In this installment of the Spoonflower Small Business Handbook, we’re joined by Alexis Lozada, founder of Little Nature Lover™, an eco-friendly, organic children’s apparel company inspired by her two boys and the love of nature her family shares. We’re going ‘behind the brand’ to learn how Alexis integrated her personal ethos into the heart of her company to create an authentic business model that earned her an invitation inside Pottery Barn Baby.
Get to know more about Alexis and her brand below or jump ahead to learn how she scored her dream client and the tips that will help your business succeed, too!
Alexis: Little Nature Lover is an eco-friendly, organic apparel company I founded while on a quest for high-quality yet stylish, organic clothing for my own sons. My brand is based on my lifestyle and aligns with causes I am truly passionate about. This authenticity is one of the things that really sets Little Nature Lover apart and resonates with my intended audience. I actually live my brand as I have always had a love for the outdoors and Mother Nature. My husband and I are lifelong equestrians, and my whole family and I really do live a nature-friendly lifestyle.
What inspired you to create Little Nature Lover?
Motherhood and a love for Mother Nature have always been the main sources of inspiration for the Little Nature Lover brand. I wanted to ensure that my sons’, as well as other babies’ first contact, after a parent’s loving embrace, was as safe and natural as possible. A healthy lifestyle has always been of utmost importance to me and I ensure that my products reflect that. I am drawn to creative pursuits and my business is a way for me to channel my passion for being creative.
How does Spoonflower meet your business needs?
Spoonflower is an eco-friendly company that aligns with my ideals and aesthetic. It is definitely a must for me when I collaborate with other businesses that they are producing a commodity that I am proud to affix my Little Nature Lover logo to. The unbelievably soft, organic fabric and the premium quality printing, coupled with the ability to purchase bulk fabric with reliable shipping and processing times, are all factors that truly make Spoonflower stand out.
What’s next for your brand?
My goal for Little Nature Lover is to continue to educate customers about the important impact of purchasing organic, eco-friendly apparel. I plan to broaden my platform by engaging in new partnerships via my sales channels. I am currently utilizing Shopify, Etsy, various social media outlets, in-store and online pop-up shops, as well as Amazon and my wholesale offerings.
Alexis’s Tips for Developing an Authentic Business Model and Scoring Your Dream Client
Tip 1: Personal Ethos
When your company is based on your lifestyle and aligns with things you are truly passionate about, this authenticity will resonate with your intended audience. I actually live my brand as I have always had a love for the outdoors. I am a lifelong equestrian and my family and I really do live a nature-friendly lifestyle!
I am aware of my intended audience, nature-loving, eco-conscious consumers, and it is easy for me to appeal to my target audience because we value similar concepts when making a purchase such as high-quality, organic products that are environmentally friendly and feature enchanting designs.
Tip 2: First Impressions
First impressions are paramount to setting your brand apart. I want moms to be blown away before they have even finished opening my exquisite packaging. I use eco-friendly, yet appealing materials to package and brand my apparel. The hangtags I use for all of my products consist of my logo printed on biodegradable paper. I affix the tags with charming, mini wooden clothespins and rustic twine. A thoughtful touch that sets my brand apart, is that with every purchase, a customer receives a large postcard and a magnet branded with my logo and all of my contact information.
Something that really helps my company stand out is that instead of a retractable sign, I commissioned a large standee (pictured below) of my story. Not only is the standee eye-catching, but many customers emotionally connect with this unique version of my story. Many mamas even take photos with it! My distinctive and unique branding is actually one of the reasons Little Nature Lover caught the eye of Pottery Barn Kids, and this led to an on-going, pop-up shop with Pottery Barn Kids.
Tip 3: In-Store Pop-Ups
In-store pop-ups are very different from handmade markets and expo events. At expos and markets, there are many vendors. At in-store pop-ups, the spotlight is only on your brand. Engagement with store employees is a must. They need to learn about your product and what you are offering to their customers. A great first impression can lead to lasting future success. Some tips for a successful in-store pop-up include:
- Store Demographic: Consider the customer that frequents the type of store you are considering a collaboration with. Is the customer the type you would normally market to? If not, is it someone that would find your brand/product appealing? It is important to make choices that align with the aesthetic of your business and can help get you the exposure you are looking for.
- Customer Engagement: In an in-store pop-up scenario, you and your company have the spotlight. It is important to make a good first impression and also a lasting final impression. My successful in-store pop-ups have enabled me to be able to grow my physical and online customer base. Customers have stopped by the store after I left and asked when my company will be returning. Customers anticipate my next pop-up event and can’t wait to attend and make a purchase.
While an in-store pop up may not be your first thought during a pandemic, this is a great time to start making connections for future pop-ups.
Tip 4: Consistency
I receive much of my inspiration from nature’s neutral, soothing palette. I draw inspiration from the colors you see on sandy beaches during a fun family beach day as well as the varying shades of flora and fauna present during a relaxing family picnic. I have a background in Fine Arts, and this has lent itself well to being able to create enchanting and appealing designs of my own as well as collaborating with other talented artisans.
I keep the neutral palette and Mother Nature/Motherhood theme consistent across all of my platforms including my Etsy shop and my website. I also utilize the theme in all of my packaging and branding. My customers know my personal beliefs are consistent with my brand and products.
Tip 5: Quality
The exceptional quality of my products is another major factor that really made my brand stand out to Pottery Barn Kids. I am able to achieve such a high-quality product because of the cohesive team I have assembled, most of whom are mothers themselves! I tell my team to never rush a product or job. Rushing causes stress and stress can lead to a subpar result. An important tenet of my business is quality over quantity. The end result of this attention to detail is a premium product that customers appreciate and value. I am extremely conscientious when it comes to the final product. I am personally involved in every aspect of the production process from the selection of the unbelievably soft 100% organic cotton material to the creation of a clothing flat lay. This makes people feel good about purchasing a high-quality product from a maker and a brand, whose beliefs are consistent with their own.
We hope Alexis’s tips have helped you think more about your business model. For even more advice for your small business, be sure to read other Small Business Handbook articles. From product photography to demystifying social media, find out how other Spoonflower Makers are succeeding.