Shannon Fitzsimmons is the founder at O So Curly, an online store selling tools and accessories for curly hair. Shannon started the business in 2015 and is now getting over 100 order per month. We discuss the nuts and bolts of how to run influencer marketing campaigns as well as a host of other subjects.
How Shannon got started
Shannon has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and says when she was in primary school, her family was one of the first to have internet and a printer at home—a fact which she took advantage of by selling printed at home lyric sheets to her classmates for 10 pence a pop.
In high school she rented out her iPod to classmates, so she has never struggled to see opportunities! She started O So Curly primarily out of frustration—in the UK, she said she wasn’t able to find the right products and resorted to chemically straightening her hair. When she did some research she found that in the United States there was a lot of information for naturally curly hair, but the trend hadn’t yet caught on in the UK.
At the time, she was working at Tesco and constantly noticed the glaring lack of products for curly hair. It wasn’t long before she decided to fill the gap herself.
Starting with a Blog
Shannon’s journey started as a blog called ukcurlygir.com where she shares tips and tricks for curly haired people in the UK. The blog transitioned into eCommerce business and allowed Shannon to really understand her customer.
She started O So Curly to house her proprietary product line and said that she wanted to start a different brand from the blog so that each segment of the business had room to grow as needed.
About the Business
- Located in London
- Sells to customers in the UK, US and Europe
- Sells reversible satin pillowcase and other accessories
- Shopify Platform
- Team consists of Shannon and a virtual assistant
- D2C and wholesale
Favorite plugins on Shopify
O So Curly
Shannon’s best seller is her reversible satin pillowcase, which she invented and perfected—and she also sells a variety of other accessories including bonnets, scrunchies and brushes.
She started small, using a free platform (Big Cartel) for her eCommerce shop and pounded the pavement to get local retailers to carry her products in early days. She even allows other online retailers to carry the product which was made possible by the small, tight knit community that makes up the curly hair marketplace. That move, she says has grown her brand.
Using Social Media
Shannon has primarily used social media to grow the business. She started slow, creating an instagram page devoted to inspirational curly hairstyles. She posts frequently and says that slowly building that base made it easier to sell when she was ready to integrate the products.
She collaborates frequently with influencers and initially focused on visibility which she was able to achieve without running paid influencer campaigns because the market wasn’t yet saturated. Today, she is working on increasing sales through paid influencer campaigns.
Running an Influencer Campaign
Gift bloggers can take a long time to post, so paid campaigns have more structure and give you more control over the timeline. Shannon started the process of developing a paid campaign by creating a research spreadsheet to help her understand who had influence in which spheres.
She uses the native instagram tool to help her find instagrammers and bloggers similar to people who seem like a good fit and uses Google Sheets to record the raw data she pulls from the accounts she is interested in. She then emails potentials to gauge interest and get their pricing so she can run a comprehensive analysis.
Shanon prefers micro influencers because she says there is more trust and engagement from those smaller communities. For her most recent campaign, she reached out to 50 potentials to narrow her list down to 5.
Negotiating with Influencers
For influencers who are outside of budget, Shannon recommends offering to give them a code, for which they then receive a percentage of sales from people who use that code.
This incentive can be a great negotiation tool that prioritizes performance. Shannon says that it’s also a great way to track which relationships are most effective at driving sales because you can see who used each influencer’s code.
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eCommerce Book Top Tip
- Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine by Mike Michalowicz
eCommerce Traffic Top Tip
- Pinterest—a lot of sales come from pinterest. One video in particular has driven sales of products
Tool Top Tip
- CapsuleCRM – free platform you can add all contacts and categorize everyone in one place
Growth Top Tip
- Use relevant Influencers
- Video Content on social media
- Content marketing and Facebook Ads with influencer turned eCommerce business Sweet Hearts Hair
- Lick My Dip’s Dave Rotheroe is back! Subscription product optimisation and influencer outreach plus more
- Influencer marketing. Alexandra Jimenez explains how to target and work with Influencers
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