Susan Merkle came to us with a vision for her business and a completely clean slate. A designer of fine furnishings and goods made from cowhides and artisan leather, she described her pieces as trophies of nature for the high-end clientele that lives in the luxury mountain homes of the west. She needed a name and logo—a visual identity that would appeal to an elevated taste level while keeping the rustic vibe of western landscapes. In short, she was starting from scratch. Just like the spirit behind her brand, Susan was adventurous and fearless.
“One thing I have heard over and over from makers is that they wished that they had launched with professional help from the beginning, to eliminate costly do-overs,” she told us. “So I have decided to heed this wisdom and invest in professional help from day one. I have my ideas, but I’m not married to any of them and am open to professional advice.”
During our business name brainstorming, certain themes and images began to emerge. Rawness paired with sophistication, as well as a very strong sense of place guided the process to a name that was completely original but also felt timeless. Lonestead Range evokes the idea of homestead, of the Lonestar state, of independence and a vast expanse of land that stretches to a sunset horizon.
With the name enthusiastically in place, we moved on to the brand’s visual identity next. A lifestyle brand like Lonestead Range needs to very clearly communicate its essence, and so Ann on our team focused on conveying a refined but rustic sensibility. It was important that the design go for the unexpected.
“Lonestead Range needs to have something strong with a little toughness, but also beautifully classic,” Ann explained. “I wanted to create a literal ‘brand’ for Lonestead Range that represents the ranch lifestyle and the incredible artisan quality of the products.”
She began this by choosing typography with a slightly vintage feel and a non-trendy approach, purposely avoiding anything overdone, too dated or too decorative. Considering that the brand’s higher price point would mean that customers would be purchasing to make a statement with their items, it was important for the design to be more chic and exclusive than other labels.
The typeface incorporates modern lines and a bit of rustic industrial. The star, although a simple symbol, is instantly recognized as part of Western American iconography, evoking spurs, state flags, the “big sky” country, etc. It also represents awards for high quality, like 5-star hotels and trophies. Together, they create a simple but strong logo that becomes its own iconic brand mark. It feels more luxe and modern than other brands in the same niche, while still capturing the essence of the lifestyle.
We knew we’d hit the right mark when Susan responded to the initial logo concepts with exclamation points and a heart emoji.
“Oh Ann, Take my breath away! This is such an amazing start, I’m having a hard time imagining it better! I’m not sure there is anything else to say, other than AMAZING! You put in words what is in my head and <3.”
Do you spend a lot of time on Instagram or another social media platform, but no one will buy? You need a way to get your perfect customer to move from admiring to desiring to buying. When you’re communicating with your customer, consider what they need to know to make a purchase.
Does giving a person a reason to buy make you feel pushy and unpleasant? It doesn’t have to be that way. First, decide you only want to convince your perfect customer. It’s the people who are trying to convince everyone to buy that come off like used car salesmen. Your perfect customer is close to being very happy to buy from you, and you need to help her get all the way there.
Are you giving your potential customers a good reason to buy?
When you propose an action to a customer (click here! buy now!), their first reaction will be, “why should I?”
Make sure that your writing answers this silent question before it’s asked.
Every time you ask someone to do something (and you should be asking), think, “why should she?” to yourself. Then put the answer in your request.
Examples of bad and good calls to action
When you ask someone to do something, that’s called a “call to action.” Here are four small business photo captions I found on Instagram. Which do you find more compelling?
“Fresh out of my kiln today!”
Okay, great! You made it. Will it be for sale? What is it, what do I do with it and why do I want it? Perhaps this post wasn’t meant to sell anything, but even if I find the work interesting, nothing here sparks me to action.
“This old rack is pretty perfect. 4 metal hooks, 35″ long. $55”
At least the price tells me it’s for sale! But this is all info, no call to action. I need to know what makes it perfect (what’s the benefit?), and I need to know what the seller wants me to do (“head to our website to grab it before it’s gone!”).
“Our cube chair is a beautiful and functional piece of furniture that promotes independence (starting at about 5-6 months). It comes in Birch or Walnut and is fully assembled.”
This is so close. This tells me a bit about why I want it (independent baby–but what’s so great about an independent baby?), but how do I get it? Remember I’m on Instagram. What do I do next? Is there a website I go to?
“Entertaining in style is kinda what I live for. It’s what’s behind the brand @suiteonestudio in the simplest sense. I wanted to bring a new freshness to the table, because I believe that sharing meals together isn’t something that needs to remain in the past. Sure gathering around the table is a bit more challenging these days (life is busy busy!) but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t carve out time to do this, and to do it well, and beautifully. Visit the link in my profile to enter for your chance to win this platter and gorgeous @rebecca_atwood napkins so you too can make mealtimes beautiful.”
Ding ding ding! Oh yes. I can relate to this, I understand it, I know where to go and what I’m getting there, and “so you too can make mealtimes beautiful” answers the question I’m asking in the same sentence as it asks me to visit the link. This is how to do it with grace and effectiveness.
Do you always have to include a call to action?
It’s true that a picture is often worth a thousand words. Some people go far on the strength of their photos alone. People figure it out, love it, and buy it, with a sales process that is more like friendly chit chat.
If demand for your products beats the supply, do whatever you enjoy on Instagram. But if you wish more people would follow through after you post, use your words wisely. Not only on Instagram, but across social media and on your own website or Etsy shop (think product descriptions!).
I’m not saying that you should sell every time you post. People will appreciate your just-for-fun posts–the ones that show your personality. It’s fine to use social media to be social! When you do want to sell, though, make sure you know how best to bring people along with you.
If you’re interested in psychology, like I am, this research study on the answer to “why” is fascinating (it turns out that almost any dumb reason after the “because” causes people to help you!):
One thing you may not know about hiring the Aeolidia team to design your website is that we don’t let you get away with flimsy calls to action on your home page! We’ll include our copywriter on your team, and make sure that every bit of content gives your customers a reason to buy, counters their objections, and helps them sail smoothly to checkout.
Our website redesigns consistently increase conversion rates for established businesses and provide a killer start for new businesses. That means that you can see many more sales with the same amount of traffic you get right now. Same marketing effort, bigger results! Get in touch with me today so we can chat about making your website really work.
Once they get to your website, will they trust what they see?
When your shop has grown beyond pre-made Shopify themes, and you’re ready for something more powerful for your creative business, it’s time to call Aeolidia. We specialize in custom Shopify design, tailor-made to your business and your customers. We design strategically, and our design decisions are all meant to support your goals, increase conversion rate, and multiply your current sales numbers.
Here is a quick peek at our clients’ recent launches, and at what we’re working on going into the fall. These motivated creative businesses include: 4 gift and housewares designers, 2 children’s clothing brands, 2 shops for the mother-to-be, 1 party shop, 3 bath and body brands, 1 doll maker, 1 fine art gallery, 1 interior design studio, 2 clothing pattern designers, 3 jewelry designers, 1 flower farm, 1 cooking club for kids, 2 designers of art prints, 1 furniture designer, 1 eyewear designer, 1 ceramic artist, and 1 shop specializing in cheese storage.
It is such an honor and a delight to be able to work with such creative, ambitious, and dedicated business owners. I think you’ll like them, too!
We will write about these projects in more detail in the upcoming weeks, but for now, I wanted to give you the rundown of what work we’ve finished and what we’re beginning now.
These ones are totally done!
Design block three at Aeolidia has wrapped up, and block four of 2017 is underway. Some of our logo clients from block three are having a website built, some sites designed in the last block are being developed, and the others are new to us this block. I’d like to show off the inspiring brands that are ready to put their plans into action and achieve their goals now! Here are the projects we’ve recently completed:
We wanted to create a bright and happy home for Bamboletta’s dolls. The website balances simplicity and warmth, while telling the Bamboletta story, showcasing the dolls and what sets them apart, and inspiring customers (new and trusted alike) to make a purchase. The homepage features woodland inspired illustrations paired with storybook typography all on a clean, responsive layout. There is no white background, but there’s still enough visual space so the important information doesn’t get lost. The photography is beautiful, so we made sure to give the photos room to breathe. By keeping the overall design clean, the photos are able to shine, telling the story of the Bamboletta brand and products.
Known for their paper placemat pads, a gift industry trend they started.
Project: Custom Shopify website, copywriting, SEO consultation
Status: Project complete, website launched!
Visit: Hester & Cook, a custom-designed Shopify site by Aeolidia.
Our goal was to create an updated and beautifully branded experience that would not only appeal to their current customer base but also attract a new online clientele. We also wanted the online experience to match the quality of their curated, flagship brick & mortar experience.
Visually, we took inspiration from Hester & Cook’s new logo, beautiful products, and timeless color palette to create a classic, but contemporary, look and feel. Details such as the curved page corners, editorial typefaces, and stationery-inspired tables, add dashes of personality to this clean design. The fresh, polished design showcases their range of products beautifully and helps instill customer confidence in the Hester & Cook as the home for high-quality, kitchen and home goods.
Not only is the visual transformation from the old site to new site striking, the redesigned navigation now allows visitors to understand at a glance what Hester & Cook has to offer, improving shopability. We’re so excited with this makeover and can’t wait to watch Hester & Cook continue to grow!
This brand started with our business naming process and became Indigo Ember. Patricia was ready to invest in what she needed to take her business to the next level, so we completed a business and marketing consultation with her, wrote the copy for her website, and styled and shot photos of her products. The new brand identity and custom website design are now complete as well.
We created a literal “brand” for Lonestead Range that represents the ranch lifestyle and the incredible artisan quality of the products. The star is a symbol that not only appears in much of Western American iconography, but also represents high quality and awards. Together they create a simple but strong logo that becomes its own iconic brand mark. The simplicity of the typeface contrasts perfectly with the roughness of the more traditional serif used with the star. It’s blending a bit of old and new.
To begin the rebrand, we worked with Robyn to change the name from “Georgie Designs” to “Love, Georgie.” The logo starts with a feminine script, paired with the modern lowercase type. It’s casual but contemporary, sweet but professional. The lowercase “georgie”—while not in the same exact font as before—echoes Robyn’s former business name and logo. The handwritten “love” and hand drawn heart show the personal touch that goes into her products (and every single package she sends to her customers). While the typography and illustration choice is a departure from the ones in Georgie Designs, it is similar enough that it still feels like her brand, just more grownup and polished. There is a stacked version of “love, georgie” that can be used in alternate layouts/spaces, as well as a monogram that can be used in places she may not need the entire logo (like a sticker or as a watermark on an image). We used the same hand drawn, carefree illustration style for other icons that are used throughout her branding, such as a flower or maybe even an “xo.”
The logo design features solid, classic typography, paired with a whimsical hand-drawn illustration. It reflects Mafu’s trusted, tried and true handmade botanicals and the friendly services that Bonnie provides in her own home. The primary mark includes an “est.” date, which establishes the business’s longevity and experience. The macrons (little lines over the vowels) and dictionary inspired pronunciation tag are fun and helpful visual cues. The thin, delicate lines in the leaf drawing adds contrast to the bolder type. The alternate marks feature a version of the logo with the “goodness & beauty” tag line, along with the word mark alone and an M monogram.
The website design expands on the modern botanical branding we established, while telling the story of Mafu, showcasing Bonnie’s wonderful products, and inspiring her customers (new and trusted alike) to make a purchase. The slightly darker, muted tones of the branding colors add legibility, while illustrations and a new handwritten font, bring softness and warmth to the site.
While putting the design together, Brooke incorporated the brand’s colors in a refreshing but not overly intrusive way. The top of the page, in particular, is more sleek and clean, as it is important for the logo to stand out, the navigation to be clear and concise, and the slider images to not be competing with other page elements. As you scroll further down the page, you see more color and more detailed design elements, but it is still balanced with white space, clean lines, and easy-to-read typography.
Well Dressed Wolf is a well-loved brand for well dressed children, and they came to us looking for a polished brand identity. We fine tuned their existing logo, as well as the logos for their sub-brands, Omi Jo and Wildling, ensuring the marks would work well online and in print. We created a color palette and selected typography that would work well across the entire brand—not just within each sub-brand. And we designed a few patterns that would breathe life into it all.
Together, the branding elements give Well Dressed Wolf’s family of brands a streamlined look with a touch of whimsy. The website expands on the sweet branding we established, while telling the story of Well Dressed Wolf, showcasing it’s beautiful products and explaining its wonderful mission. The photography has a clean and airy canvas so it can shine. Accented with a few illustrative details along with classic and feminine typography, the overall look is professional but warm. A place where the Well Dressed Wolf community will feel right at home.
With a unique collection of handcrafted items from artisans across Latin America, Ricardo was looking for a brand that reflected both the artists he features and the masterpieces they create. The “Handmade Heart” tagline remained at the forefront in our minds as we designed colorful branding, print, and web designs that stay true to the roots of this new online hub of artistry. Visitors can browse work by exploring amazing 360 degree views of each piece, and learn the specifics of each creation and its artist before purchasing.
We first got to work on branding for Geese & Ganders. They had an adorable logo, but needed business stationery and packaging pieces to round out their brand identity. We were inspired by their love of patterns and highlighted the brand’s personality in their printed pieces. Since this is a new business, we also worked on website copy and marketing strategies to give her a unique voice in the marketplace.
We first got to work on defining Adoren’s target customer and unique selling proposition with a business and marketing consultation. These exercises provide great detail about the audience we are designing for and really help us move forward. Next we designed a logo and brand identity that relates to Adoren’s mission of “loving deeply, living simply, and making life more beautiful.” Now it’s time to incorporate all of this goodness into the website design.
Empowering curvy women to sew timeless clothing that makes them feel proud of their bodies and of themselves.
Project: Brand identity, custom Shopify website, copywriting
Current site: Cashmerette (new site scheduled to launch October 16)
Status: Brand identity design is complete, and website design begins.
Cashmerette’s brand identity has served the business well, acting as a wonderful launchpad for the brand. The logo just needed a refresh so that it reflects a European simplicity while having a fun and happy vibe. An identity that’s a little more grown up and sophisticated, giving the brand the flexibility to grow. And grow it will! Cashmerette currently has a very successful blog-with-a-shop and we have been working hard to come up with the best strategy to turn it into a shop-with-a-blog.
Handmade jewelry made with gemstones from the earth, and talismans from around the globe.
Project: Custom Shopify website, copywriting
Current site: Dotted Line Jewelry (new site scheduled to launch August 18)
Status: Website design complete, and development begins.
Dotted Line came to us looking for a website that could become the backbone of her business, so we have been working hard to deliver her one. We have been writing copy and designing the site around the brand’s beautiful photography to create something that will not only speak to her target audience, but also be something to be proud of.
Family-run flower farm specializing in growing unique, uncommon, and heirloom flowers.
Project: Custom Shopify website
Current site: Floret Flowers (new site scheduled to launch August 18)
Status: Website design complete, and development begins.
The Floret Flowers site was a project that required even more critical strategy as usual, since we were helping them replatform from WooCommerce to Shopify, while keeping the blog on the WordPress platform. They had experienced some frustration with their website, and we are working to make everything smooth sailing post-launch. We’re coding away on this one!
It has been such fun writing copy for this cheese loving brand. We’re currently working closely with Mark on content for each page of the website and for customer-facing emails, planning the website strategy, and providing art direction for photo shoots so we have strong imagery for our design.
Celebrating the zesty, peppy essence of animals with original designs and goods for your nursery, home, desk and beyond.
Project: Custom Shopify website, copywriting
Current site: Gingiber (new site scheduled to launch August 18)
Status: Website design complete, and development begins.
This one is going to be so much fun! We spent the first part of this project advising Stacie on her brand graphics, and moved right along to a web design that captures the spirit of Gingiber and will engage her customers and bring them along on her business journey (with an emphasis on purchasing her products, of course). I really can’t wait to show you this one!
We’re enjoying the challenge of marrying modern with ethnic/traditional, bold with subtle, and simple with complex for this brand identity. The logo is complete and we are deep in pattern design to create a harmonious look and feel to this brand’s diverse aesthetic.
When working on the website design, we really honed in on the concept of creating space for story-telling along with commerce. Visually speaking, we were influenced by the brand’s beautiful editorial photography along with its nature-inspired color palette and timeless type. The priority was to introduce customers to the brand story and their range of high quality, ethically-made handmade children’s goods. An experience both existing and new customers will love!
With a successful Etsy shop, Oh Baby Names had the proof of concept they needed to take their business to the next level. We first started with new business name brainstorming and then moved into logo design. We came up with classic yet playful logo with vintage-inspired details that reflect the authenticity, heart, and soul behind the brand. Now we will begin website design.
We updated the Pam Powers logo, making it a natural evolution for her brand. It pays homage to her past but will appeal more to her mature target audience. We also worked on a variety of business stationery and packaging items—staying true to the new brand guidelines we created. Next up is a custom website design that will support Pam’s new look and specific business goals.
Petit Mignon already had so many of the key pieces to a darling brand identity. The logo just needed to be polished so that it reflected a higher end, European style aesthetic. We are very excited to start designing a soft and sweet website that evokes the innocence and wonder of this brand.
A cooking club for kids bringing families together in the kitchen and at the table through edible education.
Project: Custom Shopify website, copywriting
Current site: Raddish Kids (new site scheduled to launch August 18)
Status: Website design in progress.
We have been working hard behind the scenes to come up with a framework and strategy to meet Raddish’s specific sales goals. With this project, as with all our work, marketing and sales strategies are just as important as design aesthetics. Raddish recently moved from their garage to a shipping facility, and we’re excited to assist in this boost up to the next stage for their business.
These ones have just begun
I’m thrilled to introduce you to these inspiring businesses who are beginning work with us in block four. See where they’re at now, and check back with us in a couple of months to see their transformations!
I don’t have a cohesive brand style/personality. I feel like the chevron and mint combo is well liked and I get a lot of compliments on the packaging. However, I feel like the brand image is missing a luxe element or something special. The products are fantastic, but I’m not sure if the brand is memorable.
I am ready to rebrand. I need a new logo and guidance with the look of my website. I want people to see edgy contemporary jewelry and the influence of the desert. I want them to see jewelry that will make them feel special and help them to make an impression.
We started on Etsy in 2010 and opened our current shop in 2012. This is our second website and although we are super thrilled with our branding, the logistics and functionality of our site is really lacking. We feel migrating to Shopify will help to alleviate many of the issues we are having.
The majority of my retail sales have come from my presence at a local farmers market, and honestly, that’s where I’ve focused most of my energy up to this point. It’s been a needed learning experience and ‘proof of concept’ for me to build confidence, gain selling experience, develop customer relationships, establish a few wholesale accounts, and expand to making larger product batches.
While I’ll continue to grow my presence and sales at the farmers market, it’s time to shift and invest more energy in developing online sales.
I make beautiful handmade ceramics of the highest quality. 36 individual steps where my hands are forming, shaping, touching, from the first handful of clay through to the final glaze firing give way to dishes, trays, cups, bowls, bottles, vases, jars, and pitchers. Each piece is hand crafted with care and consideration to form and function, with no two exactly identical. They serve a functional physical purpose to contain and hold the food meant to nourish our bodies, but also feed our souls in the way they evoke a feeling of intimacy and connection from the expressive marks left by my hands in the process of making the work.
I seek a business name and brand that will visually translate well with marketing materials, packaging, and a craft show booth, while supporting the feelings of connection I am trying to evoke.
Do any of these hard working business owners sound like you?
Your small but fast growing business is perfectly poised to make a big splash in online retail, and that’s exactly where Aeolidia loves to meet you. We are highly-ranked official Shopify Experts, with a history of exceeding expectations. Our work is strategic, completely custom, and entirely goals-based. We like to get involved when we know our work can be transformative and cause exponential growth.
Ready? If you’re ready to move forward with your business, and to invest in some outside help, we would love to be your team. Please contact us if you’re interested in telling us more about your retail goals and objectives so we can put together a custom proposal for you.
Not quite ready? If you’re not quite ready to do this work for your business (or you aren’t sure if you are or not), a great next step is to join our community, The Shipshape Collective. Not only will we send you our best info about pushing your business to the next level, but you’ll be invited to our Facebook group, and be able to access all the free business building tools in our members’ area. Join here:
If you’re anything like me, you love making improvements and watching your business grow. Sometimes, though, the day-to-day reality of running your own business doesn’t feel ideal. It doesn’t feel like you’d hoped when you first started out.
We can all get closer to that ideal:
sticking to the tasks that we’re best at
working on our businesses, not in them
seeing consistent increases in profit
AND being able to close the laptop, set the phone down and enjoy evenings and weekends
I have been watering and weeding a sprout of an idea for the last couple of years. It finally needed a name and a mission applied to it:
Welcome to The Shipshape Collective,
a growing community of creative shop owners!
I have been sending a business-building newsletter since 2011. I started the Aeolidia blog in 2012. In 2015, we added the Aeolidia Facebook group. I wanted to go beyond broadcasting and have some real discussions. And to make a space where you could learn from and help each other.
Aeolidia has two sides. We’re primarily a transformative design agency. The funny thing is that I spend most of my time on the free half of my business: the educational resources and creative shop owners community. The Shipshape Collective is the second branch, the helping hand that lifts you up.
We’re going to work on making Shipshape a little “brand within a brand.” I’d like to design a logo and polish up the look of the newsletter and Facebook group. Someday! I wanted to get the ball rolling, and I’m okay going slow with this.
The Shipshape Collective’s mission
I’d like to bring real professionalism, credibility, and business savvy to creative shops. All this while staying true to what made us want to start selling our products in the first place. If you take yourself seriously, your customers will, too.
I aim to support struggling, stressed entrepreneurs in becoming confident captains of their industry. Your small business can be as successful with your small niche of customers as large businesses are with their big group. More successful, because your customers believe in you and your story.
Do you feel like you’re getting bogged down doing everything for your shop? Embrace the idea that you aren’t an accountant or an advertising specialist or a web designer. You shouldn’t be doing data entry or packing orders forever: I’d like to see you hasten to invest in your business and yourself.
What our members discuss
We talk about all the nitty gritty that goes into running a business. Recent roundups of great business advice have included:
How to print shipping labels & ship cost-effectively
What to write in a newsletter
Where to find printers and packaging suppliers
What to do about copyright infringement
How to sell wholesale
Join us and ask your question!
What makes us special
In most business-building groups, you’ll find “hustlers” and “startups” and “disrupters.” People in it to make a buck. How about joining a community of creative businesses founded by designers? Our methods are a bit different, and we already understand you. For us, the passion and drive to create usually came first, with profit coming next.
That’s all well and good, but it’s hard to run a business without knowing how to run a business. I speak from experience, HA! No business should be an island. Talk to other shop owners to find out what works.
Not just any shop owners, though: ones who have the same concerns and a similar path to yours. The Shipshape Collective!
Thanks so much for all of the information you share in the class, in your newsletter and blog and in the Facebook group. Aeolidia consistently provides specific, helpful information and feedback. It’s appreciated!!
–Lauren Boggs Meslar
What you get and how to get it
Our members’ area is full of detailed, free bonus content. More than 10,000 subscribers have access to all this goodness.
The Facebook group is humming along without a single sales pitch or spam in sight, even with over 3,000 shop owners involved.
I recently taught an online class to 120 community members. This is a possible new direction for The Shipshape Collective. It went well and gave me ideas for how to do these in the future.
I will be putting more of my time toward helping your growing business. My ultimate goal is to be able to help you every step of the way: from grand idea to the busy business you dreamed of! I’d love you to succeed, and then Aeolidia can work directly with you as your design team. Step by step by step. We’ll get there.
Will you join our smart, supportive group? It’s all still totally free, by the way. I hope to see you soon and help you solve some problems:
Here’s a story about a jewelry designer with customizable products who increased her conversion rate by four times and her sales by seven times by making just one change to her website (then capitalizing on it with targeted social media ads)!
Usually, the design work that Aeolidia does doesn’t pay off until after we launch the site. But, by working on streamlining customizable products and options, we were able to help a jewelry designer revolutionize her business right away. I’ve been dying to be able to tell you about this!
Robyn Klauer, owner of Love, Georgie, sells customizable jewelry through her Shopify site. As we worked on the design of her product detail pages, we could see there were an overwhelming amount of options for the charms that can be added to her bracelets. Many different icons, colors, and metal choices.
We reviewed the statistics for the existing website and began talking of ways to make the customization process easier. We asked Robyn which charms are selling, as a preliminary question to recommending that Robyn pare her options WAY down.
Robyn took our cue and got exactly what we were driving at:
OMG I’ve had a revelation. I need to offer slightly LESS customization in order to make ordering easier. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Let’s take my “she believed she could so she did” bracelet. The photo shows a year charm and a graduation cap. I’d say a good 75% of the time, people choose those two charms. PEOPLE BUY WHAT I TELL THEM TO BUY. I’ve always said that! And now I’m realizing, people need less choices.
We agreed completely, and were glad to find we were on the same page. Numerous studies have been done about how too many choices can be paralyzing for customers. A famous one is about a grocery store giving out samples of jam:
In a California gourmet market, Professor Iyengar and her research assistants set up a booth of samples of Wilkin & Sons jams. Every few hours, they switched from offering a selection of 24 jams to a group of six jams. On average, customers tasted two jams, regardless of the size of the assortment, and each one received a coupon good for $1 off one Wilkin & Sons jam.
Here’s the interesting part. Sixty percent of customers were drawn to the large assortment, while only 40 percent stopped by the small one. But 30 percent of the people who had sampled from the small assortment decided to buy jam, while only 3 percent of those confronted with the two dozen jams purchased a jar.
That study “raised the hypothesis that the presence of choice might be appealing as a theory,” Professor Iyengar said last year, “but in reality, people might find more and more choice to actually be debilitating.”
— Too Many Choices: a Problem That Can Paralyze
It’s much easier to sell a product that doesn’t have lots of choices, and most customers want you to do the work for them. For the few where extreme personalization is important, you can still have that available. I felt that Robyn could have more “ready-made” type jewelry, and then a big noticeable message letting people know that they can personalize it (and taking them to a different page to do so).
Logo and business card design by Aeolidia
We were designing the Love, Georgie logo at the time of this discussion, and planning for the website. Fast forward three months later, when Robyn came to us with this exciting news:
So this is amazing. I’ve spent no less than 100 hours getting my website options up and ready so that it’s all in line when Jon starts coding. I’ve GREATLY eliminated the amount of options available for each item while making it still feel like a very personalized gift.
After I did that I started to notice an increase in sales. So then I started dumping money into Pinterest ads and Facebook ads (not really knowing what I’m doing but learning). And my sales have skyrocketed. I’ve done $67,000 this month to date on my website (this is my graduation/mother’s day season). Last month I did $7,300 just for perspective. My conversion rate was previously .89% and now it’s around 3.5-4%. I can only imagine what will happen when we launch the new site!
You guys. I had to know more about this, and I’m sure you want to, too. Here’s my interview with Robyn about how exactly this all went down.
Product styling and photography by Aeolidia
Did sales increase immediately as you narrowed the options?
Robyn: Not immediately, as it was off season and generally low traffic at the time. I also did some testing on different items to see if the amount of options offered made a difference. Finding the balance between offering enough options to make it feel personalized, but not so many that it feels overwhelming is the hard part.
I tested pricing along with options. I took one of my most popular items and and changed it from offering unlimited charm options (you could choose from birthstones, initials, words, and about 50 symbols) and did two things with different results:
Before changes: Bracelet with unlimited charm options: average cost per bracelet sold was $52, at a 0.89% conversion rate.
Options change 1: Bracelet with only two charm options (the ones shown in the example photo): average cost per bracelet sold was $52, at an approximate 4.3% conversion rate.
Options change 2: Bracelet with 8 charm options: average cost per bracelet sold was $64, with the same 4.3% conversion rate.
So I was able to increase the amount per purchase by offering just the right amount of charms.
I also made it easier to add the product to the cart. In offering unlimited charms, the customer had to let me know which charms in a typed note. When I changed it, I made everything a dropdown menu. I think that by specifically asking, “Do you want to add a birthstone charm?” and they have to pick yes or no, it made the customer stop and think about that specific idea. Prior to doing this, they were overwhelmed by the 80+ total options before so they’d just choose “none” or pick only the two shown as examples in the photo.
Logo design by Aeolidia
Were you doing any other new promotions or marketing at the same time as you adjusted options?
Robyn: I was doing additional marketing. But my marketing efforts became more successful and my cost per acquisition changed drastically. Before my changes, I was seeing just a 0.89% conversion rate on my website. After the changes, I now see a 4.3% conversation rate and we haven’t even launched the new website or branding yet!
My revenue in April and May matched half of my entire annual revenue in 2016. This was of course because of my increase in ad spend. But without the better conversion rate, it wouldn’t have been possible to do.
I slowly increased my ad spend as my conversation rates got better. I ended up being able to spend over 10 times what I was spending before.
Was there anything different about your marketing materials?
Robyn: I did not change my marketing materials at all. My same item photos that I’ve always used were what I advertised with. Since my new site and branding hasn’t launched yet, I didn’t want to use the new materials in the marketing.
I did use some new charm graphics on my website product detail pages that were created by your designer, Christine, and they helped to visually organize the options better! I’m sure this helped in converting visitors to sales.
Have you gotten any feedback on this change from your customers? What have they told you?
Robyn: I have had them say they googled my website after being in my Etsy shop (which I have no control over changing) to see if it was easier to order. And they were pleased to see it was.
We have also noticed the amount of questions coming in through our website contact form has decreased. Some of the questions that we would get over and over again on a daily basis about how to choose charms and where to write them, etc. we hardly see any more.
Are the orders keeping up at the new level?
Robyn: Yup! I have had to hire two more people! I imagine it will slow down after Father’s Day, but we are generally higher than we would normally be right now. My jewelry is popular over gift giving holidays and occasions, so it’s normal to get slower from July-October. But we use that time to prep for Christmas.
Wow! I’m sure you’re reeling right now. This is an incredible new start for a business that was relying on Etsy for sales. It seems like giving people more choice will lead to more sales, but the opposite was true in this case.
Products that customers can personalize are a big draw, but can also be hard to sell. Helping people streamline their customization offerings on Shopify is one of our areas of deep expertise, and we would love to help you make sense of your products.
Pair our strategy for your unique business with design that will draw people in, and see where that takes you! Please get in touch today about what we’d recommend for your business.
If you plan to sell products, you can’t ignore design. It’s easy to find a designer who can make your business look pretty. But if you have an online shop, “pretty” doesn’t pay the bills. You need an ecommerce web designer that understands strategy and sales.
What should you think about when hiring an ecommerce designer? You may wonder what makes Aeolidia different from other design studios. We’re pretty different! Here are some things that make our work at Aeolidia game-changing for our clients.
A data-based strategy for each individual shop
We base our design decisions on your real data. We work to improve your conversion rate, customer retention, and average sale amount.
Our Web Analyst will dig into your Shopify and Google Analytics stats before we begin. She will analyze your website’s effectiveness and pinpoint areas to improve. She will gather info on who’s shopping and how they find you.
We then get together behind the scenes with a full team to review and refine a strategic plan. Our strategy is always based on what we know about your business, customers, and your goals. If you don’t already have a website, we are still able to get strategic, based on your Etsy information, what you’ve learned selling in-person or our general knowledge of your industry.
We check back in after launch to go through your stats to analyze the effectiveness of our work. At this point, we will suggest improvements.
Gift and housewares logo design by Aeolidia
A full service studio with a team-based approach
Your dedicated project manager and team of four to ten Aeolidians will be tight for the length of your project. Your designer will collaborate with your developer. Your copywriter will chat with your designer. Your photographer will learn from your marketing consultant. Aeolidia is a team from start to finish!
There’s a lot of content to gather and create for an ecommerce website. It can be messy to coordinate these things between third parties. That’s why we have a copywriter, a product photographer, an SEO strategist, a web analyst, and a marketing consultant on our team.
We remove the problem of juggling different timelines and deadlines between creatives. We identify your needs and make a plan that is our responsibility to carry out and schedule.
YAYA custom Shopify website design by Aeolidia
A deep understanding of ecommerce for creative business
We only work with creative product-based gift stores and lifestyle brands. We only create online shops, and we only use Shopify. This narrow focus leads to mastery.
Our work is goals-based and custom to each client. We ask a lot of questions, and get to know your positioning and your customer before any design work begins.
We excel at working with other graphic designers. Our clients are creatives, and we can design and communicate for you in a way that feels exactly right.
Petit Collage Shopify website redesign by Aeolidia
An effective and distraction-proof process
We have developed a unique and effective process: we launch on time every time.
We excel at clearing a path to your success. Our system keeps things moving even when life and business get in the way of your project tasks.
We don’t do incremental change. Our work is transformative. Making little tweaks or taking your web presence only as far as 90% isn’t going to move you far enough along.
We’re not yes-men, and in fact will respectfully disagree with you. If a choice or idea of yours will take you farther away from your goals, it’s off the table. We don’t base decisions on personal preferences (ours or yours), instead focusing on your customer’s needs.
JillianMaddie Paperie Shopify custom theme by Aeolidia
A high price tag
Wait, is that a good thing? It is! Your team of Aeolidians will put a vast amount of time and effort toward your success. Your project is not a casual matter for us: the bar is set high. You expect a solid return on your investment, and your team will be striving to meet that goal.
We only do completely custom work, meaning we don’t box you in by starting with an existing design theme. A blank white page + your unique business and goals = your website will be a tool built just for you.
When you’re quoted a low price from a designer, ask yourself how the price is possible. How much time can they devote to strategy, research, and exploration? How important is it to your designer that you reach your goals?
Some other things that set us apart
You can see the success of our clients. Our past clients have hit goal after goal.
Our wealth of knowledge is accelerated by working with 50+ clients a year.
We learn about the big picture that goes into running a business, even the parts we don’t deal with day to day.
Everyone on our team consistently strives to make a difference for our clients.
We track every to-do, deadline, and piece of content, so you won’t stress about the calendar.
Aeolidia is a woman-friendly business, and we’re easy to talk to, while confident in our expertise. We know you know your stuff, too.
We’re one of the few studios offering an intermediate solution. If you’re in our “small but growing” sweet spot, we’re a smart pick.
Your success is our success. We’ll do backflips over here as we watch your accomplishments post-launch.
We’re not for everyone
If you’re still reading, though, I suspect we’re a match for you. I’ve been building this for you for the last 13 years, and I can’t wait to meet you! Won’t you please get in touch here and we can work together to make your business all that it can be?
Imagine creating a product that regularly sells out within hours or days of it going live on your site. Such was the case for Bamboletta, which sells one of a kind handmade dolls from Canada. With such rapid sales for her brand, founder Christina Platt felt it was time for a website redesign. Her products were widely loved and in-demand; in order to keep up with their growing popularity, she wanted the site to showcase her products more effectively and move customers through the purchasing experience more efficiently.
We recommended she remain on Shopify (it’s our top choice for nearly all ecommerce businesses), but work with us to redesign her site from scratch, creating a custom Shopify theme meant just for her business and her customers. The new, user-friendly site recently launched, and we’re pleased to share the strategy that went into building it.
Step 1: Design a website for limited edition handmade dolls
Creating a user-friendly site is essential to driving sales. In other words, it’s not only friendly to customers, but to your business. What brand wouldn’t want that?
To build a site for Bamboletta that would play nicely with her customers, our first step was to assess the brand experience and what functionality it required. Because the dolls are made in small quantities by Bamboletta’s “sewing mamas” who work from home, the site gets updated weekly with the newest dolls. There are also many different kinds of Bamboletta dolls made to suit kids of different ages and for different styles of play.
In designing the new site, Christine on our team focused on making customers feel immediately drawn in, welcomed, and informed. The header highlights two key points visitors ought to know: that the products are handmade in Canada and the site offers worldwide shipping. A dropdown menu featuring illustrations and a short description gives a quick glance at what makes each type of doll unique. And below the navigation, a quick introduction with a countdown clock builds anticipation for the next doll release!
Step 2: Function, meet beauty
Of course, function requires aesthetic. To create a soft and happy home for Bamboletta dolls, Christine paired woodland-inspired illustrations with storybook typography on a clean, responsive layout. This new mobile-friendly design balances simplicity and warmth, inspiring customers (new and old alike) to make a purchase.
Step 3: Put your web design to work for you
Phew! That’s a lot of weight for one website to pull, but with careful, strategic planning, it came together seamlessly. And that was only the beginning. A hand-illustrated “Meet Our Dolls” section provides a quick overview of the different types of dolls. An Instagram feed offers visitors a peek at the world of Bamboletta behind the scenes. And a section titled “The Magic of Bamboletta” goes that one extra step to show new customers what makes the brand, company, and dolls so special.
Should you buy a shipping label printer? Which one? What shipping software should you use with it?
The Facebook group I started for shop owners is a real gem. The advice in there is top notch stuff that you can’t always find on Google. This example was so helpful, I thought I’d share it with you. One of our members asked,
“Morning! I’m looking into getting a label printer for my shipping labels. I currently just print them on regular paper, cut them, and use shipping tape to adhere them to the envelopes. Anyone know if using a label printer will be more/ less expensive than doing it like this? I’m sure it will save me time, but wondering if it is worth the purchase. Thanks!”
Dozens of experienced shop owners chimed in, and here are the pros and cons of buying a shipping label printer.
DIY label printing
Quite a few people had a manageable amount of orders, and were able to print labels simply, just using their own home printers. They buy self-adhesive half sheets of labels off Amazon, Uline, or the like and run them through their printers. Please note that an inkjet printer can get very expensive. If you use a printer with a toner cartridge it will last quite a bit longer and you won’t have to keep buying ink.
low initial investment
no extra equipment to have around
can start doing this right away if you have a printer and paper
purchasing ink cartridges can get expensive
taking time to cut labels to size
taking time to cover with tape to prevent smearing from rain
cost of tape
may not look professional
The DYMO 4XL thermal label printer
The DYMO 4XL label printer was called a game changer by many shop owners, and described as, “one of the first and one of the best business investments I ever made.”
“I use the Dymo 4×6 label printer and it is one of the best, if not the best, investments I have ever made for my business. The time it saves and frustration it saves is incredible. Every time I use it it’s like Christmas morning quite honestly hahaha”
It uses thermal technology to print, using heat to create a smear-proof, weather-proof print. You can use it to print labels with your logo, bar codes, and postage.
People who ship many orders a day told us they were spending $400+ a year on toner alone, and the DYMO was a big time and money saver for them. We were told that the price on Amazon fluctuates, and it’s easy to get it for well under $200 if you watch for a deal. The more labels you print, the more likely this machine will save you money over using your inkjet.
special thermal paper means you don’t need to spend money on ink or tape
saves time by preventing the extra work of cutting and taping
prints quickly (up to 129 labels per minute!), and labels are on a roll, so you don’t have to feed them in manually
initial investment in printer and paper
ongoing investment in paper refills (depending on your shipment volume)
need to find room on your desk for it
There are a variety of DYMO label printers, but the 4XL was mentioned specifically in our group. A DYMO alternative that was mentioned with praise was the Brother QL-570 professional label printer.
Label paper refills
DYMO recommends you use their label paper only, but some of the shop owners in our group save money by using other brands. Know that using off brand labels voids the warranty on the printer. One of our members had a printer break and DYMO sent her a brand new one, but required photos and to ship the old one back to see what had happened to it.
Another shop owners told us, “It’s definitely something for which you have to assess the risk. The amount of money I saved by buying off-brand labels for the duration of the two-year warranty was actually more than the cost of just purchasing a new label maker if mine had broken, so it was worth it to me. But for someone shipping fewer items, it might not be.”
Another big time saver is using software to speed up the shipping process. The most recommended tools were:
Shipstation, a service that combines your orders from different sales platforms and creates and prints postage with great rates (it’s affiliated with, and includes a subscription to, stamps.com). That’s an affiliate link, and a lot of our clients use Shipstation.
Shippo, which integrates with Etsy and Shopify, and lets you create your own labels and use carriers such as UPS. It can cost less per label for low volume shipping (and has the cutest logo!).
ShippingEasy is feature rich, and if you send less than 50 packages a month, you can use their starter plan with no monthly fee. My husband uses it, and that’s our affiliate link.
Each of these services work well with with the DYMO label printer, and are a great step toward growing a business.
Get your questions answered in our group
Hey there! Do you run a creative business that sells stuff online? I think you’d really like our Facebook Group. We have everyone from brand new to established businesses in there, sharing the real stuff that goes into making sales online. It’s a super helpful group of almost 3000 now, and I make sure that no one in there is trying to sell anything to you. It’s a cozy place to give and get advice between peers. Subscribe here (and then search “shipping” in the group, or whatever else you have a question on. Odds are, we’ve sorted it out).
The National Stationery Show (the NSS) is a big yearly trade show in New York City that showcases both established and new stationery businesses. It’s “to the trade,” which means that retail sales aren’t being made; it’s for forging and maintaining wholesale relationships only.
We have been honored and delighted the last couple of years to be able to attend as press (see our previous trade show tips and advice here). We love seeing what’s new in the stationery world, getting to meet face to face with business owners we support and admire, and meeting readers and members of our Facebook group. One of the biggest delights, though, is seeing our designers’ logo and branding design come to life in the form of a trade show booth.
Here are three Aeolidia-made logos and brand designs (two we recently launched), in booth form:
Casey, in the Casey BarberSHOP booth. Logo by Aeolidia.
Category: All Things Paper 417 Press — Infertility Sucks greeting card
Also an awesome brand we admire!
What about you?
Could your business use a professional brand identity to start off on the right foot and impress prospective wholesale customers? Let’s talk! We work with many brand new businesses, can answer all the questions about what makes sense to invest in at first, and we want to see you succeed! We currently have three, count ’em, three spots available in our design block that begins on June 19th. And Sam is talking to a few people who are interested, so please email today so we can save you a spot!
Former rock star turned rock hound, Dani Barbe sculpts and sets gemstones into modern, glamorous statement pieces. She started her business with her own logo design, fabulous photography, and a shop on Etsy. With a strong presence on social media, she was able to drive a ton of customers to her shop. Products sold like wildfire, and Anthropologie came knocking on her door.
It wasn’t long before Dani’s upscale jewelry brand required a custom website design to inspire customer confidence.
Solving website usability problems by replatforming to Shopify
Dani had a WooCommerce site built about a year and a half before coming to us, but it wasn’t performing up to her standards. Frustrated with its functionality, Dani continued to send customers to her Etsy shop.
I am currently using WooCommerce, and it’s such a pain to update things, that I just don’t do it! I find that it impacts the amount of new items I post, and also the amount that I actively promote my website. I currently have an amazing Etsy following, but would love to have a website that looks higher-end to send to my clients and more upscale boutiques.
Our team worked both internally and with Dani to come up with a straightforward list of project goals:
Improve functionality for processing payments and communicating order information with customers.
Make a connection with customers, giving them a more secure and professional shopping experience.
Attract high-end wholesale customers by having a protected wholesale portion of the website.
With this list of goals in mind, we set out to create a website that balances simplicity and style, showcases Dani’s gorgeous jewelry and accessories, and inspires confidence in customers to make a purchase.
A custom design for Dani Barbe
Dani’s existing logo was fantastic! It spoke to her customers and had longevity. It was edgy and modern, but still approachable and sophisticated — it just needed to add a little refinement on spacing and proportion. What Dani was lacking was a complete brand identity, full of complimentary elements that could be carried over to her site.
Christine on our team created a new brand mark. Inspired by Dani’s jewelry, the intersection of the D and B create fun shapes that would be used as additional graphic elements mixed and matched throughout her new site.
The colors are simple—black, gold and white, with a bit of blush to take the edge off (but not too much).
We were really drawn in by the chic sophistication and artfulness of Dani’s photos, so we gave them prime space in the site design. By keeping the overall design clean, the photos are able to shine, telling the story of her brand and products.
The layout is clean but not stark, and the typography is strong but not loud. The branding elements we created together are carried over in some spots, giving the site dimension and interest. Together, these design elements support the true star: Dani’s jewelry.
What our client thought
I am over-the-moon in love with the design. Really, I couldn’t be happier. I feel like everything will be so easy to navigate. The main page looks so fashion-forward and clean. You truly brought to life what I envisioned for my brand.