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Student and a Successful Solopreneur at the Same Time with Angelina Ly - Honest Ecommerce Ep. 191

Angelina Ly founded her own company, Fireflyslime, at the age of 14 and is now celebrating her 5th year of business. 

She single-handedly operates all aspects of her business while being a full-time college student. 

In This Conversation We Discuss: 

  • [00:00] Intro
  • [01:31] What is Fireflyslime and its target audience
  • [02:14] From a hobby to explosive growth
  • [04:29] Angelina’s social media/organic tips
  • [05:44] Platform specific strategies or reusing strategies
  • [06:41] Etsy vs Shopify
  • [08:35] Sponsor: Electric Eye https://electriceye.io/
  • [08:56] Sponsor: Mesa https://apps.shopify.com/mesa
  • [09:54] Sponsor: Loop https://loopreturns.com/honest
  • [10:37] Sponsor: Klaviyo https://klaviyo.com/honest
  • [11:24] Day in the life of a full-time student solopreneur
  • [13:09] Take control of your inventory
  • [13:58] What does the future hold for Fireflyslime
  • [15:05] When Angelina got support from her family
  • [16:50] Where to find Fireflyslime

Resources:

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 Transcript:

Chase Clymer  

Before we get started, if you're enjoying this content, you can do us a favor by subscribing to our YouTube channel and ringing the bell.

That will let the algorithm know that you like this content and it will help us produce more.

Angelina Ly  

I've never paid a dime for ads. And a lot of it has come from posting very regularly to make sure that you stay on top of being active so people remember your name.

Chase Clymer  

Welcome to Honest Ecommerce, a podcast dedicated to cutting through the BS and finding actionable advice for online store owners. I'm your host, Chase Clymer. And I believe running a direct-to-consumer brand does not have to be complicated or a guessing game. 

On this podcast, we interview founders and experts who are putting in the work and creating  real results. 

I also share my own insights from running our top Shopify consultancy, Electric Eye. We cut the fluff in favor of facts to help you grow your Ecommerce business.

Let's get on with the show.

Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of Honest Ecommerce. I'm your host, Chase Clymer. 

And today, we're welcoming to the show, an amazing founder. She founded her own company, Fireflyslime, at the age of 14. They're now celebrating the fifth year of business. They've done over 15,000 sales. She's a single-handed operation. She's been running everything. 

Welcome to the show, Angelina Ly.

Angelina Ly  

Happy to be here.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. All right. So you know, I said the name pretty fast. But let me just put it out there for everybody. We're talking about slime. We're selling... 

Let's just tell a little bit more about the actual product because it's very interesting and fun.

Angelina Ly  

Yeah. So most people, when they think of slime, they think of the buckets that they have in a Walmart’s toy section. But if you look into slime and how much it's evolved over the years, it's so much more than you'll ever think. 

There's so many different textures, colors, and different clay creations that people came up with. And people mainly use it for stress-relief, anxiety-relief, just to get something off your mind for the day or presents for kids or anyone of all ages, of course. 

But I'd say a lot of my target audience would be kids that love to craft and love the satisfying sounds and textures of things.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. So just like it sounds, we're talking about a really fun product here. So take me back. What was going on in your life? 

Maybe, what got you interested in slime? And how'd that evolve into "Let me try to sell this on the internet."?

Angelina Ly  

Yeah. So it started when I was 14. And I never had set out to start a business. It was just a hobby of mine because I was into all things crafty. So I love to paint, and sculpt, and crochet, and slime just happened to be one of them. 

I started posting my products on Instagram when I saw other people doing it. And then I started getting comments asking, "Where can I buy this?" 

And I was so confused, because I was like, "Why would you want to buy this thing? I make it from my house." So I convinced my parents to set up my first bank account, I got my first debit card and I opened up a small Etsy shop in 2017. And from there, sales just went pretty crazy. 

I was very fortunate that I started my business right when the satisfying ASMR trends were very popular. 

So as people were discovering that trend, they were also discovering me. And from there, I transferred over to Shopify, just to get a little more freedom with my own website and just more creative freedom with running everything business-wise. 

And from there, it's just launched and I've been growing and expanding like crazy. I've been to conventions all over the country to sell in-person at  pop-up shops and slime conventions, believe it or not. Those are a thing. 

I was on a TV competition show. I've been on multiple podcasts, including this one. And yeah, it's just changed my entire life. 

I was originally going to go into the medical field, but I realized that it wasn't really something that was meant for me. And this business is what made me transfer over to studying business administration. 

And yeah, now I pretty much have restocks weekly that sell out instantly. I make over like 1000 products every 30 days. And yeah, it's been super successful. I'm really grateful for it.

Chase Clymer  

That's amazing. So let's go back a little bit to... As you're getting things online and you're getting those first set of sales, I know there's creators out there that have a product that they're thinking of or they already have the product but they're thinking about marketing it. 

What tips would you have for them on capitalizing on organic social media and how to try to turn that attention into profit, essentially?

Angelina Ly  

Yeah, so with my social media. I have 375,000 followers on Instagram, 120,000 on Tiktok and 20,000 on YouTube. And I can proudly say that that's all been organic. 

I've never paid a dime for ads. And a lot of it has come from posting very regularly to make sure that you stay on top of being active so people remember your name, and that you pop up on people's Explore page as much as possible. 

Just figuring out what's trending, what people like to see, do a lot of reflecting on what content that you make that does well, and what kind of content people are looking for, so that you can replicate it. 

Do something better, always improve, because there's always room to do better. And yeah...

Chase Clymer  

So when you're creating content, are you creating it for one specific platform and then reusing it or when you're creating it, it's specifically for one and that's it?

Angelina Ly  

So first, I started off with only Instagram. And I did all of my content through there. And I was very used to the 1-minute long videos. 

And then every platform that I've also tried, I've had to adjust my content based on the audience on that platform. 

Like, YouTube, of course, I can't post just one-minute videos, YouTube, I would have to do longer lifestyle videos for videos like “Day in the Life” videos, that would be at least 10 minutes long. 

And for Tiktok, everyone has a very short attention span. So everything has to be under 30 seconds at best. So I have to edit my editing style, of course, and like how I shoot the content, based on what audience I'm aiming towards.

Chase Clymer  

As you were getting the sales and things started to ramp up. 

Can you talk a little bit about the limitations of just being on Etsy and the freedoms that you experienced moving over to a platform like Shopify, just to help anyone else out there that's thinking about transitioning or getting a more professional or investing more into their own website?

Angelina Ly  

Yeah. So when I started, I definitely didn't expect it to blow up this much. 5 years down the line, I did not think I was still going to be doing this. 

So I definitely did not invest as much money as I would have. If I was able to go back and tell myself, "Buy those things in bulk. I know you're scared, but just do it." 

So I started off on Etsy. I did that for I think a couple months. But it was really good when you're first starting out, because it already has customers on its website so they can search and find you. 

But I realized a lot of my customers were from my social media and not from Etsy itself. So I was paying really unnecessary fees from Etsy. And Etsy has a very standard way that the site will look. 

And wanted more creative freedom in that way. And Shopify offers so many more themes and styles. And you can even hire people to make custom ones. 

Of course, it will cost you but it's definitely worth it because it's your brand. You can make it how you want it to seem and present yourself how you want your customers to see you. And I thought that was so important to switch over to Shopify. 

And yeah, Shopify has --in my experience-- so much better customer support. So whenever I needed help with something, they were so good. There are so many more features. 

Their analytics, that was really important for me. And yeah, just being able to customize things the way I want them was really important to me.

Sponsor: Electric Eye

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Sponsor: Mesa

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To put it quite simply, Mesa is a better way to work. So find your peace of mind and kick up your feet with a simplified workload to manage the everyday stress of running your Shopify store. 

Search for Mesa, that's M-E-S-A, in the Shopify app store and download the app today 

Free plan available with a no cost setup included. 

Sponsor: Loop

We've talked about this before on our podcast, but returns are an absolute hassle. They're often costly, time consuming and complicated. But there's a better way to handle the terms. 

Our partner loop helps Shopify brands deliver hassle-free return experiences. Their platform empowers shoppers to process their own returns, creating a better user experience for both you and your customers. 

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Sponsor: Klaviyo

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Chase Clymer  

Now let's talk a little bit more about what's a day in the life of a solopreneur that's in college full-time.

Angelina Ly  

Yeah, so I definitely have a lot of things on my plate. I'm a very busy body. So I like to stay productive. 

So I pretty much juggle as much as I can, with being a full-time college student with a full-time slime business. 

And now I'm doing two internships this summer as well as a position in a club at my school. So I'm definitely very busy. 

Utilizing my Google Calendar is pretty much my lifesaver just to structure all of my responsibilities and my deadlines. 

But basically, in the morning, I would work with my internship. I do many meetings. And then if I had a class that day, I would go to class in the afternoon. And by the time I get back, I would pretty much use that entire time to work. 

So because I work single-handedly, I pretty much operate everything. So from production, packaging, editing, filming, customer service, every aspect of ordering anything from manufacturers, I had to research and learn that. 

From someone that did not know how to manage money, to someone that did not have a bank account, Ihad to learn on the go. 

Trial and error was definitely my best friend in learning from my mistakes, learning from peers, and I utilized some Shopify courses, but most of it was learning from my own journey.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. Let's talk about that journey some more. Are there any standout memories that you have or maybe mistakes that you made that you want to let listeners watch out for or just learn from your mistakes so they don't have them themselves?

Angelina Ly  

I'd say listen to the demand for the products. One thing that I did in the very beginning was I had everything set to always in stock and then people would purchase it. I would make it and then I'd sell it as people are buying it. 

But what I realized was that my demand was going up so high, I couldn't keep up. 

So I switched to a different style of there's only this amount in stock and once it's out, it's gone which is so much better for me now because once customers see that it's out of stock there is a demand that people see like "Oh, if it's in stock, I need to get it now." which is really great at converting sales and good for me with managing my time and just being able to have more control over my inventory was really important.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. So what's the future hold for you? What do you... What are some of the goals that you have for the business? Are you thinking about continuing on with this? 

Are you thinking about potentially selling it someday and moving into something else? What does the future hold?

Angelina Ly  

I would definitely love to keep expanding as much as I can. In the future, I would love to hire some employees, finally, because I definitely need help. 

I'd love to get a warehouse or a separate space for it because right now, my entire basement is pretty much dedicated to working. 

All of my supplies are down there, all the shelves, all of my equipment are down there and I would not want to hire employees to work at my house. 

So I would definitely love to expand to its own building somewhere that I would have separate from work and home.

I would just have to commute there which sucks because it's really convenient being your own boss and being able to walk a few steps in and start working as soon as you get that click of  "I wanna" be productive right now.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. Now, is there anything that I didn't ask you that you think would resonate with our audience?

Angelina Ly  

Um, yeah. My parents were pretty unsure about the business at first because they had high hopes with me going into med school because my family is pretty much split between my dad's side being engineers and my mom's side being pharmacists and doctors. 

So growing up, I always thought that those were my 2 options that I didn't really look into what else was there for me. 

And when I started the business, when I was 14, my parents always made sure that I understood that it was only a hobby, it can never get in the way of school and how important education was.

And of course, I 100% agree with them. 

And it only took to when I went to conventions, that they saw my customers in person, they saw all the other people that were doing the same thing as I was from going to, "Oh, this is just a hobby, you like don't do too much of it." 

And then we went home from the convention, they're like, "Oh, you should do it. This person is doing it. You should work more. I'll help you now." 

So they took that to realize that I had so much more potential than they realize. Because during a lot of Ecommerce, you don't see the products go to the customer.

Once you make it, you ship it, you never see it again and it's hard to understand what the customers love about it, and how it helps them in any way. And for my parents, they never saw that side until they saw it in person. 

And from there, they just [have] been super supportive. They now help me with packaging when I need it and they bring the packages to the post office when my mailman doesn't come and they definitely helped as much as they can now.

Chase Clymer  

That's awesome. So we've been talking all about this awesome slime. If I'm a curious listener and I want to check out the products, where do I go?

Angelina Ly  

I'm still on fireflyslime.com. And you can definitely check out my Instagram and Tiktok for all of my restock information.

Chase Clymer  

Alright. I can't thank our guests enough for coming on the show and sharing their knowledge and journey with us. 

We've got a lot to think about and potentially add into our own business. You can find all the links in the show notes. 

Make sure you head over to honestecommerce.co to check out all the other amazing content that we have. Make sure you subscribe, leave a review.
And obviously if you're thinking about growing your business, check out our agency at electriceye.io. Until next time.