronic reader cases?
Quality, cost, look, feel and security are just a few of our advantages. Honestly, an eReader case in the store is made across the world with the cheapest materials available and the first human hand it touches will most likely be the person putting it on the shelf. Our cases are made by hand, with love, from a real hardback book, inspected by us to ensure proper fit and function. The case in the store will probably cost you at least $50 while ours sells for $29 with free priority shipping. Also, we’re not just sharing a product, we’re sharing an experience and a connection.
A case from ReAuthored also has the look and feel of a real book because it is a real book. Each case is made from a discarded hardback book; We don’t destroy new books that can be enjoyed, but only use books that would have otherwise been recycled. We offer 3 exterior cover color options that give the case a durable skin and unique look or you can leave your book uncovered and keep the full appeal of the original book.
Because the case was originally a hardback book, our cases provide impact resistance far greater than most cases on the market. The elastic closure also provides security in transport and ensures that no matter what you’re doing, your device will be secure in it’s case. As an added bonus, our cases look just like a book which means they have the theft appeal of a book.
Also, we’re not just selling a product, we’re sharing an experience and a connection. Each book has a custom library card and a hand-written note. Every case we make and every book we use is completely unique and beautiful in its own way. That’s the part that is so hard to convey online.
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