8and9

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

I owned several small retail stores and was an avid sneaker collector. Recognizing demand for premium graphic tees in sneaker colorways, we designed four pieces to match that month's Nike/Jordan releases. Once they sold we repeated the formula. Roughly 75% of our goods are made locally in Miami. The remainder has been sourced in China. Recently we've increased our production in Mexico and see huge benefits from NAFTA. I love the control we're getting closer to home and look to expand it.

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

Social media has been huge for us. Our first sales came from the Sneaker Con shows. Word of mouth, hand to hand, and social promotion powered our launch. Direct traffic is driving online revenue. Instagram and twitter play an integral role in brand awareness. There's value in Google+ and Facebook as well.

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?

Shipstation might be the best app we've used. The ability to manage all sales channels in one platform maximizes efficiency and reduces labor cost. BoldApps offers several great marketing tools for sales and incentives. We started in my apartment, eventually growing to our own store and using the back room as a warehouse. Inventory grew, we ran out of space, and brought in a 3PL. Now we're doing it ourselves, we take pride in our speed and service. It's much better!

What are your top recommendations for new store owners?

Invest in photography. Quality shots in a shopify template will have your site looking top notch. Focus on lighting and styling of your products. People want to buy products that look great or they can see themselves in.

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