Maximizing Return On Ads For My $500K/Year E-Commerce Business [Update]

Published: July 20th, 2023
Jocelyn Thompson
from Los Angeles, California
started July 2017
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Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

My name is Jocelyn Thompson, I’m the Founder of Epiphany LA. My company started off as a one-product brand selling push-up padding inserts for swimsuits and sports bras.

Because I saw so much success with this one product, I decided to expand my business and I started designing sculpting swimwear and activewear as well.

Take a look at my Starter Story article from 3 years ago to see how far my brand has come!

I’ve custom designed all the products we sell at Epiphany LA and each product is intended to solve a problem I see in the market. Our brand centers around body sculpting products to help every woman look and feel her best.

I’ve launched a variety of swimsuits and I’m currently working on a second style of padding insert and an activewear line.

Most of our revenue comes through Amazon, but we also sell on and our website. It’s currently June 2023 and in the last 30 days, we have done $82,000 in sales. I’m on track to do approximately $500,000 in revenue this year.





Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?

I started Epiphany LA in 2017 and ran it while having a full-time job in tech. About 10 months ago I decided to pursue Epiphany LA as my full-time career. Since making this decision, I’ve had the bandwidth to push the business forward and expand my product offering. I’ve launched a variety of swimsuits and I’m currently working on a second style of padding insert and an activewear line.

I’ve been able to get my swimsuit line for sale on and I’m currently doing a test run with a major e-commerce distributor that raised 30 million in their seed round. If this test goes well, I could be in major brick-and-mortar stores across the country, so fingers crossed!

In 2019 I was spending most of my time and money focusing on Facebook ads, which were performing very well. Then iOS14 was released (which allowed users to opt out of tracking) and Facebook ads became significantly less profitable for me. For about a year I continued trying to run FB ads and trying to find a way to make them profitable, but it wasn’t working, and even worse, it was consuming all my time.

When I decided to pursue Epiphany LA as my full-time career, I decided to stop focusing on Facebook ads and lean into what had been working for me, which was Amazon. That’s when I decided to launch more products on Amazon and do a deep dive into Amazon ads. Since this decision, I’ve seen some explosive growth and I’ve increased my sales by 50% since last Summer.

I was expecting my swimwear line to snowball on Amazon as my padding inserts did, and while it has seen steady growth, PacSun has been the platform where I make most of my swimwear sales. This has been great because I have diversified my revenue streams and PacSun has become a reliable source of steady income for the brand.

Amazon can be a great vetting process to understand which products resonate most with your customers.

Amazon listings tend to grow over time, so right now my focus is on creating more products so I can have more successful Amazon listings.

At the moment, my biggest goal is to get my main padding insert product into Target. I’ve redesigned my packaging to be retail-friendly (which means the customer should be able to understand my product within 3 seconds with no added explanation).

So, my product now comes in a hanging box with a clear window to see what’s inside. Smaller goals involve getting into some bikini shops and expanding my revenue streams in general.

A few weeks ago, I started using Pinterest to drive traffic to my website by pinning photos and reels from Instagram posts. I’ve been able to drive a lot of organic traffic to my website and it’s completely free.

My target audience is female and the Pinterest platform has a 76% female audience which is perfect for me. If you have an e-commerce business, I would definitely look into Pinterest to drive awareness for your brand.





What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?

A few months after leaving my job in tech, my Amazon manager of 5 years said she was parting ways with all her clients, including me. Since I had just decided to “lean-in” to Amazon and develop more products specifically for the Amazon platform, this was distressing news.

She offered to help me learn Amazon over Zoom sessions at an hourly rate until I felt comfortable running it myself. It’s been a few months and I’m proud to say that I now manage my Amazon business myself, but it was a time-intensive process.

While learning, I realized I wanted to spend more on Amazon’s internal advertising platform, so I experimented with Amazon ads – and some days I was spending up to $900/day on ads!

I now feel very well versed with Amazon ads and have been able to scale them to a comfortable 6-7 ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) which has been very profitable. I have been playing with the default bids to find the sweet spot (maximum amount of sales for the least amount of spend on ads).

Amazon ads are PPC (pay per click) so you set your bid for what you’re willing to pay per click. Amazon has a 7-day attribution window, so you need to wait over 7 days to see accurate results, so testing takes some patience.

I normally test one variable at a time so I can see the cause and effect of my adjustments. So for example, I might adjust my default bid from $0.59 to $0.69 per click if I want to spend more on ads. Then I wait about 10 days and I’m able to see accurate results for the first three days of data.

If the campaign is spending too much, I’ll add “negative keywords” to the negative targeting list. This tells the system NOT to spend money on those specific search terms. That normally helps decrease spend and increase efficiency. Since I’ve been running the account, I’ve seen a 50% increase in sales from last Summer.

What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

When Instagram reels first came out, I had a friend tell me she was seeing explosive growth on her Instagram page which was directly translating into sales on her website. She grew her account from a few thousand followers to over 50K actively engaged followers within her target audience.

When she told me this, I should have dropped everything and started creating reels, but I was so overwhelmed with the full-time job that I couldn’t fathom putting one more thing on my plate, especially something as experimental and time-consuming as reels sounded. Looking back, this was a missed opportunity.

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

My plan is to continue to develop new products for Amazon. Amazon sales start to snowball over time once you find product-market fit. Creating new products is time-consuming and expensive, but if I have several products performing well on Amazon simultaneously, I can live a very comfortable life.

Amazon is wonderful because as an FBA seller, they handle all customer service and returns which takes a lot of work off my plate. Similarly, Amazon FBA handles all shipping and packing, so I don’t ship orders or touch inventory which frees up my time to grow the business and create new products.

Amazon can be a great vetting process to understand which products resonate most with my customers. Once I have several top-performing products on Amazon, I’d like to get them into major retailers to diversify revenue streams. Then ultimately, I’d like to have an exit!



What’s the best thing you read in the last year?

I religiously listen to the podcast Group Chat with Dee Murthy, Anand Murthy, and Drama from Fantasy Factory. They cover current events, and business news, and have an emphasis on e-commerce.

Anand has a background in investment banking and Dee and Drama are successful ecommerce entrepreneurs. Their podcast is insanely informative, and I’ve learned a lot from them over the last few years.

They jokingly refer to their podcast as “Group Chat University” because of how they break down businesses, finance, and investing. I’m a huge fan and recommend it to anyone in business.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their businesses?

Don’t take out loans! I’ve completely bootstrapped all my growth, and this is how I do it — I apply for 0% APR credit cards and try to get the biggest limit possible. What does 0% APR mean? Let me tell you! 0% APR means you can borrow the money INTEREST-FREE for a certain amount of time.

For example, if a credit card has 0% APR for 12 months and they give you a $40,000 limit, that means you can swipe the card for $40,000 and not owe that money back for 12 months, interest-free.

You’re only responsible for the minimum each month which would be about $400 a month if you charge $40,000 to the card. So, this is how I have been financing my business since I have a seasonal product.

Each year, I need to purchase a large amount of inventory in the Fall, and then it sells in the Spring and Summer (about 6 months later). After the inventory has sold, I can pay the balance on the credit card and walk away with no interest paid.

Another thing I would recommend is asking for payment terms with your suppliers. I work with a padding factory in Los Angeles, and I’ve developed a relationship with them over the last 6 years. A few Summers ago – before I knew about 0% APR credit cards -- I needed to place a very large inventory order which would have been impossible to finance myself.

I normally pay 50% upfront, then 50% when the goods arrive. This makes cash flow extremely tight because I pay for 100% of the goods before I have the chance to sell them. So, I asked my local supplier if I could have special terms where I paid a flat fee each month, for 8 months, until the inventory was paid in full.

My supplier agreed and it was a win-win situation because they benefit from my large order, and I benefit from the flexible payment terms. What I’ve learned in adulthood is that EVERYTHING is negotiable, you just need to ask for what you want.

Additionally, I learned the hard way that a 3PL can eat all your profits (a 3PL is a warehouse that stores inventory and ships orders for you). When I was running Facebook ads and doing a lot of volume through my website, I thought using a 3PL was the only way to get orders shipped without manually doing it myself. The 3PL almost bankrupted my company, so when I decided to stop running Facebook ads, I had to restructure my business.

That’s when I learned about Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment which has been a godsend. I already had all my products in the Amazon warehouses since I’m an FBA seller, so when I enrolled in the Multi-Channel Fulfillment program, Amazon could ship all my website orders using the inventory I already had at their warehouses.

The setup was relatively simple too. I used an app on Shopify called “Amazon FBA by WebBee” that connected my Shopify store to Amazon so Amazon could see all my website orders. I was considering shutting down my website and only selling through Amazon FBA due to the cost of the 3PL, but Amazon MCF has allowed me to keep my website active and profitable. This change has dramatically increased my profitability while keeping my business structure simple and clean.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

I’m always looking for smart interns who are enrolled in a 4-year university and live in Los Angeles. If you’re interested in an in-person internship with Epiphany LA, please contact us through our website.

Where can we go to learn more?

  • Website
  • Pinterest: @Epiphany_LA
  • Instagram: @Epiphany_LA
  • Facebook: Epiphany L.A.

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!