Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
T.J. Mousetis started walk in love. in 2005 with one goal - to raise enough money to travel to Russia on a mission trip. He purchased 100 blank, royal blue t-shirts, and printed the phrase “walk in love.” across the chest. T.J. sold them to friends, church members and even a stranger or two online (back in the days of MySpace. Crazy!). With the success of those 100 original royal blue t-shirts fueling him, T.J.’s passion for t-shirts exploded.
By 2008 walk in love. was a company with multiple well-selling designs and a demand from friends and fans to “get bigger!” Knowing that expansion for walk in love. needed to happen quickly and creatively, T.J. reached out to a cute girl from church who was a professional photographer. That photographer was Brooke Courtney, and within a year of that first Facebook message, T.J. and Brooke tied the knot.
Upon combining their creative powers, T.J. and Brooke dove head first into making walk in love. a full-time business with a new website, dozens of new shirts and styles, and even a tiny kiosk at their local mall. Through the love, support and financial donations of hundreds of people, walk in love. opened it’s first brick-and-mortar retail store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in April of 2011. Two years later, a second retail store was opened in Stone Harbor, New Jersey.
With walk in love.’s online shop growing, both retail stores were closed in early 2014 to give all attention and resources to the online presence of walk in love. The desire of walk in love. has always been, and always will be, to remind people that God loves them more than they can imagine. And because of that love, we too can love others - no strings attached. We have sourced all of our products, mostly apparel, through companies such as Bella & Canvas, Alternative Apparel and American Apparel. All of our products are screen printed and tagged by the killer team at Threadbird.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Our first sales ever were word of mouth and actually MySpace. Remember that?!? But our first Shopify sales were based off the retail stores we had at the time and our customers simply telling their friends about how much they love our t-shirts. In the last 90 days, Pinterest has been our number one social media referrer, coming in at a whopping 89%. However we are the most active and have the largest following on Instagram with 57.5K followers.
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 love so many different Shopify apps, but hands down we love ShippingEasy the most. It has changed our shipping workflow and is so easy to use. We also love Spently! We handle all of our shipping and fulfillment internally. We have an awesome 4th floor studio/warehouse space that we pick, pack and ship all of our orders from. We've got our own awesome mailman, Neil. He's the bomb.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Our top recommendation for new store owners is simple: Never give up. Owning your own business can be hard and challenging and at times overwhelming, but it's also incredibly rewarding, exciting and downright fun. We absolutely love how social media has allowed us to interact with our customers on a daily, personal level, and highly recommend that you do the same! It's helped us create an entire tribe of people who are doing our marketing for us, by wearing our products and proclaiming to all their friends that "THIS is the best shirt I own - and you should get one too."
We'd also recommend looking up to brands that are way bigger than you! For example, when we're discussing what type of design to do next, or what our next campaign should look like, we aren't checking out other t-shirt companies. We're looking to business' like Starbucks, Target, Chickfila, and additional major online retailers to see what's on trend and how they run their day-to-day operations! Honestly, we could go on and on about all the ways, and tools and tricks we use to run our little company!