Kevin Price, Host of the Price of Business on Business Talk 1110 AM KTEK (on Bloomberg’s home in Houston) recently interviewed Kelly Eberly.Here’s that interview.
About the interviewee
Kelly Eberly has been a free-lance textile and wallpaper designer/artist, working behind the scenes for some of the top fabric and wallpaper manufacturers in the country for over 30 years. In January 2013 she launched her own first collection of original patterns in a decorative pillow line – with 9 sku’s – and started to grow her business by selling them to high end home décor shops. In early 2014, she expanded the collection to 44 sku’s, revamped her website, and began developing her online presence, opening shops on two major selling platforms.
Tell me about your firm (number of employees, location, type of companies you work with, etc.).
KEE Design Studio is based in Fairfield County, CT, and at this moment, I (Kelly) wear all the hats, so to speak, in the company….I design, style, sew, sell, provide all the customer service, seek out new wholesale customers, and run the general day to day business. In addition, I spend about an hour to an hour-and-a half everyday participating on social media platforms to grow awareness for the decorative pillow collection.
My product is made entirely in the USA! I research and develop new designs myself, from my own archive of vintage textiles.…my patterns are printed digitally by a wonderful little boutique fabric printer outside of Philadelphia, my workroom for sewing is here in CT. This was really important to me from the start…to be made in the USA.
What type and size of companies do you have as clients?
My wholesale clients/customers are small, high-end home décor shops, and interior designers. It was a logical start…to reach out to these types of companies in my local area ….that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t speak to Neiman Marcus if they called me! (HA HA)
Earlier this year, I started selling direct to consumer, by joining two major online selling sites – www.houzz.com and www.etsy.com. Houzz started out as a place for interior designers and all types of contractors to showcase their work… but has expanded to include a gigantic selling platform, where you can buy anything from a lamp, to floor tiles, lawn furniture, whatever, anything for the home – over 3.5 million products are showcased. Etsy is an enormously popular site for small businesses to sell…with an emphasis on all things “handmade”.
What comes to mind when you see this topic?
Participating in, and engaging with social media is not just an effective tool for small business….for introducing your brand to the world, expanding your target audience, reaching out to your existing customers, attracting new customers and widening your sales funnel…it is invaluable! As I mentioned, I spend an hour or so everyday on my “fave five”…..Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and my most favorite – Google+. Google+ has been the most successful for me for creating exposure…..in the month of June my page had over 26,000 views! Of course, the point of all of this is to lead traffic to my website, and its working….I track unique visits to my website through Google Analytics and I am very pleased with the results.
What are the best practices when it comes to this issue?
Best practices, for me, mean interacting on social media sites by inspiring, engaging, informing, and entertaining, in a friendly, “social” way, that enlightens people as what you and your brand are about.
Instagram and Pinterest, both image-based, and great avenues to post photos that reveal the human aspect behind the brand, behind the scenes photos of your product being made or being enjoyed by real customers, images of things that influenced you to design something a certain way.
Facebook and Twitter are great places to join or start conversations related to your product, or call out to special client or even a potential client with a compliment, or shout out a charity your business supports. Google+ has a great feature, where you can search and join “communities” that relate to your business, helping you fine tune your target audience. Best practices is not all about posting product shots with prices and sales come-ons, its about conveying the personality behind the brand and adding insight to your product without a sales pitch.