Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Branding 101

Hey y'all, 
What a busy year! Phew!  Now that I've got a little more time on my hands, I wanted to share some tips and tricks for making you, your brand, and your booth stand out from the rest. For info about creating the perfect booth check out this previous post.

Today we're talking about BRANDING.  Ugh.  What a horrible word.  I know it scares me sometimes, and it can be super scary.  It's one of those things that creative types, me included, often leave until too late and then get stressed about.  I'm here to tell you there's nothing to stress about. Branding can be fun!

When I started my business in 2013, I chose my favourite colours, taupe, vintage white and coral, to represent my brand.

My sign and decor for my table had coral accents against burlap and white. But for last year, I was kind of over the coral.  Don't get me wrong, I still love the colour, but was it really working for my brand?  I liked the white and burlap-they're great neutrals that can work with ANY accent, AND didn't clash with my colourful scarves.  But the bigger question I was really asking was "what is my brand"?  And am I doing a good job of getting that across to my market/fans/clients etc?

So I looked around online and did some brainstorming.  That's tip #1-BRAINSTORM.  And I mean in the most literal way possible.  It's hard to think of flashy one liners that describe your brand straight off the bat.  One of the best techniques to find what your brand (and you) stands for is create a word cloud (or list). List EVERY SINGLE WORD that describes you, what you make, and what you believe in.  
See my word cloud (right).

Use these words (2-3 per sentence) to come up with a tag line, that best represents your brand.  From these words I have some great descriptive sentences I can use on market applications, Facebook posts, websites, twitter, etc without having to come up with something new every time.
West Coast Leslie features handmade & local products
Handmade, with colourful yarns, these products are truly inspired
This wearable art comes in various designs, colours, and sizes.

You'll also notice in my word cloud I have a few words that describe me and what I stand for in my business; like service, quality, & fun.  Once you've come up with maybe five lines, save them to a word document so you can grab them anytime.   Also take a couple of sentences and work them into a paragraph about you and your business.  Have a 5 sentence paragraph that can be used on applications etc.  
This is one of my business bios I use.  

It feels a bit like writing an essay for University, but you want to be clear.  Make sure you include what you make, how you make it, and why it's awesome!

Tip #2 You don't have to marry your brand.  What?!? I know, I said it.  Yes, it is important for you to have consistency with your brand, but let's say you've had your logo for 5 years and over those years your business has changed, morphed, grown.  Then shouldn't your brand also change to reflect your business?  Think about the clothes you loved in high school (for me it was surf/skate logo tees and flared jeans! YIKES), you would never wear those clothes now.  Likewise with your brand-it should reflect your business.  This isn't a license to change up your logo every year!!! That is confusing for your clients and does not encourage brand loyalty.  But if you feel that your brand/logo/colour scheme doesn't reflect your business anymore, it's OK to change it. There's nothing worse than having a name that doesn't tell people what you're about.  You'll spend all your time explaining it instead of talking about your products and selling them!

Tip #3 Consistency.  Right just after I finished telling you you can change your branding! Ha ha ha.  What I mean by consistency is look at how you are represented online and in person.  If you look at my Facebook page, my website, my online store-they look like they're part of the same family.  I've used the same header, in the same colours, with the same fonts and logo. No one is going to wonder if they're in the right place, especially when moving from one online entity to another.   And while for us creative types, it might be a bit boring to have the same colours, font, etc it's NOT boring for our customers.  It's reinforcing that they are in the right place, you are a trusted source, and yes they want to buy from this maker!  Consistency is also why I would recommend simple graphics and fonts, so that you're not going crazy with images on every online platform!  And don't forget to use these online images in print too.  Hang tags, pricing signs, postcards, business cards.  Everything that represents you and your brand should be thematic.  I changed my tags to better reflect my brand this year and I love it - plus it makes my life SO MUCH EASIER.  

By doing this you're again reinforcing in your customers mind that you've got it all together (even though sometimes we are running around like chickens with our heads cut off!)

Do have other branding tips?  
Share them with us in the comments below!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

limited production run #1

It's time friends!  It's time to launch the FIRST limited production run for West Coast Leslie Designs! Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey, because we want to make what you want to wear!  And don't worry, if you're favourite item wasn't selected for the first run all is not lost.  We will be hosting limited production runs throughout the year, so stay up to date with us on Facebook and Instagram!

And now, what you've all been waiting for...... 
(insert drumroll here) SLOUCH TOQUES!

These bad boys will be available in TWO SIZES: Small/Medium (20"-21") and Medium/Large (22"+).  They are made from 100% acrylic yarn, which is hypo allergenic and machine washable.  Did we mention is super soft and comes in some gorgeous colours? Like Plum? Peacock Teal?  Yeah. We're pumped.

Remember they are available to purchase ONLY on Facebook!  They are up there NOW, so be sure to check them out.  There are limited quantities so if you want one, be sure to hurry!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What I've Learned Part 1

Every new opportunity lends itself to a learning curve.  Starting a new job.  A new piece of technology.  Trying to do your own taxes (don't).  And then magically, one day, we don't need to think about HOW to use these things, we just do.  I bet you can't remember a time you didn't know how to use a spoon?  So in this little series I'd like to share with you some of the tips and tricks I've figured out, the hard way, about handmade selling.

Today's Episode- How Putting the Price Out in the Open Stopped My Sales
Whoa!  I know right?  It seems counter intuitive.  And a lot of makers will tell you YOU NEED to put your prices right out in the open.  What if someone is shy and they don't want to talk to you? If your prices aren't visible, you'll loose that sale. And that's a fair assumption.  But let me tell you my story about how doing that TOTALLY backfired on me.

First full year of production - 2014.  Tyler and I were working every market together -it's always nice to have someone to bounce your ideas off of.  I had my boot cuffs displayed in baskets, all lined up, ready to go to home with fashionable ladies.  I had these great little chalkboard picks I'd got at Michaels and stuck them in the baskets with the words "boot cuffs" on them. Cute right?

Then I got an idea- let's use my super cute chalk board signs and put the price of the cuffs on the chalkboards.  I rewrote the signs with $49-the price of my cable cuffs.  This would allow me to interact with my customers without having to answer "How much are the boot cuffs?"  I thought I was a genius!  My brilliant idea was efficient and informative; who wouldn't love it?

The customers, that's who didn't love it.  By seeing that $49 in black and white kept people from even touching the cuffs.  People stopped talking about them ALTOGETHER!  No one picked them up.  And just like that my boot cuff sales stopped. DEAD.  I mentioned to Ty how bummed I was that people weren't interested in the cuffs.  He suggested that the price was scaring them off and that we erase the signs.  The price was on the tag anyway, it's not like we were hiding how much they were.  So we erased them.  Put them back just with the words "boot cuffs".  Lo and behold, sales started to pick up.  I couldn't believe it!  Every blog I'd ever read told me to make sure my prices were visible.  But when I tested that theory, it didn't work for me.  

So what's the moral of the story. Depending on what you make, most shoppers need to feel a connection to your product.  Especially if it's a bit of an investment.  Once people pick up my cuffs, feel how soft they are, see how well crafted they are, they've already started the process of imagining how those cuffs would fit in their life. They start thinking about what boots they have that would match. In their head, they already own the cuffs.  And that is EXACTLY what you want people to do with your products.  ENCOURAGE shoppers to pick up and try, feel, touch your products.  Putting your product in their hands already gives them a sense of ownership!  It brings them one step closer to making that purchase, WITHOUT YOU HAVING TO BE PUSHY! WOO!   Once someone has picked up something, it's in their hands, they are interacting with it, they're imagining how it will fit in their life, their wardrobe, their home.  Once they can see their life WITH your product, the price becomes LESS scary.  Why? Because they've already purchased it in their head.  They've already decided that they need this.  I can't tell you how many people have balked at the price of my products, UNTIL THE PICK IT UP or TRY IT ON!  Then they get it.  

I'm not saying hide your prices.  I'm not saying to be sleazy, or scamy (that's not how I roll).  But you don't need to have a big neon flashing sign (or chalkboard sign for that matter) outright flaunting your prices.  Next time you're shopping in a higher end clothing store, try to find a tag that's out in the open.  Bet you can't.  High end retailers do the same thing.  They want you to envision your life with that sweater, BEFORE you see the price.  Think about the prices at an art gallery.  Tiny. Almost hidden beside the painting. Available, but not flashy.   And from my experience, it works.

Stay tuned for more tips and tricks on how to be a better handmade seller.  Got a comment or question?  Leave it below.  I promise to get back to all of them.  Let's make 2016 your most successful handmade year yet!

Peace, Love & Handmade

Monday, January 11, 2016


We're only a week into 2016 and we already 
have BIG plans for West Coast Leslie Designs!

The 2015 Market Season was such a blast and successful to boot!  We are so grateful to all our shoppers and boosters and friends who support us.  It was our second full year of operations and while we're starting to feel like we know what we're doing, we are still learning so much!  Last year we updated our booth for LARGER spaces with two vintage ladders.  We received SO many compliments on our "new" booth from fellow vendors & shoppers.

We were ready for the boot cuff craze this year!  
We made so many pairs we have some left over!  
How did that happen?!?!

And even though we carry awesome classic products, we always get asked to make other items.  This year I think the most requested items were leg warmers, slippers, and fingerless gloves.  Sadly there are only so many hours in the day to make things :(  BUT you will be happy to know that we found a way to offer some new products!!


Ok so what does that mean? LOL  We will be launching new products, like slippers, in a limited number, available for purchase during a specific time.  For example we will make 20 pairs of slippers and they will go on sale on a Wednesday on our Facebook page.  The sale will last until the products sell out OR for four weeks TOPS!  Once they're gone, THEY'RE GONE! If it's a successful run and people still want slippers, in a month or two we'll run another slipper production.  

Got it? So exciting!!! Remember these products will only be available on Facebook, so make sure you're following us over there!

We want to know what you'd like to see us make!  If you've got ideas for what we should make for our first production run head over to our Facebook page and let us know!!

Peace, Love & Handmade