The following is an interview between Lindie Royall, co-founder of Little Poppy Co., and Blacksmith International on August 28th, 2020. In the last 3 years alone, Little Poppy has grown by 589% and is currently number 805 in INC’s top 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in America. Read more about how Blacksmith helped turn Little Poppy into a multi-million dollar brand in this CASE STUDY.
How did the concept for Little Poppy Co. come about?
Lindie: I had just bought an expensive bow for my baby daughter. The bow wasn’t on her head for more than 5 minutes before it was completely lost and I thought, why can’t I just get cute bows that are affordable delivered to me. So, I teamed up with my sister-in-law, Becca Grider, and we decided to give a baby bow subscription business a try. Turns out, we were not the only ones that were frustrated by consistently losing overpriced baby bows.
I imagine there were many challenges in the beginning, but was there some sort of a “big break” moment when you felt like Little Poppy Co. was taking off?
Lindie: There was no specific moment where Little Poppy got a big break, rather, it was a collection of events that took place over a couple years that put us on the right course. The baby bow subscription concept did not exist before Little Poppy. We solved a pretty niche problem in the market and a lot of moms really liked the idea of getting three bows in the mail every month at a good price. Even if they lost all three, they’d get more in a few weeks. Our unique concept spread on social media and all our first customers came directly from our Instagram page.
How did you grow such a large following on Instagram, currently at 195k followers?
Lindie: Growing a following on Instagram was not easy, but at that time  the Instagram culture was different. You could comment on someone’s pictures or give them a follow and they would likely reciprocate and check out your profile. We got a lot of followers that way, but it meant spending several hours engaging with people on Instagram every day. Nowadays it seems uncool to follow anyone back and those same tactics that we used to start our following might not work anymore. It’s worth reiterating that we had a unique concept and good, consistent content that I think moms wanted to follow.
Did you use paid partnerships with mommy bloggers or influencers to grow your list of subscribers or social media following?
Lindie: Back in 2015 we paid a couple of influencers in the baby market to promote our bows, but it didn’t work. We didn’t get many new customers or social media followers. After that we took a different approach with our influencer marketing. We found a couple lists of influencers/bloggers in our target market and we started sending them free bows without any expectation. Some influencers would share pictures of our bows and some wouldn’t, but ultimately, we saw a much higher return doing it that way. If a very popular mommy blogger shared our products on their platform, then we would see an influx of new subscribers, but influencers/bloggers did not significantly contribute to our growth.
When did you start using paid search advertising (Facebook or Google ads) to sell your products if ever?
Lindie: We started running some paid search ads on Facebook/Instagram in 2016, but our budget was very small. We didn’t really need to use paid search ads since word-of-mouth worked so well for us. We also didn’t have any competition at the time. Now, we spend more on paid search ads because we have a larger budget and some minor competition, but compared to our revenue, we spend very little. We’ve found that our products are still being found organically on social media.
What’s the biggest thing that could have stunted Little Poppy’s growth along the way?
Lindie: If we would not have been able to scale efficiently, then that would have been a problem. When we started, we were making the bows ourselves, but as our list of monthly customers grew that method was not sustainable. We hired some local seamstresses to take the pressure off and that worked for a while, but again we were soon at capacity. We met Blacksmith International at a good time because we knew we needed large-scale production, but finding a trustworthy factory overseas seemed a bit daunting. Thankfully Blacksmith was able to quickly find us an experienced hair-bow making factory in Asia that was able to meet our high-volume order requirements while improving the quality consistency of our bows. As we grew the factory has been able to scale with us, which has been vital. Our highly developed manufacturing and supply chain is one of the biggest reasons other bow companies have not been able to compete with us.
What advice would you give to an entrepreneur in the startup phase of their business?
Lindie: Having a great idea doesn’t mean much if you don’t execute on it. We had an idea for a baby bow subscription and we acted instead of just talking about it. We poured a lot of hours into it too before we saw any traction. As someone who operates multiple businesses, I understand that every business is different. The tactics we used to grow Little Poppy might not work for other brands or in other markets. If you have a great idea, then the first thing you need to do is figure out who your target customer is and where they hang out. Reaching your target is always the hardest part. Instagram was a great channel for us to reach our target, but again, every business is unique – don’t be afraid to try a variety of marketing channels to figure out what works best for you.
How do you plan to continue growing Little Poppy in the coming years?
Lindie: We are always investigating new sales and marketing channels. We recently did a collaboration with Freshly Picked, which went really well and we have some other partnerships in the works that could open us up to some new markets. We’ve added some new products like toddler dresses and scrunchies to the Little Poppy store over the past couple years, but we plan to continue to expand our product line into the future as well.
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