Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
I had purchased a Fitbit to track my sleep and became interested in the data that was available about my sleep, the number of steps I took, and the ability to see trends over time. I liked the data, but thought it was ugly. I did some research and realized I was not the only person who had this problem, so I decided to create a line of accessories to make fitness trackers look more like jewelry. My background is in technology, digital strategy and design and I realized I could do something about this problem.
Initially I produced products from a 3D printing company called Shapeways. I was able to quickly prototype and iterate on the designs. I started selling products that were produced exclusively via 3D printing (although the higher end metal pieces used 3D printing to print wax molds that were then traditionally cast). Since then I have sourced other manufacturing solutions for some of my pieces because 3D printing is not cost effective for mass production.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Our entire brand presence was built on social media. The company has grown organically one customer at a time. We were lucky to be able tap into several growing trends: 3D printing, wearable technology, wearable technology and fashion, fitness... so having those "hashtags" at our disposal has helped us accelerate our growth.
Organic search (yay, we finally have a brand that people are beginning to know), social media - either our own or non-paid blogger "finds", and lastly and probably the most successful (although harder to predict since we are still operating on a startup budget), women's health and wellness magazines (SHAPE, SELF, Refinery29, etc.). We have not done any outright PR since we don't have the budget for it but were lucky enough to be discovered by Christina Applegate's costume designer and she is wearing the Lucas slide for Fitbit Flex in the Vacation movie that premiered July 2015.
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?
Google Analytics, Mailchimp, Shipworks, Social Login, Shopify Product Reviews. Google Analytics is very helpful to see where people are coming from, where they are going on the site, where they are spending time, and where they are leaving the site. Shopify also has great tools to see how which products are most interesting / viewed. Product reviews are indispensable.
I use Shipworks and Stamps.com to print invoices and shipping labels. It is a great tool (except that it only works on Windows and we are a Mac shop). We package the orders ourselves including very high end / high touch packaging. Each package includes a handwritten note, a custom jewelry box wrapped in tissue, etc.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
1. Make sure that your product / products are solving a problem and filling a need in people's lives. 2. It is as important to find a way to market your products (i.e., tell people about your store) as it is to have a great products. 3. The customer is always right. Make sure you are responsive to their questions / concerns and bend over backwards to help them, even if it hurts.