Could you tell us a bit about yourself, what you sell at OUTTIRE and how you got started?
My name is Ryan and I’m from Orange County, CA. I’m out, proud and formerly the Chief Marketing Officer of Orange County LGBT Pride, a charity organization here in the OC that hosts OC’s yearly pride festival.
While working on the board of directors for almost a year, I learned a lot about the needs of the LGBTQ+ community. I noticed the only time attractive and stylish LGBT-empowering attire comes out is in June when corporations want to capitalize on the celebrations and pride festivals to enhance their own brand’s image. However, we aren’t only proud in June. We’re proud year-round and so the availability of these clothes should also be year round.
OUTTIRE sells streetwear apparel - shirts, hats, tank tops, joggers - in a fashionable, high-quality manner, to empower the LGBTQ+ community and encourage acceptance among all communities 24/7/365. A portion of our proceeds are donated to life-saving LGBTQ+ charities here in the United States. As we expand, we’ll widen our reach to support more charitable organizations.
That’s really awesome! What did it take to get your first products in stock? Has that changed since you started?
We’re a dropshipping company so it was just a matter of having our graphic artists create vibrant, creative designs and placing them on our partner’s, Bella+Canvas, products.
We’re currently still drop shipping our products however, as we grow, we’ll work with a fulfillment center to end the limitations our community experiences due to dropshipping such as no all-over prints or longer shipping times.
How did you get your first sale?
Through the monetary support of my friends after I promoted the launch of OUTTIRE on my social media channels.
What obstacles and challenges have you overcome along the way?
Our clothing is not categorized by binary gender patterns because we believe clothing should not be gendered. One of the challenges was finding gear and accessories that look good on all gender body types.
We came to the realization that any gender can wear any type of product fashionably if we use the right garments, style them in the right way and are creatively subliminal with our designs and messages.
What influenced your decision to use Shopify?
The rave about it being the #1 ecommerce platform. They also have a cute little logo.
What was the process like to get started? Is there anything you wish you had known then that you know now?
Getting started was easy because I was eager to see a change. Without a strong background in fashion or dropshipping, I came across things I wish I would’ve known earlier such as the high-cost and shipping times of dropshipping, inability to put certain designs on products and the many, extra steps that come with integrating 3rd parties into your business process.
If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t change any of the steps I took, though. Our greatest obstacle used to be procrastination due to the desire to be perfect. I’ve since learned perfection is the enemy of completion. I would’ve moved down the same route with greater speed.
What Shopify apps do you currently use? Which apps are most important to your business?
We use so many. We probably have about 15 apps, each one critical in its own way. We want our store to be as feature-rich as possible to ease the user experience, especially on mobile. The mobile experience let’s you transition pages so simply.
On any platform, international users will automatically have their currencies displayed instead of the usual USD. There’s also a chat feature available that connects you directly to the community support team where frequently, the founder helps users personally.
Our most important application is Give & Grow. It allows us to to donate a portion of sales to a charity of the user’s choosing. It’s what empowers our entire brand.
Other applications we use include:
Consistent Cart – Messenger Marketing & Abandoned Cart Recovery
Facebook Chat by Beeketing - Facebook Messenger Live Chat App
HelpCenter - Build an Attractive FAQs Page
Klaviyo - Email Marketing for Shopify
Loyalty Points, VIP, Referral Programs by Smile.io
Mobile Converter by Beeketing - Sticky Add to Cart Bar & Mobile Gallery
Privy - Free email popups with exit intent
PushOwl - Web Push Notifications
Rewind - Backups for Shopify
Size Matters - Hassle-free Size Charts
Yotpo Reviews - Product Reviews, Site Reviews, Photo Reviews
What theme did you choose for your site and why?
We’re using the ‘Minimal’ theme because it’s in line with our branding. OUTTIRE is also simplistic in its design and brand image. Our brand colors are essentially just black and white. We leave the color and creativity to our products and creators.
What strategies have you used to attract more leads and grow OUTTIRE?
We’re focusing on free and low cost methods of marketing right now such as having an engaging and complete website, optimized SEO and wide scale social interaction with users, primarily on Instagram. This helps us generate targeted customers who are very interested in LGBTQ+ fashion.
What are some of the most effective ways that you interact with your customers?
A lot of people in the OUTTIRE community reach out to us via email. A popular channel for us right now is Instagram. Social conversation and discussion flourish on our posts.
Are there any metrics you can share in terms of order volume, monthly sales, increased revenue, growth %, etc.?
At this time, we don’t have much data to show in terms of sales. We’ve sold about 25 items in the couple weeks we’ve been open however, our reporting tools don’t have enough information to develop a relevant report.
What are you working towards now?
Our next goal is to optimize our search engine results so OUTTIRE appears when users search for keywords such as “lgbt fashion” or “pride merch.” As a start up brand with very, small starting funds, we’re taking advantage of the free exposure tools offered by Google and online SEO applications. With an increase in organic traffic and sales, we can make the move towards more widespread paid advertising
Are there any blogs or other resources that have been helpful for you?
Every blog post on Shopify, including guest posts, are absolutely invaluable. Each one offers can’t-miss advice on how to optimize your store.
Despite Later being a relatively smaller agency than other SMM agencies, their blog provides Instagram tricks that are hard to find anywhere else.
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)?
Observe and mimic the most successful stores in your niche. Because we’re a fashion and accessories brand, we studied brands like Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Versace. We also studied brands who shared our young and relatable vibe, such as H&M, Forever 21 and Nike.
Maximize your free marketing tools before diving into paid advertising. Paid advertising can destroy your budget if performed without experience. It’s best to take advantage of free marketing such as Facebook groups, SEO, strong product pages and incredible copy.
Where can we learn more?
Start with our ‘Who We Are’ page to learn more about our mission and story. Then, check out our Instagram and Product Description pages to understand our dynamic tone and vibe on different platforms. We are also on Facebook for those who prefer to connect there.
~ Ryan Walker, Founder of OUTTIRE