How This Vinyl Record Side-hustle Spun Into a Million-dollar Business

bondi records craig fordham and partner geri working in office vinyl wall

Craig Fordham’s passion for collecting vinyl has seen him build Bondi Records into a million-dollar online store. Strategic purchases and seasonal investment, powered by the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card, have helped him supercharge his business and his Qantas Points balance.

English ex-pat Craig Fordham has been collecting records ever since he could remember. He was three-years-old when he begged his parents to buy him Frank Sinatra’s “New York New York” and spent his Saturdays as a teen thumbing through HMV’s catalogue. It led to him, despite being unable to play an instrument, cementing his love of music by DJing in nightclubs in the southeast of England in the early noughties. 

He sold his vinyl collection to help fund his move to Australia nearly 17 years ago. “Selling it all is something I regretted every day after that,” he says. “But I purchased a sound system from the 70s about five or six years ago and fell back in love with the physical and analogue nature of records.”

bondi records craig fordham and partner geri vinyl wall shelf

The rekindling of Fordham’s love for music, a timely redundancy in 2021 and the renaissance of vinyl led to the birth of his online store, Bondi Records. “I built myself a Shopify website and started with stocking 18 products from one supplier.”

In the three years since, Fordham’s business has grown exponentially and now offers over 2000 products. “We’ve tripled our earnings year-on-year since we started and we’ve now sold over one million dollars in the past 12 months, with our trajectory expected to be in the region of $3 million next year.” 

Fordham runs Bondi Records with his partner Geri, while still working a full-time job and has used the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card to help scale his business. “When I signed up, it seemed like an easier way to get access to funding than the traditional routes of setting up business loans through banks.” He puts his ability to grow the business down to clever buying before key trading periods. 

sticker packaging bondi records vinyl

Enjoy financial flexibility

“Over last year’s Black Friday and Christmas sales period, we bought $150,000 worth of stock, which was our single largest investment to date. With a dynamic line of unsecured funding¹ and up to 51 days to pay for purchases², our American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card makes it easier to fund these large purchases, which in turn allow us to grow.”

It’s a gambit that has paid off for Fordham, who recently enjoyed his most successful November-to-February period to date. 

Using the Card to buy stock for the online store, as well as to pay for advertising through Meta and Google, is also giving the business’s points balance a serious boost. American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card Members earn up to 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 spent on everyday business expenses and 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent on Qantas products and services³. Further,  the points your business earns from flying will be tripled when you book eligible flights with your Card⁴.

bondi records craig fordham and partner geri working in office vinyl wall shelf

“We use the Card for as many business expenses as we can to earn Qantas Points and redeem them for business travel,” says Fordham. “It means that I can catch up with suppliers face-to-face over in the UK without it being a great cost to the business.”

Unlock the possibilities for your business. Earn 170,000 bonus Qantas Points* with the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card. Spend $6,000 on eligible purchases within three months of your approval date. Offer ends 25 June 2024. New American Express Card Members only. T&Cs apply. Learn more.

Fordham has his eye on adding audio equipment to Bondi Records’ future offering and is considering opening a brick-and-mortar store. “My garage and spare room are filled with boxes of vinyl and there’s only so much more we can continue to grow. I think it’s only a matter of time before we get our own Bondi Records space, hire some help and continue to scale the business.”

Unlock the possibilities

Craig Fordham shares his top tips for ensuring a constant product supply, running a lean and efficient operation and being rewarded for your expenses. 

“Diversify supplier channels”

The magic of vinyl is in the physical product. Fordham understands this and has diversified his supply channels beyond local distributors to ensure he can offer the best range to his customers. “I also buy from the US, UK, Europe and Canada,” he says. “It’s convenient being able to use our American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card internationally while taking advantage of its cash flow management benefits, including the no pre-set spending limit¹ and up to 51 days to pay for purchases².” 

“Work smarter, not harder”

amex red book on table bondi records

Amex Qantas Business Rewards

Being a two-person outfit, Bondi Records has had to be agile and efficient. The Card’s Automated Reporting ability directly feeds statements from the Card Account into platforms including Quicken, Excel, MYOB⁵ and Xero, helping Fordham keep his operation lean. “It’s just myself and my partner and we rope in some family where we can to help pack records when we’re busy. I have a full-time job so the automated reporting function gives me one less thing I need to think about.”

“Take your time”

While Fordham is keen to expand Bondi Records into a community complete with a brick-and-mortar space, he’s also not forcing the issue. “We’ve been grateful to grow in a way that’s been organised and sustainable, and I've been able to fit the business around my life, my full-time job and my 14-month-old baby.” He advocates for other small business owners to embrace momentum sensibly. “I’m not thinking that I’ve got to be in a new space in 12 months’ time. I’m just trying to make sure the business has another year of growth on a similar trajectory and that I'm building something worthwhile.”

“Be rewarded for your business expenses”

bondi records craig fordham holds up record vinyl wall shelf

Not only does Fordham earn Qantas Points through buying stock with his American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card, he also earns 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on utilities, insurance and payments to government bodies³ – like his tax bill. “I put everything on the Card that I possibly can. I’ve always been points-minded and the rewards help you save money in the long run on things like Qantas flights and hotel stays.” 

“Protect yourself and your purchases”

“We deal with 15 global suppliers so the Card’s fraud protection guarantee⁶ is great for us. We recently created slip mats that people can put on their turntable plates and ordered them from a supplier we didn’t know too much about. We did our due diligence but it was nice to have that peace of mind throughout the transaction.” The confidence is extended to business travel, with return flights paid for by the Card enjoying complimentary travel insurance⁷. “It’s just another benefit that takes something off your mind,” adds Fordham. (T&Cs and exclusions apply, such as maximum age limits, pre-existing medical conditions and cover limits).

Unlock the possibilities for your business. Earn 170,000 bonus Qantas Points* with the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card. Spend $6,000 on eligible purchases within three months of your approval date. Apply by 25 June 2024. New American Express Card Members only. T&Cs apply. Learn more.

Click here for Terms and Conditions

SEE ALSO: Investing in Tech Has Seen This Startup Earn Half a Million Qantas Points

*170,000 bonus Qantas Points: Offer only available to new American Express Card Members who apply by 25 June 2024, are approved and spend $6,000 on eligible purchases on their new Card in the first three (3) months from the Card approval date. Eligible purchases do not include Card fees and charges, for example annual fees, interest, late payment, cash advances, balance transfers, traveller’s cheques and foreign currency conversion. Card Members who currently hold or who have previously held any other Card product issued by American Express Australia Limited in the preceding 18-month period are ineligible for this offer. 170,000 bonus Qantas Points will be awarded to the eligible Card Member's Account 8-10 weeks after the spend criteria has been met. Subject to the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card Points Terms and Conditions. $450 annual fee applies. This advertised offer is not applicable or valid in conjunction with any other advertised or promotional offer.

American Express approval criteria applies. Subject to Terms and Conditions. Fees and charges apply. All information is correct as at 1 May 2024 and is subject to change. This offer is only available to those who reside in Australia. Cards are offered, issued and administered by American Express Australia Limited (ABN 92 108 952 085). ®Registered Trademark of American Express Company.

 

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