How Abi from Red Hand Gang has built her brand
Red Hand Gang is a small Oxford-based brand run by Abi Simmons who designs, creates and sells cute and practical pieces of kids’ room decor on Folksy. With an incredibly popular Instagram page, constant demand for her hand-painted kids’ hangers and new products about to launch into the wild, her creative business is going from strength to strength.
In this article Abi, founder, owner and general doer-of-everything at Red Hand Gang talks to Phil from Folksy partner Packhelp about how she got the brand to where it is, the challenges she faces and the joy she gets from doing what she loves. You’ll also find tips and hints about how a small craft business like yours can implement her advice to grow your brand. So let’s see what makes Red Hand Gang tick!
Q. Hey Abi, thanks for chatting with me about your beautiful brand and its adorable products. Your branding is cute, minimalist and memorable. How did you decide on your brand’s logo, colours, imagery etc?
A. Hey Phil, thanks for having me! I have a few elements that I consider to be the cornerstones of the Red Hand Gang style that helped me decide on my branding scheme. Red Hand Gang is all about bold colours, pared-back but fun design and child-focused design. So I spent a lot of time playing around with simple sans-serif fonts, colour combinations and my illustrations until I really honed in on those core ideas and had the essence of the brand in a few shapes and colours.
Main Takeaway: Invest in your branding.
- Abi knows that her ‘customers’ are kids, so her branding is appealing to kids and their parents.
- Branding your business in a manner that also appeals to your audience presents a professional, well-organised brand to your customers.
- While your business may only exist in your spare bedroom or basement, it’s the way it presents itself to the world that will stay in the minds of your customers.
Q. Your branding goes incredibly well with your products. Was that a coincidence or is it something that you consciously paid attention to?
A. Thank you! It was definitely a conscious decision to have an over-arching Red Hand Gang aesthetic that runs through from branding to product to packaging. I am very clear with myself about what that aesthetic looks like and what it doesn’t look like. Colour blocking and minimalist bold design is Red Hand Gang through and through.
Main Takeaway: Make your product part of your branding and visa versa.
- Red Hand Gang products feature only a handful of colours and very specific shapes and patterns. These colours and shapes are echoed on the brand’s logo and even the custom packaging that the products are shipped in.
- Furthermore, all the imagery on the Red Hand Gang shop and social media pages use the same colours, shapes and patterns.
- By having consistent branding at every point where your customer sees your brand, you don’t just sell them a product, you deliver them an experience.
- Above, you can see the banner on the Red Hand Gang store at Folksy, and below, you can see a screenshot of the Red Hand Gang website. Notice the consistent colours, shapes and imagery – you know you’re looking at the same brand, just in different places.
Q. So you’ve got your great product, your top-notch branding, how to get your name out there?
A. That is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? I think there a few essentials when it comes to building your presence and getting your name out there:
- Firstly, shout about your product and do that consistently – whether it’s showing up on social media and telling anyone who will listen your story, sending out newsletters with special subscriber offers or connecting in real life with your customers, it’s so important to be there, be available and be connected – you can’t grow in isolation.
- Secondly, customers are king and queen. Never underestimate the power of impeccable customer service. Not only is it nice to be nice to people but also customers will only tell their friends and family about you if they have had a great experience with you.
- Thirdly, never stop learning! Listen to the latest podcasts for social media tips and read all the blogs about how to navigate the world of retail. I happen to know that Packhelp and Folksy have excellent blogs full of advice for small businesses!
Main Takeaway: Educate yourself about ecommerce marketing.
Having a Folksy shop is a great start but the old adage of ‘build it and they will come’ simply doesn’t ring true in the world of online selling any more. You have to put in the work. Taking some time, perhaps a few hours a week, to educate yourself about ecommerce and digital marketing, will really help you grow your visibility and your sales exponentially.
Some topics to educate yourself on:
- Social media marketing
- Add value and delight your customers
- The basics of ecommerce SEO
- How to write a listing that gets seen in search results
- How to get featured in Christmas gift guides
- How to secure more press coverage for your brand
- the essentials of selling craft online
Abi also creates some ‘behind the scenes’ content on her website and on her social channels to show that she truly is a small brand, as you can see above. Simple images and a basic ‘about us’ page (read tips for writing a good About page here and here) like this make her potential customer feel more emotionally attached to the brand. Abi’s customers don’t just buy her product, they buy a little piece of something bigger.
Q. Competition in the world of hand-made crafts is fierce. What do you do that’s different? How do you stand out?
A. There are certainly a lot of great businesses out there all vying for attention. For me, there are a couple of things that have helped me get noticed. I found that having a central product that is very niche in the crowded world of kid’s decor has helped me stand out. Also, I have a consistent style; it doesn’t constantly shift to fit with the trends. This can be a risky strategy when people are always looking for something new and trendy, but customers know what they are getting when they come to me and if you like the bold, minimalist look for kids room décor, then I am your girl!
Main Takeaway: Establish yourself as an authority in your niche.
That sounds a little intense, right? Well, when people see you as an expert, they trust you. And when they trust you, they’re more likely to buy from you. In Abi’s case, she establishes authority through consistency. She doesn’t give into trends or do something just because other people are. This means that in the busy world of kids’ bedroom decor, she stands out. Red Hand Gang has built trust by doing a small number of things perfectly, rather than lots of little things adequately.
Read more about why being niche is good here.
Q. You recently designed your own custom packaging for Red Hand Gang. What role does a custom box play for you and your customer?
A. I think custom packaging is the icing on the cake for a product-based business like mine. As a small company, it’s so exciting to be able to get beautiful packaging made that doesn’t need a minimum order of 10,000 boxes! This just wasn’t possible a few years ago. It can totally transform how a product is received and really set it apart from the competition. The impact good packaging has on a customer shouldn’t be underestimated – I have certainly bought a product because the packaging alone was too beautiful to walk away from and I know I’m not alone in doing that!
I love that the box with my illustrations printed on is a fun surprise for the customer to receive. And if the customer loves the product and packaging so much that they want to talk about it and maybe post a picture to social media, then that’s great too!
Main Takeaway: Blow your customers’ mind to make them remember you.
You put a lot of time and effort into creating and selling your products. So when you do get that sale, it’s a bit exciting – and you want to make sure that your customer is just as excited to receive their product as you were when it was sold. So why not build on that excitement before your customer even holds your product?
Custom packaging adds to that excitement as soon as your customer has the box in their hands. Just like the excitement of opening Christmas presents as a kid, a quality box builds the anticipation. It gives your product and brand extra value the customer didn’t think they’d get, and it sets the stage from the first time that your customer physically comes into contact with their purchase.
If you’re interested in using custom packaging for your Folksy shop click here to learn more about the partnership between Folksy and Packhelp.
Q. We’re in September now, but before you know it, it’ll be Christmas time. Does the holiday season impact your brand at all? How do you prepare, manage and navigate this time of the year?
A. This is definitely my busiest time of year. As a business that hand makes all of the products, I can’t make big batches of products because I don’t know what’s going to be bought. What I can do is prep, so August and September are all about organising and ordering in core materials and packaging. But it is tricky. For me, it’s a fine balancing act between buying in the right amount of core materials to make all the orders but not over-ordering, so that at the end of the festive period I have a healthy profit.
The other thing I do that makes a big difference is that from October I will get a member of staff in for packaging all the orders. It’s a very time-consuming part of the job and although I love boxing everything up and writing cards to customers, it’s something someone else can do, so I can get on and screen print the products or sew.
Main Takeaway: Prepare and plan for Christmas four months early!
The best way to navigate the traditionally heavy ecommerce holiday season is to plan in advance. As Abi says, order raw materials ahead of time and consider getting in some help if you need it.
But September is also a great time to plan your Christmas marketing efforts. It’s around mid-October that people start looking for Christmas gifts, so that’s the worst time to start thinking about promoting your brand. Get on it now!
How can you get your brand name more exposure for hungry Christmas shoppers? Here are some ideas:
- Don’t just discount – find other ways to attract customers, like free shipping or a gift.
- Work with complementary companies – for example, maybe Abi could team up with a kids’ handmade clothing company and share their audiences.
- Work with a charity and donate a certain percentage of your season’s sales.
These are just a handful of ideas that can help take your brand to the next level. Check out this article jam packed full of other Christmas marketing ideas for more inspiration – as well as this article on the Folksy blog.
Q. Red Hand gang seems to be going from strength to strength. What do the next 12 months hold for you?
A. Well without giving too much away, my illustrations will be featuring more next year and with them an exciting new range of designs.
Abi clearly isn’t giving too much away in this last question and with good reason! Her small brand is going from strength to strength, growing and evolving. She’s creating products that enrich the lives of kids and bring a little more happiness into their bedroom.
If your brand is chasing wins similar to those of Red Hand Gang, it’s completely within your reach. No matter the size of your brand, where you operate or your technical knowledge, your brand can create its own success.
As you read earlier, spending some time to educate yourself about ecommerce, digital marketing and customer happiness can really pay off. By learning even the basics, you’ll be able to take your name to a bigger number of people, get their attention and increase your likelihood of a purchase.
Folksy sellers get 10% off custom packaging
Packhelp is a partner of Folksy, offering everything your small craft brand needs to create custom packaging. Design your own packaging with your brand’s logo, order as little as 30 pieces and have your boxes delivered to your UK address for free. Use this link and as a Folksy customer, you’ll enjoy 10% your first order!
Read more about the offer here – https://blog.folksy.com/2018/12/06/packaging-offer