Putting culture and customer excitement at the heart of growth with Swanwick’s Alaina Frederick (episode 239)

Alaina Frederick is the Chief Sales Officer at Swanwick, a retailer of blue light blocking glasses that help customers get a better night’s sleep. They launched in 2015 and have already sold over 85,000 pairs.

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About the Business

Alaina Frederick Podcast Shownotes
  • Based in Austin Texas
  • Sells Globally
  • Uses Shopify Platform
  • Team of Global Independent Contractors

About Alaina

Alaina’s debut into the world of eCommerce started with an online business selling natural cloth diapers. As that business grew Alaina began offering a greater array of complementary products.

In order to get everything up and going, she taught herself CSS and HTML and was literally building every part of the business. She got so many inquiries about how to build and run an eCommerce business that she transitioned into a full time strategic consultant role.

Her background building out her eCommerce shop and then acting as a consultant has given her the experience she needs to take on her current role fully. Alaina understands the comprehensive picture of the moving parts necessary to run a successful eCommerce business and she has valuable insights on production and flow that help her manage her team. 

About Swanwick

Swanwick is a sleep focused company with a range of products that aim to help customers get a better night sleep. The company’s core products are a range of blue light blocking glasses for day and night as well as a range of sunglasses.

Alaina says that while humans need some blue light because it signals the brain to be productive—the amount of blue light we receive today is so elevated that it poses a risk to human health and sleep. 

Historically, when the sun went down, people would be using candles or be in bed, sleeping. Today, that has been completely negated with technology. With the constant presence of blue light from all electrical devices in our world, many people have difficulty sleeping. 


Swanwick uses Shopify as their main platform. Alaina says that it’s a great tool for anyone in eCommerce and is especially user friendly.

Her favorite plugins through Shopify are any that help with email marketing capture, a shipping plugin that hosts a free shipping banner at the top of a shop’s page and cuts down on abandoned cart rates and Yoast for SEO—which gives you traffic light signals—Red, Yellow and Green so user can develop their SEO as they create.

If you want to learn more about Shopify, check out all the eCommerce Masterplan resources on the subject at: www.ecommercemasterplan.com/shopify

Swanwick sells directly to their consumers, but they are also present on a number of large marketplaces including Amazon, eBay, Walmart and NewEgg.

The Swanwick Team

Swanwick’s team is made up primarily of a global network of independent contractors and are represented on every continent except Antarctica.

Typically, there are about 15 people working on projects at any given time and using contractors mean that they can scale up and down depending on what projects they are working on.

The Swanwick customer service team is a constant as are the department heads and a handful of key employees under them. Swanwick’s base team is able to stay lean and scale up when they need it.  

For Alaina, the team is what makes Swanwick such a great place to work. Because they are made up from a conglomeration of contractors from all around the world there is a great egalitarianism in the culture. 

This level playing field means that everyone has a strong voice—and those many cultural influences make the Swanwick brand what it is today. She also says that there is a great give and take with all the different time zones and a culture of everyone taking care of each other.

Making Sleep Cool 

The brothers who founded Swanwick started out with just 300 pairs of glasses and a mission to make getting sleep by blocking blue light cool. They were determined to reframe the perception of blue light blocking glasses and focused heavily on developing a quality product and great customer relationships.

They have also taken a lot of time to create a great customer experience—from the time a customer is considering a pair of ‘swannies’ up to the point they receive the package. Alaina says, they bring their customers into the Swanwick family. This attitude toward the brand is why Alaina says their brand exploded so quickly and succesfully.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Instagram and Facebook Stories to humanize your business and take it from B2B or B2C and make it H2H—human to human

Tool Top Tip

  • Asana—Product Management
  • Slack—Good for managing a team
  • Sortd—Gmail tool that helps manage email to make it more productive

Growth Top Tip

  • Step out of your own way—A mindset shift that will allow you to tackle that list of great ideas you have but thought you couldn’t do. 

Interview Links

Related episodes

  • Serious Readers’ Alex Pratt on selling the world’s best reading lights and growing sales to £5 million
  • Turning product sell-outs to your advantage with Aaron Spivak of Hush Blankets
  • Shifting from Wholesale to D2C with Finlay London’s David Lochhead and Dane Butler

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