Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
I have worked in the fashion / design industry for 5 years, and after travelling and working overseas I noticed a gap in the Australian market for a multi-brand lifestyle boutique offering independent designer goods and limited edition, hand-made pieces. I focused on brands not available in Melbourne / Australia already, along with some local favourites, and collaborated with many makers on one-off pieces. I sourced my products through a mix of local and international designers that I mostly found through social media or knew personally.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
I used Instagram as my main marketing tool at the start along with getting in touch with local independent stylists, photographers and online publications to collaborate with. I would loan out samples and this allowed me to produce a lot of beautiful images without spending a lot of money. It also meant I started to get the shop name out into networks of people interested in fashion. The majority of traffic and sales comes from a mix of online as well as regular pop up shops (I have had four so far with a fifth planned in December this year).
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?
MailChimp is very effective at converting customers. I also found having a blog on the site helped with traffic and SEO. Shipping and fulfillment is handled internally at this stage - I personally pick, wrap and ship every item! It is getting busier now so I will be looking at alternatives in 2016.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Invest in accounting software from the start - this is something I didn't do and really regret! Also if you have a limited budget, make sure you allocate enough to marketing as producing strong imagery is vital and a great way to get more people talking about your brand.