Profile on Magic Room Brand with Vijoy Rao
What was the inspiration for starting Magic Room Brand?
After years of working in a corporate setting, I decided to pursue a business venture that combined my knowledge, my passion, and had a strong market opportunity. Also, I've been a musician for over 30 years, with almost 20 years performing professionally.
It has always been strange to me that although musicians are typically very eco-conscious, the tools and accessories that are made available to us are not. It bothered me that we had to compromise that part of us when we were doing something we loved. From there, I researched and developed bamboo accessories (drumsticks and guitar picks) that are first-class in sound, strength, and sustainability. I started Magic Room Brand in December of 2015, officially launching the online store in October of 2016.
Since launching, the brand has been able to reach musicians all over the world, finally offering eco-friendly accessories for musicians who care how they make what they make. There is no other brand product line that offers these high-quality accessories that are 100% biodegradable.
Tell us about how doing good for the planet is a key part of the company’s philosophy.
The problem is: By the nature of the products, drumsticks and guitar picks eventually wear out and need replacing. Today, drumsticks are typically made of wood (maple, hickory, or oak) and are treated with a chemical lacquer that hardens the material but also removes any biodegradability of the wood. Additionally, production requires the wood to be fully mature which means you still have to cut down a 70+ year old tree. It's 2017 and deforestation is stupid, right?
For guitar picks, they are typically made of plastic and everything in the history of the world that has been made of plastic still exists somewhere in some form. Yeah I know, that's terrifying. That plastic mountain in the ocean is getting hard to ignore.
So the solution we provide: All Magic Room Brand products are made of bamboo grass (yes, grass...not wood). And they're 100% biodegradable when the time comes. Just stick them in the ground and poof, they'll go away completely in a matter of 2-4 months. To complement the actual products, all shipping uses 100% recycled and recyclable materials. The boxes for each shipment are 100% recycled cardboard and Magic Room Brand uses the strong, triple-layered cardboard because it's encouraged to keep and re-use the box for a variety of uses at home. There is even a place to label each box for its new use (chargers, LEGOs, screws, loose change, etc.).
Aside from just resolving the global issue, Magic Room Brand also addresses the issue of creative souls that feel that pang of guilt every time they are doing their passion. Magic Room Brand believes that "when you're doing something you love, there's no room for compromise." Finally, a viable, sustainable option for musicians everywhere.
What role does community play in inspiring, starting or helping the brand grow?
My parents moved to the U.S. from India in the 1960s. Having had to create a life for themselves — and their children — my parents unknowingly instilled a sense of entrepreneurship in each of their three children. I think a strong ethic and desire for making a mark comes directly from them, and I try to put that into play every single day.
As a young online business, Magic Room Brand focuses on differentiating the brand by providing over-the-top customer service. With that, comes a sense of community because every customer is valued and is "in" on the vision and story of the brand. That sense of inclusion and "family" — whether it be a social media follower, a newsletter subscriber, an endorsed musician, a blog reader, a customer, or all of the above — goes a long way when a new brand like MRB is looking to make a difference in a strong and important industry filled with large corporations.
What obstacles or challenges have you had to overcome, particularly considering things like social/eco impact or running a small/indie business.
As a young venture, the main challenge Magic Room Brand faces is raising awareness and "educating" the market as to the benefits of bamboo over traditional materials. I've seen that there are common misconceptions about how Magic Room Brand gear will feel and sound, so there is the process of explaining to the market that bamboo is lighter, stronger, and sounds better. When people try it, they love it.
Because Magic Room Brand doesn't offer the same old product, but instead offers real innovation and a change in mindset, transcending that first layer in the market can be challenging. As an entrepreneur, it's definitely an exercise in patience and perseverance.
Additionally, being a one-man venture is a challenge because there is a lot to do and only so many hours in the day!
What’s next for Magic Room Brand?
Magic Room Brand has enjoyed steady growth over the past year since the online store officially opened. With a growing list of endorsed artists and more traction in revenue, Magic Room Brand will continue injecting sustainability in the music accessories marketplace.
Plans for 2018 include second-generation products including new sizes of drumsticks, new styles of eco-friendly guitar picks, and other musician accessories including guitar straps and accessory gig bags.