Recently, in order to bring our community of independent business owners together to connect and grow, we held our inaugural Entrepreneur Faire. This free, virtual educational series—streaming exclusively through Instagram Live sessions—was packed with insights from members of the Faire community, tips on business growth from experts throughout the retail industry, and guidance on navigating the current macroeconomic climate.
Throughout the week, we heard from industry experts like Carla Nikitaidis and Kathryn Humphries of All You Need Method, trend forecasters like Dana Telsey, Analyst and CEO of research company Telsey Advisory Group, and Faire brands like Spiceology, Emmy’s Organics, KITSCH, Lucca Couture, Droplet, and more. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing some of the top insights we learned from Entrepreneur Faire on the blog and Instagram. Today, we’re sharing the most impactful quotes we heard from our panelists throughout the week.
Growing your business and standing out
“It’s really important that your product can sell itself. It needs to be retail-ready and stand out on a shop shelf. It can’t need a sales assistant there to tell what it is and why they need it. People need to be able to discover that for themselves.”
–Therese Ørtenblad, founder of Small Business Collaborative
“When you’re reaching out to a retailer, you should have an email that’s clearly personalized to them, where you’re not just copy-pasting on repeat. Really tailor it to their business and say, ‘here’s why I think my product, my brand, is the perfect fit for your store.’ Taking that extra little step to say, “I have done my research and I feel that I’m the perfect fit for you’ goes such a long way.”
–Kristin Fisher, retail strategy coach and founder of custom gifting studio Bocu
“For the past three years, we’ve had big shocks every single year—Covid-19 in 2020, in 2021, we couldn’t get inventory, in 2022, we had too much inventory. Businesses are faced with new challenges every single year. I think agility is part of the new framework of how businesses become successful.”
–Dana Telsey, Analyst and CEO of Telsey Advisory Group
Leaning into your values
“A logo is not a brand. A brand is the feeling that you get from a company.”
–Jeanne Ryan, Vice President of Marketing at Spiceology
“Brand values should not come out of a vacuum. They should really reflect and hopefully include what you are already doing in your business today. Even if your business is just one or two people, what are the things that you care about the most and how can you distill those things into sound bites?”
–Briana Martini, e-commerce specialist at Emmy’s Organics
People want to do business with people, not companies. And that’s always going to be our superpower in this industry.Ashley Alderson, founder of The Boutique Hub
“I think consumers have really woken up in the last few years and they’re putting their dollar where their values are. I think that that’s a trend that is here to stay. It’s really important as small businesses—whether you’re a brand, a maker, or a retailer—to be really clear on your brand values and how you assort or design into those. Align yourself with people that are important to you as a brand.”
–Kristin Fisher, retail strategy coach and founder of Bocu
“I’m a Black-owned business. I’m a Black mother, and if there’s something affecting not only me and my community but everyone out there who has kids, I just can’t keep my mouth shut. And I think that’s drawn people to the brand even more. They really connect with the fact that there’s a real family behind it. Can we comment on everything? No, but if it’s something that we really know that the people we deal with every day care about, we have to just use social media to connect with each other even more.”
–Keewa Nurullah, founder of Kido Chicago.
Connecting with customers
“We try to really double down on corresponding with our retail partners. It’s hard to be an authentic storytelling company if you don’t understand who your customer is and what their story is. And so as we grow and the volume increases, we’re doing double duty to really maintain that relationship so that there’s a personal connection with the stores carrying our product.”
–Dan Gutstein, Vice President of Growth & Strategy at Well Told
Relationships with customers—real live human beings who you greet by name and stay very attentive to—are enormously important. There’s no substitute for a human-to-human contact, especially if it’s gracious, friendly, upbeat, and informative.Mark Cohen, Director of Retail Studies at Columbia University
“I put a lot of myself in my marketing. When I’m emailing my customers, it’s in my own voice. Rather than just saying “buy this now,” I open with “how are you? How’s your life going?” I always close my emails with something to make them feel good, and people love it.”
–Alexa Allamano, founder of retail store and jewelry brand Foamy Wader.
Navigating the holiday season
“This is a very saturated time, both for small business owners and for consumers. Consumers are inundated with options, so we would encourage you to use this season to really service your target audience. Think about what they most need right now during the holiday season or what would inspire them. Then think about what your areas of expertise are and how you can help them.”
–Kathryn Humphries, co-founder of All You Need Method
“Customers are facing sticker shock everywhere they go this year. Wherever you can communicate, present some level of empathy. Be willing to explain why you had to raise your prices and how inflation is affecting you.”
–Mark Cohen, Director of Retail Studies at Columbia University
All 12 sessions from Entrepreneur Faire can be viewed on our Instagram page. For information on the session panelists, click here.
Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we dive deeper into some of the best insights and advice from this week’s programming.