Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
After I had my daughter in 2007, I noticed that there was a lack of simple, good quality infant and kids basics - especially in neutral colours. I am a total jean and tee girl and I wanted to dress her in a similar aesthetic. I have a background in the fashion industry and so drawing upon my experience and contacts, I set about launching a line of organic, Canadian-made infant fashion basics. At the beginning we only offered the brand at the wholesale level (selling to children's retailers) but I quickly recognized the importance of having an online presence and that selling the brand online meant a much larger potential audience and overall reach. From the very beginning we have designed and made all of our clothing in Toronto. Everything from the knitting and dyeing of our fabrics to the cutting and sewing of our garments is done in Toronto. Making our clothing both locally and ethically is very important to me.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
We have had our online shop for 5 years now but we have actually done nearly half of our total sales in the past year. We noticed a huge increase in our sales when we started to really focus on social media - Instagram and Pinterest in particular. We also partner with bloggers and key influencers on Instagram to help us get the word out about our brand. Partnering with the right people can be an amazing and very cost-effective way to gain brand awareness. In the past year we have also done a few collaborations with other local designers and businesses who we feel share a similar aesthetic (who also happen to have a large reach on social media and online) and this has resulted in increased exposure for the brand. Instagram and Pinterest definitely drive the most traffic as well as key bloggers and web sites that we have chosen to partner with. We also have two brick and mortar stores and they are great advertising for us. Many of our customers shop with us in store to start with and once they know the quality and fit of our clothing, they order online.
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 use OrderlyPrint for packing slips and invoicing, Shopify Assistant for product automation, Pop Up Window for capturing emails for our newsletter database and Collection Filter to filter by size. We also use the Foursixty app which allows our Instagram photos to show up on our web site (we can select which ones are seen) and also makes the images 'shop-able' so that customers can easily find and purchase the items they see on our Instagram feed. We do all of the shipping internally. We just leased a warehouse/office space for our online business (so that it's separate from our retail business) and we fulfill and ship all orders from there.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
I think a lot of new business owners think that they can create an online store or business and that once it's live the orders will just start flooding in. The reality is that the internet is huge and extremely competitive and no one knows about you or your product or 'store'. The only way you get orders is by being in people's faces - a lot. That means building an email database (email is still our most effective marketing tool). It means posting selective and relevant content on your social media channels regularly and it means partnering with other bloggers and business owners that can help get your brand out to your target audience.