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

I am a fashion designer by trade, so I always knew I wanted my own line. After a breast cancer diagnosis, bilateral mastectomy and implant reconstruction, I discovered there were limited options for me in the lingerie department. I decided a life of sports bras and camisoles was out of the question, so I picked up my sketchbook and got to work. My very first design and prototype for AnaOno may have been in part for myself, but I knew I wasn’t alone; there must have been other breast cancer survivors and women who’ve had breast surgery that couldn’t find a stylish and sexy bra that fit and was comfortable.

That’s why AnaOno was born. As a new small business owner and fashion entrepreneur, I chose Shopify to host my e-commerce site. We went from word-of-mouth to a global company within two years.

Most of our products are designed in-house; the core of AnaOno is our own design and our own collections. We do offer gifts and apparel we feel either rounds out the collection or meets the needs of our clientele. We source them from other small businesses we find through networking, cancer conventions or even Etsy or simple Google search. Often times, we are approached with great ideas from other entrepreneurs. AnaOno is now on the precipice of really breaking out and offering a variety of products.

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

Word of mouth, friends, and our personal networks. But, we also went to a lot of cancer conferences and conventions to get the AnaOno name and product out there. We, of course, knew who our audience was - we designed our product specifically for them. So we sought them out first. But we soon found other women were interested in AnaOno, and we really started to pick up our sales through social media and traditional media talking about the offerings, but word of mouth still went a long way! As for traffic and sales, we see the most through online media stories and websites, direct entry of our web URL, and search engines. We’ve always had strong generation from our URL alone - we published it on all of our early collateral and link to it every time we can.

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?

Shippo and WisePops. Shippo adds ease to processing orders, although it can be limited with non-personalized packaging slip. Wise Pops has been a great pop-up plug in for whatever we want to promote right away on our site. We also just integrated the Shop Now feature with Facebook and Buyable Pins with Pinterest. We still handle every AnaOno order individually in-house. The postman loves me.

What are your top recommendations for new store owners?

Have a keen sense of who your customer is and where you can find them. Know your identity. And ask yourself very blunt questions about your business! Who are you selling to? What are their habits? Where do they go online? Why would they seek you out? Why do they want your product? When you have the answers - you have a stronger blueprint on how you plan to market your items and you can start to pitch to media, online and social and traditional outlets whose readers, members and customers have the needs, wants and desires you fulfill.

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