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IRX 2013 PREVIEW Interview with Costas Damianou of Magic Tao

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Ahead of IRX 2013 we’re interviewing some of the many retailers of all sizes who will be appearing at our annual expo. Today we speak to Costas Damianou, founder of Magic Tao to find out about the etailer’s story so far – and what he’ll be covering at IRX 2013.

Internet Retailing: Tell us about Magic Tao – and how you went from start-up to where you are today.

Costas Damianou, founder of Magic Tao: We produce magic tricks for amateur and professional magicians. We also sell magic tricks on other people’s behalf. I started magic in 2003 and today I am one of the largest producers of magic tricks in Europe, if not the world.

I’m also a magician – I’ve been into magic for close to 20 years and have been performing for the last 10 years or so, though not as much as I used to due to the nature of the business.

At the moment I’ve got six people here helping me to put one of my next products together and I have a distributor based in the States, who distributes worldwide.

IR: What was the biggest challenge you faced in that time?

CD: There were two. One was starting up a business with hardly any capital. The other was trying to be different, doing something noone else was doing. Once I know what other companies are doing in my industry, I always want to be doing a different thing that would work. I prefer people copy me rather than copying others. That’s always been the challenge. It’s not as simple as it sounds, but I’ve achieved it and it’s worked wonders for me.

IR: And what thing did you get really right?

CD: People acknowledge my brand. My brand is a very strong one, down to the way I package things. People know it’s Magic Tao and that I’m behind it, it’s Costas. It’s a very competitive industry so you have to do whatever you can to be noticed.

IR: What one piece of advice would you give to others starting out?

CD: First, try to do different things to what other people are doing. If someone has a particular style don’t copy their style, you have to be your own person. Your individuality has to come across in everything you do in your business, from artwork, presentation to packaging. From my experience that helps to push you forward faster and it differentiates you from the start.

I started the business with virtually no money. Every obstacle was a challenge and it made me a better creator in the type of packaging I do. When you haven’t got unlimited funds you have to think about how to do things differently.

IR: At IRX 2013, you’re appearing in a session on advanced selling techniques. What would your top tip be?

CD: Don’t let your customers forget about you. I don’t want people to forget that they shopped at Magic Tao. I won’t send my customers a newsletter every day, but I will send them one every week, telling them about my new products. When they forget about you, they end up shopping at your competitor, because they are the ones telling them they exist.

IR: Beyond your own appearance at IRX, what else are you looking forward to seeing or doing?

CD: I’m looking forward to seeing other like-minded people. I don’t know everything and there’s a million and one things I still have to learn. I’m sure that someone at the Expo will make me think about something interesting, and introduce me to something different.

Costas Damianou, founder of Magic Tao, will be speaking in the Online Merchandising and Selling conference at IRX 2013. He’ll be taking part in the Advanced Selling Techniques panel session at 2pm on March 20. For more information on IRX 2013, to register to attend for free, or to book a place in one of our 12 workshops, click here,

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