About The Better Melon

Jane Zhang, founder and owner of The Better Melon

In 2017, I attended an Alibaba conference in Detroit. I saw Jack Ma talk about his company’s philosophy and it stuck with me since: “Customers first, employees second, shareholders third”. Jack Ma’s words resonated with me because when I was in design school, we were taught user-centric design, which meant creating solutions around the end user. Jack Ma said too many companies made the mistake of reversing the order: “shareholders first, employees second, and customers third”. Keeping a fixed focus on the customer is hard. It takes a lot of grit to listen to customer feedback and use that to change how you operate as a business. I’ve experienced it firsthand. I used to freelance as a designer and did a lot of personal projects to improve my skills. One such project was when I decided to design a project with a niche community on Reddit. I put up my drafts and openly asked for feedback. Sometimes, they were brutal and I almost wanted to give up at one point because the feedback was intense. It’s not like getting a critique from a teacher, they know how to guide you. Feedback from lay people is not structured and doesn’t feel useful at first. I saw the project through and made a fantastic piece that the community appreciated. From this experience, I knew that customers were the only stakeholders who mattered. They have the answers we need and they know how we should grow.

When I first started in eCommerce, I joined online groups where new businesses asked for feedback on their new Shopify site. They didn’t understand why they were getting no sales, despite getting traffic. My number one question was: “why would someone buy this”? If customers can buy what you offer on Amazon for a lower price, then why you? This is a very complex question but it’s one I love to solve. As a creative, I’ve been lucky to have aptitude for business and I love helping other creatives build these skills. My focus is helping my clients build a customer centric mindset so they can continue to be their own boss. A business will experience ups and downs that’s out of its control, but if they focus on their customers, they can build a business with foresight and resiliency.

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