Kylie Thomas is the Co-Founder & Director of Systemise Fulfilment, an eCommerce Prep & Fulfilment Service based in the UK, USA & EU.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
In January 2008, Kev and I were expecting our son, Theo, when we were both 18 years old. I spent the next seven years completing a hairdressing apprenticeship, and an NVQ level 3 to become a self-employed hairdresser. Meanwhile, Kev completed an Electrical Engineering apprenticeship, and Bachelor’s Degree.
By 2015, Kev and I had begun to live separate lives while working long days, evenings and most weekends. We were blessed with our daughter, Harper in January 2015 and that’s when we decided something had to change. Our business was formed in June 2015 after doing a ‘family apprentice challenge’ to raise profits from £10. After buying and reselling products on eBay, we quickly made profit but realised this wasn’t the best platform to sell on. We began buying discounted products from retailers and selling them on Amazon using the Fulfilled By Amazon Program. Within six months, we’d sold over £130,000 of products, and quit our careers to work on the business.
We now have three operational warehouses in the United Kingdom, two in the USA and one in Europe. To date, we’ve shipped over two million units.
How did the idea come to you for the company? / How did you achieve awareness?
We realised that eCommerce trends were growing rapidly and building an eCommerce business would allow us to work together. We documented and shared our entrepreneurial journey on social media, and our YouTube channel quickly began to grow. We were receiving lots of questions and enquiries to use our warehouse.
From there, Systemise Fulfilment was born and we began working with paying clients. More interest and enquiries began to come in and over the next four years, we were shipping thousands of products.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
To date, we’ve never raised external funding. We’ve reinvested profits to keep building our infrastructure, teams and systems. We have also used government-backed schemes such as Kickstart and the Apprenticeship Scheme.
What are the key successes?
- December 2015: Quit our full time careers.
- April 2016: Hired our first employee.
- June 2016: Moved into a 2,000SqFT warehouse.
- August 2018: Opened our first licensed warehouse In Brigg, UK.
- June 2020: Launched in the USA.
- June 2020: Opened 2 licensed warehouses in New Jersey & Wisconsin.
- July 2020: Moved into a 10,000SqFT warehouse.
- May 2021: Launched in Europe.
- May 2021: Opened a licensed warehouse in Czech Republic.
- September 2021: Opened another licensed warehouse in Bournemouth, UK.
- October 2021: Passed 2-million shipped units
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Starting our business when Harper was only six-months old and Theo was seven-years old meant that we had a very young family. We sacrificed many early mornings and late evenings to launch the business.
Quitting our careers was another challenge. We knew that building separate careers would not allow us to achieve the life we wanted so we stayed focused on this vision and made decisions based on this.
Moving into our first warehouse was another major leap. We moved our business from home into a 2,000SqFT warehouse. To prepare, we studied money management and this gave us clarity to make the decision knowing we had time to make it work.
What are your plans now/for the future?
We are working hard to capitalise on the foundations we have built across the globe, expanding within each major eCommerce market. We hope to expand to five more locations in the UK in 2022.
We are currently expanding our teams, hiring new members of staff, apprentices, and exploring graduate schemes in multiple fields from warehousing, administration, customer support, finances, social media marketing, human resources and technical.
We are investing more into our people, equipment, tools, technology and operations so we can explore new ways of building relationships, and keep providing an outstanding service.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
- Be patient.
- Expect the unexpected – there will be curve balls.
- Learn how you can overcome challenges.
- You need to have passion as you never switch off and it takes a big commitment.
- Believe in what you are trying to start.
- Have trusted people around you.
- Don’t tell everybody everything that you are doing as some people can be negative.
Can you share you top tips for entrepreneurial success?
- Go with your gut feeling. This is usually right.
- Be willing to have hard conversations, not just yourself but with others.
- Get yourself out there – use social media to promote yourself.
- Really think about how you are marketing your business. Who you are talking to and attracting.
- Take a step back and look at what you are creating. Reflect on how far you have come.
- Give clear direction to team members and give accountability.
- Keep yourself educated and keep up to date with improving your own skills.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
Kev (partner and co-founder): I sometimes feel that I don’t tell him enough but he has never once doubted our business. He has the drive, desire and passion that we can keep doing this and that’s very inspiring.
Adele: The woman she is and what she stands for – never doubting herself and staying true to what she believes in. I love her.
Jennifer Lawrence: I find her funny and that inspires me to not always take life so serious.
Friends and family: Who have helped and inspired me throughout my life.
Positive people: They always inspire me to be positive and kind to others
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
- It always seems impossible until its done.
- Great things never came from comfort zones.
- I am enough.
- Trust your timing.
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?