This is a follow up story for Tini Lux. 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 the founder of Tini Lux, the first line of 100% non-allergenic fashion jewelry. I started this business because I had extremely sensitive ears, and every pair of earrings I tried to wear (even “hypoallergenic earrings” or “nickel free earrings”) gave me a painful reaction. After years of not wearing earrings, I started doing some research on why earrings bother my ears, and in the process, I learned about the unique properties of titanium. Titanium is one of the only metals that doesn’t react with the human body (which is why it is commonly used for medical implants). I found a pair of basic titanium studs and was so excited when I found that they didn’t bother my ears at all! I wanted to buy more titanium earrings, but I couldn’t find any. At that point, I decided to create a line of titanium earrings for myself and all the women like me who just wanted to be able to wear earrings without pain. From there, Tini Lux was born.
Earrings are still our main product, and our studs in particular are extremely popular. We recommend all of our customers start out with a pair of studs so that their earrings can properly heal. Our collection of classic hoop earrings has also been a huge hit with our customers.
Since launch, customers have requested we expand our products to include other types of jewelry. For many of our customers, all jewelry causes irritation, rashes, and reactions, not just earrings. So this year we added a few styles of bracelets to our product line up, and we plan on introducing necklaces and rings soon.
Tini Lux is a 100% DTC, e-commerce business. The goal from the beginning has been to sell affordable, high-quality jewelry and to be totally customer focused. Selling DTC has allowed us to meet that goal and make sure that we are constantly improving based on customer feedback and creating products that they really want in their life.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Since my interview with Starter Story last year, our monthly revenue has grown by about 400%! Most of the growth has been organic through SEO and word of mouth. At the moment, more than 60% of our website traffic comes from organic Google searches (which is amazing because all of that traffic is free!).
Don’t assume that you know better than the data or know better than your customers. Sometimes your most popular product is not what you would have expected.
In the last few months, we’ve started focusing on Facebook and Instagram advertising and now that we’ve proven that to be profitable we are starting to scale our ad spend. This should have a hugely positive impact on our monthly revenue. In the past, the little bit of Facebook/Instagram advertising we did was sporadic and not well thought out and that resulted in us losing money. We now have a cohesive ad funnel that speaks to customers based on their relationship with our brand and we have a consistently positive ROI. Investing the time and effort into understanding Facebook advertising is critical to e-commerce success.
Example Instagram Ad
When launching new products now, we make sure to hype up the launch on our social media channels for a week or two in advance so that customers are excited about it. I also have a much better understanding of what my customers are looking for, so now I only introduce new products that I know for sure will be popular. This has made a huge difference in profitability. Now, I feel much more comfortable investing in more inventory knowing that the products will easily sell.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Right now the world is in the middle of a global pandemic, so if there’s one thing that I have learned this year it’s that anything can happen! Fortunately for us, the pandemic has had almost no impact on our business. We are 100% e-commerce DTC, so we have not been affected by brick & mortar retail businesses being closed right now. Also, we were able to quickly update all content, marketing, ads, and social media posts so that they are more relevant to the current situation and that has actually helped grow our following over the last few weeks.
My lessons learned:
- Stay lean! Only hire people that are absolutely necessary, do as much as you can within your team, if you hire consultants or contractors make sure you know where your money is going
- Keep communication open with your customers and always listen to their feedback
- Set aside money every week for larger purchases and for times when sales slow down
- Plan far in advance, but be willing to change direction as needed. We used to be constantly running out of inventory or packaging (and to be honest this is still something we’re trying to get better at), but now that we have some downtime we’re trying to be better about predicting when we will need more items and ordering far enough in advance that we won’t run out
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
This year, we are planning to continue expanding our products, always keeping in mind what our customers are asking for. We have new products coming out in May, and are planning another launch in the fall and have been soliciting feedback and ideas from our customers for what they would like to see in the fall. Depending on the coronavirus situation, we would like to open a physical pop-up store to coincide with the fall launch and holiday season. For products, right now we sell earrings and bracelets, but I want to add necklaces and rings as well for all the people with sensitive skin that can’t wear those items either.
My ultimate goal is to be an Honest Company of jewelry. In the next five years, I want to grow our brand awareness to the point where we are a household name, so if someone wants non-allergenic jewelry they don’t have to go searching for it, they immediately know they can come to us. I plan on growing the team and would love to have dedicated social media, content, and marketing specialists and a creative director.
I’d also like to expand our retail e-commerce presence. We currently only sell through our website, but I would love to work with sites like shopbop.com, revolve.com, and other e-commerce department stores whose customers already fit our target demographic. Pop-up retail is definitely on the horizon for us in the next five years as well, I’d like to start in fun places like Brooklyn or maybe even the Hamptons, and then expand to other cities and parts of the country from there!
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I’ve started listening to The Pitch, which is basically Shark Tank but in podcast format. It’s helpful for any founders that are currently or thinking about looking for investors.
I haven’t read any business-related books this year, but I found the following resources on Facebook advertising and automated email marketing campaigns to be super helpful:
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
First and foremost, make sure your products and any customer-facing parts of your business are the absolute best they can be. If you’re in e-commerce, make sure your website is attractive and invest in high-quality e-commerce photography.
Stay laser focused on your customers, solicit their feedback as much as possible, and listen to them if they have suggestions or critiques! If they are taking the time out of their day to offer a critique, that means they care about your business, and other people may be thinking the same thing. If it’s possible, fix it!
Don’t assume that you know better than the data or know better than your customers. Sometimes your most popular product is not what you would have expected (and vice versa). If that is the case, try to understand what makes that product so popular and see how you can use that information to grow.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We’re currently looking to hire a sales rep and freelance content writers with SEO knowledge.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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