There's been a lot of learning curves since I started last year. The business is constantly evolving from the original idea I had. The DNA of muklet hasn't changed, it's still 'Americana & Vintage for Kids', and now it has the addition of 'big kids' products! But the way I sell it, talk about it and market it is evolving.
I confess to not yet having had any formal training in the ever changing beast that is social media. There's been a lot of trial and error, a lot of following every Tom, Dick and Harry that looked vaguely interesting or relevant, and watching, and learning what the good ones do.
I'm still such a way off cracking it, but I think I'm figuring out what kinda tribe I want to be part of, and therefore how I market muklet through particularly Instagram and this blog. I talk about tribes, because my brain likes to group things together in order to navigate and process a lot of information. I think this may be a trait I picked up working in the fashion world. When you design for a brand you are obviously thinking about your end customer. You attempt to get in the end customer's head and try to immerse yourself in their world (be that real, imaginary or a bit of both!)! Here's some of my initial observations of the Insta-Kid & Mommy Blogger world (read with tongue firmly lodged in cheek!):
The Scandi Monochrome Kids. Bold, highly stylish small people dressed in bold monochrome prints. There will also often be shots of a highly curated and styled bedroom also in monochrome with high lights of beachwood scandi toys. Should one of my muklets be let loose on one of these rooms in a white based outfit it would take them 0.2 seconds to trash it all!
The Crafty Etsy Kids. Mum has painstakingly spent hours creating a wonderful keepsake gift. So beautiful that it probably shouldn't be worn or played with, just put on a shelf and admired!
The insanely expensive outfit Kids. Dressed head to toe in mini versions of the brands found on Sloane Street. Child is a walking beacon of how rich and exclusive Mommy and Daddy are. If Mommy features in the photos she is perfectly made up, a size 8, and wearing an immaculate outfit and killer heels.
'My Mommy's a blogger' Kids. Mostly shot standing next to mum, in front of a wall or corrugated shutter. Both dress in a new outfit every other day. Signature poses include pointing, standing on one leg, holding hands, starfish stance. Mommy should preferably rock some fierce lippy.
The editorial Kid. An outfit so cool you want to steal it and attempt to squeeze into it yourself. Often photographed looked cool, cute & slightly aloof in a 'Tim Walker' style setting. Essemble themes may include; mini Mumford & sons, eco-forest folky irreverance.
The Urban street style kid. Oft shot with a brick wall or garage door in the background. Witty slogans adorn t-shirts and sweatshirts. The latest limited edition Kids sneakers are also key.
You're told time and again to separate your social media channels and work with them differently, but for me I think Instagram and blogging often go hand in hand. They can tell the same story, just in a more visual or literate way.
I've obviously been looking at comparative Childrenswear brands, and observing how they market themselves particularly through Instagram. For the most part they are all beautiful, probably professionally shot images, beautifully curated. They are aspirational, inspirational, and just generally lovely to look at. Now my instagram feed how ever is shot by a rookie Iphone 6 user, rather randomly, blinding hashtagging the heck out of an image to try and put myself in front of the right eyes! Well, to be fair to my amateur self I think I'm getting better... maybe! I'm trying to stay on brand, not go too off topic, and really think about what my audience might actually like to see.
I've been told it's also getting a balance - so not too many self promoting 'sales' driving shots. People want to see what's going on behind the scenes. Hmm, well maybe an edited look behind the scenes, not sure many would be interested in my soggy shreddie discovery under the coffee table most mornings.
The other angle I have, and I think this could help differentiate me from the crowd (and maybe help people to look past my badly lit unprofessionally shot imagery) is that I want to keep it real. I personally enjoy following and reading the ramblings of honest mums. Not the 'oh dear bit of spit up on my shoulder' types, but the 'is 3 o'clock too early for gin because my toddler has managed to wedge the change from my wallet into the front door keyhole so we can't actually leave the building' (oh wait, that's me!) My level of humour is very tongue in cheek, self deprecating, slightly sweary, a bit inappropriate, and rather opinionated about the evil forces in this world... overbearing Tiger Mums, door to door tea towel salesmen, Donald Trump....
So I enjoy paying attention to some of these gals:
A lot of these gals have built successful blogs, then off the back of that managed to build a business. Be that selling clothing or products, being paid to blog about products, selling advertising space on their websites, motivational speaking or some other income channel.
I've decided I want to focus on building my blog and Instagram identity and following. I realise I've probably gone about it the wrong way by attempting to grow my readership and muklet collection at the same time, but that's ok, I'm learning as I'm going! Thankfully so far the instagram community are a forgiving and supportive tribe!
The other issue I have is that I think it's easier to be honest and a bit sweary if you are selling products or services to adults, but selling Kids products you should really have a cap on it! I guess many people may not want their 2 year old sporting a brand from the women also known as the '3 o'clock gin drinker that swears like a trucker'. I don't by the way, just for the record. Drink gin at 3 o'clock. Coffee yes, lots of coffee, but not so much of the gin these days... only when I know I can get an uninterrupted lie in the next day!
It so happened that I went to a great talk at the Kids trade show Bubble the other week in London. The focus was on Instagram, and the speakers were Anna Whitehouse from Mother Pukka, Leonora Bamford from My Baba and Sarah Clark of Little Spree.
Feeling momentarily brave I decided to pipe up with my question at the end of the interview. I was curious to know if these women thought it was ok that my photography on instagram was pretty substandard, and not particularly professional looking. Thankfully they did not laugh me out the exhibition space for being such a rookie social media newbie, and instead reassured me that it was ok. As long as I was clear and consistent in what I was going to say, and people could easily decide if they were interested in my dim lit cringely hashtagged posts, then I was doing ok!
Later that afternoon I bumped in to Anna Whitehouse from Mother Pukka. Being a complete dork that I am I clumsily introduced myself. (Never been good at being cool around celebrities or people that inspire me - hence why I never ended up designing for any Couture houses!). To coin one of her well used phrases I 'didn't want to be a d*@k' (had to spell it out as her young daughter was present), but it was important that I take the opportunity to say hi in real life.
That's the weird thing about social media, you meet and have conversations with people online that you may never actually meet in real life. People start to build a persona and a picture of you from a few short words and some emojis in a comment thread. So hopefully I didn't come across as being a d*&k as I genuinely wanted to thank her for her advise and encouragement, and to give her some Sista love as I respect people that put themselves out there, and aren't afraid to have an opinion.
So, I've signed up for some social media training next month, and I'm working on being more thoughtful on my posts. I'm also going to look into networking with the parent blogging community (feeling it may be a little like joining the Masons, I may have to find the secret doorway and bear a 'ships rivet' to get indoctrinated).
There's a whole lot of lingo, and social media etiquette I'm yet to learn - including making buddies in virtual and real life without coming across like a weirdo stalker! Hopefully I've not overdone the tagging, hashtaging, commenting and retweeting, particualarly following that inspiring talk at Bubble. Regardless, I'll keep you posted. #newbie #rookie #survivingthemukletsandsocialmedia