Last summer a brand, Bonfire, got in touch with me proposing a collaboration to sell merchandise. I did sell merchandise before on my Instagram page. It was the last stage of my PhD and I had broken up with my boyfriend at the time, so I decided to start crocheting and selling my creations. It was a hard job and at some point, I just gave up because it was too much for me to deal with on my own!
Bonfire made a nice offer to be fair. They provided a team of designers and creators to bring my idea and vision into shape, took care of the printing and production of the merchandise as well as managed the shipping. I didn’t have to invest any initial capital, get a quote for printing merchandise, deal with the distribution and shipping of the products. All I had to do was to use my platforms and provide advertisements. Easy peasy. This is what I initially thought!
I thought that putting a couple of pictures out there would be enough!My naive self!
We designed together 2 different T-shirts with the logo of women.transforming.science and the headline “I achieved my true potential through science“. I opted for a campaign/fundraising type of promotion. That meant giving my audience a timeframe of 3 weeks to buy products that would be delivered once the campaign was over in a single batch. I didn’t want to open a proper shop because I knew from experience that it’s a lot of work.
The campaign proved to be difficult from the start. I was hoping to sell 20 T-shirts but in fact, I sold only 2. Story of my life really, nothing has ever been easy for me and had to fight for every single thing I have in life. But I’ll save this story for another time. Back to the T-shirts.
Despite sales didn’t go as expected, the amount of skills and things I learned from running a promotional campaign has proved to be an invaluable experience. From creating promotional videos in the format of reels or stories, writing captivating captions to make sure that a post or videos would drive traffic to the shop, I promise I haven’t planned any of that. I was unprepared and I just figured most of it along the way. Plus, my business model on Instagram has always been selling advertisements and I wasn’t ready/didn’t realise that selling merch would imply having in place an entire business model altogether. Probably this is why the campaign didn’t go well.
I didn’t realise that selling t-shirts meant changing my business model entirely!My naive self
I exposed myself outside my comfort zone and it did pay off. I think it’s fair enough to underperform at your first attempt. As I mentioned many times, my background is hardcore science, I have never taken a business class or attended a marketing course ever before. All I know about social media, branding, advertising and promotion, I learned by myself by reading books, watching tutorials and looking at what people who know better do
I want to conclude by saying that Bonfire appreciated my commitment, they did think I put in a lot of work and we made agreements for future collaborations. For the entire duration of the campaign, I thought I was a failure because I was struggling to push sales whereas they were happy all along. I still can’t believe how I can be my worst critic when I should probably realise that I refused to follow a traditional path because there’s no average destiny to fulfil around here.
You all! Goodbye 🙋🏻♀️