Candice recently sat down with ATB Entrepreneur Strategist Dustin Paisley to discuss how Buttercream went from a one-woman outfit to a growing business with thousands of fans.
Here are four takeaways from their conversation for aspiring entrepreneurs.
1: Adapt to the market.
Candice credits much of Buttercream’s success to its ability to respond to signals from the market.
“I just started making aprons, thinking it was a cute thing to sell on Etsy,” she says. “They didn’t sell.
“So like any business that’s successful, I pivoted.”
Her apron work didn’t earn much money, but it did attract attention from people looking for clothing in a similar style. Candice decided to see if she could meet that demand. Before long, she found herself with 19 orders for dresses.
“I had no idea how to sew the dresses,” she says. “I literally watched YouTube and figure out what machines to use. That’s how the clothing took off.”
Buttercream now makes thousands of dresses and other pieces of clothing each month.
2: Just jump in.
Many Albertans thinking about starting a business reach out to Candice with their questions and concerns.
“My main advice is just start,” she says. “So many people have been on the fence for a year or two years.
“I say just start now, even if you’re not ready. Those 19 orders I had—I wasn’t ready.”
She didn’t know how to sew a dress when she took those orders. She taught herself through YouTube.
“Maybe don’t start that fast, but start something and don’t stop,” she says. “If you just keep going, usually you’ll be successful if you can change with what the market is requesting from you.
3: Meet your customers where they are.
There are so many ways of reaching potential customers that picking just one or two can be a real challenge. For Buttercream, social media has been a big driver of interest and sales. “Facebook is surprisingly still our main source of sales,” says Candice. “I’ve figured out what works for a formula for us: really simple posts and a ton of beautiful photos.
“So I just keep doing the same thing over and over again.”
Your customers might use a different social network. Or maybe they spurn digital media altogether but congregate at a particular farmer’s market, or trade show, or pub.
Figure out where the people who love what you make get together and reach out to them.
4: See each customer as a potential ally.
It’s no accident that Buttercream is known among its fans as a great customer service company.
“I think customer service is the main part, no matter what business you have or where you are,” says Candice. “That’s what people love about us. We really do bend over backwards.
“But I know how important it is. If one person has great service they are going to tell all their friends.”
Look for more information on starting a business? We’ve got you covered. Check out our Entrepreneur’s Guide - it’s full of guidance and resources to help you every step of the way."