Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Bailey's Blossoms started as a hair accessories company at my kitchen table in Arizona back in 2008 and has since grown into a multi-million dollar adventure. Both brands provide fashion-forward styles at a price that won't break the bank!
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Married two weeks after my 19th birthday, I had six children by the age of 28. I hold no degree and have completed no formalized training. I don't even know how to sew! My journey started selling hair accessories on Etsy as a side project to keep me busy and provide some greatly needed financial relief after my husband had graduated from school.
A product without a person is just a product. If you can manage to connect with people on a personal level, you will have a fan for life. And a fan is a thousand times more valuable than simply another customer.
Upon his graduation, we were in a mountain of debt and forced to do a Short Sale on our Arizona home as we moved to Michigan for his work. I taught preschool out of our home until Bailey's Blossoms grew to the size that I could make it a more full-time endeavor. I started making tutus and other higher-value items to increase my dollar per hour earnings.
My customers have always been my top priority. I can never get enough of their feedback! It was those willing to speak up and provide constructive criticism that I credit my success to. In an effort to constantly progress we chose to get up more times then we fell and it ultimately paid off!
Eventually, I moved away from hand-making products to designing clothes and outsourcing the production completely. This shift took us from a kitchen table to a now 25,000 square foot warehouse and we're not done yet!
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
I don't sew, (or even draw) so I find images to help illustrate what I see in my mind and hire those with the talents I lack to fill in the gaps. The shift to outsourcing began after a 2-year hiatus while our family lived abroad in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Upon our return to the states and purchasing a home in North Texas, I convinced my husband to deplete our savings account so I could send funds overseas in exchange for the product we needed to relaunch Bailey's Blossoms as a DIY destination source. The concept was I would teach others to make what I had. They would save money, I would save time, it was a win-win!
When someone asked me to create a ready-made outfit I considered what that would look like and drafted my first romper. And it worked! From there we morphed into a clothing line.
Even the right people can be wrong if you lead them improperly. I never started my business with the intent to have a team, leading a team has been quite the learning curve for me.
I am now honored to work with some incredibly talented artists who can take my vision and turn it into a reality. It's unconventional, but I wouldn't have it any other way!
Describe the process of launching the business.
Launching Bailey's was easy because I never fully understood what I was doing or what it had the potential to become. I was blessed to not overthink it. I just jumped in! Within 5 days of uploading my first hair accessory to Etsy, I launched baileysblossoms.com and a Facebook page. The journey was about people more than money and because of that, we built a community of moms who just wanted to be seen and heard.
After taking a 2-year break in Brazil, I had had plenty of time to reset and I came back with huge dreams. I depleted the savings we had acquired while there of $35,000 and jumped all in once more. The success was instantaneous and the feedback came pouring in!
Success continues to come as I strive to remain curious and teachable. I never want to be out of touch with the needs of my customers. We strive to serve them and in return, they become genuine fans and incredible ambassadors of the brand. It's truly humbling to be a part of.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
In January 2016 we parted ways with Etsy. 85% of our sales at the time had come from that platform so it was a very strenuous time for us. However, social media taught us one of the most valuable lessons we had yet to learn. Within 48 hours of our departure from Etsy, we saw an increase in sales of 3-4 times what we had ever seen previously. I quickly realized the difference was in social media and brand recognition.
When we sold from our own website people tagged Bailey's Blossoms. When we sold from a third-party website people tagged the name of that third-party website. Whether it is Amazon, eBay, Etsy or otherwise, companies and brands are justifying anonymity for short term gains on platforms they don't own and cannot control.
While social media has been a huge driver of traffic for us we understand the need to diversify and gain ownership of as much of our data as possible. To this end, we have grown a very fruitful email and SMS list. I am a huge proponent of maximizing every trendsetting platform out there but I will never do it at the expense of our brand name or truly understanding the value in that again.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Bailey's Blossoms' 2020 goal is 60% growth over 2019 and we are currently at 72% growth with a 2.8% conversion rate. Peyton Bre’s 2020 goal is 100% growth over 2019 and we are currently at 447% growth with a 3.9% conversion rate.
Our highest ad spend happens on Facebook and Instagram. We average 4.85 ROI for Bailey's and a 4 ROI for Peyton's. Our email campaigns account for roughly 20% of our revenue each month and our SMS campaigns account for roughly 12% of our revenue each month and growing.
With a total customer base of around 750,000, we hope to pass 1 million by the end of 2020.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I could never in one short interview summarize all of the hard lessons and learnings that I have experienced along this journey. The two that stick out to me the most are leadership and inventory.
When we first launched Peyton Bre we did so in a social or direct sales model. Through poor inventory projections we were forced to change models but only after losing $2 million dollars. It was a devastating time for us and one we were not sure we could survive. I have since become very intentional about the way that we project our inventory needs and we continue to refine that quarterly and even monthly. We have created a KPI for the cost of goods sold to help us hold ourselves accountable.
Ultimately, the better we manage our inventory the less we have need to discount and the healthier our profit margin becomes. This is, of course, a very high-level overview of the importance of inventory control, but I have written a full breakdown of what this looks like for us over on my blog.
Leadership is the other costly mistake. Both financially and emotionally it can be draining to hire and attempt to manage the wrong people. Even the right people can be wrong if you lead them improperly. Understanding that I never started my business with the intent to have a team, this has been quite the learning curve for me. Putting to rest my need to be liked by everyone and my discomfort with contention has been an ongoing growth process. I am learning to value providing growth opportunities for others more than my own self serving needs to be liked.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Since we first launched based on SKU, DeepMine has been a great app to help us monitor which items to promote and reorder based on the speed of sales.
After performing a variety of tests I am not a fan of any third-party posting tool for social media as it greatly hinders organic reach. We do use Instagram planner apps to help us design our posting layout but we do not connect them to our accounts for this reason.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I am an avid listener to podcasts! Currently, I am loving Jay Shetty's On Purpose and How I Built This with Guy Raz. This past year I launched my own podcast titled, Conquering Chaos. It's been a great way for me to connect with inspiring entrepreneurs and provide value to the audience I serve.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
The biggest mistake I see other entrepreneurs make is to leave themselves out of their creation. You. Your story. Your personality. You should be infused in everything you offer to the world. A product without a person is just a product. If you can manage to connect with people on a personal level, you will have a fan for life. And a fan is a thousand times more valuable (and rewarding) than yet another customer.
Get clear on who you are and who it is you are talking to. As you do this, simply selling becomes just that.. simple.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are always looking to grow our team and propel ourselves to the next level in order to have a larger impact.
Where can we go to learn more?
Erin E. Hooley:
Peyton Bre links:
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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