Matt Lam is a Canadian business owner with an extensive background in online sales and e-commerce. From his hometown in Canada, Matt started the online retail company Montana Buffalo Bags with some friends and former business school colleagues.
Today, Montana Buffalo Bags has grown to become a worldwide retailer with a large online presence. Now with offices based in Montana, USA, the company offers an excellent selection of quality bags, jackets, wallets, and more at affordable prices.
As an online retailer, Montana Buffalo Bags is dedicated to making their customers’ shopping experience convenient and enjoyable. The online store was designed to be fast, secure, and user-friendly.
Montana Buffalo Bags values customer feedback and works to create elegant designs for products that set the company apart from other brands in the space. As the company grows, Matt Lam and his team work daily to improve service and offer new products to valued customers all around the world.
What do you love most about the industry you are in?
There are many ways you can be creative. My company has been able to create duffle bag designs that have set us apart from other brands. We also come up with creative marketing ideas and express ourselves through branding. It’s also a growing industry.
What does a typical day consist of for you? In the morning, our team meets to discuss customer feedback and how we can do better in terms of customer support. Getting customer feedback is very important to us because we are still in the early phases of our business. We have created a wide selection of items for our customers. We receive feedback daily and consider how we can make our products even better.
A lot of the day is dedicated to product ideas and product research. We use the social networks, such as Pinterest, Instagram, and now TikTok to find new, emergent products. We get inspiration and ideas from other brands. We look at what the market is going towards.
We do as much in-house as much as possible, including customer support, so much of our day is dedicated to that as well.
What keeps you motivated?
I am motivated to build an affordable brand that will be recognized worldwide, all done with very little start-up capital.
How do you motivate others?
At Montana Buffalo Bags, we are a big family. The office is like a second home to us and our employees. We have various installations for our employees to enjoy their day at work, including tap beer, a high-quality espresso machine, ping-pong table, etc. It’s important to have fun at work to stay motivated.
How has your company grown from its early days to now?
Whenever we create new collections, we liquidate our old collection by giving our bags away for free in exchange for the customer paying a delivery and handling fee. That allows us to reach a lot of people quickly and makes our brand known to more and more people. It’s an expensive way to do business, but we felt it was worthwhile to make our brand recognized worldwide very fast.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Being landowners and loving the old American way of life, we believe that nature is the best way to stimulate our creativity. Whenever our team is working on a new collection, we take a few days off and disconnect in the woods and camp for a few days. The time outdoors really stimulates our creativity and we are able to come up with lots of different ideas for new collections.
Who has been a role model to you and why?
Horacio Pagani, the founder of Pagani, an Italian specialty automaker, for his attention to detail and his love for his work.
How do you maintain a solid work life balance?
We have flexible work schedules which adapt to our lifestyle. However, it definitely is a challenge for us because as a business owner your work never fully stops. It helps to practice disconnecting as much as possible by turning off your phone after work hours.
What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader?
I am able to listen to everyone, not only my associates, but our employees and also our customers. I also have an attention to detail that helps me with product design. I am able to adapt to challenging situations and react quickly.
What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?
Nothing ever goes according to plan. You don’t need to spend days, weeks, and months on a plan: it’s all about taking action. You never really know what your customers will like and the result is often very different from what you thought in the beginning.
What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?
As a new brand, it’s very hard to gain potential customers’ trust. With social networks, it’s very easy to be judged and questioned.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
Trust your instincts.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
Turning a very small amount of money into an international brand in a matter of months. It was a difficult feat but I’m very proud of it today.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to others?
It’s okay to take risks. Too often, people don’t take chances due to fear. As a result, there are so many missed opportunities.
What trends in your industry excite you?
Marketing through social media, influencers, and collaborations. Technology and new social media platforms have made marketing a lot more seamless and successful.
Where do you see you and your company in five years?
I believe Montana Buffalo Bags will have gained a considerable size of market share in the duffle bag industry. I also believe we will have opened up at least one physical store, not so much for the extra revenue, but to bring our online brand to life physically. Our customers will be able to interact with our products in real life and feel the quality for themselves. In five years, I think our company will have warehouses in other countries, and not only the USA and China. I believe we will have warehouses in Canada, Australia, and the UK, which will make delivery faster and more convenient for our customers.
Explain the proudest day of your professional life.
We were walking in a shopping mall and we saw someone carrying one of our bags. It was really motivating to see our product being used in a real-life situation and being used by a proud customer.