This is a follow up story for Forgotten Mermaids. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 1 year ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hey there! So excited to be going over everything that’s happened this last year. My name is Anslea and I run Forgotten Mermaids, a brand of temporary tattoos inspired by mermaids, designed by humans. Our tattoos give the illusion of mermaid scales so even if you’re not ready to commit to the mermaid lifestyle, you can still add a little mermaid magic to your every-day outfit. Currently, we have two tattoo styles available in six colors, alongside a variety of clothing items such as leggings and swimsuits that share this same scale pattern.
We started the year with big plans for expanding our sales channels and product line, but due to COVID-19 our timeline was pushed way back and ultimately we had to change our vision quite drastically. Thankfully, since the business was built on the premise of being adaptable, adjusting to our new reality was relatively painless and has since opened up opportunities we otherwise wouldn't have explored.
Currently, we’ve seen a 40% increase in sales compared to this time last year and hope to keep that trending upwards with new products and expanded marketing tactics.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
I can confidently say that my business has been the most reliable thing in my life this entire last year, unlike the toilet paper aisle at the grocery store! We had a pretty rough patch during the big shutdowns in March and April, seeing almost no sales during that period, but fortunately, in May our sales bounced back almost to what they were the previous year. We’ve been growing roughly 20% each month since then.
Right before quarantine hit the US I’d spent a good amount of time revisiting our business plan and taking steps to prepare for the upcoming busy season. Long story short, most of our goals were no longer possible once things began to close down. Instead, we took a hard look at what WAS working and doubled down on improving them.
Being an ally to yourself, really being able to rely on your own ability to overcome the lows, will put you in a position to overcome any hardship that comes up. Even if that means starting over.
One of those things being Etsy SEO. There’s no perfect out-of-the-box solution for anyone store, so learning your niche and figuring out what works is key. I do a lot of experimenting with our listings but some of this is just throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks. So far that’s been:
- Descriptions that are more than just product specifications. Getting creative with copy that entices visitors to stay on product pages longer helps tremendously with ranking.
- Really good thumbnails. If you can’t immediately tell what something is by looking at a thumbnail you’re less likely to get clicks.
- Product photos that convey information and answer questions. Since descriptions have become less prominent I’ve added key product specs to photos, encouraging visitors to engage further.
Since most of our sales come from Etsy, I feel it’s important to always be looking for ways to diversify traffic outside of their platform. The newest place we’ve jumped into is TikTok, where short-form product videos can gain a ton of exposure for the great price of free. It’s a fun and relatively harmless way to market your product, so I try to devote a few hours each week to creating new videos. (Though fair warning, not all of those hours are spent on content creation) If you can stay on top of trends you can build a decent following that will consistently engage with your content. Since TikTok is still growing it’s relatively easy for posts to go viral, plus a lot of the videos can be repurposed for other marketing content.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
At the start of the year, I poured a lot of time into creating print-on-demand products to supplement our tattoo selection. (Think swimsuits, leggings, shirts.) This turned out to not be the best decision, compounded by COVID related delays. Our POD items were taking 4-5 weeks longer than usual to go out on top of shipping delays, so this venture resulted in more headaches than any real growth. We still have the items available but we don’t invest anything into marketing them, but I’d definitely like to revisit POD in the future and develop a better way to market these types of products.
This last year has seen a lot of hardship placed on small businesses. The biggest takeaway is less of a lesson learned and more accepting the reality that comes with entrepreneurship: Nothing is guaranteed. But being an ally to yourself, really being able to rely on your own ability to overcome the lows, will put you in a position to overcome any hardship that comes up. Even if that means starting over.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
We’ve got a ton of stuff in the works right now, actually! I’ve been seeing predictions about how these months of quarantine will result in a huge burst of new content from creators, which I can definitely see happening given my own experiences. Right now the goal is to stay flexible and work on short-term goals until the end of the year, but there are projects lined up for months after that. Safe to say quarantine has kept me extremely busy.
Currently, our big goal for the year is releasing 4 new tattoo designs. The first of these will be going up in the next few weeks, actually! We’re also working on an affiliate program to replace our current influencer marketing. We really love working with our influencers and want to make the process more seamless with a bigger reward for their efforts.
It’s hard to say where we’ll be in the next five years, but there’s plenty of projects to keep busy with. I hope to expand our content to encompass games, apps, and animation/comics over the next two years.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. Put off reading this but it’s definitely lived up to the hype. His podcast has been a great resource as well!
My Wife Quit Her Job podcast with Steve Chou. His interview with Angela Li was super inspiring and probably the most informative podcast I’ve listened to all year.
Superfans by Pat Flynn. Lots of actionable tasks in this one.
Not really a podcast or book, but I follow Eamon & Bec on YouTube and have found their journey to be really influential in how I approach my own business. Plus they also live in a van, which is something we have in common.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Realize the importance of knowing what you do that makes you unique, which for us has been our temporary tattoos. My background is in design and illustration so all of our products are original designs, but I also apply those creative skills to other areas such as our marketing graphics, copywriting, and web content.
Also, document everything. Create a binder with your SOPs. Have a system in place for every repetitive task that needs to be done. Not only will this help you better understand your procedures, but it’ll also help identify areas where you can become more efficient. Making this the norm will also make it easier for when you bring on employees. (At least that’s my theory.)
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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