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Classic Dad: Turning Childhood Puns Into a Brand that Embraces Fatherhood

Classic Dad: Turning Childhood Puns Into a Brand that Embraces Fatherhood

When he was a kid, Daniel Stone would tell his dad, “I’m hungry” to which he got the classic response, “Hey Hungry, I’m Dad.”

Now a father himself, Daniel enjoys sharing the same dadisms with his wife and children.

He’s taking it beyond corny jokes at dinnertime. His love and appreciation for all things dad has led him to co-found a business that celebrates dad culture—Classic Dad.

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Helping the world one dad joke at a time

Daniel likes to call himself The Lawn Whisperer, a title derived from his love of lawn work. While he says he’s “ironically bad” at it, it’s still a great source of pride: “at any time my lawn is either half dead or half alive.”

Mowing the lawn, enjoying the smell of grass, and using his lawn tools are just some of the ways he lives the dad life.

Stone loves being a dad and is particularly proud of his multitasking abilities. With two kids, there’s always something that needs cleaning, and he’s happy to do it: “My children love watching me and they find me so funny.” Fully embracing his role as a dad has made fatherhood a fun and exciting part of life.

More than just laughs and smiles, dad moves are funny and relatable, something almost everyone can understand. Fixing up the house, waxing the car, and firing up the grill are a few ways dads inspire us, and Daniel wanted to share that sentiment with the world.

Building a brand

Classic Dad started as a fun social media page that shares dad memes. After gaining a loyal following on Instagram and Facebook, requests started pouring in for Classic Dad merch. Happy to oblige, Daniel’s team began hunting for merchandise partners.

Daniel found Printful in the Shopify App Store, and both services have been instrumental in helping their brand succeed. Classic Dad’s very first sale came using Shopify’s user-friendly abandoned cart feature.

For Daniel’s team, Printful’s most useful features have been 24/7 customer service and the opportunity to experiment with new products. They had considered using a local screen printer, but decided that ordering so many shirts at once would be too risky.

“Printful gave us a good ability to test designs without doing a massive, print-run commitment.”

classic dad store front

Classic Dad made the most of Printful’s product range and launched an apparel line that included short and long-sleeved t-shirts, hats, mugs, and aprons.

According to Daniel, first-time dads want trim, athletic-fitting clothes, while older dads want more comfortable t-shirts with room to stretch around in. Providing something for dads of all sizes has definitely been the right choice.

Classic Dad’s audience values quality. Customers need a shirt that can withstand dad type things like feeding a baby (and getting thrown up on by said baby), doing yard work, and grilling.

Daniel’s team was satisfied that Printful t-shirts could hold their own against mud, grease, or projectile baby food and put their efforts into promoting the store.

Growing a community

From the start, the team knew they wanted to focus on promoting curated content on social media, with emphasis on quality, not quantity.

Classic Dad embraced its fans’ user-generated content, and that played a big role in growing that community to the size it is now. Embracing dad culture proved a popular niche.

classic dad user generated content

Daniel and his team don’t want to stop at just sharing pictures on social media. They want to organize events for dads from all over the country. Daniel’s vision is to host a gigantic BBQ, where dads can share insight about everything from secret grilling techniques, awesome smoked meat recipes, to tips on mowing the lawn.

Let your dreams be memes

Memes are funny images with text that are shared on the internet and often have pop culture references. They’re completely random and ridiculous in their own way.

Meme marketing is one strategy that has definitely paid off for Classic Dad. Take this picture for example:

classic dad lawn whisperer meme

It’s a parody of the Felt cute. might delete later. meme from 2017, which has grown in internet popularity.

Why it’s all worthwhile

Although Daniel works on it a lot, Classic Dad is still a side hustle. His main job is content, web, and video development at a marketing agency. While his marketing job pays the bills, Classic Dad covers family vacations and contributes to savings.

While Classic Dad isn’t the only brand on the market selling dad merch, they do have a distinct competitive advantage.

First, Classic Dad has an original YouTube web series called Lawn Whisperers, which adds comedic spin on various lawn-related dad misadventures. Daniel and his team promote this on their social media channels as just one way of diving deeper into dad culture.

classic dad youtube

Second, Classic Dad offers a huge variety of products.

“The biggest mistake we made when first launching was actually not offering enough variety in our merchandise,” says Daniel.

Today, you can find dozens of funny, dad inspired designs on a wide range of products in many different colors and sizes.

Something for moms, too

You’d guess that the t-shirt with Thermostat Police is something Daniel would wear, but it’s actually a role exclusive to his wife: she’s the only one allowed to touch the thermostat in their house.

classic dad thermostat police

Besides Thermostat Police, Daniel says the women in his family also love wearing Lawn Whisperer when they’re out gardening in the backyard. In fact, Classic Dad is a brand that appeals to the whole family.

Grow your audience by finding a related niche.

Thanks, dad

Being a dad isn’t just about cleaning up after the kids and mowing the lawn. It’s also about embracing a lifestyle that, even if cringey at times, brings joy and laughter to children. Daniel is thrilled that Classic Dad has resonated so well with dads and moms everywhere. It just goes to show that some jokes really are timeless.

Do you have any awesome dad jokes you can tell us? Or maybe you’re a parent yourself and want to share the fun, crazy ways you’ve embraced dad culture. We’d love to hear about your dadisms in the comments!

PAL Campaign: Joe’s Part-Time Hustle Is His Full-Time Passion

PAL Campaign: Joe’s Part-Time Hustle Is His Full-Time Passion

Joe Kim’s full-time job is teaching graphic design in a Catholic private school.

His passion? Designing for and directing his clothing line, PAL Campaign.

It’s been a journey that’s bought Joe together with influencers that he always dreamed of working with, and connected him to adoring customers in every corner of the world.

Joe’s tapped into a market that was pretty much unexplored.

But how did he get to this point?

“This is going to be the beginning of something really cool!”

Joe tells us that he learned the ropes of Photoshop back in high-school. That’s when he discovered his devotion to design.

“When you can do something where you’re not even thinking about anything else, that’s how you know you’re passionate about it.” 

Joe was hooked on all things design. He dove into artistic workplaces straight out of college, finessing his skills over the years.

However, when Joe combined his talent, his passion, and his faith, he created a product with real demand. He found his business niche, or “tribe”. 

Pal-Campaign-Men

Find a problem, and solve it

Joe found his market niche by identifying a problem and fixing it.

As a member of the Church, he saw that church conference shirts were poorly designed; usually with Microsoft Word Clip-Art. In fact, the shirts reputation were so bad that he hesitated when he was asked to design one for an upcoming church conference.

Example of Church Conference Design.

If you remember “WordArt”, you’ll understand how this made Joe feel.

Joe decided it was time to add a splash of style to the stale designs already out there. Ignoring the not-so-current trends in his Church group, he took reference from modern streetwear design.

He didn’t quite expect what came after the conference; everyone loved his design and wanted to buy their own.

“Where did you get that t-shirt? How can I order one?”

Soon, other church groups were reaching out to get their own piece of Joe’s art. Word had spread. Joe then knew he’d discovered a demand in his community, not just his Church.

This demand soon spread across 41 countries. 

Instagram Post by PAL Campaign, a female model wears a white sweater.

Featured: The “Crush Crewneck“.

Discover the demand

Joe knew instantly that there was, and still is, a demand for on-trend, Christian clothing. So begins PAL Campaign; or in full, Peace and Love Campaign.

“It’s a great feeling when things click into place like that.”

As his first orders starting flooding in, Joe started printing out his own inventory for the business.  Hundreds and hundreds of t-shirts in different sizes and colors began to fill his apartment.

A showcase of PAL Campaign Designs

More Designs = Less Space

Orders picked up through hard work, word-of-mouth & Instagram marketing. Things were going great, but he didn’t have any time left to run the business. Evening runs to the post office, and screen-printing his own shirts became far too much to handle.

Not to mention, between working full time and running a clothing company, creative juices can start to run low. Not good news for a graphic designer. However, the final straw came when space became an issue; half of Joe’s apartment was now filled with t-shirts, forcing him to sleep on the sofa. 

Right there, he decided he needed to simplify the whole process. He found us, and our platform took some of the weight off of his shoulders. 

This allowed him the time and energy to focus on his passion:

The Design Process

A constant flow of inspiration permeates every day for Joe.  

Joe is lucky that his niche, Christianity, has thousands of years of writings and resources to draw inspiration from. His creativity is also fueled by the music he listens to, street-culture, urban fashion, and sites like Pinterest.

This unique coupling of ancient wisdom with modern design provides the underpinnings for the PAL campaign design philosophy and process.

Joe’s design process is a pastime that he keeps as simple and organic as possible. He takes pictures of everything that inspires him, from restaurant menus to neon street signs.

A neon sign that reads - Jesus Saves - in the night sky.

Joe keeps a google doc called “design ideas” where he jots down all his thoughts, stemming from things he sees or hears in his day-to-day life. These ideas mingle in the back of his mind until he gets his lightbulb moment.

Then he sketches the rough, but complete design idea out on paper. When it’s ready, after a few drafts, he’ll get into Photoshop to add the finishing touches. The end result is something polished to drop into our mockup generator.

Sometimes, he’ll post the final mockup to the @palcampaign Instagram to gauge the reaction of followers. He starts a conversation.

This is a great idea if your Instagram followers are your core customer base, like Joe’s. After all, his first ever sale came from Instagram, and the platform continues to be his main method of marketing.

Joe managing his instagram account

Through authentic engagement with his followers, Joe learns from his followers and they learn from him. In this sense, Joe’s design process is also an integral part of his marketing strategy.

Lesson: “Find a tribe, a loyal tribe” 

The main lesson from PAL Campaign is the importance of finding a market segment that people identify with and form around; a tribe. In the age of the internet, these passionate communities gather around pretty much every topic, no matter how niche. 

With the right products and marketing, you can tap into a profitable niche market. However, with authentic community engagement, you can form a loyal tribe around your brand who can’t wait for your next release. This is really powerful. 

A female model poses in a Pal Campaign t-shirt

But what if you introduce two “tribes”?

Joe introduced the streetwear tribe to the Christian tribe, creating a new niche segment between two groups. This segment is where the concentrated demand arises. Of course, it helps that streetwear is now the most popular design style in young people, predicted to rise to global ascension

However, that isn’t to say that you should just find a random community and call it your tribe. Joe emphasizes the importance of caring about the product you create and knowing, in depth, about what kind of people will buy it. He says if you have no soul or passion for the product, you have little chance of making it.

Tribes can sense inauthenticity.

The future of PAL Campaign

Joe’s next goal is to continue living his passion full time; to transition PAL campaign from a side-hustle to a full-time job.

Projects on the horizon include working on a kids clothing line and expanding his inventory, curating a collection of accessories such as phone cases.

One thing is for sure; Joe will always value quality design, and continue to follow his heart towards an authentic life and brand vision for himself and PAL Campaign.

Joe’s final piece of advice, though, is to just get started:

“I think too often we get stuck in analysis paralysis, and we want it to be perfect or we want to be fully ready before we start. But if that’s the case we would never really start.”  

Check out Joe’s brand on Instagram: @Palcampaign

Or, for more of the story, watch our video interview with Joe here!

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Have you found your tribe? Is your brand your passion? 

Tell us in the comments!

Building a Close-knit Community: How StomaStoma Uses Apparel to Change Lives

Building a Close-knit Community: How StomaStoma Uses Apparel to Change Lives

Nick Abrams is a freelance graphic designer with a passion for illustration. But his greatest love is his wife Darlene, and their strong 4-year-old son Owen. These three musketeers are the essence of the online store StomaStoma.

Offering t-shirts and baby one-pieces with empowering quotes and fun illustrations, StomaStoma isn’t your regular apparel store. Every design has a unique touch to it. A touch that not everyone can recognize or relate to right away.

Driven by my curiosity, I reached out to Nick, asking him to share the story behind his store and what makes his customers and products unique.

Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

A message that resonates

“Almost 6 years ago I started working as a freelance graphic designer. During that time, our son Owen came into this world. Born premature at 24 weeks, he weighed 1 pound 2 ounces and had a really long road ahead of him.”

Nick says that during long hospital stays he saw other families wearing inspiring t-shirts, and he thought it was a powerful way to bring people together. It didn’t take long before he decided to design a product with a special message himself.

“We decided to make shirts for our family and friends that said Keep Fighting. At that time it was our mantra that inspired and created a support group around us. Creating these shirts was my first introduction to Printful.”

StomaStoma-tshirt-keep-fighting

Nick with his wife Darlene

The Abrams told their family and friends about the shirts. To their surprise, a lot of people bought them.

“We also had them [family and friends] send us pictures wearing the shirts. We then put these pictures on the wall, over time making a collage in Owen’s room in the NICU.”

StomaStoma-keep-fighting-collage

Nick thinks that t-shirts are a universal thing than anyone can wear. And by adding a custom message on these shirts you can tell your story.

“It made so much sense for us.”

Choosing joy

Owen spent 5 months in the intensive care unit before he was brought home. However, not long after, he got a little cold and was sent back to the children’s hospital. At the time the Abrams didn’t know that their son’s stay at the hospital would be 784 days long.

“When you’re born as early as Owen was, your lungs develop last. So, midway through this hospital stay, he had trouble breathing. A little less than a year into our stay, the doctors recommended he gets what’s called a tracheostomy.”

A tracheostomy is a surgical procedure which consists of making an incision in the neck and opening a direct airway in the trachea. For Owen, it meant having less trouble breathing and focusing all his energy on growing strong.

Nick says that this was one of the biggest decisions their family had to make, one that would deeply impact Owen’s life:

“It was very scary and overwhelming. We didn’t know anyone else who has gone through this, so we felt overwhelmed with this decision. But after he got it [the tracheostomy], it became a little more normal to us.”

The Abrams decided that on this journey, instead of feeling sad about themselves, they’ll focus on everyday joys.

“There are a lot of people out there dealing with the same thing which can sometimes feel scary and overwhelming. So, we thought, we can use humor and joy to lighten up the mood a little and, hopefully, normalize this thing that felt super abnormal at first for us too.”

That’s how Nick and his wife decided to make a shirt for Owen and other kids with trachs:

“The initial trial run creating shirts for family and friends has helped StomaStoma become what it is now. We thought Hey, let’s come up with some other designs and see how it works. It kind of grew from there.”

Products that tell a story and connect people

Apart from being eye-catching, Nick’s designs tell a story of kids and families that are on a similar journey as the Abrams. But most importantly, StomaStoma products help make the everyday life of these families brighter by focusing on the good and positive.

StomaStoma-positive-thinking

Nick admits that creating designs for StomaStoma is a lot of work, but he has fun doing it. And when asked about where all the ideas come from, he says:

“Actually, I have a running list of ideas what to design next. Whenever something comes to mind, I write it down. Then, I filter through those ideas, make a few illustrations. The ones that stand out, I put up on the store.”

For the winter holidays, the Abrams did something different and truly special – introduced a t-shirt with 4 design variations.

“The idea for the Christmas design was to let people choose a design that they connect with the most. Not having the insider’s knowledge this might sound confusing, but there are different types of trachs. These trachs can also be in different states or have different caps. We just wanted everyone to feel included and welcome [to the community].”Stoma-Stoma-Christmas-Design

It seems that every little detail behind StomaStoma is thought-out. When asked about the origin of the store’s name, Nick responds:

“The word stoma is a medical term that means opening in the body. Our son has a stoma for a feeding tube, and a stoma for his trach tube, so – StomaStoma.”

Side-hustle on a lean budget

Working as a freelancer, Nick was able to test his skills in many different creative spaces. Before launching StomaStoma, he was improving online stores for his customers. During this time he also had a chance to explore illustration and visual storytelling, which turned out to be one of his greatest passions.

“Thanks to this experience, I was able to leverage my creative background to create the artwork and come up with the concept for the store.”

Nick says that everything that you see on StomaStoma is a result of his and his wife’s hard work.

“StomaStoma is our side hustle, so we do everything ourselves on a very lean budget. We use free apps and a website template from Shopify. Printful’s mockup generator is a real lifesaver, too – I don’t have to worry about product photography for every shirt.”

Stoma-Stoma-Store

When it comes to marketing, the store’s growth has been organic for the most part as Nick hasn’t tried paid advertising yet.

“Facebook and Instagram are our main communication channels that let us reach out and connect with people. Having an email newsletter sign up form on the store has helped to grow the store too.”

Nick uses a Shopify app called Privy to collect emails addressed for StomaStoma’s newsletter, and to send those emails he uses Mailchimp.

Another thing that Nick mentions is the importance of organic SEO. He admits that he’s very mindful about website optimization for search engines, especially writing meta descriptions and alt texts for images.

Building a close-knit community

During our conversation, I quickly learned that StomaStoma was created to build a community, and change the lives of others.

“Our goal is to show people that joy and humor can be powerful weapons in a situation that is overwhelming and when there’s a lot of unknown. That’s why we want to continue connecting with families like ours to let them know they’re not alone on this journey.”

And it seems that StomaStoma is doing a great job. Not only did families join the community of joy-spreading fighters, but also the people that help kids like Owen – doctors, nurses, and reopathorty specialists.

Nick proudly shares that StomaStoma has partnered up with children’s hospitals in Houston, Seattle, Colorado, Chicago, and Arizona to create custom t-shirts for their teams.

“They’d pick up a design they like and ask us to personalize the shirts a little – put their hospital logo or department name on the back.”

Nick believes that by wearing StomaStoma shirts, doctors and nurses get to tell a story. They also help to spread positive thinking to families they’re working with.

Nurses-wearing-StomaStoma-tees

Texas Children’s Hospital nurses wearing StomaStoma t-shirts

But selling custom apparel isn’t the only way how Nick and his wife build a close-knit community for kids with trachs or families in similar medical situations. The Abrams use social media to connect with people who are familiar with the ups and downs of this journey.

stomastoma-instagram-community

The Abrams also share useful resources and downloadable content on their website. This year, Nick created a sign for families that have a medically fragile child at home.

“We created a handy door sign asking visitors to wash their hands, take off their shoes and not come in if they are sick. We’ve found it super helpful to set proper expectations and avoid potentially awkward conversations with anyone who stops by.”

Stoma-Stoma-building-community

Last but not least, StomaStoma connects with customers by sharing their inspiring stories. Every now and then you can stumble upon empowering pictures of little fighters who’re rocking StomaStoma shirts. And the community’s reaction to these posts couldn’t be more heart-warming:

StomaStoma-little-fighter

Happy StomaStoma customer Isaac. Read his story to learn why this little fighter is special.

“Honestly, the best part of what we do is having people send us pictures of their kid wearing a shirt saying Hey, my kid is going to wear your shirt on his first day at school. He’s so proud of it. Or hearing how our customers’ kids found the animal designs with different types of trachs close to them. Those are the stories that keep us motivated, keep us wanting to create more designs, more art that serves the community.”

Helping others

StomaStoma-Darlene-and-Owen

Nick is happy to share that Owen is a happy kid who continues to grow and develop every day.

“It’s been about 14 months since he was discharged from the hospital. He’s now going to special ed pre-school while continuing physical, occupational, and speech therapy. We feel like this year will be a turning of the tides for Owen and our family — a time to catch up on things that were lost along the way.”

Coming back to StomaStoma and its success, Nick has one piece of advice he’d like can give to future and current ecommerce business owners:

“Your business has to solve the problem for the customer. If you focus on yourself, it will be a lot different than if you focus on providing something valuable for others.”

And then he adds:

“There’s something special about using your story and available tools to serve and love other people. It’s truly powerful and rewarding.”

How a Canadian Entrepreneur’s Store Went From Side Hustle to Full-Time Career

How a Canadian Entrepreneur’s Store Went From Side Hustle to Full-Time Career

Olivier Gratton-Gagné launched his online store, iLikeMaps, in 2012. At the time, his store was a hobby – he enjoyed designing his map posters and coding his website. He wasn’t expecting it to become a full-time job and besides, he already had a career in marketing.

But, as his customer base grew and new sales channels developed, Olivier decided that his hobby could become more. He made the jump to work on his online business full-time and now lives comfortably, with no regrets. His revenue is about 120K USD total from all channels he sells on. When you subtract all expenses, Olivier says it comes out to a middle-class income, based on standards of living in Montreal (where he lives).  

How did he get here? With a lot of hustle.

Olivier custom-coded his website and business infrastructure. He runs his business on Shopify and also has over 2,000 listings on Etsy. He has a network of retailers that sell his products in brick-and-mortar stores, and he regularly attends craft and trade shows to drive more sales and network. He makes the effort to look for new customers everywhere.

ilikemaps-blog-studio

A glimpse of Olivier’s workspace.

He got his first sale from Etsy in 2012, 1 year before they opened their operations to third-parties like Printful. Olivier says he wasn’t ready for his first sale: “I sort of went with my bike around town and tried to find a good place to print. I didn’t have a printer at home at the time and I just scrambled to find some shipping materials.”

When Etsy reversed their policy and allowed third-party print-on-demand drop shippers for their sellers, it was a game changer. “Printful was the first printing service that I felt comfortable working with to fulfill orders. You really fit exactly what I was looking at at the time, which was only prints.” And with print-on-demand drop shipping in his arsenal, his business continued to blossom.

So what did he do to take his business to new heights? I talked with Olivier to get his insights and advice for entrepreneurs that want to take their online store to the next level. Read on for top takeaways and actionable tips!

Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Olivier’s knowledge in SEM (search engine marketing) was critical in helping his business grow, and he spent a lot of time optimizing his Etsy listings, SEO, and sales strategy.

Want to learn more about SEO? Olivier recommends checking out the Google Ads Certification as a good introductory course.

Olivier approached his online store with a marketer’s perspective. He optimized his Etsy descriptions and images and made sure his listings were searchable and appealing for shoppers.

“My view was really to optimize the listing image. Etsy encourages you to make it quite big so people can zoom it. And that’s actually fine, but you should design it as a thumbnail first. I’ve seen that the practice has gotten quite big on YouTube as well where people are designing the thumbnails.”

He continues that it’s a good idea to research how professionals on YouTube create their thumbnails – there’s a bit of text and the image looks staged. This helps the video stand out, and creating a similar-styled thumbnail on Etsy can also help your product pop in search results. Makes sense, seeing as Etsy is largely a visual platform for creative people. If your thumbnail image isn’t attractive, you won’t get many clicks.

ilikemaps-blog-lifestyle

A lifestyle photo with Olivier’s posters.

While he doesn’t follow all ecommerce best practices, when it comes to product descriptions, Olivier recommends to “use all the 13 keywords at your disposal and, if you want, write all the details you can. That really makes it professional if you can talk about every nook and cranny of your product.”

Getting Your First Etsy Sales

Etsy has become much more competitive since Olivier first got started. Back then, it may have been possible to see some traffic by optimizing listings with keywords and quality images. But now it’s harder to get going. Olivier recommends starting slowly, first by enlisting help from your network, then gaining sales and a reputation.

“The first sale, in my opinion, you should convince someone you know to actually buy from you at full-price so it is fair, not cheating. But you should get your family and friends on board. If you can’t then it’s really hard to go to the next level and sell to people you don’t know. Building up a bit of sales history and reviews is really important. I think it’s a very bad habit for entrepreneurs, in general, to do things in secret. I think you should be open about it and spread it in your network. Those should be your good first sales but apart from that it’s just a slow grind, you have to get through it and find what works. There are no shortcuts.”

Your first sales on Etsy are going to be to your friends and family to build a reputation and sales history.

Even with the increased competition, he continues to use Etsy ads and says “They’re still good ROI but overall Etsy is getting more and more competitive so I’m really checking those and making sure that they’re profitable.”

So, think like a marketer. Optimize your products so they’re searchable and appealing to your customers. Use your personal network, and experiment with what works.

Bonus Tip: Use Free Shipping

We talk about the benefits of free shipping all the time, and we’ve run several free shipping campaigns at Printful. Olivier agrees that it works:

“I use free shipping. That’s a big differentiator I have on Etsy – all my stuff is free to ship. That’s an anxiety some buyers have, especially people out of the US where they might not be able to purchase the product or they get expensive shipping. So, in either case, I offer free shipping for everyone and that makes it pop a little.”

Sometimes all it takes is a little spark to make your products spread. For Olivier, that was being mentioned in BlogTO, a popular blog about Toronto. Not only did it make his sales grow, but it’s also what first opened his eyes to the potential of being a full-time ecommerce entrepreneur.

“I was mentioned in one of their listicles where they highlight some cool Toronto gifts. So even though I’m from Montreal, which is 6 hours away, my design was picked among a few others and I saw massive sales on that day. I was shipping quite a lot to Toronto and I also had some mention in the local media that opened the floodgate and that really changed my perception that I could really live off [my store].”

We’ve seen this in our other customer case studies. It can be a slow grind getting your first sales. Your personal network can be a big help, but it’s always helpful to get exposure from the media to take things to the next level. For Olivier, this grew his customer base to a new region and helped convince him to make his store full-time.

Olivier’s business strategy truly encompasses multi-channel selling.

While Olivier runs his online business on Etsy and Shopify, he doesn’t just sell there. When it comes to online sales, Olivier says “I get requests from all the channels you can think of – social, email. People are starting to know me and they’re asking for custom jobs. In those cases, we might do the transaction by PayPal or direct payment links.”

It’s good practice to cater to your customers in whatever channel they use. A sale can happen anywhere.

He’s also very active in promoting his products offline, mostly through a network of brick-and-mortar retailers, and by attending craft and trade shows.

ilikemaps-multichannel-selling

Olivier at a craft show. Photo © Mathieu Rivard.

Trade shows and craft shows have been immensely successful both for sales and for networking. For those of you who are interested in exhibiting at a show, Olivier recommends to just jump in and do it – it’ll probably pay off. But you should start small and dip your toes first. He continues:

“First, do it! I think people feel that maybe there isn’t much opportunity. But for me, craft shows have been very good. I’ve met a lot of people and quite a lot of retailers without actually looking for them. And it got me tons of online sales and rebounds in the years to come. It really helps you figure out how people react to your products.

“So start finding out what the community is about, and you can attend the events without exhibiting there first and check out what’s out there. Start out with small shows, and maybe $100 or $200 to exhibit there for the weekend, figure something out for the table, get some products together and go out there. It’s money well-spent, there’s a good probability you’re going to make it up and then some more.”

If you don’t want to exhibit at a show right away, try just attending first to check out the vibe and what it’s about.

Olivier met most of the retailers in his network serendipitously at craft shows. But if you want to take it to the next level, he recommends trade shows that specifically connect retailers with craftspeople.

“I did my first trade show that’s only available to professionals and sellers, that was the NSS in New York. It’s really business-like. You meet people, you talk very quickly with them and try to figure out how to make your sale and get your inventory in their shop.”

But if a show isn’t your thing, there’s always word-of-mouth and cold-calling, which Olivier also does to find new retailers. Do what you can to find retailers that are a good fit for your product!

Olivier advises to only work with retailers who like and see value in your product. If they don’t like it, they’ll be terrible sellers.

Olivier worked hard to grow his customer base, retailer network, and sales. These are the main takeaways I gathered from our conversation:

  1. Optimize your website and product listings. Think like a marketer and brush up on your SEO knowledge.
  2. Use your personal network to get your first sales. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there – be proud of your business.
  3. Get a little help from the press to grow a bigger audience.
  4. Explore multi-channel selling – online and offline. Network with retailers and attend craft shows.

Running an online store with a print-on-demand drop shipper is sometimes seen as passive income. You’re not fulfilling products on your own, so you can be more hands-off with your store. But if you want your business to succeed, there’s nothing passive about it. You have to work hard to make sales, especially if it’s your full-time job.

In an average day, Olivier spends about 50-60% of his time fulfilling his wholesale orders for brick-and-mortar retailers, answering support emails, and pushing orders through Printful and his printer networks. He also spends time riding his bike and dropping off orders to his Montreal retailers (which, he says, is a very enjoyable part of his work).

When he has the energy, he spends about 30-40% of his time on creative and business development. That’s following up on leads ahead of trade shows, creating new designs, and working on his code.

Being your own boss also comes with challenges, like “not getting distracted by side projects and finding the motivation to go back to maps and my customers. I think it has gotten more challenging over the years. The first few years it was rocket growth – I was doubling or tripling every year. But now it’s stabilizing, especially since Etsy has gotten more competitive, so finding the motivation when sales aren’t growing as fast is getting tougher.”

Ultimately, it’s knowing that his customers are happy with their products that gives him the drive: “Getting rave reviews, like when people are really, really excited about the products, I think deep down is what makes it worthwhile and still gives me goosebumps. But I think this is really on an emotional level what really drives me.”

Growing your store to the point where you can go full-time is hard work. And so is maintaining momentum when you get there. We ended our conversation with practical advice from Olivier for anyone who wants to make their online store a full-time job:

“Get your accounting right from the get-go. If you don’t know anything about accounting, learn it. And make sure you have proper processes in place to know actually how much you’re making. I think getting good business fundamentals is key, like accounting and legal framework. You might not need those to start selling on Etsy or using Printful, but if you want to get full-time, you have to acknowledge the fact that you’re going pro. And if you’re going pro, you have to get very serious about those things – it’s a commitment you’re making to yourself.”

Remember that if you want to make your online store a full-time career, you’re making a commitment to yourself. Get in the mindset of a pro and get ready to work hard!

Got any questions about growing your business? Share in the comments!

Expanding Business with an Apparel Line – The Story of Kettlebell Kings [Video]

Expanding Business with an Apparel Line – The Story of Kettlebell Kings [Video]

It might not seem like it, but selling clothing, accessories, or home decor isn’t always the main goal for Printful’s customers. Sometimes an apparel line is just a happy, unexpected byproduct of a completely different venture. To show this side of our customer success stories, we sat down with Chad Price of Kettlebell Kings.

Kettlebell Kings started out as a way for Chad and his two college buddies to continue their long-lasting friendship. So they created Kettlebell Kings – a fitness company that sells kettlebells and helps people incorporate them in workouts.

The concept proved to be very popular, and five years later Kettlebell Kings has grown into a tight-knit community of like-minded people.

Source: Kettlebell Kings Instagram

As the community expanded, the owners of Kettlebell Kings were inspired to give their customers an opportunity to buy custom-made merch and show off their Kettlebell Kings pride. But Chad and his friends quickly realized that buying stock, printing apparel products, and shipping them to customers on their own would shift their focus away from selling kettlebells.

That’s when they decided to go the print-on-demand dropshipping route, and found Printful to be the best fit for their needs.

Watch the video below to hear Chad’s story about how Kettlebell Kings managed to keep kettlebells at the center of their attention, while creating a popular clothing line.

One of the main takeaways from Kettlebell Kings’ experience is that customer loyalty and sense of belonging can become an essential part of a successful business. Building a meaningful community takes time and drive, but in the long run, it can benefit your business enormously.

According to smile.io, customers are looking for brands that speak to them on an emotional level – customers are interested not only in the products themselves, but also in the message the brand sends. When a brand inspires a community of loyal followers who contribute to the brand’s image, it opens up previously unseen business possibilities.

And here comes lesson #2 – when the opportunity arises and you actually have to expand the business, it’s important to know your limits and remember your core values. Kettlebell Kings quickly realized that they wouldn’t be able to handle an apparel line in a way that would fit their high standards, so they turned to a reliable production partner. Now they can still dedicate their time to maintaining their kettlebell-centered community, while also offering a wide choice of merch.

Source: Kettlebell Kings Instagram

If you’re new in the business world and are still trying to find your customer base, you might think that at this point merch isn’t for you. But don’t forget that even one customer with a branded t-shirt can start a conversation that leads to more people finding out about you. That is, if your brand represents something customers are eager to talk about.

And this circles back to building a community around your brand. Define what your business is, and what message you want to send to your customers. And by focusing on what’s important to you and your brand, you just might open up a whole new world of business possibilities.

Want to share the story of your brand? Let us know in the comments!