This is a follow up story for Fridays Off Fabric Shop. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 2 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
I am Alanna Banks, I’m the creator of Fridays Off Fabric Shop, an online fabric shop, and fabric subscription club.
Fridays Off is the first online fabric shop in Canada to offer a variety of monthly fabric subscription boxes to modern quilters and makers. My customers are busy people who love to sew but don’t have the time or desire to shop for and coordinate the latest modern fabric collections.
My fabric subscription box started off in 2014 as a way to get rid of inventory and by 2019 it had become so popular that I decided to change my business model to almost entirely focus on the fabric subscriptions.
The pandemic has lead to an unprecedented increase in subscribers, which I was not expecting. In April 2020 my subscriptions increased by a whopping 92%.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
I nearly shut Fridays Off down last year. At the beginning of 2019, my dad was diagnosed with a really aggressive cancer. Being an only child I stepped in to be there for him. I put everything on hold including my young family and my beloved fabric business.
The more you grow, the clearer your decision-making and therefore increased business growth.
Despite, sales slowing down and me not feeling inspired to keep things running, the community that I had built via Instagram was there for me 100%. I shared what I was going through personally via IG Stories and feed posts because I have always had a very authentic presence with my customers. That resonated with them and they were really there for me throughout his illness.
My dad passed away in October 2019.
After that, I decided to resurrect Fridays Off and pour my efforts into building out the monthly subscription clubs. I reworked my website, liquidated all of my inventory, and communicated the change in direction to my community. I listened to customer feedback about the existing fabric subscription and added bi-monthly and quarterly options.
My main method of communication is Instagram Stories and email newsletter. I don’t do any paid social, I have in the past but the ROI wasn’t there for my very niche market.
I added a Kona Solids club to my offering, which is solid fabrics curated into nice color groupings. To gain exposure for this club I polled my customer base using Instagram stories to find out what colors they were most interested in. I also used IG to find influential people to invite to curate the monthly bundles. These collaborations gave my clubs increased exposure and got the word out, they also increased brand loyalty.
On the flip side, I started to focus on a lot of personal development work. I shifted my mindset to start focusing on working on things that light me up and started attracting business instead of chasing it. I hired a coach and did some healing work. I started surrounding myself with other entrepreneurs who understood me and provided some accountability and support. I tapped into my intuition and ignored the “Should” when my gut was telling me to do the opposite. As a result, my fabric business is thriving amidst a global pandemic and I am so blessed. I express gratitude for the shift every day.
All of this work led me to launch a secondary business where I coach small business owners to use their authentic voice to tell their stories online.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
The biggest things I started doing this year that had had a huge impact on the success of my business are (and none of them have anything specifically related to business):
- The mental shift from fear to love.
- Focus on what I love doing, which is curating awesome fabric and shipping it monthly to my subscribers.
- Creating a morning practice - wake up early, move my body, journal, and meditation.
- Tapped into a supportive group of female entrepreneurs so I have support and accountability.
- Read something every day.
- Listen to my gut.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
I’m not a huge planner. Right now I’m just living week to week. Over the next year, I would like to double my subscription base and acquire more subscribers from the US.
Over the next five years, I would like to build out my authentic social media/business coaching.
I’m really excited about spreading the fabric love and adding value to people and their small businesses.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook: How to tell your story in a noisy social world by Gary Vaynerchuk. I love Gary Vee. I consume a lot of his content online, but this book is a great reference to getting your message out there and telling your authentic story, which I am ALL about.
A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson. This book changed my life. I know that sounds cliche but it’s true. The whole premise of this book is choosing love over fear and once you make this mental shift a lot of opportunities open up for you.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
I talk to a lot of want-to-be entrepreneurs and the number one thing holding them back is fear. To that I say, do not let fear stand in the way of creating your dream life.
“The only limits in our life are the ones we impose on ourselves.” Bob Proctor.
People are capable of so much more than they give themselves credit for. It will never be the right time. You will never have enough money saved up. It will never be perfect enough. You just have to rip the band-aid off. Go for it and everything will become clear as your business and journey unfold.
In addition to that, I tell people to get a coach and start doing some personal development work. Being an entrepreneur is mentally challenging and you really need to build your mental strength and that takes a lot of inner work. The more you grow, the clearer your decision-making and therefore increased business growth. Implementing a morning practice of exercise, journaling and meditating is extremely valuable and a must for all entrepreneurs.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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