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Episode 60

Hello creatives. Welcome back to Girl Game Craft, the podcast. Today we have Elizabeth Styles with us all the way from the UK. Hello, Elizabeth. How's it going?

Elizabeth Stiles (07:45):
Hi, I'm good. Thank you. How's it going with you?

Phoebe Sherman (07:47):
It's good. I'm so glad we could finally connect. We've been doing a little back and forth and here we are sitting down to have the conversation. You all listening are going to find those very aligned. Elizabeth work and the GGC community have a lot of similar ethos, a lot of similar medicine and education. So we're going to just hop right into the conversation. Elizabeth, tell everyone a little bit about who you are and what you do.

Elizabeth Stiles (08:17):
Yeah, so thank you for having me. I am Elizabeth Stiles. I am a fashion brand consultant and I work with independent (mainly women) but creatives, on their manufacturing, marketing and mindset. So my background is in fashion buying and also I worked as a sales manager sort of selling into buyers. So seeing both sides of the coin there was really great. And I left my job in 2018 to work with smaller businesses and never really looked back.

Phoebe Sherman (08:53):
So what made you leave your job? What made you decide to go out on your own and sort of switch gears a little bit?

Elizabeth Stiles (09:00):
So I had worked in the fashion industry for about 12 years and I felt a bit bored maybe, and it felt really vapid. So there wasn't a huge amount of purpose in my work necessarily, which never bothered me before. But I think once I hit 30, it did start to bother me for whatever reason. And I just had this internal sort of woo voice saying, it's time to go now, your time is done here, we're moving on to the next thing, which was great. But this voice never told me what the next thing was. So I felt ready to go, but I didn't know where I was going or what I was doing. So I had lots of thoughts about retraining as something. “Maybe I am a bit bored of the fashion industry. Maybe I could train to be a teacher or go into fitness…” I didn't really know.

And then I was lying in a yoga class at the end in Shavana pose, which is great. And I remember just throwing myself upright being like, oh my god, I'm so stupid. I could just teach people the thing that I know. Why am I trying to retrain as something when I've got over a decade of experience in the fashion industry? And I think I'd just taken for granted what I know because I had studied fashion retail, I'd worked in fashion retail, therefore my friends were in fashion retail. So everything that I knew they knew, but then I didn't really think about outside of that bubble, how many other people there are who don't know how to source fabrics, work with factories, or market something on Instagram. And so that's probably where it started. And I just remember coming home really excited to tell my boyfriend, “I'm going to leave my job, I'm going to do it on my own.”

And he was like, yeah, I don't really understand what you're saying, but it sounds great. Go for it. And that was fine. That was probably part one. And then part two was coming to terms with giving up my salary, which is obviously very, very, very scary. So I got a part-time job in order to leave. That didn't actually last too long because then I got a freelance job which paid a lot better. And so I did that for about 18 months in the first few months of the business, which really supported me and allowed me the freedom to let my business grow at the right pace rather than trying to really force it to work. I could sort of take it easy because I had a bit of a buffer financially from the freelance thing that I was doing on the side.

Phoebe Sherman (11:42):
So I think what you said something about everyone around you was in fashion and so not really processing the need for what you do beyond that bubble. And I think that's really interesting because I think a lot of us are seeing that in real-time, both in-person and digitally being my For You page. And my Instagram home is full of a lot of creatives, but also a lot of people who are doing similar work, doing business coaching, doing creative business coaching. And it's hard to remember that everyone that we're talking to, they might not have their page and their circles looking like that. We might be the only business coach in their creative little bubble. And so I think that's really fascinating because we don't really understand the need for our services before we step beyond our little circle. And we may never step beyond our little circle. And it might feel a little bit weird that we're just sort of talking to the abyss or something.

Elizabeth Stiles (12:42):
Yeah, exactly. My sister-in-law actually said something really funny the other day. She was giving some advice to one of the kids in the family and she was like, why don't you learn an instrument? Everyone's learning an instrument these days. And we were like, are they? What makes you say that? And she was like, oh, it's plastered all over my Instagram. Everyone's learning an instrument. I was like, I think what's happened here is that you've watched one video of somebody learning an instrument and then they think you are interested and they've just pushed that my feed doesn't have anybody learning an instrument. And then everyone went around the room and was like, no, me neither, me neither. And I actually saw something really interesting on TikTok that was about how trends aren't going to be the same anymore because everyone's little algorithm makes them believe that what they're seeing is on trend. And so nobody really knows what's on trend because everybody is seeing their own little bubble and everyone lives in their own little bubble of their own algorithm. And so it's like, oh, fluffy white trousers are on trend and because that's all you are seeing. And it's like, no, no it's not. It's just a little loop that you've got yourself into. It's kind of weird.

Phoebe Sherman (13:50):
It's totally fascinating. Yeah. Okay, so backing up a little bit, bringing up the part-time job I think is really interesting because, you left your full-time job and you sort of knew that you needed some financial support as you started to get things going, which I think is really key here. And not that many people talk about. Because some people make the leap or some people are sort of doing their full-time and the side hustle. I find the part-time and the business growing gives you a little bit more space for actually building the business because if you have a nine to five, you're tired. So if you can find something, maybe you're ready to leave your nine to five and sort of downgrade that time being dedicated to something else. I know I was waitressing and teaching yoga, so I had space and time during the day to build G G C. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that part-time job and how you balanced?

Elizabeth Stiles (14:44):
Yeah. So for full transparency, I used to take home maybe 2000 pounds a month in my job, but really I had a lot of travel costs because I was going in and out of London. And so just to cover my bread and butter, basic needs for running my life, I think at the time, this is five years ago, I needed 800 pounds to survive to make sure that the bailiffs don't come around my door to put some basic food on the table to feed my cat. I was like, I need 800 pounds there, how can I make that? And so it was very methodical and I thought if I get a stationary shop down the road and I do four hours a week, I think I was going to earn, I mean maybe it was eight hours a week, I can't remember one day a week and I would earn 400 pounds.

So I was like, okay, that covers half of the basic needs and then I can make up the other half from trying to grow the business. And maybe that's three or four hour long sessions with people. I think I could do that over the space of a month and then it just grew from there. But funnily enough, I actually only lasted in that stationary shop for two weeks because once I had put it out on my social media, I've left my career, I'm doing this on my own. Opportunities do come your way from talking about what it is that you do and what it is that you want. And so a guy from my old job messaged me and said, I'm working with this factory, they need to grow their business in the uk. Obviously as you remember, I'm a designer, you were a sales manager, how about partnering up and we can grow the business in the UK together for this factory.

And where the stationary shop was paying me eight pounds an hour, he was going to be paying me 40 pounds an hour. So it was a bit of a no-brainer that I could do it during the week as well and get my weekends back because I was having to work in the stationary shop on the weekends. And it just felt good. And despite thinking, oh God, I've just got rid of that career and now I'm basically going back to it, it was more like, I know how to do this and I'm going to do it on my own terms on my own hours. Let's see where it goes. So yeah, I did that for about 18 months whilst I was building relationships with people going to networking events, it just removed that desperation, which I think customers can smell from a mile off. And just being, having discovery calls with people, being like, let me know, come back to me when you're ready, rather than being please book in, which really does repel people.

And I think when you are not worried about money, it's so much easier to be creative and come up with really good ideas and have the time to go to these maybe luxury little luxuries that are taking a few hours out of your day to go to a networking event where you're not being paid, if anything you might have to pay to go to it. It just felt nicer to have that financial pressure alleviated and letting the business grow at its own pace rather than a forced pace. So what about you when you started, like you said you did waitressing and yoga, was it a sort of timeframe?

Phoebe Sherman (18:03):
Yeah, so waitressing, I mean, really allowed me to pay for my life. Yeah, it really did. So I was working, let's see, four to 10, four to 11 or something so I could use my daytime to work on GGC. And I was also teaching yoga at the time too. And so those were sort of mix and matching and yeah, I mean that waitressing money was very key.

Elizabeth Stiles (18:26):
I read a really good book actually called the Multi-Hyphen Method by a woman called Emma Gannon here in the UK. And it's all about exactly like you said, I'm a community leader slash yoga teacher slash waitress, and it did open my eyes a little bit to think, oh, you don't need one career, you just need one number, the income to come in. But it doesn't matter how it's made up, it doesn't have to be from one place. It can be like that same number but divided up into three. And I dunno, just growing up you're always, you know, have a career and actually with the introduction of the internet, it doesn't have to be so linear.

Phoebe Sherman (19:08):
And in one of our podcasts we interviewed Camly, who was a couple episodes ago, if you're listening now, I had no idea that she had a full-time job. Also, she's a content creator in LA. It really looked like she was doing the thing and her preference is to have a full-time job. I mean, I think that's really fascinating and really we see all these people doing all these things, growing their business and we're in comparison mode and we're like, okay, well I need my job now and do this, but you don't. And it's okay to be having multiple jobs and there's a lot of benefits for that. Like you said, the creativity, I think that's really true. And just, I mean the ability to feel secure and that you can pay for your rent and where the money's coming from, that's very important

Elizabeth Stiles (19:50):
Business as well. The business takes money to grow. Even something like a service-led business where you think from the outside, you know, see the videos, all you need is a laptop and you can work from the beach, but you also need to pay for your Squarespace subscription, for your Flodesk subscription and for it to work and for it to do well. And I needed headshots and all of a sudden there is a little bit more expense needed and I was able to pay for that comfortably. Well, not that comfortably, in all honesty, it makes it sound like I was fine. It was very, very tight those first few months, but it was easier than if I didn't have that job.

Phoebe Sherman (20:30):
So who was your customer starting off?

Elizabeth Stiles (20:33):
Initially, my customer was somebody who wanted to start a fashion brand or had just started a fashion brand but didn't have a fashion background. So maybe you were a hairdresser and you wanted to start a fashion brand, so you might understand the front end of running one, but you definitely don't understand the backend of running one. So things like fabric sourcing, finding a factory, negotiating prices, making sure the production runs smoothly, that backend kind of boring stuff maybe is the thing that I enjoyed helping people with. And I knew that there was a niche there for it as well because loads of people talk about Instagram and in the end I've ended up talking about it too because it is such a huge part of running the business. But nobody at the time was talking about manufacturing. It was something that I knew how to do, I didn't love it, but I did enjoy helping other people avoid costly mistakes in the manufacturing process because there is a lot to know.

And if you've never worked in it, why would you, and so the other part of it is the fashion industry is so secretive and people thinking, oh, I've worked really hard for this information, you are not having it or it's all about who and you don't know anybody. It's so hard to break into that industry. And I had a really awful experience in one of my jobs. It was kind of Devil Wears Prada situation and I didn't want anybody to feel like everybody in the fashion industry is like that. You can totally be a nice person and work in the fashion industry at the same time, which is where my whole friendly face in fashion came from. And I thought if you are a lawyer and you want to start a fashion brand, why not? I'll help you. So that was definitely where it started.

Phoebe Sherman (22:29):
And so you mentioned consult calls or coaching calls. Was that your primary offer starting out and what do your offers look like today and what does your audience look like today? Let's sort of zoom out a little bit.

Elizabeth Stiles (22:42):
So at the beginning I did just trade time for money, which is a really easy way to begin to be one hour costs this. And that was really it. I did a day rate and very quickly realized that if I was only selling once to people, I was going to be selling all the time, which is really exhausting. So I tried to then have a one hour call or a one day with somebody and then book six monthly sessions after it, which was the closest thing I could come to in and still have come to probably in predicting an income to think, okay, well if I get 10 clients paying a couple of hundred pounds a month, that will somehow duplicate my salary and then everything else can go on top, which is great. So from a product perspective, when lockdown hit, it didn't affect me that much really because a lot of my work was on Zoom already, but I couldn't go and meet people for intensive in-person days. And I was probably in business near…

Phoebe Sherman (23:50):
Factories had shut down too probably, right?

Elizabeth Stiles (23:53):
Yeah. So a lot of people were looking to learn how to manufacture in the UK because they were finding it really hard to import things. So I was realizing people were asking the same questions over and over and over again about how to get started, how to make it profitable, and I thought, why don't I say the same answers to everybody in one room at one time, which pretty much ended up turning into a course about how to start a fashion brand that did really well. Where a 100% of my income was one-to-one work. I would say now it's maybe 30% and 70% is courses. So it literally did a 180 in lockdown and it's the reverse of charging time for money. It's more like a package that people can see a transformation from. And what I enjoyed was seeing where my career was started off as manufacturing and buying products and then moved into be a sales role, weirdly working for myself has followed the same pattern.

So I helped people get their fashion brand off the ground and then they came back to me and was like, cool, I've got all the product in a warehouse now. Can you also help me sell it? I really enjoyed working with you. Can we go and talk about this now? And I had massive imposter syndrome at the beginning because I don't have a degree in marketing, but I do have five years working as a sales manager. And so I was really honest and just said, I've grown my business on Instagram, I understand how I marketed my business, maybe there's some transferable skills there. I can also talk to you about sales and building relationships. And honestly, that's all marketing is anyway. So it is just building those relationships with people, learning how to talk about your product in lots and lots of different ways, and then asking for the sale and it grew from there. So it also felt a bit funny helping people create lots and lots of stock without helping them to learn how to sell it as well because that's not sustainable as a business model. And so the people, I would say, I still help people start, but now I also help them scale as well.

Phoebe Sherman (26:07):
That's so interesting. I mean you can't have one without the other, right?

Elizabeth Stiles (26:11):
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, that's why I say “manufacturing and marketing and mindset” because they are all three key pillars of running a business.

Phoebe Sherman (26:21):
Yeah, it's all connected. Let me turn off my calendar for that sound. Yeah, I mean let's talk about marketing. Let's just dive, yeah. So where do you find your community having the most blockages when it comes to selling their work?

Elizabeth Stiles (26:39):
Definitely assuming people aren't interested, it's like they've shut the gate before they've even started. So I have a bit of a mantra for people to just say, assume they are interested before you've even begun, before you even open your mouth to say anything, assume they are interested because if you, you're assuming people aren't, you're going to be like, oh, I've got this thing and nobody's listening anyway, so what's the point? And the energy just isn't there. Whereas if you are thinking some people who are following me might be interested, there is just a little bit of added energy and interest that goes into that post. So I dunno, I always talk about what I've got on my desk. I've got this silk hairband and it's made of silk so it doesn't affect your curly hair and it doesn't snag. And you can wear it up, you can wear it down. It’s like the elastic goes in and out, it doesn't overstretch, it doesn't snap. And you start thinking about things that people would actually be interested in to do with the hairband. And I just thought, well if nobody's going to be interested in buying hairbands, what's the point in even talking about them? I think that's the approach that people take and then they create content from that perspective. The content doesn't do very well because it doesn't have any effort or energy put into it or the right energy and effort I should say. And then they're like, oh, I knew it. Nobody was interested, I told you. And it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I can see you're nodding your head. Do you find a similar thing even though we're miles and miles, miles away? Is it the same there?

Phoebe Sherman (28:15):
Oh my god. This really resonates and this resonates personally because, and this is something I'm very public with. I may have started with our apparel line, but that is less than 10% of our revenue at this point. We could dive into my blockages around it, but we like semi-recently separated our apparel into its own account, if you will. And I've sort of taken that on again as my baby. And we haven't produced more apparel in a while. Although this season I sort of got re-inspired. We did some work to create some new items and feel inspired again. But man still is it, I don't know why I feel, well I'm saying this now, I don't know, I have a hard time selling services and products all the time. I mean I teach 'em about selling services and products, but it's hard and it's like personal and it's like this big weight and it's heavy.

It just feels hard. And we have these new bumper stickers and I was so excited about them and we've made a couple sales and they're in process for a couple retail stores, but it seems, I'm just like, oh man, no one wants to see this and I'm going to throw up a video about it anyways. But wow, what a mindset shift to just be like, okay, well actually everyone wants to know about this, they just haven't purchased it yet. You have to talk about it. They're waiting for the right time. It's hard to get anyone to buy anything, not because of the money, but because I mean it could be about the money, it could be about too much stuff. If we're talking about bumper stickers, maybe they don't have any more room on their car for a bumper sticker or maybe they're sick and tired of fighting for abortion rights…all sorts of reasons. And yeah, it's hard. It's a hard thing.

Elizabeth Stiles (30:00):
And I think the way people try and sell… this is my thing that I keep banging on about recently…. They assume everybody is ready to buy and so their call to action is always “go away and buy, go and buy. Click the link in my buyer, go and buy it.” And it's like whoa, whoa, whoa. Some people might just want to know about the stickers, how they were created, why you created them, where they came from, some inspiration and some funny memes about bump stickers or a funny video and just something that's a little bit lighter because some people may have just found you today, some other people may have had a bit of a poke around on your website or they just following you. Some other people might have looked at your bumper stickers, but also someone else's bumper stickers and started comparing them and they're just waiting to get paid until they decide. And then other people are ready to buy. So that's like four camps of people and if you break them up into quarters, you have to speak to all of those people at all of those stages. And what people do is they only speak to the 25% of people who are actually ready to buy and they ignore everybody else,

Phoebe Sherman (31:10):
Hey, can you break down those other categories? So someone who's ready to buy,

Elizabeth Stiles (31:14):
Someone who's ready to buy, somebody who's interested in you, somebody who's interested in you and the product, and then somebody who is ready to commit. So they are like, the other way you could say it is they're cold, they're warm, they're hot, they're ready. And so they go through these four stages and so you have to speak to the cold people and move them to the warm stage. Sometimes you have to speak to the warm people and move them to the hot stage. And then the hot people, you move onto the ready to buy section and then you go around again.

Phoebe Sherman (31:46):
So what are some call to actions to use for the other folks that aren't ready to buy?

Elizabeth Stiles (31:51):
I would say something like, “here's where I've got my inspiration from. What inspires you?” I would say the other three areas are more asking for engagement. So it might just be around asking question because say I hear a lot from people like, oh, my engagement is rubbish and it's because there is nothing to engage with. You are just saying, here's a moodboard. What do you want me to say? Cute, love pink heart emoji. There is nothing to say. If you are like, here's my moodboard, do you prefer creating on Pinterest or on paper? Then you'll get loads of comments. It is literally just about asking more questions. And so if you are showing up, nothing, nothing, nothing. My staff, you come across kind of bossy because you are only telling people what to do and nobody wants a bossy friend. You're like, you go and meet somebody, they're like, you should be doing this, you should be doing that.

Why not doing that? Whereas if you go and meet a friend and they're like, “How are you? How's everything going? Tell me what you've been up to. Oh by the way I've been doing this, are you interested?” It feels much more free flowing. And so putting that online and you say, here's my inspiration. Where do you get yours? What do you prefer? I can't decide whether to do this in pink or blue. What do you think now it's ready to buy. Do you want to buy it? It just feels like a nicer journey and you are, by asking people lots of questions and asking them to engage with you, that's almost like a practice run asking them to buy from you because you get used, they, you are training them to engage with you in a really low-touch way. And so then when you ask them to engage with you in a financial way, they've had a bit of practice at that. Does that make sense?

Phoebe Sherman (33:41):
Yes. It's gold. I love it. I love it so much. So other, okay, let's talk about what other methods there are to take people through these customer journeys. So what other platforms or ways do you suggest that creatives or small fashioned brands or anyone really listening talk to their community?

Elizabeth Stiles (34:03):
Yeah. Well I would say try and pick two or three platforms that do different jobs. So I recently made a video about how I'm not doing TikTok this year for business because it was giving me heart palpitations about how fast the content was and how much it needed. And I thought if I'm going to take that off my plate, what am I going to put on there? Instead, I needed something that would attract new people because TikTok is a really great place to be discovered. So I thought I need to either put that time into PR, I need to do talks, I need to do ads, or I need to focus on my seo. Something like that said, they would all be good replacements for TikTok in my opinion, because they're all top-of-funnel things for new people to find you. So that's like if you think about top-of-funnel as discovery, then there is nurture.

I think there is no better place for this other than Instagram. It is. So well set up to nurture people through videos, through dms, the conversations that you would have with people, the highlights, the stories. There are so many ways to nurture an audience through that platform. So I would say that's my middle platform is the nurture. And then you need a platform to sell. And for me that is email. And so I'm really happy with having, so where I took out TikTok, I ended up doing ads instead. So mine is ads on Instagram, organic and then it was email. For other people it might look completely different, but just trying to make sure you are not focusing on three platforms that are all good at discovery or three platforms that are all good at nurture or three platforms that are all good at selling because otherwise you're going to just run out of leads or run out of money.

Phoebe Sherman (35:59):
That's so fascinating. I don't actually think I've ever really thought about it that directly as TikTok being top of funnel, Instagram being more nurturing and then email bottom of funnel. I think that's really, really fascinating. And so I think that's a really interesting way to think about alternatives too. So if you don't like TikTok, maybe Pinterest. I think Pinterest could be top-of-funnel also. Yeah,

Elizabeth Stiles (36:24):

Phoebe Sherman (36:25):

Elizabeth Stiles (36:26):
But then you could swap Instagram out for YouTube. I think YouTube is a really good nurturing platform for more long form content. So yeah, just try and replace one that has the same purpose. Because not every platform has the same purpose.

Phoebe Sherman (36:41):
So in terms of your ads, what sort of ads are running? Are you running a lead magnet? Tell us about your ad process.

Elizabeth Stiles (36:48):
Yeah, so I have three course launches a year, and for each course launch I run a free challenge. Before the free challenge, I have a freebie lead magnet download. So at the moment I've got a free 30-day sales planner. So I'll say if you're looking to sell consistently, you need to be selling consistently, actively selling your products consistently in order to get those consistent sales. Dunno how to do it. Here's a free 30-day sales planner with different prompts to try each day. Then that will lead into the free challenge and then that free challenge will lead into the course. And so I'm running ads, I'm speaking about this as a total newbie. Might I add to ads? I feel like I've pretty much learned a new language now that I understand ads slightly about return on investment and cost per click and all of those things.

So I'm running ads for those three different phases of the course launch and then separate to that, I know people always tell you not to boost posts on Instagram, but I have actually had quite an alright experience with it because I heard on a podcast years ago that you are allowed to boost a post as long as the call to action is free. So don't expect anyone to buy anything off of boosting, that's a totally different ballgame. But if you come and find me on @elizabethstilesuk on Instagram, you'll see that I create lots of memes and they're all silly and funny about small business life and I sometimes boost them, but the caption is like, hi, I'm Elizabeth, I can help you with this. Come and follow me for this. Here's what one of my clients has said about working with me. And so I have seen my following grow quite nicely just from putting two or three pounds a day behind that meme.

Because the other thing is that it's content that would perform well anyway organically, and nobody expects a meme to be an ad. So it gets a good reaction because people are so tuned to ads now that you can almost spot one from a mile off. But I feel like I've hacked the system slightly by boosting this meme to get people to follow me. And that is probably another way that I thought, okay, well how about I spend two or three pounds a day boosting this meme in order to get people to follow me versus spending an hour every day creating content for TikTok that gets 40 views. So yeah, I've got a proper ad strategy, but then I've also got my own little hack that I try that seems to be working.

Phoebe Sherman (39:33):
I love that and I love the memes. We are also memes and we have a little guide about how to make a meme too. And I think using humor or I think memes also, they tap into humor and they tap into pain points. Yes, I know that's a controversial word, but they tap into our feelings. We feel something when we see memes and I think that's really potent.

Elizabeth Stiles (39:55):
I know, because sometimes when I talk about creating memes, it sounds like a silly conversation, but I'm glad that you brought that up, that marketing is speaking to people's emotions. And a meme does that in a really light touch way rather than being like, do you feel like this? Do you feel like this in that same tone over and over again? Whereas a meme is more like that feeling when, and it's the same message, you are still speaking to the feeling, but you are almost like making light of it. And then people go, “oh, that's so me, haha,” or “that's so Phoebe, I'm going to send it to her.” And so it's very shareable.
I've seen a really good reaction from creating them because there is nothing that makes me happier than when somebody comments on my page like, “oh my God, so me. How did you know? It feels like you're inside my head,” because it shows me that I understand my customer really well. I'm just like, yes, I've nailed it. I also see people doing memes really, really badly. And the image has to be funny. The words have to be snappy. They have to be the exact right humor for the audience that you're speaking to. So yeah, it is definitely not just a picture with words. There is a bit more to it than that I think.

Phoebe Sherman (41:17):
Let's talk “shiny object syndrome.” Yes. What is shiny object syndrome? Let's start there.

Elizabeth Stiles (41:24):
Yeah, I did a post on this the other day that was like, I call shiny object syndrome “SOS” because it is an actual warning sign for your business if you keep getting distracted by creating new things.

Phoebe Sherman (41:41):
Feeling guilty about that…who identifies? I do!

Elizabeth Stiles (41:46):
Who thinks that they are being productive and being busy within their business, creating new products or new colorways or new versions of things that are on your website rather than selling the thing that you have. And it's because creating products is probably very much within your comfort zone and selling the products is probably very much outside of your comfort zone.

Phoebe Sherman (42:12):

Elizabeth Stiles (42:16):
So what you do is rather than thinking, well, what tech people tend to think is maybe it's not selling is because I don't have it in blue, and so what I'm going to do is go away and create a blue one and then you put it on the website still not selling. Maybe it's because I don't have it in pink, I'm going to go away and create a pink one and then put that on the website. It's not selling because you're not selling it, you've not figured out how to sell it effectively. And so it's a bit of a trap that you fall into by thinking, “I'm going to create more products to be productive.” You're going to go round in circles and send yourself crazy. And I see it really often where people end up with an expensive hobby creating lovely products and not selling anything because there is a big difference between having a hobby and having a business and one makes money and one doesn't.

And it's because one has sales and one doesn't, one has customers and one doesn't. And besides that, you are totally allowed to be creative and make all the things in blue and pink and whatever colors you like. Not everything has to be sold. And I think because it's so easy to sell things now you might make some scrunchies for your friends and they all love them and they go, “oh, you should put them on Etsy and you should make some money.” And you're like, okay, maybe you just want to make scrunchies for your friends, and that's totally fine. You don't have to monetize every single ounce of your creativity. There might be that you make headbands and you sell them, but then you make scrunchies for your friends and you don't sell them. You don't have to make money off of everything. And that’s fine.

Phoebe Sherman (43:55):
So how do we sell the things that are sitting around? Are you someone who believes in sales or I'm sitting here looking at some older inventory that hasn't been selling in a little bit. How do we do it? How do we sell it?

Elizabeth Stiles (44:08):
The biggest, most obvious thing that I think people don't do is ask for people to buy it. And I know that sounds really silly, but they might be talking about the story and talking about what they had for lunch and taking their dog out for a walk and putting that on stories and then saying they're working on a new collection, but then nobody has any idea what is actually for sale. And so that would be my first really obvious piece of advice is remember every now and then to put a link in the stories and say, “this is available to buy.” Then it's about giving people a reason to buy. So that could be from a limited amount of stock, a limited-time promotion offer. Maybe you do free delivery for the next 24 hours or something. So giving people a reason to buy is great.

The other thing I would say is “why now?” Why do people need it right now? So in the UK in May, as we're recording this, there are three bank holidays. One is to do with the King's coronation. One is a summer bank holiday and another one is another bank holiday. But it's like what do people do on bank holidays? They go to barbecues, they go to see friends. They might book a long weekend away and think about how you can wrap your product into what they might be up to. So it has been so gray here in the UK and yesterday. And today the sun is finally out and my inbox is just full of brands saying It's a sunny weekend, you need these dresses this weekend, next-day delivery. And so just really notice how other people are selling stuff and think, how could I apply that to my business?

And then the last thing I would probably say is, whilst it's really important to talk about the features of your product, it's even more important to talk about the benefits of your product. So I want to use my cotton top that I am wearing, and it is black and white stripe and it's long sleeve, and I can describe the top, but why does that matter to your customer? Okay, it's 100% cotton. So it is really breathable in the summer, but also we'll keep you warm in the winter. It's a black and white stripe. So if you imagine your customer literally saying so what to you over and over and over again, kind of like an annoying little child. So what? And try and come up with an answer. It's like, so it would go with loads of your clothes, so you could wear it with lots of different colors. You could wear it with jeans, you could wear it with this, you could wear it out. You could wear it in the day, you could probably wear it to work. And so you've got to not only, I think people say the obvious, but then don't say why it matters to the customer in order to actually buy it.

Phoebe Sherman (46:56):
Yeah, I love that. I love all that. Well, I know we didn't talk too much about manufacturing, but I think we really talked a lot about the selling, which I think is awesome. Where can people find you if they want to work with you? For the manufacturing part or the selling part?

Elizabeth Stiles (47:12):
So I have two courses. One is called the Visibility Project, which is about moving people through that customer journey through your content. And I also have another course called The Sales Project, which is all about the black and white striped t-shirt, like how to sell something and how to make your customer care about selling the thing. So they're my two main courses. Or you can just come and follow me at @elizabethstilesuk. We can work together or just come for the memes and for the lols, have a good time. I'm often on there making a fool of myself. I like talking. You can drop me in the dms and have a chat with me. Share your story. Share your experience. I spend an unhealthy amount of time on Instagram, so definitely come and talk to me over there.

Phoebe Sherman (48:02):
This has been so lovely, Elizabeth. Thank you so much for gracing us with your presence and your wisdom, and yeah, thank you again.

Elizabeth Stiles (48:11):
My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

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