This is a follow up story for 513 Kicks. 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.
Hello! I’m Chris Casseday, the founder of 513 Kicks - an online-only sneaker shop. I’m located in Cincinnati (513 is the area code), but I frequently ship sneakers across the United States and overseas.
Through my website and social channels, I primarily sell 100% authentic sneakers from brands like Nike, Air Jordan, and Adidas. While everyone needs shoes on their feet, my typical customers are “sneakerheads” - people that wear and collect athletic sneakers.
My average gross revenue per month is $5K, and I usually only spend 10-15 hours per month on this side business. Since this is a side hustle, my goal has always been to generate revenue in the most efficient way possible. I have a full-time job and am married with three young children, so time is my most precious resource and something I work hard to protect.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Over the past year, my revenue has stayed consistent, which is something that I am thankful for - given the pandemic. My business thrives when people spend their disposable income, and there was not a surplus of that in 2020 for most people.
During this time, I invested in tools, resources, and processes to improve my efficiency and ultimately help solve my biggest issue - ME. I’ve realized that I am the biggest bottleneck standing in my way between increased business and profits. It all comes down to time and since I can’t create more time in the day, I was forced to increase efficiency wherever possible.
Here’s an example of the tasks associated with running my business and what I’ve successfully moved off of my plate, increasing my efficiency:
- Sourcing new inventory - as a result of my website rankings, I receive several inquiries per month with collectors ready to sell their sneaker collections. This requires me to communicate with them, negotiating to price, and ultimately meeting to obtain the new inventory for my store. This is still something that I am currently doing, but I’m exploring potential ways to streamline this process with a website form to gather more information upfront.
- Product photography - when I have new inventory I typically need to take detailed photographs, which is a very time-consuming process, and something that I do myself. I am currently not able to get this step in the process completed efficiently, so I have identified a new solution to streamline my operations. I’ve partnered with a local photographer with a studio and we have an arrangement where he will photograph my products at an extremely discounted rate. I realize that this is not typical, but he is a friend and also passionate about sneakers, so the arrangement worked out perfectly.
Product listing - once photos are taken (and edited), the next step is to list all of the new sneakers on my website. Although this is an easy task, working with WordPress and Woocommerce, when you have over 100 pairs of sneakers to list, it can become overwhelming. On average, it takes me 5 minutes to list one pair of sneakers on my site and I simply don’t have an entire day (or large chunks of time) to dedicate to this effort. As a result, I hired an outsourced resource that now takes care of all product listings on my website. To make sure this process went smoothly, I did the following:
Built a shared Google sheet that mirrored all required product fields in Woocommerce. This allowed me to fill in the required information for each product, and then my outsourced resource was able to simply copy, paste, and format each listing.
I provided all product photography to him using Google Drive (labeling each photo so that he could match them up with the product description).
I provided a detailed screen share of me posting a new product on my website so that he would be able to learn the exact process. During the screen share, I was able to easily add commentary verbally, as opposed to trying to type out a detailed set of instructions - this saved me time, but also provided him with a better understanding of the process.
Product promotion - once the product listing is complete, promotion is the next step. This involves publishing social media updates and also leveraging email marketing. Previously, these were tasks that I did 100% myself. Now, I’ve trained my outsource resource to execute these efforts as well. He now does the following once a new product has been added:
Creates a social media post in Hootsuite that features a product image, description, and pricing.
Then he schedules the post to go out to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This process is repeated until all new products have social posts scheduled for syndication.
Then he creates an email campaign (in Mailchimp) using a template that I’ve created. This template is simple and effective in notifying my email list that new sneakers have been added to my website. It is almost a guarantee that I see an influx of new sales come in after each email blast goes out. With this in mind, I’m adjusting my process to increase the number of emails that go out each month to see if it correlates to more sales.
- Order fulfillment - once an order is placed, I’m currently still responsible for packaging and shipping it to the customer. Right now, I don’t think this is something that I can confidently shift off of my plate yet, but I’m exploring options because this is something that does take time and effort that can potentially be directed towards better growth initiatives.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
In 2020, it became crystal clear that I cannot scale this business effectively by doing everything myself. Since this is a side business, I have a limited amount of time to dedicate to it, and pursuing this full-time is not something that I’m interested in. Knowing this, I had to make changes to improve efficiency, grow the business, and get out of my own way. This primarily involved me finding outsourced help that could handle steps in the process where I was the bottleneck.
I could have hired outsourced help years ago, but I don’t regret the timing, because it has provided me with confidence that I cannot do this alone and I need to let go of having 100% control and doing everything myself. This was a tough realization to come to, but now I’m extremely thankful to have new processes in place with outsourced help. The results so far are encouraging, I’m more efficient with my time and sales have increased - while still maintaining my strong profit margins.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
This year my main focus will be on streamlining my processes even more. The goal is to leverage outsourced help as much as possible, creating an efficient system that runs seamlessly.
I am also experimenting with a new sales channel for my business - Amazon. Of course, Amazon has the potential to grow my business significantly, but there are obstacles along the way. Most of my products/brands will require “ungating” and this is something that I’m in the process of right now. I don’t predict a lot of overlap between my offerings on 513Kicks.com and my Amazon store. 513Kicks.com product offerings will continue to be high-end athletic sneakers, targeted at sneaker collectors, while Amazon will be high margin products (related to sneakers/clothing) that I can obtain in bulk. It will be an exciting test to see how this goes as everything comes together!
As a result of a new partnership that I made with an apparel manufacturer, I will be launching a 513 Kicks clothing line this year. The line will be targeted towards sneaker collectors and will include t-shirts, hoodies, socks, and hats. Quantities of each clothing piece will be limited and of higher quality than what’s available in the market today - to differentiate my brand. Again, this is something new and it will be a lot of fun figuring everything out! This has also opened up new opportunities for me to collaborate with local businesses on clothing capsules - where the other businesses and I will work together to bring new offerings to market.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
Being 100% honest, no I haven’t read any good books in the last year. I typically consume my information in other ways (social media, podcasts, websites, etc.), but I need to spend more time exploring books as another source of knowledge this year.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Get out of your own way. This is something that I struggled with (and still do), and it definitely held back my business growth. Since I was trying to do everything myself, I was the bottleneck and I was missing so many growth opportunities. For example, over the last year, there were plenty of times where I had over 100 pairs of sneakers that were in storage and not listed on my website. Obviously, in this case, there’s zero chance that I could sell those pairs if they aren’t visible to my customers/website visitors.
This forced me to change my processes, get help from others, and let go of having 100% control. The result has been growth in revenue and a much better sell-through rate. There is still progress to be made, but I’m encouraged by the growth I’ve seen over the last few months!
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
As a result of my recently bringing on outsourced resource help and partnering with a local photographer, I’m not actively looking to add new positions at this time.
In the coming months, this may change! As I continue to refine my processes, I predict there will be new opportunities that emerge.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
513 Kicks has provided an update on their business!
About 1 year ago, we followed up with 513 Kicks to see how they've been doing since we published this article.
Discover the best strategies of successful business owners
Join our newsletter and receive our handcrafted recap with the best insights shared by founders in Starter Story each week.
Useful, convenient, and free:
Are you ready to boost your revenue?
Using Klaviyo will open up a massive, untapped sales channel and bring you closer to your customers!
Level up your email marketing with Klaviyo!