When things weren't going so well, what was the one thing that gave your business a boost?
It seems like it takes a slow period, the kind that makes you second guess every decision you’ve made, to really force you to think outside the box and tap into all your resources.
I don’t know if there is one special back-pocket maneuver that is guaranteed to boost business drastically when things aren’t going well, but there are a few things that we’ve found can help reignite the energy around the business again.
For us, I think It’s posting and engaging way more on social media. It just gets people thinking about you again, even if it doesn’t directly correlate with sales.
Sometimes it’s doing something as simple as a short sale or an exciting blog post.
It seems like when you start doing everything you can, while thinking super positively about what you have to offer, things tend to pick up and you can feel the energy around your business start to buzz again!
How did you know it was time to hire someone and what was the first thing you outsourced?
Vicki and I ran our physical shop for its first wildly busy season completely on our own, with help from only family and friends when there was just no way we could physically do it alone. After that first season, we knew we would need to hire help for our second.
We hired two wonderful employees to help on the sales floor during the busy season and also help pack our increasing amount of online orders.
What steps did you take that really helped your business take off? What helped your business grow?
Firstly, we made a presence on Instagram, found our aesthetic (which definitely didn’t just develop overnight, it seemed to be a gradual process that doesn’t ever really stop),and committed to posting daily.
We strategically curated a list of 30 hashtags (which we tweak over time) that we thought would get our photos in front of the right people and/or reposted by larger accounts that were influencers in our same space.
Being reposted by a few bigger accounts that we loved really helped us get the ball rolling in terms of Instagram followers, and over time we started to see these followers turn into customers.
Second, in the beginning, we made an effort to reach out to likeminded Instagramers and bloggers who had a similar target market.
We presented our brand to them and asked if they’d like to collaborate in any way that could potentially help both parties––whether it be a giveaway, product feature, or other organic partnership.
Thirdly, we learned how valuable an email list is, and we worked to grow ours. This was as simple as telling people we had an email list that may not have known in the first place. We linked to it in our Instagram and recommended people join it just before we were going to launch a sale where our email list subscribers would get first dibs.
As sales started to pick up and we found out who our repeat customers were, we made an effort to make them feel special. Sometimes that’s as simple as adding a couple of small things to their 3rd or 4th order.
These customers are the ones who end up spending the most money over time and who will tell their friends about your business!
How did you get consistent sales? What other income streams do you have?
We saw consistent online sales start to happen as our Instagram following started to grow. We started with just an online shop (our 4-year online anniversary is coming up in June!), and opened our brick and mortar store last April.
In a kind of a unique way, our physical store is very seasonal and we make most of our sales between late May and October, while our online sales spike in November and December.
This seems to work in our favor, especially when our team is still very small and stretched thin!
Wholesale accounts––retailers that sell Vicki’s flower art prints and cards––and Vicki’s commissions also generate revenue.
How long did it take you to make a living wage and what resources helped you make it through the beginning years?
We still feel like we are very much in our beginning years and are constantly learning and growing, let me tell you!
We feel very fortunate to have been able to open our brick and mortar store as an addition to our online shop, as this played a major role in our ability to work for ourselves.
While Vicki and I have worked very hard to be in the position we are now (and continue to work hard every day…hey, there really are no days off!), we had a team of wonderful people helping us along the way.
This includes my dad who is our accountant, my boyfriend who is our resident tech guy and assistant photographer, and countless friends and family members who have contributed somehow along the way, even it’s just sharing one of our posts on social media!
Vicki and Brooke are the mother/daughter duo behind the online and brick-and-mortar boutique, Sister Golden. Vicki has been a professional artist for most of her life and, among her other creative contributions as co-owner of Sister Golden, she is also the artist of the popular foliage art featured online and in the store. Brooke has a background in marketing and retail and manages all aspects of Sister Golden's online presence. The two make a perfect team!