Here at Pixel Union, our mission is to create beautifully designed web products that help you sell more. We want to provide easy-to-use tools that make it possible for you to create not just an online store, but a feeling of comfort and home for your products and customers.
We also want to share merchant stories to inspire you on your journey and remind you that you’re not alone. There’s a community of ecommerce entrepreneurs out there trudging through the same difficult terrain, with the same challenges and goals.
Take Carolyn McRoy, the owner, founder, and creative behind Live Botanical, an herbal body and skincare line. The Portland-based passion project came to fruition a few years ago when Carolyn was finally able to shift her focus from a career in IT (which spanned over a decade) to one in herbalism.
“Working with plants and being able to share my love of nature is something I’ve wanted to do for 20 years,” Carolyn says.
When Carolyn was young, her grandfather told her stories of bilberry and introduced her to other plants. He had collections of bottles of herbs, and he would teach her about their properties and uses. From these stories and her natural love of the outdoors, Carolyn became taken with herbalism.
In the past few years, ecommerce has exploded, with 2018 shaping up to be its biggest year yet. Carolyn recognized the growing importance of ecommerce in today’s world and felt that it was an opportunity she couldn’t afford to miss out on.
Initially, Live Botanical functioned mostly as a wholesaler, selling via stockists with physical retail locations. For Carolyn, redirecting fans and interested customers to their nearest stockist felt like a missed opportunity. She wanted to be able to sell her products directly from her own store.
Today, the majority of Carolyn’s sales are through Live Botanical’s Shopify store.
“The way shoppers are today, everyone wants to find your stuff online,” Carolyn says. “I couldn’t imagine not having an online store.”
For Carolyn, creating her online store wasn’t the hardest part of getting into ecommerce. Thanks to her previous career in IT, she already had experience with tech and development. More difficult, she found, was sourcing visual content and high-quality product photos.
“I’m always changing my product line and creating new products,” Carolyn says. “Finding photographers or doing the work myself always takes more time than I anticipate.”
Specifically, she says one of her biggest challenges is making sure the images in her Shopify store represent her products and ethos. “So much of it is visual. It’s important to me to use photos that are unique and interesting so that I don’t feel like every other store.”
Social media has allowed Carolyn to connect with her customers in a way she was never able to before. She uses it to feel out customers’ needs and get their feedback on upcoming products—making her customers feel like they’re part of the creation process.
Like anything, owning and running an online store is a learning process. So far, Carolyn has devoted a lot of her time to marketing her products and exposing them to potential buyers through social media and other influencers. Going forward, she’s excited to dedicate more of her time to discovering more efficient ways of manufacturing her products.
In addition to improving her product line and reaching as many customers as possible, Carolyn is interested in promoting the benefits of herbalism to a wider audience. She calls it the “bigger picture” of what she’s trying to accomplish: “having conversations about herbalism and connecting more with nature.”
Carolyn’s final piece of advice for anyone looking to start an online business:
“If you’re going to go into business, do something that you wholeheartedly and absolutely enjoy doing. There are going to be ups and downs. In the long run, what will keep you going through those down moments is knowing you’re doing something you’re insanely passionate about.”
You can check out Live Botanical’s online store at livebotanical.com. Carolyn’s products are also available at several stockists across the U.S. and one in Canada (just down the block from our office in Victoria).
Currently, Live Botanical is using the Vogue Shopify theme by Pixel Union.