Could you tell us a bit about yourself, what you sell at Natural Girl Wigs and how you got started?
My name is Remi Martins. Before founding Natural Girl Wigs I was the Digital Marketing Lead at a boutique digital marketing agency.
I have always been interested in building a brand that customers love. I tried to do that in 2015, but my thinking at the time was that I needed lots of upfront capital, so it didn’t quite work out. But I learned many useful lessons.
I started Natural Girl Wigs out of my own personal need for natural textured wigs. I created the very first product, an afrocentric wig, with the help of my personal hair stylist. I posted on Instagram and the feedback was amazing.
Natural Girl Wigs is about helping black women live their best lives and embracing our true texture. We provide different options from 100% virgin human hair to premium fibre hair. I believe that Black hair is political and helping black women embrace our roots is uplifting and necessary. We are happy to do the work.
What did it take to get your first products in stock? Has that changed since you started?
I tried running a beauty business in 2015 and I thought that I had to start with every product I wanted to sell. That did not work out well and I learned from that. I started Natural Girl Wigs after I created a protective style natural textured wig with my stylist last year. After sharing it on Instagram, we got lots of pre-orders. Due to the amazing feedback, I launched the business with just $1,000 to purchase raw materials and collaborated with my hairstylist to create our own unique styles.
How did you get your first sale?
I was running an Instagram page that celebrated black excellence and the authenticity of being true to your skin. The page got a lot of engagement, and I got my first purchase as soon as I posted the new wig style I had created with my hairstylist.
What obstacles and challenges have you overcome along the way?
I have had a lot of great help from people. Toughest part is getting external people (bankers, logistic partners, the media) to take you seriously. But I am thankful for the support structure around me.
When we hit a roadblock, we find a smarter way around it. For example, in order to offer free shipping, we had to build a pricing model in a spreadsheet that auto-adjusts itself. We set our gross margins, cost of goods, shipping prices, and how much the market is willing to pay and the spreadsheet helps us determine the right price to sell a product and prevents us from over-discounting.
What influenced your decision to use Shopify?
My partner and I spent about 3 months trying to pick a CMS. We initially chose Woocommerce, but the design did not come out as good as we wanted. With Shopify, we got what we wanted.
What was the process like to get started? Is there anything you wish you had known then that you know now?
It was a lot of deliberation on whether I was ready. After speaking with several people, the only thing I kept hearing was "just start!". So now, whenever I am stuck on something I just do it, then come back later to assess if I took the right steps.
What Shopify apps do you currently use? Which apps are most important to your business and why?
Bold Cashier: We have sold to 30 different countries. Shopify only lets you sell in 1 currency. With Bold cashier, we can sell in as many currencies as we need.
Instagram shop by Snapppt: Allows us to have shoppable Instagram, and it is very powerful for a free app.
Zigpoll: It has been a very useful app for collecting feedback from site visitors. It is probably the best feedback app on the app store
Judge.me: Best alternative to Yotpo at a reasonable price.
What theme did you choose for your site and why?
Prestige. It just fit what we were trying to do perfectly.
What strategies have you used to attract more leads and grow Natural Girl Wigs?
We have grown organically through Instagram and influencer marketing. We lost touch with that for a while because we wanted to grow through paid social. It did not work out and so we have returned to our organic channels and are doubling down on them.
One of the more genius things we did was to create an invite system where our current customers invite their friends and we urge those friends to invite their own friends. You get a free gift every time you invite a friend.
Any advice for other shops trying to gain traction with influencer marketing (or other organic methods)?
In your early days, you want to go through micro-influencers with lots of engagement (5K - 20K Instagram followers is a good start and inexpensive).
Stick to a few of them (3 - 5) that have great work ethic and have them create video and picture content using your products and publish on their pages over 3 months. Have them do giveaways to with your brand every month. Structure the giveaway to push traffic to your Instagram page.
You want to saturate their audience and if your product is really good, then word of mouth will kick in and you will get a lot of UGC. Keep on growing your influencer pool. And send free products to other Instagram users that have good engagement on their page (these are typically not influencers).
Create a remarketing audience of people that have engaged with your Instagram post. And look-alikes of that audience and run engagement campaigns with all the content you now have.
Scale this until you can afford big-name influencers. At the end of the day, you always want to break even on your influencer spend within 2 - 5 days of each campaign. It is hard to attribute it if there is no link or discount code, but you can match the time of posting to uptick in purchases.
Another quick win for organic SEO is to create landing pages for each product category variant you have and have an index page that contains links to the different landing pages. E.g: Clip-ins, 4b - 4c hair, and virgin human hair are 3 different categories on my website, but I can combine them to a landing page called Virgin human hair clip-ins or Virgin human hair for 4b - 4c hair. These 2 phrases have search volume in Google and I can get search traffic for those pages. (You can visit my index page, natural hair products, to see what I just explained.)
What are some of the most effective ways that you interact with your customers?
We do product calls with our customers. It does not scale, but we find the feedback to be very insightful and our customers love it.
We also invest heavily in content, so our Instagram page always looks popping and this has a way of getting us high-quality user generated content.
Lastly, we communicate all our marketing emails using plain-text emails. We tell our subscribers stories of what has been happening in our offices and give them a free gift after.
Are there any metrics you can share in terms of order volume, monthly sales, increased revenue, growth %, etc.?
We processed $250K in our first year.
To what do you attribute those positive metrics?
Deliberate focus on creating high quality content and word-of-mouth from our users.
What are you working towards now?
Creating and implementing our SEO strategy and getting featured on holiday gift guides. If anyone has ideas on which gift guides to get featured on I will be happy to hear.
Are there any blogs or other resources that have been helpful for you?
We follow a bunch of Twitter accounts that tweet obsessively about D2C businesses like @web.
The content on YC startup school to is also incredibly useful as well.
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)?
Find a niche, and take it seriously. Create content that people in that niche will love and they will open up their wallets to you.
Where can we learn more?
~ Remi Martins, CEO of Natural Girl Wigs ~