How A TV Producer is Building an Unconventional Yoga Apparel Brand - eCommerce A-Z Podcast Episode 1
In this episode, we interview Tempestt Young, the CEO of Fits4yoga, an unconventional yoga apparel brand. This conversation covers her entrepreneurial journey from 2018 till date and how she’s restructuring her company in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I see that a lot of people get caught up in “well somebody else is doing that”. It doesn’t matter if someone else is doing it. Everybody brings something unique to the business. When you go to the grocery store, there are a 1000 breads out there, so many different companies, and it is like you know that doesn’t stop them.
Dzifa Mensah(Host) - Hi There, Welcome to the eCommerce A-Z podcast, where we teach you how to start and grow a thriving eCommerce business.
Our guest for today is Tempestt Young, Tempestt is the CEO of the yoga apparel brand - Fits4Yoga.
10 years ago, Tempestt discovered yoga and has been an avid practitioner ever since. Her love for yoga and fashion inspired her to create the unconventional yoga apparel brand in 2018.
Right now, she’s on a mission to make women feel empowered when they step into any space, not just the yoga studio.
Our conversation today explores her entrepreneurial journey right from 2018 till now. My name is Dzifa Mensah and I am your host for the eCommerce A-Z podcast. Stay with us.
Dzifa Mensah- So you started your business in 2018, February 2018.
Tempest Young - Yes, February 2018, Fits4Yoga started the eCommerce store right online.
Dzifa Mensah - How did you come up with the idea and what drove you into starting Fits4Yoga?
Tempest Young - Well. I practice yoga and I was going pretty often 4-5 times a week and I was looking for clothing. I started a Google search to try to order some clothing and everything that I saw was either way too much money, wasn’t affordable and it also wasn’t trendy. So, I decided to start my own online boutique and I set a date and I told myself that I will have everything done by Feb 14. The idea in January so I only really gave myself a month and I started like cranking out stuff every day. First, to find a platform where it will be easy for the shopper to shop but also easy for me to run the backend and Shopify was that platform. And from there I built the website and that was it, February 14th I launched the store.
Dzifa Mensah - That’s impressive. Doing all of that in a month, that’s really cool.
Tempest Young - Yeah, I don’t know why I gave myself a month. When I look back, I guess I just wanted to prove to myself that I was serious about the idea and I wanted to commit to something and so there you have it.
Dzifa Mensah- That’s okay. So, are you currently running it full time or as a side hustle?
Tempest Young - Full time. At first when it first started, it was a side hustle. But then it grew so I was like okay then I got to put more time and energy into in it and I also have to hire some help. The online website launched February 2018 and I opened a boutique and actual brick and mortar pop up last year. And that was open from July 1st, 2019 all the way to Jan 2020
Dzifa Mensah - How did you transition from your 9-5 to doing Fits4Yoga fully.
Tempest Young – Well, for me I didn’t transition. I work as a Television Producer. I work in entertainment, the TV world and I actually love doing that. But I find myself liking eCommerce and running a boutique too. So, it’s actually been very challenging to run both. The great thing about TV is when you’re working on a show you do have a down period. When your favorite show is on hiatus or it’s summer time and stuff like that then you’re not working so I kind of use that time to my advantage. When I launched the eCommerce store Feb 14, 2018, I was in Los Angeles pitching TV shows. And so, I am in these meetings, but I am looking on the website to see if anyone is ordering. Of course, it was the first day so the only person to place the order was my best friend. But I was doing both. And I have kind of been keeping up the two balls because you know for me, I like what I do during the day. And the good thing about eCommerce business is that you could run it from your phone like I have the Shopify app. I actually have a folder called “business” which deals with everything with my store so you can be on the go. So, I don’t have to be glued to a computer, and be at home of course when orders come you have to fulfil them and there are time constraints but for the most part I make it work.
Dzifa Mensah - How did you go about hiring?
Tempest Young - So how I went about hiring was that I noticed that, for one, one person cannot do everything since I didn’t not leave my full time, I noticed where I was slacking was the social media. And of course, I needed to add different apps on Shopify to help me run things efficiently such as the SEOs and stuff like that. So, I noticed that the social media was the part I was lacking and stuff, so I just put out a position for someone to part-time help me run the social media pages. Fits4yoga is on Instagram but is also on Facebook. With Instagram as soon as we put something out, we capture someone and get a sale. So that was super important and so I was lacking in that area. So, I had someone focus on that.
But then that person started focusing on other things and bringing ideas to the table and making the business start running more efficiently. When I opened up the store, I had to hire other people like cashiers and so forth, off sales associates if you call them. So, I had to do that on the storefront but as far as the eCommerce I had to bring somebody in and teach them the ropes of helping me run the backend of the store.
Dzifa Mensah- You spoke about social media, how did you get your first 10 customers? Can you remember?
Tempest Young- When I first started, I noticed that a lot of times, when people have businesses, especially a small business, they are using their personal Instagram to kind of promote. Of course I started a separate Instagram for Fits4yoga and I kind of started finding my niche, people who were interested in yoga, not just my friends and family and so I used different types of hashtags and started searching, liking and commenting other people’s content, building up a relationship. Once you do that the person visits your page and they are looking, trying to see what you have going on. And I am also offering discount codes. So you know, it is constantly me messaging someone or saying ”hey love the fact that you did this yoga pose, you will look great in our clothing, you know we offer free shipping, here is a code”. That has really helped for the past two years. I really don’t know the science behind it, but every time that is done on Instagram, I am able to capture a sale. Then I build a long term client base, following them on Instagram and every time they wear the clothing, they are tagging Fits4yoga, creating content for us that we can use on our social media pages. And when I say creating content, you know yogis, a lot of them are influencers and so they are doing poses, they are doing their classes and they are wearing fits4yoga. So, I am able to use the content and repost it and say “hey, look at this person wearing this” and then it just goes from there. So, Instagram has been very vital in that. Facebook, I would say is a different ballgame on Facebook, but as far as some posts have translated to sales but their people just want to stay informed or what the business is doing. And what I have noticed from Facebook is that the traffic, that by clicking the link, they will separately go to Fits4yoga and then place their order. So, it’s a little different ballgame on Facebook. But on Instagram I think we have really mastered and so getting that first 10 was all about engagement.
Dzifa Mensah - Did you try any paid advertisement?
Tempestt Young - I have paid advertisement on Instagram. You know you can boost different posts and ads, you know I have tried that on Facebook, that necessarily does not work for me. As far as paid advertising. Since it is a clothing store, Google Shopping is one of the best I would say lanes that I came across. With Google Shopping, if somebody is searching for yoga pants and they put in black yoga pants and then your ad with the photo pops up and they click the link, that converts really well for me. But as far as social media advertising, I think having a personal relationship and contact and really like building that community, especially when you are in the yoga business, it is very important. So that’s kind of the lane I have been going is making sure that the followers that we do have, that we actually know them.
Dzifa Mensah- Do you do any form of email marketing?
Tempestt Young- Yes, so we definitely do email marketing, because we want to get the customers to back if they’ve already purchased. Emails are scheduled out to go to them and I have noticed that once they make their first purchase, it’s not long before they make their second purchase. So email marketing is very key but then you also have subscribers who have never purchased and so you are sending out discount codes and you know you are making sure the content in the email is interesting. Trying to mix it up not always sending out like “hey, purchase this”, but also sending out information about health and wellness, so a lot of people gravitate towards that and you know of course at the bottom, is a little code if you do want to use the website. But one thing about email marketing is that we always send out an email when there is a new blog post and so a lot of the blog post brings people to the website. That’s another thing that I was personally slacking but once I hired help, I was able to get somebody to click out our blog post regularly.
Dzifa Mensah - You are helping your customers beyond just buying yoga outfits and giving them wellness tips and all of that.
Tempestt Young - Yeah, we have, I mean if you look on Instagram and just the world period, everybody is selling something. One thing about yoga, it is about community and it is about building something with someone as far as our health and wellness. Yogis, a lot of us are new to the practice, a lot of us have practiced for a long time, but the practice is about family, it is about friendship, it is about how we can make the world a better place. So, I kind of use that space to not only build customers but also build people that would not mind sharing, telling others, and helping me build this brand together.
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Dzifa Mensah- You mentioned that you had a brick and mortar store from July 2019 to January this year. Did you record a significant difference in sales when you had both the eCommerce platform and the brick and mortar platform as compared to the just the eCommerce platform?
Tempest Young - Yeah, so as far as my sales, they tripled. And we are talking about combined, because the way my store was set up and I was located in a mall. My Fits4yoga, the brick and mortar was located in the mall and even if a customer wasn’t coming in and purchasing, on the outside of the window was the website, and so they would go to the website. I saw an increase in sales on the website and of course when you add the store to it, you are making revenue and money from there. It's just the only thing about running the store is that you are a cost higher, unlike the website where my costs are super low, and you know, like paying a monthly thing to Shopify. Now I am paying rent, I’m paying sales associates, it's more time and more hours in the store because my store was open mall hours, and mall hours. Before all the craziness just hit the world, it was from 10am to 9pm, Monday through Saturday. And then Sundays the store was open 11 to 6, but we also did yoga classes on Sundays at the mall. We did our yoga classes an hour before the store opened. So, you know, it was crazy. Of course when you go to a commercial space, you can control your hours a little bit more, but I had an opportunity. I just had to decide to open up in a mall and it really helped get the word out. Now brick and mortar is in a strange place, malls are in a strange place right now. We are in the US people are shopping more online so a lot of people might say well, why did you do that, you kind of went backward with that because online is where everything is at. I just wanted to try it and I wanted to build a brand out and I wanted to know how far Fits4yoga can go. I think a store actually works for us, just not in a mall. And the yoga classes were building to a great number where building that community was really happening and drawing more traffic to the website, was also happening. So, it is a way to go about things, I mean I wouldn’t say brick and mortar completely did but is definitely shifting. I would say that malls, I need to adapt to the change and with the coronavirus and their hours changing and stuff, maybe they will in the future and they will realize in the future that being open all day is not necessary for the consumer that we are today. But we will have to see, you know in the next couple of months and years what happens with that. As far as having a store to go along with your eCommerce, I actually think it works for Fits4yoga, because we are talking about a yoga apparel store, so there should be a place where your local customers can do yoga. If it was another business, it might not have worked or something. If I had a wine business, I might do a wine tasting or something. I think having that in person relationship kind of helps but it depends on what kind or business you are running
Dzifa Mensah- I totally agree, so what happens, I am particularly interested in your yoga community, that grew with your yoga classes, what happens to them now?
Tempest Young- Well they were very disappointed when I decided to, cause right now, I was moving the location, that was the plan, we outgrew it, we became very popular, the yoga classes along with the store. So, I was like okay let me move the location. But you know life hits you and it’s like now, I am not going to sign a lease now and everything is on lockdown or we are about to go into lockdown with the coronavirus. So, the yoga community who came to the classes were very disappointed. This was the class they were going to every Sunday and they were like “I loved it” and “it was great” and then when they went to the class, when the store was opening, you would receive like a 15% discount. So that was very challenging, but it is all about, you know collecting emails, building relationships, making sure they are following you on social media, that way they can follow you to your next move. And also letting a customer know that to connect with us you can connect with us virtually. You can visit our website if you are looking for apparel, you can go to our Youtube page if you are looking to do yoga. And so, kind of transitioning them that way.
Dzifa Mensah- Let’s talk about apps, your favorite apps you use in running your business.
Tempestt Young- My favorite apps are the ones that can do stuff that I can't do. So as far as Shopify, they have 1000s of different apps. One thing, when I launched the website, I noticed that a lot of people were talking abouts SEO and you know stuff that I am not really familiar with. I am pretty savvy when It comes to the internet, it’s a lot of things I don’t know that’s not my background. So, I was looking for some things that could kind of help in that area that was also easy to work. But at the same time, doing its job. So, I came across, I believe it is called Doctor SEO, I think that is you guys right
Dzifa Mensah- Yeah SEO Doctor
Tempestt Young- Because I had a different company before them and I didn’t think they were doing their job efficiently, so I came across that. That really helps when it comes to stuff I don’t know. Other things I like to push out is a web push notification, a lot of people have signed up for those notifications that they are on a desktop or a laptop computer. They sign up for the notifications and I can kind of like you know push something out that will pop up in the corner of their computer, like hey it’s a quick flash sale or whatever is going on. That’s another favorite. I just like things that make things easy. That's what I grab and take towards. Because there are a lot of things that you can kind of have apps that can run your business efficiently, like you know I think Ping, that’s a shopify app I believe. Ping is a part of them. It sends out mail alerts, it updates the Facebook page, it will help with advertising, and so that’s a very helpful app because I just have it on my phone and it will say “hey I think we should email our past customers, I came up with this” and I will say “yes” and it send it right out. So that’s been very helpful, Ping is one of my favorites and I think that’s about it.
Dzifa Mensah- How do you deal with imposter syndrome? How do you deal with fear? Because I am sure you have a fair share of that in building a business.
Tempestt Young- I think, every day I am dealing with that. I didn’t set out to be an entrepreneur. Again since you know you hear all these stories where people say “I was unhappy at my job”, but didn’t have one of the situations. I have a cool job by working on television. I am on a set and you know it is just fun. But for the most part I enjoy it so I didn’t have one of those situations where I was like “oh I am going to start a business”. This wasn’t a plan. This was just something I saw as lacking. I saw companies out there Little Lemon and they were selling leggings for like $80 and I was like who can afford to buy five pairs of those. And I didn’t see anything fun or colorful or different colors and I was just like okay when I go to class, I kind of want my personality to shine out. So, I was like I have no choice here, I have to start something of my own. But that’s not something set out to do. Of course I was scared because you know, I am taking money and investing it into something that I didn’t go to school for or something that did not come across my mind before January 2018. So, you have to take a risk, you have to take a chance, especially when I opened the store, that was an even bigger risk. So, it made me realise that if I am going to commit to entrepreneurship you know completely that I just have to jump. And sometimes when I jump, it doesn’t make any sense at all. Sometimes you will land on your feet when you do that and sometimes you won’t. These past two years, I have done a lot in such a short period of time. But I have also learned a lot and I have also grown from it. So, I deal with the fear every day and I just manage it because I don’t want to and excuse my language. I don’t want to “half ass it”. I don’t want to just “oh I got a store”, you know not put any work into it, not build clients, not get a sale or anything like that. I want to have something that I am proud of. That I can show my family and friends, that I can share with my community. So, you never get over the fear, at least for me, it is something that comes up every single day. Just like this past week, Fits4yoga is now selling all-natural soaps, and in the store, we have an accessory section. We have all the natural products and stuff. You know the yoga community is really big on that. But I hadn’t really done that for the website yet. I was just kind of stuck to the clothes, cause that’s what the website is known for. But I decided to build up the accessory section and I was like we are in a time now where people are looking for certain products, they are looking for certain soap, they are looking for hand sanitizer, so why not sell all natural soaps. So, I took a chance and I didn’t know how that was going to translate, because I didn’t want people to “oh you are trying to profit” in a time like this. When actually I just want to make sure the Fits4yoga is staying up with the times and that we are also helping people along with it.
Dzifa Mensah- But are people giving you feedback with regards to that?
Tempest Young - Well I decided to do a poll first on Instagram to see if people would be interested in purchasing natural soap. I noticed that the people that were saying yes were the people that have purchased from the store and saw these types of products in the store. And so, I was like okay this will be great. Of course we are not a soap company and we do recommend a lot of different natural products and soap companies on our Instagram. I am constantly reposting, and you know, giving props to other companies. But at the same time, if I am going to grow this brand into more than just clothing, and is a lifestyle brand, a health and living brand, then of course we have to venture out into other things. You see other companies do it all the time, soap will not be our number one thing, clothing will be our number one thing. But you know it doesn’t hurt to try and explore different options, also it still has to go with the brand, it’s all natural. If you know anything about the yoga community then having all natural ingredients is like the number one thing. Having vegan products is the number one thing. And I was really able to capture that in the store, so now it is just translating that into the website and people noticing that “oh I can really get more than just a yoga outfit here.
Dzifa Mensah- You are gradually building an entire brand, which is beautiful to see everything come together. You have been working on this for two years and I think the growth you are experiencing is very impressive.
Tempestt Young- Thank you, thank you. I tell people all the time that it is challenging. I made two years this past February and I had just decided to relocate the store so we shut down the first location and I hopped on a plane and went to Spain for a vacation just to kind of clear my mind on what the next steps were. And then I come back and we are dealing with all this craziness we are in March right now, where this virus is going around. But at the end of the day eCommerce, if this doesn’t, this should prove to everyone that ecommerce is here to stay. And it’s very important now to have a functioning website where customers can go to have your delivery easy and affordable. Of course, we have Amazon and all these other companies that offer free 2-day shipping and stuff like that. Before the virus even came about I was transitioning. I was making sure that all my wholesalers and everything US based because most of my customers if not all are US based. And so, I stopped pulling from china and I don’t know what told me to do that, but I just went with it and now it makes sense. Because it was like months before I started transitioning things on the website to make sure that everything on the backend would work a little bit smoother. And I had some great relationships with wholesalers in China and I still talk to them very often via email. But I knew what was right for my company and that everything would work a little bit smoother for me and to see where you are at in the world. When you have something and your intuition is telling you to do something, do it. If something is telling you to send out an email to your customers or update something, do not let that idea go past because there is a reason why your intuition is kicking in and telling you to do that particular thing. So, I am glad I listened. Because right now it is very hard to get stuff from China now.
Dzifa Mensah- What advice will you give to upcoming eCommerce entrepreneurs or anyone looking into venturing into the eCommerce space?
Tempestt Young- My advice would be just go for it. I see that a lot of people get caught up in “well somebody else is doing that”. It doesn’t matter if someone else is doing it. Everybody brings something unique to the business. When you go to the grocery store, there are 1000 breads out there, so many different companies, and it is like you know that doesn’t stop them. We just have so many options when it comes to different types of foods and restaurants and clothing and all this other stuff. So, there is always room in the market, you know there is always room to make money and to build your clients base. One thing about Fits4yoga is that if you know you are going to shop with us, you know you are getting a unique product. You are going to get a quality product and you are also going to get a great one-on-one customer service. As soon as you make a purchase online, an email goes out from me, that says thank you for your business and you can hit me up at any time if you have any questions or concerns. And that is how I ran it in the store as well. Like you are going to have this one-on-one relationship. So that has really helped me, so my advice would be; your fears will kick in especially when you have to start putting money into something but is just basically quiet down on that noise and just take a leap of faith. Because the people who jump are usually the people who rise to the top.
Dzifa Mensah- The people who jump are usually the people who rise to the top. Thank you so much, this has been great talking to you. And it has been full of nuggets. I know that our listeners are going to enjoy this particular episode with you Tempestt, the CEO for Fits4yoga. Thank you very much
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