Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
The Local Branch started when Blaine and I moved from New York to San Francisco after college. We didn't have creative jobs at the time... so we decided to start our own brand as a creative hobby. We didn't have a clear vision for what we wanted to sell exactly, but we had a certain aesthetic in mind and we knew we wanted to make and source everything possible in the USA.
We taught ourselves screen printing then began to work in leather goods, and slowly grew our Americana brand. We make most everything ourselves. Our blank apparel is from American Apparel in downtown LA. We hand paint our screens and hand print each shirt, then tag each piece with the exact location in which it was made during our travels (since we make it all while on the road in our Airstream!). Our leather comes from a tannery in Kentucky and we hand cut and sew each piece ourselves. As we grow and expand our business, our ethos is to maintain the USA, maker-made backbone that our brand is built on.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
We started earning sales on Etsy and at various craft fairs when we opened The Local Branch in 2009. Once we decided to take our brand full-time we opened our Shopify website which really gave us a new level of legitimacy. From there, we grew organically through word of mouth, Instagram, Facebook and by interacting with our customers face to face at trade shows, festivals and craft markets throughout the country. Instagram generates some good traffic for us as well as a few key press spots we've been featured in (CNN Money and Design*Sponge).
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 the most basic features and could definitely benefit from learning more about the tools and apps Shopify offers :) We handle shipping and fulfillment internally. Since we are a two person team who travels full-time, we carry a significant portion of our inventory on us. We can print labels on the go and visit post offices all over America.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Have a passion, a vision and a road map of how you want to get there.