Could you tell us a bit about yourself, what you sell at Dire Envy and how you got started?
I’m Suzanna, mother of two boys, fiancee to a Lineman, and Owner/Designer at Dire Envy Handmade Clothing.
I've always had creative interests and tendencies. Playing the piano, cooking, crafts, and anything DIY kept my attention. My Grandmother taught me how to sew at the age of six and I’ve always carried the skill with me.
After being a licensed Cosmetologist for 13 years, I lost my passion for the hair business and started sewing for myself again.
Happiness and fulfillment is important to me and doing hair just wasn’t cutting it anymore. As a creative outlet I started replacing my store bought clothing with handmade.
My new wardrobe slowly started gaining interest and I began selling my designs to friends and family. Soon business picked up and I knew it was time to turn my home studio salon into my sweatshop. I make comfortable clothes for the on-the-go woman who still wants to be stylish and chic.
How did you come up with the name “Dire Envy”?
Dire Envy is an anagram of my boy's names. In the beginning trying to coming up with the business name resulted in several lists and doodles that led to nowhere. Feeling frustrated and looking for a new method, I wrote down both of my son's names, then cut the letters apart individually.
While moving the pieces around to make different 4 letter words I came up with “Dire.” Which means urgent or serious. I liked the sound of that. The letters I was left with were “NV” but that didn't translate well in my test group (Dyer, Nevada is a real place!). Changing “NV” to “Envy” was the obvious choice.
Dire Envy is an extremely urgent desire to have. I want my clothing to give that feeling. And I want my customers to feel amazing IN them.
What did it take to get your first products in stock?
I started out making custom one-of-a-kind garments and later added some ready-to-ship items. Custom orders proved to be time consuming and I was getting requests for things I didn't care to make. They didn't fit me or my brand. I have always been unapologetically authentic and money wasn't going to stand in my way. After all, I'm doing this for fulfillment, right?
I launched my Shopify store April 23, 2017 after spending the weekend building it. My morning days sales were $1,866 with 27 transactions.
That's incredibel! How did you get your first sale?
My first sale was actually unintentional. It was from long-time hair client that was pining over my sweatshirt during her color appointment.
What obstacles and challenges have you overcome along the way?
Prior to this sewing business I had no experience with suppliers, modeling, packaging, photography, or building a website. To avoid defeat I had to dive in and figure it out for myself. I did research and took classes, there was (and still is) a lot of trial and error.
There's no perfect business or a manual on how to run it. Obstacles will always be present, just be better prepared for the next one.
What influenced your decision to use Shopify?
I chose Shopify for the ease of use and available options. The websites are very easy to build without any prior knowledge and coding isn't necessary either! The support team is top notch and has never let me down. I've called several times and consistently receive great advice and/or tutorials to guide me through.
What was the process like to get started? Is there anything you wish you had known then that you know now?
In the beginning the risks and paperwork were a bit daunting, but I took it one day at a time. Determined to be success, I signed up for webinars, read blogs, browsed Pinterest, asked Google, and joined Facebook groups.
I have also learned things along the way from other business owners and professionals in areas such as photography, business, graphic arts, accounting, and textiles. Most of this journey was learn-as-I-go or learn from my mistakes. Of course, knowing what I know now back then would've been beyond helpful. But I have no regrets.
You mention learning from others. What resources did you use to find that information? Any suggestions for others who might also wish to learn from those who have “been there, done that”?
I've found a wealth of information in specialty Facebook Groups. Anything from photography, compliancy, brand strategy, handmade business, small business, and even Shopify groups!
All businesses are unique in how they run and what makes them do so. You have to find what works for you and your business. There will be hurdles among the way but push through to the gains.
Mingle with like-minded individuals that you can learn and grow from, but most importantly get started!
What Shopify apps do you currently use? Which apps are most important to your business?
What theme did you choose for your site and why?
I chose the POP theme because it’s simple and clean.
What strategies have you used to attract more leads and grow Dire Envy?
I try to wear Dire Envy clothing as much as possible for walking advertisement. Leaving my business cards at stores and restaurants happens often too! I have never paid for an ad, all of my traffic is organic and I pride myself on that.
Wow! That’s impressive. Any advice on how to gain traction organically? What methods have you used that have been successful?
Happy customers and word of mouth is the best advertisement. And it's free! What also works great for my brand is a business Facebook group. I post there a few times a week with updates and new items. That keeps my customers interested and involved, which increases my engagement.
What are some of the most effective ways that you interact with your customers?
Facebook and Instagram have helped exponentially with my traffic. My target market responds well to sneak peeks and progress photos.
The Dire Envy VIP Group is the first place I announce new releases, contests, new styles and coordinates, as well as behind the scenes photos. The VIP's give me great feedback on what their preferences are and what they want to see next.
I like getting on that personal level so I can keep putting out designs they'll love. I want my customers to be excited about their clothes and feel good in them. That's one of my favorite things about this business!
Are there any metric you can share in terms of order volume, monthly sales, increased revenue, growth %, etc.?
Sales: up 175% from 2017(even though I took the summer off)
Return Customer Rate: 65%
Conversion Rate: 4.15%
Items Sold YTD: 442
To what do you attribute those positive metrics?
There's always room for improvement, personally and in business; and I'll never stop doing either. Learning from my mistakes and being authentic have always kept things in perspective for me.
I make sales goals, different graphs and charts, and plan for the next seasons new styles, but I can never fully prepare for everything. Unexpected things happen all the time. Thankfully, I have a supportive fiance that continually backs me through all of my crazy ideas.
I try to get on a personal level with my customers and not be consumed with the figures. I'm doing this for fulfillment, not money. I enjoy what I do and genuinely want my customers to feel good about their body and in their clothing.
What are you working towards now?
After feeling a bit burnt out and overwhelmed with the influx of business, I decide to take it easy over the summer. I'm back to work and in the flow of things, anxiously awaiting the completion of the new Dire Envy headquarters.
I also decided to do more sewing for myself, as that's how this all began anyway! I do a lot of pattern testing for designers and I sew strike offs (samples) for fabric designers.
In addition to all that I started my own blog featuring my personal sewing, DIY, cooking, truths, and travel.
Are there any blogs or other resources that have been helpful for you?
I absorb information constantly and from everywhere. Always striving to be and do better. I make lists of questions or problems I have to be better organized and never stop researching.
Based on your own success, what advice would you share with others who might be just starting out with Shopify (or with eCommerce in general)?
You can’t succeed if you don’t try… and fail. A LOT.
Pick a niche that you are passionate about and go all in!
Don’t hesitate to seek help or advice.
Where can we learn more?
~ Suzanna Bovinet, Founder of Dire Envy