As a management consultant, I was traveling about 100,000 miles a year and constantly frustrated by the lack of stylish, versatile travel apparel. While packing for a trip to Costa Rica, I dreamed up the idea of the Chrysalis Cardi, one piece that can be worn over 8 different ways AND unlike other multiway garments, actually looked like what it was (not a scarf tied into a dress).

Through this innovation, I built my brand Encircled. I was also deeply touched and interested in the environmental and human impact of the apparel industry. We proudly design and manufacture all of our apparel in Canada using fairly paid labour, and utilizing sustainable, eco-friendly fabrics and materials, down to our ship bags and marketing materials.

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

Our first sales inevitably came from friends and family, though over the last year increasingly we've partnered with bloggers and received much press around our designs and mantra. Currently, our email marketing, facebook and direct URL searches generate most of our traffic and conversion.

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?

Shopify's platform has been integral to our success. Working full-time while managing this business means having the right systems in place. I love Yotpo for reviews, helps build our credibility for our designs online. ShopPad has helped us create a mobile optimized site quickly & affordably. ShipRobot is our mailing label + fulfilment app, all fulfilment is done in house currently. Yahoo! Insights provides us with timely data on who is visiting our website. Jilt helps us recover lost sales, and lastly, Lockdown helped us create a wholesaler's only section for online ordering + a member's only section with additional video content for our customers.

What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?

Know your customers. Find out everything you can about them and form strong bonds with your customers. Consistency is key. If you're not showing up regularly in social media, newsletter or any other channels, you probably shouldn't have that channel active. Lastly, have a story that people can connect with. This will help eliminate the traditional barriers to buy online.

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