In this interview series, we are talking to founders, CEOs, and ecommerce business leaders about using social media to grow your ecommerce business. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Monica Warren.
Monica Warren is a jewelry designer and founder of Pretty Perfect Style, a unique and handmade statement jewelry brand. Monica started making jewelry in 2008 after taking a free class in her hometown of Columbus, Ohio. After one class, she knew making jewelry was her new creative passion and started a jewelry brand in 2009.
After many years of on-and-off wins and losses, she paused in 2017 and decided to rebrand in August 2020. She took all the trial and error and mistakes from her first business and launched Pretty Perfect Style in the midst of the pandemic to much success.
She attributes her initial success after relaunch to her constant presence on Instagram and continues to grow on and off social media.
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was always creative since a child, but I never really knew what path my creativity would take me on. I knew fashion was a passion of mine, and after getting my first desk job out of college, I knew I needed a creative outlet of some sort.
I found a jewelry-making class in 2008 and took that for six weeks, and fell in love. After that, I was self-taught and learned a lot through trial and error. I have now been making jewelry for 13 years and have started two jewelry brands. I love my business and am so glad I stumbled upon this path.
Can you share the most exciting story that has happened to you since you began at your company?
The most exciting thing since starting my company is being out in public and recognizing my jewelry being worn by people I don’t know. I love that feeling! It’s really exhilarating, and it gives a joy to keep creating.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I think the funniest mistake I made when I first started was not ordering packaging materials (boxes, bags, etc.) I was so concentrated on making jewelry and getting my website together that I forgot to think, "OK, what happens when people buy it, it has to go in something." I had orders and no boxes, which was interesting.
This taught me that even if you are making your product, you have to step outside of the designer role and think as a business. What else is needed after creating your product? There are so many checklists I have (some mental, some written) that help me step out of design mode and think about my business from a larger standpoint.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I’m working on a lot in 2023. Starting up a wholesale line, starting to accept custom orders, and also I will start a monthly subscription box soon as well. I think this will help people to be aware that just because you sell products, there are many ways to bring in income other than just selling your products the same way. Once you tap into multiple ways to use your products or skills to earn additional money, the road to success seems much more attainable.
What are three traits about yourself that helped fuel your success?
Running a business takes consistency, which takes discipline. There are plenty of days that I would like to relax and do nothing business related, but I’m grateful I have the discipline to do all of the things needed even when I don’t feel like it.
My business has a great presence on Instagram, and that requires lots of posting. There are days when I want to take a few days off, but it’s usually the days that I stick with it and show up that tend to lead to the next sale or help connect with a new potential customer.
2. Extreme positivity and faith
Starting a business from the ground up is challenging and can be stressful and frustrating. There will be days when it seems like nothing Is working and all your hard work is not paying off, and those are the days that you have to keep going, despite what it looks like.
You have to have faith that the work and effort you are putting in today will pay off in the future. There are plenty of times on stressful days when I have to tell myself out loud: “This will work out, just keep going.”
3. Confidence in my talent
I believe that it requires confidence to step out into the world and tell them you have a business and you’re good at something. So good, you decided to sell it for money.
There are days when you may drift into comparing yourself to other brands and looking at how much better their social media posts are or how much more money they are making than you. Those are the days when you have to remind yourself that you are talented and you deserve every piece of success because you are good at what you do and you are using your talents to help and bless others with your products or services.
What was your original vision for your ecommerce business? What pain point(s) were you trying to solve for your customers?
My original vision for my ecommerce business was to have an online destination where women could shop for jewelry that they weren’t seeing in department stores and with other mass-produced brands.
I make a lot of one-of-a-kind jewelry because, as a lover of fashion and jewelry myself, I know how it feels to have something that you know no one else will ever have. It’s a feeling of exclusivity, a feeling of pride, and a feeling that you are special enough for beautiful handmade pieces that are made just for you.
How did social media help you grow your business? What were your strategic objectives, and how did you implement your social media plan?
Social media helped my business in so many ways. It helped to establish me as a new brand because the jewelry brand is very saturated, and it’s hard for new customers to trust a brand they’ve never heard of. Social media was like my visual resume. It showed customers that I am established, I do great work, and that other people like my brand and jewelry. It really took away a lot of the questions someone might have when they stumble on an unknown brand.
Instagram helped me establish my place with already established jewelry designers in the industry and with new customers. I started on Instagram with 0 followers in 2020 & now I am at 15,000. I started by committing to posting high-quality pictures and videos every day for the first 90 days.
That first 90 days were crucial. It allowed me to “get my foot in the door” and establish a brand look for my page, it got other jewelry designers familiar with me, and it also created a discipline in me that still carries on today.
My objective was to just show the world that I did good work and drive people to my website, and I was able to do both through my consistency on Instagram.
Which social media platforms have you found most beneficial for ecommerce specifically?
I love Instagram and have seen the most success on it with my business. I have not dived into TikTok fully, but I know it is great for certain ecommerce businesses.
What social commerce trends are you most closely paying attention to, and how are you preparing to leverage them for growth?
One new trend I’m paying attention to on social is the power of storytelling. I have seen ecommerce brands blow up overnight with video storytelling. This is one trend I would like to dive into more in 2023 because people love to see a transformation and hear a story on social media.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen when companies try to use social media to promote ecommerce? What can be done to avoid those mistakes?
Common mistakes I have seen: Not starting a separate page for your businesses. This is a big one.
A lot of people want to turn their personal page into a business page or mix the two, but that is a big no. Customers that follow you for your product don’t want to be bombarded with your personal pictures and videos randomly. It gives the customer a reason not to trust you as a brand and also makes you seem unprofessional as a business owner.
Starting a new page and keeping your business page focused on business is always the best idea.
Based on your experience and success, what are your top five ways to use social media to grow your ecommerce business?
1. Make sure you are consistently posting
I would recommend it at least 4-5 times per week. It sounds like a lot, but if you batch all your content in one day, it will be easier to post as each day comes around.
There are so many other brands and pages that people follow, if you are not posting consistently, your posts will get lost in the sea of social media. You can even schedule posts if that’s your preference.
2. Post high-quality images and videos
People do not pay attention to dimly lit pictures or ill-positioned products in your posts that look unprofessional. This does not mean you have to hire a photographer or buy fancy equipment.
Most recent cell phones have more than enough features to give you a professional-looking image or video. Use free editing apps on your phone, use natural sunlight whenever possible, and read a book or watch videos on how to improve your images.
3. Be social on social media
Learn who the established players are in your industry and show them some love. Most of the businesses in your industry have real people behind the brand, and showing their products and page some love will go a long way.
It’s a great way to make connections, and the algorithm loves when you interact with other pages in your niche. Once you can establish good relationships with other businesses similar to yours, it’s easier to trade tips and tricks and lean on each other for advice.
I have great relationships with other jewelry designers on Instagram, and we really are a tight-knit community that supports each other daily.
4. Make sure you ask for the sale (but don't be sales-y in every post)
Although you are a business, people want to see posts that have relatable captions and get a feel for your personality as a human and the voice of the brand as well. Asking poll questions and letting customers in behind the scenes is a good way to do this.
5. Make sure you have a funnel or pop-up on your website
Build your email list. This was one of the early mistakes that I wish I would’ve learned earlier.
Social media cannot always be dependable, so it’s important that you get as many potential customers’ email addresses as possible. This is huge! Once you get the emails, start sending out a weekly newsletter to get them familiar with you and your products.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
My movement would be to encourage and have free programs for creative children to find their gifts and give them a place to feel encouraged and recognize their talent.
My parents were extremely encouraging since I was a child, even though they had no idea what my creativity would turn into. I am grateful for that, but I realize a lot of people don’t have that at home.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
My website to shop for my jewelry is PrettyPerfectStyle.com, and my Instagram is instagram.com/prettyperfectstyle_.
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