How A Luxury Hoodie Company Inspired By A Newborn Builds Product Launch Suspense & Uses Rewards To Retain 50% Of Its Customers

How A Luxury Hoodie Company Inspired By A Newborn Builds Product Launch Suspense & Uses Rewards To Retain 50% Of Its Customers

Amy Miraflor felt inadequate as a budget-conscious stay at home mom...

But when she decided to quit her job as a fourth grade teacher to become a homemaker, money became extremely tight. Then she noticed other mothers easily sewing all kinds of garments for their families to save money.

The problem?

It seemed like everyone could sew but Miraflor.

So Miraflor borrowed her mother's sewing machine and she taught herself how to thread and operate a sewing machine with help from her mother-in-law, a professional seamstress. Miraflor, who also maintained a family blog at the time, showed off some pictures of the hoodies she had sewn for her family’s vacation to Disney World.

Immediately, people began asking if they could purchase the hoodies.

“I put a PayPal link on my blog and sold fifteen hoodies in a half hour,” Miraflor recalls. “That’s the day my business was born.”

But the business needed a name…

Turns out Miraflor’s first born, Jacob, would provide his mother exactly what she needed- even if it was by accident.

“Is that Evy’s tree, mama,” asked Jacob when he noticed his mother sewing a hoodie with an owl face on the chest. Evy is short for Evelyn, the Miraflors’ second child, and the hoodie reminded Jacob of Evy’s bedroom wall which was painted with an owl sitting on a tree branch. Here’s the post introducing Amy’s new business on Etsy at the time, Evy’s Tree, to the world.

The name stuck….

But as Evy’s Tree began selling high end hoodies to women around the world out of Miraflor’s garage, the company ran into a major problem…

Since Miraflor was still a beginning seamstress, she couldn’t sew fast enough to keep up with demand.

Hoodies That Come With Names

Turns out pre-schools are great places to find top notch employees…

Or at least that’s where Miraflor initially met several of the women who would later become employees at Evy’s Tree; their children happened to attend the same school.

“Amy is amazing,” says Samantha Donohue, the IT expert at Evy’s Tree and one of the employees who met Miraflor at the pre-school. “These aren’t just ordinary hoodies. They’re made to help women feel special and beautiful.”

Each is named after a woman…

And each comes with a story about that woman and why she’s so inspiring.

“Each of our hoodies has a meaning and a purpose,” Miraflor says. “We want women to feel like a million dollars when they put on one of our hoodies and know they belong to a community of women all over the world.”

But building that community required a big leap…

Evy’s Tree, which until a few years ago operated out of Miraflor’s garage, had to begin mass producing its hoodies to meet demand. She spent almost two years searching for factories that would produce quality hoodies that felt like luxury. Finally, in the fall of 2013, she received her first mass produced line. Today, the company produces what it calls luxury pieces sourced from high end fabrics from around the world.

While the brand story has been key in attracting an extremely loyal customer base…

The company’s unique product launch strategy is also a key differentiator. “No one is searching Google for luxury hoodies,” Donohue says with a laugh. “It’s why we tell a story with each hoodie while simultaneously building suspense for its launch.”

Instead of simply offering new products for sale on its site, Evy’s tree works in advance to build anticipation and prime customers; think of a two week marketing blitz that invites customers to pre-order and capped off by the equivalent of a flash sale.

Here’s the formula and how it works:

  • A new hoodie inspired by a real woman is named, created, and topped with a story about why that woman is an inspiration
  • Evy’s Tree doesn’t immediately offer the hoodie for sale. Instead, it launches a sneak peek three days prior to the release. It slowly introduces the hoodie and tells the story behind the hoodie via its Facebook and Instagram channels
  • On launch day, Evy’s Tree sends out an email to its VIP email list letting everyone know the item is finally for sale and includes a link to a dedicated product landing page
  • Preorders are taken, with a delivery date somewhere between 2-4 weeks from the preorder date

As a recent example, here’s the “Diana” wrap being introduced, the VIP email announcement, and a giveaway coinciding with its launch.

“We build a lot of suspense prior to offering each product for sale,” Donohue says. “Since the hoodies are special we want to offer a luxury experience as well.”

Evy’s Tree launches 5-6 products like this per month…

It’s akin to a brick & mortar Black Friday event in which customers who have been waiting impatiently outside overnight are finally allowed to burst through the doors and purchase what they’ve been longing for.

But with the intense surge in demand comes a silent threat…

The company’s site needs to be just as special as its hoodies to handle the spikes in traffic.

Scripts + Rewards = Radical Retention

Evy’s Tree is undoubtedly a hit with women around the world…

The company has doubled and tripled year over year sales thanks, in part, to the suspense it builds prior to product launches. Having a reliable site that can handle the traffic spikes that come with each launch is crucial.

“When a product goes live hundreds of customers immediately begin ordering at the same time,” Donohue says. “If our site crashes that’d be really bad because we’re committed to offering a luxury experience with the minimal number of clicks necessary to checkout.”

It’s why Evy’s Tree upgraded to Shopify Plus, an enterprise ecommerce platform for high volume merchants who require a platform that can scale on demand. “Shopify Plus has been a great move for us,” Donohue says. “Reliability is super important to us and we know we can count on Shopify when we launch a product.”

Besides a customized checkout that Evy’s Tree says allows it to retain its branding throughout the customer journey, the company credits Shopify Scripts with helping the company offer promotions that have yielded increased average order values.

“We use scripts to offer a variety of discounts and to repackage our pricing and merchandise,” Donohue says. “Being able to offer different discounts allows us to pinpoint emotional triggers that lead to more sales.”

Separately, Evy’s Tree says Scripts, which are implemented by the developers over at Disco Labs, also significantly improves the customer experience as well. Instead of offering discount codes that can be difficult for mobile customers to enter, Evy’s Tree uses Scripts to automatically calculate and apply discounts at the checkout.

“It’s a win for us and the customer,” Donohue says.

Remember, Evy’s Tree is focused on reducing the number of clicks it takes to checkout. Evy’s Tree uses Scripts to automatically calculate discounts in real time instead of asking customers to enter a discount code. This removes two clicks- and potentially a lot of frustration for the 75% of Evy’s Tree customers accessing the site on a mobile phone- from the checkout process.

Just as important, according to Evy’s Tree, is that Scripts can be used in tandem with Sweet Tooth Rewards, which powers Evy’s loyalty program. Specifically, Sweet Tooth helps merchants earn loyalty via the Shopify Plus platform by offering program participants flexible choices when it comes to redeeming their points including:

  • Customers may redeem points for an additional product discount
  • Customers may redeem points for free shipping

“Shipping is high priority for many customers but can be really expensive for merchants,” says Alex McEachern, a Loyalty Marketing Specialist at Sweet Tooth. “Rewards diversity is huge. Not only does allowing customers to choose how they’d like to redeem their points communicate that the merchant respects and values the customer, but it also positions brands to better compete with Amazon Prime.”

The results of integrating rewards and discounts at the checkout?

  • Evy Tree’s retention rate, or the number of customers making more than one purchase, is over 50%
  • Many merchants see repeat customer rates around 15%, according to Sweet Tooth

“Sweet Tooth has played a huge role in our customer retention efforts,” Donohue says. “Our products are not cheap and Sweet Tooth offers the incentives necessary to convince customers to purchase our hoodies more often.”

The results Sweet Tooth has helped Evy’s Tree achieve are impressive…

But there’s another part of this story that’s even sweeter- honey.

The Mommy & Me Market

Customers are worried about Evy’s Tree…

If the company continues to double and triple in size some customers have wondered aloud whether Evy’s tree will still be able to provide the same level of customer service. Rest assured though, the company’s size may change, but its commitment to improving the customer experience won’t.

“Customer satisfaction will always be at the top of our list,” Donohue says. “We will always strive to offer a luxury experience.”

In fact, it’s a priority that will guide all Evy’s Tree does going forward. Though Donohue was sparse in terms of dropping hints about the future, she did tell us Evy’s Tree will soon expand into new areas and may even consider alternative sales options such as subscriptions or exclusive clubs for customers willing to pay an annual membership fee.

Recently, the company introduced a girl’s line of hoodies under the name Honey by Evy’s Trees. It’s a different storefront but powered by the same back end as the parent company. “We want to capture the mommy and me market with Honey,” Donohue says.

The new line’s name may not have been inspired by a newborn...

But it’s just as sweet.

About the Author

Nick Winkler is a contributor to the Shopify Plus blog & founder of The Winkler Group, a strategic communications firm that provides content marketing services to the world's best know brands, businesses, and marketers. Get more from Nick here.

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