Today I’m really happy to have Tsippi Gross on the show. Tsippi is a student in my Create A Profitable Online Store Course and I distinctly remember her first sale when she sold 12 dresses just by showing off her samples!
Today, Tsippi runs a 6 figure business at HavahTribe.com where she sells trendy apparel for breastfeeding Moms without using Amazon at all.
In this episode, Tsippi and I discuss the triumphs and the struggles of entrepreneurship.
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What You’ll Learn
- Tsippi’s motivations for starting her business
- How she validated her niche
- Which platform she chose to sell on
- Where to find clothing suppliers
- How to make your first sale
- Her biggest challenges in starting her store
Other Resources And Books
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Avalara.com – Handling sales tax is complicated. Fortunately, Avalara simplifies sales tax with real-time tax rate calculations and automatic return filing. And the best part is that Avalara already integrates with your existing accounting, e-commerce and marketplaces like Amazon, so it’s super easy to setup. Click here and get a FREE TRIAL.
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But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Privy who is a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Right now I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%.
You can also use Privy to reduce cart abandonment with cart saver pops and abandoned cart email sequence as well at one super low price that is much cheaper than using a full blown email marketing solution. So, bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers and recover lost sales. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.
I also want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show. Klaviyo is the tool that I use to build real quality customer relationships with my e-commerce store. And because all my transactions and email correspondence is tracked in Klaviyo, I can easily build meaningful customer relationships by listening, understanding and taking cues from my customers and deliver personalized marketing messages.
So for example, with one click of a button, I can easily send a specific and targeted email to all customers with a lifetime value of over $100 who purchased a red handkerchief in the past year. Now, it is for this reason why over 10,000 brands have switched over to Klaviyo. And you can try them for free over at Mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again that’s Mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, now on to the show.
Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here’s your host Steve Chou.
Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today I’m really happy to have Tsippi Gross on the show. Now Tsippi is a student in my Create a Profitable Online Store course. And after joining my class, she launched her online store HavahTribe.com selling trendy apparel for breastfeeding moms. Now Tsippi is actually one of my favorite students in the class, mainly because she is so communicative. And I still distinctly remember her very first sale, which came in September of 2017, where she was just showing off some samples and I think she made 12 sales just like that.
Anyway, fast forward to today and she now runs a six figure business without using Amazon at all. In any case, I’ve been looking forward to this interview for quite some time and I asked Tsippi to come on the show today to keep it real. We’re going to talk about the triumphs and the struggles of entrepreneurship. And with that, welcome the show Tsippi, how are you doing today.
Tsippi: Hi Steve, thanks so much for having me on. This is quite an honor.
Steve: No, it’s an honor for me to have you on. And hope I didn’t butcher the timeline or your name or your store details.
Tsippi: I’m pretty impressed with you remembering all that. That’s pretty cool.
Steve: So please let the audience know about what you sell in your store and how you got started.
Tsippi: Okay, so we sell apparel for nursing women, and it’s actually could really be worn by any women. And it really is, that’s the truth, a lot of just any woman buys it. But the point is that we wanted a line that would be specific that any breastfeeding woman could buy it too and wear and feel comfortable while they were breastfeeding. So how we started out was basically I had just had a baby and I have these like horrible pregnancies. I have HG where I’m like on IV the whole time, like my whole entire life basically shuts down every time I get pregnant. And then I’m like, after that I’m like, oh my god, what am I supposed to do?
I have to start rebuilding a life and I looked into different jobs. And I was like, I don’t want to just like work for someone. And I was like listening to all these podcasts about, I don’t know, parenting. And then I was like, there’s got to be a podcast about starting a business. So I was scrolling through. And then I saw My Wife Quit Her Job. I was like that’s so cool; whoever that is, is awesome. So I just started like binge listening. And it’s so interesting, because the first podcast I heard was your student who had started a clothing business online. And I was like, so inspired, I was like, oh my gosh, if she could do it, maybe I could do it. And I was like, I just remember being like so, so inspired, I listened to it like 10 times probably.
And at the same time, I just didn’t have anything to wear. As a modest mom, I just couldn’t find any clothing to wear while breastfeeding. And I didn’t want to send out my baby. So like everything that your class and podcast stood for, I was like, okay, this is going to be my life from now on. So that’s really how I got started.
Steve: So let’s talk a little bit about your product, because it is kind of unique. And just for the benefit of some of the males out there perhaps, can you describe what your value proposition is with your product?
Tsippi: Yeah. So our value proposition is that we make clothing that women could wear through any stage of their life. So instead of having to buy clothing when you’re pregnant, when you’re nursing, and after that, we have one item that you could wear throughout all stages. It washes well, it fits well and you could just feel really good and confident. So that’s our value proposition. And sorry, what was your second question?
Steve: It was okay, so I’m just going to put words in your mouth here because I don’t think you’re doing your product justice. So basically, if you’re out in public, and you need to breastfeed, there’s nice convenient zippers and claps where you can discreetly without like completely undressing breastfeed your child.
Tsippi: Exactly. Because I was finding that we have to like take our clothes off physically when we’re breastfeeding. And especially if someone’s wearing a dress, I mean, you got to go find a public bathroom, it stinks and it’s just seems so pleasant. And it just felt like the fashion world was like kind of punishing these women who were having babies. It was just like crazy. So that’s how.
Steve: So let’s talk about just designing clothing. Do you have any experience prior to this?
Steve: Okay, so how did you go about designing these pieces?
Tsippi: So I just want to say that when this idea came to my mind, I interviewed, I surveyed like 100 of my friends just to see if they wanted it. And this is when I was still like, should I buy Steve’s course? Should I not? I was still like toying with the whole thing. And I was like you know what; your major value prop is that you okay everyone’s idea. So I was like, I really just need to make sure this is a good idea before I get into it. And I was sure that it was and then I emailed you. And I was like, hey, so what do you think about this? And you’re like, I really don’t recommend clothing.
Tsippi: And I was like, oh my God, I really want to do it. I think it’s going to work. I have 100 women who said that they will buy and you were like, listen, I really I don’t think it’s a good idea. But the keywords are good. So I guess if you’re like dead set on it, you could try. I just want to say coming full circle that I agree with you clothing is a bad idea. We’ll get into that later. But I had no experience and I really just followed your steps in your course of how to find a manufacturer, how to find a supplier. I kind of like sent them really bad videos of my daughter kind of like super glued tissue paper onto her shirt and made her lift it so I could make a video and showed — we stapled stuff to send them videos. Can you do this? And they were like, yeah. So that’s how we started.
Steve: Interesting. So did you communicate with the vendor via Skype? Oh no, you sent them video you said.
Tsippi: It was WeChat?
Steve: Yeah, WeChat. Okay, great. And how many vendors did you have to go through before you found the ones that you’re working with today?
Tsippi: We found this one pretty much right away. And we also were working with another one who failed their inspection so we stopped working with them, but yeah.
Steve: Let me ask you this question. Why did you decide to go to China right away, as opposed to someone in the US?
Tsippi: Yeah, so we actually didn’t, we started off in the US. And while I was toying with joining your class, I was already doing my own, making my own samples in America. And I realized really quickly that the cost of production here would be about like 65 or $75 an item. And I just didn’t think I could sell them for much more than that. So I still did make a first run here in America. And also, it was so difficult, like the fashion world in the US is so hard to navigate. You have to order your fabric from one place, your buttons, your zippers, you have to have your pattern made by someone, your sample made by someone else, the factory then has to make another sample of it, the tags have to be somewhere else, the whole thing is crazy. And in China, they do everything in one place. And I was like, oh my god, I need that. I don’t have time for this.
Steve: So you made your first run in the US. Did that imply that you had a pattern then that you sent to the Chinese manufacturer?
Tsippi: We didn’t actually end up sending it because I was so unhappy with the US quality actually.
Steve: Interesting okay.
Tsippi: Yeah. So we didn’t, we started from scratch with China.
Steve: Okay, so the China vendors were better than the US vendors in your experience.
Tsippi: They were like eager to please. They had had so much experience working with other customers. And I don’t know, I guess we really lucked out with this factory.
Steve: Okay. And what was your initial run? How many pieces because with clothing and the reason why I don’t recommend it just for the benefit of listeners is there’s so many sizes you have to worry about, and the return rate is much higher.
Tsippi: Awful exactly. So when we started in America, I think we made something like 50 units total.
Steve: Of one style or multiple styles?
Tsippi: No multiple, because here in the US, maybe it was more, it might have been 100. In the US they’ll make as many as you want, they’ll just charge you a lot more. And in China, our first run was probably about five to 700 units.
Steve: Okay, wow, that’s okay. That’s the number of units. And how did you distribute the sizing?
Tsippi: It was awful. Oh, this was actually really funny. So since I had just had a baby, and my sister who was helping me had just had a baby, we were the models. So we tried it on, we were like, yeah, this kind of fits like a medium. But we were like so off because our bodies were not back to their regular sizes. So our first run of production, everything ran a size too big. So it took us like a while to figure that out when all the customers started complaining that everything was a size too big. But we rolled with it.
Steve: Yeah, let’s describe that. I mean, especially when dealing with someone who’s pregnant or just gave birth, that must be really difficult, right?
Tsippi: Yes very difficult.
Steve: What was your — was it just trial and error then?
Tsippi: Yes. And we have such exact measurements on our site and a guide explaining like how to measure and we still have like insane amounts of customer service questions about this, like how many centimeters? I’m this big on top and this big on the bottom, what size do you think I should get? And I’m like I don’t know, like measure again.
Steve: So do you have a phone number where you’re handling these calls then or are they just via email?
Tsippi: Mostly email, we use Facebook Messenger. And then yeah, some people kind of find our number, but I don’t know how.
Steve: Okay, all right. And how did you know that it was going to work before you ordered five or 600 units? Like how did you validate it?
Tsippi: Well, I think that’s what you were talking about the trial before. So basically, when I was still in the niche hunting stage and wanting to validate, I bought a bunch of dresses from a fellow manufacturer here in America. And we literally like sewed zippers in and cut holes in certain places. And I put up the worst landing page you have ever seen. Somebody that I did not know at all off the internet sent me a message saying like, hey, I saw your landing page, I just want to let that you screenshot the picture and I could see your battery level at D on the picture. You might want to change that. And it was so bad, but people bought them. And then I knew that we could do this.
Steve: Wait, did I see this site or no?
Tsippi: No, no. This is like before we had even started talking.
Steve: Oh okay.
Tsippi: It was right after but I hadn’t like actually asked you anything yet.
Steve: Wait, so let’s talk about the site really quick. So did you just – is it just like a one page site or?
Tsippi: At the time it was, I don’t I don’t even remember what I used. I think, oh, it was like you know that Shopify $9 a month plan you could do.
Steve: But that requires a website right?
Tsippi: Well, I think I like hooked it up to Facebook somehow.
Steve: Oh yes you can, that’s correct.
Tsippi: Yeah. So I think they were buying it off of Facebook primarily. And now we just have a regular Shopify site.
Steve: Right, right. Yeah, I’ve seen your site now. So and then Facebook, you just posted pictures of your product and then with these buy buttons using Shopify Lite, and then people bought your samples. That’s great.
Steve: Who did you sell to for that initial run?
Tsippi: So I really went — I had done this sample like survey thing when I was just trying to see if anyone wanted this.
Steve: That’s your friends or?
Tsippi: Yeah. So I emailed them all again, just telling them about it. And they kind of sent it to their friends. Again, this was like a needed item in my community where modest women and there was like nothing out there. And it’s becoming, I guess until now people just didn’t care and didn’t — were just like used to like, I don’t know, making do. And now I think like with this millennial era, people are like well, I don’t want to live like that anymore. I need something I can wear.
Steve: I remember when my wife was pregnant; she had this big smock I guess you could describe, yeah. Were all these 100 people, were they all pregnant or did they just give birth?
Tsippi: It was like a mix yeah.
Steve: Just a mix. Okay all right. And so by the time that sold, you were pretty confident that you would hit on something that was going to work?
Steve: All right. So after that you had your first run. Where did the website kind of come into play here?
Tsippi: Basically while we were waiting for the stuff to get here, I made the site.
Steve: Okay. And which platform did you choose?
Steve: Shopify. Okay. And would you describe yourself as a technical person?
Tsippi: No and you know this.
Steve: I did, I just thought I’d ask you live on air though. So I wanted to ask you about your experience. On a scale of one to 10, how much of a pain was it?
Tsippi: Okay, it’s like learning a new language. So it seems like really scary before but then as you do it, you’re like, okay, I could do this. I probably called Shopify for hours at a time. And if I had to do it again now, I would be scared again. But I know that I could do it. And like, I would just figure it out again, it’s just I don’t like to.
Steve: Yeah I know, I mean, that’s one thing that I really liked about you. And in our conversations, I knew that you were not technically inclined. In fact, I’m surprised we’re having this interview right now. But you pulled through and in fact, we did a website critique. And you actually went ahead and implemented all those changes. Did you have a designer or did you do those yourself?
Tsippi: No. I did not have a designer. Yeah, I had a friend who kind of knew Canva type of thing. No.
Steve: Okay. No, that’s great. That’s great. So let’s talk about some of the more difficult parts about getting your business off its feet. So let’s say you have your website, what were some of your first challenges?
Tsippi: Well, we immediately realized that China kind of takes the six weeks break in the middle of nothing.
Steve: Like right now actually.
Tsippi: Yes. And so it was a month after we launched our winter line and it was time to order summer. And I was like, oh my God, they are not going to have time to make our summer stuff because we didn’t even think about it yet, I was so busy launching winter. I was like, oh my gosh, what do we do, and by the time they get back, it would just be way too late to get started with that collection. So my husband and I, and all of our kids got on a plane and went down to Mexico and found this manufacturer guy that had come really highly recommended by like random friends, a whole crazy thing.
And I went to see his factory, I spent days with him. And then once I felt really confident with his work, I saw he sells his own line of clothing for children. So I was like really confident with his work. And then he sent us samples and they were like really great. And he spent probably like 20 or 30 hours on the phone with me going over the details and everything. And then we made a huge order. And when it got here, it was all garbage, top to bottom. We lost like $30,000 in our second month of business.
Steve: No. Oh my gosh.
Tsippi: It was horrible, awful, awful, awful.
Steve: That Mexican vendor, I guess you didn’t hire an inspector or they didn’t take returns or?
Tsippi: Yeah, it’s still an ongoing; it’s still like a back and forth like is it worth the legal cost? Is it not worth the legal cost because it’s Mexico? It wasn’t like, I mean, I’m so comfortable working with China, and I know what to do and how to do it. I have no idea of how to do this Mexico thing. And having come back, everyone is like, oh yeah, never do business with Mexico. And we were like, oh, thanks for telling us now.
Steve: Interesting. So I’m just kind of curious, how did you find this person in Mexico?
Tsippi: So through a friend’s dad who had made clothing in Mexico with this guy a couple years ago, and they gave us the name and then we were like, don’t trust us, go see him, go meet him yourself. And we were like, okay, so it was a lot of calling, we like called everyone we knew basically that had Mexican connections.
Steve: And this had to do with the fact that it was Chinese New Year?
Steve: Okay. But then so after this whole debacle happened, you just stuck with the Asian vendors then?
Tsippi: Yes, definitely.
Steve: Okay. And so the only reason you actually went to Mexico was just for timing reasons really?
Steve: All right. Can we talk about how you found your first Asian vendors? Did you use Alibaba or did you use…
Steve: Okay. You did.
Tsippi: I did.
Steve: Okay. And you just followed the rules.
Steve: Okay, amazing.
Tsippi: I really did then I looked up on Panjiva and found out that they were also a supplier for like a really well-known brand here in the States. And I was like, oh, that’s awesome. I was like, really excited about that.
Steve: So just for the benefit of the listeners, Panjiva is a tool that allows you to basically find out where companies are importing their goods from, like what factories they’re using.
Tsippi: Yes right.
Steve: Okay, so we already covered your first sale. So how do you generate sales for your shop?
Tsippi: So that’s a really great question. I think my whole vibe with my brand is community and kind of creating like a space for moms. And the reason why is because oftentimes, the moms are so busy putting everyone else’s needs first and taking care of everyone and not taking care of their own lives. I really like focused a lot on that. And in doing so, I’ve even used that in advertising. So I really, really try to support all the women within our community.
And I’ve honestly asked them like, hey, would you mind posting our sale? Or would you mind posting about X, Y and Z, our new collection on your page, on your Facebook groups? Would you pass this along to any of your friends? And the do and that has really been a huge way that we’ve been driving traffic is really word of mouth and people like sharing our content online, sending the emails, forwarding them, posting on Facebook groups for us. And I think it’s like a lot about the ask, they wouldn’t if I didn’t remind them to, but once I do, they’re happy to.
Steve: So when you talk about your community, is this a community that exists via your email list or is it Facebook groups?
Tsippi: Yeah, major Instagram.
Steve: So let’s talk about your Instagram strategy. How often do you post and what types of content do you post?
Tsippi: Oh, Instagram, I try to post about five days a week and I really story also. I found that that has made like a really big difference with people like identifying with the brand and feeling connected, is seeing a lot of the behind the scenes and knowing I’m just a mom just like you, I’m going through all the same stuff as you. This is what’s going on in my day and asking them for their feedback and input. And I even have them design stuff. Like I’m like, hey guys, what do you want to see next season? And then they’ll send me pictures and ideas. And I’m like, oh, that’s cool. I like that. I’ll make that. Okay, cool. So that’s basically where I hang out.
Steve: How did you get your Instagram page off of its feet?
Tsippi: A lot of giveaways with minded influencers who were micro influencers at the time 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 followers. And then just, I would say, a lot of that, a lot of I had — I would ask other people to come be featured on my page to do a takeover and then they would tell their followers about it. And I’ve done several loop giveaways as well, which I found kind of 50/50 about that.
Steve: Let’s talk about these giveaways. So actually no, let’s talk about the influencers first. So when you approach them, what do you say?
Tsippi: A lot of them at the time had approached me and by a lot, I don’t mean like 1,000, I mean, a couple. We’re not — it’s not like I have 300,000 followers, I have about 12,000. So, a lot of them had approached me, and they’re like, hey, I just had a baby, do you want to do a collab? Do you want me to post about you and you give me a dress? And I’m like, well, I would love to collab but maybe not opposed, let’s do a giveaway, because that’ll get a lot more engagement and get people to my page. So those are the giveaways that I like the most, because the people who enter them want my product as opposed to like enter for a chance to win a $3,000 amazon gift card, like I don’t know who’s entering that. And I’ve done those, but I feel like it’s dead weight and I wish I wouldn’t have done that.
Steve: How does your contest work? Are you using like a platform for that?
Tsippi: No, comment below, tell me why you want this dress or tag a friend who could use this to follow this other influencer. We both have to — they have to follow both accounts to be able to join the giveaway. And it’s super easy. And I think giveaways are getting a little bit outdone now like everyone’s doing them and people are getting tired of them. And my followers have been like can you stop with the giveaways? And I’m like, yeah, it’s getting a little annoying. So I’m trying to make them a little bit more spread out and more special and for special occasions.
Steve: Interesting. So how many followers would you get in a given giveaway? And what were you giving away?
Tsippi: So I use — my most successful giveaways have been just for my followers, or just with one other brand, follow both of us; get a dress and a candle or whatever it is that they sell. Or if it’s just my followers for our anniversary, I’ll be like, hey guys, our anniversary, we’re doing a giveaway just to appreciate you, we’re going to give away five dresses to five of you. Tag a friend below who might be interested in a dress and tell us why you love being part of this community. So those have done really well and we would gain somewhere between 100 to 1,000 followers from those. And then one of these like paid giveaways where you’re joined — they’re getting a gift card or a stroller will gain also somewhere between 300 to 3,000, just depending on the giveaway, and then again you know that some of them will fall off after this.
Steve: Of course yes. And for those people, did you make any money during the giveaway?
Tsippi: I don’t. I mean, like you’re saying, did I see a sales increase?
Steve: Yeah, I guess it’s really hard to measure with Instagram, right? Can you track? You can’t track your sales exactly right?
Tsippi: No, but with each giveaway, I would notice a new bunch of people who started engaging with me, and then I would see their names on like sales. So in my mind, I think it definitely covers the cost. And I see the engagement going up in general, and the page views and the story views and all that kind of stuff going up.
Steve: So does your strategy translate into Facebook as well?
Tsippi: I haven’t worked much with Facebook, because I hate tech and I hate all these things and I’m like, I finally understand Instagram now. But we just opened a Facebook group for our breastfeeding moms, because I wanted somewhere that they can interact and ask each other questions and kind of support each other through their journey. And that’s been really cool. But our page on Facebook is like an afterthought. So not – yeah.
Steve: Let me ask you this question. So when you’re breastfeeding, at least my wife only breastfed for a year, so which kind of means that your customer base is constantly evolving, right?
Steve: So how does that work?
Tsippi: So my philosophy has always been to create a brand and not just a product. So like my content is not very much about breastfeeding. It’s very much about being a mom. So it’s because I want them to stay because I want them to be part of my community, which is not the best strategy when you want to sell clothing, because I’m not marketing to my target market. So that’s an issue that I have had and if I would have been smarter, I probably wouldn’t have done that. But I mean, the real truth Steve just to be open and honest with you is, after doing this for a year, I kind of took a step back.
And it’s — you don’t know this, but when we were talking about doing this podcast interview, we were talking about doing it in January. And I was like at that time going through a whole like, oh my god, do I want to keep doing this. And I was like, I can’t go on his podcast and talk about this because I don’t know if I want to shut down my business because I don’t like clothing very much. And I was like I need another month to figure out what I want to do.
So I kind of took a step back at that for all the reasons that we had talked about, the return rates, and the sizes, and the colors and all that kind of stuff, which is we take a lot of pride, we write handwritten notes in every single package, we package it with care. And then when 30% come back, which is the standard industry average, is hard. We do it all ourselves. So okay, I want to change the business model, because I have an amazing community and I want to do other things with the community. And I don’t really want to sell clothing for much longer. So I’m kind of changing things around right now.
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What I was just going to say is once you have that community to moms, I think there’s a huge percentage of purchases. I can’t remember what the exact statistic was, but most people who buy stuff are moms.
Steve: So once you have that community, I mean you can easily branch out to other products, like what you’re selling now is just kind of like a stepping stone.
Tsippi: Exactly, exactly. And I still think I still love the service that it provides to women. So we’re not going to entirely stop making clothing, but I’m going to move it to like a wholesale model so that that way, I know like twice a year we do this whole like going out, showing our stuff, selling it to stores. And then the rest of the time, we could focus on other things. I don’t have to deal with that one on one customer service.
Steve: That’s great. I’m so glad that you mentioned that because all these things as I was asking these questions, they’d all kind of come through my head. And we’ve communicated quite a bit on email.
Steve: And I think I’ve — I don’t think I was very direct in mentioning some of these things before. But I’m happy that you have this community. And once you have this community, you can do whatever you want with it. And that’s the best thing.
Tsippi: Yes, yes, exactly.
Steve: I want to switch gears a little bit. And let’s talk about Amazon, have you considered selling on Amazon?
Tsippi: Yeah, I consider selling on Amazon; I’ve been back and forth about it. I think it would probably be a good idea to give it a try. But I’ve done a lot of research with Jungle Scout. And while there’s not much competition on Amazon with this product, there’s not many sales. So, I would kind of rather not have to. I cannot ever compete with our pricing of some of these companies selling for so inexpensive that I just can’t imagine that the work involved and the costs involved would be worth it with the return rate being what it is.
Steve: I mean, if you’re competing on price, you’re probably losing in general is my philosophy, especially with a small niche shop.
Tsippi: Yes. And if you’re getting like a 30% return, then that I would imagine would kill you on Amazon.
Steve: Yeah especially since you’re paying for the FBA fees.
Tsippi: Exactly, exactly.
Steve: Just curious. How do you mitigate that?
Tsippi: In terms of?
Steve: The return rate.
Tsippi: What we do is I mean, it’s not — it’s something that I really don’t like. I kind of like go on this whole thing of like we should stop allowing returns, but we can’t stop allowing returns. We only accept things that are really unworn, unused, and then that we can sell again. If it seems like I couldn’t sell it again, I couldn’t accept it back. And yeah, we do end of season sales and then those are like final sale because they’re getting it discounted then we’ll just do final sale for that. So yeah, I think it’s because of that I just, I’ve had a lot of people come to me and be like, hey, can you help me start a clothing business and I’m like, unless you’re like are diehard fashion person, you have to really love it, or have a store or something like that where you don’t care about all the stuff that goes into it.
I just want to say another thing about clothing because the other thing is that the seasons change, so you only have three months to sell each season before it goes on sale. And then it’s not like you could keep selling the same thing each year, because people want new fashion and new trends, especially wholesalers especially like repeat customers, they don’t want to see the same stuff they saw last year. So your window to sell is so small. So that’s kind of why if somebody loves fashion, and that’s your calling, I’m like go for it. But if you’re doing this just as a way to make a living, like, I’m not sure that fashion is your best bet.
Steve: Let me ask you this question. So you’re saying that if you have a design this year, you can’t sell it next year? Meaning there’s not a subset of customers who don’t even follow these things and wouldn’t buy it?
Tsippi: I mean, if you are not a fashionable buyer, then you probably could, but people know that the colors of the season and the styles of the season. So we’re constantly updating new fabrics and new trends and adding this trim or that lace or whatever it is.
Steve: Okay, okay. I’m going to ask you a bunch of rapid fire questions really quickly. How much money did you start with to start this business?
Tsippi: 500 bucks.
Steve: 500 bucks. Wow. Okay, that’s a lot less than I was anticipating.
Tsippi: For just to do the initial market research.
Steve: Yeah, the initial market research. How long did it take to create up your site and how much did you spend on your website?
Tsippi: I guess just whatever the plugins cost it at the time, like we went with Klaviyo right away from the beginning, because I was listening to your podcast. And I was like if he’s recommending that, I’m going to do that. Probably, I mean, it took me probably a week or two.
Steve: Wow okay all right. So this is where we say that Tsippi was exaggerating how she’s not technically inclined?
Tsippi: No, no, no, it was like a week of being on the phone with Shopify.
Steve: In terms of finding your niche, did it take you a while?
Tsippi: So I kind of skipped that stage, because I knew right away what I wanted to do. And I felt the need myself after having the baby it was just a matter of seeing other people wanted to.
Steve: Okay. And has most of your marketing just been organic traffic from Instagram?
Tsippi: No, we definitely rely on Facebook ads for some things. I wouldn’t say Facebook ads work very well for us. And I obviously know it’s just because we haven’t done enough testing. But for cold market traffic, I haven’t seen it do very well. I think it’s because our product is not an impulse buy and it’s not a high end product either. It’s in between. So I think people are like, if they don’t know who we are, they’re like, I don’t know. For retargeting, our Facebook ads do really, really, really well.
Steve: Okay, yeah, that’s not unusual actually. And in fact, Facebook costs have gone up tremendously in just from 2017, 2018. It’s, I think they’re just running out of inventory. So
Tsippi: Oh yeah, okay that makes sense.
Steve: And okay, so for the benefit of the people listening who haven’t gotten started yet, and are thinking about starting a business, what sort of advice would you give them since you’ve gone through this?
Tsippi: I think, first of all, and I’m going to make a plug here for Steve’s course and he didn’t know I was going to do this. But I just want to say that my entire family knows your name. I’m like, well, let’s see what Steve says about this. I have learned so much and I couldn’t have done anything without this. And even like I have my assistant here just watched the course on Amazon so that you could test it for a couple of weeks, or watch the email marketing course and that’s how we roll around here.
And I’ve spoken to Facebook agencies and different agencies, they’re like, it’s this much money. I’m like, dude, I have the course, it’s okay. So that has really, really given me a lot of confidence and being able to reach out to you and ask questions, I would say, like has helped me so much. But really, I think you just have to start, you just got to take a step, you just have to make a decision, just go for it. Things will change. You’ll figure it out as you go, you’ve got to start.
Steve: What was your biggest challenge early on starting your store and how did you overcome it?
Tsippi: I think having kids. A lot of fashion is getting out there and having people try stuff on and it was really hard for me to get out there. So I was really only relying on website traffic. And you know how it is when you start a store; there are days where nobody comes to your site. That’s just the reality if you’re not advertising, and you’re kind of like, but I have all this stuff sitting here. So I think that as a young business was really hard. Why aren’t people coming today? I think that the creation of all the technical stuff, it’s just like a lot for a business owner to do. But yet, you don’t want to give it to someone else, because they don’t have that same passion. So I think that that, I think that just like trying to juggle all the pieces and make it work with life. But I would never ever give it up because it gives me so much freedom.
Steve: On the flip side, what’s worked really well for your business? And what would be your advice on what someone brand new should start out first, or how to find that avenue that really works?
Tsippi: I really think that going through the steps of trying to find something that makes sense and is profitable and feel someone’s pain point, if it fills a pain point, you’re probably good. So there’s so many companies that I talk to now, they’re like, well, nobody is buying. I’m like well, your product isn’t necessarily helping their life, it’s just pretty or whatever. So I feel like those would be the best way to start. And yeah, that would be my advice is value prop.
Steve: And you mentioned that you spoke with a hundred friends about your products. And one thing that I found personally is that when I ask my friends, they’re just nice to me. How did you kind of adjust for that?
Tsippi: Meaning that they weren’t honest you’re saying?
Steve: Yes, or were they honest?
Tsippi: Well, they were all honest in telling me that they think I will never succeed.
Steve: Really? Okay.
Tsippi: Yes. They were like Tsippi honestly, you’re not in fashion, and you’re going to start a fashion company, okay. And I was like, yeah, I’m going to do. And they’re like, who’s going to design the clothes? I’m like, I’m going to do. So that was a great boost of encouragement from them. But now they’re all like, whoa, how do you do that?
Steve: Yeah, actually, this is one of the things that I really liked about your personality. You’re just willing to just keep sticking with something until you get it done. I mean, throughout the technical challenges and whatnot, I mean, over time, if you just hammer on it long enough, it’ll get done.
Tsippi: And that’s what I’m seeing from other entrepreneurs is it’s not necessarily about being the best or having the best thing. It’s just your persistence and just moving forward, making your things better as you go. We just had a complaint that one of our dresses was shrinking. We’re like, sorry, we’ll do better next time because there’s not much we can do about that now. So yeah, just say move forward and keep getting better.
Steve: Yeah, I mean, clothing shrinks, right. It’s just part of life.
Tsippi: Yeah, people complain about that.
Steve: So Tsippi, I want to give you the opportunity to tell people how to find your store and how to reach out, how to join your community.
Tsippi: Okay, thanks, Steve. You know what; I actually had one question for you. Is that okay?
Steve: Yeah, go for it, yeah.
Tsippi: I’ve been meaning to ask you this for so long because I want you — one of the things that drew me into your community and what you’re doing is that you had not only this e-commerce half of your brand, but you also have a blog and a podcast and a whole area of knowledge that you’re giving over and I read your content, and I listen to your podcast. How do you have time or do you have a content strategy where you’re able to, because it’s high quality, high level things, how do you just get it all done and balance that with your e-commerce side?
Steve: So number one, I have a very good wife. So we shouldn’t discount that at all. She actually does the operations for the business, which allows me the freedom to just work on marketing and my other stuff. So let’s be clear about that. It’s a two person project. So I can tell you my schedule, on Sundays for four hours while my kids are in math class, I write, for four hours straight out. Yeah, so four straight hours in the coffee shop. And that’s pretty much my one blog post for the week.
Tsippi: Okay. Okay.
Steve: During the week, I usually do just one podcast per week that takes about an hour or so, and the rest of the time is doing customer service for the course, like I get a ton of those niche critiques, as you know. And I’m busy putting out new videos and new curriculum. So that takes some time. And I would say one, or one and a half days of the week, I work on trying to grow the e-commerce business. And I mean, I really don’t put out that much right, one podcast a week, one blog post a week and I do that one office hours for the class every week.
Tsippi: Yeah, I guess I was just wondering, because of the level of the blog posts and you still have your emails going and the working with the students and you have your new Go Brand Win, and you have all the other stuff.
Steve: Yeah, so just to be clear on that too, I have a great partner with Go Brand Win. And she helps a lot with the heavy lifting. Likewise, with my conference, I had that same partner, and she does, our bargain is basically I sell the tickets, get the speakers and get the sponsors. And she does the rest, like I show up at the event.
Tsippi: Oh that’s amazing.
Steve: Which is really amazing and it’s hard to find. So I hope I’m not like demystifying myself.
Tsippi: No, I really, I think it’s important like at a certain point to be able to grow to be able to take on partners like that and helpers like that. It’s just that I think it’s like a level that you reach at a certain point, I guess.
Steve: I actually spend a lot of time just sitting there thinking and doing nothing. And the reason why is because I find myself to be more productive once I kind of have a game plan instead of just waking up and going, okay, what am I doing today?
Steve: So at least one day of the week, I would say.
Tsippi: Okay, interesting. Wow.
Steve: So nothing special. I mean, just like everyone else in terms of productivity, I just have like a kind of like a set schedule for everything.
Tsippi: Okay, so interesting. Okay, I’ve been meaning to ask you that forever.
Steve: I don’t think you talked about how to reach you and your site.
Tsippi: Okay. So my clothing site is HavahTribe.com. And that’s spelled H-A-V-A-H-T-R-I-B-E.com. And we’re on Instagram @HavahTribe, or I am actually launching a new podcast myself in a couple of weeks, which I’m super excited about. And it’s talking about how the mindset struggles that moms go through as they start their own businesses and run their own thing. So that’s really exciting. And that’s called The Stunning Success. And that’ll be out in just a couple of weeks.
Steve: I think it’s going to be great. And you’re a very eloquent person and just knowing your drive, I’m sure that podcast will be successful.
Tsippi: Thank you, Steve. And just one last thing to end it off is that the one thing that has kept me going and that I have passed on to people within my community from you this entire year is one blog post that I read that you wrote, where you said that your tip was to do one thing every single day, no matter what. It could be tiny, it could be big, one thing every single day. And literally on days where I’m exhausted or whatever I’m like, I’ll just make one phone call, just make one email. And just before I got on this podcast, Instagram, or just Instagram me and DM me, and she said, I just want you to know how much that tip has changed my life. Because of you, my website is about to get up and running. And I’m taking huge action with my business because I do one thing every day. And I was like, that is so cool, because I got that from Steve. So I had to put that out.
Steve: Wow, that’s awesome. Sometimes things come out of my mouth, and I don’t realize I guess. Thanks for sharing that with me.
Tsippi: Yeah, I have that taped above my desk. So thank you for that.
Steve: Well Tsippi, thanks a lot for coming on the show. I had a blast and it was awesome.
Tsippi: Thanks for having me Steve. It’s an honor.
Steve: All right. Take care.
Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now Tsippi story is yet another example of how heart and hustle is what it takes to start a successful e-commerce business. Now, in the interview, we alluded to a website critique that I gave Tsippi for her site. And as part of my course, I regularly do full video critiques of a student site and sometimes I end up redesigning their entire site in Photoshop. So if you’re interested in joining, check it out over at profitableonlinestore.com. Now for more information about this episode, go to Mywifequitherjob/episode255.
And once again, I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post purchase flow, a win back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to Mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again, that’s Mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.
I also want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode as well. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. Now, if you want to give it a try, it is free. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.
Now I talk about how I use these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store, head on over to Mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we’re giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.Mywifequitherjob.com.