Satin Doll & Co. turns 10 years old in the matter of days and it has me reflecting to everything that has happened in those 10 years. With any business of this age it has its highs and its lows. Most don’t make it past the 6 month mark let alone the 10 year mark. So today’s blog post is dedicated to what I’ve learned in those 10 years. If you’re looking to start a business or grow an existing business I highly suggest you take the time out of your day and take a read.
It’s always good to have a plan. For 3 years while I worked as a freelance fashion designer here in NYC I planned and plotted my 5 year escape to owning my own business. During that time besides creating a business plan I also read tons of business books, entrepreneur magazines, teaching myself accounting, marketing and etc. I have notebooks full of notes to reference back to. Which I still look at today. Don’t just jump into it. It’s definitely not made for everyone. Everyone likes the idea of working for them selves but it’s not made for everyone. So take heed.
Don’t just jump into it. Don't wake up one day and quit your job and try to start your business the day after. I started Satin Doll & Co. while still being employed. I had just moved down to Florida to check up on my grandmother who was ill.She ended up passing away days later after my arrival.My father was closing on a new home down there and I got a new job designing full time in Davie. A little voice said the time is now. From my very first paycheck I started laying the groundwork to having my own company.So when the company said they didn't want to keep me as a full time designer after my probation period. I was fine with it. Money was saved up and I had my business to work on. So even if you're miserable at your job keep it for at least a year and save every penny you can.File all the necessary paperwork so when it's time for you to exit stage left you're good to go.
With a design background I could of went a million and one directions but I didn't. I was already making and selling jewelry in Brooklyn before I moved to FL. So I decided to start there. Earrings were my popular seller. From there I eventually branched off in necklaces, bracelets, charms, accessories, hair accessories and now stationery. So with all that said find you niche / one key product and grow from there. You can't build Rome in a day. Everything takes time.
Don't put all your eggs in one basket. If you're a Satin Doll OG then you remember we only had our Etsy shop when we started but eventually got our website. The more areas you can get your products viewed the better. You can't rely on one source. Besides those two I was in 5 shops at one time in 2008. That was until the recession hit. Those 5 shops closed and my wholesale/consignment stream of money ended. I didn't panic like many. I looked for another stream of income. So I grew my custom order business and that keep me afloat throughout the recession and thereafter. The same can be said for right now since my stream of income on Etsy is going down with every change they make. So I'm putting all my effects on my website where I can control my branding and etc.
That's why having your own website is crucial. You can control every aspect of your branding down to the lettering. Etsy is well and good but they have their rules and the sellers have no control or even a say in the changes. Sites like that are good because they give you visibility to a customer base you may not be able to reach but it's imperative that you have your own website. Because those sites could shut down tomorrow and where would you be. You get my drift.
With all that being said it's good to have an amazing support team (ie: family,friends) around you. Luckily I have my parents,sister, aunt, and uncles when I first started otherwise it would of been disastrous. They pushed me and helped me a lot even still today. My friends at the time really didn't care. They were too busy partying it up in NY to care. One even called me to ask to borrow money and said don't you have a business credit card. Yes, I do but you're not getting it. The nerve. In time those so-called friends will disappear like they have in my life. Those people don't give an encouraging word or show support or even ask to help among other things. If you can't rely on your family or friends go out and network with other business minded people and grow your support system.I've grown mine by joining a Etsy Team early on and later on joining a business organization too. Don't be shy it's all apart of growing you and your business.
In any type of business customer service is key. From the very beginning I strive to give each and every customer the best serve possible. Great customer service will give you the best form of promotion which is free. Word of mouth. Those customers will tell their friends and family about you, your product(s) and your service. Some will yell it from the roof tops for you. Customer service can take a business right out of business so make sure you're giving the best of yourself to your customers each and every day.
Promotion/marketing is key in any industry. If you're super duper shy you can always pay someone to do it for you. You don't have to be on every social media but choose 2 or 3 that reach you customer base. From there figure out your style of promoting.Also having a direct line to your customers with a newsletter is a must. If you don't have one go sign up for MailChimp it's free to use and start collecting subscribers and grow your list. I've learned sending newsletters twice a week between 10am -12pm works best for me.
I know I probably forgetting a lot and it'll come to me later. So I'll end it here while I'm still ahead. I could probably write a book maybe in year 20. We'll see.
What have you learned while running your business? I would love to hear. Comment below.