increase in visits.
increase in revenue.
increase in Amazon revenue.
Performance metrics for Jentri Quinn Makeup & Skin compare January, 2022, through January, 2021.
Whether you’re starting a new job, moving to a new place, or working through business challenges, change is never easy. But over the last decade, Alex De Mola, owner of Cotone Clothing and Beauty Bar, has experienced all three. After leaving his home in Italy to work in the US with clothing retailer Brandy Melville, he moved to Austin, Texas and founded Cotone Clothing, a store that would sell clothing from both Italy and the US, in addition to handmade goods from local artisans. “It was a fusion between Italian, American and local,” he explained.
In addition to a physical location, Alex created a digital storefront for Cotone using the BigCommerce platform. He knew about BigCommerce because of his previous job at Brandy Melville, and was excited to use the platform for his own company. Apart from clothing, Alex is a trained computer engineer. He loved how customisable the platform could be, and has been a customer since Cotone’s beginning in 2011.
After almost five years of success with his own brand, Alex met Jentri Quinn, a professional makeup artist and esthetician, who would help the business expand into a new market. “When we met she already had like a little germ of her makeup brand starting,” he says. “That blossomed and then we took it to the next level and we turned it into a full line of makeup and skincare.”
The team opened a second Cotone location in 2015, this time under a new name: Cotone Clothing and Beauty Bar. The brand grew and grew, but in 2020, the fashion and beauty industries were faced with a challenge no one expected: the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finding new opportunities online
Many industries were devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic from the start. Restaurants closed their doors. Movie theaters sat dark. Offices told workers to stay home. All of these things had drastic consequences for the beauty and fashion industries. Many brick-and-mortar businesses, like Cotone Clothing and Beauty Bar, closed and had to find new ways to make sales.
“I went from having several stores to nothing. We had all this inventory, furniture and fixtures that I had to store in a warehouse. Then half my house got taken over by my online operations, and even covered half my garage,” Alex explained. “It was kind of like going backwards, you know? Companies used to start from their garage to their home. We went from having a nice big store with everything there, to being cramped up in my house and garage that I could barely walk through.”
Cotone experienced a brief uptick in website traffic after its doors closed, but as time went on and competitors began putting more of their resources into specific areas of business, Alex and Jentri knew that they needed to change the business in order to make it through the pandemic.
“The numbers don’t lie,” said Jentri. “The traffic that was going to the website didn’t last. Once we talked about it, we decided that instead of stretching ourselves out, spending so much time on the clothing and not having enough time to put toward the other part of the business, let’s put all of our resources toward beauty and see what happens.” Jentri Quinn Makeup & Skin was born.
The team made the decision to change their business model, and knew that a number of things had to happen in order to make their online business successful.
They had to create a robust, personal experience that captivated customers.
Their site had to be easy to navigate and use.
They had to be able to test, analyse data, and iterate new designs on their own terms.
BigCommerce provided the perfect platform for the business to grow.
Bringing the in-person experience online
The website for Cotone Clothing and Beauty Bar was never a major driver of business, but now that doors were closed, the new Jentri Quinn website had to act as the flagship storefront. It had to give customers the feeling that they were there experiencing a product and the individuals helping them sell it. “When people come to your website, that’s like when people open the door or look through the window for the first time. But in a store,” Alex said, “there’s always me or Jentri or the other ladies there to make the relationship personal. That makes a huge difference. It’s hard to communicate that with a website.”
One of the biggest drivers of that in-person feel has been video. Jentri began producing her own videos for the site in 2020, and has found that they easily integrate with the rest of the site. “Video gives a huge personal connection. Once I figured out that was my secret sauce, I wanted that to be as visible as possible when people came to the site,” she explained. “If they couldn’t see us in the store, at least they heard my voice and saw my face and I could tell them our story.
Without a storefront, the new business would also need to hop on the latest ecommerce trends in order to remain competitive. Chief among them was an omnichannel strategy that sold makeup and skincare products to customers across marketplaces and social platforms. Through native integrations available with BigCommerce, as well as a number of other apps and integrations available in our app store, have made this a mostly seamless endeavor.
In addition to using the native Meta (Facebook and Instagram) integration, they’re also using several other BigCommerce partner integrations to help optimise product listings across channels, including Codisto for selling on Amazon, and InkFrog for selling on eBay.
One of the largest traffic drivers, however, has been through Jentri’s work on TikTok. “I started on TikTok because I had a presence on Facebook and Instagram, but it seemed really hard to grow,” said Quinn. “I tried YouTube a bit, just throwing spaghetti everywhere to see what would stick. For my first video I got 600 views, and I was just jumping up and down with excitement. For six months straight after that — and I’m not being dramatic — every day with the exception of one or two days, I did a TikTok live to build an audience.
“Before that we just didn’t really have that organic traffic. One of the challenges we faced in the past was the trial and error of digital marketing. It was so expensive that it didn’t make a whole lot of sense,” she continued. “After we started doing those educational videos on TikTok, we really started to see things grow. Since then [Alex] has been able to figure out more things that are working in digital marketing, and we’re really starting to see the fruits of all of these collective efforts come together. And BigCommerce has been so helpful in the sense of its reliability.”
Codisto, an omnichannel management solution, allows you to manage multiple channels, like eBay, Amazon, Walmart, and more, all from one location.
Meta for BigCommerce allows businesses to integrate and sell seamlessly with Meta channels, including Facebook and Instagram.
Mailchimp, a powerful sales-driving marketing tool that allows you to better engage and build relationships with your customers.
Lucky Orange, ten tools in one that can help reduce cart abandonment and increase sales with heatmaps, live chat, customer surveys, and more.
“...we’re really starting to see the fruits of all of these collective efforts come together. And BigCommerce has been so helpful in the sense of its reliability.”
Perseverance pays off
For a business that was completely turned on its head overnight, or as Alex put it ‘went backwards’ from multiple retail locations back to the garage, Jentri Quinn Makeup & Skin has grown into a successful makeup and beauty business with vast potential for growth.
“We’ve been using a lot of tools to help us analyse what our customers are doing and optimise the website. Especially the checkout process,” Alex said. Using tools like Lucky Orange, they have been able to map the customer journey through their site and improve upon it with real-time data. “We recently integrated a live help feature that connects to Facebook Messenger, so that helps us learn, too,” said Alex. “It says a lot about the platform that our clientele can have such an easy time with the checkout process.”
This positive user experience paired with high-quality products has helped improve traffic 293%, and sales 804%.
Iterate. Test. Repeat.
When talking about the future, Jentri and Alex know that the road ahead will rely more heavily on the BigCommerce platform. “We found something that works,” she explained, “with a blend of social media, especially TikTok, digital marketing and selling on all these different platforms. Now it’s time to double down and really grow.”
While direct to consumer (D2C) will remain the business’ focus, wholesale represents a major opportunity for growth in the future. “With BigCommerce, I know I can create a specific group of wholesale customers that can have their own login, their own pricing, their own everything. They can just be on autopilot,” Alex said.
Omnichannel selling will also continue to be a major opportunity for growth. As BigCommerce and its tech partners continue adding integrations with digital marketplaces, social channels and search engines, Alex will be there ready to test and improve their functionality. Jentri, on the other hand, knows that our easy-to-use platform will be there to help her test and improve the customer journey, maximising that ‘in-store’ experience and making sure her customers are educated on what product will be best for them.
Tech-focused or product-focused, Jentri and Alex are sure that BigCommerce can provide a flexible tool to help grow their ecommerce business in the future.
Published: July 2022
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