Could you tell us a bit about yourself, what you sell at Lottie & Lysh and how you got started?
Lottie & Lysh create fresh, fun and funky fashion for children and babies aged 0-6 years. All of our items are handmade to order by us in our UK-based sewing studio.
Lottie & Lysh started out as a dining table hobby when I became frustrated at the lack of funky clothes available that would not aggravate my son’s eczema. He lived in girl’s plain leggings so I set about finding some jersey fabrics featuring cool and quirky prints and made some for him myself. My next point of call was to make him a jacket that had enclosed seams - our Charlie Jackets were born!
After a request from a friend I made her little girl a bunny jacket and things really took off. I had many requests from friends for what are now affectionately known as ‘Bonnie Bunny’ Jackets and succumbed to the pressure of creating a Facebook page; mainly so I did not bore my friends with endless posts of the clothes I had made!
The page grew organically extremely quickly and I soon found myself with a workable business idea laid out before me. Six months later, I took on my first member of staff and Lottie & Lysh grew phenomenally. Fast forward almost 4 years and there are now 9 of us altogether working hard but enjoying every second of life at L&L.
What did it take to get your first products in stock? Has that changed since you started?
All items at Lottie & Lysh are made to order so we don’t hold stock per se, however we do hold an incredible amount of fabric ready to be sewn up into garments. I remember the first time I bought some fabric in ‘bulk’. It was only 10 metres per design but at the time it was terrifying and felt like a huge risk and outlay. Now we hold 1000’s of metres of fabric in stock at a time.
The worry that a fabric won’t be popular hasn’t gone away however, and I always panic that no one will buy anything. I’m constantly looking for new suppliers, and now we even have our own fabric designs printed which I’m incredibly proud of.
How did you get your first sale?
I made quite a few of my first items for friends for free - simply enjoying the sewing process and time to myself. I didn’t believe that people would want to pay for the items I made, let alone be able to make a profit on them. I remember the first time I listed an item for sale along with the price and bagged that first sale from a friend of a friend - I was so proud!
What obstacles and challenges have you overcome along the way?
Finding the work/home life balance has been tricky along the way. When I first started production was all in the spare room of my house so it was difficult to step away and switch off. Once we moved production out and into its own premises it was much easier.
It’s also been difficult to scale up the business in terms of production. Workspace is limited so we are constantly adapting the way we use the area we have to ensure we can keep up with demand. Then there is the fear of taking on staff. No sales are guaranteed so it’s terrifying to take someone on with the worry that it could all end in the back of your mind.
Then of course there is the huge learning curve that occurs when running a business. I had absolutely no idea what it entailed - I had zero business experience myself so I spent a lot of time researching advertising, website design, finances etc, trying to make well informed decisions.
What influenced your decision to use Shopify?
We initially had our website hosted with a different ecommerce platform but when sales picked up I quickly found that the systems we had in place were insufficient. I really needed to save time in certain areas and after a lot of research decided that Shopify boasted lots of features that would really help us out in that respect. I found reviews of Shopify really helpful in making the final decision to migrate over and haven't regretted the decision for a second.
What was the process like to get started? Is there anything you wish you had known then that you know now?
First of all, I wish I had opted for Shopify right from the start. By complete chance our first website found its way to the first page of Google for number of our key terms. Given that I had pretty much zero knowledge of SEO and website construction this was nothing short of a miracle.
Unfortunately I have not yet been able to replicate that success with our Shopify store but I am working on it. Now I struggle to find the time to delve into SEO optimisation so I would have loved to have started with Shopify and gotten it right from the get-go.
Understanding the intricate workings of internet advertising would also have been a killer trick to have had in the bag right at the start - but that would have made for a very boring journey.
What Shopify apps do you currently use? Which apps are most important to your business and why?
The first app we installed was ‘Order Printer’. This was one of the main reasons we migrated over to Shopify. We needed to be able to print off order sheets with integrated labels. Prior to this we had been handwriting address labels and once there were lots of orders going out daily it was so incredibly time consuming. The templates with Order Printer allow us to choose the layout that works best for us with regards to both production (as the order goes through) and dispatch.
‘Zapier’ is the next app that we couldn’t do without. Again installed to help save time, all of our orders are automatically uploaded to our accounting software which saves us hours every week. The customer service at ‘Zapier’ is also exemplary. I can’t recommend it enough.
Our most recently installed app is ‘Loyalty Points, VIP, Referral Programs by Smile.io’. This loyalty program has been incredibly popular with our customers, is super easy to install and maintain and is professionally integrated within the site.
What theme did you choose for your site and why?
We use ‘Canopy’ for our store and love it! The design looks sleek, professional and is easy to navigate. I couldn’t be happier with it. 90% of our sales come via mobile devices so it was important that our website worked well on these and I think we achieved that.
What strategies have you used to attract more leads and grow Lottie & Lysh?
The bulk of growth at L&L has happened organically. Our customers recommend us again and again, and our return customer rate is astronomical. Our Facebook Page has accumulated over 55k followers, and we now also have a very active Facebook Members Group which has developed an amazing community based around our customers' love for L&L.
The loyalty program by Smile.io has also be fantastic for encouraging growth as members can recommend their friends and receive a referral reward which translates to a discount off their next purchase.
What are some of the most effective ways that you interact with your customers?
Our Facebook page and members group are the main points of contact with our customers. As our designs can be customised to create the perfect item, we spend a lot of time interacting with customers to ensure their final item is exactly how they want it to be.
We’ve also recently embraced Instagram stories as a way of reaching out to customers and I think this is a great way of inviting customers in to get to know you and see what goes on behind the scenes. Customers can also get in touch via the ‘contact us’ section of the website or via email.
Are there any metrics you can share in terms of order volume, monthly sales, increased revenue, growth %, etc.?
Retargeting - 100% of our advertising budget goes towards reengaging website or Facebook page visitors. We’ll create an advert that offers them free delivery, or encourages them to join our Facebook Members group. This helps create that sense of engagement with the brand and in turn increases the chances that they will make that first purchase.
Abandoned Cart Recovery - Our abandoned cart email offers a little backstory about Lottie & Lysh and let’s prospective customers know that we are a small, ethical and UK based brand. Our abandoned cart recovery rate is currently at 20% so I think it is working well.
71% of our social network referrals come from Facebook so this is where we concentrate the bulk of our efforts with regards to posting new content, competitions and discounts.
To what do you attribute those positive metrics?
Again customer engagement with the brand plays a huge part in that success. Our customers genuinely feel ‘part’ of something here at L&L and are always keen to comment on a post, add new members or share their photos of their new L&L items.
What are you working towards now?
We are currently designing new ranges for Summer and Autumn ‘19, extending the premises and working towards decreasing our turnaround times.
Are there any blogs or other resources that have been helpful for you?
I’ve always been a bit of stalker of a few Facebook groups and pages in relation to advertising on Facebook, utilizing Shopify and Google Adwords. There are lots of them out there, and they are filled with some incredibly knowledgeable people. If I’ve got a question these places are my first port of call before I hit Google.
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)?
Spend some time researching SEO, advertising and the platform you choose, and then just go for it! I love learning new skills and to see them pay off is wonderful. Be prepared for some hard work along the way, but also don’t forget to celebrate the successes, however small.
Where can we learn more?
You can view our full range at www.lottieandlysh.co.uk
Visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/lottieandlysh
Join or Facebook Members Group at www.facebook.com/groups/lottieandlysh
~ Lottie Stokes, Founder of Lottie & Lysh