We have two guests joining us for this episode — Lindsey Cangany and Jen Gurtcheff with BYTAVI. BYTAVI is a project of the non-profit Center for Global Impact. They produce a fair-trade line of women’s clothing and handbags that are made by seamstresses in Cambodia and sold throughout the U.S. as well as in their boutique in Franklin, IN. Lindsey works as BYTAVI’s Brand Manager, while Jen is their Creative Manager. They both play a key role in digital marketing and we discuss how they focused on this aspect in 2020. Lindsey and Jen are talking about what has worked for them as they’ve developed (and executed) a social media strategy and planned a livestream event.
Here are a few examples of some of the types of script videos we were discussing.
- You can follow BYTAVI on Facebook and Instagram.
- Jen highly recommends Hali May Events, who helped plan and execute the Red Runway livestream event.
- Many people came together to help make the virtual Red Runway a success, including Stones Crossing Church (venue), Chuck Lofton(emcee), and Megan Duke (musical performance).
- We mention a previous episode we did with Kimberly Watts with Center for Global Impact. We talk about the need to reimagine fundraising campaigns and events in 2020 and discuss what worked well for CGI. Click here to listen.
These transcripts are computer generated.
Ryan Sarver 0:10
Welcome to the Marketing and Engagement podcast brought to you by 235 Productions. This podcast is all about exploring different tactics for marketing, but also strategies and techniques to create lasting engagement with donors and customers. I’m your host Ryan Sarver, and this is episode lucky number 13. This week features Lindsay Cangany and Jen Gurtheff of ByTavi in Franklin, Indiana. If you recall in an earlier episode, we spoke with Kimberly Watts of Center for Global Impact, which is the parent organization for byTavi. byTavi is a Fairtrade women’s clothing and handbag line produced by seamstresses in Cambodia, and sold in Franklin at their boutique and across the United States. Before COVID hit the byTavi team had already started doing more digital marketing. But with the lockdowns that occurred in 2020, they went all in and actually had some huge wins. We talked about their strategies and the ways that they involve others outside of employees to help keep the project afloat during the pandemic, and what they’re going to keep doing long term. Let’s jump right in.
Lauren Sarver 1:15
Okay, so today we have Lindsey and Jen with us from byTavi. And byTavi. is a part of CGI. You might remember in one of our other episodes, we talked with Kimberly watts from CGI. So if one of you guys could explain just a little bit about byTavi. and CGI that relationship and a little bit of what you guys do
so byTavi. is a project of Center for Global Impact. And Jen and I we both work for Center for Global Impact, but we work for the b2b project, and byTavi. is a Fairtrade clothing and handbag line produced by seamstresses in Cambodia who work out of the buy to be workshop. They’re all trained skilled seamstresses, who produce ready to wear clothing and handbags that are sold here in the United States. Jen and I are both on the sales and marketing team. And our jobs are actually the most intertwined. We really work closely together, because Jen has her hands in graphic design. And then I have mine in social media marketing. And we both are responsible for the maintenance and running of bi t.com, the online store. So buy two products, they’re sold on our website, but they’re also sold to wholesalers retail partners all across the United States. So we’re kind of marketing and running this small Fairtrade clothing and handbag line.
Lauren Sarver 2:37
So tell us we’re going to talk briefly here about COVID. And tell us a little bit about how that affected you guys, when it first happened about a year ago now? Really?
Yeah, it was wild. So we not good way. Yeah. Yeah. So we actually, thankfully, had started to work on the online store a little bit more to get things moving faster pages, stickier, you know, all of those things, SEO tags. And it was happening January, February, and then March hit right. And so thankfully, we had done a lot of good prep work to then move all of our all of it online. And we’re just so thankful for that. And so did we didn’t feel super behind. Because Yeah, our storefront closed, our wholesalers, who also have storefronts. They were closing, they were having to move online. And so yeah, Lindsay and I really worked together to, to push a lot of our marketing to our online customers.
Yeah, it was about a year ago, last week that we started working from home. It’s interesting, because we really wanted to put more effort into by tv.com, into the online store. But COVID was kind of the like, kick in our pants to do that,
Unknown Speaker 4:06
like ready or not.
here we come. Because we just went for it. And we pushed all of our marketing to online in my role, specifically, my coworkers did a lot of work with their wholesale partners. But I was kind of torn between a couple other things in my job and really just started focusing on marketing the website trying to increase our online sales pillar, because we saw the most opportunity for that in order to sustain that buy to be project.
Lauren Sarver 4:35
Yeah. So talk a little bit about what kind of avenues you use for that and what you did to kind of pump up that marketing as you were going forward.
Yeah, so I focused on social media. So I would just kind of spend my days putting way more content out than I ever did on Instagram and Facebook, as well as really upping our email game. So we would send And marketing emails about the products. We did a lot of trial sessions online, we tried to just get really creative in the things that we were doing to engage with people during that time.
So we’re all at home at this time. And we don’t we didn’t have access to the store, really, we were trying to limit how much we went in. It’s also a long drive for most of us. And and so I think, Lindsay Yeah, you were like, okay, what’s in your closet, what byTavis in your closet, let’s show what you have, what you’re wearing, and how you would style it yourself. And I think it was my first time that I had to, like strap a camera to a tripod and was like, Hey, guys. This is Jen. And here’s what I’m wearing. Well, I work from home. And so it was really fun, though. And it was really successful, the authenticity and just really showing exactly what we’re wearing while we’re staying at home and staying safe.
Yeah, so we call it the buy to be closet campaign. And basically, I asked each person to pull what they had at home and try that on, share it with customers. And I think people appreciated the authenticity of it. And that was our big messaging in this campaign. We don’t just sell these products, we wear them and we love them. And here’s what we have. And so for people to hear, like, Oh, she wears this T shirt three times a week, like it must be really great. Here’s what I like to go on a walk in around my neighborhood everyday right now. Here’s the company card. Again, I like to sit on the couch. And so we just kind of were able to share testimonials of the products. And we were showing us in our homes. It was super authentic and real. And that was a really successful campaign when we analyzed it. That was a fun one.
Ryan Sarver 6:49
Yeah. You talked about like the home reviews of the product. Have you done anything like that? before?
We had not? No, we had never really shown ourselves in our home before ever. If we did a try on session, it was in the boutique. So in our office space. So we that was the first time we were all kind of trying on clothes in our home to show them off. Yeah.
Ryan Sarver 7:10
And you and you looked at analytics, he had great success with it.
Yes. And COVID was also at the start of us doing analytics. So we had never
Ryan Sarver 7:18
won. There’s a lot of firsts that happen COVID.
Jen kind of led that she got us started on analytics, analyzing our data, seeing what campaigns were working well, which ones weren’t what, you know, the things that we just should never do, again, because they didn’t get much engagement. But what products were people clicking? What were people shopping? What were they abandoning in their carts? And then we could kind of go back and give those things a little bit more effort. So if you want to talk about that, that was super interesting. Um, yeah, I
Ryan Sarver 7:50
want to hear about this. Yeah,
yeah. So I would like to note that we have a small budget as a nonprofit. And so a lot of it is me googling, watching videos, you know, trying to gain those free apps from Shopify, that’s already in there. But a huge thing is Google Analytics is wild and massive. And you can find a lot in there. And so we really amped up our labeling of emails and started creating the content planner. This is all in an effort to organize before Lindsay went on maternity leave, which also happened. Yeah, it was in COVID. Time. So yeah, really prepping all of that before she left. So we could say, Okay, this is what you need to plan for those three months away, because this is what’s working. This is what isn’t all of those things. So it’s a process of really just creating a spreadsheet and planning out that content that worked. And then kind of revising it, adding to it, you know, you can’t put the same thing out there six times. And it work, you have to add variety.
Yeah. And Shopify really helped us to that’s what we use for our online store. I think it helped us in analyzing our data as well. In kind of getting some of those stats of like abandoned carts, what are people clicking on? How much money did this email bring in? How much money is Instagram bringing in? Okay, this date, we saw a lot of orders. So what was going on on that specific day? Oh, we did this campaign. So it was just super insightful. And something that we’re still continuing to do.
Lauren Sarver 9:26
Yeah. So I follow you guys on Instagram. So I know that you did a lot and you tried a lot of new things. I don’t.
Ryan Sarver 9:34
Unknown Speaker 9:34
know because women’s
Ryan Sarver 9:37
women’s fashion bags.
Unknown Speaker 9:39
Ryan Sarver 9:41
Thank you. I appreciate that. validation. Yeah, okay.
Yeah. Guys, you placed a few orders. I did. 2020. Thank
Lauren Sarver 9:49
you a sucker for sale. I’ve got to admit.
Ryan Sarver 9:52
Lauren Sarver 9:56
Talk a little bit about like, what advice would you give to people who are Starting out with some of this stuff, like, Where did you get your inspiration to try some new things and what was good as far as executing strategies, you know, organization techniques you guys use. So talk a little bit about that for maybe some people who are just trying to get started with Instagram or any kind of social media.
So like Jen said, we were in real time with COVID. And then I was planning for July through October. So I would sit down with my calendar and just jot out all of my ideas, anything I could think of, I would just kind of start a list. And I would use our product releases as a guide. So for us that was, we launched the summer capsule in May. So what kind of things can I do that kind of correlate with that. So using kind of what you know, is on your calendar, and then kind of brainstorming from there, and then I would plug all that into our content calendar and use it to create emails too. So okay, this would be a great post. And here’s what I can do in a story to go along with that. And then this would work for an email as well. So I did less emails than kind of the daily social media work, but would kind of just use everything to create like a cohesive marketing plan. And then for inspiration, we love abl, they’re a fashion brand out of Tennessee. So that’s one person that I would kind of watch and see what they were doing, get some ideas. And as well as Mata traitors, they’re a wholesale partner that we kind of have relationship with. And we would watch them for wholesale ideas, too. We also I think we were talking earlier today, Jen and I just about like understanding that our products have value and sharing that value with our customers, what value can we give them beyond just the product itself? How is this product useful? How will it serve them, wanting them to really see how their purchases have impact so engaging in the story element with them, too, we really tried to focus on sharing the buy to the story more rather than just selling products. So no matter what your marketing, what value can you give people I think is was a huge learning curve. And something we’ve always tried to do but really tried to do more this year, I think, especially when people hear struggling financially, or we always kind of talk about how we all have some sort of poverty in our life. And that way we can relate to those in poverty in Cambodia. So right now, is it community poverty? Like you’re not with your friends, you’re not around the table? Or is it financial poverty? Is
it spiritual poverty, what is it that you can connect to and empathize with the story that 6000 miles away? And so if any advice it would be in Lindsay, you do a really good job of this is just being real in the story. And yes, it’s about the sale in some regards. But also, if you focus more on connection with your customers, if you you know, really try to get to know them and create a community, I think the sales will follow. You know, I
Ryan Sarver 13:10
think that’s, that’s one of the things that we always talk about people is that when you know, we’re making a video, it’s not just about showing your product, it’s about creating emotional connections, like, you know, that people buy with emotions, not always just with like, you know, not just dollars and cents, but it’s emotional, it’s an emotional trigger for them. And I think that’s, you know, a smart way to help them understand that, like, Hey, this is a good product, but there’s an emotional connection to that product, because you can go to Walmart and buy anything, and you have no emotional connection to it. But people buy things because the way it makes them feel. And it might not just be about how the material makes them feel. But how it makes them feel internally and emotionally changing someone else’s life.
We want people to see that there’s a place for them in the buy to be story that they’re a part of it too. And so one thing that we did during the pandemic was, we had to kind of pause production, we were like, should we start making jewelry, like we were just trying to come up with things, something new, something fresh, something to like, engage with people? Well, we had all of these teas on hand at the warehouse, but we couldn’t necessarily we didn’t have the capacity to introduce a new product. And so we decided to release a graphic t with the message what you do matters to kind of share exactly what you’re talking about that your purchases have impact. you’re connected to them. What you do matters. And so it was exciting because we were able to launch a new graphic t we had never done that before, but also sharing the message that the products have like a bigger purpose. And so that was a fun campaign as well that we kind of launched and we’re able to really share that message with our customers that they are a part of by TV and that they can create positive impact with their purchases.
Lauren Sarver 14:49
I know one of the things that you guys did for one of your campaigns is to involve people that don’t work for you, but that our customers or volunteers talk about the value of that and what kind Results Did you see from that having somebody be able to talk about, you know, the mission and talk about the clothing and everything that’s outside of employees.
So we wanted to create, Jen, you kind of mentioned this earlier, but we wanted to create a community aspect in our b2b platform. So we wanted to engage our customers, our wholesale partners, and have them share their passion for byTavi. and kind of share their connection. And so on Fridays, for a couple months, we did community spotlights where we invited a wholesale partner, customer, a loyal customer to share their story. And I think, again, it kind of just went back to like, inviting people into your home into your space, I think, on the outside looking in for you to see, here’s how this person’s living, here’s what their experiences, maybe it’s not exactly like mine, but I can connect to them. And we’re still talking about byTavi. and what this person’s role is in the project. But we’re not necessarily just saying, here’s this T shirt, it creates that emotion and connection. And it allowed kind of, we want people to feel empowered when they were about to be products. So it allowed the customer or the partner to kind of feel empowered in sharing their place to invite to be, and then it also helps support our wholesalers. Because then they could share, here’s what’s going on in my store. Here’s what it’s like for me as a small business owner during a pandemic. And here’s also I loved byTavi. So that was really neat. And something that we still try to kind of continue every now and again with inviting people in. And we literally would just give them our Instagram password, and they took over for the day. So
Ryan Sarver 16:47
that is brave. Yeah.
Some of them already represent us so well. And so it wasn’t as scary necessarily. Yeah. Yeah. It was fun, though, because we had a couple people, Lin, who was at the time kind of quarantined in Florida, with her family. And so she went through is also just trying to normalize, hey, we’re all struggling, or we’re all have our different ways that we’re coping with this. And here’s what my kids do. We all go on a bike ride to get out of the house. And, you know, it was just really fun to see how everybody does their day differently. Which I felt, yeah, I was really inspired by and just to see other ways to engage in the world as it was at the time.
Lauren Sarver 17:37
Talk a little bit about how I mean, you kind of have different audiences that you’re marketing to. So talk a little bit about how you deal with that. And like, is there overlap or what you do to sort of accommodate both of those different things?
Yeah, so the eternal struggle, because both of you rebranded in 2016. Is that is that somewhere? Yeah, around that time. And at the time, our audience was all over the place our clothes were serving a younger audience, but our bags were serving an older audience. So we’re still kind of like honing in on our audience with doing actually the community spotlight we were kind of able to take Lynn was a mom quarantined in Florida and her kids were doing virtual school. But Lisa, at the mustard seed marketplace is a young entrepreneur running a business and kind of like in that hustle. And so we’re able to share kind of different lifestyles within that also on our team. I think that’s one thing that is unique about us is that we’re all in different stages of life. And so Nicole, our designer, when sharing her closet, is kind of an older generation and her kids are out of the house. And she’s a professional designer. And so here’s what’s in her closet. But Taylor, most recently just graduated college and her style is a little bit more free spirited, but Allie is a mom. And so she’s kind of more in like a casual, comfortable element that has to work for early motherhood. So we try to share different lifestyles all around to just kind of meet those meet different age groups, different walks of life, and how does it fit into that? and showing that?
Yeah, and I think too, like there’s that greater audience and then there’s the retail versus wholesale. And I think Lindsey do such a good job of keeping that focus just on byTavi in general. So it can connect to the wholesaler, the person whose stocks are pieces and their boutique and then to the customer who’s purchasing that individually. And so I think it’s kind of that struggle. Sometimes I feel like where you’re trying to focus in on that group, but I think you’ve done a good job of giving time to Each of those specific people, and then also in a broad way, just sharing our story and sharing how it can involve both of them, right, both of those different customer types.
Yeah, thanks. I felt that tension, a lot of marketing, both wholesale and retail. But if I focus on like marketing, the products and marketing, the purpose, and I can kind of meet and relate to all of those audiences, as well as sharing, our wholesale partners do a great job of trying on things for themselves and showing it to their audiences. And so I love that they can use our style, shoot our professional photography, photos, but we can also use some other creative things that they’re doing. And so we get to kind of, yeah, work with each other in that way, which is really cool.
Ryan Sarver 20:45
Very good. So moving on from there, tell us a little bit about you do an annual, you know, you’ve got these products do an annual show, what is that called? Again,
Ryan Sarver 20:56
red runway. So tell us what it has traditionally looked like in the past.
Yeah, so traditionally, it has been an in person event that is over the span of two days, it has been at our boutique, and then also at a local venue to Franklin, guests gather around the table, we have a meal, we share our story. And then there is a live fashion show that shows off the pieces of that season. And that also some sneak peeks of the following season. And it’s just a great way for us to really in person share more depth to our story than what we can really do sometimes on social media, because you have them for a second, or you know, or a minute before they scroll. And so when you have people together, you’re able to really capture their attention and share the story more fully, as well as offer the products to shop right there to feel to check out so forth. This kind of came about because we used to do fashion shows nearly every weekend at different churches across Indiana or the Midwest, or wherever we could travel in a day or a night sometimes. And we realized that that wasn’t super sustainable for myself as the one leading those and being gone every weekend, also to my team who helped so much with that. And so we decided to focus and pull it all together for one more local show.
Ryan Sarver 22:25
So obviously, so it’s been a success for you that the years you’ve done it.
Yeah, yeah, it’s been like 100 to 180 people altogether for the two nights with around 10,000 in sales over the two days. Okay, which is pretty successful. And we usually hit our goal.
Ryan Sarver 22:42
Yeah. Okay. So this last year, as we’ve been talking was not a normal here. So talk to us a little about, you know, but you know, that’s a fundraiser, you know, $10,000 is nothing to sneeze at is your retail. So, talk to us a little bit of how you reimagine that and and the path you went down.
Yeah, in reflecting on this. It’s funny, because I think all of us, well, at least I’m going to speak for myself, I imagined that gathering back together would be available in summer. And then summer came and you were like, okay, and October it’s going to and I was very hopeful for that because I was planning a wedding in October. And so my mindset was very much that everything’s going to open up, we can gather, it’s gonna be fine. We were really hoping to still gather together. But as we were thinking about it kind of waiting for things to change. Yeah, it was hard to know what to do because you didn’t want to plan one thing and then have to switch. So kind of in your head in my planning both.
Are you planning for the best case scenario? Or the worst case scenario? Or somewhere in the middle? Or do I plan to
write exactly do I plan to events and then whichever one happens, but then you’re realizing Okay, then that’s double the resources here. So around September getting a kick in the pants, realizing we have to plan this if it’s going to happen. And so in September, we realized we were going full, virtual. So I contacted our contract event coordinator, planner, howleen mine it, and she’s with Holly Mae events. And we kind of just had one phone call where I feel like in that one phone call, we pretty much planned the larger picture of the event. So we I needed to pick a venue, I needed to pick a local kind of celebrity to be the speaker and a local artist to have some sort of musical aspect. And she said, Go and I was like okay, so we contacted Megan Duke who was our local artists who sing at the end of the evening, we had some connections with Thank you, Chuck Lofton who has done a couple of stories at our boutique and so We had his kind of marketing agents email. And so I reached out to her and he was all on board for being our speaker that evening. And Chuck
is a local weatherman.
Yes. And then we also realized we needed something, since they would be at home watching, Holly kept saying, because she had planned a couple other virtual events in 2020. And said that, they kept saying we have to think about when they’re at home that anything we do isn’t going to make them want to go load the dishwasher, or do the dishes, do the laundry, whatever it was, because they’re at home, they can do that. And so you always want to keep their attention. And so that meant short segments, quick movements, shorter videos, kind of fast paced, while still giving depth. That’s how we planned our whole program was no video was over two minutes, no segment was over really five or 15. If it was the spirit was leading. So but yeah, so we also provided for them, they could buy a VIP box is what we call it. And so it was a box that we shipped out across the United States that had a way for them to enjoy the evening and engage a little bit more. So it had some snacks and elixirs that they could have a non alcoholic cocktail, or they could add their own to it quickly found out you can’t ship liquor without a license.
Ryan Sarver 26:27
So yeah, they frowned upon,
generally, yeah, and I can’t afford that. So um, and then some coloring sheets with our designs on it for them to kind of make their own fabric,
you had a shopping list wish list to kind of record what you wanted during the show. And buy to be hair scarf, too. So a new accessory that we were releasing in the fashion show portion.
Yeah. And even like this snacks, it was decorate your own cookies. So again, it was like the element, it was always they could make their own drink. That’s something that they can do while they’re watching. They’re making their own cookies. They’re not having to leave. So that there was so much intentionality behind those pieces. And a huge part of my month in planning was getting all of those donated or at a reduced price.
Ryan Sarver 27:13
Yeah. So you had you know, you had the artist that was singing, you had the local celebrity check often. And then you also had like the for those that are watching at home that there was something for them to engage with as well worth it. Yes, yeah.
Another purpose for the VIP box was we couldn’t sell tickets to the event. So with it being in person, we used to have a dinner and a meal, and people would purchase a ticket to come. And it is a fundraiser. So the VIP boxes allowed us to raise funds through the sale of the boxes to be able to kind of offset what we normally raise through ticket sales.
Ryan Sarver 27:45
Oh, very interesting. So how did so what were some positives from this event? How did it go?
Unknown Speaker 27:49
Yeah, yeah, so
Ryan Sarver 27:51
it was with a wry smile.
It was positive, it was really, really fun. So a huge positive is that it was just a wider audience than we’ve ever been able to have before. Because at a venue in Indiana, you’re gonna get your local customers, your family members. And then that’s, you know, that’s limited there. So we were able to reach on the night of streaming, it was around 150 concurrent audience members watching and that’s household. So some people had two or four people watching at a time, as well as because of the boxes. And because all of it was donated a large portion of the VIP box. money went directly as a donation. So we raised over $14,000 in total with our shopping. Wow, that’s
Ryan Sarver 28:45
better than done in person. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Okay, great. So
also, there was less cleanup. at the, at the church that allowed us to use their space, stones crossing, they were just so so generous. And I just want to give a huge shout out to them, because we could not have done that at all. I know very little of live streaming, had one long conversation with Lauren about it and as a panicked conversation. And Mitch green, which is Lindsay’s brother, and my husband is been a part of that. And they’re just so many volunteers who gathered around us, it was so funny, I feel like we were all just felt so loved and supported by these people who we maybe never met before that all of a sudden we looked around and Ryan was there and you know, all these other people were coming along and joining for this event to help us and it was so appreciated
and genuinely wanted it to be the best. It could be better than we could have done on our own. And they just wanted it to be better than
Yeah, and they definitely knew what they were doing after going virtual for their church services over the last six months that they have been doing so far. So it was really, really great to have it there.
Our customers were excited because like Jen said, it’s a local event typically. And so we market it as our best sale of the year, we do our biggest discount on regular priced products. So our customers were excited because they could shop the sale from wherever it wasn’t just for local people. Because normally people are like, Well, can we how can we shop isn’t online, and we’ve just had never done it before. So that was great for them for the people out of state, not local.
Yeah. And it was a way for us to also get more emails to our email newsletter list. Because we created kind of this, rush around the fact if you bought the VIP box, you would then get to have a full day to the sale exclusively before everybody else. So the bulk of our sales came right at like the same exact time at 8pm. We hit like $7,000. Because all those VIP boxers were getting the sale.
Yeah, that was the way we were able to kind of offer a perk to them to shop early if they bought the box.
Lauren Sarver 31:07
That’s cool. So what are some of the things that you learned through the process? Like if someone is listening, that’s that has an event that they’re going to take totally virtual? What are some of the major things that you learned through doing this for the first time?
Yeah, I think definitely hiring or partnering with somebody who has done it before who has done a virtual event, who knows that the event climate right now, it’s just totally shifted and changed from what it was in 2019. And they are now seasoned in that. And I think that that’s really important, I highly recommend Holly Mae events. She’s incredible to plan, large scale fundraisers or weddings, which Lindsay and I both have experience in. And she just doesn’t miss anything. And so I think as I had to do a lot of the backend work, she was there at the event, making sure that the production schedule was being followed all of those little details, so that it was seamless. And then also, I would recommend, if you’re like us, we rely heavily on volunteers. So like I said earlier, just people coming alongside you and all of our models volunteer, all of the production staff was volunteer. And so I think just getting getting a good group together, that are capable volunteers, goes so far. And also, we have an incredible team, everyone jumps in, everyone’s willing to drop what they’re doing and really make something successful. And I think that’s something that’s really rare within our team that Yeah, I can’t take for granted.
And marketing wise, we had to kind of explain to our audience here. Also, it’s the first time we’re all participating in these virtual events. So here’s what you can expect. And here’s what it looks like. And this is what happens at Red runway. And here’s what it’s going to look like virtual and just sharing that and kind of raising excitement. And we did stories of us opening the VIP box, here’s what’s inside and trying to kind of like amp up the excitement of those sales. So VIP box is released in three days and one hour and just really trying to create a lot of momentum and excitement around that and around the event as a whole.
Yeah, I think I would recommend that you don’t plan a wedding while planning an event. And you also don’t have your social media manager go on maternity leave before an event.
Yeah, I got back the month before or not even a month, a couple of weeks before I’d run away. So it was like, here we go. And two days
go for I left for two weeks. And so we I prepared everything for Lindsay we met for one day. And I was like, go sell some boxes, please.
And I’m like Jen, don’t worry about it on your honeymoon. Do not think about it. I’ve got it under control.
Ryan Sarver 33:56
These are all really great tips. I think, don’t get married, don’t have a baby. Wait for the pandemic, to finish, you know, all those good things. So is there anything you know, you talked a lot about about different strategies and techniques, engaging people selling things? Is there anything? We’re not through the pandemic? Yep. And vaccines are coming out, you know, the world’s kind of slowly eating itself back to what used to be a normal existence. And so is there anything that you’ve learned through some of the stuff that or that you’ve taken from it that you go, this is something we want to hold on to like that this is this is something that we were forced into this, you know, we jumped at it and we’ve learned from it that you think is going to be valuable for you going forward or just kind of philosophical things that you think that other organizations could could learn from from what you’ve done.
So one thing that this year has brought on is we’ve realized that we can plan, we can have our content calendar, we can plan all these things. We can follow it but the importance of putting pausing and acknowledging current events. There’s so many things that happened this year that we realized we needed to break from the plan, stop and acknowledge what was happening in the world. And that’s something that we’re still kind of navigating and learning. What is our conversation look like in this? What is our role in this, but we know that it’s important to break from sales, because there’s a lot going on, that we need to participate in.
Ryan Sarver 35:25
This kind of leads the conversation we’re having beforehand. You know, there’s a pause here. So talk about there’s some issues going on in Cambodia now with what’s going on there. So tell everybody about that. Like what’s going on is, you know, we’re talking about this and like, things are great. And you had, you know, good success. But the women that are making the products, there’s some issues going on there and Cambodia right now, can you tell us a little about that?
Yeah, yeah. So at the start of the pandemic, it’s very similar to how it is now in a research of cases in Cambodia. Right now they’ve gone back to working from home. So thankfully, a lot of our seamstresses do have sewing machines at home, or we were able to get them one. So So nuun has been going back and forth. Sindhu, and is the director of Phnom Penh operations, okay. And so she has been really coordinating a lot of these efforts of keeping production up as much as we can, because when production is up, they’re getting paid, right. And so being able to connect with them, and also reach out to families who were finding out need food, need masks, because there’s a new mask mandate and Cambodia. And so things like that are happening right now, we also can’t go to the market to purchase fabric, which is huge, because every Monday night, we have a fabric call. It’s really just us jumping on messenger on Facebook, and she sends us pictures, we purchase fabric for the next season. And right now we’re behind a season and a half. Because we purchase remnant fabrics if the larger factories are on halt, we’re on halt as well. So and also it’s just not safe to send them out into into the market marketplace, right? Where they’re where they’re meeting a ton of different people. And yeah, it’s been really difficult the last couple of weeks, kind of realizing our world here. This is constant right where our world here does not mirror what’s going on there. Because it feels like we’re able to it’s sunny outside now we can go outside we can be distance, we can see our friends and family a little bit more vaccines are happening. That’s not the case in Cambodia, and it’s ramped up a lot more.
Yeah, and I think and this year, we’ve, we’ve just really gotten creative and we’ve tried new things and we’ve failed at some things that didn’t work out. But we’ve kind of readjusted and and things are constantly changing, especially in the world of social media. So even just a couple weeks ago, I had to work myself up to create our first real I it just felt daunting,
which I would like to say that you have not posted the real Have you yet. I haven’t yet.
Unknown Speaker 38:03
I will I will.
Ryan Sarver 38:05
It’s always changing, I think.
So Jen and I even just a couple weeks ago, we met and we filmed our first couple of reels. And our first one was okay, but they’re getting better. And we’re trying different things. And
the first ones with me. So
yeah, you have to laugh at yourself. But we’re a small team. And we kind of show ourselves on our social media page. So it takes a little courage and we all just had to kind of get comfortable with that this year.
Ryan Sarver 38:33
Take it take a risk.
Yes. Learn from it. Try again.
Ryan Sarver 38:37
Yes. And can you tell us and I think we have before we started this was it your best year ever with byTavi this last year.
So we are on track to reach our fiscal year goal, which ends at the end of June. And it’s our highest school we’ve ever had. So the potential for 2020 2021 calendar year to be the best year ever for b2b sales, which is crazy.
Ryan Sarver 39:06
Yeah. Well, you know, a lot of it, you know, where people are home, but taking some risks like as has obviously, there’s been some reward to it as well.
Yeah, for sure. Yeah.
We definitely took a risk in partnered with if gathering in March.
Yeah, if gathering is a large women’s conference, typically it takes place in Texas, but this year was virtual, of course. And they usually have smaller breakout events to that they call if local so churches host their own if gathering you can host your own in your home. So this year, we were able to travel for wholesale shows. We usually go show the line and Chicago Atlanta different places. And so we had a little bit of room in our budget to sponsor if gathering which is a just a huge women’s conference, they reach 1000s of people. And so we were a virtual marketplace sponsor, which was a big investment, but we were super valuable. Even what they do their big thing is discipleship and empowering women to share the gospel to reach people in their communities. And so it was exciting for us to even be a part of it. And we were a part of their virtual marketplace. So after the if gathering event, people went to the virtual marketplace to shop buy to be, so that was this month in March, we hit our online sales goal in one week because of that event. Yeah, that’s never happened before.
And we, yeah, not bragging. It’s just bringing light to just, yeah, taking risks and being faithful to our community and and being so thankful to them. We actually reached our monthly sales goal halfway through the month, this month. And we’re able then to all the extra sales that have happened in the last week and this week, have gone to the deficit of other months that we didn’t hit the goal. And so right now, we’re in a positive way towards the goal.
Yeah, because we have wholesale pillars, other pillars that help create the overall goal, the online met the goal in a week, and then our whole project met the goal and two weeks.
Ryan Sarver 41:11
Wow, that’s incredible.
Yeah, it was a really good feeling. And we’re kind of at a place now where, for Jen and I, it’s super interesting to be like, okay, a year ago, we really started putting effort and energy into the online store. So we can compare, what did last March look like to this March and kind of look at, you know, the last year this year compare? And that’s exciting.
Ryan Sarver 41:37
Yeah. So would you recommend people spend, you know, like, don’t wait for a pandemic, to spend the time on the online stuff? Like, like, was that a huge, I mean, everybody knows, you got to have an online store anymore. But like, that’s born a lot of fruit for you guys, you know, the analytics and understanding what’s working and don’t take it for granted.
It really has an I feel like there’s still so much potential there. We’re just at the cusp of of it and just figuring it out. And there’s still so much room to grow. And it’s really exciting. So I would definitely encourage people, if that’s a part of their business, if that’s an avenue that they can go down that it’s, it’s worth it. It’s it’s work, but it’s worth it.
Lauren Sarver 42:19
So, as far as your event with the virtual portion of that, is that something that you think will stick around, even when you can go back to in person meetings? Or what are your thoughts on that? Yes,
yeah. So that was discussed all throughout the process, with the gala that can really talked about and then read runway was just how excited we were the amount of people that we were able to reach and were able to watch and participate. And so there was a lot of discussion during and after the event that was like, why have we never done this before. And it just wasn’t a thought, or it’s even provided more opportunities for us to include our co workers in Cambodia to actually see the event, like they have never been able to see it. And so we were able to send them the stream, and they were able to watch the event, you know, 12 hours later, but they were able to be a part of it. And that’s huge. And so, and thinking about this next, you know, read runway, the thought is both we don’t have much in part of what we’re going to do specifically, but I know going into it, there’s gonna be a both it’s virtual, it’s in person. And because of the ability to be able to reach such a broader audience. And that’s really just adding so much value to our brand. It would be silly not to
Yeah, and having the audience there provides that in person connection that we definitely don’t want to lose. One thing that is funny to me about read runway that remc Meghan didn’t include incredible job of her energy, she had so much energy and there was no audience and for our models, they were confident to go out on the stage with nobody in the audience and Megan’s pumping them up because there was no applause. And so that was kind of a funny thing about a virtual event that you use for a fashion show that’s normally in person. Yeah.
Lauren Sarver 44:17
Takes kind of a special skill to be able to look past that we found even with other events that we’ve seen or been a part of losing that interaction from just having an audience there is crazy.
Yeah, at one point I like, ran to the back room and was like, Okay, ladies, like more energy, like, come on, like, just
you’re a hype girl. Yeah,
I was like, we got to have more out there. Like, I know, it’s awkward, but we got to do it. So and then there was Yeah, it was great just to see to see them getting into it and, and it’s so yeah, it’s so vulnerable out on stage anyways when it’s in front of people, but also I think there’s that element. Have a I have at least my sister, my, my mom in the audience. So yeah, and and Megan just was incredible. And I guess another tip would be finding the right emcee that’s going to engage with your audience. And we had a script for her that she was reading and that she knew. But she added so much to it on the fly that I was like, Great that that was a great addition or like, yes, Megan, like, keep going or so it was just was, it’s really cool to see that after you’ve already picked somebody and you’re like, hope this will work out, you have to put a lot of trust in that. But she really she really excelled.
Lauren Sarver 45:37
It’s good to be able to find those partnerships and people that you know, can represent you well and, and help you out. So it’s been, I think, so good to talk to you guys and hear all the positive things that have come about even from this kind of negative COVID experience. But being able to, you know, put your efforts into social media and online, being able to expand your audience, finding those new partnerships, and, and all of those awesome positive things you guys have talked about in the success that you’ve had with it. So thank you.
Y eah, thank you guys for having us. It’s so fun to we could talk about it all day.
We do mostly
Ryan Sarver 46:17
because it’s your job. That’s a good thing. All right. Well, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the podcast. If you’d like to find show notes and links visit us at 2355 productions.com slash podcast. Please don’t forget to subscribe on your favorite platform to continue to get episodes delivered to you as soon as they are released. As you may have noticed, we have been a little sporadic with releasing episodes. Our plan is to continue to produce the show but are looking at once a month instead of every other week, partly because of our schedule. And partly because we don’t just want to talk to be talking. We want to make sure we are producing something that can be useful to you. With that said we appreciate the time you’ve given us and we will talk to you soon.