It’s no secret that men have the upper hand in, well, just about everything, and the business world is no exception.
Brilliant women have defied these patriarchal norms and come out on top as some of the most influential women in business.
Let’s take a look at Lindsey and Courtney Glasser, for example.
The sister power-duo are co-founders of Grey Bandit, a brand that uses fashion to help boost confidence and bring awareness to mental health.
Just four years after launch, the brand has hit $10 Million in sales.
So what’s their secret?
Lindsey and Courtney are here to share their tips for surviving and thriving in a male-dominated industry.
We believe that understanding your customer is the key component in launching a successful business. Without customers, all you have is a dream. You need to have a clear idea of who you are targeting. Get to know who they are, what they like, what they need, and how they consume. What are their buying patterns? When we first started Grey Bandit, we were our target consumer, which allowed us to have a strong understanding of our target market.
Now, we know that our customers are actively using social media to find inspiration for outfits and new brands. We always like to ask our followers on Instagram stories what they want to see on our site, what can we be doing better, and how can we give them a better customer experience overall. At the end of the day, we care so much about our customers and want to do whatever we can to show them how much we care. We truly believe that the “small” details matter.
As an entrepreneur, you need to be open-minded. Don’t be so quick to shoot an idea down. All industries are always changing and evolving and if you are stuck in your ways and aren’t willing to be open-minded and pivot then you are going to get left behind. We try our best to be open-minded in all aspects of life both personally and professionally. We truly believe without that mindset, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Something we’ve noticed and learned over the last 4 1/2 years is that follower count doesn’t matter as much as building a community. A qualified following is much more impactful than an overly large one. You want to engage with your community as much as possible - this is something that we are still working on to this day. Building a community of dedicated customers and people that not only know your brand but know the people behind your brand has proven to be more successful than just putting your effort into gaining a set number of followers.
Building a following without building a community doesn’t always result in sales. For example, our brand has a mental health initiative that has become a big part of our community. We’ve shared our own personal stories in terms of dealing with our own mental health/mental illness as women, entrepreneurs, and just as human beings. Sharing those stories and being able to connect with customers, both men and women have been so rewarding.
You’re taking a risk by just starting a business. You’re betting on yourself. Taking risks is a gamble, but we believe in calculated risks. While you never know what is going to happen you can still weigh the pros and cons, utilize research and data and come to a decision. We’ve taken risks and have “failed” but the lessons we learned from those risks have been invaluable for us.
For example, we were determined to add another category to our website that we felt had so much opportunity. In 2018 we decided to take a risk and design our own swimwear line. We were set on creating affordable swimwear that didn’t compromise quality and was ethically made. It ended up being thousands of dollars down the drain at the time and just didn’t work out.
We learned from that experience and 2 years later we decided to take the risk and go for it again. The risk ended up being more successful than we could’ve imagined and now this year our new swim collections will be even better. Having the humility to understand and learn from mistakes is a huge part of taking those risks. If we didn’t take that risk again, we would not have hit the $10 million milestone that we did this past year.
Nothing happens overnight. We launched our online store in August of 2017 and in that first month we had 30 orders equating to $1,105.69 in sales. We would go days without any sales. But we had this vision and we truly believed that we could do this. We knew good things take time.
As our brother always likes to say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” We have kept that mentality throughout this journey. That’s not to say we never wanted to quit - trust us, we’ve contemplated it over the course of the last four and a half years, but our passion and patience allowed us to persevere. Business is all about trial and error and you need to be patient to see those results.
Consistency is something that has been difficult for us since the start of Grey Bandit. When you’re a small team you’re often juggling many tasks and certain things get pushed to the side. When that has happened, we noticed that we lose relevancy, momentum, and motivation.
The more consistent you are - whether it be with your marketing and showing up every day, or just being diligent with the responsibilities that are going to bring value to your business - you see better results. There is so much noise on the internet today, with new e-commerce sites popping up daily. If you can push through it and stand out from the others, then there are truly no limits.
This was actually a tip we were was told before we founded Grey Bandit. Know your flaws and knowledge gaps. If you’re not good at something and you come to a point where you are able to hire, spend some time finding someone that can help you fill that gap.
Your time is valuable and as your business grows it’s important to stay focused and give energy to the things that are going to help you continue to grow. In the long run, having a great foundation with the right people in the right seats will give you so much fuel to shoot for the moon. We know without our team, we wouldn’t have been able to scale to where we are now.
Lastly, you need to know your numbers. This holds true with every element of your business. Without inventory, we wouldn’t have a business. Shopify allows us to look at so many different analytics that helps us determine our buying decisions. We look at how quickly something is selling, what platforms our customers are coming from, our return rates, our margins, customer feedback, and so much more.
Based on all of that we determine pricing and quantities. Beyond this, we also look at our marketing spend monthly to determine our ROAS, customer acquisition costs and so much more. Being a female founder is not as glamourous as it may sound and it’s important to get down to the nitty-gritty and know your numbers too.
Photography by: Courtesy Grey Bandit