Shopify Retail Tour at 501 Union

Last week my sister-in-law Dama and I spent the week at 501 Union in Gowanus, Brooklyn, for the Shopify Retail Tour. The week was filled with very informative workshops, ranging from Growth Strategies, Social Media Advertising, to a Photography 101 workshop. I learned A LOT and it was so nice being in a room filled with fellow entrepreneurs.

Tuesday May 5th - Accounting with Xero:I think it's probably best just to walk you through the week, so you can get the big picture. Ready?

The unfortunate fact is that when you start a business, you are doing some accounting almost everyday. For many (including me) this task is daunting! Scott from Catching Clouds - an accounting service for online business was the guest speaker for this workshop. A few great tips from Scott are below! 

- Don't co-mingle day-to-day finances.

- Find a back office solution for your finances, like Xero or Quickbooks Online.

- Do everything yourself in the beginning, so you can learn. 

- Record sales each month, so you don't have a build up that you have to tackle at the end of the quarter or year.

- Sites to help you out with taxes - taxjar.com and taxify.co.


Wednesday May 6th - Drive Sales with Pinterest (morning):

After this workshop, I realized I should probably be using Pinterest more! Pinterest allows you to create stories about your brand through different boards, and now also has analytics and sponsored advertising. It's such a great platform to use because it's so visual, and you can include content with links.  I learned that hashtags are not necessary, but making descriptive pins with keywords is the way to go. Using keywords when naming your boards and setting up Rich Pins is also a good idea.

What are Rich Pins? Rich Pins are a new feature on Pinterest that gives Pinterest users the ability to directly act on pins. With Rich Pins: recipes can include ingredients, films can include reviews, and products can include price and availability, making it easier than ever to convert Pinterest traffic into sales on your store (Source: Shopify Manual).  WOW! Honestly, I am so amazed with what we can do with technology and I wasn't aware of any of this before I started Alexis Mera. The amount of ways that you can reach potential customers is absolutely insane. I'm learning more and more that you just need to tap into the right resources and keep studying and learning technology.   

Wednesday May 6th - Photography 101 (afternoon):

Naskademini pictured above conducted a great photography workshop! Having great images on an online store is so important, I know. But, it's also SO expensive to hire a model and a photographer. His tips were very helpful and definitely possible for a new brand to use. One super useful resource Naskademini shared with us is lightingdiagram.com - this is a site where photographers create and share lighting diagrams. Great resource to find lighting set ups to mimic when you're doing a shoot. I definitely think it's worth investing in starter photography equipment and doing shoots yourself. Most important of course is to show your products the best you can. For clothing, he suggested having a flat shot and a lifestyle shot. We've added a few lifestyle shots to our site, and we plan on adding more soon! 

Thursday May 7th - Growth Strategies (morning):

As a young brand, this is definitely an area where I am still learning. The first few months in business have been all about finding my product market fit - each day I feel I'm getting closer.

Where to start? Tommy Walker (Marketing specialist at Shopify) gave an amazing presentation! I left the workshop feeling more confident and ready to grow my company! 

The bottom line is, it's all about being "sexy". Make better marketing campaign emails, talk with people and send them info that helps them out. Be honest about being a new brand. He gave me lots of ideas for reaching out to existing customers and expressed how important it is to nurture customers that already exist. Also it's so important to welcome feedback from customers - good AND bad. I want to know what made you almost not buy and what you'd like to see from Alexis Mera? If you're reading this now and you'd like to share some feedback with us, please do! There's a form on our contact page. We also like when customers just say Hello! 


Thursday May 7th - Social Advertising (afternoon):

Michael Perry, the Founder and CEO of Kit. was the man in charge of this workshop. I can not wait to try out this product! All you have to do it text Kit. and there are robots that create Facebook Advertising Campaigns for you! The app creates audiences, integrates with your Shopify store (so it knows when you have new products), and Kit. actually reaches out to you to see if you want to market those new products. Again, WOW! Kit. will save me hours and hours of work, and it's $10/month! You have to pay for the ads of course, but $10/month is much less than I'd ever have to pay a Marketing Assistant. One thing I've learned so much about since our launch is marketing. Before starting my own line, I was doing Product Development and Merchandising, and I was never involved in the Marketing process. It takes a lot of time, thought, and effort. You need to be relevant, interesting, and you need to create an interest graph based on who your target market is. Such a small percentage of the time is actually spent talking about your product and I've learned that you want to avoid being too sales-y (especially on Social Media). Content really is King.   


Friday May 8th - Shopify Plus:

This was our last day at 501 Union - and I was kind of wishing there was another Retail Tour this week, I always love learning new things! 

Shopify Plus is a white-glove ecommerce solution for emerging brands and high-volume businesses. Enterprise ecommerce reinvented. When you sign up for Shopify Plus, you are given a one-on-one Account Manager that is with you from day one and on. Shopify Plus is useful when you are ready to scale your business. I might need a few years for this, but I'm certain it's in the cards for Alexis Mera! :) 

This workshop was accompanied with an open bar, cheers to that! 

To top the week off, we had beautiful weather which we were able to enjoy between workshops - Brooklyn in the Spring is very picture worthy! 

Dama eating a Shopify Green Apple on the Union Street Bridge.
Spring in full bloom. Chillin' on the Gowanus Canal in my Alexis Mera Floral Pocket Tee.

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