shirts and shorts via my store, vagabond youth
NOW I DON'T GET . . . a lot of emails- I get a quite few but in no means, is it excessive. And the number one question that I receive in my inbox remains to be "How did you start your store? How can I?" and every single one of them has been written by a young teenage girl, more or less. And with my recent obsession with PR power-woman Kelly Cutrone, I decided to pay some homage to her and follow up on her strong wishes for young people (mainly females) to pursue their dreams without any second thoughts. (If you've read her books, you know what I mean.) I'd been debating on whether or not to make a video on this topic over on my YouTube channel since its very inception, but had realized it just didn't seem to be in the stars. Nonetheless, I love to share with anyone that has supported Vagabond Youth over the past year or so; I try to answer emails as concisely but as thoroughly as possible, but it gets a bit mundane writing the same thing just in different words over and over again. Thus, today, ladies (and no gents as far as I know), I present to you: the blog post [in]aptly named How I Started My Store.
I'll first start off by saying that when starting my store, I didn't have any idea what I was doing and for the most part, still don't. I certainly did not read or watch a video on the perfect way to create or manage an online store, and I say this in the least patronizing manner- it's just simply the truth. It's also clearly evident that: 1) my store isn't a huge success and 2) isn't all that awesome or amazing, yet people still love to inquire about it. And so, the first thing I always tell people to do is:
- Find a tangible product/service/good that you love and would love to sell. Before I started Vagabond Youth, I had owned a store that specialized in all handmade goods and wristbands- and to be frank, I never wore any of it, not one single item. I hated it. And by automatically disliking the product myself, I couldn't find myself to sell it well. However, with Vagabond, I love absolutely everything I sell and make it a requirement to only sell things that I myself would actually wear. I now proudly own every single pair of sunglasses (and a great amount of clothing that should've went up onto the store but clandestinely made their way into my closet) that I have sold on my store. Without loving what you sell, how else do you expect others to? Love what you sell. Sell what you love!
- Make a mock store. My roots originated back in the good 'ole MySpace days. I basically took some photos on my camera, uploaded them into an album, listed the prices, and allowed people I knew personally to buy them from me. This was the most fun and most experimental out of all the stages- I was able to mess with packaging, design choices, stickers, product names, banners, et cetera and in doing so, realized how much I loved selling stuff! Do this for around a couple weeks and see how it goes. Test the waters out a bit, if you will, and if it goes well, you're onto...
- Research your e-commerce platforms and the best deals. You're ready to make an investment. Hope you got all your allowance saved up. This was the most tedious stage- at 15, it was just a lot of big words and crazy tech terms when I had looked into the different options for creating an online store. However, today, we're all smarter and better- and plus, now there's Bing. (That's a joke. What the hell is Bing anyways?) This step in other words is basically: google, google, google. See which site has the best to offer you and your prospective store's needs. I read this article back in '10, but sites like storeenvy, highwire, and bigcartel are more than adequate for all your e-commerce needs.
- Three, two, one.. lift off! You're ready. Start that thing.
- Promote, promote, promote. Make social networking sites. Tell your friends, family, teachers, your ex-boyfriend from second grade. Just tell everyone. Beware, this is the only step that may get you deleted by a few friends on Facebook. But hey, you just created your own store- now that's a status, or even several, to like. You truly need all the publicity you can get in the fledgling stages of your business and the internet makes that a lot easier. If you're not into social networking yourself, try to capture audiences at least on the biggest, most popular sites today like Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. All other sites, as far as I'm concerned, are arbitrary.
Well, that's it. I don't exactly know how much of a help that has been to you but I guess it's something at least to refer to now in my emails. (It's also been an excellent way to keep me preoccupied for a good 30 minutes or so.) But in all honesty, if you want to start your own store, blog, or even a freaking sandwich shop, do it, man. Seriously, who's stopping you? You don't need a guide or tutorial or anything to tell what is right or wrong when pursuing something you enjoy. And with that, I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Kelly.
“The only dream I ever had was the dream of New York itself, and for me, from the minute I touched down in this city, that was enough. It became the best teacher I ever had. If your mother is anything like mine, after all, there are a lot of important things she probably didn't teach you: how to use a vibrator; how to go to a loan shark and pull a loan at 17 percent that's due in thirty days; how to hire your first divorce attorney; what to look for in a doula (a birth coach) should you find yourself alone and pregnant. My mother never taught me how to date three people at the same time or how to interview a nanny or what to wear in an ashram in India or how to meditate. She also failed to mention crotchless underwear, how to make my first down payment on an apartment, the benefits of renting verses owning, and the difference between a slant-6 engine and a V-8 (in case I wanted to get a muscle car), not to mention how to employ a team of people to help me with my life, from trainers to hair colorists to nutritionists to shrinks. (Luckily, New York became one of many other moms I am to have in my lifetime.) So many mothers say they want their daughters to be independent, but what they really hope is that they'll find a well-compensated banker or lawyer and settle down between the ages of twenty-five and twenty-eight in Greenwich, Darien, or That Town, USA, to raise babies, do the grocery shopping, and work out in relative comfort for the rest of their lives. I know this because I employ their daughters. They raise us to think they want us to have careers, and they send us to college, but even they don't really believe women can be autonomous and take care of themselves.” ― Kelly Cutrone