This is a follow up story for Danielle Oakey Shop. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 5 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hello everyone! I am so excited to be back here with an update on my business. My name is Danielle Oakey and I am the owner and founder of Danielle Oakey Shop. I run an e-commerce store where we sell decorative pillow covers for your home.
We focus on high-end and high-quality pillow covers that appeal to customers who are decorating their homes and as well as interior designers. The pillow shop is about to celebrate its 5th year in business and we have changed a lot since the beginning. We are projected to do $550,000 in sales in 2020.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
I still run the majority of the daily tasks, along with my one employee, but I now hire out several jobs that help keep the shop running smoothly. I have a marketing firm that runs all my Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram ads, as well as a virtual assistant that manages our trade program, subscription emails, and Pinterest account.
Running ads has been a real game-changer for my business. For example, our yearly ROA average for Facebook ads is $14.31. We recently started running ads on Pinterest and we are excited to spend more time exploring that platform.
Work on your business every single day. Even if it is the smallest addition, these small improvements will slowly add up to something better.
This last year we have also focused on growing our trade program. This program offers discounts to interior designers. We now have over 500 interior designers subscribed and it is growing every day! We love working with interior designers and they have proven to return often to purchase.
We have also been working hard on creating a distinct brand. This has led us to thoughtfully thinking about the visual images we present and how we launch our new products. We have started launching seasonal pillow collections which have been very well received. To do proper marketing for these collections, we now rent beautifully styled houses and have our pillows professionally photographed in them. This has also allowed us to create video content which is an important element to Instagram growth (like this one here). A win-win!
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
2020 has been a big learning year for my shop. It has required me to pay close attention to what is happening around me and make moves that felt uncomfortable. In mid-March, when most things closed down, I was hesitant to spend money on inventory or investing in my business. During the first few weeks of the stay-at-home order, things were quiet and the sales were slow. Sales started to pick up and it was clear that people were investing in decorating their homes. I quickly had to shift my mentality and adjust to demand. It felt really risky and scary, but it has been a great decision. August was one of the busiest and most successful months the pillow shop has ever experienced.
The common theme throughout the entire 5 years of running my pillow shop is flexibility. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but I finally feel like I can notice when it is time to shift or adjust.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
This next year is going to be a big one for the pillow shop, mainly because the business is finally moving out of the house! Last month, I signed a lease and the pillow shop is getting its own space. Over the last few months, it has become very apparent that the business is too big to run from my home. We still do all the shipping/fulfillment in-house and we desperately needed more space. We are also building a small showroom in the front so we can meet with interior designers and other customers via appointment. This will also allow us to do our product photography in the office, I am so excited!
Now that we will have the space I am planning to expand the pillow line and really take the business to the next level! I have a few other things planned, but I can’t share those secrets quite yet!
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I have not had a lot of time to read this year, but I still love listening to How I Built This podcast. The new series where they discuss how these businesses are dealing with the pandemic has been so inspiring to me. I love hearing how other businesses pivot and what they do when things get difficult.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Just keep going! I know it sounds cliche, but it is the truth. The beginning of 2020 was a little slower than normal and then the pandemic hit. I must admit, I was really worried about the future of the pillow shop. I kept going.
Work on your business every single day. Even if it is the smallest addition, these small improvements will slowly add up to something better. I consider it like a bank account, when you regularly put a small amount of money in, it will grow to something bigger! I think the best businesses are grown slowly, allowing you to make many mistakes when the risks are low. It can be frustrating to not see quick growth, but that doesn’t mean it is not happening, it just takes time.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Not right now, but as we grow into our new space I am sure I will be!
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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