Beginning of something…
Growing a brand consists of building a separate entity bigger than yourself. You eventually fall in love with this idea of what you are already building kind of in your head. Very slowly you start to have other individuals supporting you, and that’s where it really begins.
(“7UP” billboard on top of an interstate in 1940s)
Paying close attention to exactly what you are selling, and how to present it to the world in your own way. It’s simply just defined as branding, but it’s much deeper than it looks. The hardest part I believe in the beginning is just to start. Register that domain name, source your merchandise or your services. Start posting about it in any context or form on all platforms you believe will entice the world to take a look, but remember to be different in an ocean full of sharks, It has to be creative, it has to make sense in terms of what you are selling or providing and your work needs some type of personality attached. When my web developer asked me what makes us stand out from the million jewelry brands, is simply that we like to operate outside the box but not too far out.
That goes for across the boards in terms of jewelry development, what creatives we build, the thought process behind our campaigns for big sale events or restocks, the simple replies. What you make available to the world is your identity of the business. If you sell products or services that aren’t great quality, chances are, you can’t build a community based on that initial feeling you give a customer. You only get one chance to wow your customer when they first checkout from your store, you have to make it count.
But mistakes happen……. And you need them to happen
We will forever make mistakes or have new obstacles (it’s just part of the game) we're very far from operational excellence for example. The CEO will conclude it’s because of lack of human resources, fulfillment manager says it’s because of our under-funded anklet catalog, and our web developer is busy making sure we don’t lose money in ad dollars. We’re in one of the most competitive marketplaces with 4 individuals on our team, we’re oceans away from truly going global. But we’ve come this far from making mistakes (earlier the better), We’ve sold jewelry where it has tarnished, we have regrets of not answering all emails pending, haunting us in our sleep. But what I’ve learned is, the community that truly supports you, understand that mistakes happen, all you have to do is make that attempt to correct it right away with communication and compensation (the faster the better)
Risk it all for the future…...
foreign+supply has thrown away thousands of dollars of merchandise simply because I didn’t approve the final supply. We probably wasted close to 50,000$ in ads in a year that weren’t even working for us. I can name these cash losses all day, and so can our company accountant. The first 3 years of most businesses is counted as a loss in the books, so I still don’t really care if we don’t win for now.
We were lucky to be funded by some e-commerce investment companies that believed in us (and also their return on investment), we took the risk because we needed to grow faster & accepted their funding. Immediately poured all of it into melting the best quality silver you can get for the price. That might have been the game changer for us, once we felt so sure our products would wow the customer, we were ready to move on to the next optimization.
Which was how fast you can get an order delivered from the minute it’s placed. Shipping fast in 2020 is a must for all e-commerce companies. Early on I convinced my friend who I met working at the mall to quit her full-time job and come help manage fulfillment at foreign, and she did. She believed in our future even when we were nothing and she knew she was going to take a pay cut in the beginning.
From there our next challenge was to get out of my tiny bedroom to fulfill packages faster and have an official place of business. We survived the next couple of months and finally got to sign a lease in the midst of COVID-19. Immediately our shipping times were cut down and customers started sending heartful messages of getting their packages much quicker than their last order. We were finally in place and ready to take on more orders.
These early losses we took put us in a better place a year later and taught us valuable lessons so were they really losses?
Finding the right team to help optimize
As the founder of the business, there’s only so far you can take the business yourself, your company is only as good as the people in it. The day we moved into our office space, someone down a couple units introduced himself in the hallway as a web developer and helped us move in some of our furniture. A week later I needed this digital asset made and remembered he was a couple units over so I knocked on his door. We started from that one project and built a great trust in each others vision for the company and eventually signed him on to be full time marketing manager position. To create new ads and help us innovate different platforms.
Now we have 4 brains full-time going at it every-day, and I will continue pouring all of the company’s profits back into bringing more talent on board. Next person would help innovate our customer excellency, making sure we go above and beyond for every single one of you. We will continue to write about our journey and documenting what we learned so we can help someone get inspired or even look back ourselves, for now we got to get back to optimizing for success for tomorrow. Thank you taking the time and reading this and if you have any questions be sure to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org