Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
We had originally sold products on flash-sale style boutique sites. After becoming frustrated that the other vendors were offering low-quality merchandise (thus negatively impacting our brand), we decided to venture out on our own. Our products sold very well here at a local women's expo. Initially offering just jewelry, we then expanded into accessories, clothing, and shoes. Some of our products are sourced through companies in the USA. Others we design and have manufactured for us overseas. We also do some of our own design and printing on apparel.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Our first sales through Shopify were at the local Women's Expo here in Grand Rapids. We packed everything we had, set up shop in our rented booth space, and equipped ourselves with the Shopify system. We were blown away by the success at the expo, and it enabled us to consider starting a brick-and-mortar retail store. We now have two brick-and-mortar shops as well as our online store through Shopify. Currently, we sell the most through our brick and mortar stores. We have found the women we sell to love being able to try on the items before purchasing. Also, having an adorable boutique style shop that's friendly and fun to visit is a definite plus.
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?
We have Mailchimp for Shopify, which is essential to keep our newsletters flowing in the system. This pairs well with Pop-Up Window that is on the front of our website. It allows seamless interaction between the user entering their email on the homepage and sending it to Mailchimp to begin recieveing our newsletter. Shopify Barcode Printer and the ShipStation integration are our two biggest impact apps as they significantly increase the efficiency of our workflow.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Know your market and don't be afraid to try new things. Learn as much as you can about your business - it will save you so much in the long run. We have learned and currently do all of our own photography, graphic design, advertising, product styling, website changes, and shipping. In the event we do outsource any of these items in the future, it will be easier to communicate expectations.