Vanessa Ungvarskyis the founder of Taylor Made Polish, founded in late 2016 they’ve had an interesting last 18 months… By the end of 2018, there were doing a stable 6-figure sales a year with growth just happening! But the majority of their retail was offline, as was that of their wholesale customers. So overnight sales dropped by over 60%. Vanessa has rebuilt the business so it’s now happily growing again, and sales are now 90% online.
About the product
Vanessa started Taylor Made to provide a healthy, green alternative to conventional products on the market. She was frustrated with all the greenwashing that took place and stores.
The idea of making it completely custom meant that individuals not only knew what was going into their product but the special nature of developing something custom.
The product as it exists today is a make your own nail polish kit. Before the pandemic, Taylor Made Polish was more of a service, in which the business would host events where customers could make their own polish as part of an experience.
The business also made custom colors for studios and so on. The direct to consumer side of the business was largely private parties and events.
Shifting into eCommerce
When the pandemic hit, Vanessa said they still had a lot of events on the books that they didn’t want to cancel so she shifted her thinking — how can we transform our existing events to a virtual space?
In the beginning, Vanessa said they just made it work and it was clunky at first, but as the pandemic wore on, her interest in eCommerce and DTC grew and she leaned into the new direction.
The eCommerce direction unlocked the whole country for the business.
The pandemic ended up having a real silver lining for Vanessa’s business. The ability to move beyond her local community was a major benefit to the company.
Moving into Digital Marketing
Moving into digital marketing was one of the hardest things for Vanessa. She says that like a lot of things in business, you don’t know what you don’t know.
In retrospect, Vanessa says that the business wasn’t set up to be online and she made some big mistakes along the way. One of the most important things that the business had to fix was their communication with customers.
When they moved to kits that need for clear, written communication became even more critical than before. The agency that Vanessa had worked with to build the service business didn’t have the experience she needed for supporting a product business and she learned a lot of lessons the hard way.
Her primary piece of advice for anyone thinking about shifting their platform? Be Clear. Think of everything you think you might need and take the time to explore all the possibilities.
It’s important to understand your own supply chain, understand with great clarity where you are and where you are trying to go.
Marketing a Complex Product
There are over 30 pieces in each kit Taylor Made sends out, which means that it’s relatively complex to source every piece responsibly, package, send and market it.
The complexity of Vanessa began working with a consultant to figure out the best strategy and delivery for Taylor Made customers. She has automated her email sequences based on kit type and has customized the content to make it as automated as possible.
Vanessa says that listening to her customers has been critical for making the business a success.
eCommerce Book Top Tip
- The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage by Daniel Paisner and Daymond John
eCommerce Traffic Top Tip
- Live collaborations. Connecting in person, even if it’s a webinar or zoom call has been really important for the business.
Tool Top Tip
- Friday Check ins — Every Friday, Vanesa connects with everyone on the team individually. She says it sets the tone and keeps things moving.
Growth Top Tip
- Be as prepared as you can. Set up the tools in advance, because cleaning up the mess on the back end will take a lot longer
- Surviving as a retailer reliant on in-person selling with Sue Monhait of The Ribbon Print Company
- Maintaining profits when the stores shut with Industry West CMO Ian Leslie
- Shifting from offline to online marketing AND getting on top of Attribution with Ryan Shannon from BAM
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