BY SERGIE WILLOUGHBY
?In 2015, Nina Grier launched an e-store offering apparel, jewelry home accessories with images of ethnically diverse progressive American leaders from the 18th, 19th & 20th centuries. In doing so, she learned valuable lessons that she?s shared with TNJ.com, below, for anyone looking to launch an e-store.
TNJ.com: Tell me a bit about your e-store, Historical Dream, LLC.
???Nina Grier: Through Historical Dream, we elevate an everyday awareness of the contributions historic ethnic leaders have made for America. eCommerce is a billion dollar market that all levels of consumers -?millennial, X generation, baby boomers. On our eStore site, we provide a wide variety of apparel products for consumers to choose from. ?We celebrate monthly events relevant to particular cultural groups and announce to our subscribers and followers on social media what we?re up to. ?Our Trunk Shows, Pop Ups and other exhibiting events are communicated on our site. We share our mission and vision with consumers so that they can understand our social and consumer goals.???
TNJ.com: What did you learn about building a strong foundation with regard to launching a business from?Wharton SBDC?s Strategic Business Planning workshop??
???N.G.: My experience to date is that you can formulate a business plan as defined by the SBDC?s business planning workshop, but it is an ever-evolving discipline. ?We also better appreciated that growth is a stepwise process and re-strategizing is critical to being nimble to meet market demands. ?One other point of particular knowledge I walked away with from the SBDC?s workshop, is that when to take a salary from your business is not an easy decision. ?Some would say to pay your self first, however I?ve found that to not be a realistic practice for me as I plot the growth of Historical Dream. ?Taking all money earned and putting it back into the company lessens the strain of affording and planning exhibitions and product development. ?I?ve subsidized the growth of Historical Dream with my professional healthcare consulting assignments.
TNJ.com: Within the first year of launching the business, what was your approach to pricing and promotion????
??N.G.: I did a lot of research as I traveled the country to understand how boutiques were pricing their t-shirts. I read numerous articles and referred back to literature the WSBDC?c provided to get a good handle on pricing. ?I ultimately decided that our products are a mid- premium product. ?We use fine cotton and cotton blend material with quality ink for direct to garment printing. Our pricing strategy ?is on par with small boutique stores, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Ave. ?Because of the small inventory of products on hand and the lack of large volume pricing breaks from our sources our pricing could never be at the low end of the pricing scale for T-shirts. ?????
TNJ.com: Is there a major difference between running an e-store compared to a regular brick and mortar business???What advice do you have for others looking to launch an e-store?
??N.G.: It is a very tricky proposition running an eCommerce store. ?Managing the appropriate inventory on a ship as ordered basis; having mechanisms tied to promotion through our online distribution channel adds to efficiencies. Consumers can shop anytime of day and the costs associated with promotions are far less daunting than the cost associated with retail leasing (i.e. contracting, liability, store?design up keep, etc.). ?We are still learning to make our eStore business profitable. ?However, with digital?marketing and social media the growth can be exponential.
??TNJ.com: Although you just launched Historical Dream in 2015, do you have any short to long term goals in place? ?
?N.G.: Our short-term goal is to continue to better understand who our customers are. ?We are looking to get subscribers to our website from all direct selling opportunities possible. ?In 2015, we wanted to prove our business model. ?That is, consumers are?interested in wearing historic icons on fashionable t-shirts, jewelry and bags. ?In 2016 we proved this model with over 20 direct selling events. These were short term goals. ?Our long term goal is to gain retail distribution throughout the country where it makes sense. ?Outlets would include museum stores, small boutiques, and national retailers. ?We expect to broaden our portfolio and continue attracting loyal followers of our brand.. Historical Dream? Image Of A Progressive Society.