Jill Scales started Illinois-based Daisy Bags in May 2004, after friends asked her to re-create a handmade bag featuring a photo of her dog, Daisy. Today her company sells between 1,000 and 1,200 fabric totes, smartphone pouches, messenger satchels, and diaper bags a year, mostly to people at summer arts-and-crafts shows and to repeat clientele.
The GoPayment Blog recently spoke with Scales about her creative process, her use of social media for marketing, and her switch from a “knucklebuster” to a smartphone for handling credit-card payments.
GoPayment: What percentage of your sales comes from ready-made bags vs. custom designs?
Scales: Ninety-five percent are pre-made bags, which I sell at art shows. I used to heavily market the custom aspect of my business, but so many people want to just come in, grab a bag, and go that I don’t really market it that much anymore. My regular customers who come see me every year, every six months, know that I do that. If they want one, they will ask.
Who is your typical customer?
I would say that most of them are young moms, but also grandmothers. Anyone from 25 to 70. Young moms buy my bags to use as diaper bags or accessories for babies, and then the young mom’s mom will come and buy a bag.
What inspired the men’s bags?
When I do shows in the city, in Chicago, a lot of men come by. I realized I could make a bag for men. I just use nylon fabric and nylon straps instead of ribbon straps. I was watching at shows and noticed that men were carrying messenger bags. So, I decided it was a market that I could reach with a few designs. Why not try? The first year, I made a few and labeled the line differently because, of course, what man is going to carry a bag with a Daisy Bag label on it? So, I labeled it “JB Messenger.” Any men’s or unisex bag I label that way. Ironically, the first year I made them, I would say that 50 percent were bought by women.
Where do you get your ideas for new designs?
Most of it is looking at what other people are carrying — other bags I see that look cool — and putting a new spin on it. Sometimes, as I’m making a bag, I will get an idea for alteration. I also use Facebook to get feedback on different designs.
What is your most effective marketing strategy?
Every month, I keep throwing my name out there. Some people may not even read the email or my newsletter, but they see it is from me, so Daisy Bags is on their mind. I use Facebook a lot: I post two to three times a week about Daisy Bags products and the shows I will be attending. I blog once a week about something that is hot off the press. I also use Twitter. I just keep my name out there to keep people informed about what is going on.
How has GoPayment helped your business?
I transferred over from a “knucklebuster” — you know, the old-school credit-card swiper with the carbon copies. I went from that to GoPayment, which was a huge jump. Previously, I hand-keyed-in every single credit card at the end of a show. I would sit in my basement for two hours doing that. GoPayment saves time, and it’s cheaper, and my customers think it is so cool. I swipe the credit card, they sign on the phone. If they want a receipt, I just email it to them. It actually results in more communication with my customers, which is something I didn’t anticipate.
Does GoPayment support you in any other ways?
It has definitely helped with security. I’m getting a signature on the spot. I know right then if a charge is declined. Before, I would go home and find out eight hours later that a card was declined. Now, I can be 100 percent sure that the sale is going through and that my customer can walk away with their bag. Everyone is happy.