New year, same strong values– but this time around, we want to expand upon them. If you’re familiar with our brand, you know that we pride ourselves on three key values: quality, simplicity, and transparency. Today, we want to focus more specifically on the last one.
In October, we addressed the fact that our prices were changing as we tried to balance consistent margins. A somewhat taboo subject to approach, but we didn’t think we could pride ourselves on transparency and keep our customers in the dark about our profits, margins, and everything else that goes into our brand. The news broke and the reactions were a mixed bag– some customers welcomed the news with open arms, while others felt it was unnecessary information to share and even informed us that they’d rather not know about it. We had a feeling we would be faced with some criticism, as most companies trying to navigate growing pains often do, and publishing that article provided interesting insight. Truthfully, we’re still navigating those growing pains, but we’re trying to do it as openly as possible.
Since the start, we’ve grown our following primarily through social media. 2014 (our launch year) was the peak of “Instagram Influencers,” a term often associated with people– primarily bloggers– who saw huge success on their social channels. We knew instantly that the best way to get our name out there would be to connect with prominent Instagram users. What better combination than an e-commerce brand and internet-based social platforms? Our customer base was practically created by Instagram itself. Through Instagram, we were able to connect with a core audience who really believed in what we were doing and were happy to help us get our name out there (thanks, ladies!). To date (nearly three years later), it remains our biggest driver of new customers as well as our primary communication channel and we couldn’t be larger proponents of the platform.
The community who actively engages on our profile has increased tenfold lately, an incredibly exciting, new, and humbling adventure for us. With more engagement comes more responsibility, something that has not gone unnoticed. We’ve seen it all in the comments on our Instagram: the good, the bad, and the straight up ugly. Comments from users range anywhere from “Love you guys, keep up the good work!” to “LOL who actually buys this stuff?!” even as far as calling us expletives for seemingly no reason whatsoever. Sometimes they hurt and sometimes we wish we could delete them (aka pretend they never happened), but we can’t just talk the talk.
Building a brand around transparency means being honest, vulnerable, and dedicated to the cause. We can’t just talk the talk; every decision we make as a company is based around this value, and it can be daunting at times.
“Are we being honest? Would our customers benefit from knowing this?” These are questions we ask ourselves daily and will continue to do so through the new year.
Often times, coming to our rescue is faced with some backlash, but that doesn’t seem to matter to our supporters. For that, we are eternally indebted to you social media heroes and heroines, who often get back to the person before we even have the chance to (you guys are fast!). And while most people suggest deleting the negative comments to keep ourselves on a pedestal of praise, we think the negative is just as important. Keep on with the good, the bad, and the ugly, we’re working on growing from all sorts of feedback.
More recently, we have noticed something particularly special– customers engaging with one another on our social channels. We can’t help but feel like this really took off during our #ThisIsUntitled campaign, where we asked you to share your values in exchange for our limited edition Black Friday pin. The campaign sparked somewhat of a “truth & gold gang”; customers talking amongst themselves, sharing common values, and building a community. This newly formed community has outdone itself recently, specifically when it comes to answering each other’s questions or coming to our defense in the event that someone has said something particularly unpleasant.