In 2013, I felt lost. I was living in Brooklyn with my husband and our one-year-old; and while I was grateful to be a stay-at-home parent, I missed working and relishing in a creative outlet. I wanted to find something for myself, so I started brainstorming.
Around this time, I stumbled upon the buy, sell, trade world of kids clothing on Instagram. I was instantly hooked. When I had my son, I discovered the clothing market for boys was lacking. I wanted to support small businesses and realized there were fun, family-owned clothing brands all over Instagram. I started my "Instagram shop" and sold my son's clothing and shared brands I loved. Little did I know this would be the start of a bigger idea.
When we moved back home to Chicago, my Instagram following was really building; and I realized I needed to open an online store – a website where parents could buy all their favorite kids' clothing in one place, trust the quality and receive styling tips from one parent to another.
With a shopper's perspective and a background in marketing and social media, I knew what I wanted to see in an online store. I had made connections with brands on Instagram and felt passionate about sharing fashionable and eco-friendly children's clothing.
A few months and many sleepless nights later, Half Pint Shop was born. It wasn't just a business; it was my creative outlet, something I could do while still looking after my children.
During the first year of operation, I relied on Instagram for promotion. One post could lead to dozens of sales, and it was my biggest traffic driver early on. Many of my Instagram followers became loyal customers; and I already knew their likes and dislikes. I bounced ideas off my following and knew that if they didn't go crazy over a brand, it wasn't a good investment.
We still use social media every day for marketing; but it has definitely changed. Instagram's algorithm flip has impacted us as engagement and follower growth trended downward. This forced us to be creative and prioritize Facebook ads, Google AdWords and email marketing, where we've seen the most success.
In 2016, we opened a brick and mortar studio in Lakeview, New York, where we reach a different market and have the flexibility to host events and vary inventory. We now do all our shipping out of the store's back room.
As we continue to grow, I've found that I'm passionate about helping others launch their online businesses. I love sharing this knowledge and seeing others succeed.
The biggest piece of advice I can give is to stay true to your mission. I never strayed too far from the roots of my Instagram shop and have always kept the store's core values in mind.
About the author: Macaire Douglas lives with her husband and two sons in Chicago, IL. She launched Half Pint Shop online in 2014 and opened a brick & mortar studio in 2016. Besides running the store, she also consults with other businesses looking to build or start their online presence. Learn more at www.webinaide.com.