November 29, 2021
Emma speaks to Heather Walpole, the founder of Ewe Ewe Yarns, a boutique yarn company with a colorful rainbow of merino yarns perfect for knitting and crochet.
In this episode Emma speaks to Heather Walpole, the founder of Ewe Ewe Yarns, a boutique yarn company with a colorful rainbow of merino yarns perfect for knitting and crochet.
09:57 How Heather manages the marketing
13:39 Marketing mix
20:03 Wholesale and the product
36:17 Creating content and planning
42:37 10 Year Celebration Blanket
50:31 Minimums and maximums
52:50 Most effective marketing
53:53 Turn back time
57:39 Quickfire round
Find Ewe Ewe Yarns
Heather Walpole 0:00
I just flipped on the camera a couple months ago and did it on threw it up on YouTube. And the ladies were like, oh my god, I love this. I'm like, oh, okay. Okay, so now I've done three or four or five of them and they're really responding really well to it, so I think that is my way forward.
Emma Peacock 0:27
Welcome to the Digital Hive Podcast where we talk all things digital marketing for small businesses. On this episode, I spoke with Heather Walpole of Ewe Ewe Yarns about marketing her wholesale and direct to consumer product business. Heather is the founder of Ewe Ewe Yarns, a boutique yarn company, for the colorful rainbow of Merino yarns, perfect for knitting and crochet. I hope you enjoy listening to this chat about communicating the point of difference, having a connection with your customer, and how retail has shifted over the years. Welcome to the podcast, Heather. It's so good to have you.
Heather Walpole 0:56
Hi, Emma, thank you for having me. I'm thrilled to be here.
Emma Peacock 1:00
So to get us started, tell us about you and your business.
Heather Walpole 1:04
Okay, well, my name is Heather Walpole. And I own a company called Ewe Ewe Yarns. And we make Merino yarns in a wide variety of rainbow colors. You can see some of them here. And then we also focus on knitting patterns and educating our knitters with more skills. And we do a lot of fun projects. And we have knit alongs, and things like that.
Emma Peacock 1:32
Awesome. So what led to you actually choosing yarn as the thing that you wanted to go into business for?
Heather Walpole 1:39
Oh, well, I 100% blame my sister for this. I started my career as a graphic designer. And she had opened a yarn store. And I went in and I was like, oh, the colors in here are so cool. And she's like, I really think you'd like knitting. And I'm like, no, no, no, I don't I don't want to knit. Because it was more like fine arts and illustration and stuff like that. And she's like, no, sit down, you're gonna learn how to knit. All right, well, um, and now here I am 20 years later with my own yarn company, basically. So I took to knitting. And eventually, she and I partnered in business, and we both had yarn stores. She had one on the East Coast in America, and I had one here in California. And we had those for like, four years, give or take. And so I took to knitting really quickly, because I actually partnered in the store with her only about a year after she taught me how to knit. So I ended up quitting my graphic design career, and just I had worked retail all through college, so I knew retail, but I kind of got dropped in at the deep end as far as like yarn, and how to knit and fiber and things like that. But she was really an expert at it. So I learned really fast and had a great time and really took to it. And then after we closed the stores. You know, I was going back to doing graphic design. I was doing branding for a ton of local small businesses. And I thought, why am I not branding a product myself? I love branding. And I do all this for other people. So the first product that came to mind was my own yarn line. And I had a ton of connections from doing it from being in the store and stuff. So I called up a mill and said, will you make me some samples? And they said, Sure, of course. And here I am just past 10 years in business with my own yarn brand.
Emma Peacock 4:07
That's amazing. I love that story of just like, you kind of just happened into something that was related. And so then when you were like, I want a product, that's the first thing that came to mind, and it was the thing that like, you know, stuck because sometimes people go through a thing of like, I tried this thing, and I tried a different product, and then it evolved into this, but it really was just like, the yarn, and then you kept doing it. That's so cool. Yeah, um, and then we've, we've spoken before about how you started off doing wholesale. Because 10 years ago, we were living in a different world. So how did that process of going from like wholesaling first off, like selling into into other businesses to sell things and then moving into what you have now which is still doing that but having your online store?
Heather Walpole 4:55
Yeah, well, when I like yeah, like you said it was a different time 10, 11 years ago, and because I had come from the store environment, I knew what yarn stores needed. And I knew there was a gap for this product. So it was easy for me to get it to market in the way I knew. But then, as things grew more my audience grew online because I had a presence and they'd say, oh, my, I don't have a store in my area, or my store doesn't carry your yarn. Can I get it right from you? And it was like, well, I guess it's time to start selling online when people are asking for it. So I just kind of started putting it out there a little bit, and it grew and grew. And now yeah, now I do both pretty equally. So that's kind of exciting, too.
Emma Peacock 5:56
That's cool. I mean, especially because with you having a little bit of a following, and people being able to like, access you. I mean, so brands, so many brands that I go into a store, and I see the the branding, and you think oh, where else can I get this, and then you look at the packaging, and there's just like a generic, like warehouse kind of address, there's no website, there's no way to contact them. And you're kind of like, oh well if this the stop if this shop stops selling it, I probably wouldn't even be able to get this because there's no other presence. But because you are accessible, people can kind of get that message to you.
Heather Walpole 6:32
Yes, and theres a lot of channels that are kind of unique to knitting too. Because not only are they using this product, they also we design patterns, to show to give ideas about what to knit, like, if you want this yarn, you might want to make a hat in it. And you need to know how many stitches to cast on. And you know, the whole thing to do. So, from that regard, they get a pattern, and my name is right on the pattern, too. And there would be, you know, my website right on there as well. So if they had a question with how to do the pattern, they were contacting me directly. So from the very start, you know, in 2011, I'd say people were emailing me. So I was able to build up an email list from from the start, even though I wasn't selling directly on my website. So it was a little bit of a different thing than if you're going to go pick up a candle or stickers or whatever it is. So there there's a little more involvement because it's an active product.
Emma Peacock 7:40
Yeah, yeah. Well, I love that feedback loop of like, people having questions, people wanting to get hold of you, even though like they, you know, some people would go to the store for that. That's so cool. I like that. I feel like there's a lot of businesses out there that could totally learn from that where they're like, a little too removed from the customer.
Heather Walpole 7:59
Yeah, now one nice thing is I do know, customers in stores, which is kind of a strange thing. Like I've, I just had an email conversation the other day with a customer in a store, about the store owners and how much we love the owners of the store. So you know, she's buying my yarn from the store, but, you know, we all know the same people. So it's kind of a funny little. Yeah, like you said, loop.
Emma Peacock 8:28
Yeah, creating a world around it. I like it. Um, so let's hone in on marketing. So tell us about so do you personally do your marketing? How kind of how do you balance doing the marketing while having products, while doing the pedants? How do you do all of that work?
Heather Walpole 8:45
Yeah, I do it all. And marketing is of course my favorite part because graphic designer. And so yeah, I do all my own photos, I do my videos, I do my courses. I built my own website. I just really like doing it all I like working hard. So that's beneficial, and I just am I just know how to do that stuff. Which is good because I've had other friends that have opened yarn companies that didn't know how to do their marketing and had to hire it out. And I'm like, I don't know how you can stick around if you don't. So but there's other good things that I can get help with like with shipping, you know, sometimes my husband will jump in or support questions, I can ask my Pattern Editor to answer a few questions for me. So there are things that I can shift, but I definitely like to focus on. I control all my marketing for sure.
Emma Peacock 9:57
Love it. Um, so with all of that So you're shipping yourself, you're not like outsourcing to a third party logistics company?
Heather Walpole 10:06
No, I don't, um, it just didn't work out that way. And it's it wasn't that cost effective for me, especially being in California. It's almost just easier to do it here. And for shipping wholesale, it's easy, you know, they want one, you know, they want 25 of these like, fine, okay, put them in a box and they go by UPS, no problem. It's coming, it's getting a bit more hectic now that I have a bigger following on my, on my website, and the small orders of like two or three skeins of different colors and this or that. And but at the same time I don't, with the pandemic, I wasn't really going to start hiring people. And I don't have like, I have a separate warehouse space, but it's not really where other people would go right now. So maybe one day, I'm hoping to roll into a space where maybe I could hire someone a couple hours a week to come help me fulfill orders, and stuff like that. So you know, it's all just sort of a process.
Emma Peacock 11:18
Yeah, it's a balancing act. How much time would you say that you do spend on your marketing each week or month or?
Heather Walpole 11:25
Oh, on my marketing, um, I'm constantly into something I'd say, um, like, at least kind of two hours a day, I'm up to something, whether it's, like I said, sending newsletters or writing blog posts or filming new videos. It's yeah. I'd say probably at least two hours a day just on my marketing. Because there's a lot of avenues to with like, Instagram and making sure everything's on Pinterest and, and that's where the traffic comes from. So that's where I need to spend my time.
Emma Peacock 12:08
Yeah, I mean, it's a good portion of, it's a good portion of time, and obviously good that you enjoy it and that you, like love doing all those different ways of doing it that you find it really creative. I mean, I could only imagine if you didn't, it would not be a fun time.
Heather Walpole 12:24
Yeah. Yeah, like, I get excited, like, oh, I'm gonna write a newsletter this morning. Like, I'm not good at batching things because ideas kind of just come to me. So it's like, I really am trying to work harder on streamlining that type of thing and building out like a better planned calendar, but I kind of I'll, I'll plan one. And then like, some, I'll have some crazy idea and then everything goes out the window, so but I am, that's why I'm taking your course. Because I'm like, I really need somebody to just keep me in line for a little bit. You're a good match for that.
Emma Peacock 13:05
It's the thing of like, you want to have the ideas and you want to keep them flowing. And you it's so good when they keep coming. But then, I mean, I know I have the tendency to like go off on a tangent when I have like too many, like, well not too many. But like a lot of ideas in one area that tends to like, flip the balance a little bit.
Heather Walpole 13:25
Yeah, exactly. Or you just like have one crazy idea like shiny object syndrome, and suddenly, like six hours have gone by and you're like, well, I guess my to do list is out? Oh, well.
Emma Peacock 13:39
Yeah. Totally. So walk us through how all of the different marketing that you do for your business, both online and if there's any offline stuff?
Heather Walpole 13:49
Okay, well, my number one, like I said, is my newsletter list. I, like I said too I've been growing that list since I started and that if I send out a newsletter, my customers listen. Like, I can post to Instagram 12 times, I can send one newsletter and get results. So hands down, if I do nothing else, it's send at least one email or three a week. And then everything else kind of flows through about what I'm talking about. So I can easily write a blog post out of the newsletter idea I had. So oftentimes I start there like last week, I did one that was you know, 7 Neck Warmer Cowls to Knit for Fall, they use two skeins of yarn. So I can use that then in 20 different places and it goes easily into Pinterest and I can write the whole newsletter about it. I have seven more Instagram slides I can focus on that's a week's worth of content right there, you know, so there's, I try not to reinvent the wheel each week type of thing. And yeah, and then as far as building outreach, I have a private Facebook group, and a Facebook page. And so in the private Facebook group, we get a little more direct about, like their knitting projects that are using my yarn, and they can ask me questions, and they can post pictures. I don't necessarily love that it's on Facebook. But the majority of people know how to use and upload photos on Facebook. And especially, since my clientele skews a little older than me. It's just easier to not have to help them with technology. So that is where that falls and love it or hate it. It's where my customer is. So it's kind of where I need to be.
Emma Peacock 16:07
Yeah, I can almost imagine like a mighty network situation of like a lot of tech support there.
Heather Walpole 16:14
Yes. My sister actually did that with her. She had a mighty networks a few years ago, and it ended up just being too much to download the app and have a different location and stuff like that. So we're both reluctantly on Facebook.
Emma Peacock 16:32
Yeah. It's funny that it comes up so often, if that's the thing, but I guess people are there. And yeah, especially with like, your target audience of being that slightly older age group is, it's it's the interface that they're used to. So yeah, you gotta meet people where they are.
Heather Walpole 16:51
Yeah, exactly. They, they understand it. So. Yeah, why not? Like I said, though, my email gets far more juice than anything. So I'll happily take that.
Emma Peacock 17:07
Yeah, exactly. It also means that if anything were to happen on any of those other platforms, you've got the email list as like your stable base.
Heather Walpole 17:16
Yes. And I think a lot of people maybe miss that. You know, because Instagram really sucks you in and wants you to stay there. But really, if you, you need to own your customers, so email is the way to go.
Emma Peacock 17:32
Yeah, for sure. And with the way that they change every so often, I mean, the platforms don't love it when you send people something else. But it's building enough connection that that person goes and finds you on your website and signs up to find out more. So how have you built your list over the years? Other than, you know, those one to one communications?
Heather Walpole 17:51
Yeah, well, yes, if people needed help, they will come to me. And then there's also when they purchase a pattern from me, they get onto my list, or I also do free knitting patterns, which they need to supply their email to be able to download. So there's sometimes simpler, faster projects, like great Pinterest fodder. So I get a lot of traffic coming for those. And while it's not a purchase, they're getting something of value, something they want, and I get their email address. So eventually, maybe they turn into customers. But they do usually stick around, especially because I keep producing patterns and projects they want to make. And that's the other thing too is sometimes they can just be a digital consumer and buying my patterns, getting them free or paid, because I have different tiers of things. And then there's also you know, maybe they take the plunge and purchase yarn. But that's another thing too. I have a ton of knitters internationally like a lot in Australia and New Zealand and England and Europe that use my patterns but shipping my product is not economical, like mailing a couple skeins of yarn is just not economical, economical to send it back to Australia. So I do have different types of customers that I talk to which is kind of interesting.
Emma Peacock 19:36
Yeah, I like that of like people can who are further away in the world who maybe can't or at least the shipping isn't quite worth it for the getting the the yarn that they can still engage with you in some way. They can still like follow you online, or they can still buy a pattern. And same with someone who might actually buy all of their yarn in their local store. They can still be on your email list and hear from you and all of those kinds of because they've still got that other avenue.
Heather Walpole 20:03
Yeah, that's actually an interesting point too, because I've found that now when I, now that I sell online to consumers too where I like the geographic area where I have a yarn store that carries my yarn, the customers there, come and they buy my patterns, but they don't buy my yarn, they still support the store. So it's really nice to see. And I love that because not only then are they getting something they want, the store is making money, and I'm making money. So it's like, there's a really nice chain that happens that way. And knitters are very loyal to their stores. So it's wonderful that they keep shopping at their stores, and then the stores are able to restock and refill from me and we can just it's a nice little, it's a nice industry.
Emma Peacock 21:01
Yeah, that's so cool. I love that. And out of interest, is there like a different, like, do you make more money if you sell it direct? Or is they really not that big of a difference?
Heather Walpole 21:12
Oh, I do make more money. Yes. Because stores basically buy it for 50% of what it sells on my website for because they buy in volume, a store has to buy a whole bag, and there's a minimum for them to buy into. So yeah, it's kind of that volume price discount. But yeah, so then there's, there's enough room for them to double the price and sell it.
Emma Peacock 21:44
Yeah. And then they do their own marketing their own all of that kind of thing like,
Heather Walpole 21:50
Yeah, exactly. And I try and educate my stores as best I can about the product and about me as a company and how I do things. Because I do do it a little differently. I have these colors. And I keep these colors across all four of my yarn weights, which no other company does. And I actually just make one yarn, five ways, four ways. So which is kind of strange, too. I make a Merino yarn, three ply twist, I just make it in varying thicknesses. So and but they're all the same colors. And so you can kind of like if you make a baby sweater out of a thin yarn, so it's nice and light for the baby, you can make them a big squishy blanket in the same exact colors. Just to coordinate. So it's just a nobody else really does it like me, but it's just the way I saw it. So here we go.
Emma Peacock 23:00
That's funny that people don't normally do that. I would have thought that having your color palette, and then letting people choose their weight would be normal.
Heather Walpole 23:11
Yeah, no, no, no, I'm definitely I don't know anyone else on the market that doe it like this.
Emma Peacock 23:18
Yeah. I like that though. Yeah, I that must fit such a need for people though, of like I want this way. Otherwise, you're just like, forced to like, pick a weight that works for both? Because your, you want that matching color. Yeah. The interesting niches of the yarn world.
Heather Walpole 23:37
Yeah. There's a lot.
Emma Peacock 23:40
Yeah. Yeah. And that relationship with the stores is so interesting, too, because obviously, they have that local on the ground location, like relationship with people. And that you're not really you don't need to compete for the same customer that they feel that need they have the other supplies that fit in and around. You don't have to become like a one stop shop for everything. And that, that just all works out. Like it's copacetic the right way. I don't know why that's on my mind. Yeah. Yeah.
Heather Walpole 24:13
They, and they might not carry all of my products, you know, maybe they need a, you know, a thinner yarn, or they don't stock my heavier yarns, because they have another one that fits their needs for what they're doing. Or they're in Florida, and they never sell thick yarn. You know, different things like that. So, yeah, my stores have I'm happy to have a wide range of things that could support a store in whatever they might need.
Emma Peacock 24:44
Yeah. And then there's that route of people like say they're in a they're traveling, and they go into a store, and then they go home and they don't have a store back where they're from. But it's almost like a marketing channel that you're like, it's unintentional marketing because, you know, maybe they move or whatever. That's cool. Yeah. With video, where does that kind of sit in all of that, that you're doing,
Heather Walpole 25:11
I'm just kind of getting into video, I was kind of reluctant about it. Um, but I kind of I realized, I've done some Instagram Lives, I don't mind being on camera I've been on, I've been featured on some shows and stuff like that. And, like I said, I had the store I'm very comfortable talking about how to knit, you know, it's in, it's in the back of my brain. So it's not, I'm never nervous when I pop on camera and have to talk about yarn or knitting. So I kind of would do things here and there. And then it's funny, it's actually kind of a new thing. I, after the pandemic, when things started opening back up, I got my local knitting group together. And we had a big potluck, the, the brew pub, that we have been going to, for years, opened on a private night for us and gave us all the plates and gave us free drinks, and welcomed us back. And we brought all of our own food. And we had like, 30, 35 of us all outside. And it was like the first time we'd seen each other in a year and a half. I mean, we did zoom meets and stuff, but the actual in person and it was so funny, I was like, I was on such a high after that evening. And then we I was just sitting here, flipping through the photos, and I was like, I'm way better in person than I am. Like, like people like me, they kind of like come to me, and they want to talk to me. And I just was something that like, I, I didn't really realize with having zoom calls, because it was always kind of a part of my life. I do an event I do a video it was this or that. And I'm like, okay, I clearly need to be able to show the customers that aren't local, like, who I am. Because I'm, I'm a total redhead. And people just kind of like, come to me, it's weird. Like I was just we, my husband and I went away a couple days last week, and I get out of the car at the hotel and like three different people say hi to me. I'm like, what? I don't know you like I don't know, I just have this, like, people just talk to me. I just have the space where they want to come and like approach me. So my husband hates it. No, he doesn't hate it. But he's always like, Oh, God, here she goes. But anyway, so after that knit night, I was looking at the photos, and I was like, I really need to convey this better to the people that aren't here. So I just a couple months ago, like I just turned on my camera. And rather than writing, I had done like a weekly blog post I call Heather's Happenings. And I give them like the lowdown a new stuff that was here or different partnerships we had with other designers or brands. And I just write it all in a long form blog post with photos. I usually include a picture of myself, we're doing something and I just flipped on the camera a couple months ago and did it on, threw it up on YouTube. And the ladies were like, oh my god, I love this. I'm like, oh, okay. Okay, so now I've done three or four or five of them and if they're really responding really well to it. So I think that is my way forward. Whether whether or not I want to put makeup on to do it every time, you know, we'll get there. So I think video is going to become a much bigger component, especially heading into 2022 and stuff like that.
Emma Peacock 29:44
Yeah, I really like that and that it's video of you talking and that because often people will kind of graduate from photos to showing the thing on video, and then eventually graduate to them talking or whatever. You've gone right in there.
Heather Walpole 30:02
Yeah, I know, I just kind of flip it up like this. And I have like stuff here laid out. And I'm like, Okay, we have this from Marie. And this is what we're talking about. And then last time, I even asked people to send in some photos, and I like, put it into iMovie, and showed knitter photos montaged into my video and stuff. So it's getting a bit more elaborate, but I think it could really help build my community as a whole. And like I said, if they're coming on, you know, if they, if I put it in their email box, they watch it pretty much. So it's not like I'm trying to build a YouTube channel from nothing. It's like I have these people, and then now they're subscribing on YouTube. So I guess it's gonna be another avenue.
Emma Peacock 30:53
Hmm. I mean, it is a place for people to find you. But it's something that your existing audience obviously already likes. So
Heather Walpole 31:01
Yeah, apparently. So that's great. Yeah. And I've learned of a few other sort of vlog channels on YouTube, that are knitters that I hadn't known about before. Because my audience emails me back and says, Oh, have you seen this woman? Or have you seen this program? or this or that? And so it just builds the network further?
Emma Peacock 31:23
Yeah, that's so interesting. I love that, like, just trying a new thing and it balloons into this whole, like, wow, people really wanted this. Yeah. Cool. And then how do you approach social media? How are you? Is it the topics that you're talking about in the newsletter, or is there also other things that you're sharing on top?
Heather Walpole 31:46
Um, I've kind of done a little bit of both. The right now I'm treating social media a little bit more, as I like to think of Instagram as like, my billboard. Like, people might come cruising by on the freeway, and they kind of get to know me, but on there, they could dial down if they want to, they can scroll through years of photos, they can hit my link and come to my website. And I've got, you know, all the links set up, they can browse the yarn and look at the patterns, read my blog. So I think I've adjusted my mentality of Instagram lately, because it was just so overwhelming over the last year and a half to like, you just didn't know what was gonna get thrown at you if you logged on. So I've definitely taken a step back for my own well being, and I post a lot through the like Facebook creator studio, I just hop on there, I post and, you know, maybe I tell them a story in the caption, and then every couple posts, I try and use one with my face. And I tell a little story about what I'm doing or, and then I've been uploading those videos to, the longer form, to like IGTV, and those get good traction on Instagram as well. But like you said, those platforms don't want people to leave them. So that's why I'm like, if traffic isn't coming from there, then I think it needs to be like nobody's sitting in their car dialing the billboards phone number either. So that's I just kind of look, I've just taken a step back from it. Mentally, I think I still need to have a presence and be there and be accessible, but you just need to post and walk away and then if there's questions, I come back to it, but I'm not. I'm not so actively engaged in what other people are doing on there anymore.
Emma Peacock 34:00
Yeah, and I think that's healthy. And that's what I like about creative studio is that you can go on and post something and there literally isn't a feed for you to get pulled into. And it can really help with just honing in on what you're sharing and not getting so distracted. Because there's just so much stimuli when you go look on every different thing. If you're listening to this episode and wondering how you can market your own business, I might just have the solution for you. The Marketing Apiary is the one stop shop course for digital marketing teaching you everything you need to know to be seen, make sales, and grow your business online. With videos across honing your one ability, putting your best foot forward, getting the numbers straight, helping people find you, content marketing, growing with advertising, and passing the torch to your team. We cover every platform and angle you can approach marketing through a process I call the Seven Stages of Suite Marketing. Since DIYing everything alone and molding everything for your business can bring up a lot of questions and maybe some decision fatigue, we have Q&A calls every two weeks. So you can submit your questions and receive answers customized for your business from me, even if you can't attend those calls live. To find out more, you can pause the episode and go to the marketingapiary.com. or find the link in the show notes. Once you're done listening, for now, let's get back to the episode. I love Instagram for the new things I can find in the rabbit holes I can go down and I love finding a like a maker, especially like crafting related hashtags that lots of different business owners and makers are using. And then obviously the ones that are more like customer centric, where it's more projects. But I love discovering people in that way. And it's the discoverability that I don't want to get disrupted. I'm like, but I want to find people.
Heather Walpole 35:51
Right. But when I when I want to. That's the difference for me. I don't want it just in my face all the time, like when I am in the right mind to go looking for something else creative, or whatever it is, then I love that it's there. And I can do that. But just for me myself. I like to just have it step back a little and put the info out there.
Emma Peacock 36:17
Yeah, yeah. And I like when it's creating content for the new formats that these platforms come up with, where you have a cool, fun idea that can be delivered in 15 seconds. So it works for reels rather than sitting down and being like, what the heck am I gonna make a reel about? Like, so there's a balance of new features that is very, like, there's a very fine line there. I'm like I don't want too many every week.
Heather Walpole 36:50
Yeah, no. And well, that's the thing too, like, we've basically become tiny media companies all on our own. And we're expected to be in so many places, and it's, it's exhausting. So I think just setting a boundary of, you know, I'll post, if somebody has a question, fine, but I just have to, you know, pick my number one, number two and go with it like that. Because it's not, like we said, It's not my main traffic generator.
Emma Peacock 37:30
Yeah. And I think when you look at it like that, there's a certain amount of like, it's a healthy way to look at it of like, this is a fun place to share. It's a cool place for people to find me. But if I'm not feeling it, I don't have to do anything. Because also, it's the thing of when we feel like there's pressure to do something, I often want to evaluate, like, where's that pressure actually coming from? Is it actually coming from our customer? Or is it coming from myself? Or is it coming from the fact that I'm hearing announcements about new Instagram features? Because I know sometimes I feel a pressure of being a social media related business. And so but I'm like, but do my customers actually want this? Like, do my clients actually feel like this? Do the people who listen to the podcast actually want this? Or is it something that I feel like I need to post? Because I need to be like up with the play.
Heather Walpole 38:21
Yeah. But I like that you step back and you're objective about it. Like I kind of, I kind of need that in a few other areas. Maybe. I might put that on a post it note.
Emma Peacock 38:32
Yeah. Like the stories we tell ourselves of like, no, customers don't want a website that takes longer than two months. And that's like, actually, maybe they don't care. So yeah, like you actually have to ask the person, what do you care about? What are you? What are your concerns? And that's why being connected to your community is so important.
Heather Walpole 38:55
Yeah. And then the other thing, too, is, I think, yeah, I do think we tell ourselves things. And I have this thing where I have a to do list. And to me, everything is equally important when I get it out on the list. So I'm like, I have so much to do. So I've really taken a lot of time to dial that down too and be like, okay, no, I don't have to answer every email at 8am and ship all my orders and do all of these things. It's like actually a day, the course of eight hours of a day. There's a lot of time to do the other things and I can still make it to the post office by five with everything and do all the other stuff. So yeah. Just really breaking out the day a little better has helped me with that, too.
Emma Peacock 39:48
Yeah, it's the funny things of like when something goes sideways, we reevaluate things. So like when Instagram went down, I noticed that a lot of people were talking about like, oh, I had such a more relaxed day. And I kind of felt like saying to people, you know, you're in charge of whether you use it right, like, I know that you couldn't use it. But there is a point where you could put your phone in the drawer and walk away. Like, yeah, I think a lot of people real, like realize just how much time they spend on it. Yes, and I guess for like businesses like my own, where they were like, I can't post my client's stuff this is gonna throw off my whole schedule. Like, obviously, that was a slightly different thing happening. But the attraction and the, like, just the amount of time that people spend on it. But I like that thing of knowing where your customers are, knowing where you actually make the revenue from. And because of that, you prioritize that email list rather than kind of like flying blind, and everything is important, because you don't know where people are coming from. Yeah, that's the one thing of analytics that I think all people who own a business need to need to know is where do my people come from? Where do they find me? So that they have that piece of information? It's not, what's my bounce rate? What's my average session time, like, to the market, like if you're paying a marketer, they should be looking at those kind of things. But if you're just the business owner, trying to figure out what you're going to share, worry more about where the money's coming from?
Heather Walpole 41:28
No, I think I look at bounce rate, like once or twice a year and be like, Oh, okay, that's where they're leaving from. And then I go to that page or blog post or whatever, and maybe add a couple more links or dial that page in or whatever it is, but it can't and same with unsubscribes. It's like, no, oh, well. They're gone. Bye. Try and find someone new.
Emma Peacock 41:50
I have no emotional attachment to unsubscribes. I love it. I'm like, okay, cool.
Heather Walpole 41:55
Less money you have to pay bye.
Emma Peacock 41:57
Yeah, I'm no longer getting closer to that limit where I have to pay more. That's cool. Yeah, I like that. Yeah. And that's that thing too of like the Facebook group, like maybe Facebook isn't the place that you would love to have that community, but it's where they are. And it's where they like doing it. So rather than forcing them to go on to something else. Priorities.
Heather Walpole 42:19
Exactly. No, I totally agree with you.
Emma Peacock 42:22
Yeah. So 10 years in business is pretty big thing. So congratulations on that.
Heather Walpole 42:30
Thank you. Yeah.
Emma Peacock 42:32
But you've also been doing your celebration blanket project. So tell us about that.
Heather Walpole 42:37
Oh, yes, I have. Oh, that's a fun one. I'm glad you found that. So the celebration blanket was an idea I came up with. So people love making. They'll knit like a blanket square and then assemble them together kind of patchwork style. And I decided to have what's called a mystery knit along. So we all knit the same project together. But the mystery comes in, in that I asked 12 of my friends that I my business friends that are also in the knitting field and design knitting patterns to design a square for my anniversary. And the knitters. And I actually don't know what the square is, before the month, it's gonna come out. So I sent each designer two skeins of yarn, and they knit a square that's like, kind of 12 by 12, 14 by 14 inches. And then they send me the pattern and we agree it was it's sent out for free. The pattern itself, you know, people buy the yarn, that's great. But I have a lot of people in other countries that are working on it with me, and they send me emails like congratulations and stuff like that. So anyway, I have 12 designers, and we're working through it. I just launched the ninth square. So it'll finish out sometime, January or February, I guess we finish it and sell it all together. And through each month, I talk about the designer and how I know them. And they do cross marketing. They promote it on their sales channels. I promote those people and talk about the different things they have going on. And then I tell a little story about how I got to know the person and the designer writes a little blurb, two or three sentences about their inspiration for the design and why, like thanking me for inviting them to the party type of thing. And so it's been a lot of fun and yeah, I'm just It's nice to get to work with people in a kind of relaxed capacity like that. Yeah, that's so fun. And people have been really, people have been really responsive with like the 10 year anniversary idea. I get emails just like random, like congratulating me, which is like, that's not really what I was looking for. But I appreciate that they realize, that it's a good milestone.
Emma Peacock 45:27
Yeah, I like that of like, there's so much community element to the things that you do, of bringing people in, people can follow along the story. But then there's a reason why you've asked each person to do each square.
Heather Walpole 45:45
Yeah, well, I really think that building connections, business to business is invaluable in what we're doing. And the other part is that saying, like I said, they're promoting me on their sales channels, I'm promoting them on mine. And it's building this shared audience. So we're almost like, growing all of us into a pod and things like that. And there's room for all of us. And I, I fully believe none of us are in competition with each other. Like, I can only do things one way. And I know nobody else is doing it. Like I said, nobody else is doing it the way I do it. So I am not going to be designing patterns the way my friend Wendy is, or my friend, Marie, you know. So that's what I mean, I think we all have our audiences. And why not share those with the people we like
Emma Peacock 46:55
To there's a thing that I'm noticing that runs through everything that you do, that's almost like there's a community element to each part. And so many of them are things that might eventually lead someone back to buying. But they don't have to, that there's so many parts that are following, getting involved, seeing how things are done, but that they don't actually have to buy your yarn to be part of the story. And that allows people to come into a world without feeling like they have to be a customer to feel like part of the community.
Heather Walpole 47:35
That's cute, because I didn't really ever address it like that. But I will occasionally get an order, like a first time yarn order from a customer and he'll write in, I followed you for so long. But this is the first project I'm trying I'm trying your yarn for the first time. And so you know, I'll stick a little sticker in their package, or, you know, say thank you just that type of thing. So or I'll send them back. You know, I write them back a little note, like, thank you so much. You're Yeah, I try and it doesn't take long to send a thank you email. That's like two sentences. Best regards, Heather. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it means so much that you like, like, it really, it puts it all together for them. Like, I'm not, I'm not a figurehead, like, this is my livelihood. And I built it. I love it. And I want them to love it too. Because I'm not making it only for me. I'm making it to enhance that their lives and their creativity. So yeah, I just want to dial it down. Like I don't really talk about my business, often in like the broader picture of like, we and us. Like, I really try and keep it pretty singular. Like it's me and my husband in the other room. So, uh, yeah, I really try and keep it personal because it is personal.
Emma Peacock 49:11
Yeah, totally. And it all, I mean, it all comes back in the end. Sure, people might not always be spending money with you within their first little amount of time, but they might tell someone else about you. Or get involved in the community, people liking your content builds you up through discoverability. Like it all has its long term effects, but that you're approaching everything with this could be fun. This would be a way to communicate with people and the money coming in is kind of secondary, which is not the way that everyone approaches marketing. It's-
Heather Walpole 49:52
I mean, I definitely have that freakout. Like I have bills to pay, but sometimes, you know sometimes I run an instant sale because I need a little extra cash. There's, there's no shame in that game.
Emma Peacock 50:06
But I'm guessing you do it on your email list.
Heather Walpole 50:09
Yeah, you are correct.
Emma Peacock 50:11
Yeah. It's that thing of knowing where the people are. Cool. I like that. Do you have any kind of roles for yourself of like minimums maximums across all of your different content?
Heather Walpole 50:25
What do you mean?
Emma Peacock 50:26
Like do you have I have to send an email once a week?
Heather Walpole 50:31
Oh, yeah, I do send emails, like, at least once a week, and I feel really bad if I don't send at least one. So yeah, I'm usually like two or three a week. Because like I said, I enjoy writing them. I like writing blog posts and stuff like that. And then, I mean, sometimes I get into the grind, like over the summer, when people aren't knitting, it's like, I don't know what they want to see, I don't know what content to put out. And then, you know, it just, you know, I get into lulls. But at the same time, I'm still consistent with an email at least once a week. And then the other things, I try and throw a photo up on Instagram, like, maybe five days a week, but I try not to worry about that, like I said, and then I'm trying to get better at my Pinterest game, which, like you said, I feel like every time I log on to Pinterest, it's a completely different thing going on. I'm trying to keep up over there. Because I do get a ton of traffic from that site. And I think it's a great resource, but it's a little overwhelming. But um, so I'm trying to improve my Pinterest game, lately.
Emma Peacock 51:50
Yeah, that's cool. I like that of having some timing goals in mind, but not like freaking out too much when you don't post to Instagram enough or whatever.
Heather Walpole 52:02
Yeah, I mean, nobody's what I've learned is the customer doesn't give a shit. You know, they're happy when your, they're happy when you appear. But they're not sitting there thinking, Boy, I have not heard from Ewe Ewe Yarns in the last 32 hours. Like Like, once I kind of put that mentality into my head, like, then it takes that pressure off. And it's that fake urgency like, Well, does anybody care? Not really. Like, if you're consistently, consistent, and not regimented? Then people are here, and they'll be here.
Emma Peacock 52:50
I love that. Yeah. So what have you seen has been the most effective in your marketing of late?
Heather Walpole 52:58
Uh. This new video thing. I'm really excited about it. Um, yeah. And I, I've been doing a couple little overhead videos, like you talked about just a little like, quick how to that's maybe like, a minute and a half, like, Oh, here's this new stitch that nobody's done. And you know, here's how you do it. And just that little action of showing them three times on a quick overhead. And they're happy as a clam. And just like so yeah, I'm really I've learned how to use iMovie in the last three months, and a little reluctantly, but I am enjoying it. Yeah, it's going. So yeah, I'm most excited to really start making space and time for more video content.
Emma Peacock 53:53
Yeah. If you could turn back time, is there anything you would do sooner?
Heather Walpole 54:01
I would do online sales. I would have dialed that in earlier. And I probably would have moved to Shopify sooner because I had my store. Because I didn't have a store. My original site was based was built on Squarespace, which I loved. Because like I said, I did blogs and newsletters and everything was all included. And easy and seamless and fast. Like I really love Squarespace. But then as a commerce platform for a product like I have it was just it's not enough like so I reluctantly moved off to Shopify, but at the same time, my, shopping on Shopify for my end consumer is so much better. So uh, now I really love Shopify too.
Emma Peacock 55:04
Yeah, yeah. But it's interesting how much that tech tool affects you. Obviously, it affects the end customer. But I mean, I certainly find when I'm working through something if the tech isn't playing ball, I'm like, disengaged.
Heather Walpole 55:19
Yeah, well, it became really clunky in my case, because somebody would, I kid up a pattern with the yarn. And I had to ship them the yarn, but then I'd have to manually email them the PDF of the pattern they bought separately. So it's like taking up an extra hour of my day to like email, they can buy digital products alone on Squarespace, which that was great when that was all I sold. But once it started adding in, and I was making like packaged products. Yeah, that's when it really became daunting. And in Shopify, I can just make it they get an auto-generated email with their PDF, and I fulfill the yarn order, and everything's happy. One good thing or one thing that I'm good at is creating color combinations. So if you have a multicolor project like this, you know, I could say, oh, you need eight skeins of blue, and three skeins of pink, and the pattern on how to make it. And then I could give them I have like three different colorways in this project itself. So they could get the routine 10 skeins of yarn. And if they added the pattern, but if I made it a full and complete, I'd have to separately email them the so to take the shopping barrier away with buying a like, I want it to be a one click purchase, I want that sweater in blue, size 38, you know, whatever it is. And so to take away a barrier of things they need to click, you know, Shopify ended up working out better for that.
Emma Peacock 57:18
Yeah, I mean, you don't want it to be super easy for your customer, but takes you five times longer to fulfill the order. That's not ideal.
Heather Walpole 57:26
It, it actually closed down two things it was better for both of us. Less things for them to click, less things for me to do. So there was no reason for me not to move.
Emma Peacock 57:39
Let's move into the quickfire round.
Heather Walpole 57:41
Oh, okay, excited.
Emma Peacock 57:45
So where do you get the most of your website traffic from?
Heather Walpole 57:50
Emma Peacock 57:54
I find that interesting. Because of like you're saying you're not really putting too much time into them.
Heather Walpole 57:59
I am taking a course called Marketing Apiary so that I can really start focusing on my Pinterest content. That is one of my big goals for you Emma. Yeah. I get something like I get something like 40% of my traffic, like my incoming traffic comes via Pinterest. I am not putting 40% of my marketing into Pinterest. So bonus. Yeah, I'd really like if I do. What could happen?
Emma Peacock 58:35
Oh, yeah. Yeah. I love that. Love that kind of thing about analytics. So what's your favorite place on the internet right now?
Heather Walpole 58:42
I just love Instagram. I can't help but go on there. I do love it. I have a personal feed and I love checking out like local restaurants and local stuff and just seeing what my friends are up to. And yeah, like you said, one if I have some idea, I can just go down a hashtag rabbit hole and spend an hour and come out like, what happened here?
Emma Peacock 59:18
Yeah, nice. Um, what are you looking forward to the most in the next year of business?
Heather Walpole 59:24
Um, I am excited to really be kind of engaging with my end consumer more. Since the pandemic I've really its shifted, like people come and engage with me more. So I'm excited to see where that's going to go. Now that I have more eyes directly on me and my business.
Emma Peacock 59:55
Hmm. That's cool. So if someone is listening to this episode And they want to grow their own retail business. What is the one thing you recommend they do next?
Heather Walpole 1:00:06
Oh, I would say open a Shopify store and start blogging on it. Because a lot of traffic comes through my blog posts into my store. Yeah, and I don't think people utilize their blog enough to talk about their products and tell people how to use them.
Emma Peacock 1:00:42
Thank you for listening to this episode of the Digital Hive Podcast. I'm your host Emma Peacock, and today our guest was Heather Walpole of Ewe Ewe Yarns. You can find out more at eweewe.com that's e w e e w e .com If you're enjoying the podcast I'd love if you could share it with a friend or on Instagram and tag us @honeypotdigital. To find out more about Honey Pot Digital and the work we do or to find more episodes of the podcast and handy tips for small businesses marketing online head to honeypotdigital.com.