Social Media Business Hour | Episode 93 featuring Andrea Ayers Nile Nickel & Jordan Salamone
Andreea Ayers is the CEO and founder of Launch Grow Joy & Get Media Happy, the go-to source for top editors and bloggers seeking product-based news stories from media-ready entrepreneurs.
Her mission? To make PR less intimidating for those entrepreneurs who can’t afford a monthly retainer fee for a professional PR firm.
Andreea opened her first product-based business selling inspirational t-shirts in 2006. Despite knowing little about the industry, she went on to sell over 20,000 tees in over 300 stores in the United States and around the world. In more recent years, Andreea has focused on helping hundreds of entrepreneurs secure media coverage through one-on-one consulting and coaching over at her website Launch Grow Joy.
If you have a product line, I’d love to show you how to get more traffic to your online store by getting your products featured in magazines and on influential blogs!
I sold Tees for Change in 2011 and closed Soaps to Live By in 2014 (you can read more about that here) and I’ve worked with thousands of entrepreneurs to help them share their products with the world.
I wasn’t always an entrepreneur… It sort of grew on me…
After graduating with a degree in Business & Marketing from Cornell University, I spent the next few years working for many well known companies in NYC, including McKinsey, Citibank, Starwood Hotels and New York University.
Even though I worked for some great companies and learned a lot, I got super excited about trying entrepreneurship when I got the idea to install a few candy machines at my current job. I was on the subway on my way to work one day and I was reading Entrepreneur Magazine when I came across an ad for candy machines. There were testimonials in the ad from people who were making a few hundred dollars extra per month with each candy machine and I thought, WHY NOT?
So I went into business for myself while holding down a full time job! I bought three candy machines and some candy, installed them in my office’s kitchen and that’s how my entrepreneurial journey began!
It turned out that I had a lot of fun buying M&M’s and Skittles wholesale and selling them at a profit to my co-workers. Plus, they loved having an afternoon pick-me-up and many of them would huddle around the candy machines instead of the water cooler to socialize.
I ended up leaving that job about a year later and worked for a few other companies until I was about to have my first baby in 2007. I knew that I didn’t want to be pregnant and live in a fourth-floor walkup with a new baby, so my husband and I took the plunge and moved from NYC to Boulder, CO.
Talk about a HUGE change (in a good way – Boulder was on my dream list of cities to live in and I was so excited to slow down and try something new).
When we moved to Boulder I had a hard time finding a job – and it was the best thing that happened to me because all of those “no’s” are the reason I am here today!
While I was taking a prenatal yoga class at a local studio in Boulder, I felt inspired to become a full time entrepreneur and that’s when I got the idea for Tees for Change.
I knew nothing about the apparel or t-shirt industry, how to manufacture a t-shirt, how to print one, how to sell to stores or even how to set up an online store to sell a product.
I started to research and learn as much as I could, ordering t-shirt samples and coming up with design ideas. And since graphic design was not my strong suit I decided to do t-shirts with only words, not graphics. That way I could still have control over every aspect of running my business and do it all myself (which was not such a good idea, as I soon learned).
So, about a month before my son was born, Tees For Change was also born!
I was slowly learning about the t-shirt industry and reached out to a lot of already-successful t-shirt entrepreneurs to ask them for advice. Some were very generous with their time and with sharing their knowledge, which I definitely appreciated. I attribute a lot of my success to learning from others who were where I wanted to be!
To make a long story short, I’ve come a long way since that day in 2007 when I started with 96 t-shirts (and sold out of them within a month, to my surprise!).
After four years of running Tees for Change, I’ve sold over 20,000 t-shirts in over 300 stores in the United States and internationally and have had six figure sales after only eighteen months of running my business.
My t-shirts have appeared in over 200 magazines, newspapers and TV shows, including ABC, NBC, Fox, The Bonnie Hunt Show, Redbook, The Chicago Tribune, USA Today Magazine, Ladies’ Home Journal, Self, Shape, The Nest and many more. And I even got Tori Spelling, Ed Begley, Denise Richards, Sarah Jessica Parker and Sarah Michelle Gellar to wear my tees!
Of course I made a lot of mistakes along the way! Like the time I spent $6,000 on a PR company hoping that they would help me get tons of press. I got some press, but definitely not enough to cover my $6,000 investment.
Or the time I spent $1,000 on advertising in a local magazine, only to get zero sales from it. Or the time I signed up for a booth at a trade show that was definitely not for my target market – and had only three sales in two days. And what about the time that I trusted that my manufacturer would get my order right, so I didn’t bother to ask for samples before ok’ing the full production run of over 5,000 shirts? Well, half of the shirts came back the wrong color, ALL of them came back with the wrong neck label and another half came back a size too small!
Needless to say, I could have done things better, but I was grateful to have learned all the lessons that I did (even though some were very expensive and time-consuming lessons).
As I was growing my t-shirt company, I started to receive a lot of phone calls and emails from aspiring t-shirt entrepreneurs asking, “How did you do it and can you share your secrets with me?” I remembered all of those ‘mentors’ I had when I first started and how helpful and giving they were. So, in 2009, I wrote T-Shirt Profits: The Complete Guide to Starting Your Own Successful T-shirt Business. In this book I cover everything you need to know to set up and run a successful t-shirt business like mine.
And in 2010 I launched the T-shirt Profits Coaching Program, which included private and group coaching on how to set up and run your own successful t-shirt business. Through this program, I have helped many entrepreneurs through the different stages of their t-shirt business, whether they were just starting out, looking for a manufacturer, selling their shirts to retail stores, setting up their website or wanting to get their shirts on celebrities or in the media.
I kept getting emails from other entrepreneurs (who had products other than t-shirts) and who wanted to get them into stores and wanted to know how I did it all. I started to focus more on working with other entrepreneurs and helping them increase sales for their product-based business.
In 2011 I sold Tees for Change and now my main focus is on working with entrepreneurs like you and sharing with you everything I know about getting your products in the media and increasing your online exposure and sales.
In 2013 I got the itch to start another product company and Soaps to Live By was born! Although the company lasted only 9 months, Soaps to Live By gave me the opportunity to try some new publicity and online strategies and to see what’s working now in the online marketing world. In 9 short months, my soaps were featured in more than 50 media outlets and I sold more than 6,000 bars of soap! I call that a success!
And, in the meantime, I sold two more companies (an organic coupons website and a yoga product reviews website), launched Get Media Happy (a PR matchmaking service to help you connect directly with magazine editors who are looking for products), had two more kids, moved back to NYC and then back to Boulder again, spoke on a few stages (including CreativeLive) and worked with thousands of entrepreneurs like you to help them take their business to the next level!
Twitter Handle: @andreeaayers