Interview with Maureen Vasquez of Pipsticks
This is maureen vest cast of pit sticks and pitstick is a sticker club subscription and she is like her story is so amazing she only started a year ago and she has already built the team for her business so you can only imagine how quickly she's grown and what is really interesting which is why I really wanted to bring her on to is that her complete business is just subscription that's all she does so I think we can definitely learn a couple of things from her so let's let's bring marine on hi how you may are you only good? You still cute? Thank you we just moved in so it's nice this was the good moderation to get it all finally finished things are awesome. So why don't you share a little bit more about who you are and tell us more about her hips sticks? Sure, my name's morning vasquez and I am I have a company called pip sticks which is a subscription sticker company way started about a year ago. Although I started obviously long before that my history is I am a graphic designer. I wo...
rks the freelance design over sometime on an architectural firm and then I did a lot of work with a big law firm and managed a team of designers across the world which is a very corporate job and then I left that eventually when I had my son atticus, who is now live on dh, when after he was born, I took some time off on, then ended up doing my own thing and going back to freelance design, but I found that, you know, it's very part time, which was very conducive to what I wanted a mom, but I found myself wanting something bigger because the product projects that I was able to get, where smaller ones that you know, that we're flexible and allowed me to be at home with the kids. So after let's see started this after my third son was born in that time, I started to think about doing something else hopefully designed related, and like I said, I know he has been interested in having a business, but I felt that I hadn't come across the perfect idea yet, so I was content to be a designer in the interim, and about two and a half years ago or so, a friend of mine invited my children and I to be part of a sticker club, which I don't know if you're familiar with it. But it's essentially chain mail, but with sticker, so everyone's had chain mail, and it was a very classic chain mail experience where you know printed out a chief and wrote our names at the top and addresses at the bottom and found envelopes and stamps and other friends to do it and actually it was kind of like pulling teeth to find the right people to do it if I feel like everybody loved the idea of getting stickers in the mail for their kids but as a mom nobody actually had time to go through the process of doing that and of course like every other chain mail experience you didn't get any return for your investment so we ended up waiting months nothing came in the mail and then eventually a couple months later very boring white on live arrived with my two children's names on it and inside was just one teeny little sheet of stickers which I've been very underwhelming but they went absolutely crazy for s so it was it was a good motivation at the time to go and look for an online a sticker subscription because as a mom I knew that I was a child of babies so I obviously love stickers in the eighties and nineties on and on as a mom I they were like gold so I I always wanted a good stash of them on hand for when I need to be used on with my kids and I never really had enough s o I went online looked for this subscription so that I can subscribe came up empty on about six months later was having a child a friend about work and you know what was going on and I think it was the first time at this point my third son was six months old and I was starting to kind of get back into the idea of working more on dh I mentioned this idea to her and at the time we kind of went through very basic evaluation of whether it was a good idea or a bad idea and that was about two years ago so I started doing research and kind of doing everything very part time or in the evenings after making one's best on we launched a year ago so we launched after a beta peary in andi it's been it's been amazing since it's been amazing since and I guess what what we dio is provide a sticker pack like this in the mail for our subscribers so once a month they get this which is full of stickers and and it's different every every month and we started we'll talk a little bit about more about this later I know but we started kind of targeting kids and this past may we launched a on on lips for adults lovers on dh it's been amazing so the response to that's been overwhelming just incredible and so between the two really we've had a good first year it's been a crazy first year but a good one. Amazing. Congratulations. You. So this is really interesting. So you have you have kids, a cz your target audience. But you also just started reaching out to adults. So this is where we talked about in just this previous segment in terms of figuring out who your ideal customer is. I know in our initial chat, when we're on the phone talking about this before you talked about how you went through kind of a process and trying to figure out who your ideal customer. Wass, can you just talk through that a little bit? Yeah, sure. I think most. And what? How I how I figured that out of the beginning came from how the way that I came upon the idea, which was as a mother that wanted stickers. Like I said, I have a love from cigarettes from when I was a kid. But I think because I have very little time I'm not doing nearly as much snow malia and scrap booking and things that that I might otherwise do. So that was that was what first came to mind. And then obviously I had, you know, friends and other people to discuss the ideas with as a as a as the company started to develop, and then it probably six months. After I started researching things, I did a test group in a focus group with a group of moms and that was really interesting because everybody kind of came in knowing that it was something for kids and that sort of thing and saying, oh yeah that's a great idea I think my kids would love stickers but then when they actually saw the table that is covered in stickers it was like we all became nine years old again everyone went kind of crazy and they were fighting over which ones to take home and that was definitely the moment where I realized this was definitely a good thing but you know, as a product for children I knew that it was going to have to really appeal two parents and grand parents so it's interesting because from a brand perspective developing a brand obviously that's fun but not limiting it tio children because you know my target a customer at the time when we started with somebody with a great sense of design and an interest in, you know, great style and that sort of thing but also some mean it had to be fun and exciting for when the child actually had it so it was it was an interesting exercise at that point on I think we were really lucky because because we we ended up, you know, initially designing it for the parents of children way didn't limit the brand from the beginning so that when we found out that we were going to be launching a second product for adults you know we didn't see it we felt like we could cater to both of those target audiences within our brand brand so and I think it's an elaborate a little bit on how we found the adult market they kind of found us I think we had big plans t do lots of different things but are you know we were hoping tio to launch an adult subscript for sticker subscription on dh sometime right around now because actually in last february I had my fourth daughter so I'm giving myself a little bit of a break they're hoping for about six months you know where it would just be were chilled out but around may I we noticed that loads our subscribers we're adults and we didn't want to turn anybody off of the subscription because it really was geared toward poor kid so that's why we we launched the adult pack then and then it's been really fun since we've done that because now we have very you know two very segmented target groups on dh you know and we can market teach one on the different social media channels that they kind of hang out on, eh? So it's it's easier that way? Well so you talked a little bit initially right about how you brought in some moms and you had like a focus group going on can you talk about how you had how you got that to happen? Well you know it was a bogus group is really a fancy term in and it was very you know it was legit I had a marketing friend at the time that made it legit but I think I think it would be very easy to do for anybody and I would highly recommend it because the feedback that came out of it was really invaluable was fantastic on but it was essentially you know, a couple of my friends and probably more people that I didn't know then that I did because I really wanted people to come in with a fresh eye I'm not knowing much about the business and give us the feedback so it was having lots of different product there on this was you know, prototypes as far as the packaging and things were concerned and anything that I had a question of for instance in this envelope for that envelope needed we had samples there that people could touch and feel andi I had them fill out kind of a questionnaire and then we all sat down and talked about it and it was you know there was great brainstorming and something you came out of that that really made us change the direction on also you know, abs and things to it that was great so yeah, it was really helpful and I think anybody could do it and, you know, it doesn't have to be doesn't have to be serious, andi actually it's a lot more fun, probably if you had some wine and nibbles as well, that so, yeah, I would highly recommend doing that that's a really good idea to do that market research right ahead of time, so so I know I mentioned like, your your business really quickly. It took up really, really quickly, right for just being a year. I think for most of us we do tend to take more like between two to three years before we start seeing growth and success. So can you share with us some of the primary marking strategies that you found really helped with that helped contribute to their growth that you had? Sure? First, I think we ended up running a beta test, and initially I had plans to launch a year ago this past june on and we ended up moving, which delayed the whole process. And because of that, we took what was going to be the hard launch and we did a beta test, which again, is another thing that I would recommend to anybody doing a subscription model because there's a lot of things to work out, you know, on the web site also on the back end of fulfillment standpoint and if you do a bait a period where you're you have friends and family there hopefully going to give you a lot of great feedback but not be too hard on you but he goes wrong because there's always you know, some gruesome growing pains so we did that and you know, e mails all of our friends and family with a code that would give them three, three months andi they could send that to anybody that they knew so we kind of that's how we got our initials with drivers to work with and we wanted a crittle meant critical mass we started you know, we really targeted to have about seventy five, one hundred people so that you know, it would really be representative of what we were going to be doing going forward so I think that was really helpful because then obviously at the end of that period we know we gave people a code to get in this kind of they wanted to stay on and that sort of thing but it's amazing I mean loads and loads of those people who are not just my friends and family stayed on and so that was a really good way to start and kind of kick start the business I think on ben a sampling I mean you mentioned this in your was your email pitching I had kind of from september to december before I you know, I was looking at having the baby to really market his six hard and so I think you spending a lot of time on the research and crafting are really good genuine but kind of catchy pitch I think is important on then I just I send it out like crazy aunt had a really, really great response so you know, offering people pip six envelopes with stickers and check out and posts about if they'd like tio went really well on dh and so I think that was really good I think also one thing that was helpful is I didn't spread myself too thin I think one challenge when your creative especially is you kind of want to do everything on ds and so I before you know when we had a while we still have a limited budget before we had of no budget. You know, I really worked hard to find contractors or people that were really interested in you and great at what they did and trust them with, you know, saying by web development or web designing or those sorts of things to make it so that I could really focus on what I wanted to do and that was to put a face behind my brand on I think, you know, as you mentioned as well bloggers and influencers that get a sense of who you are I want to work with you much more and I think that's the exciting thing about what we're doing is we love what we're doing and if you're if you're left enough to work in kind of a creative field that it's easy to come across is passionate about it and enthusiastic about it and I think that's what you want you know you're the bloggers and the people that you're working with to find him to see so actually guys if you go to maureen's blogger at pip sticks dot com is it pit sticks dot com slash blawg or you know what good question just goingto have science and goes for navigation find her block on there but it is an amazing blawg like she really goes through some really awesome crafty projects and things like that like she obviously or maybe her team or her I'm not actually sure spends a lot of time working on this block so I wanted to ask you how do you find blogging as a marketing platform for your subscription how has it been for you it's been really great on I think if anything this is one of the things that we're really looking at blowing up you know, even to be its own independent destination for a lot of people going forward again I think we're all really lucky doing any creative fields and because of that you know we've been able tio to use stickers on lots of d I y projects and things like that which make it fantastic and I think it's another part of really understanding your customer so many of our customers are either people that are interested in crafting or their moms that actually don't necessarily have much crafting experience and they're getting it for their children and I think that's what surprised me is having always been a crafty person and somebody that does stuff with my kids all the time, mitt didn't occur to me that you know, that somebody wouldn't think to keep the paper rolls around the house for, you know, for a craft project so the, you know, I got a lot of feedback from mom working moms or, you know, people working families that had lots of, you know, lots going on like we all do. I'm saying thank you so much for those because, you know, it's great to get these stickers and I love them, but then to teo expand that into, you know, on activity that can take an afternoon or, you know, a few hours is really exciting. So I think knowing your market really understanding what they'd be interested in reading is is important, but I think again, so far, the trick, the tricky part about having blogged for us is I'd really love to spend more time on it. S o again at the beginning of any business, I think one really challenge when you have such limited time in such limited resource of is to understand where your time is best spent and at the creative what we might want to dio with our time it is not necessarily what's best for our business, so I think you know, not getting stuck on rabbit holes also in terms of finding blogged blunders and influencers tio to connect with I think that a huge rabbit hole so put a time iran and I'll only allow yourself to do that for so long otherwise, three hours later you find yourself on pinchers kampala mean, people choose and have nothing to be with with state occurs or people that you're interested in. So I think that that's really important on dh and yes, I think you know, I think more than anything a blogger is one more way to reaffirm your brand on dh as a visual, you know, as a visual product or selling a visual product which we all will be doing I think that's so so important and also it gives loads of opportunity for ceo, right? So you know, the more you could be talking about stickers and sending people to your web site or connecting with your web site, the better as far as google ratings are concerned and making people cannot images so I think those are two things that make make it really worthwhile so in our next segment actually we're going to talk about how to deal with unsubscribe rates do you have any specific tips from your experience running pip sticks on how to make it not or tio lower your unsubscribe rate? Do you have any specific tips on that? You know, we're still young enough that I think we're testing out the different things you know I feel like our data collection sample our sample size it's still pretty small, but I find a couple of things first of all, I think promoting that you can cancel your product at any time so I'm not being afraid of cancellations is really important and I think as the business owner I think that you didn't take things really personally especially if they're getting so the first couple you know, cancellations, you get so sad or on dh again, everyone has a story and I think for for every kind of random please cancel my subscription email you get people saying, oh, I'm dying to have to write this email because I look forward to your product every month but you know why I'm meeting means and rights or whatever it is and so you just have to you have to take it with a grain of salt so I've made from business owners standpoint that's that's my advice on that ondas faras lower in your, you know, cancellation rates, I think adjusting your product. So always be looking for feedback. Um, we have, ah, survey that we send tio customers when they want to cancel on dwi, getting really great responses on that on dh. You know, I think always be looking at what other people are are wanting from you on changing it. Andi, I think in making your product awesome and not relying on the fact that it's a subscription products and people you know, wanted and it's just another month, I think really approaching every month is oh, my god. Okay, what stickers are going to be the best stickers and you're going to make people jump up and down every every month on I think, kind of maintaining that enthusiasm and and confidence in your product is really important. Also, I think loyalty on this is something that I think is really important from building your social media and your blogged I think the more people, the more opportunities that you give somebody two in track you on your business and your team, the more they feel connected to you. So it needs to come across in your tone of voice and your brand boys, and you know any collateral that you and clued within your subscription, I think it's the more consistent you are in that sense, and the more honest you are in the more you can give somebody kind of a peek into the workings and goings on behind the business, the more loyalty they feel, and I think the less likely they are in order to cancel and and I think the last thing again is encouraging people to give you feedback when they sign up also. So, you know, we're always trying to make this product better that, you know, when we launched our adult packet was we're so excited about this, you know, we all love what's coming to you, but this is a new product, and we can't wait to hear your feedback, and you'd be amazed how many people took the time, so actually, feedback I love these not so hot on these are really love more of these next time andi that's, the other thing I think I haven't been on this side of the business now, any time that I love something, I'm excited about it. If it's a product, I I really tried to email the company and let them know because I think that feedback is so important just as just as important as kind of the constructive feedback, so I think making yourself available for all of that helps. That's so awesome wearing so we were just about to wrap up here so do you have any parting advice for our audience and maybe let us know where we can find you sure, yeah, we're at fifty six dot com first of all and like I said we're we have kids packs we have adult packs were going to be opening a shop in two thousand sixteen on we have, you know, our blogged with thoughts of the light ideas as well. So come on and check us out there were also on social media our instagram account is love lipsticks and that's where, you know, we'll keep you posted on everything that's going on and any deals that's happening on place but you know, we're pip sticks a swell on dh you know, as faras advice goes, I would just say state realistic we've been really successful, you know, all things considered and bye bye by most standards and I say, you know, but we didn't start with five hundred, subscribers on the day we launched our on you know, I mean, maybe we were talking about this about I think everybody goes into especially subscription businesses thinking or I guess any business thinking if I get you know, right up on the right blogged that has, you know, one hundred thousand people looking at it every day we're going to be made, you know, we better have loads and loads and loads of product ready to ship out the next day, and that doesn't happen, I think, unless your dollar shave from, so I needed it really well, but I think, you know, maintain your expectations on don't get down on yourself, I think, you know, stay positive on dh on, just stay consistent, and and, you know, for every day that you are feeling done, you'll hopefully have somebody who's subscribing and literally running to their mailbox to get your product, which is a really, really great, great thing to keep in mind. All right, maureen, thank you so much for coming on. Here was great to have you on. Thank you, bye bye.