I admit that I don’t read a great many other blogs, but there are some I really, really enjoy. I’m a sucker for good writing, and I love great style, which is why one of the three lifestyle blogs I read is Ramshackle Glam.
Jordan Reid, the creator of the site, has consistently documented her evolution in personal style, her marriage, motherhood, and a whole host of life experiences since 2010. There’s something about Jordan’s introspection and untameable spirit that makes me happy. I’m rooting for her. I believe in adding my voice and supporting other women. There’s room for all of us to succeed, particularly if we help each other win.
It’s in that spirit that I wanted to tell you about Jordan’s newest adventure, glam | camp. Not only does the mother of two with the successful site have another book coming out, but she’s decided to create a retail site of beautifully-styled goods, all crafted by artisans and smaller retailers. I spotted that Golden Gate Park Candle up there on the site, and I had to have it. It’s the first woodsy candle I’ve ever smelled that doesn’t scream “artificial pine tree air freshener.” Nope, it really does smell like the grassy area where I used to do yoga in Golden Gate Park. People will walk into your house and do the “WOW, it smells good in here” smile. It’s divine. I recommend it.
I reached out to Jordan to ask her some questions about her newest retail adventure, to let her tell you about the online store as only she could. Here she is, in her own words:
“My partner, Erin Williams, and I met when we were both new mothers living in a small suburb just outside of New York City (she was actually a reader of Ramshackle Glam, which is kind of an interesting story). We quickly discovered a mutual love of making stuff – yarn bowls, paintings, macramé wall hangings, whatever – and started fantasizing about opening up a little brick-and-mortar shop in our town where Erin could sell her art and I could curate a selection of jewelry and things for kids. And then I moved to the West Coast, so that was that. But we kept fantasizing about working together somehow, and eventually we decided that we shouldn’t let distance get in the way of a project that we were both so excited about.
It’s definitely WAY more complex of a process than I had initially imagined. First, there’s all the logistical stuff – buying a domain name and an email system, setting up your social media accounts, applying for seller’s permits, establishing an LLC (this isn’t always necessary, but in our case we felt it was), et cetera. And then there’s figuring out what you’re selling, of course – we decided that about 50% of our inventory would be glam | camp-branded products made in-house, and the rest would be items we selected from third-party vendors who were able to do drop shipping (where they take a higher percentage of the commission in exchange for shipping out the item themselves, which saves us the expense of purchasing inventory and the hassle of shipping tons of stuff). And then there’s photographing the products for the site (not as easy as it sounds, as the images are huge when it comes to whether an item will sell), writing the copy, and promoting the products (because if no one sees your stuff, sure as hell no one’s going to buy it).
E-commerce is very different than blogging – mostly because it’s so much more concrete, which is exciting. I’ve been viewing this entire process less in terms of revenue generation and more in terms of how much I can learn – which, so far, has been invaluable. And working with a partner isn’t something I’ve ever done before (at least not especially successfully; see: NonSociety), so getting the chance to work alongside someone whose art I find so exciting – challenging, imaginative and funny – is amazing. I’ve spent many, many years sitting alone in rooms with a computer, so to have someone to actually talk to about what’s going on and to spin ideas off of is…”nice” doesn’t really cover it. It’s a joy.”
Of course, I had to ask her what her favorite products are.
“Oh, the sweatshirts, I think. They’re just so funny. And we have a whole bunch more coming out soon, so I’m excited about that. I also really love the Internet Armor necklace (with handy troll-repelling black obsidian stones), and I wear the cuff ring pretty much every day. The most unique product that I think we offer, though (and we offer a necklace inspired by Shia LaBoeuf’s ponytail and a George Washington pillow complete with wooden dentures, so you know if I’m calling something “unique” I mean it) is our Custom Instagram Embroidery – you just send us a link to your favorite Instagram shot, and we turn it into a hand-embroidered, one-of-a-kind, framed work of art.”
If you’ve read my site for a while, I’m someone who wants to support your big ass idea, the thing that you want to do that keeps you awake at night, that nags at you from the corners of your mind. Want to start an online store? I asked Jordan what she’s learned from the process. Here’s what she had to say:
“From the very beginning, everyone who I talked to who had any experience in e-commerce told me that it was a very difficult business to break into – if only because there are so many sites on the Internet selling so much stuff that it’s an enormous challenge just capturing someone’s attention, let alone getting them to initiate – and then complete – the ordering process. We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the slow build in sales over the past few weeks, but for us the biggest value in starting glam | camp has been the opportunity to put our products out into the world, and to support other women who are themselves exploring their passions. Just getting the chance to work with these women – many of whom are themselves mothers trying to find a way to balance their careers with their families – has been, without a doubt, the most exciting part.
I don’t know that I’m in a position to offer tons of concrete advice about breaking into e-commerce since glam | camp is only a couple of months old, but I can tell you a big lesson I learned from starting Ramshackle Glam: be professional, be consistent, and keep going no matter what.
We all hear about those one-in-a-million overnight success stories, but businesses like these take a long time to get off the ground. I made next to nothing off of Ramshackle Glam during the first two years of its existence, but I still wrote every single day, without fail, and treated my site as if it was my job (which it was). Trying to do your own thing in this world – whatever that thing may be – is hard. It can be frustrating. It might not always work out exactly like you’ve planned. But it’s always – always – worth a shot.”
Ladies and lovely gents who read my site, the holidays are coming. You don’t need me to tell you that. What I will remind you is that for all those big box retailers out there opening at 6 pm on Thanksgiving Day to sell you things that you can buy ANYTIME, there are small craftsman out there designing original, beautiful things that are special. Buy some of those this year, please. Support smaller retailers, particularly those owned by women like our dear Jordan here. For every woman we help create a strong business, we vote for ourselves. We tell other women and the little girls who look up to them that we support each other. Get some glam | camp in your lifestyle this holiday season, lovelies.