Read on to find out how she leveraged the right platforms so she could focus on designing her next collection, instead of managing spreadsheets.
Bench: Where did the idea for Maison Miru come from?
Trisha Okubo: Maison Miru is the business I had always dreamed of creating. I had been working as a tech project manager for years, but my heart was in design—mainly, the idea of democratizing design and making it more accessible for all people, regardless of age, gender, personal architecture, or income.
I’ve always been drawn to the idea of preserving memories and making them tangible. Jewelry brought all of my ideas and philosophies together in a really beautiful way. The wonderful thing is, jewelry is universal—you don’t have to be a sample size to feel its power. It symbolizes memories, captures moments, and reminds you of what matters most in life. I started just like everyone else—making pieces for myself and my friends, but when strangers started asking where I had gotten the jewelry, I decided to set up shop.
What was it like creating an online business from scratch?
In my former life in the tech industry, I worked for a company that built their own platform from the ground up. We had to do everything from building navigation and product pages from ground zero, to manually connecting our payment gateway to process credit cards. Compared to that, setting up Maison Miru was a snap. Thanks to online platforms like Shopify and Bench, I was able to get my new business up and running within a day. Honestly, there’s never been an easier time to start an ecommerce business.
How has using Bench and Shopify together impacted your business?
I had worked in ecommerce before starting Maison Miru, so I knew to do a full competitive audit before choosing an ecommerce platform and bookkeeping service. The decision to go with both Shopify and Bench was an easy one—both had great reviews, a full feature set, and pricing that made sense for a business of my size.
My decision to go with Shopify was also driven by the robust app marketplace that allowed me to install all kinds of add-on functionalities, like customer reviews and email marketing, even bookkeeping—like Bench—all at the click of a button. When you’re a small business, it’s important to get things that aren’t in your wheelhouse off your plate and into the hands of experts. That way, you can focus on your passion—growing your business. I have to say, Shopify and Bench have both been great partners. When I’m not designing and running my business, I do ecommerce business advising and mentorship, and I’ve recommended both platforms to other entrepreneurs just starting out.
Why did you decide to outsource your bookkeeping?
When I started Maison Miru, it was just me. I was bootstrapping the business, and I didn’t have the luxury of hiring teammates to help me lighten the load. I did everything—design, merchandising, marketing and social media, fulfillment and customer service, general and administrative tasks, securing trademarks, and of course bookkeeping.
Honestly, it was too much task switching, and it felt incredibly inefficient. So I worked to find partners to hand off as many of those roles as I could, and that’s when I found Bench to tackle the bookkeeping, allowing me to focus on my goal: filling people’s lives and their jewelry box with extraordinary memories.
How has Pulse, Bench’s real-time financial dashboard, been useful to you?
Healthy cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, and for us, it’s even more important because we’re self-funded. Pulse is essential in that it lets us see where our cash is coming from and where it’s going. I keep a pretty close eye on metrics and analytics from the store, but Pulse helps me connect our revenue numbers to our spend. I can see when we are incurring abnormally high expenses and then dig into whether this is a function of growth or if there’s something that needs addressing.
What’s been the biggest insight you’ve gained from Bench?
A couple of months ago, when combing through my Bench reports, I noticed that our inventory holding costs were a bit too high. We’re currently expanding into a couple of new product lines—a charm necklace concept called Secrets & Stories, and earrings made for cartilage piercings. We spent heavily on product development for these two lines, which made our main collection feel too large. We decided to retire a subset of older designs and at the same time manage inventory holding costs.
How is your life different now that Bench is doing your books?
My Bench reports help keep the business—and me—in check. I can see at a glance what’s working and what’s not. Is revenue growth tracking marketing spend? Am I tying up too much capital in inventory? What are my major drivers of cost, and can they be managed?
Now that Bench has me covered for bookkeeping, I can focus on the other aspects of the business that light me up, like jewelry design, interacting with our wonderful community, staying in touch with my devoted customers—who are the heart of our business—and dreaming up the initiatives that will take the business to the next level.
If you’re a dreamer and doer and want to level up your ecommerce business, see how Bench can give you the financial insights (and free time) you need.