Thanks for the feature Canvas Rebel - it was such a pleasure to share my story and talk about what it means to be resilient and launch a business during a global pandemic!
We recently connected with Sara Annapolen and have shared our conversation below.
Sara, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today What do you think matters most in terms of achieving success?
It has truly been a lifelong dream to launch a collection of my own. Success to me – is that I am doing this at all. I practice “action over perfection” every day. I get comfortable making decisions quickly and knowing they might be wrong – and moving on. In the first few years each stepping stone of growing a business is new and so thinking of everything as a test makes it easier to try new things. If they don’t work out, you learn. And when decisions end up being the right ones, and steps forward end up working out, you become empowered and excited! Lastly, I would say it takes trust and patience. Space to brainstorm, and allow yourself breathing room to be creative. It’s easy to get stuck working too hard. Remembering to take time away is so important.
Sara, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
I am an artist and fashion designer with a colorful resort wear collection, called Sara Joy.
I create all of my own prints and my process of print design is what makes my line different. Whether it’s woven paper mixed media or paintings, all of my prints are unique to my line. Art is my meditation and part of my wellness routine – this line is an expression of that!
I chose beach wear so I never had to limit my use of color and brights – where else can you creatively express yourself in the brightest way?
Sara Joy strives to be a zero waste business, manufacturing in small batches and using our waste fabric for new products. You’ll see a variety of beautiful cottons and each piece is One Size, made to be worn many different ways. You’ll see an ease of wear, a piece you’ll never want to take off, because it feels so good.
It’s my version of the mind-body connection. That spark created on the inside through accessories we wear on the outside. I want you to feel empowered by this collection.
I am so proud to see the vibrant reaction to the collection and the happiness it brings. That is the goal!
Let’s talk about resilience next – do you have a story you can share with us?
I began the research and development to launch Sara Joy in 2019, after losing my job at a corporate American legacy brand. My kids were babies – and suddenly I had a summer with no work – and a dream I had always had to create my own business. I spent months brainstorming, getting my LLC, and getting ready to launch a new line for Spring Break 2020. With all my ducks in a row and my first factory orders placed, the entire world shut down because of the pandemic – including my factory with my first production orders inside.
I had built up a following, an excited audience, and had to think quickly about what to do. To launch a beach wear line – with a focus on travel – when no one was traveling? I rerouted my plan quickly. I held a virtual art party and collection donations. I designed a coloring book, and printed copies for local hospitals with those donations. And then I tie dyed and sold face masks! Never part of my original plan, these covid pivots were amazing for launching a business. Why? Because I was not emotionally connected to them. It kept my audience engaged – and in fact built up more engaged customers. I learned how to operate my website, I worked on list building and created an email marketing system. I even got on the news! And I practiced being a business owner.
I got to perfect all of these workflows in time for my factory to open up, and ship my first two products to sell, mid summer 2020.
Launching my business this way was bizarre, unexpected, and so far from my original plan. But I went with it. In hindsight I wouldn’t have it any other way – I built trust in myself and trust in the universe that things would play out how they were supposed to. It’s been over 2 years since my factory reopened, and I am still getting better at running this business, growing at a beautiful pace, and practicing trusting the process in all of this.
Any advice for growing your clientele? What’s been most effective for you?
Most definitely hosting or attending in person pop ups and markets. There is no barrier to entry in owning an e-commerce business. Anyone can present themselves online. But to get people to trust you and love your brand is an entirely different feat.
I have loved growing my clientele in person! Whether it’s a wholesale marketplace pop up, or a private shopping party, being able to speak directly with customers, to introduce myself and my line to them, there is nothing like it.
There’s something in marketing called the “Know, Like, Trust” factor – and in person meetings give an immediate trust from the customers. And when they are empowered by my product and excited to find it – there’s the magic!
Check out the original feature on Canvas Rebel here !