Why Telling Stories is More Important Than Ads

Two models wearing workout clothing by Superfit Hero.
Roller derby wasn’t just a workout for Micki Krimmel, it offered a sense of empowerment and community. The sport inspired Micki to start Superfit Hero, an inclusive and body-positive apparel line to make everyone feel welcomed in the fitness world. 

In this episode of Shopify Masters, Micki Krimmel of Superfit Hero shares her approach to building a community, how she shares inspiring and inclusive stories, and what has helped her to grow her business.

You hear the whole thing about 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers is totally, totally true

Key lessons shared by Micki Krimmel:

  • Community building extends beyond your area of expertise. The Superfit Hero Facebook originally started as a place for the most engaged fans to share training tips. Now the members have grown close uses the group to discuss many topics outside of fitness by sharing life updates, pet photos, and health journeys. 
  • Seek help outside of your skillset. Micki wanted a robust homepage that features videos, reviews, and products so she turned to Shopify Experts and hired a developer to build a more customized page that she has envisioned. She also worked with Admixed on marketing to scale the business. 
  • New product launches are critical to sales. Superfit Hero saw first hand how 80% of their sales come from their top 20% of customers. In order to stay relevant and gather interest from their top customers, they need to launch new items and designs on a regular basis.

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Show Notes

Store: Superfit Hero

Social Profiles: FacebookTwitterInstagram
Recommendations: LooxKlaviyoShopify Experts

Admixt (Facebook and Instagram ad agency)Flightplan

Transcript 

Felix: Today we're joined by Micki Krimmel from Superfit Hero. Superfit Hero is a body-positive lifestyle brand with a mission to make fitness more inclusive and was started in 2016 and is based out of Los Angeles, California and is projected to earn $900,000 in revenue this year. Welcome, Micki.

Micki: Thank you I'm excited to have this conversation.

Felix: Yeah, so this idea for this business came to you through your experience as a roller derby athlete, so tell us more about this. What was your experience in roller derby? How did this birth the idea for your business?

Micki: Yeah, so well I have some experience building brands, it's not my first start-up and when I was sort of in-between projects and thinking about what I wanted to do next and fitness and sport have really become the thing that I was most passionate about. Before I started playing roller derby competitively I never really considered myself an athlete.

Micki: Like I worked out, I tried every diet, my relationship with fitness was really all-around weight loss and through the process of becoming a competitive athlete and learning to train for results instead of appearance, I had this really transformative experience with respect to my relationship to my body and to fitness and just my overall confidence level.

Micki: I mean I feel like, through fitness and sport, I really came into my own as a complete human. I think we underestimate how important our relationship with our body is to fulfilling our potential in other areas. So I wanted to share that experience with other people. You know the body-positive movement was kind of becoming mainstream at the time and people were having this conversation but they weren't really talking about how to apply it to fitness.

Micki: So that was kind of what sparked it. So I started doing some research to figure out what is the service that I can provide? What is the product I can sell to help tell this story and make this change in the world around me? You know there was a huge hole in the market for really quality plus-size fitness apparel. I live in LA where there's a lot of access to people who have a lot of experience with apparel, which I did not have and so I decided to give that a shot.

Felix: Awesome. So there are a couple of things I want to touch on. So you mentioned that you already had experience building brands and starting businesses in the past, were they related to ecommerce or how was it helpful that you had this experience in applying it towards launching Superfit Hero?

Micki: Yeah, not ecommerce specifically but online definitely. So I've worked for web startups and entertainment startups but specifically in online marketing since 2004. So I have a lot of experience building online communities and structuring communication processes and customer service is huge. I mean I honestly think my years and years of waiting tables through college set me up almost better than that experience, but yeah I have a lot of experience with customer service and brand building on the internet.

Felix: Got it. So you mentioned that you had this transformative experience, you changed your viewpoint in your relationship with fitness and you wanted to be able to transform the story basically almost into business, like what kind of business can you start that will help you tell this story? So was there a list of criteria that you were working through? Was there other options that you could have pursued? How did you settle on fitness apparel?

Micki: Well, the first thing I did was really take stock of my resources, my connections and what I'm good at. I knew having had a bunch of years of experience in tech startups, I knew what I didn't want to do like I didn't want to go raise millions of dollars and hire a bunch of people and scale really fast. I just wasn't interested in that process. I wanted to build a company that brought in revenue from day one so that it could sustain itself and grow more organically based on real connections with actual humans.

Micki: And so I was thinking about building a business that supports my lifestyle instead of the other way around like I've seen so many people in startup land just kind of jump head-on into an idea they're not sure will work and then three years later it's over, and they're starting over with a new one. And I was kind of done with that process. So I took stock of my resources and my connections. Like I knew like I said how to build a brand. I knew how to connect with people online.

Micki: I'm familiar with just how to do multi-channel marketing and because I was playing roller derby I had access to this amazing community of athletes that I knew would support me. And so I thought about something I could make for them specifically as a way to get the business launched. So I spent the first two years really just focused on roller derby. They were my first customers, they supported my Kickstarter. It was because I had that community behind me and I knew that those athletes are in the market for this product that I landed where I did.

Felix: Okay, so you mentioned you wanted to be profitable from day one and not kind of pour a bunch of resources and time into basically like a tech startup approach where you don't see revenue, or you don't see a profit for a long time. So what kind of questions do you ask to determine this? I think this is a very important question for a lot of people out there that, they want the same thing right? They want to be profitable as early as possible. So what kind of questions do you need to look at to determine if the business idea, the business model that your going after can be profitable from the beginning?

Micki: I mean this is actually what I used the Kickstarter for. So a lot of people do Crowdfunding just as a way to raise money and I really did it to sort of test the business. I was testing the product, I was testing the price point, I was testing the messaging. If the Kickstarter wasn't successful, I would not have moved forward.

Micki: It was my way of sort of putting my toe in the water without a huge risk because I hadn't made the product yet, I hadn't really invested a ton of money into it yet. I had done all the development already so the Kickstarter represented what our actual product was going to be but that was my way of testing. The questions we asked were, is the price right? Is the product right? Is the messaging right?

Micki: It's really about, you know you hear people talking about product-market fit, like are you making the right product for the right customer? I think the first year and a half of the business was really, really clarifying that. Where we took feedback from the customer about fit, sizing, we perfected all of that but we also really perfected the messaging. Like we figured out what messages were resonating with people and the brand just kind of started to take on a life of its own.

Felix: Yeah, I think it's important that you don't always end up with the product and market that you originally thought of from the beginning. So what are some of the biggest learnings throughout the last year and a half about the product or the messaging that has changed the most drastically from the beginning until now?

Micki: Well, that was one of the things I did learn from tech was the idea of iterating your product. You know, putting something out, getting feedback, and making changes. We did online surveys, we have a really robust review system, which we can talk about, and we really do follow our customer's lead. We have a Facebook group where they tell us what products they want next and so the fit definitely changed over the first two years.

Micki: We took people's feedback and just made changes each time we put out... We started with just leggings, it's important to clarify and I had developed a really great fit before we even launched the Kickstarter we had athletes of all different sizes trying them for different activities but you still never know until you put a product out there whether it's serving your market the way you want it to, and so we received a bunch of feedback, we did surveys at various points and then each time we did a new run we would make adjustments to the fit of the leggings.

Micki: And now it's like the best, it's so good. We have everything from extra small to five XL, which for us is size zero to 30 and we have fit models all along that range, we don't just size up from a small and expect it to fit everyone. We added pockets and the pockets have become a staple brand identity for Superfit Hero and now we have lots of other products as well but the leggings were the core thing that we started with and we really did interact a lot with our customers to get it just right.

Felix: So I think when you first started I'm sure you had all these visions, these ideas for all the different types of products you wanted to offer beyond just leggings and also that you could serve way more athletes, way more sports than just with the roller derby community but you decided to really focus on one type of product and one community.

Felix: I want to talk about the importance of this realization, this approach that you took in starting with the market first. Why did you think it was important just to focus on the roller derby community even though the products that you have to offer, the leggings at the time could have been applied to any other sport?

Micki: Well I wanted to make sure that we got them, I mean the first part is really easy, I had access to the roller derby community. They're my community and this started off as a roller derby brand where I would go to roller derby events and market to the roller derby community and I'm still a part of that community, I retired three years ago and I'm still a very active part of the community but it was important to me to start within a well-defined community so that I could use that time to really hone the product and the messaging.

Micki: I mean the whole brand is born of roller derby. I mean roller derby is feminist, body-positive, queer-friendly, all these things that define the brand of Superfit Hero are really sort of inspired by that sport and my experience and my own identity-building within that sport. So it made sense for me to start there and it was a safe space for me, it was a community that I knew and trusted the brand and I think now that I'm expanding into other sports, you know we have yoga, weight lifting, CrossFit, Zumba.

Micki: We have athletes across the spectrum using our products at this point but they all share in common that body-positive ethos. That feminist ethos that for me, I found through roller derby. So that's sort of the central piece that allows us now to expand beyond that sport.

Felix: I think a lot of people when they are part of a community their fear is that they don't want to come across as someone that is now kind of spamming. So how do you bring a product, a business to a community that your part of I guess gracefully?

Micki: That's a great, great question. And my answer is so lame. It's like by being authentic. And again because it is my community I can have that conversation in a real way with other roller derby athletes but as I expand into other sports I lead with the stories of the people that are in that sport. So it's not my place to go out there and say what it's like to be a competitive weight lifter but I can create a video with Sarah Robliss, one of our sponsored athletes and let her tell her story.

Micki: It's actually one of my favorite parts of running this company is that I now have this platform that I can use to elevate other voices. Athletes that are doing other activities and that have stories to share and that so people can see themselves as these superhero athletes. So that's kind of how I'm doing it, is I'm leading with other people's stories instead of... It's not always just a product.

Micki: We don't actually do a ton of product content, we do a lot more athlete content and highlighting. We do a series called superhero Moments. So what was the thing you did this week that made you feel good about yourself? And then we share those on social media. So our content is partially about the product but it's more so about the feeling of confidence that we're trying to share with people.

Felix: Yeah, because your content is not super product-focused, it's not, you know, getting eyeballs on the product itself, it's more about stories of your ambassadors, of the influencers, these role models in your space telling their story. How does that eventually turn into a sale? What is the process behind someone that's coming and seeing your non-product-focused content for the first time and eventually becoming a customer?

Micki: Well, this is the reason why we think about it holistically. So we have a real multi-channel marketing strategy where I'm creating this inspiring content. We do videos and photos, but we also do just paid advertising on Instagram and Facebook that is product-focused and then we also have a Facebook group, which is mostly about people just sharing their stories in confidence related and fitness-related questions.

Micki: But we also do talk about product in there, and we do a lot of flash sales in there, but the real key is to get folks on our email list. So the email is our biggest converter and then we do obviously retargeting ads for people who visit the site but don't buy anything, then we'll advertise to them with the images of the products they were looking at, and that's really effective for us too.

Felix: What is the goal of the story based content?

Micki: So my sort of overall thesis for this business is, like I'm not trying to be Lululemon. I don't want to raise money, I don't want to be a billion-dollar company. I'm much more interested in building a smaller lifestyle business with a small team and a high-profit margin. And the way I do that is by building a real community of customers that are loyal to us and emotionally connected to the brand.

Micki: So we're never going to be able to compete on price. We're never going to be able to compete on scale but where we can be different is by being a brand that has a really authentic story and message and that makes people feel a certain way by interacting with us and our community.

Micki: So I keep mentioning our Facebook group, you know we have over 2,000 members, these are our most active customers, but also just people that want to participate in the body-positive fitness conversation. And a lot of those people haven't purchased from us yet and that's fine, we're building this community over time and it's part of our mission. The other thing we have going now is our body-positive fitness finder.

Micki: So this sort of grew out of my influencer program where we were sponsoring body-positive fitness trainers and yoga teachers as a way to have them promote our products to their customers and sort of just grow the community. And at a certain point, I realized, I was like, wait we have hundreds of these trainers.

Micki: We have relationships with them and then we have thousands of customers on the other side and they probably want to meet each other, so we created this online directory where anyone customer or not, can visit our site and find a trainer near them. Whether they want to lift weights, do yoga, go hiking, whatever it is, they can find somebody near them that will be a body-positive fitness person in their lives as opposed to diet culture 24 hour gym places.

Micki: And yeah that's something we don't make any money on that, it's just part of our community building but it's one of those things that I know over time will really help solidify us as the brand for this emerging body-positive fitness market.

Felix: Yeah, I think in the world that we're in, direct response ads kind of focus where you put up an ad, you drive to a product page and try to get a sale-off of that very first time your prospective customer sees you and the approach that your taking is it can kind of be really hard to measure and it requires patience right because these stories are meant to build a community, loyalty, emotionally connect with your community and these things don't happen overnight or don't happen with the first time they see you. They don't happen for a while, so how do you I guess measure the performance I guess of this kind of content and know that it will work overtime like it has been shown to, I guess that has proven to work overtime for you. How do you know that it's working?

Micki: Right, and that's a great question and with respect to the body-positive fitness finder, I don't know yet that it's working. It's just something that it just felt like the right thing to do for the mission of the brand and again it's about building those relationships. Like when we first started, finding body-positive trainers was really, really hard. They just weren't out there.

Micki: And now we're seeing more and more and more and more and more and more and we want to make sure that all of those people are connected to our brand right? So I don't know yet if that... I assume it's paying off. We don't... It's a really hard thing for us to track. I mean the things we can track obviously are email conversions, social ad conversions, what's coming through from PR and we're using all of those channels. But I am skeptical that looking at any one of those statistics is really just about that statistic right?

Micki: I mean there used to be the old adage like your customer needs to see you three or four times before they buy and now it's like 12 plus right? So who knows if they buy through the Facebook ad where they first saw us you know? It's really hard to track how many times they've seen you before then. I'm skeptical of those stats. I think you really have to be everywhere the customer is and create a holistic brand presence that they recognize, that's differentiated from other brands in the space and that creates some sort of emotional connection for them so that they feel like they want to give you their hard-earned dollars.

Felix: Right, that makes sense. So you have a couple of different places where you can track your customers. You mentioned the email, you mentioned a Facebook group, you mentioned ads, you mentioned these stories. So can you walk us through your ideal customer, your ideal community member, can you walk us through where you would like them to first see you and where you want them to eventually end up?

Micki: Yeah, I mean right now it seems like most of the people are first interacting with us through our Instagram and Facebook ads. And so those are really effective for us because obviously, we're able to target really specifically who we're looking for. We do local audiences based on people who've purchased from us before. We focus really specifically on certain sports that we know tend toward the body-positive ethos.

Felix: Sorry quick question here, are these ads the product-focused one or are they promoting the content?

Micki: These are product-focused yeah. Those are the ones that get seen the most. We do promote our less product-focused content as well but those don't obviously convert as well, like people don't click them as much. Like they'll watch them but they don't interact with them necessarily.

Micki: But even our product ads will have a little message that kind of is really clear about who we are and they're showing really diverse bodies in the ad, which is something people aren't used to seeing. So that in itself is sort of telling the story about who we are and what we care about just by virtue of who we feature in our advertising.

Micki: So that's sort of step one and then they'll come to this site and they'll read more about our story and they'll see all of our gorgeous models and be like, "Oh my God this brand speaks to me." And then the hope is they'll sign up for our email list.

Micki: Once they're in our email, we send a series of onboarding messages that introduces them to who we are, why we exist, how we're different from other brands. We sort of incentivize their first purchase with a discount. We sent them through this whole series trying to get them to make that first purchase and then we also invite them to the Facebook group.

Micki: So each step of the way invites them to engage with the brand in another way and the ideal customer is engaged with us on all those platforms. They're following us on Facebook, on Instagram, they're in our Facebook group, they're on our email. Each channel is sort of inviting customers to join the other channels and then the hope is that they're engaging with us in all those different ways.

Felix: I'm not sure you have the numbers off the top of your head but is most of the revenue coming from people that are seeing a product-focused ad and then buying or is it mostly coming more on the back end after they've been on the email list inside the community?

Micki: Email is our highest converter, it's eight percent followed by organic search and then our social ads. Organic search and social ads are about the same, that's like a five percent. And then followed by PR.

Felix: Okay, awesome. I see you have those numbers which is great. So I think this onboarding sequence that you're talking about is obviously very profitable for you and it's automated and it's almost like a robotic salesperson that's going out there and selling for you every day.

Felix: So it's an important thing for you to set up but I think it can also become a little daunting because a lot of people that might not have this might be I don't even know where to start, I don't even know what to say. So can you kind of walk us through this? Maybe starting with what is the incentive for someone to first join your list? How do you incentivize people to join your email list?

Micki: I mean it's a pretty standard operating procedure at this point. You know, somebody's browsing your site, we wait I think almost a minute before we throw a pop-up at them because I find them kind of annoying and I want to make sure they're interested in our product before we send them away by popping things up in their face. So we wait a minute before we throw the pop up but then yeah, there's a pop-up that says, "Save 10% by joining our mailing list." Because by then they're already interested. 

Felix: Have you played around with different incentives? Like is this 10% the one that won out, out of the others that you've tried?

Micki: Well, I've tried a 15% and the 10 is the same, so we went with the 10. Those are the only two that I tested to be honest but it's also part of our... it's meant to be a part of our broader campaign because, so our sponsored trainers have influencer codes that they share with their community that is 15% off your first order and we wanted that to be more than the general pop-up everybody gets, so that's kind of how we landed there.

Felix: Once they're on the list how long is this onboarding sequence? Like what are you leading with?

Micki: And we could do better here to be clear. This is something I'm working on improving right now.

Felix: Yeah, I think just a general idea of how you approach it so if someone out there doesn't have anything like this at all, like how can they get something.

Micki: Yeah. So the very first email we send is right away, it's like, "Thanks for signing up, welcome to the community, here's your 10% discount code." And then we include some information in that email about what we're trying to accomplish and why it matters. And then we follow if they don't purchase using that code we follow up the next day with a reminder.

Micki: And then a few days later we send them an invite to join the Facebook group and we tell them in the Facebook group you gain access to all these amazing conversations, flash sales, special discounts. A few days after that we tell them about the body-positive fitness finder and then let's see, on day 10 they get another reminder for the discount. And this is of course if they haven't used it.

Micki: So it's like it sort of branches off into different directions depending on their activity but if they don't purchase, every few days we'll sort of remind them. And then if they still don't use it after a month then we up the discount to 15%. To try and get them into that first purchase. And then the flow ends after 40 days, that's the sort of last chance email where we really send them the 15% and then that's the end of the welcome flow.

Felix: So you mentioned that at first, you talk about who you are, why you exist, how you're different. Did you have to... I'm assuming this is one of those things that you said that you started with an idea of who you are, why you exist and how you're different, then over time it's evolved. How did you decide what was important to talk about in that particular email to almost introduce your brand and your company, your message, your vision to your prospective customer? How did you know what to include in that email?

Micki: It's been a really organic process. I mean it's not far from where I started. But we do sort of follow our community. So the language around this movement changes over time and we need to make sure that we're moving lock-step with that. And part of that is like you can't just post content on the internet, you also have to consume it and you have to interact with people and through that interaction and by seeing which of our posts get re-posted we can really tell what messaging resonating with people.

Micki: We don't do a ton of AB testing right now. That's something I want to get into with respect to the email flows in particular because email is so huge for my business, I want to spend more time here and make sure that we're optimizing. So we're in MailChimp right now, I find AB testing kind of onerous on that platform and so we're actually about to switch.

Micki: So this is the sort of next on my list is how to get more in the weeds and technical around testing our messaging because right now it's just organic. It's like we see people reposting things, liking things, we're like okay that messaging is working but we're not using a lot of data to back that up yet.

Felix: I think that's a fine approach. I think the worst case is over-optimizing too early where you don't really have anything to work with yet and you're spending too much time making tweaks where you don't have enough data or not enough input to make the determination. So you almost have to go with your gut right to start? Qualitative.

Micki: Totally, yeah. Absolutely.

Felix: Yeah. So you mentioned the Facebook community a few times now and this is obviously very core to, this is where your community gathers, this is how they talk to each other it sounds, so what's in there? What's in the Facebook group?

Micki: So we created it initially just as a way because we realized we had customers that were really, really engaged with the brand and they would repost everything and just get really excited and we wanted a way to sort of get them connected to each other and also to the trainers.

Micki: So all of our sponsored trainers are in this group as well, so there's a lot of conversation around, we have people that ask for advice. A woman today is dealing with cancer and was asking about how do I modify certain movements and a bunch of the trainers jumped in with suggestions. We do a weekly superhero moment post.

Micki: So every Friday we ask people to share their superhero moment of the week. It could be fitness related, it could be work-related, life-related, it doesn't matter and it's just this really nice, inspiring day where people are posting things that they're proud of. The community itself has sort of started some of their own days and also on Friday is furball Friday where everyone posts photos of their pets.

Micki: It has nothing to do with Superfit Hero at all but it's like its just a way that people connect with each other and it's just become this really positive affirming safe space for people to ask questions and to be proud of their accomplishments and it's a really inspiring place.

Felix: Now when you first started a body-positive group how did you kick start it? Because I think at 2,000 like you mentioned you have, there's probably already kind of posts and engagement between members but when you first start that's probably up to you right? Or you and your team to start producing the content?

Micki: Yeah, definitely. It's a lot easier now. We used to have to kind of spark the conversation much more and so we did it by creating a schedule per week and we still do a lot of these things. So on Monday, we welcome all the new members and we ask them to answer two questions.

Micki: What is your workout or movement practice of choice? And what is your superpower? And this sparks a bunch of conversation because somebody will be like, "Oh I'm really into aerial yoga." And then someone else will be like, "Oh my God me too."

Micki: And they'll start talking about it. So that sort of gets the conversation going and then like I said, every Friday we do the superhero moment, but then we also just, we bring in our sponsored athletes and trainers to do Q & A's and sort of be the expert on weight lifting or the expert on yoga for that week.

Micki: So we do a lot of stoking the conversation again by highlighting the expertise of people within the group, not necessarily our own. And then on top of that everyone in the group gets early access to new products, we sometimes do voting like which color do you prefer? So they really get to sort of participate in the brand from a product perspective as well and people really enjoy that.

Felix: So you mentioned to us that where one of your pieces is kind of niche community marketing. So is this what you mean by that or is there something else to it?

Micki: I mean this is definitely a big part of it but yeah, you know just... For me, niche marketing is like I was saying, this sort of omnichannel approach like it's important for us to be everywhere that our customer is but we're not targeting everyone.

Micki: Niche marketing is just being really, really specific about who your customer is and also really, really specific about defining your relationship with that customer. And so I think those are the two things that we've done really well and continue to do really well even as we expand what that niche looks like.

Felix: Can you say more about that? About defining your relationship with your customers? What does that mean to you?

Micki: So what exactly is it that we're offering them? Like it's not just leggings, right? And it's not just sports bras, we're really trying to uplift our customers and make them feel like they're a part of this movement and that they're participation in fitness or movement practice matters and is worthy.

Micki: I don't think a lot of brands are thinking of their customers in that way. I think they're just thinking about the product, how to sell more product but for us it really is about... If you think about clothing, so I have no fashion background whatsoever. If you'd have told me 10 years ago I was going to be running a fashion company I would have laughed in your face.

Micki: I'm not a fashion kind of girl. It's fun, but it's not one of my passions, but I am passionate about feminism and I'm passionate about confidence in the women around me and I'm passionate about how that confidence in women help build a better world for everyone and so that's what our relationship with our customer is centered around right?

Micki: The product is amazing and I stand by it 100%, I think we have the best fitting leggings on the market no matter your size but the reason the product is amazing and fits so well is because it has to make our customers feel confident. The confidence is the main thing.

Felix: So this is super important because I think that people always talk about how important it is to be passionate, and I think a lot of times that's equated to what you're getting at, which is that people a lot of times are passionate about the product itself right? Are passionate about fashion, but you're talking about being passionate about almost like a feeling right?

Felix: Your passionate about a feeling and, which I think if you start there, it's almost harder to decide what kind of business to start because you might be passionate about feminism or feeling confident but there could be so many different products that... Or different kinds of businesses that you could start to I guess pull out that feeling.

Felix: So I want to kind of take a step back and talk about this. Like how did you work through the almost mental exercise of okay I want to... I'm passionate about people feeling confident in their bodies, passionate about feminism, and how did you walk yourself backwards to selling leggings essentially? How do you even do that?

Micki: Yeah, I mean it really started with taking stock of my resources. What kind of company do I want to build? What resources do I have access to? I live in Los Angeles, there's a huge fashion community here. We have designers, pattern makers, factories.

Micki: I knew a few people that were running ecommerce fashion brands and so I got advice really early on but there's also, the clothing if you think about it is one of the most emotional products that you interact with every day. When you get dressed in the morning your clothes, you know what you decide to put on, sort of dictates the kind of day you're going to have.

Micki: You know if you're going to have an important meeting you're going to put on something that makes you feel successful and confident. If you're going to chill out and play video games you're going to put on something more relaxed. It really depends, who do I want to be today? And your clothes are so important in that and when I realized that as I was sort of tossing around ideas, I thought about opening a gym, I thought about doing an app.

Micki: I thought about all these things and when I really thought about the things that I interact with on a daily basis with respect to my fitness practice, I kept coming back to the clothes. And I also did a lot of... I asked people, like which products are most important to you in your fitness practice?

Micki: And people always, always, always complained about their clothes. Especially plus-sized athletes. They can't find things that fit, there's no access to really premium fitness apparel for plus-sized athletes. And so like I didn't set out to do a fashion company but the further I went down the process of discovery the more I realized that was the thing that I needed to make.

Felix: And so you chose to also start with leggings specifically. Was there a reason behind that too?

Micki: Yeah, I asked which particular products are most important to your performance? So you can just throw on any regular t-shirt and still perform just as well but if your leggings are falling or drooping or rolling it distracts you from your movement practice and it makes you feel uncomfortable in your body.

Micki: If your clothes don't fit right your not going to feel right. And so leggings was initially the thing that people had the most complaints about. Leggings and sports bras and to be frank I started with leggings because they're easier.

Felix: That makes sense. When you decided to expand into other products, how did you decide what to go into next?

Micki: Well, again sports bras were the next thing everybody was complaining about. I realized we needed a top. We needed visually sets. We needed things... we needed to be able to take photos and share content of people in which they were wearing only our brand because what was happening was that we would create a bunch of content with people wearing our leggings, but we didn't have any tops or bras to complete the outfit and so they weren't all branded in our stuff.

Micki: So from a marketing perspective, we needed to make something on top. So we went to start a lighter medium impact sports bra so that we could create really cute fashionable matching sets. Which is something that again plus-sized athletes don't really have access to and so we started there, those sold really, really well.

Micki: Now that we're growing so much we have more resources, so I've hired a designer to help us so that we can put out products more frequently and so now we're going into, we're doing a warmup set. We're doing more performance tops and then we're keeping the leggings fit the same because it's perfect, but we're adding new prints and new styles, new looks so that people can have more options.

Felix: So I think you do a lot of these kinds of surveys this kind of feedback that you're getting. What are some of the important questions that you like to ask customers that have been the most useful and impactful for business decisions?

Micki: Definitely, which products are most important to your practice is a big one. So again I didn't want to start... We've done some sort of branded shirts, you know, logos and mottos and stuff, and they're okay, but it's just not what people really need. What they really need are leggings and sports bras, and so those are the things we started with. But it was important for us initially to also get this size chart right.

Micki: So sizing online is a huge challenge for clothing and especially what your selling is your confidence-inspiring fit. It's important for your size chart to be spot on right? So this is an area where we really, really listened to customer feedback so that in case something comes back from the factory, and it's running small, or it's running large, we want to be really, really specific about helping people order their correct size.

Micki: Because that's not a great experience when you're expecting something to fit amazing, and you're going to feel so confident and then you get it and then it's like too small or too big. So the size chart for us is big. And so our reviews ask that. Does it run small? Does it run big? And then we share that information back with the customer.

Felix: Well, what is the review system that you're using?

Micki: Right now we're using Loox IO, the Shopify app and the reason I went with that one is because the photos are really great and what we love about it is you can come to one of our product pages and we already use really diverse models so you can see people with different body types in our clothing but then on that same page you can see all these customer reviews and all their photos and so you can find someone that looks like you and be like, "Oh yeah that's how they're going to fit me." That's why we chose that one specifically.

Felix: Any other apps that you use to run the business?

Micki: Yeah. Loox I like a lot, they're also interesting because they integrate with the loyalty programs which I don't have installed yet but I want to. I mentioned with use MailChimp, we're moving away from them. I'm looking at Klaviyo at the moment. There's a little tiny app, hang on, let me find my, sorry I had notes for this question.

Micki: Oh yeah, there's a simple little widget that we use called Collection Filter. It's like the easiest little thing but without it, customers aren't able to search by size. So with Collection Filter customers for any product or any collection can scroll the dropdown and choose, like if you're a three XL you choose three X and it shows you all the products available in your size.

Micki: So that's a little simple one. Oh I also wanted to mention Shopify Experts, I can do a little bit of HTML, I can edit a blog but I am not a coder and I don't have one on staff. So if you need some customization done to your site or to your theme or even to an app that you've installed, Shopify Experts are amazing.

Micki: I hired a developer through Shopify Experts who has now been working for me for over two years and has changed my life. He's fast, he's easy so I highly, highly recommend Shopify Experts. And then finally I'm working with Admixed, they're my Facebook and Instagram ad platform and they post... You can find them through the Shopify app store.

Micki: They do all of our ads and all of our Facebook retargeting and this is like a huge, huge, huge, like a third of my business is from them. And they still do work with smaller brands. Most of their brands are much bigger than me but I can't recommend them enough. Again they're called Admixed.

Felix: Got it. Yeah, we'll link to all of those suggestions, appreciate that. So when you have your store, you mentioned there are customizations that you've been able to hire someone from the Shopify Experts directory for. Can you give us some examples of changes that you've made on the site either through a developer or through yourself that have had a big impact on the business?

Micki: Yeah. Again because I have this sort of internet background I think a lot about the website and how customers interact with it and their sort of journey through our brand on the website. I use Greg is his name, my Shopify Expert, so my theme has an option to, like the homepage has a really robust content system where you can add video, reviews, or you can just pull products, collections where you can pull in all these modules essentially from your site to create a really interactive robust webpage.

Micki: Your only supposed to be able to do that on the homepage but I like to have a lot of my pages this way. And in order to create more of them you need to dig into the code. So he's constantly making those pages for me especially because they'll have a tendency to slow down the site if you make too many of them and you do it incorrectly. And then the other thing we sort of manufactured ourselves was the body-positive fitness finder. And we used and app called, I think it's Store Locator to create that.

Micki: So if you go to Superfithero.com/bodypositive you can see we've created this map where you can locate trainers near you. And we used an app called Store Locator. So originally this app is made for brands that have offline locations so that people can find a store near them but we just repurposed it to find the trainers that we're partnered with. And again, Greg created this page for us where he combined the Store Finder with just essentially a blog underneath it that we use to categorize all the trainers that you can easily search based on activity.

Felix: You mentioned that the body fitness finder was a way for you to match your existing customers with the... Or non-customers can check it out too, with the trainers or your influencers. Tell us about that. What was your influencer strategy? How did you connect with all of these trainers? Partners?

Micki: Well, we decided that it made more sense for us to focus on people in the space that are really, really specifically, like share our ethos. That was more important to us than follower count. So a lot of these trainers only have 300 followers, like we're not really making a choice based on how big they are, instead, we're just trying to get everyone who's telling this story we want them to be a part of our community.

Micki: So from the beginning that's been our process. We've tried a lot of things with influencers. You know we send free product out, we try to get reviews, we still do some of that but we found that a lot of the more fashion-oriented influencers, we weren't getting the same response as the people that are really, really focused on body-positive fitness specifically. Like it just as a brand it made more sense to partner with people that were a better fit with respect to messaging than just because they have a bunch of followers.

Micki: And so that's sort of what sent us down this path initially and you know a lot of the bigger brands, they'll do this, you know the yoga brands will sponsor yoga teachers where it just essentially means yoga teachers get a discount on their stuff because obviously, you want the teacher in front of the class to be wearing your brand right? So that's not a new idea but we're just focused on a very specific type of trainer.

Felix: Makes sense. Awesome, so SuperfitHero.com is their website. I'll leave you with this last question. What was the biggest lesson that you learned last year that you are applying for this year?

Micki: Oh, it's all about putting products out more frequently. Like 100%. When I put new stuff out we make money. When we don't, we don't. It really is, you know you hear the whole thing about 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers is totally, totally true. And in order to enable that you have to keep putting out new products for those 20% to keep supporting you.

Felix: Yeah, that's super insightful so what are you doing to speed up the process of product development and launching new products?

Micki: Well, I'm trying to get on a schedule now where we're putting out something new every six weeks. So I've hired a designer to help us do that. I'm basically a one-woman show, I have one full-time employee and a bunch of contractors, and so it was important for me to hire someone in that role so that just to make sure it's getting the attention it needs so that we can move as fast as we can. So yeah I hired a designer who's working directly with our factory to get stuff out more frequently.

Felix: Awesome makes sense and lots of new things to look out for. All right, SuperfitHero.com. Again thank you so much for your time Micki.

Micki: Oh thank you this has been a really fun conversation. 

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