How the founder of WP Standard turned a handmade guitar strap into a 7 figure ecommerce business

Could you tell us a bit about yourself, what you sell at WP Standard and how you got started?

I’m the founder of WP Standard where we primarily sell leather bags and accessories. I started the company making a leather guitar strap for my guitar and slowly expanded into other areas making general accessories.

What did it take to get your first products in stock? Has that changed since you started?

I started trying to make things at home and quickly realized that wouldn’t scale. We now do manufacturing in a few places in North America.

Can you share a little bit about the process of sourcing manufacturers? Any advice for others looking to scale like that?

There are a lot more resources out there now. Maker’s Row and Utelier are good places to start.

How did you get your first sale?

I advertised on a guitar forum. I think it cost $20 to post in a sponsored thread.

What obstacles and challenges have you overcome along the way?

A lack of funding, experience, knowledge of finance, and basically the most routine business processes. I studied education in college so the business world was totally new to me. I was certainly naive, but I think that element brings a certain optimism to the endeavor.

If you knew how hard it would be you probably wouldn’t start.

What influenced your decision to use Shopify?

They were up and coming at the time and were super easy to use with my limited knowledge and finances.

What was the process like to get started? Is there anything you wish you had known then that you know now?

It was difficult. You’re navigating so many new things and funding it all yourself. I definitely had a lot of self-doubt along the way.

If I could do anything different, I’d probably learn more about finance and cash flow up front. I had no clue going in and it’s so crucial to the business.

What Shopify apps do you currently use? Which apps are most important to your business and why?

I use a lot. Help Scout is great for managing customer service. Klaviyo email integration is excellent for email and customer data/segmentation. Shoelace is a good app that makes retargeting easy.

What theme did you choose for your site and why?

I was approached years ago by outofthesandbox.com and they made a theme for me to enter into a shopify contest. Crazily enough it won. I believe some of my old images are still there.

What strategies have you used to attract more leads and grow WP Standard?

PR mostly. Outreach to blogs and publications have been a real boon.

Interesting. What approaches have you used to get bloggers interested in featuring WP Standard products? Any advice?

Try to make their job easy. If you can come up with an angle that would be interesting for their audience, then you’re practically doing their job for them. They need interesting content so make it something relevant and worthwhile.

What are some of the most effective ways that you interact with your customers?

Ask them questions via email. You’d be surprised how willing to participate they are.

What types of questions do you ask and how? Do you use surveys?

I ask them what they’d like to see next and opinions on upcoming designs.

You’ve been very successful with social media - you’ve got a solid following and they seem to be very engaged. What’s your secret?

I don't have any great advice. I'm trying to learn myself! I'd say engage your fans and show them behind the scenes and works in progress.

Being human helps to make a connection.

Are there any metrics you can share in terms of order volume, monthly sales, increased revenue, growth %, etc.?

Well the first year of business I did a few thousand in sales and now we’re in low 7 figures.

To what do you attribute those positive metrics?

Trying to serve the customer as best we can (and a little bit of luck).

What are you working towards now?

Right now we’re focusing on trying to expand the line and scaling through paid acquisition.

Are there any blogs or other resources that have been helpful for you?

I really like Nerd Marketing. It’s got some great ecommerce-related content.

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)?

It can all seem so overwhelming. Just try and make a great product and take one day at a time. You don’t have to become an SEO, Facebook, and email marketing genius overnight.

Start slow and make progress over time.

Where can we learn more?

Our website is www.wpstandard.com. We’re also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

~ Ryan Barr, Founder of WP Standard



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