The Case for Partnering with Influencers While They're Still Small

The Case for Partnering with Influencers While They're Still Small
twinkled t on shopify masters

Smaller creators often stand to benefit more from influencer marketing partnerships—beyond just getting paid for what they post, your promotion can help them grow. That makes these relationships easier to manage and potentially more valuable for up-and-coming online brands.

In today's episode of Shopify Masters, you’ll learn from two sisters who leveraged micro influencers to boost their brand. Liza and Lana Mushamel started Twinkled T to sell a range of unique nail products designed to bring the nail salon directly to your home.

We were so excited for the influencer with a million [followers]. She posted it and we waited. And waited. And waited. And we never got a single order.

Tune in to learn

  1. How to encourage customers to share their photos
  2. How to use YouTube to drive traffic to your store
  3. How to uncover Instagram influencers before they get huge
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    Show Notes

    Transcript

    Felix: Today I’m joined by Liza and Lana Mushamel from Twinkle T. Twinkle T sells a range of unique nail products designed to bring the nail salon directly into your home, and was started in 2013 based out of Los Angeles California. Welcome, Liza and Lana.

    Liza: Thanks, Felix.

    Lana: Thank you for having us, Felix.

    Felix: Yeah, excited to have you both on. Tell us more about your most popular products.

    Liza: The most popular products. Well, we sell a large range of nail stencils. You basically put them on your nails, you paint the polish off, you take them off and it reveals a really pretty design on your nails. I think our nail stencils and definitely our holographic powder. Holographic is a super crazy trend right now, our holographic powder gives you this really pretty rainbow shimmer design on your nails. That’s definitely one of our best sellers.

    Lana: Yeah, and then we’ve had from the beginning, we’ve always had nail brushes and other sorts of tools for cleaning up your nails and those sell pretty well also.

    Felix: Cool, yeah, I’m nodding along like I know what you’re talking about. It only helps with that I’m looking at the website to see exactly what you’re saying. How did you get into this? How did the both of you get into this business, this industry?

    Liza: Yeah, you know, we were both unemployed, and we had just left jobs we hated. We were living with our parents. Lana was in college at the time.

    Lana: Yeah, I was pursuing a degree in a field that I didn’t care about anymore, and I didn’t want to just continue with the rest of my life with that. Liz was actually nail polish companies on Instagram.

    Liza: Yeah, I used to love, I’ve always done my nails and I thought they were so pretty and creative. I would follow all these different nail accounts, yeah, on Instagram like she said. One day, I just went up to Lana and I was telling her, “Hey, what do you think about getting into this industry?”

    Lana: Basically they were nail polish creators that from their own home they create nail polish. They have their own base, they go online, they buy a bunch of glitter and they create their own unique nail polishes. Liza was like, “Hey, let’s do this.” She approached me ’cause she knows I’m really creative, and I love art and anything related to that. She’s like, “Let’s do it together. It’d be like an awesome sister activity.” If not a business, then it’s a hobby we could do together.

    Felix: What did you see about these companies on Instagram that made you recognize that, Hey, this is something that there’s opportunity, where there’s room for us to come in and do something?

    Lana: Yeah, so we started looking at the materials purchase for our own nail polish. We found a base, and then we went on Etsy and we started looking at glitter. We realized there was only one company on Etsy selling glitter, it was completely monopolized. We looked at each other and we were like, “Whoa, why don’t we do this? Why don’t we offer supplies to creators instead of creating nail polish?” Which honestly the market was already saturated with.

    We were like, “Let’s do this, and you know, let’s be more affordable and let’s offer more options too.” That is where the idea of Twinkle T started. That’s where they name Twinkle comes from.

    Liza: From the glitter.

    Lana: From glitter. We approached our parents, we asked for a $1500 investment for glitter, and it kind of just took off from there.

    Liza: Our initial vision was to make the polishes and then it ended up turning into more of a supplier.

    Felix: You were supplying the people that were creating and selling their own nail polish, is that correct? Or how does the business model work?

    Lana: Yes, that’s how we started.

    Liza: Yes, and then from there we branched off into being a nail art store for everyone.

    Lana: We started looking at other parts of nail art that were monopolized or could have more options for people. Things that we could bring that would be more unique to the market, and that’s kind of how we got into nail stencils. There were only six designs at the time from this other company, and we came in and within the first week we released 40 designs. We’ve naturally been able to build a product line since then.

    Felix: Got it, so you approached the business as almost like a B to B set up, which is different than what I think most store owners do. They usually sell directly to the consumer right off the bat. But you guys right off the bat were selling as a supplier to other vendors, other creators that were creating these polishes. How did you approach them? How did you find these other essentially retailers or small business to sell too?

    Lana: Instagram. You know, in the beginning, we relied solely on Instagram, and we would find the other nail polish creators as well as customers. You know, we started noticing that everyone would follow us. People that would want to just put glitter on their nails, not in the actual polish. And that’s when we kind of looked at each and realized, like, “Oh, gosh.” You know, there’s a need for this stuff everywhere. Not just in B to B, but to consumers as well.

    Liza: We went on [inaudible] right when we started and we instantly followed every single nail polish account that we could find. Every nail polish creator, and we’d comment on pictures, and we just kind of got our names our there, you know?

    Felix: Give us an idea of this time line then. You both, you looked at each other and said, “Let’s start this business.” How quickly were you able to have an inventory? Walk us through, how quickly were you able to build some kind of inventory and then start reaching out to these initially at least these other I guess, B to B customers.

    Liza: Yeah, I’d say we really only focused on the selling glitter to the companies probably only like a month. And then we branched out, we started selling to customers. Then we created a whole new product line, gosh Lana, I want to say maybe like four months from the very beginning of only selling glitter. It was about four month transition period into selling other products directly to consumers.

    Felix: Got it, and this is all done through Instagram. You were finding these profiles, these accounts that were initially at least selling their own polish. You were following them, commenting on their pictures, and then they were following you back. How were they purchasing? Were they buying through Instagram, were they going to your store or your website? How were they actually transacting with you?

    Lana: A lot of the time we were only on Etsy. I think as soon as we started receiving at least two orders a day. We realized that it would be more inexpensive to open a Shopify account, where I think we were paying $10 a month at the time, along with the credit card fees. As opposed to Etsy that was taking a quarter, literally $0.25 a sale, plus a renewal fee, plus their credit card fees. I think it took us about six months to open our own Shopify store. Yeah, initially we were just making sales off of Etsy.

    Felix: Got it, now what were you posting on Instagram? What kind of content were you producing to get these [inaudible] potential customers interested in checking out your Etsy store, then eventually your Shopify store.

    Liza: We would post pictures that we took of our glitter and our products. We would also send products out to Instagram influencers to post on their pages.

    Lana: Most importantly we were posting customers and manicures. People could see actual people just like them, beginners in nail art that were creating manicures. We started a hashtag, it was just #TwinkledT and we were able to get all our pictures through that hashtag. We would just refer to that every time we needed a new picture to post.

    Most importantly too, we would write really long captions. Really long personal captions, and we really tried to build a community on Instagram and make it feel like it was a family.

    Liza: Yeah, we would comment back everyone. Respond to all messages.

    Lana: We learned people’s Instagram handles and we knew who we would talk to the most.

    Liza: It was a very personal experience on our Instagram. I think that that helped us a lot in the beginning.

    Felix: You were writing these long captions, what was the purpose of that? What was the goal of creating a lot of text essentially on your Instagram post?

    Liza: I think people just getting to know our personalities. The captions weren’t you know, technically about what we’re selling, but more we would talk about us. You know, we would start a conversation within in our comments. People started realizing, like, “Oh, these are just.” I think people really enjoy the fact that we’re two sisters, and we just have this small company, and they would engage with us then, when they realize, “Oh, this is just a small business. It’s not a major corporation try to sell to me.”

    Felix: I like the approach of getting your customers content to post on your profile, rather than you know, creating it all by yourself. What were you doing to encourage this kind of, especially early on when you probably don’t have that many customers yet. How were you able to start producing this kind of content to put on your Instagram?

    Lana: Well, first with every order that we would send, we would write a hand written note in the beginning. We’d also really encourage people to use the hash tag. I think in the beginning, that’s how we built our following. Also people enjoy getting the shout out. As our page was getting bigger, you know, people wanted to purchase our products to get that shout out, to also in return build their following. I feel like that was a huge part in making our Instagram bigger. I mean, 99% of our posts are our own customers images.

    Felix: I see. Whenever you put a picture of a customers, whenever a customer shared something on Instagram, you would repost it and then link over to their profile.

    Liza: Yeah, we still do that of course.

    Lana: Yeah, definitely.

    Felix: Yeah, I like that, because now you’re giving them value in exchange for that content. Because these people who do want to show off, what they can do with it, with their nails, they want to show them using your product, and in exchange they get this platform. You know, I’m looking at your Instagram now, over 300 thousand followers. That’s a big deal for pretty much anybody that has an Instagram to get that kind of shout out. You emphasized that there is this kind of personal touch that you try to create with the community. Are you still kind of doing this? This manual out reach with reaching out influencers, reaching out to potential customers?

    Liza: Yeah, we rely a lot on social media. Actually Lana and I do everything at the company. At this point, we’re a lot bigger, so unfortunately the customers don’t get the hand written notes any longer, but we still do manage everything. Any comment that you see, like when we comment on any picture it’s Lana and I. A picture is posted, it’s us doing it. Emails, we answer our own emails. Everything is still personal, it’s just that because it’s on a bigger scale, we unfortunately don’t have the time to make every single order as personal with the hand written notes and stuff.

    Lana: As for reaching out to influencers, yeah it’s still definitely huge. Liz and I, and I feel like this is really important for every new up and coming business that somebody wants to create. We realized really early on, that micro influencers are such an awesome way to create potential customers. I think people believe that you need to go big or go home, and reach out to influences with a million plus subscribers, or a million plus followers on Instagram.

    Early on actually, I think it was our second year starting. We decided to implement coupon codes, specifically for each influencer. Let’s say, Liza has an Instagram. I would give her the coupon code of Liza, for all her follower to receive 10% off of their orders. We thought that way we can also see which influencers are bringing in orders, right, by tracking their names.

    What we did was we reached out to 10 girls. One of them had as little as 30 thousand followers, and our biggest one had a million followers. We gave them each their own coupon code with their own handle. Within the same week, every influencer started posting their coupon code. What we realized was, our smallest influencer with 30 thousand influencers. The day that she posted it, she received six orders with her code. We were so excited for the influencer with a million. She posted it and we waited, and we waited, and we waited, and we never got one single order from that influencer.

    Felix: Yeah, I’ve heard this from multiple store owners that say the same thing. Where they say they focus on micro influencers. Basically your experience, what do you think is the difference that allows someone that has a smaller following numbers wise, perform better than someone that has a much larger following?

    Liza: Me personally. I follow accounts that range in all sorts of followers. I’ll follow an account that only has a thousand followers. If I’m following an account that only has a thousand followers, it’s because I care about what they have to say, or what they’re trying to sell me. It’s cause I value their opinion. I personally am more likely to purchase from someone with a smaller account, ’cause I feel like they’re being more genuine in what they’re showing and what they’re selling.

    Versus larger accounts that sometimes and not all the time, ’cause I follow many larger accounts that are very honest and will only recommend the best products. Basically I feel like sometimes larger accounts tend to-

    Lana: Sometimes you don’t know if something is a real post.

    Felix: Yeah, I see what you’re saying. It’s almost like by the nature of being a larger Instagram account, you kind of have to be a little bit watered down. You have to be, not necessarily less genuine, but you have to start being a little more flexible in advertising, and the kind of content you’re putting out to attract a much larger audience. By doing that you water yourself down a bit. I think that affects how genuine you look when you are promoting a product. I think I know exactly what you’re saying.

    I’ve seen those with again, personal accounts versus general topic accounts. Where because they’re smaller, there’s a much more personal touch and the kind of relationship that you have with them by following them. You’re much more likely to trust them and the kinds of products that they push out there. If someone that’s starting today. You know, you guys have again over 300 thousand followers. For someone that’s starting from scratch today, can they take the same approach? What’s changed between the time that the both of you started. Your Instagram accounts versus someone that would be starting today?

    Liza: When we first started we relied solely on Instagram, and we were able to gain a lot of followers and a lot of sales through Instagram. Unfortunately that’s not the case any longer. Instagram has changed their algorithm, and although it’s still a great tool, great social media tool. You can’t rely solely on it any longer. We have found that Facebook ads help us a lot, as well as YouTube, YouTube is a really big driver.

    Felix: Now, with Facebook ads, can you talk to us about that strategy, How do you set up your campaigns?

    Lana: We actually look at our Shopify analytics before we work on the Facebook ads. The analytics on Shopify let us know where are customers are mostly from, what city, what country? What the demographics are, the ages? What platform they’re shopping from, if they’re on their mobile, if they’re on the computer. I take all that, and I implement into my Facebook app. We have 90% demographic of women. Most of them are in the US, we have some Canada, we have some United Kingdom customers.

    I take all of that information and that’s how I build my Facebook ad. Then I obviously get more details. You know, I put customers that are they follow manicure pages, or they’re more likely to be online shoppers. That’s how we build our Facebook ads. But I feel like Facebook makes it very easy for an entrepreneur to build their ads.

    Felix: What does the ad look like? What is it showing, what is it saying on ad itself to drive customers to your site?

    Lana: What I feel works best are videos. Customers really like see how easy it is to use our nail products. I will post a video, you usually pay per view. It’ll be about a penny per view on Facebook. I feel like that works best, customers watching videos.

    Felix: What are there videos of?

    Liza: It’ll be one of our customers applying our nail art powder, or applying a nail stencil and removing it, and showing her final manicure. It’ll literally be start to finish from bare nails to her end manicure.

    Felix: Are you helping create this video? I thought it was impressive already that you are building this Instagram profile that’s 99% your customers content. But now you’re also using their content, you’re able to get content from them to run these ads. How are you able to do that?

    Liza: No, we don’t help our customer create their videos. They create them for their own page and then we their permission to use it on our pages. As long as you credit the user, it’s completely legal to use their content.

    Felix: Yeah, I’m sure. That’s just really cool. I’m just wondering when they are, are these videos that they’re putting out there? Do you do any kind of editing to make it fit better for an ad? ’Cause I can imagine someone that’s applying nail polish, it might take … I’m not sure how long it takes, but it takes longer than an ad should be. How do you turn their content into something that you can use in the Facebook ad?

    Lana: As long as the video is less than 30 seconds, I don’t change anything. It’s usually perfect. I also don’t like changing another creators content to find mine. I don’t want to disrupt their work.

    Felix: Are these typically influencers?

    Lana: Just regular nail artist. Some of them with as little as 500 followers on Instagram. Sometimes that boost from our ads helps them build their page. It’s basically a win-win situation for the both of us.

    Felix: Got it, okay that makes sense. You know how there’s different types of campaigns you can run in Facebook where you’re just looking to drive traffic, or maybe you’re looking to the goal is an actual conversion. Do you have that kind of, I guess, complex set up on your Facebook ad campaigns?

    Lana: Yeah we do. I keep an eye on it all. So far I’ve noticed that videos have the best conversion rate.

    Felix: Usually there’s like a link in the description of the video? Or how are they clicking over from that video to your site, and then ultimately buying?

    Lana: Yeah, there’s always the link. There’s also campaigns that you can set up so that people like your page on Facebook. I don’t think that’s made an actual different for us in sales. I always just aim for the link in the actual ad.

    Felix: Got it, so when people are seeing the video and they’re clicking on the video. Click on the link in the description of the Facebook video. Does it take them right to that particular product that the customer is using? Does it take them to the landing home page, where is it driving the traffic?

    Lana: I always try to drive the traffic directly to the home page, in hopes that a customer will see a different product that maybe they’ll also like. I don’t like to specify the actual landing page of that product. Because what if they purchase that product then they don’t have a look around your website.

    Felix: Got it, makes sense. In the pre-interview, you also mentioned that you are supplementing your Instagram with YouTube. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you’re using YouTube?

    Liza: Yeah, YouTube is a great driving force for visitors to the website. We have some YouTube girls that we work with that are amazing, and they post our products. Basically they’re affiliates with our website. They will earn the commission for any sales that they drive to the website. Within their videos, in their description boxes, they have their special affiliate link. When a customer clicks that, it takes them to our website, and they’ll earn a commission if they make any sales.

    We have quite a few affiliates and they’re a great driving force. We don’t actually post our own content on YouTube, it’s basically we rely on the influencers there.

    Felix: Can you say how many affiliates you’re working with?

    Liza: That’s a good question.

    Felix: Is it in the hundreds?

    Lana: It’s about less than a hundred. I mean, we have really small ones that are just regular customers that post their links on their personal Facebook pages, and how that their friends purchase from their own personal likes. As for big influencers, I’d say we have about 10.

    Liza: Those influencers on YouTube are great.

    Felix: I see, so you have almost like a referral program that any customer can participate in, and then also you have much larger accounts, like those 10 that you work with. Are you using a specific application or anything for the affiliate or referral program? How does someone sign up for it?

    Lana: Yeah, we use LeadDyno on Shopify. It’s super easy to use, the affiliate just comes on and they sign up with their PayPal address. Every month we pay out affiliates, directly to their PayPal. They can manage it, they can see what purchases are coming in, it’s completely legitimate, and it’s open for them to just watch and keep track of their own analytics.

    Felix: I’ve heard of LeadDyno, I haven’t used it before. Is there any kind of customization or tips for someone that is just signing up to use an application like LeadDyno for the first time, of how they can use it to improve their referral program?

    Lana: We have a page on our website, at the Twitter, that says our affiliates. You just click it, and you see the link to sign up for your own LeadDyno account. It’s fairly easy to use.

    Liza: Yeah, it’s pretty simple. I don’t know about customization thou, I don’t think we’ve customized it too much to be honest.

    Lana: I think ours is pink, and I think that’s the most.

    Felix: Got it. I guess you can play with things like the percentage that you pay out. Is that all public, are you able to share what worked for you guys?

    Liza: Yeah, we customize how much affiliates will earn. You can actually change it for each affiliate, if you only want one to earn this much and another one to earn a little bit more or less, you could do that also through LeadDyno.

    Lana: Yeah, we offer 5% for affiliates starting out.

    Felix: Got it. Now when you’re working with these much bigger accounts, let’s talk about them. How did you find the 10 or so large YouTube influencers?

    Liza: I’ll give you an example of one of them. She’s amazing, we found her maybe three years ago, she was a much smaller account. We, you know, just reached out, we asked her, “Hey, would you like to try some stuff from our website.” And she said, “Sure, send it over.” We sent it over and she’s a complete doll, she’s amazing to work with. She liked us, and built kind of a friendship with her. You know, we would start just texting and just chatting. She actually ended up going on to create a YouTube. I’m sorry, I forgot to mention she was on Instagram at the time.

    She went on to create a YouTube. Again, she really enjoyed our product, she liked us, we liked here. We would send her stuff, we gave her her own code to our website. Over the course of the last two to three years, she’s grown to become one of the biggest influencers on YouTube in general. Overall, not just in the nail community. We still work with her, and because of the friendship that we built with her, you know, two, three years ago when she was much smaller. She’s still promoting our products now. That’s just one story of one girl.

    Felix: Can you say her name? How large is her following today?

    Lana: Yeah, her name is Christine, Simply Nailogical. I think she has about five to six million subscribers at the moment.

    Felix: Five to six million, wow.

    Liza: It’s constantly growing.

    Felix: She started this YouTube channel when, and how long did it take her to grow to five to six million?

    Lana: She started a while ago but she started showing her face and being-

    Liza: Really active and herself, and her personality and everything.

    Lana: Couple years ago.

    Liza: Probably like two and a half years ago. I’m sorry, I don’t know the exact time frame.

    Felix: Yeah, no, that’s just super impressive just to hear about. You mentioned this also in the pre-interview questions which was that the way that you find these influences, that you focus primarily on people that you think one day will be successful and much larger. And then build a foundation or relationship with them first. This is a great example that you just gave us, of an example with that. You focus on finding smaller accounts. What do you look for these days? Is it to identify and uncover these gems?

    Liza: You know, honestly we don’t look at followers or anything like that. I look at content. I like to see really how they take pictures. You know, what their videos are looking like? Anything that the content looks good and therefore we want to work with them, we reach out to them. Whether they have 500 followers or 5000, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care about the followers, I care about you know, do I see this person getting bigger one day?

    Lana: And do we think that they’d be a good match with us. Because we also want it to be a personal relationship. We email our affiliates like they’re our best friends. We really look out for people that we think are personal in their posts, are genuine.

    Liza: Yeah, it’s a combination of a lot of different factors. It’s not just about like, “Oh, are you going to make it big one day and take me with you?” It is building more of a friendship with these girls.

    Felix: Got it. How do you work with them on a ongoing basis? Are you asking them to produce, or you’re sending them products, new products that you’re releasing? And then they’ll eventually, I would shoot a YouTube video about, how does that relationship work?

    Liza: You know, Lana and I are very-

    Lana: Flexible.

    Liza: We’re very flexible. We know a lot of companies that will send product out and say, “Hey, I need a manicure done by this time, this date, whatever.” Lana and I will just send it out and honestly half the time we’ll forget.

    Lana: We almost felt like we have people that are painting their nails are creative, and most likely people that like to do things on their own time, since they’re doing manicures at home rather than at a salon. We’ve always said we would hate if somebody put rules on us, or made us sign a contract to produce this amount of content for you.

    I send out the products, send out a PR package, and I send an email saying, “Hey, I just sent this over. You don’t have to post it if you don’t want, but it’s coming.” [crosstalk] Whatever they choose to do with it it’s totally fine. Yeah, we’ve always approached it in a really chill way.

    Liza: More often than not, they’re going to post on their own. I don’t think I’ve ever once sent up a follow-up email, like, “Hey, where’s my?” I mean, I’ve never done this. It gives them freedom, it gives us more freedom. It’s better to do it that way.

    Felix: One of the interesting thing that you mentioned, was that every year since you started the business, the best selling product of the year has changed. Can you walk us through the best selling products each year?

    Liza: Yeah, I think the first year we started was the nail stencils. The next year was-

    Lana: This tool, it was a cleanup brush, and then the next year was nail polish, stamping polish. And then this year so far it’s been powders. It really does change every year, next year it’s going to be something completely different and we have to keep up with the trends every year. It’s fun, it’s a good time.

    Felix: Yeah, why do you think it changes so much for your business, from one year to the next? A new popular product just seems to take off for you.

    Liza: With something as broad as nails, there are constantly new trends coming out. It’s a really competitive field and it’s new trends, new designs, new styles and you just have to stay on top of it. It’s constantly changing.

    Felix: How do you do that? How do you make sure that you are not following behind the curve?

    Lana: I feel like we keep up a lot with it, score page on Instagram. With manicures on celebrities at events. And even just going out in LA and looking at peoples nails. You know, girls love posting their manicures. When my friends are posting their manicures out of the salon and I see something that we don’t carry. We instantly text each other and we’re like, “We need this. We need to carry this. Why don’t we have this?”

    Felix: As I was saying, when you do find out that there’s a new product that’s just on the cusp of taking off, and you know that you have to get into your store. Walk us through that process, how do you source it and how do you make sure you get into the store in time to catch onto the trend?

    Liza: We work with a few very reputable suppliers.

    Lana: Yeah, we have vendors at this point that we know release consistent quality products to us. But it does take some time for us to sample everything, test everything, and we’re really thinking about what we should be carrying. I would say that, in that case with being so picky, maybe sometimes we’re a couple weeks behind in releasing it on our website. But our customers always know that they’re getting the top quality product on our website.

    Felix: They’ll probably wait for it, right?

    Liza: A lot of the products we make from home. If there’s a new design, I design it on my computer and we make it ourselves.

    Felix: Got it. What’s the testing and sampling process like? What are you looking for?

    Liza: We only carry the top quality products. I’ll give you an example, you know, our brushes. Lana had mentioned they were one of our best sellers back then. I ordered brushes from a bunch of different companies, and I tested all of them on myself. I wanted to see how they would work. I mean, in the end we only carried the best one, and even if it means it costs us more, that’s okay, ’cause we don’t want our customers to receive anything but the best product.

    Felix: Got it, so you’re basically just using it on yourself as a way to test. Which makes sense, I mean, if you are the customer, you probably have a great feedback on what you should want to, and what you don’t want to include in the store. I think mentioned earlier that it’s just you two that run this business. It’s obviously a very fast run business and it’s growing over time. Can you give an idea of how quickly its grown over the last three, I guess four years now?

    Liza: We’re consistently up year over year about 15%. As for our followers, they’re all built organic on Instagram, we’ve never paid for followers. We’ve been able to build that from zero. Our Facebook is rapidly growing right now since we started with the Facebook ads to. I think we’re about to reach 35 thousand likes on Facebook.

    Felix: I mean, that’s impressive, 15% year over year growth. That’s impressive in any industry. What do you think is the key to each year that you’ve been able to keep on growing this number, and keep the company away from the just stagnating a certain revenue?

    Liza: Going back to what we were talking about earlier. We make it a point to release new products about once a month. It’s just constantly releasing new products, staying on trends, really that’s the key to a lot of our success.

    Lana: If we don’t release a product that month, a new one, we definitely notice a dip. You know?

    Liza: Yeah, we’ll see it in our numbers, and then we’ll be like, “Hey, we need to get on top of this, release something new.”

    Felix: Now what’s considered a new product? Is it a brand new product, or a different I guess color for an existing product? How different is each new product?

    Liza: It’s a combination of both. For instance, this month alone we’re going to be releasing three new powders. You know, the same thing as kind of what we’re currently carrying, just in different shades, different colors. And then also this month, we’re release a brand new product, never been on our website before, brand new line.

    Felix: I’m sure you have more ideas then you have time to release these products. How do you decide what you guys should focus on?

    Liza: That’s a good questions. You’re absolutely right about having more ideas than we do time. It think it’s just paying attention to social media. Seeing what people are using more. If we see like, “Hey, I’ve been seeing this on a lot of accounts. A lot of girls are asking about this.” That’s another thing, we get a lot of request from customers themselves. They’ll email us or message us and say, “Hey, when are you guys going to start creating so and so?”

    Lana: Yeah, our business is really, I think it’s community driven. For example, with the new Instagram polls feature. Last week for example, Liz and I wanted to release a rose gold powder. We thought rose gold was super trendy, we thought it would do amazing. On our Instagram I posted three different powders, and I said, “Would you rather have rose gold or this powder?” And then I said, “Would you rather have rose gold or that powder?” Nobody wanted, it wasn’t nobody but about 70% of people voted against the rose gold.

    Felix: You’re using the Instagram stories polls to do this?

    Lana: Polls on our story.

    Liza: We were shocked.

    Lana: Yeah, and we said, “Whoa, maybe this isn’t something that people want.” And our community helped us make that decision. Even two days ago for example, I posted a picture of our new nail polish line coming out, and I asked customers to help us name them. Our customers gave us … We had a wide range, we had-

    Liza: Over 400 comments right now.

    Lana: 300 comments within the first hour of customers providing us with ideas for a name.

    Felix: Wow, this is part of your process now, to always go to Instagram and ask them to help you decide which product to release or what to name it? Is that part of the release process these days?

    Liza: Yeah, I feel like it’s always been part of the process. But lately with the Instagram story polls, it’s been easier. I feel like it’s really important for companies to engage with their customers and let the customer feel like they are a part of this company.

    Lana: And it’s more fun too.

    Liza: It’s more fun for us too, and for them.

    Lana: I feel like the customer gets excited, thinking like, “Oh, this products coming out. I can wait this. Now I know this is coming soon.” Yeah, they get to be creative too. They get to think about their own names, and they help us so much. I mean, it’s just us two, I think eventually we lose sight of what’s a cute name and what’s not? Because we’re doing it all day everyday, so when we have new voices come in and give us ideas, it’s awesome.

    Liza: On that note. If you go to our website, you’ll see under the nail stencil section that we have quite a few there that we have in the upper corner that says created with so and so. Those vinyls were actually created by these Instagram nail artists.

    Lana: Yeah, they send us in their ideas, and sometimes we’ll name the nail stencil after them, or credit them in the product.

    Felix: That’s awesome. Now, because industry and the trends change so quickly. How do you make sure that you’re not hoarding on to a bunch of inventory that’s not longer going to sell? How do you make sure that you don’t end up in that situation?

    Liza: We’ve been pretty fortunate so far, where we haven’t held on to products for too long. We do a pretty good job of from the very beginning kind of knowing what’s going to sell and what won’t. If we ever really do come across that issue, we’ll just, you know. I guess we just put it on sale.

    But we have been very fortunate that we haven’t really had that problem. I think it’s because Lana and I are so picky in what we release. It’s so well thought out that because of that we don’t have this issue very often.

    Felix: Got it. Tell us about what your day to day is like. When you both step into work in the morning, how do you spend your day?

    Lana: We actually just signed a lease on a office space yesterday. We’re so excited for that, but actually the both of us work from our own home. We both [crosstalk] We have our routine, we drink our coffee and we head straight up stairs, and we get straight to work.

    Liza: Basically, day to day, I answer every single email, every single email. I start my day off with answering emails. Lana is more the creative one. Any sort of creative, anything on the website, she’s constantly updating that. I answer emails. And then everyday, honestly every single day we pack orders. Every day, seven days a week, we never stop packing orders.

    Lana: Packaging, shipping.

    Liza: That’s our day to day, and then every now and then obviously we’re testing new products. But you know, it could be twice a week, it could be twice a month, it really just depends on what’s on trend at that time.

    Felix: I want to talk a little bit about the website. Is this all done in house? Did you guys hire someone to help you build out the Shopify store?

    Lana: No, Shopify made it so easy for me Felix. I completely made the website on my own. The only help I have ever had was with some SEO analytics and stuff like that. No, I built the website completely on my own. We just bought a theme from the Shopify store.

    Felix: Do you remember the name of the theme?

    Lana: I think it’s Testament.

    Felix: What about the application, what kind of the other apps are used on this site? You mentioned LeadDyno, any other apps they use to help power the website and the business?

    Liza: This is going sound really silly but one of my favorite applications is called Yo Recent Sales Notifications. Basically when you get on the website, there’s a small window that pops up in the bottom left hand corner, like every twenty seconds or so. It would say, “Lana from Los Angeles just purchased your glamor map.”

    I really like this feature, ’cause I feel like if a customer is focused on one page and then they see that little pop up. They say, “Oh, what’s that?” And then they’ll click it and then it’ll take them to the other link, to the other page with that product in it. I feel like it just kind of gives you more. I don’t know.

    Lana: Liza loves it.

    Liza: She could love it, she’d love it.

    Felix: Have you seen, has it played out in terms of actually driving more conversions?

    Lana: It doesn’t have the analytics, it’s essentially a free app for anybody that owns it. But I like it in the sense that I feel like it’s showing customers new products that they otherwise wouldn’t have looked that. It’s also showing customers that it’s a legitimate website that other people are purchasing from.

    Liza: I’ll be honest, I saw it on a different website and I really, really liked it. I actually did click the little window. That’s when I went to Lana, and I said, “Lana, you need to put this on your website.”

    Felix: Yeah, I think it generates some kind of, like there’s activity going on in the website. Doesn’t feel like you’re just here by yourself. I think that that does make a difference in terms of social proof, like, “Hey, there’s other people that trust this website. There are other people that are buying from this website. I can trust them too.” I think that there is certainly value in that. Anything else that you guys like using on the Website?

    Lana: We also use S Loyalty. It’s basically a rewards program where whenever customers spend one dollar they receive two coins. The app gives you the capability of setting up whatever deal that you want. If a customer reaches a hundred points, they get a free sheet of this. Or if they reach a different tier points, they receive a bigger free item. They’re really flexible with that, I really like S Loyalty. It’s just a little pop up at the bottom of the website that the customer can click. It tracks all their orders, it tracks their account. It’s all set up for you.

    Liza: We also use the product reviews app.

    Lana: Yeah, the free Shopify product reviews app comes in a lot of handy. I feel like that also provides a ton of legitimacy, and customers can submit their own manicures. They can submit pictures on the product reviews page. That helps other customers see, “Oh, this nail stencil actually does have this effect and this holographic powder actually does have this effect on this customer.”

    Liza: Lana, what’s that one app that you use? When we have the promotion and it says, “Buy two get one free.” And then it automatically adds it to the cart.

    Lana: I think it’s by Supple and it’s called By One Get One. It’s about $15 a month. But it comes in handy because the Shopify coupons section, the discount section, doesn’t really offer that many options.

    Liza: You know what I’m talking about Felix, have you ever used it?

    Felix: Yeah, so the buy one get one, what does it offer?

    Liza: It offers so many more things. If you buy X, it will add Y to your cart. If you ever have a promotion that say, “Hey, buy this glitter or get this second glitter for free.” With the current Shopify set up, we the sellers would have to manually go in and say, “Oh my gosh, okay, this person qualifies for a free glitter.” But with this app, you just put in the promotion and it automatically adds it into every cart that qualifies for it.

    Felix: It’s like a bonus gift that comes with a purchase they made. How do you decide what that gift should be?

    Liza: You know, I don’t know. That’s a good question.

    Lana: You know, on Shopify on the home page it tells you people that are likely to buy blah, blah, blah, are likely to buy blah, blah, blah. You know what I mean?

    Liza: Yeah, I see that.

    Lana: We offer those as bundles. If we see that Shopify is recommending this person buys this with that, then we offer that as the free gift.

    Felix: I like that.

    Liza: Sometimes it’s random on our own whim, but Shopify analytics does help a lot with that.

    Lana: Yeah, and it’s changed so much over the years, and it’s been incredible.

    Felix: Awesome, thank you so much Liza and Lana. Twinkled T, twinkledt.com is the website. You mentioned that you signed the new lease on a office. What do you want to focus the attention on next? What do you want to see the business grow to next?

    Lana: Now that we’re going to have more room, we’re like, “Yay, we can fill it up with more products.” We’re looking to expand our products. We also have a room in the office that we want to dedicate to creating our own YouTube content from here on out. We feel like that would be so helpful to our business. Hopefully we can hire maybe one employee to start helping us out and growing.

    Liza: It’s kind of awkward right now if were to hire an employee to come to our homes. Hopefully with the office then that’ll mean some more help.

    Felix: Very cool. Thank you so much for your time again. Thank you.

    Liza: Thank you Felix, we appreciate it.

    Lana: Thanks so much Felix.

    Felix: Thanks for tuning into another episode of Shopify Masters. The eCommerce podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs powered by Shopify. To get your exclusive 30 day extended trial, visit Shopify.com/masters.

     


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    About the Author

    Felix Thea is the host of the Shopify Masters podcast, the ecommerce marketing podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs. Got something to share with Shopify Masters listeners? You can submit your story for consideration.

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