This entrepreneur’s strong brand voice and strategic use of Instagram helped her turn a hobby into a business. Check out her insights on customer engagement, social media and creating a brand personality.
Shea Josuttes, founder and owner of Ugly Ass Embroidery, didn’t actually set out to start a company. “My business was initially just a hobby. I started an Instagram page where I could post my embroidered art and eventually people in my hometown were interested,” she explains.
Her hobby snowballed from there: “As time went on, I started branching out into hand-embroidered T-shirts and the response to that was extremely positive. I’ve been attending markets with my hand-embroidered goods and making Instagram and website sales all over Canada ever since!”
Although Josuttes works diligently to create unique, stunning products her base will love, a huge portion of her success can be attributed to her Instagram game, which rivals that of more seasoned marketers and entrepreneurs. With posts like this:
She shows what creating a voice for a brand looks like in practice. Add in her genuine, friendly interactions with customers—using their posts to show off her products and maintaining that edgy yet positive voice her company has become known for—and it’s easy to see how this self-starter built something out of nothing.
She elaborates, saying, “Generally speaking, my customers tend to be in their 20s. I think what really attracts them to my business is my personal touch and the brand’s strong attitude. My customers know they’re getting unique, custom, hand-embroidered clothing at an affordable price point. With a bit of an edge.”
Of course, fashioning that brand voice and then putting it out there isn’t exactly easy. But Josuttes stresses creativity and a relaxed attitude. “Nothing is perfect. Every shirt you make isn’t going to be perfect and every post you make isn’t going to get sales. But, you should keep trying new and unique things because you never know which ideas will stick,” she says.
To get the most out of Instagram, Josuttes also relies on some basic tools. “Instagram analytics are great, especially if you want to know when the best times to post are. Other Instagram tools, like post schedulers that can also curate your content so it looks good all together, are super helpful,” she adds.
Although she may have over 1,800 followers and a rapidly growing company, Josuttes is not a full-time business owner. Yet. She explains, “Currently, I’m facing the challenging decision of whether to commit fully to my business or continue to work part time on it and at my other job. When I reach a certain level of sales per month consistently, it will be time to fully commit to my business.”
How is she planning to get to the point where a part-time job isn’t necessary? By remaining customer-focused and engaged. “I find inspiration in my customers. They are so supportive of local businesses and so vibrant. I want them to be happy first and foremost. I want to make things that they love and want to share with their friends. So, I’ll keep making things that they love,” she says.
And for other entrepreneurs, Josuttes offers this advice: “Always explore every opportunity when you’re first starting out. Even if you don’t think it will be lucrative or work for you, make sure you don’t shut it down right away. For example, if a market you signed up for doesn’t provide you with a ton of sales, it might provide you with some credibility or a possible partnership with another business there. You never know what sort of benefits will come from exploring new opportunities.”