CMU and Hope College College Grads Turn To Freelancer.com to Pursue Dream of Starting a Bricks-and-Mortar Store in Hometown, Traverse City.
Childhood best-friends Lucas Craig, 29, and Eddy Beyne, 30, grew up together in Traverse City, attended college in Grand Rapids, and have now founded a budding fashion empire, Washington Alley -- despite living in separate corners of the state.
In 2016, they first launched a pair of jeans, “Webster,” sourced from the 110-year-old local manufacturer Cone Denim and stitched together in California. Then the pair built an online store to sell their wares. It quickly snowballed into an outlet for other curated, locally made products.
Lucas resides in Plymouth, about 20 minutes outside Detroit, while Eddie lives in St. Joseph, in western Michigan, but their biggest obstacle was the technology, so they turned to Freelancer.com to take their e-commerce venture to the next level.
The website was built on the Shopify platform but Lucas found it very difficult to change the names and banners of the drop-down menus for product pages. He also wanted to keep the shipping and returns policy tab and include banner images on the bottom of the page.
He reached out to Shopify’s experts but found the work was very expensive, which is when he turned to Freelancer.com
“Up until now we’d done most of the work ourselves, trying to figure out how to best layout the website and design,” Lucas said.
“We’d seen features on other Shopify stores but couldn’t figure out how they got it there. I wasn’t sure how to do it myself. I reached out to Shopify experts but it was expensive to get it done. I stumbled across Freelancer.com, put out a bid, and had a number of responses.”
“It was really easy to sort through all the different developers, and I selected the one that was the best fit after chatting. I was surprised at how easy and fast it was, and how everything was done.”
Ravinder Dang, a member of Indian software development team Websyms, worked on Lucas’ project for four days and charged US$320.
He said this is a common request for Shopify websites.
"Shopify only allows its users to add in a product name, image, and description, which is very limited. A lot of employers have a lot more ideas to add, such as warranties, size options, etc. We develop plugins to allow business owners to add more options to their product pages," said Ravinder. "Lucas and I understood each other all throughout the project, and I would definitely love to work with him again."
Lucas uses words like “utility” and “street” to describe the site’s products -- which he says are built to last.
“Our whole motto is ‘to minimalise the things you own [and] replace many cheap items with fewer, better items.’ We understand it does cost more, and it’s more for the consumer to buy American, but the whole idea is instead of having five backpacks and 20 pairs of pants, you have a select few, well-made items.”
They one day dream of opening a brick-and-mortar store in their native Traverse City.
“It’s a nice tourist town, full of beaches, breweries, restaurants. It’s a great place to grow up and be in the summer,” Craig said. “There’s a lot of inspiration for clothing, outdoor clothing, outdoor wear, utility and work wear. Either in the city or out in the woods, it’s the best of both worlds.”
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