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Written By: Kayley Reed, Co-Founder, Wear Your Label

Two years ago, I met Kyle MacNevin (co-founder of Wear Your Label) while volunteering at a local mental health organization in Fredericton. We quickly found common ground opening up about our mental health struggles: I was battling an eating disorder and Kyle living with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and ADHD. While connecting over our personal experiences, we realized it wasn’t always so easy to start those tough conversations. Frustrated by the stigma, we were inspired to start Wear Your Label, a lifestyle brand that designs positive products to encourage dialogue about mental health.

We knew that there was a need for something like this, both from our own experience, and the statistics: 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health challenge in their lifetime, yet 5 in 5 have mental health. And no one was really talking about it in a positive way.

As two twenty-somethings fresh out of university, we didn’t have much in terms of resources or experience to build a start-up. But our first thought was to create a website, and a few months after (when we actually had product to sell), we created an online store.

In two short years, Wear Your Label has grown beyond what we could have ever expected. We’ve evolved from a small t-shirt company in New Brunswick, to an international leader in the fight to end stigma, with collections ranging from clothing, to jewelry and apartment pieces. We’ve partnered with brands like Joe Fresh to bring our message to new audiences, and collaborated with some of the most amazing mental health organizations like Jack.org and the JED Foundation. And of course, I’ve learned a ton along the way. Here are a few tips to turn your idea into something real:

Creating your online store

Your website is everything. Starting out, it will be the first place people go to learn about your brand, engage with what you’re doing, and buy your products.

Kyle and I went through four or five different web platforms and different iterations of our website before finally finding something that we loved. We use Shopify, which offers easily customizable templates to choose from and a ton of great reporting and add-on features – you can also edit all the code should you know how to do that (or want to hire a developer to get something exactly how you want it). I have a bit of experience working with code (thanks to my teenage angst years of developing blogs) and so Kyle and I never hired a developer (we also barely had money to put into a website when we started, so a developer seemed out of reach).

The good news is, even if you’re on a super tight budget and have never coded a website in your life, you can create your own website. The beauty of technology today is that everything is becoming so simplified and easy to use – if you spend a full day learning the back-end of almost any web platform (Shopify, Woocommerce, LemonStand), it’s incredibly easy to become familiar with the features and customize them to your liking without ever writing a line of code. If you ever get stuck, most platforms have forums or great customer service to help you. Even today, we haven’t needed to hire a developer. You can check out website here: wearyourlabel.com

Mobile optimization

Mobile is key. Young people (myself included!) are on their phones constantly, and if you’re hoping to reach an international audience (where cellphones are more accessible than a desktop computer), you need to consider mobile in your web design. Many web platforms (like Shopify) provide the option to view your website in desktop, tablet, or mobile mode – so you know exactly what customers are seeing from any device, and you can customize your website accordingly. Not only should your website be easy to use on mobile (not cluttered, easy to navigate, bigger buttons) but you should consider the full shopping experience on mobile, from home page to checkout.

Speedy checkout 

You could have the most beautiful online store in the world, and an amazing product, but if the checkout experience is time-consuming, you will lose out on business. Make sure you have as few steps as possible between a customer choosing a product and paying for it. While asking shoppers to fill out online forms with their personal and financial information might seem like a great idea to collect data, it actually slows down the checkout process and reduces customer conversions. Going with an easy-to-use and trusted payment processor like PayPal can go a long way in giving your customers the confidence to shop from your website, and an easy way to check out if they already have an account. Shopify’s ecommerce platform offers a simple PayPal integration to power payments. All you have to do is turn on the feature.

Get social

Social media is where your community (your customers!) live. The biggest tip I can stress, is to find your brand’s voice and be genuine to that on social media. People love connecting with brands online if they’re authentic, relatable, and put out great content. Social media can also be a great tool for solving customer service issues – a lot of people today will take their frustrations to Twitter, and if you can turn an angry customer into a happy one by replying to their tweets and engaging with them on a personal level – it’s a win-win for everyone.

Wear Your Label has three main social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Our Instagram has seen the biggest growth in followers over the past two years. As of today we have 18,000 followers! When deciding which platforms to create accounts on, think of your audience and where they’re spending their time. Facebook has increasingly become an “older” audience, Twitter has niche pockets, and Instagram captures the attention of younger generations. We also started a Snapchat account last year, which has seen more engagement than Facebook or Twitter, but we don’t have a concrete strategy for content yet. I’d suggest testing out a couple networks to see what sticks with your audience, and build a strategy around those. It’s easy to spend A LOT of time on social media, so narrowing down to two or three main accounts is crucial for brand consistency and time management.

If you have something you really want to communicate, like the launch of a new product, I would suggest paying to promote an ad on Facebook. Facebook ads are pretty easy to setup and you don’t have to invest a lot of money – often $25-$50 will make a big difference in the reach of your ad. Additionally, paying for ads on Facebook allows you to connect with people who aren’t following your page yet, and you can also track and measure if your ad resulted in sales on your website. Facebook ads have been one of the top drivers for sales at Wear Your Label.

About Kayley:
Kayley Reed is the co-founder of Wear Your Label. Passionate about mental health awareness, Kayley is working to expand Wear Your Label’s influence by making a tangible impact on the mental health of individuals globally. Working towards this goal, she is building relationships with international bodies to establish on-the-ground programs and mental health-related services in developing nations where mental illness is still extremely stigmatized.