Meet Phil Doucet from Brooklyn.
Small businesses are the beating heart of any healthy economy. We love to hear the stories expats that are also small businesses owners in Amsterdam who are making it happen. This time for our Local Expat Business Owner, we hear from Phil Doucet. He moved here from Brooklyn, New York with his wife and daughters a few years ago. His wife works in fashion and Phil built a business directly related to his life long passion – Music
So Phil, let’s dive straight in, how did you start your company Music Box Designs ?
Music is my passion. I have been a working musician for over 20 years. Recording, touring and playing shows was my life, always on the road. I started out young and was fortunate enough to secure a recording contract with a record label. I was living my musical dream. Some of the bands I recorded with are Stanley, Katy Mae, and the High Irons.
I am an avid listener of music as well, and my preferred format has always been vinyl. I have a huge collection of vinyl of course. And, like most other collectors, my collection is very special to me. I consider it a snap shot of my life : albums remind me of the places I bought them, of friends, special moments. So, naturally displaying and protecting my records has always been important. I was always a bit disappointed in the vinyl storage options available. They seemed cheaply made and aesthetically unappealing. I wanted sturdy and beautiful wooden boxes that would not only protect my records, but elevate the decor my listening room.
I thought that modular cubes would be best, as I could add to my storage as I acquired more albums. With that, my business partner Gary (he has a massive vinyl collection) and I decided to design our own vinyl storage boxes and see if there was any interest here in Amsterdam. I took the first prototype to Concerto Records and they immediately ordered 10 units.
That was back in 2017 what has changed since then?
Since our “soft” beginnings, we have launched a dedicated web store and we have expanded our business into the international market. We have retail partners across the globe and we have sold our products to over 19 different countries. We have expanded our line of products to 7 inch vinyl storage boxes and an extremely beautiful deluxe Music Box that is designed to look like a Fender Tweed guitar amp. Other new items are record display stands, a new “half box” Vinyl storage that can be used as a stand alone. That will also fit seamlessly on top of our current 12 inch Music Box.
We have also hired massively talented graphic artists to create original logo designs for T- Shirts, Sweatshirts and hats. Our “Whiskey and Vinyl” awareness initiative has been extremely popular with our clients as well and we are hoping to spread our message of active listening throughout the vinyl loving world.
How have you found doing business in The Netherlands ?
I am not sure we would have done this in the States; it’s too cut throat there. Here is is easier and less formal. We just jumped in with the most basic of planning, no spreadsheets, nothing like that. We had demand for something we made and so we satisfied that demand and clients kept ordering. Through my own record buying relationship at Concerto Records on Utrechesstraat I was able to show them the boxes we had and they, excitedly, took them that very day. We must have moved over 1200 boxes with them. They were and still are extremely encouraging and they have expanded our account by buying boxes for 2 other stores they own in Groningen and Apeldorn. There is just no way that I’m walking into a music store in Manhattan and selling my boxes on a handshake.
What next ? What are you plans to grow your activity ?
We are always looking to create new products that are practical, fun and beautiful. We are currently set to launch our first collaboration with a Dutch artist named Martijn Heinsius. He works with wood and epoxy and his precision and artistry are a huge inspiration. And, he is a big music fan with a tasty collection of records himself. I can’t say exactly what we are working on, but we are extremely excited. Stay Tuned.
From a practical business standpoint we are hoping to expand our retail partners throughout Europe and establish ourselves in the United States market.
Thanks Phil for these great insights into your business. We wish you and Gary success for the future.
You can view the Music Box Designs website here for more information.
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