cameron, golf, imac, ellie, damon, people, manufacturing, friends, talk, linkedin, line, website, business, wear, women, mep, customer, illinois, manufacturers, pull
Damon Pistulka, Elaine Spoerer, Curt Anderson, Camryn Tunney
Damon Pistulka 00:01
All right, everyone, it’s Friday and what does that mean? That means manufacturing ecommerce success. I’m one of your co host, Damon Pustaka. That good looking guy right over there as Curt Anderson, co host. I’m gonna let you take it away Curt
Curt Anderson 00:15
Damon Thank you, brother. Happy Friday to you my friend. How do you have a good week? How’s everything going on your end?
Damon Pistulka 00:21
It’s just fine little snow but nothing other than that. Hey, man,
Curt Anderson 00:25
just man. You look good today. You know that you look you feel as good as rested? Man, you are well rested. Alright, so hey, it is an honor. It is a privilege for this program today. I’m like, I’m like the proud uncle right now. Like I’m just so thrilled and excited. So great. Couple of intros here. So we’ve got the founder, the owner, the the brainchild of LED activewear le Happy Friday. How are you today?
I’m good. Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Curt Anderson 00:52
Absolutely. So hey, what an honor privilege for you, great manufacturer. You have wonderful clothing that we’re going to be talking about today. You lined with IMEC, which is the MEP Manufacturing Extension Partnership of the great state of Illinois, and we have a wonderful representative from IMEC. Today, Cameron, happy Friday, my friend. How are you today?
Camryn Tunney 01:13
Oh, I’m doing well. Happy Friday to you guys, too.
Curt Anderson 01:17
So we Daymond This is a big event today. So guys, happy Friday. You’re out there. Drop us a comment. Let us know that you’re there. You absolutely want to connect with Ali. You want to connect with Cameron. I’ve dropped their LinkedIn profiles in the chat box here. So connect with these guys. Can’t Damon Cameron has our First Gen Z are on the program, man. I know. Like a little nervous about it. But yeah. How’s that feel hanging out with with, you know, not young guys? What do you think of that? Yeah,
Camryn Tunney 01:44
I think you’re more excited about it than I am. But the First Gen Z on your show.
Curt Anderson 01:51
We are definitely more excited about it. And I wouldn’t blame you. You know, I told her I’d like Daymond this is like her hanging out with her. Her bad uncle’s Yeah. Couple guys. So anyway, alright, let’s dig right in. So Ellie, entrepreneur, you’re in a wonderful city of Chicago. Fashion and entrepreneurship runs in your blood. So my first question for you today, I’m gonna go back in time a little bit. As a young girl growing up in Chicago, who was your hero? Who was your hero as a little girl growing up in Chicago.
Elaine Spoerer 02:24
I mean, heroes a big word, but I feel like it’s always those maternal figures. And so for me, it was my grandmother’s and my mother. They were the people that I looked up to the most. And also were the most inspirational. So,
Curt Anderson 02:41
so Okay, how about how about and we were talking about sounds like entrepreneurship runs in your family. Let’s go a little deeper like grandma, then grandma have a business if I if I
Elaine Spoerer 02:49
remember. Yeah, so both. One grandmother had a retail store called the doll shop in Hinsdale. And they did like preteen clothing, kind of before jeans became the thing in the 70s. And then the other grandmother was an interior decorator. And I think that’s how my parents met as the grandmothers were working with each other on different projects. And then my grandfather also had a clothing a gentleman’s clothing store, which I laugh now because I’m like, well, he probably carried the golf clothes. Yeah, right.
Curt Anderson 03:25
Exactly. So fashion, entrepreneurship runs in a family. You mentioned mom’s a hero within what’s mom’s name, by the way.
Elaine Spoerer 03:32
Kiki, well, actually, Kiki is a nickname everybody my family has nicknames.
Curt Anderson 03:37
Hey, we’re giving a shout out to Kiki and Archie mighty ever to be working with you tomorrow. So we want to give a big, big Alright, so anyway, we’ll move on. Cameron, I’m going to come to you with the same question. Who was your hero growing up?
Camryn Tunney 03:57
I think my hero would be and I think me and you talked about this. Another time is my aunt who also worked at IMEC. She worked at IMEC for 22 years, which is almost the same amount of time that I’ve been born. She was an assistant director of information systems. But she really inspired me with her hard work and her energy. So I would say she’s my hero. Oh,
Curt Anderson 04:24
that’s a great quote, The Great answer and big shout out boy, just wonderful. Mentors, great leadership and just having those folks that pave our path ahead of time. So, gang guys, happy Friday. We’re here with Ellie day. We are here with Cameron from IMEC see Jen wiggliness
Damon Pistulka 04:38
in the house. Hey, John.
Curt Anderson 04:41
Yeah, whoever’s out there. drop us a note. Guys here today. So Ellie, let’s go into so you, University of Illinois, I believe you’re fighting fighting lion Knight. And that just really paved the path down that fashion. Lead your whole career towards fashion. I mean, like everything you go on your LinkedIn to provide, you know, Banana Republic, Neiman Marcus, everything that you did was really, Betsey Johnson everything was towards fashion, just you know, how did that hit you at such a young age and just talked about how you knew exactly what direction you wanted to go.
Elaine Spoerer 05:13
So the grandmother with the interior design business, she had these amazing pens that every every color in the rainbow, and when I would be at her house, I was allowed to sketch and so that started really at a very young age, just sketching the clothes and maybe one day, I’ll embarrass myself and put I still have some of the she kept them all in a binder. So I had like, a really day work climb the elite, you know, so that started young. And then you have I did not have a fashion design program.
So I went into fashion merchandising with a minor in costume design, and then kind of switched into their advertising program, that all of that experience just kind of kept snowballing.
And when I got to New York, for an intern, an unpaid internship, I was able to stay on my sorority friends couches while I was there, it was just this amazing opportunity that then while I was there, they were able to bring me into a position and it’s just kind of I just kept working towards the goal, which I felt like was always to have my own line. But I wasn’t like calling myself an entrepreneur that and I didn’t really understand that aspect of it. Until now.
Curt Anderson 06:31
So would you say it was just really feeding that just unapologetic passion towards fashion? Just like you were just all about? Like, that’s the that was just everything about you or what? How would you describe? Yeah,
Elaine Spoerer 06:42
I mean, it started when I was young. I mean from like performance based, like theater programs and dressing up friends and filming style videos. In the middle of Champaign, Illinois. It wasn’t like, we were like, get Zooks trying to like pull product. But yeah, it was always play based. Which I now when I reflect on, like, why I enjoy the golf and tennis so much. It’s still that play element. It’s that passion. And I just I’ve always liked design and then my medium has always been clothing.
Curt Anderson 07:18
Right. Okay, so you found yourself crashing couches, couches in the New York. Yeah. You end up in LA if I’m not mistaken. Talk a little bit about how you transition your career there. And what that what did that look like?
Elaine Spoerer 07:29
Yeah, so when I worked at Betsey Johnson, I was there for almost five years. It started off as an internship. And then they needed someone to run the sample and production room. Her sample room was what most like independent designers would consider their production scale. I mean, we were making duplicates for overseas, we were making, you know, all the sales samples. She did 35 bodies a month. And it was we were turning out a lot of product. It was the most fun I’ve ever had, we had fashion shows, Betsy herself had television crews showing up to interview her. She’s the most down to earth person.
She’s so sweet and worried about how her interns and everyone on her staff was doing at all times. She was just we also took care of the dog too. I mean, like there was a there was a bit of celebrity about her. So you know, we we all got to try different things I did like sourcing and production, management, all that kind of stuff. And then I felt like I needed to move to gate like, first of all, we weren’t paid a whole lot.
So we were in New York. And it was the middle of a snowstorm and my husband now he and I were dating at the time. He’s like, hey, get this job offer in LA and would you want to go out west and I’m like, Oh my God. Yeah, there’s all these designers out there. I’ll go work for them. And so yeah, we just up and moved. I mean, it was pretty of the moments and then less when I got to LA I would freelance for other designers.
Turns out there wasn’t as many small designers there it was like big big companies doing overseas production or teeny tiny designers that were like you know, I would come in freelance for them so I actually went back to school then as well to work on like the pattern making part of the design background and then um, yeah, we got married and we had our first kid and I was like, This is it. This is when I launched my line because these babies sleep 18 hours a day because so in this book that was rough.
Curt Anderson 09:40
That awesome gave it you know, like, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Hey, I’m having a child, therefore, start a business right like who’s
Elaine Spoerer 09:48
waiting for? That’s right. So yeah, we moved back to Chicago with right before our second child was born. My family’s still here. And they are like my backbone. I’m. So we moved back and then have one more. And during this time, my trunk show business is just getting fancier.
And I’m doing more evening more red carpet. And all of a sudden, I’m making these white cocktail dresses and I met a woman who had a bridal shop and she’s like, Hey, I need something for brides that don’t want like the big ring dress. So you know, would you be interested in that? That’s how I ended up in bridal. I started we joined a golf club. And I decided that at 40 years old, I was going to start learning how to golf.
Because if my husband was going to be on the golf course away from kids for four hours, every time he went golfing, I wanted my time to do it, I would love it. I really love the women that I’ve met through golf and I loved everything except the clothing. And I kept going to like the PGA superstore and like wondering like digging through racks thinking, This can’t be it. Like everything I’ve ever done in life, I’ve been able to find clothing that I liked, or at least close enough and this just so but I didn’t know anything about sportswear or knit fabrics.
I’ve always worked in wovens. And then COVID hit. So I was like, alright, well all my brides have canceled all of their weddings. And so I just started, I’d had a couple pieces that I had started. And so I just kind of put my foot on the gas. And it launched April 1 2021. And I launched with like 10 samples that I just took, you know, crazy pictures, I still do that I still take cutting pictures on my phone and post it on my website.
And then people ordered and so like the first shipment was like July, but we made everything here in Chicago. And I’m super proud of that. Because that was what I couldn’t find. You know, I couldn’t find anything that of that quality. I did finally find like Tory Burch has a line and said like I’ve since found more than I kind of see that customer liking and stuff too, but it’s different.
Curt Anderson 12:19
Okay, well, there’s a lot to unpack, Rachel. Sorry. No, that was phenomenal. That was a great. So hey, I’m gonna give a shout out. We’ve got Michelle Fossett. Your colleague Cameron is with us today. So Michelle, at Rite Aid. We love Michelle. She’s been on the show multiple times. And she’s a fierce advocate for manufacturers at IMEC. So Michelle, happy Friday, sending lots of love to you my friend. We’ve got Nicole Donnelly here, Gail is on the program.
So Gail is our guest on Monday, Gail. Hello. Thank you for joining us today. Nicole, thank you for starting this. And so what’s absolutely awesome, a couple of things that I want to hit on Ellie. And then Cameron, you’re on deck. I’m going to we’re going to talk a little bit about my back. So what you start your business when you have your first baby, you have things rolling, and now COVID hits and you take a pivot. I mean, so many, this is so relatable to so many people were like, boy COVID threw everyone a curveball.
And the thing was, it was consistent. You know, like, it wasn’t like, oh, well, the economy hit this industry, or hit the you know, I got caught in this wave, like the pandemic hit everyone. Yeah, what was walk us through, like what was going through your mind? You’re like, Man, I need to make a pivot. Did you think about, you know, do I find a job like what made you think about pivoting to, you know, I’m going to keep moving forward. But I want to go into the sportswear line.
Elaine Spoerer 13:38
I think it was knowing that the whole world was shopping online. And I felt like bridal was the last thing that I could sell online. And so that was kind of like a closure. And I needed that closure to see an opportunity. And I know that like a lot of people talking about that.
But it was very true. I really, there was like I went on like I remember the day I went on a nice long walk. And I was like, I guess I’ll just be home with the kids. But there was so much downtime during that period, I spent a couple of months making masks for a local hospital just to keep my hands busy. But I definitely I am I need a lot of projects. It’s just way I function. And so I just, I had I had started to try to do a golf skort and have new version of women’s golf shirt already. So like it wasn’t totally started because of COVID but that just accelerated it that
Curt Anderson 14:37
and on your LinkedIn profile, you have a great story that you know, your your friend just smoked a drive down the fairway and she turned to you and said, Hey, Ellie, why don’t you make something that would be like cool and comfortable for women to wear? Right? It was something like that. Yeah.
Elaine Spoerer 14:50
She told me she’s a banker. And she was like, You know what we really need we need better golf clothes. And I was like, Oh God, I don’t know how to do that. You know? came all the walls and she was the hard time about it. time I see her she’s like, remember when you said no, I was the one.
Curt Anderson 15:10
I just pictured her just smoking one rake down the fairway turns you says, Hey, man, what about some like women’s wear? So, all right, Cameron, let’s come over to you my friend. So we’re talking about that, you know, you went to Illinois State if I have that correct? Yep. And so interning at IMEC you shared that you’re in what what did you get your aunt’s name?
What’s your aunt’s name? That’s your hero, Anthony Tony, Kathy Tani. So Kathy, shout out to our dear aunt Kathy Tunney, wonderful advocate for manufacturers worked at IMEC for many years, so So for folks that are joining us. Sure. And we’re gonna get into how le reached out and connected with IMEC shared with everybody what is IMEC? What is the manufacturing extension partnership.
Camryn Tunney 15:51
So if you haven’t heard, I met, we’re a team of industrial improvement specialists with a goal to ignite manufacturing excellence in Illinois. I make as a part of the MEP National Network, which is a unique public private partnership that deliver solutions to US manufacturers feeling growth and advancing US manufacturing. There’s one version of MEP center in every state well I make is the official NDP rep and of Illinois.
Curt Anderson 16:18
Nice, excellent. So here’s my next question for you. And as you spied on said, Dave, and I are very thrilled to have a Gen Zero program today. Let’s talk about you know, you talked about your aunt you admired her looked up to her you really respected what her whole career at IMEC What led you could have gotten many different directions. So even though and Kathy was a big inspiration to you, what really inspired you to bring the kickoff your new career into the world of manufacturing and into the manufacturing extension partnerships.
Camryn Tunney 16:48
So just graduating from school, you know, I knew I had a lot of marketing, obviously, that’s what I went to school for. And I had honestly no idea what industry I wanted to go to, you know, I was exploring, and like I said, my aunt mentioned like, Hey, I’m x hire hiring a marketing specialist. And at first, you know, I was hesitant, she had big shoes, I had big shoes to fill. And it was really just not at first the industry. It was just the people that I talked to me. You know, they were super passionate about manufacturing. They’re super passionate about iMac in general. And I just knew from the start that I wanted to work for iMac. Right.
Curt Anderson 17:32
Well, that is awesome. And thank you for bringing your talents now. Please, Cameron, there’s a rumor on the street. I would love for you to confirm. We always hear that all the cool kids from college are going into manufacturing. Can you can you confirm that? Is that a rumor? Is that a fact?
Camryn Tunney 17:46
Oh, yeah. You’re saying now,
Curt Anderson 17:49
all the cool kids are going into manufacturing. Hey, you know, if you’re out there, you’re college and you’re thinking like man manufacturing. Are you kidding? There’s all sorts of wonderful opportunities. I know Cameron, you’re great. Your Google Analytics specialists HubSpot.
So you bring all sorts of other talents. And you’re thinking like, whoa, gee, what does HubSpot and Google Analytics have to do with marketing, or I’m sorry, with manufacturing has everything to do. And so Ali, that kind of brings us back to you. Let’s talk about so you get things kicked off. It’s April Fool’s Day 21. We’re right in the heart of COVID. And you decide to take a leap of faith. And you’re going to go this direction with this new COVID Baby of yours led activewear. So let’s go into like the early stages, what the 2021 looks like, to us, you’re getting this business off the ground.
Elaine Spoerer 18:33
It’s a lot of tapping friends, friends of friends and their golf pros. It was you know, I kept showing them things. And I did a lot of research with those friends of friends and, you know, trying to make new sketches, adjust patterns, things like that. But it was so refreshing to to have such a welcome audience. It was I had golf shops reaching out to me, whereas I’ve never I’ve never had that experience anything in fashion where, you know, it’s just always like, an end. It’s, it’s not like a windfall of orders, but it was just so nice that people thought that this was a space that needed something new.
Curt Anderson 19:19
Yeah. And how refreshing how rewarding to have that confirmation that, you know, this is this business is working, that this that there is a need, there is a demand is you know, as entrepreneurs, it’s very, it’s challenging, it’s frustrating. It can be lonely, you know, just trying to figure out things, what do people want, and especially with fashion because you’re product based, and you have some wonderful, wonderful products over your shoulder.
You want to talk a little bit about like, how do you come up with your designs like so, you know, like in your world if I if I’m selling, you know, if I’m just like selling commodities, you know, I don’t have to be really super creative with the product itself. Somebody else already created it. You need to be creative and everything else that goes along the lines with your business. little bit about the creativity and inspiration for your product line.
Elaine Spoerer 20:04
So I am a solopreneur. But I have a really strong team behind me. I work with everyone individually though. So it’s not like you don’t open my website and see all of these phenomenal people. But I have fantastic pattern makers that even though I went to school and did pattern making, like I don’t, that’s not what I do every day, like I hire people to come in and make sure that the pants fit the shirt for eight or like all of those details.
So and then I work with local fabric suppliers who are importing a lot of my stuff is recycled polyester. It’s post consumer plastic, it’s like each tab is like five water bottles out of the ocean. Yeah, it’s really cool performance material. So I get that from a local guy. You know, it’s like pulling all of it. I’m like, I’m like the GC. So, um, so yeah, we, but I do sketch the designs and do the initial concepts myself. And basically, I, it was pretty easy for me.
Every time I walked into a golf shop, everything was a polo collar. And I did wear my polo collar today. Because ours, we just put a little lace on it like my, like, I’m not trying to like, totally drastically change the way golf looks. I’m just trying to offer a feminine perspective, I think that it’s dominated, I know that the dominant customer for golf is male. And so we have that sportswear, athletic look. And we have, you know, Nike and Adidas and things where they take their basic body that sells so well for the men, and then they kind of size it down for women.
But the women’s market isn’t so big, so they don’t really make it fit for women wear it. So like this is a women’s based brand. And I’ve had people ask me if we’re going to do menswear, and I’m like, I don’t see the point. That’s not who I’m talking to. But yeah, so right behind me is this is what’s manufactured here in Chicago. When I worked at Betsey Johnson, I my first first job because my degree was in advertising.
And I knew how to use like Photoshop and Illustrator. Yeah, she put me in charge of working with her on the prints. And so we would buy vintage prints, or at least little swatches from the 1940s. And I would scan them in and recreate the floral pattern that was used. And then we would recolor. So when I launched this because golf is so pattern driven, and not always my favorite patterns. I went and I just took the flowers and I started there I started recreating, and that’s where my artistry really lies. It’s the color and the merchandising.
And then just this last winter, so like calendar year from I found this company, where they make everything to order. And so then we put the prints like on the hoodies, things like that, just to have more seasonality and then also offer a layer because I’m here in Chicago and golf. Yeah, that’s like really hot for a few months. But there’s a lot of weather variability. So in order to expand the line a little faster, I started using some of these print on demand companies. But we do like embroidery. And that’s kind of all the all the graphics and the flowers, things like that are on the on the pieces.
Curt Anderson 23:34
Awesome. So if like my sister’s a huge pickleball player, you know, it’s not just golf. I know you cover tennis. So you kind of like a lifestyle where if you will, is that my clothes?
Elaine Spoerer 23:46
Totally I think the problems that women had on the golf course are the same that women have universally and most of the like, there are no pockets on things. So like all the dresses all the skirts all the shorts have lots of pockets. It’s kind of one of them. We actually had to take out some pockets there were too many, like you’d start putting stuff in and then you couldn’t remember why you put it in.
But yeah, like so we there’s still like some universal problems. But generally speaking, this is performance wear, so you don’t put it in the dryer. You can sweat in it, it will dry quickly while you’re while you’re wearing it so if you’re going to pickle or paddle or tennis, but then you want to go to the grocery store or you want to go run errands all day, you know whatever you whatever’s coming up I have a lot of friends that wear this stuff or like their children’s parties because they’re going to be pouring sweat at some point.
I mean, that’s just the way it goes. So I’m another like, this is the this is like the ruffle collar shirt. This was the first piece and this like, I’m like I don’t even know where the cameras the idea was that instead of it being a polo collar it would be something more feminine, but I have a lot of friends that wear this under their blazers and stuff for work because it’s comfortable, soft and it’s made here. I’ve recycled fabric.
Curt Anderson 25:07
Well that is phenomenal. What I love here is like you know, we always love Daymond talk about like that ideal customer. You know? Those Those soulmates? If you will speak at a soulmates man gal dropped the comment Damon, if you want to pull it up omg omg I love the Betsey Johnson story. How cool is that? Right? I love that you aren’t just was
Damon Pistulka 25:26
just making male clothes pink. Yeah,
Curt Anderson 25:29
exactly. So a little bravo to you. There we got Nicole here. Not having enough pockets is the worst. She’s a big tennis mom, of course. And so that is, that is fantastic. So Ellie, let’s go here. So you’re solopreneur like you said you have a wonderful resources, wonderful resources, you have nice support system around you building up your business, you know, it takes a village. Now you decided to reach out to iMac to do some programs. Some things going on talk about like what inspired you How did that connection come about?
Elaine Spoerer 26:01
So that was really cool story to like, my friend and my pet my first development patternmaker social. She works here in Chicago. She’s the Chicago pattern maker, I think is her handle. And she just texted it to me. I think like, the moment it went, it went live because they were like you.
We just launched it you already turned an application in because I was like, Oh my God, I need that. I had no idea that it had just gotten like she just texted it to me and it was like you I’m trying to remember exactly, but you had to apply for a grant that would help you in like one of four areas I think. And for me it was so I was like SEO getting my website out there that whole thing was new. So no and I was new to it. And that was so that was where I applied.
Curt Anderson 26:59
So sportshall came from referral it spoke your language So Cameron just share a little bit with everybody. So you know I’m back again. So if the Manufacturing Extension Partnership is new to somebody you off offer also you have a deep deep bench of subject matter experts at iMac I think 50 strong. Michelle’s here, Damon we know we’ve had numerous iMac coats on you know, Paula Simone, we know Emily Liezel you know, our dear friend, she’s moved on to greener pastures, I guess.
We have Michelle Melissa Zerbo. Michelle was with us today. David Belay is just the incredible director and Jacqueline Melissa Baza. You know, great, great team at IMEC. So Cameron just share a little bit like what are some resources? And then can you talk about the program that Ellie signed up for?
Camryn Tunney 27:45
So yeah, our day to day team is helping manufacturing across the state, providing solutions and some of the solutions that Ellie mentioned. Like improve your operations, lead your company and grow your business focus on people. We also do weekly webinars. Sometimes I’m hosting those. We also have a vast information like website, blogs, white papers and more.
I’m the grant that le took place and this is in partnership with Cook County called the Cook County manufacturing reinvented grant. This grant offers opportunities like like I said before, improve the operations lead your company and grow your business. Focus on people. And any Cook County manufacturers can apply or learn more about this grant. That’s on our website.
Curt Anderson 28:39
Absolutely. And I dropped it I dropped a link in the chat. So if you get a chance go to iMac that’s iMac Illinois. Yeah manufacturing extension partnership there they have all sorts of incredible resources. If you’re coming to us outside of Illinois, check out your local your local mean, again they are super incredibly just what a great support.
Well, Ellie, you reach out to him you go through the process you apply Can you and so for a shameless plug or squirrel or you and I came together and boy What an honor what an absolute gift working with you for the past few months but talking about what was the process like and then how did things get kicked off?
Elaine Spoerer 29:15
So I thought because it said S E O which to be is some like, thing that happens in the backside of my computer. I had I remember even reading what they kept sending over as the proposal of as like, I’m sure it’ll make sense later.
Curt Anderson 29:32
Yeah. Hey, interject real quick. So the other curtain your life?
Elaine Spoerer 29:37
Yeah. Currently okay is my husband and he helped me with my website, unlike the other guy.
Curt Anderson 29:45
She has. So she has to Kurt’s in her life. And where does where does the Curt with a K? Where does he work?
He works for Google.
Curt Anderson 29:52
He works for Google. So How awesome was that? Damon so yeah. And God bless Kurt great husband and so that’s So you figured you start figuring out this SEO thing. So what How did things get started? And let’s, let’s talk about our low jam session together.
Elaine Spoerer 30:06
So, yeah, I thought that like, I was like, Oh, this up this Kurt with the seed is gonna come in, he’s gonna fix all my problems. Yeah, the websites just gonna run better, like it’s gonna be great. And then we got into how content actually drives traffic.
I mean, like all of the I just learned so much. I mean, it was like this, I mean, I have a binder full of just notes and things and processes for getting things done. And really just how to, if I really am going to have a website and run this website, like how this business grows this way and it, it indirectly helps, you know, with all of my outreach because of the web, I mean, it’s just it’s a whole snowball effect. Yeah,
Curt Anderson 30:56
it was man, did we have a good time or what?
Damon Pistulka 31:02
It is, like you said, LA, it’s it you you really don’t understand how the the interconnectivity between, you know, getting people that the right people to your site to buy your products, if that’s what they want, and how that connects all the way back through SEO, SEO is part of it, but the content where you put the content, what kind of content you know, and it’s and who your ideal customer is. So
Elaine Spoerer 31:33
drilling into that eye, ideal customer, I thought it was hilarious, because it was like if you’re, you know, do you ever use LinkedIn and I was like, to find a job. I don’t even job. Like, I’m good. And then as you know, he’s explaining LinkedIn and the customer that’s they’re on like, oh my god, so they’re not Yeah, cuz they’re not on tick tock. Yeah.
Damon Pistulka 32:00
Golf. But yeah, I’ve
Elaine Spoerer 32:01
got a strategy for tic tac, but I don’t have a strategy for LinkedIn. You know, it was really like, was, I felt like I you know, I had built my website myself, so I thought, Oh, I’ve got this is not a problem, and I just really knew nothing. Wow.
Curt Anderson 32:16
Well, I’m gonna give you a ton of credit here, Ellie. So combination things. Number one, your website’s phenomenal. I’m gonna pull it up right here. So you’re on Shopify. So again, so manufacturers out there if you’re like, you know, whether you’ve been in business for 30 years, 100 years, or maybe, you know, you have a dream, your vision, you have a problem you want to solve, and you want to take that leap of entrepreneurship and boy, if you’re not inspired with Ali today, man, Damon, what do we need to check your pulse?
Right? So this is extremely inspiring, Ella you have done an amazing job so you go on Shopify Ecommerce shopping cart. And so you’ve listed all of your products out and you know, in his in marketing, you know, like Nicole is with us today. She talks about like it’s you know, marketing, digital marketing just got is become so complicated, and so complex, you just can’t do it all it just it just impossible. So it’s great to Align yourselves with different areas of focus in different methods of of expertise.
Cameron Zun a great job with like, she’s certified in Google and HubSpot. Maybe you need you know, if you want pay per click marketing or what have you. But let’s, I’m going to pull up your website. Let’s take a peek at the website. Let’s just kind of go through you know, let me pull it up right now. So let me pull There we go. We’re gonna go to bear in the half a second Daymond keep everybody occupied one Damon wants to sing a song I’m pulling. Yeah,
Damon Pistulka 33:32
yeah, that’s not a good idea.
Curt Anderson 33:34
That’s not a good idea. Okay, let me let me present right here. Let me get sharing. Let me get share screen did this go on? And then here we go. Okay, how does this look?
Damon Pistulka 33:46
There we go. Okay.
Curt Anderson 33:47
All right. This guy’s This has led active where this is your website. Now, Ellie, I love your attention to detail your creativity. Talk about like, you know, how you hand selected the font and just everything about your website here.
Elaine Spoerer 34:02
So this is like my favorite part is to play around in here. Sometimes getting something accomplished as a problem, but I do I really think that the handwriting font and like pulling that that is in the brand the whole way because I do think that that is the creative spirit and that really kind of embodies that but I you know, I love working with the prints. Sometimes I add too many of them gets a little crazy, but I’m trying to like this is the newest collection featured here. I know it’s holiday season, and you know and all of that but really, I think that my customer is gets enough gets inundated with that stuff.
So I kind of wanted to keep this resort oriented and feeling like you know, this kind of crazy crunch period will end and then we’ve got the whole new beginnings of the new year coming. tried to make it a little bit easier to navigate like golf in one set. gentamicin and other but the line is designed that given I mean, some country clubs have restrictions on length and things, but for the most part most of these items are designed to be able to wear on the golf course, or the tennis courts.
They’re not too short. They’re not too long. They’re just but you know, all that is like height dependent, too. So there’s, I tried to give people options when they’re shopping for sports specific, but I really try to get people to think about their wardrobe as fitting into their lifestyle and buy pieces that they’ll hold on to and waste less and purchase less really.
Damon Pistulka 35:39
Yeah, that’s good. That’s good. Because, you know, you can fill up clauses with stuff you wear a few times. And if you get good clothing, it’s, it’s, it’s good for you and the environment.
Elaine Spoerer 35:49
Yeah, and I the worst comment that I always get that I run into someone, inevitably, that will tell me, Oh, I hate golf. But I have to go for work. So I have this one outfit that I wear. And I’m like, that’s like wearing a costume. You know, like, don’t buy Halloween costumes. Like, you know, you just you don’t want to keep doing that you want stuff that really represent like you feel comfortable wearing and confident wearing it. So until in you know, that’s part of the reason why the golf aesthetic needs to move along a little bit too, so that people don’t feel like they’re wearing something for someone else.
Curt Anderson 36:26
Now, let’s go here for a second while I’m thinking of it. So you know, I thought you and I had a ton of fun we would we were optimizing product pages. Okay. And so we took a deep dive into our our Rick’s right remember those ridiculously important keywords? Talk a little bit like when is now that you’re an SEO expert talk a little bit like what was what was the discovery for you? Or how do you how are you approaching your product, your products now, kind of like with that SEO front of mind.
Elaine Spoerer 36:53
And it’s that adjective that, you know, that has to go with what I’m selling that it has to speak to my customer. So a lot of them are like, you know, we came up with, like, 100 of them, I think that we’re, we’re adding in there. But like, preppy is one, you know, like I tried to think of like, if you were going to just just take it one step further and describe what you’re looking for or describe what you want to wear.
And you know, maybe people don’t even there’s like people that come up and tell me like, I don’t like flowers. And I’m like, I’m sorry. Well, a lot of flowers. But you know, you know what you want. So I tried to incorporate that just to help identify the brands a little bit better.
Curt Anderson 37:38
Yeah, I love that. And Damon Of course, you know, the example I gave my little pink running shoes with purple shoelaces, right? Yeah. And we went there. And so you know, instead of like, you know, just golf clothes being vague, too broad. And again, think about your, you know, anybody out there, think about your products, your expertise, you know, the line that you’re trying to the keywords that you’re going after.
And so what we did is we started tying in like, you know, stylish, fashionable, cute, you know, like in, you know, female, women’s, you know, so we wanted to like really go a niche down, because, you know, Ellie’s going against Nike and Adidas and, you know, Dick’s Sporting Goods and like major major players. So what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to find out like what keywords as her soulmate, that professional the pharmaceutical rep or the financial planner, and you know, she’s having frustrated searches, just finding like guys, and just not really finding what what, you know, a good fit for her.
So we’re trying to like how do we align ourselves and match up with that person? So, Ellie, let’s talk about you do a great job of video. You’re on Tik Tok, you’re on YouTube. What talk about like your video strategy in little, you know, we discovered like, hey, if we got more description, more details, more backlinks on your videos, that’s gonna be helpful to talk a little bit about your video strategy.
Elaine Spoerer 38:51
Most of my video strategy is much improved since we work together. I mean, really, I had no idea. I was like, What do you want it to? Do? You want me to put the links into the product? Like I was just I just figured people if they liked it, they go to the website, you know, like, I was stopping there and not like processing like, Oh, hey, I’m flipping around this top, you should be able to just find that tap faster.
But then also the, the, what do they call it the ranking that Google does like the domain authority? Yep. And being able to like that I had no idea any of that about any of that stuff. So basically, when I approach content for the week or the month, I have like my couple of topics that I want to talk about. A lot of it is answering questions about the products specifically fit and function.
I will make a lot of the videos at once and just kind of get my rack set up like I do here and I usually just put the camera and I just chalk and do like the subtitles And then post to you too. I’ve been adding it also to tic tac. And then I do my emails for the week too. And I pull out the, like good little chunks and put it into the email so that my customer gets it. And we kind of just move along like that. And then the the year itself has its own flow, because it’s a seasonal product. So we’ve got our own pace and going that way, too.
Curt Anderson 40:26
This is fantastic. And take a look. I mean, you’re getting, you know, what, 1500 views here? 300, you know, 274 700 So you’re, you know, kudos to to getting on tic tac, you’re on YouTube, putting yourself out there. You’re on Facebook, taking advantage of social now.
I think Damon, you and I did a LinkedIn little jam session a couple months ago, I think you might have attended it. And we had another one with a woman directly from LinkedIn. And boy, you completely wowed me with your LinkedIn profile. Talk about what you did here with your headline, your about section and how you know, share a little bit about the excitement you have for LinkedIn for 2023. Well, yeah,
Elaine Spoerer 41:05
so once I was like, okay, the everybody I want to talk to is on LinkedIn. I mean, I was even, it was kind of shocking, like, I pulled up some customer, like I have all the back end of Shopify, so I was able to like look at some customers, and I was like, Oh, there they are, like, and a lot of them are embarrassingly late to the party. But we’re happy to be here now.
So we went through that webinar. And I think it was the night before I was like, Well, if she’s gonna be there, and she’s an expert, and she’s willing to take a look at this, let me give it my best shot to at least fill in the information that was relevant because up to that point, I had just been using my profile. It was like a holding place in case I wanted to try to apply for a job.
Curt Anderson 41:51
For anybody out there catching us, you know, I gosh, it was so funny. Ellie, you’re correct. Like we met weekly on Mondays for the most part than you and I met on a Monday we had a woman a friend of mine Vicki from she actually works at LinkedIn she came in to do a LinkedIn jam session.
And the very end I asked I asked for volunteers your yours came up and I just looked at your LinkedIn profile the day before and here you know like she changed it you know women’s wear designer with a passion for golf and tennis, slow fashion advocate, you know, right here pursuing a license as a retail therapist. Absolutely brilliant. And then when you come down here, I love what you have, you know, talking about the you know, like so when your ideal buyer I feel like you’re speaking directly to that soulmate of yours right here.
Great story about your mom walking up the Houston Gulf open to kickstart labor absolutely hysterical. You know, your story and your journey on fashion. And then you know, right here, you mentioned earlier, you had your first child, and you read a book that babies sleep 18 hours a day, great time to start my business. And here’s your pandemic baby, right here. So, you know, kudos to you for for stepping up. What would What are you excited about for 23? As far as like, what What What’s your intention? What are plans for you with LinkedIn now.
Elaine Spoerer 43:04
So I am aggressively pursuing golf clubs. I am like, calling these pro shops over and over, I know that the women’s market is not their primary bread and butter. But I’m trying to convince them to get to take a look. Give it a chance. See, if you offer a product that looks like it’s made for women that is not just golf oriented, if they can, actually is that these country clubs, their their memberships have went through the roof during COVID.
And the pro shops are there and they have an active community shopping. But they’re like, oh, only the men buy. And I’m like, well, there’s all these women coming for dinner and you’re like down the hall. So you know, it’s just trying. So I will I’m hoping that I can through LinkedIn, I can connect with people who are like, Hey, I’m at a country club. And I would I have friends that would like to see this stuff in person because it is hard to shop online, you know that that hasn’t changed.
So I do I’m just really actively pursuing these pro shops and trying to get some attitudes to change a little bit. I have definitely gotten some pushback on like length, hem lengths. And you know, it’s not always my customer. Not every country club has that customer but I’m hoping to find the right clubs and like and public places, not just private golf clubs, but like any like local tennis pro shop or any anywhere that people are coming in to get their sports gear. Everything I’ve even tried like emailing Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Curt Anderson 44:48
Right. Well and we’ll get we’ll get there right we’ll get that foot in the door. I absolutely love this line right here. Daymond check this out. I was convinced early that I was destined to be designer preferring creative play without rules, I just add, you know, and again, like that’s the that’s really the MO. That’s the culture that you’re building behind your brand. I just absolutely love it, you. And again, like Gail has mentioned multiple times, she loves bets. Betsey Johnson, you’re talking about your experience and your experience there. So, again, hats off to you did an amazing job knocking us down.
And you know, you’ve really put yourself in a great position to be connected with folks for next year. Now, Cameron, I want to get you back in the game here for a minute I’ve got before I shut my screen down, I’ve got iMac, can you just share a little bit like what can folks expect in Illinois, or if they’re coming to us from other states? They absolutely want to check out their local MEP website. But just talk a little bit about your website you talked about like you’re running webinars, what can folks expect coming on? Website. You’re muted.
Camryn Tunney 45:54
Thank you. Moving on, I mix website you see a solution or resources. So that’s kind of what I touched on. Early on, with our projects, one of the ones that Ellie did grow your business. So it kind of touches on what projects we offer. We also have the Events page, which covers all our events that we post, those are in person and webinars. And then also on our solutions page, we offer blogs, white papers, and other resources. So
Curt Anderson 46:31
yeah, and right here, I just want to point out women in Illinois manufacturing, building your brand right here next, looks like December 6 at 1130 Central Time.
So again, guys, you know, check out iMac, you want to go to their events page, they have all sorts of wonderful look at this, you know, Guide to Successful branding. I know Cameron, we’re working on doing some webinars on the marketing side, we’re lined up some speakers for you guys next year. Here strategic planning for your organization. So lots of exciting opportunities here for manufacturers, you absolutely want to go to IMAX website, I’m going to stop sharing come back to everybody.
So I so Ellie, you’re doing an amazing job, you’re throwing on multiple hats, you know, you have the humility, lot of folks, you know, my entrepreneurs, manufacturers they just had in the grindstone, you know, down in the trenches, you know, and it’s hard to like, stop and like, reach out for help you reach out to iMac Do you how and again, obviously, shameless plug, because you were stuck working with me. But how would your experience working with an MEP? Do you recommend other manufacturers working with MEPs? Just share, like, what what was that like working with IMEC?
Elaine Spoerer 47:36
Oh, it was it was so great. So easy. I mean, I was intimidated by some of the paperwork. And everybody was like, oh, we’ll handle it for you. You know, it was just, it’s like the easiest thing I’ve ever done. And it was so seamlessly worked out like the calendar schedule worked great. Getting all of the work done. While we were meeting not necessarily like a ton of stuff on the plate later.
It was it, but also just really helped with the forward thinking about how to like processes, like I just really felt like it pulled everything together. And I have like a game plan. So I really couldn’t recommend it enough. I’ve actually sent the same link to apply that I did, I sent it to a couple of designers that I’m friends with that I’m like, Hey, this is amazing. Like you this is what you could do for your business. This is important.
Curt Anderson 48:26
I love that. And I know we’re coming into time, I want to be mindful of everybody’s time out here, man, we’re having an absolute blast. As you want to connect with Ellie, here on LinkedIn, you want to connect with Cameron on LinkedIn, just great. And what an inspiration. These two are. So Ellie, you talked about that game plan.
I love that. So you know, like you and I had that little spreadsheet going like that digital game plan, if you will, you know, we’re getting round about like, you know, trying to get that calendar and like trying to get everything that hub and getting your keywords together, getting that content getting that scheduled. And man it does get overwhelming. You know, like you’re on tic tac, you’re on YouTube. How any suggestions or advice for people like how can you simplify it, so it’s not so overwhelming. So you can just like keep moving forward, what’s effective and works, what works well for you?
Elaine Spoerer 49:14
Well, the prioritization really helped just in terms of like, taking the time to like set, okay, this is the goals and make sure those top three rocks are important and what you’re getting done. I do feel like systematically knowing like, Okay, I’m gonna make this video if I batch them all together, even though it’s a long day, and it feels like kind of forced, but batching work like that, for me works so much better than trying to like just kind of roll with it.
There are a lot of times that you just have to roll with it. So you got to be able to move stuff off your schedule. And I’m trying to think doesn’t, I feel like that’s kind of it’s all about the planning,
Curt Anderson 49:59
right? It’s all about the planning. Alright, what does 2023 look like for Ellie day goals expectations conquering the world what’s it look like?
Elaine Spoerer 50:09
Um, so I like I said, I’m pursuing these country clubs, there’s I think eight country clubs that are going to have the lines for next year and I’m trying to just keep that going. Trying to reach out to some larger type shops, things like that. And then you have got new styles coming because I like my feedback from my customers. So we’re gonna you know keep it interesting. Probably not as many golf dresses is like I love golf dresses, but turns out like the golfers really liked the skirt to the top so we got a whole bunch of new like skirts and tops coming out. Just you know, the fun stuff. Right? Apps Nice.
Curt Anderson 50:47
Cameron what’s on the horizon for you, you know, fresh out of college kicking off you know, you’ve got your whole career ahead of you. You’ve chosen thank you for bringing your passion, your talents, your expertise into the world of manufacturing to the MEPs what’s exciting for you coming into 2023 in your world?
Camryn Tunney 51:05
I think just you know, like Nene, you talked about I think last time we met is just bringing more webinars to the table, you know, making ImEx LinkedIn page more interactive, and just kind of you know, recharging our you know, marketing strategy. I’m super excited and I have a lot of ideas for 2023 So I can’t wait to put those into place.
Curt Anderson 51:28
Well you have a great team you know a big shout out to Christy John’s she does an amazing job at iMac and again every Melissa Michelle was here today you know all of our friends iMac are just doing amazing work down in southern parts of Illinois you know we’ve got Cassie Noah I know back in Chicago Doug so again up John a couple of John’s on your team so I mean got a big toe razor Guy No joined IMEC Thank you Damon grazing Gonzo is is on iMac what boy what a powerhouse that Yeah. About like that’s not even all fame.
That’s I call that’s how that’s Hall of Famer that same it all started its Hall of Famer right there. Yeah, raise a guy and so so I guess we’re gonna wind down I want to first off I want to give i How about a big round of applause for our guests today for Ellie day. 20.
So guys, thank you. Thank you. I know how busy you both are. We really were honored privilege that you would spend this time with us today. closing words closing question for you. Lal start with you. We talked about who was your hero when we kicked off the program. My last question for you today. Moving forward and we keep talking about 2023 Who is your inspiration today? You got this wonderful product line behind you over your shoulder you got a driving force we talked about Kurt with a K. Who is your inspiration driving this business moving forward for next year.
Elaine Spoerer 52:52
Maybe this is a little farther than just next year, but I do love watching my daughter start to golf and play tennis and women in sports. I mean, I got I was lucky enough I went to the Cincinnati open and saw Serena Williams and she signed a tennis ball for my son and I burst into tears. I mean I was like there are people that are pushing sports forward all the time. Yeah, and I just that the magnitude and importance of that is really what’s inspiring me. Well,
Damon Pistulka 53:24
man that’s cool.
Curt Anderson 53:26
All right, let’s take a moment to just savor that Yeah.
I felt after Serena I was literally I was like just
Curt Anderson 53:34
what and what a thrill like I got chills just hearing it is and what an icon you know, the volume sisters are so that was just thank you for sharing that. Absolutely wonderful camera and I’m coming at you with the same question my friend who are what is your inspiration moving forward for the next year?
Camryn Tunney 53:53
I think my inspiration is Cameron as little me you know, like seeing how far you know I’ve come and now I’ve been graduating college Agenzia taking on iMac and you know powering through marketing and trying to find new ideas. So see, you know, seeing little pictures of myself when I was you know smaller and coming the iMac you know when it was at jokes Hall, which is now in a different building and Bradley but I used to go to Job’s hall with my aunt and just seeing how you know, fiery calm I think that’s you know, been my inspiration.
Curt Anderson 54:35
Very cool. Very cool. Your seat bag. What’s got the mic on both man, you guys. You know what, Cameron, God bless you. We know what a great answer Damon we’ve I asked that every week and we’ve never had that type of answer. So thank you both. Those were just heartwarming, wonderful, amazing questions. I see Katie just joined us here last minute Katie Happy Friday to you my friend. For you go back and you want to absolutely connect with connect with Ellie here you want to connect with Cameron, we’ve got two rockstars two folks passionate to women in manufacturing and just really changing the world here.
So, alright guys, let’s wind down Ellie. Thank you. I appreciate you more than you could possibly imagine. I it was such an honor privilege working with you the past few months. I’ve learned so much from you. And it was just, it was just a blessing. Cameron, we are rooting you on what a great inspiration you are. What a gift you are. To iMac. The iMac team here moving forward by the manufacturers in Illinois.
What an unfair advantage for other manufacturers in Illinois, Damon, you know, yeah, good. All the other states are jealous right now. So alright guys, we’ll close out. I wish everybody an amazing incredible weekend boy. Be an inspiration to someone just like Ali and Cameron are just so inspiring to us today. Go out and just be someone’s inspiration keep crushing it make manufacturing great because Cameron What do we say all the cool kids are going in manufacturing right? So thank you guys, Damon, close this out, brother. Appreciate it.
Damon Pistulka 56:06
All right. Want to thank everyone for joining us this week once again for the manufacturing ecommerce success show. Thank you, Ellie for being here. Cameron for being here. It was awesome that hosting you and being able to hear your stories and and and this the activewear I just love it. I love it building building clothes that people actually like to wear. And enjoy. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Well, we’ll be back again next week with another guest. Come and join us. See you later.