Growing a Creative Business Through eCommerce

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For many creatives, business acumen does not come naturally. They might create some of the most intriguing art, but their business will struggle if they don’t market it well. Stacie Bloomfield, the founder of Gingiber, is an exception.

Stacie was pregnant with her first child, but she and her husband could not afford to decorate a nursery. Drawing from her artistic passions, she created all of the artwork for the walls herself.

Her husband encouraged her to sell her artwork on Etsy, and so Gingiber was conceived.

Etsy was new, and Stacie capitalized on what became a booming market. Blogs began to feature her work, and sales started to pile up.

“At the time, if you got featured on a blog, it was sales. And I remember I would all of the sudden start seeing all these orders come in, and I would know a blog picked me up, it featured me. So I kind of got an inkling after about three years that I have something happening.” (5:05)

Boutiques emerged, asking to put her products in their stores, and she began licensing her work for more prominent brands to use. But through the whole process, Stacie hadn’t established a plan. A money-saving home decor project had turned into a full-time job, and Stacie didn’t know where she was headed.

“[I] started out as a nursery decor company, and accidentally built a wholesale and licensing brand of my business – really, accidentally…I was kind of flying by the seat of my pants for everything.” (6:36)

Etsy went public, blogging began to shift, and all of the free traffic being sent to Stacie’s Etsy store disappeared.

“All the sudden, all of my free traffic that was coming in and free publicity was gone, and I felt it. I felt the sales changing. In year five, I decided to take my business a bit more seriously.” (7:15)

It was here that Stacie realized she had pigeonholed herself. She had an incredibly successful Etsy store, but she had no way to retarget her previous customers. Her customers’ LTV was entirely out of her hands.

“I had like 20,000 customers who had purchased from me on Etsy, and I could not retarget them – I could not contact them directly. It was against the terms of service. So what was I supposed to do? I had no way to get that customer base to follow me wherever I was going…How am I going to get in front of my ideal customer now?” (8:13)

Stacie and her sister took a trip to figure out what the next move would be. They spent the weekend mapping out an entire business plan for Gingiber. How are they going to prioritize the website? What is the new inventory management system?

They would fully evolve an Etsy shop into an eCommerce brand.

They had scaled slowly, and Stacie preferred that. It was easier to plan for and anticipate. After transitioning from Etsy to her website, Stacie knew it was time to go all in.

She’d identify her ideal customer and market directly to them. Make the art they want, target them with ads, push them to her website, and then retarget them.

“If I’m going to spend money on marketing, I want to spend it to get people to [my website]. And we needed to have a more focused plan of attack for how we were going to grow wholesale, because wholesale just meant we were moving so many more units of product at once.” (10:19)

Earlier in her career, advertising through Facebook, Instagram, and Google Ads had intimidated her. She’d heard that she needed to spend thousands of dollars to see any return, and she couldn’t justify it. Now was the time.

“We started investing in actual advertising with Facebook and Instagram ads and Google Marketing ads, and that really saw a ton of growth in our business.” (13:02)

The advertising paid off. Stacie saw the success she’d heard about, and she regretted not taking the leap earlier.

“Now that we’ve actually made the investment [in paid social ads], spent the money, and we’ve seen the return, I wish we’d done it sooner. Because we’ve just been able to retarget everybody that we need to retarget and find our ideal audience better that way.” (13:39)

While she had preferred slow growth earlier in her career, paid social ads turned out to be a key piece in pushing her business to the next level.

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