Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?

I saw a post on Facebook of crochet blankets in the shape of mermaid tails which had gone viral. No one was commercially making mermaid blankets. I thought I should jump on the trend. Facebook just did my consumer testing and told me there was demand! First thing I did was reach out to two fellow entrepreneurs who had experience in manufacturing and distribution (consumer goods). I said I've got the vision if you can help execute the logistics. Two weeks later production began.

How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?

Our first run was a couple hundred pieces we produced locally in Chicago. I created a Facebook page, took some cute product pictures, and immediately sold out based on the viral nature of the product. We get a ton of returning customers, but new customer generation has come through Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Press, and Twitter — social media is king!

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?

Shipstation and Sellbrite are key — especially when we were handling the logistics of 5,000+ pieces a day through our website at Christmas. Luckily one of my business partners grew up in this industry so she's the boss when it comes to this, but we run everything through Shipstation

What are your top recommendations for new store owners?

Give your customer as many opportunities as possible to buy on your website. If your goal is direct-to-customer sales, be a social media lunatic. Don't get hung up, continually re-evaluate your traffic and conversions and adjust accordingly.

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