Building an avid customer base is tricky for any new business – especially if you’re in a landscape as saturated as women’s fashion. Send the Trend has emerged over the last three years as a dynamic player in this space by offering their users personalized accessories recommendations (e.g bags, jewelery) every month. Send the Trend has almost one million users, and was recently acquired by the home shopping giant QVC.
Earlier this week, General Assembly and Damsels in Design were proud to host Mariah Chase, co-founder of Send the Trend. Here, Mariah relates her key learnings from building Send the Trend into a successful business with a loyal customer base.
Loyal customers are a startup’s best marketers. Period.
Happy customers are the cheapest, most authentic, and most viral. Plus, when our customers share with us (and the community) about Send The Trend, it is often something unexpected. The beauty of being online is that you can disrupt mature business models and disintermediate channels with relative speed. Send The Trend’s “My Style” – which lets users create their own store and share styles with others – is an example of empowering and incentivizing our most engaged customers to be our marketers, and rewarding them for it.
Rule #1 for a woman in the startup space: Don’t think of yourself as a woman in the startup space.
I don’t spend too much time thinking about being a woman in this space. I just want to be good at what I do. That said, being a woman is essential in considering the needs of our customers.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Every entrepreneur experiences personal challenges when they launch a company. Acknowledge it and dive in. Mine? Asking people for favors.
You don’t know who your customers are until you have customers.
Before launching Send The Trend, we thought our community would consist of a certain demographic of young women. In reality, the core of our community ended up being pretty different.
Let go of perfection.
The most important lesson I learned early on was to let go of the idea that everything would be perfect before we launched. I am a perfectionist and it was a challenge for me to say “Let’s go – let’s invite other people into the party.”
Build loyalty. As fast as you can, on many channels.
We followed up with the first members of the Send the Trend community after their first purchase, and have continued to engage with them on as many social channels as possible. We try to create unique content and offers for each channel. We view our Director of Social Media is an extension of our customer service.
Raw intelligence. Service experience. Hustle.
We see a lot of resumes – I really look for people with raw intelligence (stats matter!), successful service industry experience and a positive, upbeat disposition.