Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
We founded Distil Union in 2011 as a way to bring our own product ideas to the market. In our years as designers at large companies, we worked on literally hundreds of products together. But design is just one teeny part of those big corporations… and often you're designing for buyers and sales teams, not for the end user! So we started our own design company where we can develop and deliver the products that we want to see on shelves.
We design them! We're a micro-collective of two designers having fun (and working hard) creating solutions to our own real-life problems. Selfish? Perhaps. Satisfying? You bet! We have a global network of vendors from our corporate days, and we leverage our good relationships with them when it makes sense. Going outside that trusted network can be scary, but as designers of our own brand, we value integrity and authenticity – so we connect with new manufacturers as needed.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Kickstarter! We've launched half of our products on Kickstarter and half on our own, and by far the crowd-funding community has been the best way to reach our target audience of early adopters and design geeks. After a campaign ends, we have pre-orders immediately available on our Shopify to keep the momentum going. Many customers find us by word-of-mouth, so we leverage SEO and Google Adwords to ensure they land on our Shopify page. Also, Google Shopping is a huge channel for 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?
The Shopify App Store is a great place to browse for tools you didn't even know your store needed.
Yotpo has been vital to keep the conversation going with our customers, and in turn their reviews build confidence in our new customers.
Edit Order has allowed us to provide better customer service as well as easily create new shipments – all of which flow seamlessly through to StitchLabs (inventory) and ShipStation (fulfillment).
Bartastico and Exit Offers give us quick and easy ways to keep our visitors informed and engaged.
We just started using Springbot, and in just a week we've seen the power of an easy-to-use hub for gathering customer insights and tracking conversions for our various marketing efforts.
Looking ahead, we'll be hosting a pop-up shop for the holidays and can't wait to give Shopify POS a try!
As we've grown, ShipStation has been an amazing tool every step of the way. From the beginning when we shipped out of our home office, to our brand new design studio with a separate, local warehousing and fulfillment facility – yay, no more cardboard-box towers in the bedroom!
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Don't be scared to try new things – you can do anything with Shopify's knowledgable community and stellar support (shout-out to our guru, Dylan!). Starting with zero background in e-commerce, we've been able to start from scratch with Shopify, and build a profitable business that we're proud of.