Hey guys, welcome to the second interview in my small business tips series. The topic for this post is working with influencers. I interviewed Molly of Made by Molly who has had incredible success in this area, to ask for her main tips. Working with influencers is definitely something that can work wonders for your brand growth but I've seen a lot of people express doubts about whether it's worth it, how best to go about it etc. In this post I have compiled all of Molly's advice that will answer these questions. Molly saw her brand grow from 500 to 2000 followers in a matter of days after working with @lovevie, and has also worked with the likes of @oliviagraceherring, @bigfatjenna etc. She touches on some other points such as her brand journey, future goals, and being ripped off by Aliexpress - a growing problem in the small business community. Enjoy the interview and let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Hey Molly, thank you so much for taking part in my mini interview series! Could you briefly introduce yourself and Made By Molly, and tell us a little about your journey so far?
Hey, I’m Molly! I run a small crochet business on Instagram. I’m currently studying a masters in science communication, but crochet whenever I can, and so in February this year I decided to set up an account on Instagram for what I was making, not expecting it to go anywhere, but I’ve been so fortunate that so many people have taken an interest.
I’m so in awe of anyone who knows how to crochet, is it something you’ve been doing for a while or did you pick it up in lockdown?
I learnt how to crochet about 10 years ago, but hadn’t really picked up a crochet hook for a couple of years until lockdown when I got back into the habit. I had a lot more time to be creative and fell back in love with it.
I think I followed you just before your business took off – I was so lucky to get my order in in time as it blew up pretty much overnight! Would you say that working with influencers has been a successful strategy for you in that regard?
Yes you were one of my first customers! My sister mentioned when I started my Instagram that I should message a few influencers and see if they’d be interested in a collab, and was so excited when lovevie responded. I think I went from 500 followers to 2000 in a matter of days, which was crazy, and then it grew from there. I think once one influencer wears something, others jump on board; I got quite a few messages from people who I then went on to collab with. For any small business I’d definitely recommend reaching out to a few influencers to help boost your following.
Do you have any tips about how to reach out to influencers? Would you say it’s best to contact them in advance via DM or email, or to send your items straight to their P.O box?
I think it’s definitely best to contact an influencer in advance. I first got in contact with lovevie through DM and she then let me know what she wanted and where to send it.
I've seen some small businesses express worries about whether it’s worth it to work with influencers, especially for products that are super costly or take a long time to make; has your experience been broadly positive in this regard?
It’s important to remember to balance sending out to influencers and making sure you are still profiting. I’ve been messaged by quite a few influencers and often they are really understanding if I say I don’t have the time and money to Collab, however, I have then offered a spot on my commissions list if they’d like to make a order, which a couple of people have. In general, working with influencers has been positive for my business, but no one should feel pressure to do the same, or send out items to anyone that asks.
I can imagine it’s also really important to pick the right influencers, who compliment your brand, have a following who are likely to love your products etc. How did you go about choosing who to send things to?
I chose to send items to influencers who post predominantly about fashion for young women, because this is my target audience. I think now I chose to send to influencers with a certain amount of followers, so that is worth it for me.
Both @lovevie and @oliviagraceherring posted on Instagram in your tops! Was this a surprise to you or was this agreed beforehand? How did it feel to see them making content in your clothes?
It was really exciting to see my tops on both @lovevie and @oliviagraceherrings Instagrams, I’d hoped they would wear it, but we hadn’t spoken about that beforehand so it depended on whether they liked the top or not once they had it! Its really cool to see how much everyone has loved what I’ve been making, it can be quite daunting putting content out into such a massive domain but I was so happy to see the response the tops got after the influencers posted in them.
So far, what has been the biggest highlight to you in running Made By Molly? And the biggest difficulty?
Definitely the biggest highlight has been interacting with my customers, I’ve had so many lovely messages about orders and it really makes it feel personal. I’ve learnt a lot about running a small business and the work that goes into it, and have a new appreciation for anyone that does it. I also love having an excuse to crochet all the time!
The biggest challenge so far has been fast fashion companies like aliexpress stealing my designs and photos. It’s made me so angry, there is such a blatant disregard for the ethics involved, and its so sad to think that someone out there is spending hours on a copy of my top and being paid next to nothing to make it. However, it’s been great to see how many people recognise how wrong this is, especially with the current movement away from fast fashion to support small, sustainable businesses.
And finally, where would you love to see Made By Molly go in future? Do you have any particular plans/dreams?
I’d love to expand the business after I finish university, not sure how I’d go about that yet but it would be amazing! Hopefully I’ll have time soon to work on some of the ideas I have for new designs.
Thank you for taking the time to read Molly's interview, I hope you found it useful! Let me know if there's any other specific tips you'd like to see in future, I still have a couple more interviews to come. I'll put Molly's links below: