Sweet & Spark

Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?

My 6+ years of corporate experience lies in retail merchandising for large brands including Bloomingdale's, American Eagle Outfitters, and Gap Inc. I was working on a new brand for American Eagle that ended up closing, and when it did I took some time off to travel and spend with family. I found myself back out antiquing with my dad like we used to do when I was a kid 20+ years ago. With my newly refined merchant eye, I was amazed at the quality of vintage and couldn't understand why nobody was making it cool again. Although owning something vintage is cool, the industry is really overwhelming. So my dad is teaching me the ropes on the vintage side while I'm using my merchandising skills to make it modern, credible and cool again!

I'm based in San Francisco while my dad is on the east coast. Every few months we meet up somewhere in the country to Spark Hunt. Or what we call #sparkhuntin' on Instagram! We scour flea markets, antique malls, estate sales and yard sales on the hunt for the most modern vintage pieces from the 1950's - 1990's. Most of our collection is signed by the original designer. We've been doing this for over 3 years and still rarely see the same piece twice. The thrill of the hunt is the real deal!

How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?

Friends and family. Then networking with bloggers was key for helping make us cool and grow our social media following quickly! Our marketing strategy has been to give our $30 gift cards to drive customers directly to our site! It's been working really well because even if they don't buy, they feel compelled to sign up for our emails so they don't miss out!

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?

I really love using Olark chat to chat with customers that are shopping. Also, Justuno has been a great way to capture email and social follows. They also give you the tools to tweak your designs without needing a graphic designer and developer. Aside from my dad who is a buying consultant, I run all other aspects of the business. My biggest challenge was from a creative standpoint so I've been able to freelance work out to a photographer, graphic designer and web developer, each of whom I have a weekly call with. Since jewelry is small, I'm able to manage all shipping on my own out of my home office! I use ShippingEasy to print and manage my labels which I love. We also offer free worldwide shipping which I think is key to getting people to convert.

What are your top recommendations for new store owners?

Just because you've built it, doesn't mean they will come. Step one is to make sure you've diversified your revenue channels. It's really hard to survive off of just one. Put in the time to do trunk shows, go to networking events and test out wholesale/consignment agreements. All of the hard work will add up! Also, make sure to prioritize your time. You need to balance creating content, acquiring/retaining customers, generating new leads, site maintenance, etc. You can't spend your time only focusing on one aspect! I think the Shopify blog is a really great tool for ecommerce stores. The way I look at an ecommerce site is that it's always a work in progress. You've constantly got to be analyzing your traffic and making tweaks to your site.

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