Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
My personal style is very glam and unique and I tend to overdress every day of the week. I started my line because I had so many unique ideas for accessories I wanted to wear, but no designers were making them. I started with 5-6 headbands I made by hand and listed them on eBay. It turned out, I wasn't the only girl looking for fun and unique pieces like these. Make/sell something you are passionate about, something you absolutely LOVE. If you love it, others will too. I currently make all of my headbands and turbans by hand. I source materials locally in LA. When I expanded into the jewelry category, I started working directly with a manufacturer in China to produce my designs.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Instagram has been an amazing driver of traffic to my Shopify store. I also listed my products on as many marketplaces as possible when first starting out. When I ship my products, my branded content encourages repeat customers to buy again from me directly on my Shopify site. I have also established relationships with top bloggers and influencers who regularly feature my products. Amazon, Etsy, BlueFly, Ebay and OPensky drive the most traffic and sales.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
Product reviews, Olark chat, Simple SEO, Shipstation, Exit Offers, Instagration, Wishlist + Reminder, Out of Stock, Wanelo, Currency Switcher, and Free Shipping Bar.
All of these apps collectively have made my shop look and feel like something a large retailer would have. It's amazing how surprised people are when they find out its run by a one woman army!
The apps that have made the biggest impact for my business are simple SEO, exit offers, wanelo, and out of stock.
Simple SEO took a few months to start seeing any results. If you consistently use it and make sure you research your top keywords for your product category, you will really start to see your Google traffic increase.
Exit Offers is helpful to prevent abandoned checkouts before they happen. You can encourage more orders simply by offering a small discount if they purchase at that time. It creates a sense of urgency and it works!
Wanelo has been amazing from the start. Be sure to add the wanelo button on every product page so your shoppers can save your item to their collections to view later. The new Buy on Wanelo integration has also been great for driving new customers and sales. This app is a MUST HAVE for any store in the fashion industry.
Out of Stock app has been great. It allows buyers to place pre-orders before an item is in back stock. This helps me to evaluate how much stock I will need to order from my factory. It also prevents lost orders by letting your buyers know when an item is back in stock.
Shipstation is my Bible. When I started using Shipstation, it felt like I hired a full time employee for less than $1 a day. The order management technology across all platforms is so seamless and has changed the course of my business.
I currently fulfill and ship all of my own orders from my LA office. I am also working towards scaling my business and have just signed with Shipwire. I will be outsourcing fulfillment to Shipwire's LA warehouses this January. The integration with Shipstation and Shipwire will allow me to seamlessly integrate every marketplace and fulfill all orders from anywhere, anytime. I never thought I could run a business this size all on my own. This technology is amazing!
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Get your products on as many marketplaces as possible. The more platforms you are on, the further your reach will be. Brand your products and make sure to include your direct Shopify website on your packaging. Image quality is also a huge factor in my success thus far. I'm a self taught photographer and shoot all of my own photos. Get a DSLR camera and watch lots of youtube videos on photography. Ask a friend to model for you. Images are so important, they are the face of your brand. Invest your resources here.