Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
We began making graphic t-shirts and, over the years, slowly grew into a full collection. In Fall 2009, our newly-launched jeans were quickly outpacing everything else we were selling. As a two-person, self-funded operation, we decided to cut back and focus entirely on the product that was performing best for us: denim.
We work directly with Kuroki Mills in Okayama, Japan to design custom fabric, and then have the jeans cut and sewn in San Francisco.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
When we first launched on Shopify in 2009, we already had an established customer base who was familiar with us - but our sales were not as consistent as they are now.
It took time to build our brand to the point where we were earning consistent sales through our website. We always notified men’s fashion publications/websites about new releases (who would in turn link back to our site). We’d shoot seasonal lookbooks to help people see how the pieces worked in context with the rest of our offerings.
Recently, we’ve been seeing really strong results from our Instagram account. We have a super engaged following - they are excited to see daily updates from us and often proceed to buy things that are posted that day. We’ll usually create direct links to our website in our brand bio so that they can make the purchase on the spot. And our newest redesign is fully responsive so that it’s really easy to buy something right off the smartphone.
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?
Our designer, Joseph Bergdoll, worked some serious magic on our website to make it look as good as it does - but the back-end of Shopify is where the platform really shines.
We love the simple, clean interface and feel that it’s the best one out there in terms of order processing. We use Shipstation to easily and quickly generate labels, and we also use Chimpify to bring customers who’ve opted into our mailing list over to our Mailchimp email list.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
This may seem simple, but invest in the best product photography that’s available to you. It may seem pricey but this is all your potential customers have to base their sales off of. The investment will come back to you many times over.
Secondly, find a way to tell a story about your products. One of the things we’re most proud of is the fact that our denim looks better the more you use it; few things in life can boast this characteristic.