Pet Passion Project — Custom Dog Coat Store
Of course, you will get to hear about the namesake rescue pup — Scout. But beyond the cute puppy stories, you will learn about:
- Creating a product from scratch
- WordPress themes and Ecwid
- Instagram marketing ideas
- Contests and gamification
- Future plans — videos and patterns
- Gratisfaction App
- Bonus from Jill: use the JOINSCOUTERWEARCLUB coupon code to get a 30% discount on anything in her store.
Jesse: Happy Friday!
Richard: It is that time, one more time, podcast day.
Jesse: I love it. Podcast day, and we get a merchant online today. We haven’t had a merchant a little bit. I think we’re jonesing. Talk to a merchant and get their view of the world and offer our two cents when requested.
Richard: It’s our favorite thing to do. We hear each other talk enough. Plenty. (laughing)
Jesse: Yeah. I’m tired of you; I heard your voice plenty.
Richard: Even when we’re just doing our own show, and we don’t have a merchant, we’re always trying to help the merchants. But we get extra excited because there’s just so many different ways to make it be a successful business. And, you know, Ecwid makes that pretty easy. We talked a couple of weeks ago about what you should sell. Part of what we love about talking to the merchants is just about the time you think you’ve seen all the things you can sell; you find another one. And we found another one.
Jesse: Yeah. By the way, on the Internet, there’s a couple of things that always win. Cats, dogs. So I think we’re playing favorites here. Our guest today makes custom fit dog coats and accessories. Let’s hear from the owner, Jill Bartlett, ScouterWear.com. How are you?
Jill: I’m doing great. Thanks. How are you guys doing?
Jesse: Awesome. Great to have you on the show, Joe.
Jesse: Jill, we’d love to hear all about how you got going with ScouterWear and coming here, your full story. But with the name ScouterWear being dog coats and accessories? I have to imagine there’s a scout somewhere.
Jill: There is. Yeah. Scout is a lovely little
Richard: So were you already as a seamstress or was this something that because of the dog you do start
Jill: I’m not a professional seamstress. When I was a little kid, I used to make clothing for my dolls and for my teddy bears. And so I started sewing when I was really young. I took sewing in high school, and I’ve just always sewed. But I’m not a professional sewer. I just started selling these things, and I’m a perfectionist, and that’s why I think the quality of the coats stands up, because I can’t stand things that aren’t
Richard: Yeah, I would hate to see that the standard you would put on me if I tried to make one of these because they’d look like a professional seamstress. This does not look like anything I would put out. This is a very, very good looking product.
Jesse: Yeah. Jill, I’d say you’re a professional now. I mean, you’re essentially sewing, and you’re getting paid. So that’s professional, I would say. And from looking at the quality on the website, I can tell these are very
Richard: You had your dog. You started to solve a need. You have cold winters, and the dog needed some clothes. You took your skillset. People started asking you. You put a label in. You said: I think I’m going to start a business. And so, what was it? Was it at a certain number, you know, the 12th person and the hundredth person, what number made you all of a sudden realize: I think I can actually turn this into a business.
Jill: Good question, I think. Well, what happened, as soon as I decided to kind of hang my shingle out there, I went to a market, and I was doing the market actually because I was doing jewelry as well. I thought I’ll just put a few dog coats on the side. And it was a market in my local neighborhood here. And I got ten orders right then and there. So I thought, I need to make this into a business. That was the starting point. And I come from a background of doing websites and doing
Richard: So we’re when you first went to this market, did you already have these coats made or did you just have a few on Scout? And they saw that, and you said: I will make them for you to order. Or were they just picking: I want that one.?
Jill: I just had a couple of coats, examples of what I make and then
Richard: Oe of the things I want to point out real quick to listeners right now. If you can hear one common theme that Jill has, regardless of whether it was the sewing or the making websites, is she’s taken action. She has an idea, and she seems to take action right after that idea. And it’s really cool because it’s not that often that you run into a perfectionist that also is taking actions in so many different areas without that being perfected yet. So you really seem like you have a good mix of understanding and noticing when people are noticing. I.e., people talking to you say: Hey, where’d you get that? Taking action on making the actual gear, taking action on getting your website together because you’re saying: Hey, I want to do this professionally, I want to look professional, so I got to get a website going. And you also foreshadowed: Hey, I can see, or I can get this in front of more people if I also take this online. I really want people to start thinking about that. It wasn’t like you were sitting there watching Shark Tank and said: I’m going to start making these. You just started solving problems in the world, and it started with your dog, and now you’ve got a business. It’s fantastic.
Jill: I am a perfectionist, but I tend to just jump in two feet. It doesn’t always work well for me. But this is done well. So far, so well.
Richard: The good news is there’s as you probably already noticed, there’s always something you can do.
Jill: Yeah. Oh, exactly.
Jesse: To amplify Rich’s point there. A couple of things is you had the product and a lot of times people will think about a product for months, years, but you made it, and you went to the market and turns out it sold. So there’s your proof of concept like, Yeah, I made a couple of them. You didn’t spend tens of thousands of dollars. Нou spent time and effort. I know there are costs involved, but you made it. People were buying it. And then you immediately said: I’m going to get a website. You know, it wasn’t like you’d sold five hundred pieces. You sold 10. Maybe a few more. And it was ready to build websites. Awesome. I hope people are listening, thinking, yeah, just take action. Get started on this. I want to dive a little bit more on this. Go ahead.
Jill: I was just saying, and it’s easy to do. There are just so many simple processes. Yeah. Ecwid and everything. It’s just easy to do. That’s my suggestion. Definitely. Just jump in and do it.
Jesse: Yeah. I love it. Get out there and do it. I always try to close with make it happen. You just went and made it happen. And so I want to dive a little bit more on to the website because it’s the Ecwid
Jill: Yes, it is. It started off doing the site with the Ecwid software and the plugin, and I use WordPress as the backbone of it. Like the actual place that I built the site.
Jesse: Got it. Yeah. I saw it’s WordPress; I was remarking to Rich earlier that it’s like it’s a very nice clean site. So for people that are if you’re driving and you can’t pull up ScoutWear.com, it’s mostly like a white background which looks very nice and clean. And then if you have a white background, if you have a white background on the photos, it also blends together very nicely. You have a lot of sections in there. It looks like there was a theme as well. You had to plug in a theme and then plug in Ecwid. Is that what you did?
Jill: Yeah, it actually is a software called Thrive Themes, which they provide a bunch of different things and you can go in and alter them, and it’s an awesome program for just drag and drop. You don’t have to be technically savvy. So it works really well to create the theme. It’s a great software to start from fresh.
Jesse: Awesome. So, yeah, for people listening, if you’re thinking, how do I make my site a little bit better? I think this is a very good example of a good looking site that probably didn’t take that long either. Jill, you mentioned you did it yourself. You mentioned you build websites before. You know, how many websites had you built prior to this?
Jill: Probably 70 or so, 60, 70. Hard to say. I come from a corporate background. I had an
Jesse: Got it. Well, it shows then. Definitely shows. And I think that can be helpful for other people; you can see where you can take something. And since you’re from the
Jill: Yeah. Everything’s out there.
Jesse: Yep. Go watch a little YouTube video on it, and you’ll probably figure out how to do it in a few minutes. Let’s talk about it. You got the site set up. Looks great. Now how did you go about finding customers? What did you know? How did you market this product?
Jill: Primarily, what I’m doing is on Instagram and Facebook. That is definitely where I am not as strong and need to put much more of my energies into social media. As I say, I’ve got a good local following. And because I get I’ve got it in stores, retail stores, I get a lot of customer orders out of that markets I do as well. And just the local neighborhood and word of mouth that’s gone really well in Vancouver. But I’m trying to really build the company outside of my local area. And that’s something I really need to need to brush upon.
Richard: Well, even though you are fantastic at doing the seamstress and you know how to build Web sites, now that you’re taking on this new adventure of the world of social media and getting out there and actually marketing. You don’t have to share. Don’t share. But are you going to try to take on all this yourself or you plan out do you plan on outsourcing some of the seamstress work? Because there are only 24 hours in a day and I’m already blown away at what you’re doing and the more you sell, the more you’re gonna have to sell.
Jill: Yeah, well, I’ve got a couple of plans for that. I do have some local seamstresses that I’m starting to train and show how to do things, do my products. And what I started doing before that was creating PDFs patterns. And then, I started developing some actual tutorial videos. And what I decided out of that, playing on my
Richard: So that’s fantastic. By the way, I love hearing that for two reasons. One, again, we’re here in this common theme of you’re bringing in your skill sets from your past and applying them to your current endeavor. That’s one. But in addition to that, not more important, but in addition to that, I love this idea of bringing in the
Jill: Yeah, yeah, exactly. I got of my thinking too, because there are certain people for sure that that have the crafty mind. And then they sit down to as you say, they start looking to the video and go: Oh my gosh, this too much. But they will also from that, I think, get a whole appreciation of what goes into making that coat. There are umpteen layers and piping and reflective and Velcro, and like there’s just so many things that you go into it. There are only certain personalities that are gonna be keen on doing that. People like me, that just love doing those kinds of things that are really crafty and like to do things for themselves. But yeah, there’s gonna be a whole other world that’s going to say: No, quite happy to pay for someone to do that.
Jesse: But yeah, I could see that as well. I personally might look at some
Jill: So, yeah, exactly. That’s what I’m thinking.
Richard: Are you using any content from your customers? Basically,
Jill: Yeah, I do ask for pictures from people. People aren’t always really great at giving any. You have to ask them a few times. Also, they’re not always the best pictures, but yeah, I do try to get that as much as I can. I could improve on that for sure. They are getting more people to send me their pictures of their animals and their dogs and their coats and having fun.
Richard: Yeah. It’s definitely one of the underutilized but most effective forms of marketing. It’s still a form of word of mouth because someone’s talking about it, but it’s almost like it’s morphed together with a testimonial. And you don’t have to go find a model or a dog in this case model. You have different dogs, different breeds, and different styles, different personalities of dogs. And now maybe they have that dog, that little Yorkie that’s in that picture. And it just really is great. But again, to your point. It’s not always easy because sometimes it’s just the way we ask. Sometimes it’s a little comment maybe on social. Wow, we love it when people are sending in pictures, and we’re so thankful. We were thankful for your sharing because it makes us aware that we’re actually solving a problem. Please, send it, we’re so thankful. We’d like to give you this 5 percent, 6 percent, 7 percent, whatever, some sort of coupon. And thank you. And, you know, I thank you out to them. Sometimes that may be messaging them into doing a little bit more than, Hey, can you give me a picture of your dog? So keep playing with that.
Jill: Would you suggest that your Instagram like through social media and ask people directly messaging you or directly contacting the clients themselves?
Richard: Well, no matter what. OK. So to be a higher level thought process here and then we’ll bring it back to
Jill: Yeah. That’s great. I love that. Good.
Jesse: Yeah, I think that’s really good. I think I would add that a little bit more in that. Yes, an initial
Jesse: Lulu. Here’s Lulu playing with this new coat. And then that’s on Instagram. And then here’s a picture of another dog on this platform to give people examples of what you want them to send in because you probably want, short little snippets of video of the dog jumping around, playing and barking and having a good time in this new, piece of clothing that they have. I think that’s great. And I think I would also go one step further. I would automate that process. I would probably do this as like a 14 or 21 day follow up. So maybe even a little bit longer. This might be more in the 30 days follow up where 30 days after shipping or 30 days after purchase, whatever’s easier to set up, you send this email with; I think a coupon code for another article is like, yeah, dogs don’t need just one coat. Like you have to have. I need a leather jacket for a night on the town. I mean you can suggest other things that they might want to buy because people love their pets. They love to spend money on their pets and but seven days might be too soon. Like if I just spent a decent amount of money on some pet clothing, I’m going to need to let that be paid off on the credit card first before I think about buying another one. But maybe in 30 days, I’m feeling good about that, and I might be ready to make another purchase. And if I see other examples of other dogs wearing this, it’s great. It’s dogs. It’s pets. People love that stuff. So anyway, yes, social media is fine, but I think like email, you can control that so much more, that might be a good step for you.
Jill: Right. That’s great. Good.
Jesse: And we should ask, are you collecting your
Jill: I do have them. Yes, I do. And I am collecting
Jesse: Good. That’s an easy tip for us. Then that’s a checkmark right there. We got gathering
Richard: Yeah. And I noticed that 5 percent of sales go back to the B.C. SPCA. I definitely would amplify that, too. I would take advantage of that. Almost potentially create a message where you’re you helping your dog is helping other dogs. I think that’s interesting. You could even play with that a little bit as in like your dogs are helping out. So there’s even a potential of tying that into how you share. The ideas are just coming to me. Think it out a little bit and get in contact with them more. But almost more like the social media side of it. If Lulu’s post gets to a certain number, we’re gonna donate five jackets to shelter or whatever. You know, some something where you’re just really amplifying the giving back. Having value and giving back to the world right now is definitely especially for some of the younger generation. Actually, it’s really big. The percentage is back to help out.
Jesse: Yeah, you’re giving me some other ideas, Rich.
Richard: That’s the way this podcast runs.
Jesse: I’m thinking you can almost gamify this a little bit more where each one of these contacts means extra points. What’s the app I’m trying to look it up here.
Jesse: No, the one that’s already integrated here. So we have an app that is already been on the podcast, so I’m trying to think of what the pod it is, what it is right now. I will find it.
Richard: I’ll get it.
Jesse: The basic idea is this: Hey, if you like us on Instagram, you get five points. And follow us on Facebook, you get five points. If you send in a video of your dog, you get 25 points and then kind of go down the list of all these various online things that you can do, and they all result in points. And maybe then once a month or once a quarter, you can have a winner. And that winner gets a free jacket or maybe a little lower cost. Let’s not break the bank here, but maybe something a little easier to handle. I think that might be a way for you to stay in front of your customers with fresh content that they probably enjoy. We’re helping pets here. You could also maybe at a certain point, at the end of the year or something. It’s a little tough to do cause you’re going to feel a little rough with it. But like, you give the check to the shelter. Hey, here’s the check. It’s $1,000. Thanks to our customers for their help. And this is, this is what this thousand dollars will do. Like it’s a legitimate email to send, and that’s one of the reasons you’re doing this.
Jill: Awesome. I like these ideas.
Jesse: I wish I had them better. You know, social good that I could send these emails out. I’m happy for you.
Richard: Was it the Gratisfaction?
Richard: Gratisfaction, I think yes. Jill, check out the app Gratisfaction in the app market and see if that fits your needs. I think that’s the one we’re talking about here.
Jill: That’s a plug for Ecwid?
Jesse: It’s a plugin for Ecwid, and I think it allows you to plug in all these different social platforms that you can get various points for doing all these activities that we mentioned.
Richard: Oh yeah. And there’s way more than we even mentioned. You can do it for Pinterest. There are sweepstakes, and there’s a contest, there are loyalty points.
Jesse: I can see a lot of contests. And Jill, you mentioned, you’re asking for the pictures. You’re getting some, not that many. Let’s see. You’re getting like 5% of the people are sending a photo or something. If you make it into a contest or sweepstakes with some freebies, you might get like
Jill: There’s something about gamifying it.
Jill: People just love it.
Jesse: Absolutely. It’s gamifying, and it’s dogs, and usually, when people go to the park and let their dog run around, they usually pick up their phones to read their email. So it’s a good time to look at social. All they have to do is use their thumb and take that video and enter the sweepstakes. Yeah. Awesome. I like that one. You mentioned on Facebook and Instagram that you have, did you sync the product catalog so you can do the Shoppable posts inside of Facebook and Instagram?
Jill: I did, yeah. Yeah. Which was so easy. I loved it. I say I’m technical, but I’m really not that technical. I really come from the design side of things. So when things are like a
Richard: Yeah. And actually, that’s a great point because you are both inspirational for people and say aspirational too because they say, this is how good yours can look, but you’re also pointing out. And thank you, we always appreciate that you don’t have to be a designer to do this. A lot of these functions in Ecwid are literally one, two, three clicks in this particular case. I think the longest part of the process is just waiting for the approval from Instagram saying or Facebook saying, yeah, you can sell now. So that’s, that’s nice and thanks for pointing that out. That is really easy for people to do. Create those Shoppable posts just to get your product feed in there, a few clicks, and just wait a day or two. And you’re selling online with Shoppable posts.
Jill: Yeah. And it’s everywhere it seems. I can’t remember, I think I actually had to do it manually, do you have a plugin for Google? I think I manually put it up on Google.
Jesse: Yeah. With Google, you have to do a little more. To get a product feed inside of Ecwid and then you upload it there, and that can be scheduled. There’s a couple of steps to get it done the first time, but once you get that done, that’s pretty automatic. So and by the way, it’s a little harder on the YouTube site, but it’s very doable. I know you can get through this, but if you do YouTube videos, it’s called TrueView for shopping. I believe that where you can sync your product catalog into that video. So if you’re talking about a very specific coat that you’re making, that you can sync that product into your YouTube video. I’m missing a word or two there. There are a few more steps, but it is very doable. The Facebook one’s a little bit easier, I’ll admit. But, but anyway, it’s also available.
Jill: Is that an Ecwid plugin?
Jesse: It’s not a plugin, but yeah, go ahead.
Jill: Is it part of YouTube itself?
Jesse: Yeah, actually, you definitely need Ecwid for the product feed. So in Ecwid, the same area you’ll find where you can create a product feed for Google, and then that in Google, you’ll go to Google Merchant Center, and that’s where they want all the product feeds to go. And then, that will feed both Google ads if you want to do Google Shopping ads. And it’ll also feed the TrueView for shopping on YouTube, which is not a very widely used feature, by the way. So it’s, that’s why it’s a little harder. It’s a little more; we’ll call that a little more 301 level. But I think you can handle it. So that’s why I mentioned it. If you’re listening and you’re like, I don’t know, that sounds like too much. Okay. Maybe save that for later. But Jill, I have faith in you. All right, perfect. Couple other ideas. Richard mentioned Pinterest. If you’re already taking pictures, especially on the
Jill: Probably Ellen. Yeah. It would be awesome.
Richard: That’s a perfect example that it’s like we talked this out on what we’re going to talk about next. But giving this to a celebrity and like, Oh my gosh, your dog is so cute. Almost going out of your way in those scenarios to not ask for something back actually seems to work better. I’m sure there are always exceptions to the rule, and someone asked to, but if you just were giving for giving sake, especially the fact that you’re actually giving the percentage of this money to help other dogs too. I’m just hey Ellen, here’s a coat. I tried hardest to guess the exact dimensions of your dog cause I can only see it in these, I’ve looked at a few pictures you’ve posted online. If this doesn’t fit, let me know the exact size, and I’ll get you another one. Like that literally would be priceless, you know better than I do. Could you imagine Ellen going on her show and saying, look at this cute little coat that this lady sent me and you don’t even have to ask. Of course, she understands this, giving first and making people feel good and how that works. Her whole show is based on that. I would definitely try something like that with some form of celebrity that you literally just give it to them and then you just in the narrative of, Hey, these are all custom made, so if it doesn’t fit, and how much time does that take you and what is it maybe taking away $200 total in sales. If you give them to, and you’ll potentially get something back, that’s priceless. But no matter what, there’s no way, in my opinion, and I think you could actually hold me to this. I’ll pay the difference. You won’t be able to give this to a celebrity and not somewhere down the road quadruple or potentially just like not even be able to measure how much return you would get.
Jill: Right. Yeah.
Jesse: High risk, high reward on that one. I think if you’re low risk, what’s the high risk of a couple of products, right? Yeah. That’s the risk. I mean, that’s low risk. High reward. Agree to disagree. Rich, I’ll give you that one. (laughing)
Richard: I’ll pay the difference. I guess it is low risk, a couple of hundred dollars potential sales.
Jesse: Jill, we’re going to make some bets on your business over here, so if you don’t mind, I’ll let you guys know how it goes. If you’re on Ellen, maybe you get to invite one of us. Invite Rich. (laughing)
Jill: I’ll play it back to you guys and say this is where it all came from.
Jesse: Awesome. Yeah, that’d be great. So yeah, I hope we are able to give you a couple of ideas that you could try in your business next. I can tell you’re already on the right path here. Like you’ve already done the right things to get going. But is there anything we should have asked about what we didn’t?
Jill: I don’t think so. I think you guys touched on most of this stuff.
Jesse: All right. And where can people go to find out more about you in the store?
Jill: ScouterWear.com, which is a play on my dog’s name Scout and also the word out as outerwear. So ScouterWear.com. Also, as I said, by the end of February, we’re going to have ScouterWearClub.com, which is where people can get discounts. Planning on doing that kind of gamifying thing, which I’d love to use your plugin cause that’ll just make it that much easier. But thinking of adding ScouterWear pup points is what I was going to call them and have people being able to build up, the more they buy them where they get kind of thing, but also discounts on products, sending out product packaging. I’m also going to package up all the supplies needed in order to make a coat. All of that will be coming. ScouterWear.com is the main site. And I’d love to offer a coupon for any of the listeners that are interested in signing up.
Jesse: Do you have the code ready that we can make sure it makes it?
Jill: I do. It’s a JOINSCOUTERWEARCLUB, all one word. So if they put that in when they sign up, I haven’t got the sign up yet on the ScouterWear page, but I will have that avenue once I’m ready to go. And they can find with sign up with the Join ScouterWear Club.
Richard: Well, you’ll have a week or two before this airs.
Jesse: Little podcast secret. This won’t be live for about another week or so. You have time. But for people listening to you can, we can check it out and see if that’s ready. So ScouterWearClub.com.
Jill: Yeah, we’ll have it done. I’ll have it done by the end of the day anyways.
Jesse: And if you watch Ellen, you’re eventually going to see Jill there. So just look for Jill on Ellen, and then if you really put in Gratisfaction, maybe we can do around two in like six months of here’s what Gratisfaction did for your business. So I don’t know, just a little teaser of round two. So Rich, any last thoughts here before we sign off?
Richard: No, this is great. Again, always happy to get merchants on right now. To come up for this podcast. Jill, actually, I missed my daughter’s little publishing party. Luckily my wife filmed it, but it was a book that she wrote all about dogs, and she loves her dog, so I’ll be sure to get her to that coupon code, and she’ll definitely make a video for you; hopefully, she can.
Jill: Sounds good.
Jesse: Well, perfect. Well, Jill, I really appreciate you being on the show. I hope for all the listeners out there, you’re able to gather some knowledge here, and you know, doggy clothes, doggy coats, ScouterWear.com.
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