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From Retail to SaaS, Consumer Behavior is Changing E-commerce and Marketing

by Rebecca Maslar

Building and marketing your brand has never been more crucial to your company’s success. But how do you evolve your brand to meet today’s changes in consumer behavior? Or cultivate customer loyalty in a sea of competition, both on and offline?

Luxury fashion retail entrepreneur and boutique owner, Wendy Rabin, and local SaaS marketing expert, Erika Rollins, tackle these questions and more in a discussion on the ways shifts in consumer behavior are driving changes in the e-commerce and marketing landscapes; the importance of human-to-human marketing and social media; and how to lean into your brand’s strengths.

Listen now to Smart Route’s 10th podcast episode for insights on how you and your brand can successfully adapt and thrive in today’s changing e-commerce and marketing landscapes.

Listen now:

About Wendy Rabin:

Wendy Rabin has twenty-years of proven success in the fashion industry. She began her career in marketing and corporate communications, but quickly found herself advising female leadership on personal style. Wendy took on freelance styling and in 2003, launched Sitting Pretty, a fine women’s clothing and styling boutique in downtown Annapolis. The boutique was critically acclaimed for its mix of emerging labels and was featured in popular shopping blogs like Daily Candy and Racked DC, as well as in print in In Style magazine.

In 2006, Wendy sold Sitting Pretty for an opportunity to work as the Marketing Director for an American accessory designer. The heritage label was losing market share to other more innovative accessory brands in their market. Wendy created and implemented a new branding experience, which resulted in the traction needed to reclaim and grow their position in the contemporary market space.

Above all, Wendy believes that personal style should be personal. In 2013, Wendy founded Wrabyn Boutique, a retail concept that seeks to build sustainable wardrobes for clients that transcend time and trend. Her highly tailored and immersive approach to wardrobe styling empowers her clients to express self-confidence in every aspect of their lives.

About Erika Rollins:

Erika Rollins has twenty years of experience building creative marketing and communication strategies that drive brand awareness, product demand, and customer advocacy. Currently Erika is the Director of Marketing at CallTrackingMetrics, where she leads the performance marketing team and oversees brand strategy across all digital channels. In her past life, she led client services for a top web and creative agency in the DC area and worked as a brand ambassador in the technology, education, and retail industries.

At this point in her career, Erika believes she has combined the best of both worlds–the ability to think creatively while fueling her passion for tactical and detailed marketing execution.

Episode Transcript:

Courtney Tyson

Hello everyone and thanks for listening in this is actually our tenth episode of Smart Route which we find very exciting, slowly but surely we’re getting very good at this. Today we actually have two special guests with us to discuss building a brand from both the B2C and B2B perspectives. Please welcome Wendy Rabin of Wrabyn boutique located in Annapolis Maryland. Thanks for being here Wendy.

 

01:38.15

Wendy Rabin

I’m delighted thanks for having me congratulations on your tenth episode.

 

01:39.63

Courtney Tyson

Thank you! We appreciate that we’re very excited to have you on board today I’m going to share a little bit more about you with our listeners. So Wendy has 20 years of proven success in the fashion industry. She began her career in marketing and corporate communications but quickly found herself advising female leadership on personal style so she built a successful boutique called Sitting Pretty. She then sold that boutique and then served as the marketing director for an accessory designer. And then in 2013 Wendy founded Wrabyn, a retail concept that seeks to build sustainable wardrobes for clients that transcend time and trend. And being an Annapolis local myself I can certainly say that today Wrabyn is a staple in the Annapolis shopping scene.

 

02:24.27

Wendy Rabin

And I’m just it’s really embarrassing to hear something right? You know to tell you like your history in like thirty seconds flat but thank you that was a very kind introduction and thank you for the compliment of Wrabyn I appreciate it.

 

02:29.70 Courtney Tyson

Um, wonderful of course. Well thanks for being here again I appreciate your time and we also have one of CTM’s very own with us as a guest today, Erika Rollins. Thank you for being here. Erika.

 

02:45.73 Erika Rollins

Hello Everyone I’m glad to be here Great to be here with you Wendy. Also hard to believe that we are already on our tenth episode, great work Marketing team

 

02:52.16 Courtney Tyson

Erika has served as the marketing director at CallTrackingMetrics for over five years and she spent her career helping B2B companies build their brands from both the internal and agency perspective. Um, so Wendy and Erika you two actually already know each other both as friends. And as two women in the branding world tell us a little bit more about how you two have become connected.

 

03:15.92

Wendy Rabin

I think it’s really more of a stalking relationship and I’m going to have to tell you that’s the honest-to-god truth. At Wrabyn we like to joke that there’s like you know fashion sparkle dust and erika is a byproduct of one of those moments I was having an adult tantrum is what I like to say. And I had come down the stairs just to kind of clear my head and have some fun on the showroom floor and one of our mutual friends happened to be in the store at that time and she asked why is your hair on fire right now and I was lamenting about you know, just my marketing challenges. You know I had no one to really noodle with me I had just lost one of my partners in that way. Um, to a brighter pastor and she said that oh I have just the person for you and she introduced me to Erika I bought Erika dinner and picked her brain and I bought her coffee and I picked her brain more and I luckily have found a friendship with her as well. But just an incredibly generous soul and obviously whip smart. In her career.

 

04:14.42

Erika Rollins

Ah, yeah I mean definitely I chalk up the beginning of our friendship to our mutual friend and really you know once I got over my fear of being fashionably inadequate around Wendy then we just started connecting and bonding to her point over like great food cocktails and you know most evenings trying to solve the world’s problems. So it’s been a great relationship one that I value very very much.

 

04:36.51

Wendy Rabin

Yeah, likewise likewise.

 

04:36.56

Courtney Tyson

That’s a very sweet story I love it. There are both you know, personal and professional advantages to your friendship. But that’s really great. Um, so Wendy tell us a little bit more about your background in fashion and how Wrabyn came to be.

 

04:52.24

Wendy Rabin

Sure I like to joke that my fashion career started in the seventy s because I was constantly dragging my barbies up and down the street putting on fashion shows with my friends. Um. But you know it’s funny. i’ve’ve I’ve always loved this I didn’t you know before I knew it was fashion I just loved clothes I loved styling I loved beautiful things I loved art from a very early age and it never really occurred to me that it was a path that I could choose for my career I grew up in a traditional household and. You went to business school. You went to law school. You went to medical school and you know anything else. You might like to do is in your spare time. So you know I went to traditional route to college and when I graduated in the roaring Ninety s I you know worked with a consulting firm and you know traveled the country and learning honestly what it took to build a business because I was working with other. You know, larger business owners. Um, and then I was you know and it was marcom it was you know was it was external communications for the most part and I found myself moving from DC to Annapolis and at the time I was I ran my own consulting firm and I was working. The world bank and I was driving back and forth and back and forth and I was thinking. There’s got to be something better right? You know and I’ve always been a shopper. Most people put twenty percent towards their future, I put all of it towards my closet and um so when I moved to Annapolis I had nowhere to shop I absolutely had nowhere to shop and.

 

06:22.42

Wendy Rabin

Yeah, in the way that I was looking to dress myself in age-appropriate career focused young woman and so late night driving home after a client meeting which you know I loved my job honestly at the time. Um I said you know I should just open a store and it was like one of those like crazy. Droplet moments that you don’t know why happened and I literally got to work that weekend on business plan and less than a year later I opened sitting pretty which was my first project I had no idea what I was doing, and I figured it out. I learned how to buy, I learned how to go to New York and make introductions. I learned how to put a store together and I really learned the trade of fashion retail and I came to discover that it was my true calling and I fell into it very naturally it wasn’t a huge learning curve outside of the obvious starting a business space but you know in a strange way. Coming to fashion in the roundabout way that I did it was really great to have the business background because that ensured that putting together the business plan and making sure that there were success metrics, baked into the progress of the business was integral.

So that was a project that I loved and I sold it to my partner after about 4 years and I went independent and doing marketing consulting and this is like you know back in the early you know 2000s where it was still all print. Media. Saks Fifth Avenue barely had a website. Um, you know we literally sent out snail mail cards and we did print ads I mean it was like it was old school. And so you know I was helping other local businesses do that and that’s when I jumped over to the accessory brand. Um I started out as a you know marketing assist for them and then I ended up taking over their marketing department and helping reposition them and rebrand them and I loved it and I thought that was going to be the job that I had for the rest of my life. 

And then my husband and I decided to have a baby and you know babies ruin everything. So I realized that I actually wanted to be a mom for a minute and I didn’t want to work straight away and so I took a little bit of a break and you know after a little bit of it. Not probably a year or two I was starting to get the itch again. You know I wasn’t feeling creative I wasn’t really actively working with fashion or clients in a formal way and so I started to get back to styling and consulting and I realized that my mom wardrobe was woefully out of touch with what I should have been wearing and my old clothes didn’t quite fit and so I went to work on putting together my professional wardrobe and I had a hard time doing it. 

I had a hard time dressing myself and I realized, after probably 2 months of pulling together my wardrobe again post-baby. That it was really hard and I think other women are finding the same challenges. There’s life changes. There’s health changes. There’s world changes. There’s body changes. There’s personality changes. There’s all types of things that women go through at a certain age or maybe not at a certain age and I found that post-baby mid-thirties, no one was speaking to me in the fashion world and I was feeling quite ignored and with someone who had pretty legit street credibility in the fashion world that I was finding it hard to dress myself and find my personal identity in the world of clothing was frustrating. So from there Wrabyn was born. And 8 years later we’re still doing the same thing.

 

09:51.82

Courtney Tyson

I Love that your your career evolution is just so interesting. But I just love that your brand speaks to you know I think all women right professionally as well and I think that as women we’re always looking for resources to make ourselves better, especially and in how we dress because how we dress really.

 

09:55.28

Wendy Rabin

Men.

 

10:11.70

Courtney Tyson

Is our brand right? to how people see us. So.

 

10:12.70

Wendy Rabin

Well absolutely I mean and there’s studies like you know in 2012 this is very like very reporting so you don’t have to like put my like data mark in there. But you know there’s there’s there’s studies based on the fact that you know you are empowered by what you wear. It’s called in clothes cognition and you know.

 

10:19.78 Courtney Tyson Ah.

 

10:28.30 Courtney Tyson You have.

 

10:30.49 Wendy Rabin Any Woman I think any person for that matter. But we are much more female- focused Any woman will tell you that if she doesn’t like what she’s wearing that day. Her day is not as good as it could be I don’t care if you had the best business meeting I don’t care if you had the best pitch meeting I don’t care if you were the best mom that day. But if you didn’t like what you were wearing. There’s a level of happiness that you will not achieve. It’s like it is little.. It’s documented. You know like in data and I think that’s what I realized. When you’re younger things fit differently and you’re just the devil make care. But as you get older and you care more specifically about how you present yourself. You are really more thoughtful about your personal brand. 

 

10:50.80

Erika Rollins

That’s so true. Yeah.

 

11:08.64

Wendy Rabin

That’s when you really need everything to be firing on all pistons and you know we at Wrabyn we really try and take that daily dressing stress off of your plate knowing that when you walk out feeling like yourself looking like yourself. That’s when you’re going to slay the dragon. So.

 

11:18.59

Courtney Tyson

Sure and I can relate to that so much because you know I’m a mom in my thirties to a 2 year old and still kind of working through my career and trying to do the best I can every day and if I look good then I feel good so I can absolutely relate to that.

 

11:34.44

Wendy Rabin

Totally right on.

 

11:37.68

Courtney Tyson

And love that. Um, so Erika let’s move to you and hear a little bit more about you. Um, tell us about you and your role at CallTrackingMetrics.

 

11:45.68

Erika Rollins

Sure. Yeah, so I actually began my career as a graphic designer so similar to Wendy I think we’re both creatives at heart and you know really I like to say that I’ve you know over the years combined the best of both worlds which is you know the ability to think creatively. While still kind of fueling my passion for tactical and detailed marketing execution call it like the virgo cars. Um, and so that combination has really served me well here in particular CallTrackingMetrics over the years and certainly at other in my past lifetimes as well. You know, working for agencies other technology startup companies. Um, working for the Savannah college of art and design you name it right? but that blend you know, really has helped me particularly CallTrackingMetrics because our company and our brand has evolved so much over these last you know 11 years um and so when I started at CallTrackingMetrics in the early years I spent most of my time building the creative side of the brand from style guides messaging digital experiences just really trying to get a you know build this brand right? and give it a look and feel and a personality. Over time that role has shifted to more of the brand strategy for both lead generation customer acquisition and then also customer retention. Um, and so really that starts with bringing on the right talent. So a big focus has been growing the team.

 

13:00.91

Courtney Tyson

Um, minute.

 

13:18.48

Erika Rollins

Today I’m really proud to say that we have an amazing team and I’m just so honored to work with each and every 1 of them. Um, and so our team is also more focused now on go-to-market planning that really helps define our product vision and then also drives cross-functional collaboration within the company and that’s just a really. Important part of our culture here at CallTrackingMetrics.

 

13:38.18

Courtney Tyson

I can certainly attest that you have a wonderful team and you guys do a wonderful job of telling our story. Um, so this next question is for Wendy um, you know whether a business is b to b or or b to c you know online conversions are obviously top of mind. Um, ecommerce and flexible buying and checkout retailer for retailers have has boomed and you know will likely continue to boom into the Holiday season. So Wendy over the past eighteen months, how has Wrabyn adapted to these ships and consumer behaviors and. How has having a physical store and ecommerce options worked or not worked in your favor during this time.

 

14:16.20

Wendy Rabin

Yeah, great question. Um, you know I think anyone certainly especially brick and mortar right? I can always speak from that perspective because that’s who we are um you know anyone during the land of covid as I like to call it had to dig into what their tools were right. You know, thankfully going into this we we did have an e-com site. We did have an Instagram what an Instagram account presence I should say um and we you know had facebook and that was pretty much all she wrote. Um, we know we had a newsletter campaign that we were actively sending to our clients digitally but you know.

 

14:38.97

Courtney Tyson

Um, whether and then.

 

14:52.66

Wendy Rabin

All of those media were very much in the kind of embryonic It’s nice to have it’s up. There. It looks good. It’s on Brand but it was really just a tool for our brick and mortar clients to to make sure that we had some touchpoint front of mind opportunities to bring them into the store right. Remind them that we were there in the land of covid um, you know we didn’t have that ability to just see them all the time to engage with them to run into the grocery store to see them walking down the street. You know to catch them after their lunch at flamont so we had to find new ways to to find wallet share with them right. Um, I think that having the ecom was certainly integral and what we found very quickly is that we had to dial into that we rushed to get inventory integrity. We rushed to have an ease of checkout. We were lucky that our partner shopify our ecom and. point- of sale partner shopify. You know they added you know curbside pickup. They added local delivery for button checkouts. Do you know what? I mean like all of those ways that you can make it easy to to cash and carry whatever that looks like in the land of covid. Um, so having leaning into the tools and making them work for us was highly important marrying that with brick and mortar is where there’s the rub. Um, you know how do you replicate brick and mortar in the digital world and that’s a challenge that we’re still working on frankly um, but I think that certainly. We learned so much during the land of covid to in you know what tools worked what tools didn’t work as much where are the redundancies where are their efficiencies and so leaning into those tools and making sure that we are using them in the right way to communicate their client in the right. The right messaging was so important. So I think anyone who has the brick and mortar experience and is looking into you know ecom has to be thoughtful about who they are and what they’re really trying to say um and you know just putting up a splashy you know ecom doesn’t make sense if that’s not who you are.

 

17:03.31

Wendy Rabin

So I think really trying to find ways to replicate your in-store experience. Online is one of the best ways to use those digital tools and and make it easy make it pretty um you know, but make sure that they have that your client as having a similar experience online as they are in your store did that does that answer your question.

 

17:19.37

Courtney Tyson

Gotcha. Absolutely so you’re saying marrying digital channels with your brick and mortar presence is super important. We have to do it in the best way that suits your brand and best tells your story.

 

17:32.21

Wendy Rabin

Sure I think so and again you know at Wrabyn that’s one of the biggest challenges we have right now that’s the heavy lift of kind of excavating who we are and how to replicate our experience and in digital in different markets even outside of Annapolis. But you know oneof the things that Erika in our first conversation said to me was, what are you trying to say to that your client? What does she want from you? and that seed of advice is really one of the things that drives how I approach our marketing digitally now. What am I trying to say to her? I don’t need to put it all out there. It’s already a noisy space.

 

18:09.31

Wendy Rabin

Um, so I think it really really is important to you know, figure out who you are figure out what you’re trying to say to her in my case, It’s a her um and make sure that it’s authentic to your brand and I think sometimes that gets lost in the rush to put something online. You know, don’t just put it online, make it meaningful.

 

18:23.17

Courtney Tyson

Sure I love that that makes sense. Thank you Wendy um, and so Erika from the B2B perspective. What are some of the ways marketers can make the most of this e-commerce driven holiday season.

 

18:35.17

Erika Rollins

Yeah, so kind of building on what Wendy was talking about right and you’re trying to recreate this digital experience for Buyers. You know that replicates the same feeling that they get in store or brick and mortar. So you know a lot of the tools. You know there’s several things that that. You know brands can start to to incorporate in their marketing. You know contextual targeting is a big one um to help target online shoppers based on the content that they’re consuming today right rather than just looking at past user behavior because those rules may not apply anymore. You know we’ve seen a lot of changes over the you know the last year year and a half and so contextual. Targeting is really going to help capitalize those opportunities that are happening right now. Um, also rethink your creative. Everybody says you know static ads don’t work anymore. Interactive ads you know if especially if you’re thinking about retail if you’re having sales special events. You could you know incorporate countdowns to those events. Or shoppable video and clickable links of you know again adding those sales and events to your personal calendar for example with oneclick those are just kind of nice tools that you can leverage to make it very easy for for consumers. Um, also thinking about discovery ads to boost awareness engage buyer interest in any kind of particular topics or products and then finding creative ways to get consumers to volunteer information to build a more personalized buyer experience which is really going to become more important as we step away from third party cookies and we’re looking for that first party data. And you know I think at the end of the day consumers just expect convenience right? It’s not It’s on an added benefit. That’s what they expect from brands and so we need to deliver on that and and really meet consumers where they are.

 

20:11.55

Courtney Tyson

So try a variety of things contextual targeting rethinking Creative Discovery Discovery ads and I think to what what kind of speaks to to what we’ve been talking about is brands really need to speak to their customers and the way they want to be spoken to and what I mean by that is you know the different channels that we all communicate.

 

20:16.69

Erika Rollins

And here.

 

20:25.48

Wendy Rabin

Seven.

 

20:29.16

Erika Rollins

Exactly Yep Yep, exactly.

 

20:30.89

Courtney Tyson

With brands through so it’s interesting as well. So a question for both of you so whoever wants to answer by all means speak on up. I’ve been hearing a lot about human to human marketing at 2021. Could you tell me a little bit more about this approach and how brands should be thinking about this in the new year?

 

20:49.39

Erika Rollins

Yeah, you know so really human-to-human marketing today is just simply a conversational way of communicating with other brands and clients and you know ultimately at the end of the day we’re all selling to a person even in b two b right? And so advancements in technology have. Certainly made human-to-human marketing a more realistic and also affordable option for brands and you know so consider tapping. Ah you know influencers for store openings or social events using ambassadors as billboards and and doing what Wendy does so well. Um, and I know you can certainly add some value here. Wendy. But using your brand’s greatest assets which is your people in your own campaigns like featuring your employees and your advertising and sort of developing that deeper emotional connection with your loyal customers and buyers by sharing their stories and finding ways to also incorporate your local community and bring your brand together with them to better serve your customers. So I know Wendy you do a lot of these things really? Well obviously your team members are in your Instagram ads and they’re you know you’ve got them doing the content which is so great. But also you partner with local businesses in our area. You know to put on events. You know that the whole community can benefit from.

 

22:00.32

Wendy Rabin

That’s a very generous compliment. Thank you Erika I appreciate it. Um, you know? yeah I mean you know human to human I mean I’m like you know my marketing background is from like nineteen twenty 3 so you know bear with me for a minute but you know there’s you know a human to human is just it’s relationship marketing I’m sure there’s.

 

22:09.17

Courtney Tyson

Ah.

 

22:16.79

Wendy Rabin

800 other words in there, you know from you know, marketing one-on-one books dating back to when I was in school and honestly I don’t know any other way right? I really think that the sort of new buzz word of human-to-human marketing is a it’s a repositioning repackaging from you know these bigger box. Large e-commerce spaces who have thrown on the emergency brake in the land of co we’re like but we can’t do it this way anymore you know and I think there’s a silver lining here and I’ll get to why small businesses. Really what’s going to solve the world’s problems. Um, just bear with me for my thread but you know I think that this you know this big emergency break moment from the bigger box department stores large e-commerce sites. They were so prescriptive in their approach and there was I mean it wasn’t it was it was robots. It was you know, ai it was all of the things. That have depersonalized the shopping experience for the consumer I mean this is industry agnostic right? This is not just fashion and retail. So you know you have this crazy prescriptive approach where you know in my industry. Let’s say you know a big department store. It’s like we bought seventy five units thirty five thousand units of this particular garment. So therefore this is what’s hot for the season and they’re shoving it down the consumer’s throats. Oh and we have 50000 units of this particular garment. Yeah, this is going to be hot too. Well, we’ve got a lot left over you know to the point where they were getting so far ahead of the fashion season.

 

23:35.61

Erika Rollins

Um, the city.

 

23:42.79

Wendy Rabin

You know they’re now dictating what the designers do and I think the Covid the land of Covid really turned the telescope on them to say you know that consumers who were kind of just digesting this like you know, white bread vanilla marketing prescription glossy ads you know moment.

 

23:57.51

Courtney Tyson

Um, you.

 

24:01.95

Wendy Rabin

Woke up and said you know what this kind of blind consumerism is not It’s not for me, not interested. Thanks pass and I think that’s where you saw a lot of these bigger companies either start to crumble in some cases you know Bye bye bernie’s by buying artstrom you know. Um, but you also saw bigger cracks in those institutions that have survived. Um and so this human to human marketing. It’s not new I mean at all I mean you go back in the fifty s where you had accounts and hi Mrs smith you got it I’ll bring the bread over later. We’re just finishing baking it. You know, send susy by that’s what it is. It’s talking to your consumer and ah, relating to her instead of saying this is what’s hot for the season. It’s like what do you want to buy? What do you need? Did you just have a baby Maybe you feel a little bloated today. How about let’s dress you let’s give you what you’re asking for Let’s talk to you like.

 

24:45.53

Erika Rollins

I have.

 

24:58.48 Wendy Rabin A human being not like a robot and let’s talk to you as an individual and I think that those of us in the brick and mortar space or so or small business for that matter doesn’t have to be brick and Mortar. You know those of us who have survived the land of Covid who leaned into our dna who leaned into our relationships um realized the value in that. And so that’s really reassuring because you have this again this turning of the telescope moment where it’s like you know what? this is working. It is good that I know that my client just had a baby. It is good to know that my client has survived breast cancer. It is good to know that her son just got married and to participate in those life events. Good bad somewhere in the middle Right. You know we’re giving her space to find who she is as a human through clothing through accessories through things that make you feel all good and squishy right? You know it’s called Retail Therapy for a reason and I think this you know this new concept air quotes here of human-to-human marketing. Is just a repositioning of what we should have been doing all along and those of us who have done it all along are really feeling the the swell of of support from not just our existing clients but new clients because they’re looking for some authenticity you know.

 

26:08.86

Courtney Tyson

You can.

 

26:10.84

Wendy Rabin

They’re looking for that relationship. They’re looking for a reason to buy because we all love to spend money right? We all in it. Maybe it’s clothing for you? Maybe it’s art for you. Maybe it’s shoes. Maybe it’s plants. Maybe it’s art. You know, maybe it’s drills not for me. Thank you very much but you know whatever it is that you’re looking for. You want it to be meaningful and you want it to have an experience behind it and I think that’s really what you’re talking about when you’re asking about human-to-human marketing. So I think that it’s important to lean into that and you know again, you know like I said earlier in our conversation. You know I’m in the process of excavating my brand and really. Digging into who we are at our core because I’m really excited to to give my client who can’t come to Annapolis. For example I want to give her the Wrabyn experience. But what does that look like and you know my website now. it’s it’s nice it’s pretty it’s

.

27:05.89

Wendy Rabin

Pretty easy to navigate. You know it’s very plug and play. So anyone who’s out there who’s a brick and mortar please get online. It’s very easy to do um but like that you know the next click up is how do we give her the experience online so that she feels like she’s hanging out with us. That’s that’s.

 

27:19.89

Erika Rollins

Yeah, that’s that’s the Wrabyn experience too you that I mean you really and that’s what it’s about you make buyers feel special and that’s the key and I think you you know you said it human to human marketing. We just.

 

27:21.40

Courtney Tyson

Sure.

 

27:22.90

Wendy Rabin

If anyone can solve that for me.

 

27:36.14

Erika Rollins

You know buyers we I include myself in that we just want to feel special and walking into rabon is an experience and that is difficult in some ways to replicate online but I know that that’s something that you were dedicating a lot of time and resources into figuring out how to solve that problem and how to do it.

 

27:44.81

Wendy Rabin

Yeah, yeah

 

27:52.00

Wendy Rabin

Yeah, and dinner you and I next week right Erika ah to dig a little further. No but I mean I mean to pick to to further echo. You know what? you just said Erika I mean people want you know a reason to buy but like we should be.

 

27:53.97

Erika Rollins

Um, and so I can certainly appreciate that. Absolutely absolutely I’m not. But.

 

27:54.30

Courtney Tyson

Ah, love that Love that.

 

28:08.95

Wendy Rabin

We should be grateful for this like anyone who’s selling who’s who’s in any peddler out there. You know at the core that anyone who sells something we’re peddlers right? like we should be very grateful that these people are taking time taking their money to invest in the business that we want to have I mean I think that there’s an opportunity for for retailers in general. To to really express their gratitude for people who are finding them who are coming in the door or in the you know in and into the the homepage and I think that there is a real opportunity for people to to say? Thank you,? You know for those consumers who continue to to to shop.

 

28:46.12

Courtney Tyson

I Love this and I just love your passion Wendy as well. Um, you know like you said saw about building that deeper emotional connection and Erika like you said making the buyer feel special I Definitely want to feel special when I you know purchase something from somewhere. Um, and.

 

28:46.88 Wendy Rabin Frankly.

 

28:58.97 Wendy Rabin Chat.

 

29:04.36

Courtney Tyson

And in speaking of making or building that that deeper connection. Let’s talk a little bit about social media so they say consumers who connect with brands and social Networks. They are more loyal customers nine out of 10 buying from companies that they follow so what advice do you have for small or emerging brands and how to best leverage social media to connect. Buyers online and so Wendy let’s hear from you and then let’s hear from Erika. 

 

29:24.34

Wendy Rabin

Dar it I was just gonna replicate whatever she said? Um, ah, ah you know kidding aside you know it’s crazy when I first got into fashion retail like I said it was I mean even the big boxes barely had internet right? or a website so to speak. Um, so this whole new media that by the way is free is one of the best most powerful tools out there. You know I mean I know from my experience especially prior to and certainly in the middle of the land of covid and now as we find our new Normal. You know in the land of you know covid you know, 2 point Zero. You know we really have this opportunity this platform to communicate with our client I mean it is very It feels very engaging. You know they always say you know that you know morning shows on the tv it’s like oh you welcome us into your room every day. You know we get welcomed into people’s lives on a daily basis. You know I struggle with getting my face online but my team has been so generous and thoughtful about stepping into the role of being our ambassadors and being the face of our business. Um, you know they’re doing the modeling for us. They’re they’re engaging daily with our clients and stories and then the grid. Um and that moves the needle more than anything else in the entire planet for us I mean unless you are physically in the store and we’re engaging with you personally the opportunity for us to play dress up with you digitally happens on Instagram. For us it’s Instagram, and we push to Facebook. That is one of the most important tools that any retailer can have because you’re literally it is free. It is accessible. It is so easy to operate. And even apps in a strategy. All you have to do is show up because they’re there watching. It’s a captive audience you know.

 

31:19.10

Courtney Tyson

Sharp. Yeah.

 

31:19.82

Erika Rollins

Yeah, consistency right? timing consistency just making sure like if you’re just getting started and I’ve read something recently about treating your social media Networks as like a virtual cocktail party and connecting with followers in a more casual manner. This is another thing, Wendy that your team does really well and you’ve been very successful with and we have joked that the content on your social that most of your followers engage with it’s It’s the personal Content. You know? Yes, everybody loves to see those you know click-to-shop ads and you know featuring new things. But.

 

31:48.72

Wendy Rabin

Totally.

 

31:56.33

Erika Rollins

It’s your team. They recognize your team. You know they see that you know they’ve got you know the actual store team members that are there in these clothes and they recognize them. They recognize their faces so they feel like they’re part of it and yet they also want to see Wendy at the beach with her family and you know these types of things like.

 

32:14.95

Erika Rollins

We joke about it. But it’s true. It’s the personal connections that you’re making with use consumers and that can happen very organically over social media and so it should be looked at as a significant growth channel for Businesses. You know, especially small businesses. Um, and it’s typically lower costs than a lot of other paid media Channels. So I think to your point companies really need to make it a priority and stay active and you know just initially come up with a plan assign responsible parties to manage the posts and you know keep your profile up to date and you know, kind of build it out from there.

 

32:46.30

Courtney Tyson

I Love that 

 

32:46.56

Wendy Rabin

Yeah, Erika makes so many good points right? that you know, especially with strategy you can without a doubt make this such an impactful you know space on your bottom line with way less investment than there ever used to be. Obviously there’s paid media and that’s important to make sure that you have a strategy behind that. But I Just think that the consistency and the value of being a part of that Channel is so, so meaningful for small and large brands. It’s crazy how the organic reach will.

 

33:23.20

Erika Rollins

Yeah, yeah, and it seems to be an afterthought still for a lot of brands and so if there’s anything that will say is you can build an entire brand you can launch an entire brand on social media alone. So don’t make it an afterthought. Make it a priority channel.

 

33:23.77

Wendy Rabin

Find you once it’s just crazy. Oh my God totally.

 

33:38.11

Courtney Tyson

Sure and I absolutely love that your employees are your models as well because I think as a consumer when we’re buying something especially clothing I mean we want to see that piece of clothing on a real person not on a model and on an edited ad right? So I think that makes it so much real.

 

33:40.60

Wendy Rabin

That’s a great way of saying it? Yeah.

 

33:57.29

Courtney Tyson

So much more real as well And and I think Erika when it comes to to B to C using you know, social media to to share those case studies share those those real customer stories. That’s how your brands are really best connecting with their their customers and their prospects too.

 

34:10.69

Erika Rollins

Exactly yep, you can’t ignore that peer-to-peer selling. You know that’s that’s huge, right? especially in B2B.

 

34:15.81

Courtney Tyson

So Wendy, what does the future growth look like for Wrabyn?

 

34:22.21

Wendy Rabin

Hah, I don’t know, you tell me? I don’t know I’ll tell you after to dinner next week with Erika um, no, it’s so funny because we you know we’re such an odd time that we’re still existing and right like there was like precon after covid and immediately prior to covid.

 

34:40.92

Wendy Rabin

Shutting down the world. We I had realized that we had exercised. You know my business plan like I mean everything had been checked and I was feeling rudderless because frankly I didn’t have a plan in place so I was working on the next you know 105 year out plan and you know. And then when covid hit it went straight from dreaming and planning to holding on for dear life and you know you marry sort of planning and dreaming with holding on for dear life and the lessons we’ve taken from that it’s put us put put me in a completely different growth mindset which I’m grateful for. We have a lot of products coming out that are going to be more accessible virtually. there’s virtual styling. We’re going to be kicking off Wrabyn Wardrobing which is a subscription type of service. We’re working hard to ensure that our clients can engage with our stylists in a more meaningful virtual way so that we have opportunities to grow into other markets. 

I’m in the process of developing our digital platform so that it does start to really replicate what we offer— that high touch, highly personal, highly engaged environment in our store online so that the people who are looking for. You know that wardrobe advice and the wardrobe building in a way that we provide it. You know, um and that we can get to them and and we can invite them into our world. No matter where they are. So lots of fun things on the horizon lots of work to do, but it’s exciting so and especially using the tools available to us now. It’s a brave new world and it’s pretty cool to think about.

 

36:22.81

Courtney Tyson

Very exciting stuff I’m excited to follow along too. So I have to ask too and you know when we were preparing for this interview with the both of you. The one thing I wanted to ask was you know being that you two are very good friends and you’ve mentored each other, I’m interested to know what is one thing that you’ve each learned from one another, one thing that stands out?

 

36:44.42

Erika Rollins

Um, only one thing? 

 

36:45.52

Wendy Rabin

I can go Yeah, but I right I let me let me let me go get my role list. Um, no I mean I think I mentioned it earlier in the conversation I mean I one of the things that really echoes in my head is truly. You know what are you trying to say Wendy. What does she want to hear from you and I think that that’s such an easy you know throwaway comment to some level but it was just so poignant and meaningful and every time I come back to you know, thinking about strategy or thinking about a new you know launch you know that seed of.. What are you trying to say has been so valuable and really has like echoed um and it’s made it made me more deliberate and more Thoughtful. So I’m super grateful for that. 

Also, the idea that there’s nothing you can’t do. Erika has been very supportive and very encouraging. And you know she believes in my point of view and she has been so supportive of um, you know what that could possibly be and anytime I’ve called her in a fit of you know, hair on Fire. You know what do you think about this and she’s like this is how you saw it let me help you with this.. Let’s talk about it. Let’s dialogue through it and I just I love that she is always.

 

37:58.26

Wendy Rabin

Ah, hundred percent on my team and that kind of support and that kind of lesson of like hey let’s solve it. Let’s do it. You can totally do This is just it’s huge. Um, so I’m sure there’s so many more but those are the front of mine for me right now. No.

 

38:09.96

Erika Rollins

I’m a hundred percent team Wendy always all all in. But I mean listen you know everybody who’s heard you speak today can understand why you know I am so inspired by you every day you know and anytime I think that I’m busy I remember back you know over this last year when we’ve been. Spending time together and it’s like you are honestly you’re a hustler you launched a successful free retail brand somehow manage a major house renovation project balance your family and still had, dare I say, a very active social life. 

So, seriously you have taught me so much about the importance of being vulnerable in business because at the end of the day we’re all human right? and then also to trust your instincts and not take any Bs from anyone along the way and I just I love you for that. So thank you.

 

38:58.94

Wendy Rabin

Homegirl right? back at you.

 

38:58.92

Courtney Tyson

Yeah I love how much you guys value one another you’re you’re very lucky to have the friendship that you do. 

 

39:04.94

Wendy Rabin

Totally.

 

Courtney Tyson

Before we say goodbye, is there anything either of you would like to plug?

 

39:14.33

Erika Rollins

Um, yes, yes, and follow them on social.

 

39:14.77

Wendy Rabin

Wrabyn dot com

 

39:15.51 Courtney Tyson Agreed.

 

39:18.78

Wendy Rabin

Um, yeah, definitely and it’s W R A B Y N that’s right, Yeah, exactly like wrapping paper. 

 

39:22.73

Courtney Tyson

That’s w yes same thought process here I Love that love that. Ah.

 

39:32.38

Courtney Tyson

Ah, and if you’re ever in. You know the D.C./ Baltimore region please be sure to visit Wendy and her team at the boutique and beautiful downtown Annapolis to really really have that that Wrabyn experience in person that’ll be wonderful. So of course well thank you both for being our guests I think what we’ve discussed here.

 

39:44.28

Wendy Rabin

That’s nice. You thanks so much.

 

39:51.11

Courtney Tyson

You know today will certainly help our listeners set themselves up for success whether it be they’re trying to figure out how to tie their their you know online presence and brand to their brick and mortar um store whether it be. They’re trying to set themselves up for holiday season or just generally strategizing. This is just like a really great conversation. And just the fact that you 2 are such great friends and mentors for one another is really added I think a little something special to extra special to this episode. So. Thank you again for your time Wendy and Erika of course and thank you to our listeners as well for following along. We appreciate it. Um, keep up with us on our website and on Twitter at smartroutepod.

 

40:17.75

Wendy Rabin

Thank you! It’s a lot of fun appreciate it.

 

40:18.48

Erika Rollins

Thank you

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