Susie Shaughnessy is the Owner and Designer of Crawford Denim and Vintage. Her focus after years of designing for iconic, American denim companies that were manufacturing overseas, was to return to USA made manufacturing. She learned the trade from local artisans and felt that there was a bigger need for the country to be self-sustaining.
Marketing Strategies Revealed in this Episode:
- How to use Instagram to tell your brand’s story
- How to create content with partners
- How to cross-promote products with partners
- How to engage followers in social media
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Welcome to the eCommerce Marketing Podcast. Today’s guest is Susie Shaughnessy from Crawford Denim & Vintage Company. Welcome to the podcast Susie.
Susie: Thank you for having me Robert.
Robert: And your website, people can reach your website it’s www.crawford-denim.com. Right?
Robert: Okay if you can just give us a quick background about yourself, how you got the company started and then we can get into the marketing strategies.
Susie:: So, I’m the owner and designer of Crawford Denim & Vintage. I started with Americana denim brands for most of my career. And what I wanted to do with Crawford was go back to American production. I have learnt while I was at Levi’s how to produce denim in small batches and in large batches. And the artistry was really being lost when we started making products overseas. So, with the small batch brand, we make everything in California using U.S. made deadstock fabrics. The deadstock fabrics are used so that they don’t go into landfill. I wanted to offer vintage alongside of it because no one really wears head to toe one brand and the vintage pieces really inspired what the Americana designs were.
Robert: Okay and that’s really great and impressive because you doing a few things. You bringing back manufacturing to the U.S. and at the same time like you say the artistry was being lost when the jobs were being shipped overseas and its really impressive what you doing. So, that was your main inspiration just to bring the manufacturing back or did you also think, “Okay I’m tired of working for these big companies. Let me just do this myself.”
Susie: Well a little bit of both. One thing that I had really tried to achieve with some of the larger companies was do a portion of local manufacturing. I really felt it was important to give back to the communities. And they were doing that in a global scheme but they weren’t doing it locally. And we have so many employees here in California that are willing to work. Who wanna work and who have all this expertise in manufacturing and it was really going to waste. And so, I really wanted to go back to that and work with the craftsmen who really can make products beautifully here in the U.S.
Robert: Yeah that’s amazing. Congratulations on doing that. Now if you can just walk us through how you’re building this great company. What are some of the top marketing strategies that you’re using to grow your business?
Susie: I really use Instagram and Tumblr. And then create Look books for contents that I post online on our website. And to build brand recognition but also show the story behind our lifestyle. We’re a California brand and we really want to appeal to people stylistically but also on a brand’s level where they feel really great about the clothes that they’re wearing.
Robert: And can you just let’s delve into it. How are you using the Instagram and Tumblr? Like what are you looking for and how you really using it to sell? I’m asking that because a lot of the listeners might have a similar business to yourself or might want to grow their business from Instagram and Tumblr. So, it would be a really great help if you can just go into the details and break it down for us as far as what are your goals and how you achieve them?
Susie: Sure, I work with several different photography teams and one in particular is Big Bear Photo Company. It’s a husband and wife team that do a lot of the shoots and we work in combination to show our combined lifestyle. So, they travel quite a bit and they’re able to wear all of the clothes while they travel and shoot some really incredible images for me that really tell the story of American made brand clothing. And then also we use that to be able to promote it elsewhere. They have a really big reach on their Instagram account. And then other companies that I work with for photographs, we really do try to story tell along the way. With Tumblr, it’s a little different because I’m posting not only my photos but also using other images that really support the design and inspiration of the brand. It has a further reach just because I’m able to show kind of what the thought process is between designs that I’m in spired by and what I’m working on next.
Robert: Okay and what type of reach are you getting with Instagram and Tumblr? What type of traffic?
Susie: I get a lot of traffic posting pictures of new styles that have just been released. What’s new in small shops that are carrying the line. A lot of people will basically shop the Instagram feed especially with the vintage pieces. I think it really helps to be able to show it on people and then other people are really interested in kind of what happens behind the scenes. Like where the inspiration is coming from and so I am always surprised that people like pictures of my dirty studio and messy studio more than they like some incredible photos that Big Bear Photo Company and I have taken. Another company that I work with a lot is Seaweed and Gravel out of San Diego. And we have worked together for over twenty years and we like to show a lot of the lifestyle and I’m gonna bring that up a lot because it’s how we tell the story of our California life. And it’s a combination of new and vintage and I think people really subscribe to brands that show what they’re really doing behind the scenes. In addition to where they’re going, how they’re wearing products, who else they’re combining it with. We [inaudible 07:04] a lot of other brands when we’re showcasing our product and its more to show the talents and more of the talents and showcase other people’s work in addition to our own.
Robert: Okay and you’ve mentioned Instagram and Tumblr, it seems like another platform that could be beneficial to your business is Pinterest. Do you guys use Pinterest? What kind of results have you gotten from that?
Susie: I do. I use Pinterest from a previous business that I had started that was jewelry and cards. And I had quite a big following on Pinterest on my previous brand and so I’ve been leveraging that to showcase not only my brand but other people that I follow. And those pins go directly back to my website. So, it’s a little bit of a sneaky way of getting people to follow my other brand. The Crawford brand but it also has helped because I was able to have friends that follow me that way. Learn about my business as I was transitioning from one jewelry company to an apparel company.
Robert: Right before we move on to the next question is there something that you think is important as far as Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest that I might have left out or a question I didn’t ask?
Susie: I think the Look books online have really helped to. It really shows more of the image and people are very visual with Instagram and with Tumblr. They want to hear a story in like in just a image. And somethings that really compelling that pulls them in to not only your brand but what you stand for and what your [inaudible 08:43] is.
Robert: Okay I’m not like a fashion guy so can you explain to me what a Look book is?
Susie: A Look book is basically one photo essay.
Susie: Of all of the product images from one season or from one area. We’re about to showcase our friends trip to Iceland where they were wearing the new Fall line.
Robert: Oh, okay. And that’s like a Winter Collection?
Susie: It is.
Robert: Okay. And what about video? Have you guys used YouTube for like your Look books and just for the lifestyle? Trying to showcase the lifestyle.
Susie:: We have. Seaweed and Gravel is currently on a trip, a cross country and they’re taking video. The bike builder for Seaweed and Gravel, his name is Brady Young. He’s wearing all Crawford while he’s on the trip and they’ve been doing a photoshoot and video essay that will be posting online as soon as they return.
Robert: Okay. I really like the name Crawford. How you can just, how you used it in the previous sentence. You know he’s wearing all Crawford so it really definitely goes with your brand and just selling you know functioning clothing. With all these marketing channels that you’re using to generate traffic and to showcase your lifestyle brand, what type of results are you getting and how are you planning to improve the results from all these different channels?
Susie: I’ve been trying to get out in public more and be able to do more pop up shops and vintage like vintage shows like the Rose Bowl in Pasadena where people can really try on products. I think that’s the biggest struggle that I’ve had is that I’m in a few small boutiques across the country and a couple internationally but people really want to be able to try on the clothes. And so, getting in front of people really helps. I was just in San Francisco with American Fields and that drew in so many customers and new clients to be able to actually try it on and take a post card. Be able to reference it later. That’s really what I’ve been focusing on mostly. There’s a trade show that I do in February called Desert in Denim. That’s a vendor based trade show. They wanted to do an alternative where it really helps showcase small brands and makers that all have a very similar point of view. And so, that small businesses can come and be in a relaxed environment that really supports their businesses as well.
Robert: Okay so when you’re generating buzz for the pop up events and for the different trade shows or even when you do send people to your website and in Instagram or Tumblr how are you measuring your conversion and what do you do for conversion optimization? How can you get more people to get hooked to your brand and buy? You know the bottom line is them buying Crawford so what are you doing to increase or improve your conversion?
Susie: Actually, I heard a couple of great suggestions from some of your previous podcasts and one that I really started to work on right away was when someone tries something on or has it in their cart and they leave in the cart but abandon it, what I liked from one of your previous guests was do a follow up email with an incentive for them to actually purchase. So, I’m gonna be offering free shipping for anybody who actually wants to try it.
Susie:: I also offer free return shipping on anything that doesn’t fit someone. So, there’s really less worry about buying something from a small brand and not having to pay for that return shipping if it doesn’t, if it’s not the right fit or you have to exchange it.
Robert: Okay and actually that’s great because I had that question like you said you want to go to these pop up events and trade shows so that people can actually try Crawford and you know see themselves, see how it feels but if you’re doing it online some people might have a hesitation because they might think, “Okay if I try it you know when you send it, will I be able to send it back?” But you offering the free shipping that’s definitely something that can make them, “Oh hey let me try Crawford.” So yeah that’s definitely a great suggestion.
Susie: It’s been very helpful for people to really make that purchase and convert into a sale.
Robert: Okay and are there any other things that you look at for your conversions?
Susie: Currently I’ve been tempted to start on Facebook because they now have a ‘Buy’ button. I haven’t been on Facebook because I didn’t think that it was appealing to the demographic that I was going after. And but now that they’ve kind of expanded where you can buy directly from a store based on their Facebook, it’s something that I’m looking into potentially expanding to cos
I think that’s also another resource that could really help people convert.
Robert: Okay and I mean just from talking to you, you know we’ve only been talking for like 14 minutes but so far the picture I’m getting is you’re really really busy. I mean you have to the design. You have to establish partnerships and work with other brands. You still have to do marketing so I mean what’s the secret? Do you have like little elves doing all of this? Are you?
Susie: I do run the business by myself. I also oversee all of the production because we make it in Orange County. It’s about an hour’s drive from where I am but I’m working with a really small company that I really trust and have had a lot of experience over the last couple of years with who’s a great mom and pop shop. I do have lots of friends and family who pitch in and help plus some of the other small businesses that I share a contractor with, they also pitch in when any of us are busy. We’re all very supportive of each other and most of us small makers are just one or two people running a business. So, whenever anybody gets a big order we all just like stop what we’re doing and help each other to hang tag and steam and ship it out as necessary. And that’s been really something I’m surprised about. Of how many people were willing to help.
Robert: Okay I mean that’s amazing that you able to. I mean first of all you working with other makers so just by doing that all of you are leveraging your resources and assets trying to help each other grow and also I actually feel bad. I forgot to ask this question since with your brand, is it for like who’s your target audience? Males, females, kids I mean who are you selling this to?
Susie: I’m selling it mostly to men and women.
Susie: And its really split right now. Most of the new pieces are going to men and most of the vintage pieces, women are really buying. What they finding is because the vintage pieces are so unique and something that nobody else can really find for them. They really want to snap that up as soon as I post it on Instagram or on Tumblr. What that led me to do was change the focus of the women’s line and really make smaller batches of products based on seventies style. Which was definitely much my more of the look and feel that I want it to be.
Robert: Okay yeah I just thought I might as well ask that question because you know we’re selling your brand here. You know again I’m not a fashion person so I just wanted to make sure that we get it to the audience. So, if they looking at it and if they want to buy they just know who the target audience is. We’ve …
Susie: A lot of our products is really based on Americana styles so if they’re very easy to understand and digest. It’s nothing like earth shattering crazy. And what I wanted it to feel like where your favorite pair of jeans that you’ve had forever and used a lot of fits based on the 1970s and including some of the 501 fits of how they used to be shaped for your body but translated it for today’s physique.
Robert: Okay. Okay and have you had with everything you doing as a business owner and you know it’s good you have a team but still in business and running an eCommerce store selling it can be a struggle so what have been some of your struggles this past year and how have you overcome them?
Susie: Part of it is financing. I am fully self-funded and so any time I make a sale it goes directly back into what the next round of product or the next batch of product. Making those sales is really crucial to me. To be able to support my business. In or to be able to keep afloat financially I’ve been working with other small brands to help them set up U.S. production and worked as a consultant and a freelancer to be able to help other companies really move their operations to the U.S. and to California or to be able to set them up with mills and factories and to be able to start a production here.
Robert: Okay and other than your website do you use other distribution channels like Amazon or eBay?
Susie: I do use eBay every once in a while, but really I’ve found that since I started the vintage portion of the business on Etsy, that’s really has drawn people into the website. They want to find some of those unique items. I also house any of the home goods that I have like trays, glasses from the vintage finds on Etsy. It’s been a really good source for me. And then also looking at small boutiques, they’ve been able to showcase my products as well online websites. So, its directing traffic back to my own platform.
Robert: Okay any final thoughts about the marketing strategies whether it’s using Etsy, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, Look books? Do you have any final thoughts on what a business can do with all these channels to grow?
Susie: I think having really great visual contact, content really helps businesses. It really focuses your brand’s message and story in an instant. You can grab a customer that way. It’s such a big impact. They don’t have to read that much. They want to get into the story that way.
Robert: So, it does seem like the story is really big for your brand and just for your content and overall selling strategy. It really comes down to the story telling for you.
Susie: It is. It’s really showing how we wear our products based in California and how do we mix our lifestyle of beaches and ranches and deserts and mountains with our love of motorcycles and vintage clothing and everything in the go.
Robert: Okay do you have any story telling tips that you can share?
Susie: Being able to segment them into Look books really helps. Like I said that we’re gonna showcase something from Iceland. I just did another photoshoot with a friend in the Bay area at Premium Tattoo to show how tattoo artists are wearing the clothes while they’re working and more of the lifestyle in their brand. How they want workwear that doesn’t feel uncomfortable while they’re actually leaning over someone and working. And then being able to share that contact content with people over Instagram is really great visual. For them to be able to hook people into their identity.
Robert: Okay Susie how can people reach you if they have any questions actually yeah so first off how can people reach you if they have questions. If they just want to or other marketers can reach out to you if they want to get some marketing strategies, some advice so that’s the first thing how can they reach you for that? But secondly, if there’s listeners who wanted to buy Crawford, where can they go to get it?
Robert: Are you on Twitter?
Susie:: I am on Twitter under Crawford Denim.
Robert: And lastly, what is the one thing that eCommerce business can do right now to help the business grow, get traffic and get sales?
Susie:: I think it’s sharing your story with people that you relate to drives traffic. I’ve given a lot of product to people that I’m interested in and follow on Instagram. And they’ve worn the product and love it and share it with all of their followers. Without paying for someone to blog about it, being able to reach people that I have a mutual interest in and shared experience with its really been a great way to leverage both of our followers and users to be able to showcase product.
Robert: Okay so just so basically don’t pay Kim Kardashian.
Susie:: No if you’re gonna pay anybody, pay your friends in clothes and in trade for work and give them a good beer.
Robert: Okay thanks Susie for being on the podcast. You’ve really helped a lot. It was great having you on and thanks for sharing all the strategies.
Susie: Thank you so much Robert.
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