How many mamas out there have dreamed of making something, setting up an Etsy shop, and then bam they turn into an over-night success with their own shop, 143K Instagram followers, and celeb tots wearing their clothes?? Amy Richardson-Golia started Little Hip Squeaks out of her apartment and through lots of hard work and social media savvy has carved out a space as a top selling baby line with a cult following. People literally line up around the block for her sales! To grow the brand and set up to collaborate outside the kid’s space; Amy has taken the plunge to change the name to June & January. She spoke to us about the transition and what it really takes to be a rock-star in the kid’s market through social media.
You have an incredible success story from starting out sewing things in your kitchen to selling on Etsy. Can you tell us what you think really helped you to achieve early success?
I spent a lot of time reading and looking at information about how the Etsy SEO worked — using tags, organic search queries and descriptions to get the most interested shoppers to my page. I studied what tags were working the best for Etsy sellers who had a huge number of sales and started implementing those into my own listings on Etsy. Pretty early on, though, I knew the value of social media and working with bloggers to help my brand get ‘found’ and discovered that the more traffic I was getting from external sources, and the more sales I got from those channels, the higher my listings would show on the Etsy search page. It was all a ton of trial and error, but by the time we transitioned to our own URL we were showing at the #1 spot for “baby headbands” on Etsy.
Pretty early on, though, I knew the value of social media and working with bloggers to help my brand get ‘found’ and discovered that the more traffic I was getting from external sources, and the more sales I got from those channels, the higher my listings would show on the Etsy search page.
Did you have any business experience going into this?
Sort of.. when I was a teenager, my best friend and I would go to thrift stores and find really hilarious t-shirts that we would then sell on eBay for $20. We also briefly were sewing some really gaudy clothing that we tried to (unsuccessfully) sell to our friends.
What was the best career advice you’ve received along the way?
Oddly enough, it came from my husband — who has almost no insight or input on the business usually, but I had been so stressed out financially; for years I refused to go into debt to run the business. One day he bluntly told me that ALL successful business operate on a line or credit, or take funding or loans out to grow. If I hadn’t finally accepted that fate I would have never been able to grow the business to where it is now.
Instagram played a huge role in your brands growth, what do you see as the big trends happening right now when it comes to social selling?
Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest have all now implemented ways for customers to shop directly from a sponsored post — which as a brand is super super exciting for us to get our products in front of a target market quicker and easier. I’ve also seen brands like Emily Ley (@emilyley) using a plug-in for Instagram where you just leave a comment saying “sold” and registered users will get an invoice delivered straight to their inbox. It’s pretty genius.
What are some of the highlights and pinch me moments you’ve had with your career?
My FIRST pinch me moment was New Years Eve of 2012 — it was the first time I had $10,000 in revenue in a single month and I could not believe it. The sale that pushed me into that number came in at 11:51PM and I’ll never forget it. More recently, our apparel has been spotted on some celebs and that has been insane. There’s a photo of Sharon Osbourne holding her granddaughter, Andy, who is wearing one of our headbands in the latest issue of Us Weekly. Blows my mind.
What do you wish you know before you started your business?
How much patience and thick skin I would need. I often tell people that if I knew how much went into getting to this point, BEFORE I started I wouldn’t do it again.
We’ve often seen you at work with your kids, how do you integrate mama time and work time?
I am soo big on quality vs quantity. It will always be our company policy to take Fridays off — when Eli was little I was able to bust out as much work as possible on M-Th without feeling guilty (especially since I spend a lot of time on email after normal office hours) and then on Fridays we would have a day full of adventures at the sandbox, ice cream shop or even just run around at IKEA. There’s been a handful of days when I needed to go into the office on Fridays so I’d let him take out the garbage and “organize” for me.
What would you say Little Hip Squeaks and now June & January are known for?
Affordable, stylish basics.
What made you feel like it was time to change your name?
I really felt like Little Hip Squeaks was going to feel dated in a few years — plus I think it hindered the partnerships we were able to make because the name was corny/kitschy. More importantly I wanted our name to have the set-up to collaborate with brands outside the childrens space — or for us to launch product lines that weren’t necessarily for kids.
How do you feel the brand has changed?
I think it has matured the brand a bit — we’ve been working with social influencers that I think before were cringing when they saw the former name in their inbox!
What are you envisioning for the future with June & January?
I really want to position our brand as the go-to for well made, colorful staple items. We are preparing to launch an entirely new product line in 2016 to go along with that idea, and are super excited about it.
What has been the biggest hurdle with the rebranding? Did you find people had a hard time transitioning?
For the most part, our customer base was really really supportive — but those who didn’t ‘approve’ of the name were incredibly vocal about it! The biggest hurdle we faced was really just getting that message out to our social media followers and customers. We worked with both PR and SEO teams to make the transition as smooth as possible though, and overall I’m really happy we did it.
How has community both online and in person played a role in your business and life?
Our social media community has been such an integral part of our success; I think giving them access to my personal life makes them even more supportive as customers because they KNOW me and my family, and at the end of the day feel like they are buying from a friend. I love taking every opportunity I can to meet customers in real life at events and sales, to really connect on another level with the people who support us. I have become close friends with a lot of customers — like we text regularly! And some of my long-term customers are now investors in the business, which is amazing!
Our social media community has been such an integral part of our success; I think giving them access to my personal life makes them even more supportive as customers because they KNOW me and my family, and at the end of the day feel like they are buying from a friend.
What have been some of the most successful collabs you’ve ever done and is there anyone you’ve been dying to work with?
I loved working with Dan from Kin Ship and Kristen from Thimblepress. I think they are both amazing artists and despite being totally different from what are doing, our brands meshed really well together. My dream collaboration would be with Rifle Paper Co. Anna and her husband just had a baby so it makes perfect sense. 😉
We’ve seen so many celebs in June and January including Kourtney Kardashian’s little one!! How do you work with celebs and influencers? Do you see this having a big impact on your business?
This definitely goes along with our name change! We have been sending product to celebrities for years but it wasn’t until our rebrand that we actually saw something from it. Probably coincidental, but it’s been amazing nonetheless. We’ve also been fortunate enough to be contacted by a few personal assistants and PR reps asking for our product to be sent to their clients. There isn’t much of a short-term effect, but its definitely really exciting for brand awareness and elevation.