3 Ecommerce Success Stories & How To Beat The Odds Too

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With millions of ecommerce websites currently on the internet, shining the spotlight on your own business and finding success is far more challenging than before. 

But it’s still possible. 

If you need proof, just look at these business owners who built their ecommerce brands from scratch and now manage to rake in millions of dollars each year. 

Perhaps you can learn from their stories to beat the odds and carve out your own success as well. 

3 Of The Most Inspiring Ecommerce Stories 

Kaleidoscope Hair Products

Kaleidoscope hair homepage

Kaleidoscope Hair Products is a multi-million dollar ecommerce business that literally rose from the ashes. 

After years of work in the hairstyling industry, Jessica Dupart (the company’s founder) opened her own hair salon—which burned down about six months later. Rather than give up, she doubled down on her efforts and raised enough funds to open another one. 

This was also when her million-dollar idea was born. Jessica noticed a large portion of her clients dealt with hair loss caused by tight hairstyles. In response, she developed her now well-known hair-regeneration products, which clearly took off. 

Aside from Jessica’s entrepreneurial mindset, her knack for social media marketing was a major factor in Kaleidoscope’s success. Jessica banks on disruptive marketing tactics—she successfully infused her all-in, no-filters personality into the company’s brand. 

This brought a breath of fresh air to the otherwise cookie-cutter nature of cosmetics branding at the time and brought a lot of attention to Kaleidoscope. 

For instance, the company’s YouTube channel features dozens of comedy clips and parodies of iconic music videos and movies, which further attests to Jessica’s unconventional approach to marketing. 

Why it’s inspiring:
Her salon burning down wasn’t the only difficulty Jessica had to overcome. She was a teen mom, dealt with miscarriage complications, and got kicked out of both school and her parents’ house multiple times. All of that, plus the systemic barriers black businesswomen often deal with, tell you that Jessica never really had it easy. 

Nevertheless, Jessica Dupart still built a brand that pulls in millions to go along with her other successful business endeavors. Her story shows that passion and determination can get you over any obstacles that are in your way.


Beardbrand homepage

Beardbrand was born out of the need to be better. The founder, Eric Bandholz had a typical suburban life. 

He pursued a marketing and business management major with a minor in retail, worked a few sales jobs for companies like Cisco and Dell, and eventually landed a cozy financial advisor position at Merril Lynch. 

Despite Eric’s corporate career path, he saw himself as an entrepreneur. The idea of having a regular job forever just didn’t sit right with him. He was also annoyed by his company’s no-beard policy that didn’t allow him to grow out his facial hair. 

That’s when he realized the stereotype that often comes with bearded men. People usually associate beards with hardy outdoorsmen. Eric, on the other hand, was your regular office guy who just wanted to grow a beard. 

He quickly figured there must’ve been loads of other men in the same situation—that is, being pressured not to grow out their beards either because their companies simply didn’t allow them or because they felt like they wouldn’t fit the existing stereotype. 

That’s how Beardbrand came around—a beard grooming ecommerce store whose vision is to change the way society sees beards and make men from all backgrounds feel comfortable enough to sport facial hair. 

After setting up the company, Eric was featured in a New York Times article. He quickly leveraged that exposure to springboard his business. Now, the company pulls in around $7 million per year. 

Why it’s inspiring: 

Eric Bandholz didn’t strike success on the first try. He pursued the financial advisor position because he needed a stable income source after several failed projects. 

Beardbrand also had a rocky start. Eric brought his idea on the TV show Shark Tank in hopes of attracting investment funds for his company—he got rejected. 

Still, with Eric’s degrees and experience coming in handy, numerous tweaks to business, and investing every bit of revenue back into the company for the first year, Beardbrand eventually turned into a huge success. 

Eric’s story is a good reminder that succeeding at something you don’t want to do is not always as fulfilling as failing at something you want to do. Stepping outside your comfort zone is risky and will probably involve many ups and downs, but it also might lead to some of your greatest successes later on. 


Alibaba homepage

With a net worth of $24.5 billion, Jack Ma is by far one of the most successful ecommerce entrepreneurs in the world. 

He comes from surprisingly humble beginnings. He was born in poverty and his future didn’t look promising. He failed his local Hangzhou University entrance exams twice (once with the lowest possible score in mathematics) and even got rejected from a job at KFC—among many other failures. 

But Jack Ma’s interest in the English language exposed him to new business ideas that would lead him to make billions in China. He was admitted to the Hangzhou Teachers Collage on his third try and graduated in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in English. 

He then worked as an English teacher and set up a translation agency soon after. Fast-forward to 1995, and Jack Ma was on a government-issued trip to the US as an interpreter and translator, during which time he realized how underutilized the internet was back home in China. 

He then got the idea to set up China Pages, think of it as the Chinese version of Yellow Pages. The business was working—until it fell flat two years later due to a lack of funding and overwhelming competition. After a brief stint as the head of a government-backed internet project, Jack Ma founded Alibaba in 1999, and the rest is history. 

Why it’s inspiring: 

Jack Ma’s story is a classic tale of how perseverance can beat talent. No matter how many times he failed, he pushed through and treated each defeat as a lesson. This helped him build up all the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the end.

How To Beat The Odds and Become an Ecommerce Success 

It would be disingenuous to suggest that these are not one-in-a-million success stories. Jack Ma got into ecommerce when it was still in its infancy. Jessica Dupart and Eric Bandholz started their businesses when ecommerce retail sales were still around $1.3 billion worldwide. That number now sits at $6.3 billion in 2024. 

In other words, there’s a lot of competition in ecommerce, and breaking into the industry is as difficult as ever. Still, if you’re inspired and determined, you’ll do whatever it takes to succeed—including following these tips.

Don’t try what they did 

Copying what other people did won’t bring you the same success. Jack Ma’s, Jessica Dupart’s, and Eric Brandholz’s success stories are all unique. There’s no “I got into ecommerce just because I wanted to get rich” formula to follow.

If there’s one thing that all successful people have in common, it’s having their own distinctive journey—or rich parents, but that’s not what this is about.

In other words, try to be yourself and focus on what makes you different. Find something you’re passionate about, or identify a problem that currently bothers you, and then figure out how you can tie that into an ecommerce business. 

That’s what will help your brand stand out among thousands of others. 

Create a business plan

A detailed plan is a must for any long-term business success story. In addition to figuring out what products to sell and where to sell them, you also need to consider how to sell them and who to sell them to. 

A smart business plan determines who your ideal customers are and whether or not there’s enough room in the market for you to succeed. This helps ensure your ecommerce store starts off on the right foot and prepares you for any unexpected hiccups that may occur down the road. 

Check out the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) business plan template to get an idea of what a proper plan looks like. You can also find many other useful resources on SBA’s website—like how to calculate your startup costs and how to perform market research. 

Take your time building relationships with your customers 

The rule of seven in marketing suggests that a potential customer gets exposed to a brand’s message at least seven times before making a purchase. This exposure could be as simple as viewing an advertisement, visiting the website, or seeing the brand name pop up in a Google search result. 

In any case, it’s a good practice to develop and roll out marketing campaigns before you list your products. This helps put your brand in front of new audiences while building up some hype around your business. It can also earn you a few quick sales as soon as your products become available.

Build up your social media presence first (that’s part of the reason why Kaleidoscope blew up), and remember not to be too salesy. You want to add something of value and build long-lasting relationships with your customers, not purely transactional sales.  

For instance, Beardbrand’s social media posts mainly involve beard grooming tips and before/after transformation-type videos. They entertain and educate the audience about Beardbrand’s products without necessarily trying to sell them anything. This earns a viewer’s trust and contributes to building a loyal customer base. 

Although old-school, email newsletters are still highly effective tools. Even if customers don’t buy your products immediately, you can still persuade them to sign up for your email list and earn conversions later. 

For instance, a discount code in a monthly email might be just enough to nudge them to make a purchase. Newsletters also help keep existing customers in the loop about new product announcements, recommendations, and product-specific updates.  

Get people products they want and/or need 

Jessica Dupart realized that women with tight hairstyles often dealt with hair loss. Eric Bandholz figured out that men who were new to beard grooming couldn’t find or didn’t know which products to buy. Jack Ma spotted a gap in the entire Chinese market. 

Another thing successful ecommerce owners have in common is that they enter a niche, identify their target audience’s main pain points, and create the right solutions. You can’t just pick a random product you think people would like and roll with it. 

You need solid proof that consumers genuinely need or want your products. After using reason to choose a niche, study your consumer base thoroughly and then decide what products to sell. 

Identify any issues or challenges your target consumers can’t find a solution for, and observe your potential competitors to spot any gaps you might be able to fill. 

Expect adversity 

If there’s anything else to take away from most success stories, it’s that there’s no such thing as smooth sailing. Setbacks are inevitable. The best thing you can do is anticipate them and act fast when they happen. 

Maybe your website can’t handle high traffic volumes during holiday seasons. Maybe a few unaddressed negative reviews would drive away a large number of potential buyers. Heck, maybe you’ll succeed so fast that you won’t have enough inventory to fulfill everyone’s order on time. 

You need backup plans, so be sure to research how other successful businesses built their ecommerce stores. Study the most common mistakes people make when setting up their stores for the first time, and jot down the steps you would take to rectify these situations if they ever happened to you.


Success isn’t guaranteed by any means, but survivorship bias and inspiring true stories show us that it’s definitely possible. 

At the end of the day, you don’t have to match the success of any other businesses—you just need to set yourself to succeed as best you can and go from there. 

So, if you’re embarking on a new ecommerce business journey, make sure to conduct extensive market research, build up a fool-proof business plan, and always keep your target audience at the top of your mind.   

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