Instagrammer of the Month: Elisabeth of Bloom Custom Robes
Today I am so honored to introduce you to Elisabeth Chramer, the owner of Bloom Custom Robes. I first met Elisabeth at an Instagram meetup hosted by the lovely Madison of Keeping Creativity. As we were all taking photos and getting tips from Madison, Elisabeth began to share some of her story as a business owner. Her experience was so unique to me. A product based business that had been selling for years directly from Instagram? I had to hear more! So I decided to interview her as this month's featued Instagrammer.
Many of you are product based business owners working to create higher engagement with your ideal clients through the Instagram platform. Elisabeth is living proof that by creating and sharing beautiful content you can reach your audience and have a flourishing online business! So without further adieu, here is Elisabeth!
What inspired you to start Bloom Custom Robes?
The cool, Shark Tank-ready, entrepreneur answer: After discovering an untapped customer base and scalable service to offer, I set out to use the two to build a financial foundation for myself while promoting a positive and encouraging community for woman seeking to better their lives and world.
The real-talk, let-me-tell-you, no filter answer: Umm. I just wanted some words and a crown on a tote bag or something.
You see, I never started out to begin a business. As a college student who was competing in Miss America local preliminary pageants, all I was inspired to do was to find someone who could put my crown and title on a shirt or tote bag or robe. No big deal, right? Hardly. Every embroidery store I found offered me some generic crown that didn’t represent the one I had worked so hard to earn and some text designs that either looked like they were for a 5 year-old backpack or some grandmother throw pillows. Don’t get me wrong, grandmother throw pillows are great - just not what I was going for.
Since all I wanted was my own title and my own crown, I simply decided to make my own. A cheap starter embroidery machine, a few spools of thread, and a helpful YouTube video later, I had what I set out to have. Something all for me.
Let me emphasis that it wasn’t very good - far from the designs we stitch out now. The stitching was bunched, the letters were spaced out, and, yes, it was crooked on the fabric, but by golly it made me happy and friends saw I could make their own crown and title designs, so I did a few more. The fact that it was their own design outweighed any beginner embroidery issues. Their friends showed their friends, and soon I was putting crowns, monograms, and Greek letters on everything from tote bags to baby onesies.
How did we get to custom robes? Well, when I began a Facebook page (and later Instagram) and started offering **all the items I could think people would want,** we sold a little bit of everything, but 4/5 orders included a robe. After some thought and time, it dawned on me that most towns could provide custom shirts, cups, tote bags, etc., but who offers robes? I had stumbled upon a slice of the market that I was their only option for. And they found me.
Fast forward and you’ll find us cutting the clutter, embracing the unique, rebranding the business, and living the robe life. The glorious, soft, streamlined, profitable, and growing robe life.
**Not recommended for those with little basement space. I’m still trying to sell the rest of my Comfort Colors stock to have a usable area again.
2. It is so amazing that you have made so many of your sales of your custom robes through Instagram. What are 3 tips you would give to folks wanting to use Instagram as a platform to sell their physical product?
Tip #1: Know your product.
In order for you to show others how great your product is, you need to know it yourself. Go on a date with your product and discover what it’s physical properties are minutely like, the character and vibe your product has, the downsides that might arise down the road, the first impression someone would have when they see it, etc. Know your product and it will help you to...
Tip #2: Know your audience.
Your audience is the group of people who will be interested in swiping right on your product. Your Instagram account is basically the online dating profile of your item and viewers are possible matches. Use your bio, images, and captions to speak the language of the audience and help them fall in love.
Tip #3: Know your voice.
Friends become friends when the people involved speak the same language. Don’t be afraid to speak personally, humorously, seriously, formally, or emoji-ly(?) if that is the voice of who you are targeting. Be friendly with those you’re trying to be friends with. Speak their language and they’ll speak back. Also, remember that voice varies, but grammar doesn’t. If you don’t take the time to proof and correct your text, some will have the impression you don’t take the time in other areas of your business.
3. I believe that not every Instagrammer has to be a professional photographer to be successful. Tell us how you harness the power of styled stock photos mixed with your own photos to give your feed it’s beautiful, cohesive look.
To be honest, this question has been one of the biggest compliments I’ve gotten about Bloom in a while. I’m not only *on* the struggle bus when it comes to branded or cohesive imagery on social media, I *drive* the struggle bus.
It’s hard for me. You’ll notice some days I’ll post many things and others will be pretty silent. My production flow is in a windowless basement and most product shots I take are hastily snapped (with love) in the hoop before I take the robe and whip it around to embroider the other side or slide it into a mailing box. Windowless and quick are not conducive to a brand that tries to be airy, fresh, and relaxed.
My game-changer has been to 1) put down other tasks and dedicate photo shooting days every month (or two or three, #life) to use throughout the upcoming postings, and 2) utilize the talents of those who capture the message you want to send to your audience. Find those who inspire you and your brand, identify what would fit within your message and voice, and always, always give credit by tagging the content creator and/or tagging/writing their name. Yes, even in Insta Stories. Be a team player and you’ll be surprised how many accounts will want to connect, give a shout out back, or at least not call you out for plagiarism.
4. What, in your opinion, is the most important thing to remember as a creative when using Instagram for business.
There are so many tips I’d love to share about starting and running a business based primarily on Instagram. Bloom only launched it’s website a few weeks ago after years on social media due to how well we perform there. (Please ask questions and I’ll be happy to answer real-talk style on @SpiffyEats soon!)
If I could tell you to remember one thing as a creative businessperson on Instagram, I will 100% encourage you to do something that not many people would recommend. Walk away.
Put the phone down. Leave the computer. Reply back later. Go out and be you, recharge, refresh.
Small business owner + creative + social media based = insane amounts of time spent in a platform that never sleeps, never stops comparing, never takes a break, never seems to offer a good stopping point. (really, many likes of ours and inquiry messages come at 3am)
In order for you as a business owner or employee to avoid burnout and lose joy in what you provide the world, you need to take the steps to be the one using Instagram - don’t let Instagram use you.
Pray, take a walk, pet the dog, watch a movie, bake me cookies. You know, whatever you need.
Please send cookies to @bloomcustomrobes and @echramer.
A huge thank you to Elisabeth for sharing these helpful tips and encouraging words. It's so amazing to see a female-owned, product-based business succeeding by using Instagram in such a powerful way! To learn more about Bloom Custom Robes visit their website or follow them on Instagram.
Do you know somone who should be a featured Instagrammer on Spiffy Eats & Giggle Water? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me about them. Self nominations welcome!