First, thank you so much to those of you who commented on my last post for your words of encouragement and for chiming in with what types of posts you'd like to see for the remainder of Shop Talk! I hear you and I've already got them in the works as well as a few others I think you'll find helpful!
One thing y'all said you'd like to see is more about my decision making process for this growth and transition so that's what I'm going to share with you today. First, let me say that decisions like this are going to be different for everyone and ultimately, you have to do what feels right for you and your business. Some may not agree with the path I've chosen or the decisions I've made, but that's the beauty of self-employment. I get to do what I want. ;)
Why I feel it's necessary:
Stephanie Creekmur is not the best name for a lifestyle brand. It's long, hard to remember and people never know how to spell it. This was a concern when I first decided to work under my name back in 2012, however, it was the only thing that didn't feel forced. I hadn't yet come up with a name for my business that felt authentic or that was something I felt could become a "household" name.
That being said, I have made a small name for myself and I have positioned myself as an "expert" in my field. This means that I get multiple emails each day from up and coming artists, designers, and business women. I love this part of it and I don't want to say goodbye to mentorship completely but it has no place in my online shop. I'm trying to sell koozies and t-shirts to college-aged sorority girls who may or may not want to run their own business. As I've been growing my following, I have attracted boss lady hopefuls instead of my target market.
This is something I've seen happen a lot lately within our industry. Many shop owners are now talking about how they do business, offering up branding and marketing tips. I honestly think it has to do with the quick success of the Elle and Company blog. This is an amazing resource for creative bloggers and business owners and Lauren has really blown up in the last 6 months. She shares all kinds of business and branding tips on her blog and it works for her because she is a brand designer. Sharing that type of content attracts the kinds of clients she wants to work with and in return they book her for her services. I no longer offer branding services so to post about branding and marketing on my shop blog makes things a little confusing. The types of people interested in a branding blog post are not necessarily going to be the people interested in buying one of my koozies. The two contradict each other.
- I am thinking long term. Right now, because of my move back to Ohio, I am back to being a one woman show (6 months ago I had 3 employees). Down the road I will have others working with me again and it can get a little confusing when job tasks are divided up. Social media is a great example of that. If I'm posting under "Stephanie Creekmur" it can seem a little weird or disingenuous to have a social media manager.
I also would love to bring on other artists to help create future collections and when the company is named after me, it is generally assumed that I create everything. (At this point and time I design, letter, paint, etc. everything you see in the shop so I'm just talking hypothetically in the future.) As my business continues to grow, it will become more and more difficult for me to do everything and I will need to rely on others.
I also feel that not having the lifestyle brand named after me will make it easier for future employees to take ownership in the company and what we're doing. I sometimes felt that while the people I had working with me cared about what they were doing, ultimately it was MY business and it was easy for them to disconnect. This may not be the case but I'm hoping this change will avoid that in the future. P.S. I realize none of the above applies for companies like Lilly Pulitzer and Kate Spade, but yeah, I'm not them. With a smaller company there has to be a little more transparency and I can't just say "we" when it's really just "me".
So there ya have it! Basically it boils down to the fact that I lost focus. I have a lot of interests and I wanted to do all the things. This restructure will help make it clear and concise for my audience and those interested in business tips will still be able to follow along through the "Stephanie Creekmur" side of my company. Mentorship will take a backseat to the lifestyle brand as that is where my true passion is and the part of my business I want to see continued years down the road.
How to stay focused on your business goal:
- Know your target customer. Know them inside and out - where they like to shop, how old they are, what kinds of shoes they like to wear, etc. Keep going back to this customer and ask yourself with every decision you make (product/service offered, blog posts, etc.), "will this resonate with him/her?". What do you hope your target customer does while visiting your website? Does the latest blog post or homepage banner image help them meet that goal?
- Reevaluate each quarter. It's easy to get caught up in the season or what everyone else is doing so it's a good idea to stop at the end of each quarter and take a look at what worked and what didn't. It's OK if you got off course a little, the important thing is that you get back on track. Keep going back to your ideal customer/client and ask yourself what do they need and how can you fill the void for them.
If you have any other questions about my brand restructure just leave them below! :)