Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
We are three big Detroit sports fans that wanted to support our local teams through apparel, but didn't want to wear ill-fitting, terribly designed sportswear that was currently available in the big box stores. Started with the only source we knew: American Apparel. Over time, made contacts in the wholesale industry and found the right sources & local creatives to product our products today.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Printed two designs and sold them out of our backpacks to friends/family and locals at events and bars. Decided to first break into the market offline, all in an effort to create awareness for our brand (which we knew then people would google to find). Our revenue is a 50/50 split between online sales and wholesale/retail accounts. As for traffic, we focus on SEO & social (paid & organic) to drive the most new traffic to the site. As for return visitors, we've built a significant email list of subscribers that open, click, and purchase at a significant rate.
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 originally launched our site on BigCartel, and while it was fine at the time we really didn't see huge growth until we switched over to Shopify in 2013. The app store has been huge for us, and we currently depend on some great apps to keep our store & marketing running smoothly. These apps include: Mailchimp for Shopify, ShipStation, RetargetApp, Bulk Product Edit, and Pre-Order Manager. We ship in-house using ShipStation & Stamps.com.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Before you launch, make sure you've research your products. Use Google search volume tools to see if there's an existing need. Decide how you want to position your product, then research the ways you'll have your items produced (to make sure your positioning/pricing matches the final product your customer will receive). Lastly, be prepared to spend time and money on creating content, SEO, photography, and social media promotions. 'Build it and they will come' couldn't be farther from the truth.