I'm always on the lookout for local companies who know their brand. Unity Clothing Inc. is one such company. We're facebook friends, no big deal. Manager Chantal Rozon and I had a great Facebook chat about her business, what it's about and how they're using social media to grow. Enjoy.
aasman: What is Unity Clothing Inc?
Unity: Unity Clothing Inc is a boutique offering quality local and international brands that appeal to women of all ages. We are a one-stop-shop where mom and daughter can find complete looks to fit their own personal style. Our Whitehorse location is the flagship store, the owners opened Unity Clothing Inc — North Vancouver in June 2011.
aasman: How long have you been in business, when did you start, what's your specialty etc.
Unity: The owners Lori Simcox & Heidi George opened our doors for the first time on May 1, 2010. Lori is a born and raised Yukoner and a member of the Tr'ondek Hwech'in First Nation. She is a certified Management Consulatant, has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Simon Fraser University, and an MBA from Royal Roads University. Heidi is originally from Holland, Michigan and has an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts in Fashion Merchandising and Retail management from Ferris State University. They hired me over the phone when I was living in Victoria- My husband and I already had plans to move to Whitehorse so the timing couldnt have been better! I have 12 years of Retail and Retail Management experience, and have been Unity's manager since I moved here June 1, 2010.
aasman: You've just closed the book on 2012, was it a good year?
Unity: This past year really was amazing! We celebrated our 2 year Anniversary in May, which is a huge milestone for any small business-especially one in the retail industry. In 2012 we participated in multiple fashion shows, developed new customer relationships and launched after-hours personal shopping which has garnered RAVE reviews from our loyal following! Elements Esthetics had their staff Christmas Party at Unity this year, which was a first for us! We are excited to have more people take advantage of this unique service in 2013. We also strengthened our exisiting relationships with local small businesses, and created new ones through cross promoting and joint events.
aasman: What is the single largest driver of traffic to your business?
Unity: Word of mouth is always important especially in a small town like Whitehorse, so that plays a big part in our success. Our customers have become accustomed to a certain level of service when they shop with us, and word of that has most definetely gotten out. There's nothing better than a 'first timer' coming by and saying "my friend LOVES this store and told me I had to check it out!" It also helps that we have really cute and affordable clothes.
aasman: Your company has a large facebook following by Whitehorse standards, how did you achieve this?
Unity: Our Facebook page is something we've been extremely dedicated to since we first opened, and through trial and error I think we've finally got it mastered (until facebook goes and changes something again).
We've come up with 'Likes' campaigns to encourage locals to follow our page, and they have all been successful. For example, we raised $500 for the Mae Bachur Humane Society's Bella Fund by donating $1 for every new Like our page received. We've also done a couple of fun product giveaway's and we created Facebook business cards to hand out to customers new and old. To keep our fans coming back for more we make sure we are posting on a consistent basis, and we operate our page as if it were an online store. We share fashion tips, showcase a new item every day, and post sneek peeks of new shipments. Its not unusual to get a phone call from one of our VIP customers asking us to hold something right after it was posted on facebook! We get compliments on an almost daily basis from customers about how we operate our page. It's very rewarding!
aasman: Do you have a social media philosophy or a way of thinking generally about what you're doing online for Unity?
Unity: We are working to build the Unity brand, and everything we do reflects that goal. Our innovative approach to social media marketing has allowed us to gain a new and refreshing presence online. We just recently started a Unity Instagram account (@unityclothing) which has gained over 100 followers in a relatively short period of time and we have big plans for it's growth. We create an experience to remember when you visit us in store, and that same experience can be translated to what you will find with Unity online.
aasman: What two words best describe what Unity is all about?
Unity: Stylish & Quality
aasman: If Unity were to walk into a house party, what would it be wearing and why?
Unity: hmm thats a great question! The Unity girl is a free spirit who loves fashion and keeps up with the latest trends- on and off the runway. Her outfit would be a mix of casual and classic, she definetely won't blend in to the crowd! She would be wearing a pair of locally made 'Carlie Beads' flower earrings and a Vancouver designed PRESS Cardigan over a flirty Ya Los Angeles lace front blouse. On the bottom- a pair of our infamous Mavi Gold jeans (exclusive to us might I add), and a pair of Classic TOMS shoes. She would finish her look with some arm candy from Birds of a Feather jewelry, and a touch of lip gloss that was custom made for Unity in Mayo (by The Essential Soap Bar)! We can't forget about her boyfriend, who would be wearing MyPakage underwear of course!
aasman: What has facebook meant to your business?
Unity: Facebook has been an integral part of our growth, both in Whitehorse and North Vancouver. It has given us a whole new platform to connect with customers who may not have had access to us otherwise. We now offer shipping to anywhere, and because of it we have had customers as far away as Missouri, USA make purchases from us over the phone. Without facebook that customer would never had heard of us. Facebook has made it harder for small businesses to access ALL of their fans (without paying for it), so it is up to us to find new and creative ways of connecting with our target market. Having a fun and interactive page ensures that our fans will go out of their way to look at what we are up to everyday, instead of waiting for us to pop up on their newsfeed.
aasman: Are the social media examples that you've tried to replicate or have used to improve what you're doing online?
Unity: We have recently started seasonal 'Look Book' albums on our facebook page, which was inspired by the very brands we carry. Every season, brands create a Look Book that their vendors can browse to preview the available product. At Unity our customers can come in and buy complete outfits, and we wanted to portray that within the Look Book albums. Doing so helps our online customer base better gauge what we have available in the store at any given time.
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