Sometimes getting it right is the most natural thing to do.
When I owned Starstruck a company that manufactured a line of women’s clothing (check out the story here) we were shipping orders to 320 stores in the US and 120 in Canada. Once the order had been received we would call the store to make sure it had arrived ok, to see how it was performing and to thank them for believing in us. (I admit, it was a bit like sending our babies across the street – we had a lot of love put into those clothes and now that they were venturing off, and to check on them seemed like the most natural thing to do.)
Storeowners and department store managers at first didn’t really know what to do. They had never had a manufacturer call them before – which of course shocked us! So there we were on those first calls, me bursting with excitement checking in our babies; and the storeowner a little taken aback. A little awkward? Yup, but as time went on and we earned their trust by consistently calling them with each order. We realized that they loved having a chance to talk to us, and we loved listening to them! Quickly those who sold Starstruck became our friends and loyalties on both sides of the relationship deepened. We shared struggles and triumphs and the more they got to know us the more they enjoyed sharing our story with their customer.
We also gained insight into who their customers were and what they were looking for. From colours, designs, fabrics and price points we had a chance to learn first hand how to make the storeowner successful and their customer happy. Our line became influenced by who was buying it and the storeowners became invested in our brand – becoming the true heroes of our story. Quite honestly, it doesn’t get much better than that!
I could never put a price on the value of those calls and the friendships made. As we got bigger it was more challenging to do, with the stakes higher there was nothing more vital to our success then getting direct feedback on our product and getting advice on how our next line could best meet the needs of their customer. I never got over the thrill of making those calls, and what was so natural for us to do became a key differentiating factor in the highly competitive and fickle fashion marketplace. Our brand began to be set apart. We knew we weren’t just selling clothes – we were selling love on a hanger and success in a box.
When something feels like it is the right thing to do – even if it’s not the industry norm. (Perhaps, especially if it is not the industry norm) Try it. Trust yourself to do the right thing. You got this.