Becoming a creative entrepreneur has definitely been a journey; one with lots of ups and downs and a few defining moments. With no prior experience in fashion, design, or owning a business there was plenty of trial and error (and still is) but there were a few things that set my brand on a different trajectory. So here's some of the key changes I made that took my business up a notch:
1. Stories sell
When I first started out I followed the adage "fake it till you make it", especially when it came to social media. I thought it was better to pretend that I was already a big brand and in doing so I wasn't sharing any of the real story. I eventually realized that the story of how each piece is hand made, by me usually, with a lot of love and attention was exactly what made my products so special! Don't be afraid to show the real story, authenticity is in.
2. Free shipping
I used to charge exactly what shipping cost for each product - why wouldn't I? Until I realized that even that small amount deterred people from clicking submit order at checkout. So I decided to include the cost of domestic shipping - which for my product is just under $4 including envelope and packaging - in each product so I could offer free shipping across canada. I immediately saw sales growth.
3. Fewer freebies
I know we'd all love to think that giving free product to bloggers is going to give us more exposure and sales, but for the most part...it doesn't. When I first started out I would give away 4 pieces every season, and sure I gained some social media exposure from doing so, but at the end of the year I looked back and realized they weren't translating to sales. So really, I was in the red the for the cost of 16 free items. My advice is, if you're going to collaborate with bloggers make sure you pick them carefully and they aren't just there for the free clothes.
4. If you're not proud of your product, don't offer it
I started out selling handbags and everyone LOVED them. They appealed to a wide demographic, they were affordable, the perfect present but - I wasn't proud of the product. They took so long to make and I still wasn't ever happy with the end result. I felt that they could be improved and I wasn't capable so... I stopped making them and continued with my less popular product, bralettes. There was a definite lull at first but over time and with my increased confidence in the product I found a new audience.
5. Learn to say no and delegate
When you're starting out it's easy to say yes to everything - to opportunities, to customers, and to collaborations. Ultimately not all of these are going to be good for you or your business but we feel obligated to say yes. It goes hand in hand with trying to do everything yourself. You have to sell your strengths and buy your weaknesses (still working on this one), but if you can decide where you want to focus your energy you'll notice a difference right away. The minute you start saying no to things that aren't going to help you, you can start putting that energy into things that will and your business will flourish.
6. No fear
Last but not least, don't be afraid. Life is all about moving forward and there are no wrong moves.