Where are they now: Sarah Samere of James Vincent Design Co.

Sarah Headshot

james_logo3_360x

 

Are you wondering what happens to my Brick House Branding alumni post-graduation? What they do with the momentum and new-found knowledge? Curious about where they take their businesses in the year following all that hard work?

 

I’m back with another installment in my “Where Are They Now?” series and I’m doing-cartwheels-excited to show you the serious waves my BHB graduates are making!

 

Sarah Headshot

 

SAY HELLO TO SARAH OF JAMES VINCENT DESIGN CO.

This week I’m thrilled to catch up with my Brick House Branding graduate Sarah of James Vincent Design Co.

 

 

Lucky Break: Why and when did you originally launch your company?

Sarah: I started my company in 2013 after the birth of my first child. I was not a fan of the clothing that was available for babies/children and decided to make my own. Several people told me that I should sell the things I was making for my daughter so I took my last $40 (hard times during that part of my life) and bought fabric, opened an Etsy store and when the first piece sold, I used the profit to buy double the fabric, and so on.

 

 

Lucky Break: At what point did you know it was time to further explore brand development?

Sarah: A friend of mine had introduced me to Lela Barker via Periscope and I would listen to her daily while I worked from my home studio. As a momprenuer I wanted to soak up all of the knowledge I could on how to build a better company, and Lela quickly became like a mentor to me. After hearing so many other people comment on how she helped them take their businesses to another level via branding I decided to take my tax return and jump on the Lela train. There were SO MANY other small shops popping up at this time and many were basically knocking off what I had been doing. It was breaking my heart as well as hurting my business. I knew I had to do something big to set my company apart from all of the knock offs. Lela made it clear to me that branding was the only way to do this.

 

JVDC 2

 

Lucky Break: You didn’t necessarily undertake a “rebrand” in the traditional sense… there was no renaming of the company, no new logo, etc. Instead, we focused on refining your product collection, understanding what the brand is all about, and raising the bar on the product photography.  How has that helped the brand?

Sarah: I started my company making rompers. As a small business, I needed money not only for my business but also to put food on the table, so when people would send me special requests to make custom pieces or “you should make this or that”, I would say “okay” to everything, and ended up overextending myself. I lost sight of what my brand was all about. Lela, via Brick House Branding, helped me get back in my lane, and take my company back to the bare bones of where it started and why my customer base fell in love with my company in the first place. I stopped trying to be everything to everyone and simplified my product collection.

 

Lela helped me narrow my scope & figure out what my story was. Through a LOT of research, I was able to locate a local photographer who was new to the area and whose photography gave me life. Thank the gods that she was willing to work with me and that we had a mutual love for each other’s talents. Her photography helped me take my brand to another level and set my brand so far apart from all of the copycat brands that I was being suffocated by at the time. Her photography style compliments my brand vision so well, I never would have guessed how much of a difference that would have made for James Vincent Design Co.

 

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Where are they now: Dawn Russell of Treats for Chickens

Treats for Chickens

new logo trans

Are you wondering what happens to my Brick House Branding alumni post-graduation? What they do with the momentum and new-found knowledge? Curious about where they take their businesses in the year following all that hard work?

 

I’m back with another installment in my “Where Are They Now?” series and I’m doing-cartwheels-excited to show you the serious waves my BHB graduates are making!

 

Treats for Chickens

 

SAY HELLO TO DAWN OF TREATS FOR CHICKENS

This week I’m catching up with Dawn of Treats for Chickens. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of backyard chickens, and Dawn really makes me wish I had a reason to purchase every single one of her products. Dawn’s post-Brick House Branding transformation is a great example of evolution, versus a giant overhaul, and I’m pleased as punch to share her story with you.

 

Lucky Break: Why and when did you originally launch your company?

Dawn: Treats for Chickens hatched in 2009 out of necessity.  Organic food for chickens was rarely available and at the time there were zero organic treats on the market, let alone supplements or herbal mixes for nesting boxes.

 

 

Lucky Break: At what point did you know it was time for a rebrand?

Dawn: I’m on the fourth brand evolution since my launch. In the very beginning, I used Avery labels on Ziploc bags.  I quickly moved to a more professional look when I put my products into distribution.  Funds for packaging were minimal in those days and I foolishly went with artwork that I did not have full legal rights to.  Within 18 months there were three companies in the animal feed industry using the same artwork, and I had zero recourse to differentiate and protect the brand.

 

I needed something ORIGINAL that couldn’t be copied.  Thankfully, my brother-in-law is a cartoonist and over the years had drawn fun chicken-related birthday cards and posters for me.  The new look was right in front of me:  the yellow chicken and various chicken sketches throughout the current brand.  At this time, I jumped into pre-printed packaging and moved away from labels and stock bags.

 

My goals for the most recent brand evolution were to stand out on retail shelves, to convey important messages to consumers, and to transition from costly/bulky buckets and into large stand up pouches.

 

I took Brick House Branding in June, 2016 and ordered our first round of packaging from the printer in October, 2017.

 

Early examples of Treats for Chickens' branding

Early examples of Treats for Chickens’ branding

 

 

Lucky Break: Please share a significant realization about the brand development process that you discovered while in Brick House Branding.

Dawn: I have a tendency to get bored real easy and I want to change things constantly. Consumers get confused when the look and vibe aren’t consistent. I learned that I need to stay in my lane, stick with my brand colors, fonts, patterns, tone, and visual design elements.  I’m very specific about how we show up now.

 

 

Lucky Break: What professionals did you tag in to help with the process, and what pieces of the branding puzzle did you DIY? 

Dawn: I could not run Treats for Chickens profitably if I didn’t have a team of professionals handling the graphic design of my vision and thoughts, copywriters taking my ramblings and terrible punctuation and turning those thoughts into understandable, printable public copy.  I am grateful for web designers, photographers and more.

 

 

Lucky Break: What was the biggest obstacle you encountered during the rebranding process?

Dawn: My lack of patience for the process. I think of an idea/product/handout/flyer/shelf talker/door cling and I want it to launch tomorrow and as we all know – it doesn’t always happen THAT fast.

 

Treats for Chickens, before Brick House Branding and a packaging update

Treats for Chickens, before Brick House Branding and a packaging update

 

 

Lucky Break: How has your own perception of your brand evolved since graduating from Brick House Branding?  

Dawn: I’m happy with the direction we’ve gone and the places where we’re stocked.  Treats for Chickens is a brand with spunk, heart, soul and a story that our customers relate to and trust.

 

 

Lucky Break: Are your products are being received differently by others since the rebrand? How has their reaction evolved?

Dawn: Anyone can throw a bunch of ingredients in a bag (box, etc), add a UPC, sell it below market value and grab the attention of a buyer to get it on a shelf.  Customers, buyers, retailers know that as a company we take the health and happiness of backyard chickens seriously and it shows in every facet of what we produce whether it be ingredients or the way we show up.  It’s very clear that we aren’t a crappy, knock-off, commodity product.

 

 

Lucky Break: Can you share a recent win that you’ve realized because of the rebrand?

Dawn: I’m working on an account with 160+ locations.  He called and said that he liked the look and that it conveyed a message they were in agreeance with.  160 locations?  I’ll ship that.

 

I’m also fortunate that our look is just damn cute.  Most companies that we share shelf space with are so GENERIC.

 

Treats for Chickens, after Brick House Branding and a packaging update

Treats for Chickens, after Brick House Branding and a packaging update

 

 

Lucky Break: How did Brick House Branding experience help shape your branding process?

Dawn: I was able to go through the whole process and leave no stone unturned.  Lela’s course is thorough and even pissed me off a few times because I had to REALLY look at how my behavior (changing things, getting off-brand, off -tone) was affecting consumer/buyer perception.

 

There are steps to a successful rebrand and BHB walks you down the path, pebble by pebble.

 

 

Lucky Break: What do you wish you had known at the beginning of the brand development process? What advice would you give to someone who’s getting ready to start the brand development process?

Dawn: I don’t have a “wish-I-would-have-known” but I do have advice (or rather a request) pleeeeze don’t compare your process to anyone else’s and do not compare your business to another.  This thinking is fatal to the creative process.

 

Jump in, give it your all and follow through. Launch your beautiful rebrand and be accountable for the end results of your brand and your business.

 

 

Thanks for catching up with us, Dawn. We can’ t wait to see what comes next for you and Treats for Chickens… We’re cheering you on!

 

If you’d like to build a stronger, smart brand in 2019, then I hope that you’ll consider joining me in the winter semester of Brick House Branding. This 9-week brand development mentorship dissects awesome brands and then helps you build your own, brick by brick, with me working right alongside you to cheer you on and ensure that you’re on the right track. Enrollment is now open through October 12!

 

Where are they now: Theresa Mendez of Thistle + Hops

Theres Tub

Thistle Hops logo

Are you wondering what happens to my Brick House Branding alumni post-graduation? What they do with the momentum and new-found knowledge? Curious about where they take their businesses in the year following all that hard work?

 

I’m back with another installment in my “Where Are They Now?” series and I’m doing-cartwheels-excited to show you the serious waves my BHB graduates are making!

 

Theres Tub

 

SAY HELLO TO THERESA OF THISTLE + HOPS

This week I’m catching up with Theresa of Thistle + Hops. She’s living proof that you don’t always come out with what you expect to at the end of Brick House Branding. After all, she came in to rebrand one company, and came out birthing another. Thistle + Hops is set to launch later this month, and I’m on pins and needles waiting to see it live. Take it away, Theresa …

 

 

Lucky Break: Why and when did you originally launch your company?

Theresa: Texas Beer Soap Co. was launched in 2012 when I began creating custom Beer Soap for some of our local Craft Brewers to sell in their Swag Shop. I had another soap line I began in 2010 that was goat milk based, and due to the unique differences and audience, I needed a different name. Something that would appeal to men.

 

 

Lucky Break: At what point did you know it was time for a rebrand?

Theresa: Honestly, I began this journey to rebrand Wandering Thistle, my primary line. I would cringe when I would see my customer’s post their pictures of my products. Mind you the soaps were beautiful, but the packaging was not up to par, so to speak. Rebranding Texas Beer Soap Co. was a result of BHB.

 

Texas Beer Soap, before Brick House Branding + a rebrand

Texas Beer Soap Co., before Brick House Branding + a rebrand

 

Lucky Break: Please share a significant realization about the brand development process that you discovered while in Brick House Branding.

Theresa: During the BHB process, I was attempting to rebrand both lines, Wandering Thistle and Texas Beer Soap Co. The amount of heart, sweat, and tears that was required was too much to deal with at once for 2 separate brand voices. With the guidance of Lela and her team, along with my fellow brandmates, I was convinced that focusing on Texas Beer Soap Co. and taking it into a new direction was the way to go. Texas Beer Soap Co. was really geared towards men. Thistle + Hops celebrates women; whether they work in the industry or just love a delicious, well-made craft beer!

 

 

Lucky Break: What professionals did you tag in to help with the process, and what pieces of the branding puzzle did you DIY?

Theresa: This was probably one of the hardest areas to delineate. Lela gave us so many options and professionals to converse with. It was a little overwhelming to say the least trying to stretch those marked dollars and get the most bang for your buck. I had always DIY’d my labels and packaging, and I knew this had to the the first and foremost decision. But before I made this step I had a consult with Andrea Evans, Trademark Attorney, to make sure the name was viable. Then I hired Riley Fouts as my graphic designer to create Thistle + Hops and bring it to life. And we snuck in a new look for Wandering Thistle to give some cohesion between the two. When we had beautiful custom boxes made for Thistle + Hops, I was one excited little DIY convert.

 

 

Lucky Break: What was the biggest obstacle you encountered during the rebranding process?

Theresa: Me. I was my biggest obstacle. I had perceived expectations that it would be relatively a quick process. Once the process began, it was a long, dusty road to that first margarita. I mean, you dig deep in this rebrand and you come up feeling parched.  Lela had us eating, drinking, and sleeping our ideal client.  The other obstacle was to decide were the finite amount of money was going to be spent, and for which services. I had a stunning packaging idea I wanted, but the budget simply was not there. Once I began working with Riley, we made strides and found the perfect combination.

 

 

Lucky Break: How has your own perception of your brand evolved since graduating from Brick House Branding? 

Theresa: I have met more women in the area of my brand voice since graduating, I have a much clearer picture of who she (my ideal client) is and what she wants. And I have to say I give her major props for her candor and drive, and I am confident Thistle + Hops will deliver.

 

Thistle + Hops, after Brick House Branding + a rebrand

Thistle + Hops, after Brick House Branding + a rebrand

 

Lucky Break: Are your products are being received differently by others since the rebrand? How has their reaction evolved?

Theresa: Yes, even though I haven’t officially launched Thistle + Hops. I have given a few little glimpses and a few product samples to get a feel from the community. Reviews have come back very favorable. My official launch will be in October for a charity event, Best Little Brewfest in Texas. I am excited to hear and feel the pulse of women in the craft beer community.

 

 

Lucky Break: Can you share a recent win that you’ve realized because of the rebrand?

Theresa: Absolutely! As I was researching my ideal client, I discovered some amazing women in the brewing industry. I read their stories, felt their pain and their successes. There was a lot of history unfolding at my fingertips and I knew I had made the correct decision to listen to Lela and get out of my own way. The names of the soaps are directly inspired from these women. Some are humorous, but all have a significant meaning and a definitely a fist bump implied.

 

Since the rebrand I have joined the Pink Boots Society, a global organization of women supporting women in the brewing industry by teaching, mentoring, and educating. We have an active local chapter and a few of us are in the Cicerone training program at the moment.  Along with my participation, a portion of profits from Thistle + Hops will go to the Pink Boots Society for their scholarship program.

 

Thistle + Hops, after Brick House Branding + a rebrand

Thistle + Hops, after Brick House Branding + a rebrand

 

Lucky Break: How did Brick House Branding experience help shape your branding process?

Theresa: BHB gave me the structure and inner working of Thistle + Hops. Having deadlines was important to remain on task as well as the camaraderie of the other brand participants. The true heart of the whole program is Lela. Her business savvy and brilliance is priceless. If, I could only use one word…CLARITY. She brings it in and ties it up with a fancy ribbon. Sometimes you have to shake things up and just get out of the way!

 

 

Lucky Break: What do you wish you had known at the beginning of the brand development process?

Theresa: That it wasn’t a race. It takes time and a lot of it and that’s totally ok! That it would be 12 months later and I am still polishing the pieces.

 

 

Lucky Break: What advice would you give to someone who’s getting ready to start the brand development process?

Theresa: Take the time to do it right. Do not stop once you get out of BHB, keep connected, follow through with your deadlines, read and reread the books Lela gives as resources. Take really good notes, every detail is important and do not look at what others are doing. They are not you, not your brand. Be comfortable being you and own it!

 

 

Thanks for catching up with us, Theresa. We can’ t wait to see what comes next for you and Thistle + Hops… We’re cheering you on, and can’t wait to see that rebrand in action!

 

If you’d like to build a stronger, smart brand in 2019, then I hope that you’ll consider joining me in the winter semester of Brick House Branding. This 9-week brand development mentorship dissects awesome brands and then helps you build your own, brick by brick, with me working right alongside you to cheer you on and ensure that you’re on the right track. Enrollment is now open through October 12!

 

#LBCWantsToKnow >> September 2018: Websites

LuckyBreak-LBCWantsToKnow-Websites

LuckyBreak-LBCWantsToKnow-Websites

 

Each month, I ask my Instagram community to join me in a focused, crowd-sourced discussion on a specific subject.  For the month of September, we rolled up our sleeves to chat about websites. Your own website is one of the most critical tools in your entrepreneurial toolboxes + I’m thrilled to see so many Lucky Break clients putting theirs to good use.

 

 

Which e-commerce platform do you use? What do you loathe or love about it?

THE LUCKY BREAK COMMUNITY SAID…

bburford:  at Bang Candy we have used many of the platforms you’ve mentioned and moved around for various reasons. Shortly after I joined the brand last year we started working with an incredible local brand called CoHub that brought all channels of our business together. I don’t know if it would work well for you, but for me it’s great because I’m talking to a support team that is 10-15 minutes away from our shop. It makes my job slightly easier to maintain.

horsefeathersgifts: We’ve used many different platforms and Shopify is by far my favorite. It’s so user friendly!

valerieoba: Shopify is simply amazing. So user friendly and so detailed at the same time!

alliedattilio: Love Squarespace!

normalsoap: We get tickled every time we get to tell our customers our website. Shopify has made this wonderful and it’s helped with direct sales at markets, getting great sales data and tracking inventory!

ebornbeauty: We use Big Commerce and love it… many things like reporting, integration with Square and Paypal, etc are included and you do not need to pay for additional apps. Their customer service is stellar and 24/7.

woodenheartdesigns: I’ve been an Etsy seller since 2012 with my personal website forwarding to my Etsy shop. After reading something you wrote about how important it was to have your own e-commerce site, I signed up for Shopify and have been teaching myself how to tweak it and now trying to increase traffic. I love how it’s coming together and have found it pretty easy to use…and if I didn’t know or understand how to do something it’s easy to find tutorials. Thanks for the nudge to get my own shop vs just Etsy!

shopmilked: From Wix, to Shopify! I love that Wix allowed me to tweak my site, and make it incredibly beautiful without the added fee for a theme. But ultimately, I moved to Shopify for the integrated customers accounts, shipping and reporting. I do dislike the fact that Shopify still doesn’t have certain features like store pickup, or customer reviews, or more free theme options.

bubblebabez: Big commerce here, too.

sheabath: Went from Etsy to Indiemade. Best decision I ever made!

bougiequaintrelle: BigCommerce. I like the ease of use. I loathe the fact if you want to make further customization, you lose tech support.

stellachroma: Started with Etsy, moved to Big Cartel, and am currently with Shopify. I’m loving it with no complaints!

grayzenacres: I’m a Shopify convert. Love the support and apps…not fond of their payment gateway. When I installed my bank processor, Shopify added a 2% processing fee, needless to say I uninstalled bank processor otherwise it’s the best!

zhibathandbody: I’ve been with Weebly for 10 or so years now. LOVE that so many cool features come with the free and paid accounts. Love that they listen to the users on adding new features. LOATHE that those features take so long to implement. LOATHE that they now seem to nickel and dime you on advanced features and services.

makermountainfabrics: I use Shopify and love it, mostly. I do NOT love their calculated shipping as it is way overcharging and I am losing a lot of sales over it right now and need to get it in line.

sumamsworld: I love Shopify for its one-stop-shop convenience, but the shipping charges are super huge lately (like triple the actual cost if I took it to the Post Office).

pillowcandyllc: We use Shopify. I made this decision after going through your linesheet/wholesale training. So glad I did!

 

MY THOUGHTS…

The answers above are pretty consistent with what I see reflected in my client base as a whole. Shopify is the most beloved platform among my roster of product-based brands. A distant second and third are Squarespace and Big Commerce.

 

I’m a big (unpaid) advocate of Shopify and recommend it almost universally. It’s not as easy to design as something like Wix, but the design capabilities- and (more importantly) the technical capabilities- leave platforms like Wix and Weebly in the dust. Shopify is fairly cost-effective, extremely robust, and highly adaptable.  If online wholesale ordering isn’t a primary aim of your business, then Squarespace and Big Commerce might be good options.

 

I wrote a detailed, two-part review of the most popular platforms a year or two ago and my opinion hasn’t changed much since then.  Check out Which E-commerce Platform is Right For You? and Which E-commerce Platform is right For You, Part 2. I can tell you this: when you update from Wix, Weebly, or WooCommerce to Shopify, you’re going to feel like upgraded from a Ford Focus to a Ferrari. You truly don’t know what type of functionality you’re missing (or how your current technology might be hamstringing your sales and operations) until you see how the other half lives.

 

PRO TIP: Many of my clients report that Shopify will throw in the real-time shipping for free if you agree to pre-pay the Shopify site fees for the first year. If that appeals to you, then reach out to them directly and sweet-talk your way into a deal!

 

Do you offer a “loyalty” program via your website? If so, what program do you use + would you recommend it?

THE LUCKY BREAK COMMUNITY SAID…

dorneenaturalbodyluxuries: I need to set up an actual program.

stellachroma: Interested to hear about this!

doubleclutched: I use smile.io on my site but no one uses it.

bobodesignstudio: I just saw smile.io is an integration with Privy which is what I use! I haven’t looked into it yet, but I’m curious.

priiacosmetics: We use a VIP points program. Customers earn 1 VIP point for every dollar they spend. 10 VIP points is equal to $1 in savings off of future purchases. Our clients LOVE our program!

 

MY THOUGHTS…

I L-O-V-E loyalty programs and it’s one of the things we dissect in Brick House Branding. Why? Because they encourage repeat customers. They can blissfully easy to manage thanks to new technology. And they can allow you to reward your best customers without getting into a pricing war with your wholesale stockists.  I adore a good win-win-win.

 

Big Commerce wrote a deliciously detailed blog about customer loyalty programs that’s absolutely worth a read. Shopify recently published a robust, data-driven blog that certainly makes the case for rewarding your customersm while Smile.io dissects some popular loyalty programs to get at the heart of why they work. Speaking of Smile.io, I hear good things about their loyalty technology, which is compatible with Shopify, Shopify Plus, and Big Commerce. They offer a stripped-down, completely free version, too.

 

Loyalty programs need to be continually promoted in order for them to be successful. Tuck periodic reminders in your email marketing campaigns, add verbiage at checkout to invite customers to join, and feature the account login prominently on your website. Mention that program at least once per month on your social media, too. The effort can yield massive results.

 

One new evolution I’ve been keeping an eye on? Paid VIP memberships.  Check out what wildly popular shoe company Freshly Picked is doing with their new program, The Fringe.  Customers join for $10 a month (the plan can be cancelled at any time) and they enjoy: a $10 monthly store credit that doesn’t expire, 20% off everything sitewide, free shipping, and early access to new releases. Ca-ching!

 

Do you collect product reviews on your website? If so, which software do you use + would you recommend it?

THE LUCKY BREAK COMMUNITY SAID… 

bobodesignstudio: I do, but I struggle to get people to actually leave one! The one I have is an app from Shopify called “product reviews”… innovative name, I know.

herbanrootsllc: The product reviews app with Shopify is awesome! Customizable, automated emails after every purchase, free and paid options. I also send out a pretty printed piece with every order listing ways that customers can connect, including writing reviews.

halfpintnaturals: Yotpo app on Shopify.

urbanessencesalonspa: I have a hard time getting folks to actually leave a review. I use AmeriCommerce for my website and after a customer makes a purchase it sends out a review request in about 10 days. When I see customers out at vending event I ask them to leave a review and they always end up leaving the review on my Facebook page.

treats4chickens: We have used Yotpo for several years on a paid plan. I include small pre-printed note card letting people know they’re going to get an email asking for a review. I also select one review a month and send that person product freebies. It seems to be working quite well.

 

MY THOUGHTS…

Product reviews are increasingly powerful tools that play a large role in converting eCommerce browsers into eCommerce customers. They serve as powerful social proof that either ignites interest or throw a bucket of water on it, depending on what’s said about your product. If Amazon, Yelp, and Google have taught us anything, it’s that customers look before they leap.

 

I’m a firm believer that product reviews are an absolute *must* on any eCommerce site. As brand owners, we need to provide a platform for reviews, respond to reviews which are less-than-flattering, and actively invite our customers to participate in the process. The unboxing experience should proactively promote customer reviews.. a simple reminder in that key moment can make all the difference. And it’s much less intrusive then repeated post-purchase emails reminding customers that they’ve yet to read a review.

 

Interested in getting a product review program going? Here are a few of my favorite resources…

  • Need inspiration? Lucky Break Clients Leahlani Skincare and Osmia Organics both do a fantastic job of collecting and featuring customer reviews.
  • Yotpo is the third-party review app that I hear the most consistently good things about.
  • I recommend two books that have helped me both understand the importance of critical feedback and better navigate these tricky customer service waters. Check out Hug Your Haters and Zombie Loyalists.

 

 

What’s your #1 pet peeve when shopping from product-based websites? What one thing would you change about your website?

THE LUCKY BREAK COMMUNITY SAID… 

north.oak.apothcary: When I have to jump through too many hoops to get to the end.

bathedinglaze: I visited a website just yesterday to order a gift. The banner at the top of the page advertised free shipping. When I checked out, shipping was charged. Looking further into the page to see if I could contact someone, I came across their info page that had words spelled wrong and run-on sentences. It turned me off, and I left their site without ordering.

mistybluebotanicals: I hate having to click through too many pages to find what I am looking for.

theryssa: Zulily makes you sign up to just look around. I won’t do it on principle!

mysecretmusicbox: I really dislike having to enter my shipping address etc. more than once and having to click through more than one page to complete a purchase. If they could make the journey through those pages a little more entertaining or charming it would help a lot. Great food for thought!

 

MY THOUGHTS…

All the amen’s to these answers! Typos on websites don’t inspire confidence.  Missing contact information is the kiss of death for most shoppers. A lack of search functionality, fuzzy navigation, or illogical product categories are laborious and drain energy, slowing conversions except for the most committed of shoppers.

 

The checkout process, in particular, routinely drives potential buyers away. A few questions you can ask yourself to audit your own checkout process:

  • If the entire checkout process can’t be completed on one screen, is there a progress
    bar at the top of each checkout page so that buyers always know where they are in the process?
  • If a “free shipping over x dollars” incentive is offered, does the cart reflect how much more must be spent in order to meet the necessary minimum to score the incentive?
  • Can payments be completed on site or must they be sent off to a third party site like PayPal?
  • Are multiple payment options available?
  • Are customers able to check out without needing to create an account on the site?
  • Is there an option for hurried customers to copy their “billing address” information over to the “shipping address” field to save time?
  • Are any unnecessary main navigation links removed during the checkout process to keep the user moving forward with their purchase?

 

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Be sure to stop by the Lucky Break Instagram, where every month we chat about all things business. I’d love to hear your thoughts and hope you’ll lend your voice. Search the #LBCWantstToKnow hashtag to weigh in! In October, we’re chatting about all things systems.

 

Where are they now: Valerie DeVito of Gilded Olive Apothecary

Valerie_Headshot

3a71033f-5d70-4890-a617-51d930471d3f

 

Are you wondering what happens to my Brick House Branding alumni post-graduation? What they do with the momentum and new-found knowledge? Curious about where they take their businesses in the year following all that hard work?

 

I’m back with another installment in my “Where Are They Now?” series and I’m doing-cartwheels-excited to show you the serious waves my BHB graduates are making!

 

Valerie_Headshot

 

SAY HELLO TO VALERIE OF GILDED OLIVE

This week I’m thrilled to catch up with my Brick House Branding graduate Valerie of Gilded Olive Apothecary. Valerie shed her previous name and look and dove headfirst into a Roaring 20’s theme. The transformation is stunning! Welcome, Valerie! We’re so glad to have you here.

 

 

Lucky Break: Why and when did you originally launch your company?
Valerie: In 2011, I was working as a Licensed Massage Therapist and learned how to make bath-bombs. I was always interested in skin care, and thought it would be a nice after-care treatment to give my clients.

 

Bath bomb research led me to discover soap-making and a year later, I was addicted to it, selling my wares to recoup some of my costs. I printed my ingredients on cardstock and wrapped it around the soaps and called them M.H. Brand. I had always been creative, so making soap and even the labels scratched that itch for me. I loved it!

 

 

Lucky Break: At what point did you know it was time for a rebrand?
Valerie: By 2015 I was selling quite a bit, mostly to my massage clients, plus a couple of small, local wholesale accounts.

 

I made lots of different products. Stuff that I wanted to make, and basically anything anyone asked me to make. I sold on Etsy and at local fairs, and people who were not massage clients would always ask me what M.H. Brand meant.

 

I changed my name to Lilac & Olive Soaperie and had a friend design a logo and a website. A year later, I had failed to launch that site. It was pretty, but I felt like something was missing.

 

I was making product like mad, offering way too much, and getting very little to show for it. I couldn’t keep up with the inventory needed for everything I’d been making. Ultimately, in trying to please everyone, I ended up disappointing people instead. With so much variety, I was always running out of something. It was late 2016 and I knew I needed some real guidance. I came across a line from Lela Barker that read, “do less and do it better”. It resonated, hard, and I knew I had found my answer.

 

 

Gilded Olive, before BHB and a rebrand.

Gilded Olive Apothecary, before BHB and a rebrand.

 

 

Lucky Break: Please share a significant realization about the brand development process that you discovered while in Brick House Branding.
Valerie: I bought my binders and my sticky tabs and lots of ink for the printer. I cleared my schedule and listened obsessively to the video in which Lela prepares us for the work. I’m a hard worker and I was not at all afraid of it, I felt ready.

 

What I wasn’t prepared for, was just how emotional this type of work was. Although gradual and gentle, truth be told- it’s a deep, soul-searching dive. I began to have these light bulb moments, and some of them were really surprising!

 

The work helped me discover the one thing I wanted my brand to be, and why, which resulted in the cohesiveness I’d been missing. I’d say my most significant realization about the brand development process, is that it’s more about discovery than creation.

 

 

Lucky Break:  What professionals did you tag in to help with the process, and what pieces of the branding puzzle did you DIY?
Valerie: I built my own website, using the Shopify platform, which I really like. Wholesale Line Sheets seemed pretty straight-forward to me, so I used what I learned and took care of that on my own, as well.

 

I like to write, and I was looking forward to blogging, so I wrote all my own copy.

 

During the course, I discovered that I needed to change my name again (surprise!) and wanted nothing to do with the filing of a trademark, so I hired that out, first thing. Then I used a wonderful graphic artist who designed a new logo for me and helped me create my business cards and all of my packaging.

 

I thought I was ok at photography, but as it turned out, ‘ok’ wasn’t really what I was going for. So I hired an excellent photographer and I’m so happy that I did! She took beautiful photos that I could have never accomplished on my own.

 

 

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Gilded Olive Apothecary, after BHB and a rebrand

 

Lucky Break: What was the biggest obstacle you encountered during the rebranding process?
Valerie: Probably me. My brain, my own worry. All the small stuff that went awry along the way, eventually got remedied.

 

For example, the first time I had my soap boxes printed, they used the wrong files and the color was off. The fact that I had to have one thousand boxes reprinted seemed like a big deal at the time, but I’m sure it’s pretty common when you’re dealing with so many files every day. There were website issues, image file issues, email issues, you name it.

 

Nothing that couldn’t be fixed, and in the end, nothing that truly was a big deal. When in doubt, I learned to just breathe.

 

 

Lucky Break: How has your own perception of your brand evolved since graduating from Brick House Branding?

Valerie: It may sound strange, but I feel so much closer to it now. And I think its beautiful. I’m proud to send people to my new site.

 

I can describe it in one sentence, easy peasy. Before BHB, I was always wobbly on the subject of what my brand was, (I make a lot of pretty stuff?) as well as the subject of wholesale.

 

I never knew if my products were good enough, or the proper way to approach retailers. BHB was so amazing, I took Lela’s LBU wholesale course as well. Now I feel empowered, knowing what to expect from retailers, and knowing what’s expected of me.

 

 

Gilded Olive Apothecary, after BHB and a rebrand

Gilded Olive Apothecary, after BHB and a rebrand

 

 

Lucky Break: Are your products are being received differently by others since the rebrand? How has their reaction evolved?
Valerie: I just recently launched, at the end of September, but I’d consider my launch day very successful! I received several orders, plus lots of messages and positive feedback on my website and products.

 

I even got a comment on my blog, the first day. That really blew my mind.

 

I’m getting a lot of messages along the lines of, ‘It’s so YOU!’. I think that’s a positive thing, because I’m only really good at being myself.

 

 

Lucky Break: Can you share a recent win that you’ve realized because of the rebrand?
Valerie: On 7/17/17, I wrote out some goals. I found the paper in my desk just the other day. One of them was to be featured in this blog. Huge win!

 

Another win is: I know exactly what I’m doing every day now. Whether it’s my blog, newsletter or making product- this experience has made my business so much more streamlined. I know what inventory I need to keep on hand, I’m not just randomly making things. No more spinning my wheels, wondering what to do first, wondering what would be best to make next.

 

 

Gilded Olive Apothecary, after BHB and a rebrand

Gilded Olive Apothecary, after BHB and a rebrand

 

 

Lucky Break: How did Brick House Branding experience help shape your branding process?
Valerie: I desperately needed this. I was way too close to my work to be able to be objective.

 

I could have never done it without the seeking questions Lela proposes. I needed the coaching, the questions to help me figure out where I wanted to go. To help me figure out who I was, as a brand. And listening to others as they went through the same process, helped me understand it better. Sometimes she just gave us pep-talks. And I needed those, too.

 

Before BHB, I had no idea that it was me running myself ragged. Niching down and doing less has helped me gain significant focus and renewed energy. As it turns out, I don’t have to serve the entire population. What a concept. I like it!

 

 

Lucky Break: What do you wish you had known at the beginning of the brand development process? What advice would you give to someone who’s getting ready to start the brand development process?
Valerie: I’d say, don’t think you’re going to accomplish this in a month.

 

Don’t compare your progress to other’s because everyone’s so different, and at different stages. It’s not a race to the ‘finish’ because you’re never finished. Give yourself the time, it’s a process. Trust your gut to determine what’s right for you. Do the parts you don’t want to do. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out.

 

I learned that rebranding is strategic, it’s about the long game. It’s about putting down a foundation on which you can build, for years to come and that’s everything. Do the hard work now, and everything after will come easier. And be sure to take breaks. Enjoy your family, your friends and your life.

 

Celebrate small wins, and try not to panic when stuff goes wrong- because it will. When you get tired, remember that tomorrow’s another day. Work hard, stay the course and it will all be worth it in the end!

 

 

Thanks for catching up with us, Valerie. We can’ t wait to see what comes next for you and Gilded Olive Apothecary… We’re cheering you on!

 

 

If you’d like to build a stronger, smart brand in 2019, then I hope that you’ll consider joining me in the winter semester of Brick House Branding. This 9-week brand development mentorship dissects awesome brands and then helps you build your own, brick by brick, with me working right alongside you to cheer you on and ensure that you’re on the right track. Enrollment is open through October 12!