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

Our primary goal with The Future Kept is to lead and inspire more people to think carefully about the items they have in their lives by putting together a collection of best-in-class products that each have a story to tell. We wanted our store to feel unique, so we spent a long time using social media to build relationships and connect with emerging artists and creatives. We also wanted to work with makers that live close by to create exclusive products. We didn't want to just fill an online store with products made overseas that look OK but have no story or connection to them.

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

Jeska has been an interiors blogger for over 8 years, and this was a huge help in the launch of our store. Her friends and the community were so supportive of our launch and we instantly received a lot of traffic and support because of this. We also had a landing page before we launched that featured a 10% off code for a customer's first order; this gave us a database of interested customers to connect with as soon as we launched. We also started using social media before we went live and focused engaging with our followers, not just using it as another sales tool.

We use Instagram to inspire and Pinterest to curate collections. It's not all about selling our products, it's about inspiring and promoting our message of "buy less, buy better." In our first year we have grown our Instagram following to over 10.5k followers, and our Pinterest is on over 480k.

Jeska's blog is our biggest referrer, and as mentioned we use mostly Instagram and Pinterest not just as sales tools, but how they are intended to be used as platforms. We also work with other bloggers and creatives on features, and really focused on building a loyal repeat customer base. We believe that connecting with like-minded people who are interested in our store is more important than chasing every single sale and bombarding customers.

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?

Mailchimp is a huge tool for us. It helps us collect and manage our customer database and use automation to market to segmented customer bases. Yotpo reviews has also been great to get honest feedback from our customers, and also provide information to people browsing our store from genuine purchasers of the items we provide.

We handle all of this ourselves in-house. We are a two-person husband and wife team, and we take pride in every single order that leaves here. We are always grateful when someone chooses to shop with us, so we aim to provide the best level of service when shipping items. We want each order to feel special, and like a gift, carefully wrapped with personal notes and touches. This is something that is lost when using fulfillment services in our opinion.

What are your top recommendations for new store owners?

First and foremost you need to have a passion for what you are doing. It may sound cliche, but running your own store will take over your life. It's a 24/7 operation, and doing it just to sell a few things or earn some money is not going to be rewarding over time. If you have a message or product you strongly believe in, it'll be easier to work through the tough days. For us it's about changing the dynamic of retail, making people aware of the origins of the items they purchase and choose to have in their lives.

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