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

There was a need for meaningful gift-giving and giving back in an eco-conscience, healthy, USA artisan supportive way. I knew it was my calling over years of journaling about my creative business and being a lover of giving hugs and uplifting people. Lots of research via online, social media and festivals for artisans that fit thehugbox brand. Also an artisan submission form is on our site. One of my favorite things about my business - to talk with and meet so many passionate, creative people.

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

Word of mouth, family and friends, social media, festivals/events. After the site launch, we used promo codes with the help of Shopify apps! People love coupons and free shipping deals. Word of mouth, social media and festivals/events still drive the most traffic and sales. But adding apps for SEO and marketing to our Shopify site has built up our reach to potential customers. Online presence is huge for our growth.

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?

Plug in SEO app is so easy to use and has moved us up on the search pages! Mailchimp, Google Shopping, McAfee, Yotpo are a must! Current new apps I am working with are Sweet Tooth, Soundest and Mobile Shop by ShoutEm to get our own app published. Recently I discovered Shippo. thehugbox has a small budget and sporadic shipments. Shopify and Shippo's combined efforts has saved lots of time and money! And I can still use the USPS.

What are your top recommendations for new store owners?

Make sure your brand is in place before getting into your Shopify site. My background is graphic design, and taking the time to discover my business brand, design my logo, visual elements, etc. were so important... but don't worry about perfection!

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