Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
I founded the Zoe Vine brand when the youngest of my five children began school full time. I have knitted since I was a small child and have been designing and making vintage-style knitwear for many years. This lead to an interest in vintage-style clothing, and so my business was a natural progression. I wanted to start a company that was based around something I am passionate about. After receiving a start up loan, I went to Hong Kong to meet with a contact that a friend had put me in touch with. I took my design drawings with me and spent time searching the fabric district of Kowloon for suitable materials. I discussed my business plans with my agent and we agreed to terms and prices. My first samples arrived soon after I returned to the UK.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
With no budget for marketing, we concentrated all our efforts on social media. We established good relationships with influential bloggers and sent them dresses to review. This lead to our first sales as well as an increased following. Our ongoing collaborations with fashion bloggers continue to generate traffic to the site and provide exposure to stylists and journalists who then approached us to borrow dresses for photo shoots and brand profiles. We never say no to any opportunity. Facebook and Instagram are the most effective social media accounts for generating traffic.
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 the simplicity of Supple Wholesale Pricing which enables us to sell wholesale to stockists. We use Order Printer to create profesional-looking invoices and Shopify Product Reviews to create new content for improved SEO and to reduce returns. We have also just installed Refersion Affiliate Tracking as it allows you to have up to 15 affiliates free. We handle shipping and fulfillment internally.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Never stop learning. I read every article possible regarding business. Whether it be advice from experts or other business owners sharing their experiences - it is all helpful.