Episode 093: Show Notes
Today we are bringing on Wedding and Portrait Photographer, Katie Doherty of La Rousse Shoppe. Katie is a service and a product-based business babe. She started out as a teacher, had a passion for photography, saw a gap in the market and filled it with a $200k+ business that is as passive and automated as possible while continuously growing and expanding.
In this episode, Katie is sharing with us on how her dream was born. We get a peek into some of the resources and tools she uses to make it all happen and we find out more about what she actually sells. We are super excited about what she’s spilling in this episode, so keep listening.
La Rousse Shoppe, a Product-Based Glass Box Business
Katie has been a full-time wedding and portrait photographer since 2014. She has a lot of passions, one of them being the glass photo boxes sold at La Rousse Shoppe. It’s basically a proof box way that photographers can deliver a stack of prints to their clients. The main reason that Katie created these boxes was to gift to her wedding photography clients, but her now business partner made her realize that this was something that a lot of photographers would want as well. In 2015, they totaled almost $200k in sales and this year they’re averaging $10k - $20k a month in sales. However, this is not a full-time thing — Katie enjoys doing photography on weekends and she’s still doing both. In order to do both, she has had to think of ways to automate the product-based glass box business.
Tools and Resources Used to Simplify Work
Katie recommends using Shopify. They have been using Shopify since day one and she likes it because you can really customize your site and add on a lot of apps that automate things for you. They use MoonMail Recover Checkouts, an app that automatically sends an email to the customer saying that they left an item in their cart and usually a little incentive would be added in. That encourages customers to click through. Another app they have added to their store is FOMO, a way of increasing sales and conversions by showing off customer interactions. TaxJar is another really great way to keep track of sales. TaxJar calculates all the sales that the store is bringing in and it will break down matters where the items are being shipped to. Textexpander helps Katie save time when it comes to responses, and Alibaba has been another great resource.
The First Few Months in Business
When Katie sold her first glass box in January 2015, she didn’t tell anyone about it. She was unsure and wanted some form of validation. However she has now learned that the only way to find out if something a good idea is to try to push it and see what the response is. She told her friend Phil about it, he loved the idea and encouraged her to do a few different print size boxes. It’s okay to start with one product and once you see it working, look at ways to expand on it. She attributes their success to Instagram — they are kind of lucky because of the very nature of their product and their customers. Because their customers are often professional photographers, they’re going to take great pictures of the product to share with their own potential clients. Katie also started sending out free promo boxes to influencers, which is her number one tip. Don’t be afraid to send your product out to people who are interested and who are going to talk about it. The power of word of mouth is amazing. Through sharing her boxes with various people, her business was able to grow and expand.
The Fulfillment Center
According to Katie, they first started out in her parents garage. She always wondered how they would grow if they didn’t have the physical space. They looked at different spaces and came across the fulfillment center. Katie was afraid to give up the control to a third party fulfillment center. Ultimately, she decided she didn't want to spend time figuring out what to do with all the cardboard boxes that were overflowing the garage and she didn't want to figure out scheduling daily pickups from the post office. They had employees and she needed to figure out the technical stuff which was taking time away from what she wanted to do, which was creating products, taking pictures and mingling with people on social media. She didn’t want to be a professional packer. They found Simpl Fulfillment in Texas and reached out to them. As the orders come in they pack it, they ship it and they take care of that side of the business. This particular company just charges per order to pack and ship and they don’t charge storage fees. It’s very comparable, if not cheaper, to what they were doing before.
Apps Used for Communication
Katie explains how they use Trello for distributing work to their engraving artist so they can always see where she’s at and see the progress of the product. She likes Trello because, unlike a text or an email, you are just responsible for looking at and engaging with Trello at work. They also recently started using Slack and it benefits their organization to be able to keep everything in one place. Katie loves Slack because it is free, and they use the chat feature to communicate daily. Slack uses channels which keep everything together in one place, making it easily accessible.
Hear more about La Rousse Shoppe being a product-based business selling glass photo boxes. [0:02:40.1]
Find out about some of the tools and resources Katie uses to simplify her work. [0:05:31.1]
Understand what the first few months in business looked like and what led to sales for Katie’s business. [0:21:54.1]
Growing the business from a garage to working with a fulfillment center. [0:32:07.1]
Discover what Apps Katie uses for communication in her business. [0:39:18.1]
Start noticing/writing down things you wish existed that could make life easier
Sign up for Shopify if you have something you want to sell — play around with templates
Consider a partner you might want to work with and reach out
Start systemizing everything you do
Do your very best to give over control