If you missed my post last week, I am collaborating with my mother, Michele, on a complete Etsy overhaul of her shop. In truth, this project goes far beyond the walls of Etsy, but we’re starting there, and carrying all of it over into other areas. The point of this is to see if we can take a nice product that has a floundering shop and turn it into a thriving business with total brand makeover.
The name of the shop is Silk Escape, but don’t get hung up on that because it’s going to be changing soon. You can see the shop right now to get an idea of what it looks like before the changes, which will be gradual, but soon the shop will look completely different than it does now. How do we plan to accomplish this and make it a success? We’re using a 3-pronged approach with a limited product line, new brand positioning, and a dedicated but simple marketing effort.
I’m not going to inundate you with overwhelming detail this time around, but will break down the three elements in loose detail, giving a basic framework so you can get the gist of the plan and look forward to it as it unfolds.
I am also going to be hyper-critical of the shop at the beginning because I believe it is important to be as dissecting as possible to get to the core of problems. Some of this may seem pretty intense considering this is my mother’s product and shop we’re talking about, but keep in mind that this is now as much my responsibility to handle as it is hers. I take on as much responsibility now if not more.
Separating Wheat from Chaff
One of the biggest problems I saw with Silk Escape is the vast variety of products listed. A lot of products isn’t a bad thing for a shop that is well established and has figured out what sells, and what is the best way to compliment those sales with new products. However, for a shop like Silk Escape, fairly new and unproven in the Etsy world in comparison to most, I think the wide variety of products is a hinderance. I think having lots of listings is an important factor for sales in Etsy, but I think those listings should be across few product types.
Doing some initial research, and also talking to lots of women who buy accessories often, I approached Michele with the idea of doing scarves only for a period of time that we could establish the brand. We would have a small variety of scarf sizes, but all new products would be nothing but scarves. It is my hypothesis that we can take a few different types of scarves, create a bunch of colorful designs in that range, and get a clearer vision for what sells and what doesn’t.
By limiting our offerings, we control the environment, and as the shop grows, we will see trends arise, fads fall away, and then see where we made smart decisions. Do the small scarves sell better than the larger ones? Do polka dots do better than stripes? I look at this as a science experiment of fashion trends, and like science, the more we operate in a controlled environment, we are more likely to see the best results.
Being in the Right Position From the Start
What Michele creates is art, no two ways about it. Sure, it’s on silk instead of canvas, and it’s for people to wear rather than hang on their wall, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t hang it up. She has always referred to her pieces as wearable as a point of distinction, but did not price accordingly. In the next phase, we will be positioning the product as art first, wearable accessory second. We fully expect everyone to wear these scarves instead of hanging them up, but by treating them as a fine art creation, we can then price them correctly.
At first I was looking at positioning these as a luxury item, but as I thought about it more, art is not a luxury item unless you’re talking high-end pieces you buy at auction houses. Art can be fine, but it can be raw too. Most art isn’t created by the upper echelon of modern masters, but by people like you and me who have no choice but to make art. Artists sweat and bleed for their. They pour their soul into their work, and when we pay big money for art, it is that soul that we are buying. We want to feel the blood and sweat as it hangs on our walls. I cannot afford a lot of the art that I admire, but when I see a piece that captivates me, I get a feeling deep inside that says I need that work in my home. This is the feeling we want to convey with the wearable art.
To support that feeling, we are working on a plan to give buyers a unique purchasing experience. Every aspect of what they see and feel will be thought out in detail. I made the Tiffany analogy in the last post, a company that prides themselves on excellence from the first moment you step in the door. You feel special and catered to from that first moment. From the kindness of the staff, all the way to the special wrapping of a tiny blue box, it is evident you are in a special shop. We won’t be on the same level with Tiffany, but that doesn’t mean we can’t incorporate some of their ideology. We want our buyers to feel special from the time they first set eyes on the scarves, right up to when they crack open the package and see it on display before them. This isn’t selling products. It’s about hand-crafting an experience.
How Much Do Names Matter?
One item I expected some confrontation from Michele about is the name of the shop. I know what she was thinking when she came up with the name Silk Escape, and it was valid at the time, but with this new outlook on the brand, we decided now would be a good time to change up the name. We haven’t settled on the name just yet, but we have one idea so far, operating as if that is the direction, but it may change again.
For the first idea, we’re not coming away from the original name completely, but rearranging it—changing Silk Escape to Escape Fine Silks. The name Silk Escape isn’t a bad name, but it holds the brand back. If Michele ever wants to offer anything that is not silk related, she’s stuck with the name. With this new name, we can easily adapt to add new products without problem. The logo below is a preliminary design of the direction we are headed.
I intentionally did not add “fine silks” to the logo because we fine silks could become fine accessories or fine wearables. Escape is the name; fine silks is the distinction of the brand at this moment. Some people will argue that this will disrupt the flow for people who have become fans of Michele’s work, but Silk Escape hasn’t made that much of an impact yet to be terribly disruptive. The few people that might not find the shop will hopefully find Michele through her other communications, but if not, we will move on without regret. I will go into more detail on the chosen name and logo in a future post.
Image + Experience = Marketing
The more I do this kind of work, there are a few marketing truths that seem to persist no matter what techniques and tactics arise. The two biggest truths: Nothing sells better than a good image, and if you share your authentic story, people will love you and follow you everywhere.
Our marketing efforts are going to focus on those two truths, and we will be keeping it very simple, for a couple of reasons. First, Michele has very little time on her hands to manage all of the marketing efforts, so I will be doing a lot of it. To keep things on track and aligned, the efforts need to be easy to execute so that no matter which of us is doing it, the message remains clear and similar. Also, simple is always better when it comes to marketing. Too complicated, and you get a quagmire of problems to deal with, and we do not want that at all.
Because the silks are a visual product, we are going to focus on taking nice photos and sharing those in various visual oriented media (Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr). Sure, we’ll Facebook, and we’ll tweet, but they will be secondary to the other sites. We will also have a blog to share stories, but again focusing on image instead of words. Yes, we will tell the story, but a lot of the story telling will be through images. The idea is to bring you visually into the environment that the silks are created.
As this experiment progresses, we will go crazy deep into all of these areas, and then some. I want to be able to measure as much of our efforts as possible, and also create something that you can learn from . It is my intention to keep this as wide open as possible, giving you a complete backstage pass to every move we make. If there are details we forgot to share, feel free to ask and I will do my best to indulge your inquiry.
Because there will be a lot of information coming in the next few weeks and months, the postings may be erratic. I may post several times in one week, or I may hold out for a bit to gather a bunch of information into one post. As usual, you can follow along with this post series by using the tag Etsy Makeover. You can also subscribe to our newsletter and get updates direct to your inbox, as well as other cool things I share with newsletter readers only. Join the newsletter now.