Sure! My birth name is Carrie Shuler, but everyone I know just calls me Lulu. For the first 18 years of my life I played tennis in 120 degree heat in Arizona all year round. Contrary to social health campaigns, that’s probably where I lost most of my brain cells. I got a scholarship to play for a school in Hawaii. By my second year we were second place in the nation for D2 tennis.FAIRYSTRING - The Original USB String Light
Throughout academia, I realized I wanted to be more than just buff and exhausted all the time, so I completed several internships in New York City, most notably with a TV Host named Michelle Won Park. I also worked for global media companies and completed a Master of Art in Communication.
After my education I took a super fun, super stressful, super dramatic job with CBS Corporation on the show Hawaii Five-O in the costumes department. This was the first “job” where I felt I could express my creative intuition.
But just like in every powerful, seemingly creative corporate setting there is an equally just as powerful set of rules that you absolutely have to abide by and not following said rules makes you sweat in your sleep. I have an eye for style and despite union regulations, I started picking out clothes and giving useful advice on how to dress characters because I was good at. My boss noticed and she let me style “under the table,” so to speak.
Unfortunately, someone told the labor union I was doing more than just “grabbing coffee and lunch”, and they basically had union eyes watching my every move from then on. Despite what I’ve been told my whole life about morality, this job made me realize that those who break the rules aren’t willing to wait for their dreams on a silver platter. They’re either going to steal it or make it themselves. It’s typically the latter that lead the most interesting lives.
Fairystring was basically started out of a need. First I needed a new dresser and a new set of string lights. Both were trash thanks to a set of leaky string light batteries. Then it occurred to me that it was incredibly archaic to need AA batteries for anything anymore. So I did a bit of research and realized the majority of string lights available were crap, old fashioned and only had a two wire composition, which is almost guaranteed to break the second time you use it.
I contacted a string light manufacturer in China and after a bit of negotiating Fairystring was being built as the first ever USB connected, triple wire, mini IC LED string light on the market.
I had to sell my kidney on the black market.
Not really, but it probably should have been easier.
As I type this, the first order of Fairystring is in a large box being shipped to my home in Berlin.
Getting to this point took a LOAD of re-learning how to communicate; making sure that no directions were left up to interpretation. Even when you are super diligent it almost always turns out wrong the first 7 or 8 times. I use an obscene amount of emojis and arrows during this process. But I have to admit working with our manufacturer has been a great experience and their end has shown nothing but diligence and responsiveness.
It has taken 4 months to get Fairystring to ship since our Kickstarter project.
First sale was through Kickstarter!
With Fairystring being my first entrepreneurial project, almost every step from the Kickstarter project to shipping has been an obstacle or challenge. When I launched my project on Kickstarter, Fairystring was the first string light with USB compatibility and a three wire assembly available on the market. Luckily, one of these facts is still true :) Want to know why? Because companies like Amazon and Walmart are selling two wire battery powered string lights for $5-9 a pop and are only focused on price and profit as their bottom line. A $9 string light looks much better to your wallet than one that’s $15.
But what consumers don’t understand is that a Walmart string light is actually a two-time purchase. First, one of the two wires breaks after you fling them about a bit, and then you have to go back and purchase them again. Meanwhile, they’ve made a nice profit and you still have crappy lights. A big challenge is connecting with potential Fairystringers who favor quality and utility over a perceived buck or two saved.
At the threshold of every race there is always anxiety, excitement, pressure and fear. The gun goes off and at some point you hit a wall and wonder why you’ve put yourself through all this torture to arrive in a moment feeling like you just might barf and you might even lose. OMG, I could totally be a loser! That moment sucks and it’s usually when most people in sports, school and business walk away.
I had tons of moments like that during the first 6-7 months of starting Fairystring. I would be super excited one week and stay up past midnight just working on the website or Kickstarter project, and then there would be 2-3 weeks that would go by where I wouldn’t make any progress.
Now, I’ve made it through the clearing and it’s as though I’m in the middle of the race, completely committed and charging full speed ahead.
In an epic battle between Shopify and Squarespace, Shopify came out as the heavyweight champ because it’s designed to function like a brick and mortar store for an e-commerce site. I love that Shopify has thought of every little detail that you could possibly want to add or try integrating with your store. It’s like having a second person on my team! ;)
Mailchimp - Integrated with Shopify is a brilliant tool for outreach because new customers are instantly synced with your lists, you never have to worry about importing or exporting email addresses.
Privy - A web page pop up that appears on Fairystring.com and captures emails. Since we’ve been getting quite a bit of traffic I was interested in seeing if trading a discount code for an email would end up in increased conversion and online revenue.
Crowdfire - Allows for scheduling out posts across multiple social media platforms. Very useful if you have one content piece that you want to spread throughout your gamut of profiles with just the click of a button.
Product Reviews - Users of Fairystring can leave a product review on the site without having to jump through hoops.
Instagram and Pinterest are web traffic GODS. In fact, Instagram drives a little more than half of all our traffic to the site. The trick to Instagram is having a succinct look, feel, and message that users can automatically associate with brand value. Then, you use software to schedule out your content, posting at least once a day. So you seem to be omnipresent and always engaged.
It’s important for a brand’s Instagram profile to immediately establish a comprehensive image map that re-enforces the feel-good vibe and drives users to the site, hopefully leading to a purchase.
I say map because users will know within 3 seconds whether or not they identify with your social account and subsequently disassociate with your brand. Convincing them that they like what you’re selling takes a bit more time and effort. If they are interested or still aren’t sure, they will scroll through pictures to accumulate more information. The key is to make sure the subsequent information they receive re-enforces your brand value and stays within the same conceptual parameters that they were attracted to in the first place.
The most effective way I’ve been interacting with my customers is through Mailchimp and sending out constant communications about order updates. Also, my customers all have my personal email. Being a one woman team, transparency is unavoidable but also necessary. I want all of my supporters to know that there is one devoted woman available at all times for questions, concerns, and updates. Not just a random set of fingers typing at the other end of a computer screen.
Until my first order is completely shipped all I can say is that everything is going well and we have big plans for the future.
My family, they rock.
Currently I’m living in Berlin and pursuing my dream of making Fairystring the big dawg of string lights and LED home products.
I am also working towards making Fairystring a social media dominator and developing beautiful and innovative products for the modern millennial consumer.
The blog that has been most helpful to me when setting up Fairystring.com and looking for information on how to turn site visitors into converters was the Shopify blog….ever heard of it? ;) I also turn to Product Hunt when in search of relevant, new and innovative tools.
“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists... it is real…it is possible... it's yours.” ~ Ayn Rand
Beautiful, usb-powered LED string lights.