Milk and Honey Tees is a family-owned business out of Little Rock, Arkansas. Every T-shirt the owner Mandy Osborne makes is designed and printed in her home. Mandy created a website on April 5, 2016—the very same day Pattern launched—and her online sales haven’t stopped growing since then.
How did you get started with Milk and Honey Tees?
About 10 years ago, I worked in marketing on the design and creative side. When I started having children, I stayed home for a few years but in 2012, I was ready to do my own creative thing. I learned how to print T-shirts at home and played with some designs. I posted a picture of a T-shirt that I had made for myself on Instagram and people started to comment saying they wanted to buy one from me! With no plans, I launched Milk and Honey Tees in August of 2012. I joined Etsy a couple of months later and my business has grown since then.
Do you work on your shop full time or do you have another job that you do at the same time?
I have two full-time jobs: I’m a full-time mom and a full-time business owner.
You’ve been using Pattern since the day it launched. What made you decide to create your own website?
I had started to feel like I was outgrowing Etsy a little bit in the sense that I wanted to have my own site that looked like my own and not Etsy’s. I had been looking at different options but I didn’t have the time to learn something new, like a new shipping process. So I decided to give Pattern a try. I also wanted to get my own domain name. Pattern gave me that opportunity and I just jumped on it right away. It was so simple to set up.
How do you promote your brand and drive traffic to your website?
I market almost exclusively on Instagram without paid advertising and it’s working for me. I like the sense of community I find on Instagram. I like asking my followers for feedback on the products that I have created. I’ve thought about doing paid advertising, but I haven’t jumped on it yet.
The good thing with social media is that if you’re doing a good job by posting pictures of products that people like, they’re going to promote your products for you. Followers will tag their friends and repost your pictures. We’ve also been successful doing giveaways and building relationships with popular bloggers and podcasts whose audience is similar to ours.
Are your Etsy customers different from your Pattern customers?
Etsy customers usually find us by accident, but people who end up on our Pattern website are more engaged because they came looking specifically for us. Lots of Etsy customers become Pattern customers because when we send them a product they purchased on Etsy, we put in every package a little business card that has www.milkandhoneytees.com on it. Customers keep the card and the next time they shop for our T-shirts, they go directly to our website.
How do your sales on your website compare to your sales on Etsy?
Although I created my website just a year ago, my Pattern sales are already higher than my Etsy sales. For the first quarter of this year, 70% of my sales were made on my Pattern website and 30% of my sales were made on Etsy. We’ve seen a 41% increase in total sales between our first quarter 2016 and our first quarter 2017. Having both an Etsy shop and a website is working well for us.
What’s the hardest part about selling products on your own independent website?
The hardest part is driving traffic to my website. It’s a different experience from selling on Etsy where there are already a lot of users.
Do you have any tips or recommendations for other Pattern sellers to be successful?
Play around and find what works for you to drive traffic to your website! I don’t think it’s always necessary to be present on all social media platforms—and I personally wouldn’t have the time to take care of it. I found that Instagram works for me.
What do you love most about your work in general?
Milk and Honey Tees designs are printed on top-quality products that come from ethical producers. Giving back is important to me and we donate a portion of every sale to Africa New Life’s Dream Beauty Academy, a program that offers job training, childcare, and discipleship to vulnerable women in Rwanda. On average, just under $3 per sale goes directly to this program. That’s something that really matters to me and my family.
What’s next on the horizon for Milk and Honey Tees?
This summer I’m going to hire an intern who could bring in some fresh ideas and help us grow our brand and give me time to start a blog with Pattern. There’s only so much you can share on Instagram, and having a blog would be the perfect platform to talk about projects like our partnership with Africa New Life’s Dream Beauty Academy. One of my goals for 2017 is to build an email list. I love how Pattern integrates with MailChimp, that’s an awesome feature. We’re also coming up with our first line of hats, which I’m really excited about.
Follow Milk and Honey Tees on Instagram.