I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Shaw, "Biz Control Bootcamp" guru who has used the Internet to gross MILLIONS in revenue. Read on to learn her secrets to success for creative entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Sarah, you have done a lot of work with celebrities, movies and magazines. Tell us about some of your highlights and how you got there.
When I had my handbag company, I realized that getting products to celebrities seemed like a sure way to get into magazines and to get more sales.
I didn’t really know what to do, so I started calling managers and publicists who handled the celebs. They were remarkably receptive and I sent my bags to famous gals like Kristin Davis, Liv Tyler, Sharon Stone, Oprah, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Aniston and tons of others.
A lot of those gifts I gave helped me get into magazines like People, Elle, Instyle, The “O” List, Marie Claire, WWD and more. It was really when I made bags for Julia Roberts in Ocean’s 11, and also in America’s Sweetheart; then for Reece Witherspoon in Legally Blonde that my brand really took off! Those movie placements helped me get orders from Nordstrom and Bergdorf Goodman and I appeared on Access Hollywood, E! and on NBC news.
How can you show our readers how to get there too?
I am actually going to give away my entire method along with templates of letters to celebs and managers, and help you figure out which celebs will give you the best leverage with your peeps along with all my secrets in the Biz Control Bootcamp that begins on March 31st.
You recently launched a free video series introducing your Biz Control Bootcamp. Tell us a little more about your special sauce.
Over the past 15 years as a designer and now a consultant, I have discovered that most designer types have a hard time focusing on the “office” stuff. My secret sauce is that I have developed a system to help them get organized so everything flows and they have more time to design and do what they love most!
How do you help creative entrepreneurs get focused on their businesses? What’s the first step?
The first step is to decide what they want from their business. Not everyone wants to sell to stores and deal with wholesale, while others do. I assess their choices and help them take charge of the direction they have chosen to follow.
If it is wholesale, then we craft a plan based on the buying seasons and trends. If it’s online only then we design a rapid marketing plan to grow their list and build sales channels.
Are your clients seasoned businesses that are struggling to get to the next level or are they mostly starting out and looking for direction? Or both?
Definitely both and I adore them all! Helping someone create and bring their idea to life is just as exciting to me as helping a struggling business grow to new levels.
How important would you say it is to have an online presence as a small business owner trying to turn their dreams into reality?
I’d say an online presence is a must in today’s world. There is no other way to keep up with how things are shakin’ and groovin’ right now.
How have you used the Internet to grow your own small business?
I have had two companies for many years now and have used the Internet to gross millions in revenue. When I launched my second accessory company, Simply Sarah, in 2006, (note no Facebook yet, and not many were blogging in my space yet) I used my media placements and mailing list to grow the business. I had an email capture on my home page and a place to post any good news I had to share. I was using Constant Contact and was religious with emailing my customers any chance I got.
When I started Entreprenette in 2009, things were looking even better to me as far as the Internet was concerned. With Facebook and blogging front and center, it seemed easier to reach the masses than ever before. Even though they were still relatively new concepts to me, I could see at that time what powerful tools they would become for everyone. I basically leveraged my connections. Through the power of email marketing, I drew people to my website and have grown a successful company helping designers be amazing businesswomen.
Do you solely sell your programs through your own website? Or are their other powerful platforms to consider for selling?
I sell through my own website and a few affiliates here and there. I also sell on a few women entrepreneurial groups I belong to.
Tell us more about your Biz Control Bootcamp Starting on March 31st.
Can I just say...I am so excited about this new program!!!! I have never done anything like this. I have to say, I feel like I have developed a new technique to help Indie Designers and Artists grow their businesses this year like never before. This new format will do just that!
This brand new format will give participants ample time to do it all, while running their existing business. In fact, by the end of this course, they will in most instances change the way they do their entire daily routine. They will be more efficient, more productive and even have more time off to live their fabulous lives!!
I will cover buying cycles, finding and contacting the right buyers, how to be consistent with email marketing, how to get more on line sales, getting products to celebrities and then how to use that to get more brand exposure.
What are some of the top things Indie Designers should be looking at when creating their websites with IndieMade?
I think besides great home page content, the two most important things you can have on your site is an email capture with an amazing sign up incentive, and a killer blog that delivers exactly what your target market wants and needs most. Obviously good descriptions are a must as well as photos that show details and any special features.
How can IndieMade readers learn more about the services that you offer?
I think the best way to learn about me is to read my funny life story on my website. It is very candid and shares the good, the bad and they ugly – no secrets here! After a good laugh, and possibly a cry, one can see my services tab for some of my popular coaching programs. If anyone wants to check out the Bootcamp they can do that here:
Register here for the Biz Control Bootcamp and change the way you do your business forever. Click here!
What advice do you have for IndieMade readers that are looking to sell their products/designs wholesale? How can your business help them to do that?
How long do we have? The first step in selling wholesale is to start building what I call A Buyer Black Book. This is your bible. This is a list of all the stores, all over the country, or world, that you feel are a good fit for your brand. Once you have this going, it is something you’ll add to all the time to keep the pipeline full.
When I was grossing $1M with my handbag company, we were selling to 800-1200 boutiques at any given time. I work with my clients to help them hone their target market so we only go after places that they would be shopping. I have many tricks up my sleeve for finding the stores and building the lists….plus I have tons of my personal lists to share with clients too.
How has social media changed your business for the better or for the worse?
This is a tender subject for many. While we all know we need to participate in social media, it can be a thorn in many sides. It does give instant access to potentially thousands, and at the same time can be seen as an additional task to do each day. In any event, I do think it has added another level of communication with customers, and I am all about relationships, so I have to say it is a good thing. I think it adds value to every business in some way.
What is your favorite social media platform and why?
I like Facebook the best. I have had the best interactions on Facebook and like the advertising too. Pinterest is fun and can be a place that I can get lost in to discover new cool things. For inspiration, Pinterest is definitely where the good things are!
How important is it for an Indie Designer to link up their business websites to include social media sharing capabilities?
I think sharing capabilities are fantastic in general. However, I am not a big fan of the Facebook sharing. I often just want to “like” a page to follow them for certain reasons and if I can only share (on Facebook) a product on their website, I get frustrated and click away.
I find that most websites that have the FB share (only) feature don’t have a FB social media icon on their site to be able to simply “like” them. I don’t personally feel that is a good idea. I am a HUGE fan of sharing blogs and 100% recommend having a share button at the end of your post.
Are you a fan of using video to promote your online business and why?
Yes, love video, but wish I were better at editing! The secret is out now. I like video because I think it connects you more to the viewer than just the written word and in this digital world, we all crave more “togetherness”.
How are you promoting your online education? Please let our readers know how they can follow you.
Twitter: @ Entreprenette
Tell us what you have cooking on the front burner with your business right now? What should our readers get excited about?
The thing I am most excited about right now is my new Bootcamp. I feel my 6 years of consulting with hundreds of designers has given me the tools to create this revolutionary program.
IndieMade is an affiliate of Entrepreneurette because Sarah's a proven creative business expert who can help entrepreneurs market and grow their businesses.