In this first ShopStorm Stories interviews, we talk to Tara Johnston from Trendy Treehouse about her experience selling on Shopify. Trendy Treehouse is an online custom clothing line selling t-shirts, blankets, and more.
Below is the interview, along with a summary of the discussion. If you have any questions, please put them in the comment section of this post.
Does the summary capture most of what Trendy Treehouse does? What was the beginning like?
Yes, and it’s also important to mention that we are a family owned business. We started this because my husband worked away from home, and we wanted to be able to develop products and make enough so that he could come back home.
I was a stay-at-home mom and I did a lot of projects with my kids. Some of these were clothing, along with drawing and design. Trendy Treehouse was an outlet to get the clothing out there. I used to blog about these creations and eventually people started asking how they could get the clothing for their kids.
From the blog, we went to a few other eCommerce platforms before we heard about Shopify. That’s when we transitioned over to where we currently have our store.
What was the major draw for Shopify?
Certainly the apps available on Shopify. I had too many variants for my products, so having a number of apps to build around the products and my store were a huge draw.
How did you get your first sale on Shopify?
I don’t remember my first sale on Shopify, but there was a memorable sale prior to it. A friend of mine had adopted a special needs child and was promoting the shirt that we had designed for the child. Our sales grew from there, and once we switched over to Shopify, we kept making sales.
What other marketing channels you were focusing on?
My biggest marketing right now is Instagram. A big benefit is that I post a picture, my customers buy it, and then they share a picture of their kid wearing it. So they’re basically selling to their friends and followers for me.
I’ve grown the Trendy Treehouse Instagram profile to around 108k followers. So that’s my main marketing channel.
The second biggest driver of sales would be Facebook, and recently, I’ve started working with Pinterest as well.
What were some metrics you focused on in the beginning?
We really wanted to see repeat customers. We wanted to make sure customers knew that they were a priority for us. So we really worked on the quality of our fabric and products to make sure they were good enough to get people to order again.
What was a challenge growing your business?
The biggest is getting the product in front of the person. A challenge of selling online is that you can’t show them the product or its quality and such. So it’s really important to show customers what the products are like.
In that regard, it’s a lot of sharing photos of our products, sharing photos of customers wearing our products, and having a lot of enthusiasts share photos as well. We also have an affiliate program so that enthusiasts and others can make money selling our products as well.
What are some of your favourite Shopify apps?
My absolute favourite is the Product Customizer app because customers can go in and choose different personalizations – graphics, colors, background colors, etc. – which without the app would be almost impossible given the number of variants. So we love it and couldn’t live without it.
Another is the Order Printer app that let’s us create well designed receipts, and pulls in information from the Product Customizer app so that we don’t have to do it manually.
What’s a Shopify app you wish you had?
Because I do custom things, it would be nice if customers could get a preview of the product based on their customizations. If customers are able to see that, it would help incentivize the sale, so that would be perfect.
What would be your advice to people wanting to start a business?
You have to be confident in what you’re selling. If you don’t believe in what you’re selling, neither will customers. Another would be that this is more than a full-time pursuit. So if a customer asks a question over the weekend, you have to respond to them to maintain a good experience.
What’s the future like for Trendy Treehouse?
Future is adding more products, and grow the business enough to hire the local community. We are also growing into a bigger space so that’s something coming up.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I would just thank all our customers and followers because I have four kids and if my husband was still working out of town, I’d be pulling my hair out. For the kids having their dad home because of the success of this business has been really important.
You can read more about Product Customizer and Order Printer apps in our previous posts.
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